Teaching Tools

Teachers In Action

See our tools for teachers with instructional best practices for culturally sustaining schooling and for working to ensure your students learn despite the climate of classroom censorship. Over time, we will add more tools with topical and grade filters.

How has classroom censorship affected you?

By design, this School Resource Hub is responding to the needs of educators, students and families. Please help by letting us know how classroom censorship policies are affecting your classroom, your child or your own education. Help us spread the word!

Teaching Tool

Part I – Teacher and Family Observations on Ethnic Studies (interview findings). Part II – Tips for Organizing in Support of Ethnic Studies. Featuring Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Family Engagement Coordinator; Eva Carranza, Parent and Education Leader, ARISE Adelante; Gilbert Flores, MAS Teacher Breckenridge High School, San Antonio ISD; Lilliana Saldana, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Mexican American Studies, University of Texas at San Antonio; and Josué Peralta de Jesús, High School Junior, IDRA Youth Advisory Board member.

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Cultural alienation and subtractive assimilation are significant factors in academic failure and dropout rates among students of color. Creating equitable schools calls for leadership grounded in culture and identity. Embracing all learners’ cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic diversity facilitates social justice practices for multi-dimensional learners in schools. This session addresses cultural identities and explores a dynamic approach to culturally sustaining leadership that acknowledges the hybrid nature of culture, identity and advocacy. We examine the notions of care and racial awareness and provide a means by which leaders authentically engage in dialogue and reflection to identify cultural competency, learn to access the cultural and social capital of the community, and develop a sociopolitical consciousness. This session is led by Juan Niño, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Texas at San Antonio; and Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., IDRA Senior Education Associate.

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What are best practices that increase student engagement? What are the lessons we have learned during the pandemic? In this session, we engage in a hands-on workshop that puts these strategies into practice! We hope to provide opportunities to learn, engage and reflect upon student engagement from the elementary to secondary level. This session is led by Stephanie Garcia, Ph.D., IDRA Education Associate; and Michelle Martínez Vega, IDRA Chief Technology Strategist.

Teaching Tool

In these most challenging times, educators face an attack of unprecedented scope and seriousness. This campaign has accelerated teacher attrition and coalesced into collective angst among teachers. Yet at this moment, we must find a type of communal hope that reaffirms our will to fight for equity and justice in education. Like teachers, our students face an unprecedented set of circumstances that recent research has linked to growing trends in negative thinking, depression and attempted suicide among students across the country. Dr. James details how these matters are linked to inequity in schools, and how hopeful educators must summon the collective will to stand for children once again. He weaves research and storytelling to encourage educators to rekindle their hopes and press on for equity in U.S. schools. This session is led by Marlon James, Ph.D., assistant professor Texas A&M University, President, Equality and Equity Group.

Teaching Tool

What does it mean to understand a sense of belonging not simply as an individual experience, but also as something systemic? What possibilities arise in people-centered, trauma informed learning environments? This keynote session offers an extended moment to think about, and envision, within the interconnections between belonging and learning, both inside and outside classrooms. This session is led by Elisa Diana Huerta, Ph.D., Director, Multicultural Community Center, Division of Equity & Inclusion, University of California, Berkeley; Founder, EDH Strategies.

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Dr. Keeling will share her approach to facilitating the disruption of predictable educational outcomes. Leaders must support educators in building the skills, knowledge, awareness and mindset to ensure every student has access to high-quality instruction. Students deserve access to relevant, racially, culturally and linguistically inclusive and historically accurate curricula in an environment where every student, staff and family feels safe, heard, affirmed and supported. Establishing these centers of inclusion requires critical examination of policies, practices, and resource allocation. Furthermore, we must intentionally listen to and partner with those closest to the inequities to examine and understand the historical context of racial and other inequities in education. Together, we have the power to create a shared culture where equity is realized. This session is led by Dena Keeling, Ed.D., member, IDRA Board of Directors.

Teaching Tool

Many people consider these concepts of school culture and climate as interchangeable. But climate is perception-based, while culture is grounded in shared values and beliefs. In this sense, climate is how people feel in the school, and culture is a deeper sense of how people act in the school. IDRA examines school climate through policies and procedures in contrast to school culture as demonstrating how educators “do” school at each level (district, campus, classroom). This session is led by Paula Johnson, Ph.D., Director, IDRA EAC-South.

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From incorporating representative curricula in our classrooms, to understanding the rights of queer communities, and implementing inclusive policies, this interactive session guides you in creating safe, supportive and sustaining school spaces with and for queer youth. This session is led by Irene Gómez, Ed.M., IDRA Senior Education Associate; and Lauren Fontaine, IDRA Policy, Advocacy and Community Engagement Intern.

