“Teaching Hard History” Podcast

Educators looking to strengthen their knowledge and teaching of history in time for Black History Month will appreciate the “Teaching Hard History” podcast (learningforjustice.org/podcasts/teaching-hard-history). This series, developed by Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance), is hosted by Hasan Kwame Jeffries, a historian and associate professor at The Ohio State University. Each episode provides detail and insight from a specific era in American history from the brutal legacy of chattel slavery, through the triumphs and resistance of the civil rights movement, up to the efforts for equity and justice in the present day. What makes this podcast so powerful is the partnering of well-researched history with activities, discussion prompts, and thoughtful advice on how to make this history accessible to students. For example, in Episode 15: “Classroom Experiences,” Jeffries interviews Tamara Spears, a middle school social studies teacher in New York City, and Jordan Lanfair, a high school English Language Arts teacher in Chicago, who caution teachers against separating Black history into an isolated, individual unit. The two share multiple examples of how they weave and centralize Black history throughout their entire American history and English language arts courses.

Becoming a Holocaust Educator: Purposeful Pedagogy Through Inquiry

After many years of leading a successful professional development seminar on Holocaust education, facilitators Jennifer Lemberg and Alexander Pope IV brought together teacher participants to share their practice in Becoming a Holocaust Educator: Purposeful Pedagogy Through Inquiry (Teachers College Press). Each chapter of this edited volume is written by these teachers, who come from a wide range of school communities including a small, rural high school in Kentucky, a Blackfeet Indian Reservation school in Montana, and a large public high school in downtown Los Angeles. The contributing teachers address how their geographic and socio-political contexts shape their practice as they discuss how they came to prioritize Holocaust education—what they do to make the topic relevant and age-appropriate for their students, how they utilize the content to inspire civic action, and how they communicate the purpose of their instruction to their communities. The seminar that led to this book centralizes inquiry and writing, both of which are reflected in these teachers’ approaches to education. Ultimately, Becoming a Holocaust Educator provides insight not only into how to teach the Holocaust but how to teach difficult content in general. 

“The Cult of Pedagogy” Podcast

Former teacher and teacher educator Jennifer Gonzalez hosts “The Cult of Pedagogy” podcast (cultofpedagogy.com/pod). In the episodes, ranging from 3 minutes for instructional tips to 55 minutes for interviews, Gonzalez talks with experts, shares resources, and offers tangible solutions to the challenges educators face. Multiple episodes are also geared directly toward school leaders. For example, in #171: “Does Your School Need a Literacy Check Up?” Angela Peery, literacy expert and co-author of What to Look for in Literacy: A Leader’s Guide to High Quality Instruction, provides an overview of what to examine during classroom observations to ensure the effective teaching of literacy. In #115: “Time to Look at Your Dress Code,” Coshandra Dillard, a senior writer for Learning for Justice, and Marcus Campbell, assistant superintendent and principal of Evanston Township High School District 202 in Illinois, weigh in on how to ensure that dress codes do not result in cultural, gender, and economic discrimination. Other episodes, including #180: “Make Units More Inspiring With Vision Boards” and #127: “A Few Ideas for Dealing With Late Work,” provide tips and strategies for teachers and can serve as individualized professional development for those looking to reinvigorate their classrooms. 

We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

An important resource for school leaders seeking to advance their own learning about equity and social justice is We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (Beacon Press). In this book, education professor Bettina L. Love first provides a powerful indictment of how our educational system has maintained systemic racism and then lays out a bold vision for education justice. Love draws on her own personal experiences as a Black teacher and student, the history of social movements that have advanced equity for people of color, and the existing research on education reform. Too often, she contends, students of color have been taught—and continue to be taught—merely to survive oppressive systems. That survival is then wrongfully deemed an example of success by education reformers. Instead, we must create systems, schools, and classrooms where students of color can thrive by teaching them not only their history of oppression but also their history of civic engagement and resistance. Since the book’s publication in 2019, Love has worked with a team of scholars and educators to create the Abolitionist Teaching Network (abolitionistteachingnetwork.org), where teachers and school leaders can find teaching guides, conferences, webinars, and grants to expand and improve this work.