Opinion Blog

Classroom Q&A

With Larry Ferlazzo

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to lferlazzo@epe.org. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Q&A Collections: Race & Racism in Schools

By Larry Ferlazzo — June 18, 2020 15 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

During the summer, I will be sharing thematic posts bringing together responses on similar topics from the past nine years. You can see all those collections from the first eight years here.

Here are the ones I’ve posted so far:

This Year’s Most Popular Q&A Posts

Today’s theme is on Race & Racism in Schools. You can see the list following this excerpt from one of them:

*Lessons for Teachers From George Floyd’s Death & Black Lives Matter

Four educators share changes they are making in their teaching as a result of the violent death of George Floyd and subsequent protests, such as trying to leave a deficit framework behind and looking at more systemic causes of racism.

*Educators Must Challenge Racist Language & Actions

Five educators offer recommendations about confronting colleagues who engage in racist language and actions, such as highlighting the differences between “impact” and “intent” and referencing school institutional values.

*Strategies for Embracing Anti-Racist Work in Our Classrooms

In the face of the shootings of George Floyd, Jacob Blake, and others, four educators share their plans for confronting racism, including encouraging a culture of questioning in the classroom and engaging with Black community members.

*Engaging With Students in Conversations About Race

Three educators discuss why teachers should not believe or act like “they don’t see color” and, instead, invite students to share their experiences of how race impacts their lives.

* Teachers ‘Cannot Stop at Conversations’ About Racism

Three educators discuss what teachers can do in response to George Floyd’s death, including not stopping at conversations and instead moving to action.

* Four Ways Schools Can Support Teachers to Become ‘Actively Anti-Racist’

Three educators share what schools should and should not do to support teachers to become anti-racists, such as lifting up black student voices and bypassing prepackaged “character-building” lessons that don’t address racism.

* ‘The Problem With Kindness': SEL & the Death of George Floyd

Three educators offer suggestions for educators in the face of George Floyd’s death, among them, going beyond social-emotional-learning skills and “know and teach the history of race.”

* Six Truths About Racism That White Teachers Must Know

Two educators challenge White teachers to confront “hard truths,” including recognizing the role of White privilege and acknowledging their own biases.

* ‘Educators Must Realize That There Is No Neutral Position on Issues of Racial Justice’

Three educators offer lessons teachers can learn from the death of George Floyd, such as neutrality has no place in the struggle for racial justice and White educators must stop expecting their colleagues of color to do the “heavy lifting.”

* ‘Advice for the Newly Woke White Teachers on Teaching Black Children’

Two educators offer advice to White teachers, including learning more about restorative practices and focusing on their actions, not their intentions.

*What Educators Should--and Should Not Do--in Response to George Floyd’s Death

Two educators offer suggestions on what to do--and not do--in the wake of George Floyd’s death, such as learning about the legacy of racism before taking action and not just limiting actions to empty messages of support.

*What Teachers Should Learn From the Death of George Floyd

Two teachers reflect and communicate about what they think educators should learn from the death of George Floyd, including the importance of being anti-racist and challenging White teachers to acknowledge their implicit biases.

*Black Students Need Love Shown Through Action Right Now

Shannon R. Waite, Ed.D., writes that Black students need to be shown love during the pandemic and that love should be demonstrated through developing “a critical consciousness in teachers and administrators.”

*Assessing the Needs of Black Students During the Coronavirus Crisis

Jamila Lyiscott, Ph.D., writes about the challenges facing Black students before and during the Coronavirus crisis and how schools must invite them to help identify their own needs.

*Four Ways to Support African American Students Through the COVID-19 Emergency

Educator Adeyemi Stembridge, Ph.D., shares strategies to bolster African American students during our present emergency, such as inviting them to share their stories and their art.

*Supporting African American Students During the School Closure Crisis

Two educators describe how schools can directly respond to the needs of African American students during the COVID-19 crisis, including by regularly contacting their homes and developing a student-centered curriculum.

*'Culturally Responsive Teaching Is Not a Quick Fix’

Five educators share culturally responsive teaching “tips,” including the use of restorative circles and creating lessons with students’ cultures in mind.

*'Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy Honors the Humanity & Identity of Young People’

Five educators provide recommendations on how to incorporate culturally sustaining pedagogy in the classroom, including offering a four-step process and encouraging teachers to start with educating themselves about their students.

*Culturally Responsive Instruction Is ‘Not Just About Adding a Hip Hop Song to Your Lesson Hook’

Ten educators offer specific ideas on how to apply culturally responsive pedagogy in schools, including through the use of diverse literature and by inviting students to share their own life experiences.

