Study Group Stories

Reflections from teachers about what it means to participate in the study groups.

We have had two years of real trauma in the Twin Cities, and the hits keep coming. Given that our group is made up of all aspiring and practicing teachers of color, the Teaching for Black Lives study group has become a space of support, solidarity, and story sharing. I would love to be able to expand the group and continue into next year. The teachers really need it. — Minneapolis, Minnesota

All of the members of the group have stayed engaged in the material and have been vulnerable with sharing their thoughts. I am the only Black faculty/staff member participating so it has been very meaningful for me to witness my non-Black colleagues engage in this work of exploring anti-Blackness, history not told, celebrating Blackness, and thinking of how this all applies to not just our few Black students but our entire school community. — Sammamish, Washington

Section Two of the book, particularly Adam Sanchez’s essay, inspired us to commit to consciously and explicitly weaving in something WE weren’t taught into our teaching that month. I think we’re all feeling some hope around the potential for change that normalizing unlearning holds. Our vision is to end the year inviting students and staff to share something they’ve had to unlearn — or are working on unlearning — or even just know they need to work on unlearning. — Durham, North Carolina

Our conversations have been appropriately difficult, and we hold one another lovingly accountable. We’re really grateful to be a part of it all. — Nashville, Tennessee

Our study group has inspired us to consider our curriculum overall and how to better apply the values articulated in our school’s equity and pedagogy statements. For example, “To what extent are teachers doing their own internal racial identity work?” AND “To what extent do our teachers know how to do their own internal racial identity work?” Washington, DC

Teaching for Black Lives is frequently used as a reference or directly quoted from for the work that we are doing in our local schools and community. It has been an amazing opportunity to have conversations that matter with our colleagues, friends, and neighbors. We are in this for the long haul and we appreciate staying in touch with people doing the work on a national level. — Pullman, Washington

We have had incredibly impactful conversations. Our work has led to the creation of a DEI statement that the whole district supports. We have been particularly engaged with the whole book and the possibility of using it to develop an Anti-bias, Anti Racist (ABAR) class for the school. — Bedford, Massachusetts

I am so grateful for the opportunity to engage in this work. It really helped our staff and gave us the time to discuss theories. I think some teachers were skeptical at first, but with the resources provided in the book, everyone is fully on board. — Brooklyn, New York

The Zinn Education Project has been incredible with providing resources, space and open communication. We’ve experienced pushback on the kinds of curriculum we’ve been able to introduce to students. We’ve met to discuss what it means to take action into our own hands and how we can translate that into agency for our youth. [As a result of this study group], a few of us have applied to the BES Fellowship and are extremely excited to see what it could mean for us to create a school of our own. — Fort Worth, Texas

Thank you so much for this experience and for helping to shift the ways we think and learn alongside our students. We have enjoyed so much of the book and have talked a lot about how we can infuse these topics into our classrooms, as well as how we can align what we are all doing in our social studies curricula to give a more accurate and student-centered approach to learning. — Felton, California 

A major focus was simply on the need for us to read and learn so that we have a more accurate foundation. Our own knowledge impacts what and how we teach. — LaGrange, Illinois

We have been discussing the book in the context of the recent controversy around critical race theory in education, book bans, etc. We have found the rich description of teaching activities and classroom experiences by the authors to be both illuminating and thought-provoking. — Joshua Tree, California

We really are trying to adapt the things we read, teach, experience and share with one another to our Pre K population. We would love to take a 4 to 6 week series of classes on anti racism teaching for preschoolers and Pre K students. — Portland, Oregon

The group, which includes teachers, administrators, a school psychologist, and a board member, is taking the content very seriously. We, as a group, are investigating our biases openly. We are discussing ways to apply what we’re learning to our district. — Grand Rapids, Michigan

We discussed how restorative practices go hand in hand with building community at the schools and getting parents and family on campus. Restorative practice can support us in building bridges between the school and home. — Albuquerque, New Mexico