*Steps to Make Classrooms More Culturally Responsive

Six educators share specific suggestions on how to make lessons more culturally responsive, including through having teachers assess their own biases and by elevating students’ culture and language.

*'Being Nice Is Not Enough to Make Racism Disappear’

Veteran educator Dr. Karen Baptiste discusses how teachers believing they are “colorblind” contributes toward the school-to-prison pipeline for students.

*'Claiming to Not See Race Leads to Inequity in Education’

Four educators offer recommendations on how to respond to teachers who say they “don’t see race,” including specific questions to use for deepening the conversation.

*'Practicing Colorblindness Suppresses the Individuality of Our Students’

Seven educators challenge the idea of “not seeing race or color” in the the classroom and offer suggestions like considering our own implicit biases, as well as providing additional resources.

*Educators Must Disrupt ‘Colorblind Ideologies’

Nine educators write about possible ways to respond to teachers who say they “don’t see color,” including by framing the discussion around differentiation, school climate, and white privilege.

*Saying ‘I Don’t See Color’ Denies the Racial Identity of Students

When teachers claim they “don’t see race” or “don’t see color, that makes it difficult for them to build relationships with students. Eight educators offer suggestions of how to respond to those teachers.

*'I Don’t See Color in Education Means I Don’t See You Unless You Act Like Me’

A six-part series on why educators must “see color” is wrapped up by Justin A. Coles, Dr. Chezare A. Warren, and Christopher Emdin. This series has been guest-edited by Shannon R. Waite, Ed.D.

*When People Say They Don’t See Race, ‘I Ask Them If They Don’t See Me’

Dr. Marcelle Mentor, Jane Bolgatz, and Dr. Akane Zusho discuss the costs of not addressing colorblindness in education. This post is Part Five in a series guest-edited by Shannon R. Waite, Ed.D.

*'We All Have Implicit Biases’

Jia Lee, Melissa Payne, and Brady Smith write about the myth of “not seeing race.” This post is Part Four in a series guest-edited by Shannon R. Waite, Ed.D.

*There Isn’t a ‘Switch’ That Blocks Out Race in the Classroom

Public school student Jehan Pitt and Professor Kaliris Salas-Ramirez, Ph.D., discuss how teachers can deal with the issue of race in the classroom. This is Part Three in a series guest-edited by Shannon R. Waite, Ed.D.

*If We ‘Don’t See Race,’ We Don’t See ‘Students’ Magic’

Kris DeFilippis and Dr. Gholnecsar (Gholdy) Muhammad question teachers who say they “don’t see race,” in this series guest-edited by Shannon R. Waite, Ed.D.

*The ‘Colorblindness’ of Schools Has ‘Failed Children of Color’

Judd Rothstein and Terri N. Watson, Ph.D., challenge the notion of teacher “colorblindness” in this series guest-edited by Shannon R. Waite, Ed.D.

*Author Interview: ‘Cultural Competence Now’

Vernita Mayfield agreed to answer a few questions about her book, Cultural Competence Now: 56 Exercises to Help Educators Understand and Challenge Bias, Racism, and Privilege.

*Author Interview With Dr. Gholdy Muhammad: ‘Cultivating Genius’

For the 100th book-related post in this blog, Gholdy Muhammad agreed to answer a few questions about her new book, Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy.

*Author Interview: ‘Culturally Responsive Education in the Classroom’

Adeyemi Stembridge talks about his new book, Culturally Responsive Education In The Classroom: An Equity Framework for Pedagogy, including explaining the difference between “equity” and “equality.”

*Author Interview: ‘Unconscious Bias in Schools’

Dr. Tracey A. Benson and Dr. Sarah E. Fiarman agreed to answer a few questions about their book, Unconscious Bias In Schools: A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism.

*Author Interview: ‘Speaking for Ourselves’

Daisy Han and Lorena Germán agreed to answer a few questions about the new book they have edited, Speaking For Ourselves.

* Author Interview: Black Appetite. White Food.

Jamila Lyiscott answers some questions about her new book, Black Appetite. White Food: Issues of Race, Voice, and Justice Within and Beyond the Classroom.

* ‘We Need to Face Our Own Discomfort’ About Discussing Racism

Marian Dingle, Sydney Chaffee, Raquel Rios, Rinard Pugh, and Dr. Kimberly N. Parker talk about mistakes that are often made when trying to tackle race and racism in the classroom and explore what we teachers can do, instead.

* Race & Racism Are Not ‘Merely Curricular Topics’

Dr. Tehia Glass, Dr. Erin Miller, Eddie Moore, Jr., Ali Michael, Marguerite Penick-Parks, Dr. Chezare A. Warren, Brian L. Wright, Ph.D., and Leah Wilson share their thoughts on the biggest mistakes made when approaching race and racism in the classroom.

* Teachers Can’t Ignore Racism Issues and Hope They ‘Will Go Away’

A three-part series approaching race and racism in schools is wrapped up by Dr. Larry J. Walker, Dr. Jaime Castellano, Dr. Mara Lee Grayson, Ashley S. Boyd, Jennifer Orr, and Kelly Wickham Hurst.

* ‘Holla If You See Us': Black Girls in Spaces We Call Schools

Dr. Terri N. Watson begins guest-editing a three-part series on the discipline disparities affecting black girls. Dr. Watson and Yolanda Tomlin contribute their thoughts in this first post.

* ‘There Is Still a Lot of Work’ Schools Need to Do in Supporting Black Girls

Part Two of this series will feature practices schools and districts have and/or should implement to improve the schooling experiences of black girls. Gholdy Muhammad, Shannon R. Waite, Marquitta T. Speller, and Valerie Kinloch share their commentaries.

*“What Does It Mean to Be Young, Black, and Female in America?”

This final post in a series on school discipline and black girls includes recommendations from Venus E. Evans-Winters, Zakiyah Ansari, and Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz. The entire series has been guest-edited by Dr. Terri N. Watson.

* Meeting the Needs of Native American Students

Mandy Smoker Broaddus, Gregg Castro, and Jennifer Jilot discuss the challenges faced by Native American students and ways educators can effectively respond to those issues.

* ‘Something Must Change’ to Address Challenges Facing Native American Youths

Dr. Susan C. Faircloth, Kelly Sassi, and Jennifer Borgioli share their thoughts on the challenges facing Native American youths.

* Focusing on the Assets of Native American Students

Timothy San Pedro, Alayna Eagle Shield, and Amanda Holmes wrap up a three-part series on Native American education.

* Author Interview With Matthew Kay: Not Light, But Fire

Matthew R. Kay agreed to answer a few questions about his new book, Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom.

* Author Interview With Rich Milner: Reimagining ‘Classroom Management’ for Equity

Rich Milner agreed to answer a few questions about his recent book, ‘These Kids Are Out Of Control’ Why We Must Reimagine ‘Classroom Management’ for Equity (co-authored with Heather B. Cunningham, Lori Delale-O’Connor, and Erika Gold Kestenberg).

* Author Interview: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty and Racism

Cia Verschelden agreed to answer a few questions about her book, Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism and Social Marginalization.

* Author Interview: Enhancing the ‘Mental Bandwidth’ of Students
Part Two of an interview with Cia Verschelden about her book, Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism and Social Marginalization.

* ‘Ethnic-Studies Courses Benefit All Students’

Tony Diaz, Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath, and H. Richard Milner IV write about the importance of ethnic-studies classes.

* Using Social-Emotional Learning to Challenge ‘Systems of Oppression’

This post on the role of race and equity in social-emotional learning is “guest-hosted” by Mai Xi Lee, the director of social-emotional learning for the Sacramento City Unified school district. After her introduction, she brings together responses from Robert J. Jagers, Mary Hurley, Sonny Kim, Dr. Christina Arpante, Meena Srinivasan, Africa S. Fullove, and Kashia Jensen.

* Equity & Social-Emotional Learning

Carla Tantillo Philibert, DeEtta Jones, & Peggy Collings continue the discussion on the role of race and equity in social-emotional learning.

* ‘White Educators Must Sharpen Their Humility’ Before They Discuss Race

Matthew Kay, Martha Caldwell, Oman Frame, Debbie Silver, Sonja Cherry-Paul, Dana Johansen, Alice Mercer, and Amy Okimoto share their thoughts on engaging with race in schools.

* ‘Courageous Conversations’ Are Needed to Discuss Race in Schools

Karen Baptiste, Dr. Jonas Chartock, Jason Flom, Dr. Mara Lee Grayson, and Dara Naphan share their commentaries on engaging with race and implicit-bias issues in the classroom.

* Approach Race & Implicit Bias by ‘Listening to Students’

Adeyemi Stembridge, Sanée Bell, Raquel Ríos, Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath, and Lynell A. Powell share their counsel on approaching race and implicit bias in the classroom.

* Author Interview: Culturally Relevant Teaching

Megan Adams, Sanjuana Rodriguez, and Kate Zimmer agreed to answer a few questions about their book, Culturally Relevant Teaching: Preparing Teachers To Include All Learners.

* Teachers Lose ‘Credibility’ If We Don’t Address ‘Controversial’ Topics

Lorena Germán, Adeyemi Stembridge, Stephen Lazar, Jen Schwanke, and Aubrie Rojee share their ideas on how to handle so-called “controversial” topics in the classroom.

* ‘Fear’ Should Not Stop Us From Exploring ‘Controversial’ Topics in School

Gabriella Corales, Tom Rademacher, Martha Caldwell, Oman Frame, Danny Woo, Paul Barnwell, and Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski share their responses to the question: “How do you handle controversial issues in the classroom?”

* Teachers Should Examine ‘Biases’ When Discussing ‘Sensitive’ Topics

Dominique Williams, Matthew Homrich-Knieling, Meg White, Kristina J. Doubet, Jessica A. Hockett, Vance Austin, and Stephanie Smith contribute to Part Three in a series on handling “controversial” issues in the classroom.

* ‘Don’t Avoid Controversial Topics’ in School

Today’s answers on dealing with controversial issues in the classroom are provided by Sara Ahmed, Jennifer Borgioli, Kevin Scott, Erik M. Francis, Phil Hunsberger, Jackie Walsh, Beth Sattes, and Dave Stuart Jr.

* It’s ‘Vital’ for Teachers to ‘Integrate Controversial Topics Into Lessons’

A five-part series on handling “controversial” topics in the classroom series is wrapped up with commentaries by Meg Riordan, Lymaris Santana, Sarah Thomas, and Thomas Armstrong, along with many comments from readers.

* Author Interview: Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies

Django Paris and H. Samy Alim agreed to answer a few questions about their new book, Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World.

* Author Interview: Growing Critically Conscious Teachers

Angela Valenzuela agreed to answer a few questions about the new book she has edited, Growing Critically Conscious Teachers: A Social Justice Curriculum for Educators of Latino/a Youth.

* Author Interview: More Mirrors in the Classroom

Jane Fleming, Susan Catapano, Candace M. Thompson, and Sandy Ruvalcaba Carrillo agreed to answer a few questions about their book, More Mirrors In The Classroom.

* For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...: An Interview With Chris Emdin

I interview Chris Emdin about his new book.

* ‘It Is Long Past Time to Meet the Needs of Students of Color’

This post is Part One of a two-part special project guest-hosted by Django Paris, Ph.D., & Travis J. Bristol, Ph.D. It has an introduction by Django Paris and contributions from Charlene Mendoza, Lorena German, David Flores, Matt Knielling, and Gabriella Corales.

* Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy ‘Increases Student Engagement & Learning’

Part Two consists of a short introduction by Travis Bristol and commentaries from Linda Bauld, Brian Pew, Lakisha Odlum, and Cyrene Crooms.

* Strategies for Recruiting Teachers of Color

This is the first post in a three-part series “guest-hosted” by Travis Bristol, Ph.D., & Terrenda White, Ph.D. Part One “features examples from school districts that have implemented innovative strategies to recruit and retain teachers of color.”

* How Universities Are Recruiting More Teachers of Color

Part Two in the series “features the work of universities, schools of education, and teacher-preparation programs.”

Increasing the Diversity of America’s Teachers

Part Three “spotlights the work of alternative teacher-preparation programs and charter schools, as well as community-based efforts on the part of parents.”

* Book Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World & Me

Educators Cornelius Minor and Bridget Wilhelm co-author a guest review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me.

* The Teachers of Color ‘Disappearance Crisis’

Gloria Ladson-Billings, Travis J. Bristol, and Terrenda Corisa White contribute their responses here.

* ‘Education Suffers’ Without More Teachers of Color

This post highlights contributions from teachers Antoine Germany, James Pale, Dominique Williams, and Evelyn Ramos and from student Jacquelin Estrada.

* Teachers of Color Can ‘Broaden Student Perspectives’

Teacher Ya Po Cha, teacher Elizabeth Villanueva, student-teacher Billy William Ivy, biligual aide Alma Avalos, and student Amanda Martinez provide their thoughts on the topic.

* Culturally Responsive Teaching: An Interview With Zaretta Hammond

I interview Zaretta Hammond about her book.

* Engaging With Class & Race in the Classroom

Three educators--Ashanti Foster, Melissa Bollow Tempel, and P.L. Thomas--and a number of readers share their thoughts.

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.