Teaching Tool

Explore IDRA EAC-South’s research that frames culturally sustaining education into four quadrants that represent practices at the following critical levels: (1) culturally sustaining schools, (2) culturally sustaining leadership, (3) culturally sustaining educators, and (4) culturally sustaining pedagogy. This session is led by Paula Johnson, Ph.D., Director, IDRA EAC-South; and Hector Bojorquez, IDRA Director of Operations and Educational Practice.

Teaching Tool

Presenters from the Georgia Educators for Equity and Justice, Inc., discussed: What ethnic studies is; How to advocate for an ethnic studies course; How to teach marginalized students as an ally; The importance of authenticity when teaching a social studies or science course; The importance of creating safe spaces and trauma-informed practices for productive discussions centering around anti-racism and equity; How to use ethnic studies pedagogy in fine arts curriculum; A student’s perspective on the importance of ethnic studies; and How to prepare yourself for teaching an ethnic studies course. This session is led by Mikayla Arciaga, M.A.Ed., IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Georgia Education Policy; Aireane Montgomery, MAT, President & CEO, Georgia Educators for Equity and Justice, Inc.; Anthony Downer, MAT, Vice President, Georgia Educators for Equity and Justice, Inc.; and Maurice Brewton, MAT, Executive Director, Georgia Educators for Equity and Justice, Inc.

Teaching Tool

This workshop explores the concept of unconditional love as it is relevant to justice in instruction and learning. We examine the effectiveness of an instructional design that is rooted in agape or unconditional love for the purpose of improving the social and academic outcomes of our learning population. Themes include defining love and its connection to cognition; knowing our students and building an agape community; meeting our students where they are; and forgiving our students and ourselves. This session is led by Stacy Johnson, Ph.D., owner and instructional coach, An Eagle’s Wing Academic Support Services.

Teaching Tool

In a historic first, the Senate Thursday narrowly confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. Three Republican senators joined all 50 Democrats in voting for Jackson. LaDoris Cordell, who became the first Black woman judge in northern California and recently published a memoir titled “Her Honor,” joins Amna Nawaz for more on the confirmation.

Teaching Tool

The Leadership Conference Education Fund, in collaboration with Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, GLSEN, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., National Black Justice Coalition, National Women’s Law Center, The Education Trust, and IDRA, hosted a webinar in early 2022 to discuss culturally responsive curricula in our schools. Every student deserves to learn and thrive in a school environment that supports student identities, equips them for the future, and teaches the truth. Unfortunately, across the country we have seen attempts to gag educators and whitewash the history of the United States by attacking culturally responsive curriculum, respect for LGBTQ+ students, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. We need to teach students the truth of our history, to enable them to learn from the mistakes of our past and help create a more just and equitable future. We must ensure they have an honest and accurate education that helps them develop critical thinking skills. Thankfully, we are not alone in this fight. While there are those who seek to erase history (what they call an attack on critical race theory), there are also those who are ensuring that the stories and experiences of all students are represented in our classrooms.

Teaching Tool

In this interactive lesson, students will use Unladylike2020 digital shorts to learn about women of the Progressive Era and search for and examine primary source material. Students will then craft a historical argument using a primary source to argue what learning about a specific Unladylike2020 woman adds to their understanding of the Progressive Era in U.S. History.

Teaching Tool

Twin sisters Jordan and Mia Smith discuss the history of Juneteenth and its significance in present day U.S. Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of slaves on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas. The sisters explore the historical context of the holiday and offer insight into their own lives.

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In 1989, five Black and Latino teenagers were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park. They spent between six and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed to the crime, and their convictions were overturned. Set against a backdrop of a city beset by violence and racial tension, this film tells the story of that crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories and an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.

Teaching Tool

Teachers who are looking for good culturally sustaining instructional strategies should look at a new resource published a few months ago, Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices, by Lorena Escoto Germán. The strategies are designed for engaging all students, welcoming their whole selves while integrating social justice throughout middle and high school learning.

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Observing for Structured Engagement is Part 2 of the IDRA Engagement Based Sheltered Instruction (EBSI) professional development model. The sound pedagogy predictive of English language learner engagement was organized into dimensions containing specific indicators that can be observed as evidence of engagement-based instruction: Classroom environment and learning context conducive to interaction; Lesson preparation and delivery plans; Teacher-student relationships that promote trust and high expectations; Comprehensible content and language teaching (i.e., sheltered instruction); Active-interactive experiences; and Structured engagement tasks (or specific techniques for focused participation).

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A first person interpretive performance, followed by a discussion about James Forten, a Free Black and Revolutionary War Privateer. This virtual program was hosted by the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.

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The practice of using primary sources for teaching history has been part of classroom censorship debates. Primary resources have long since been regarded as points of truth in academic research and classroom learning. Studied carefully for legitimacy and unbiased in their delivery, these sources are neither for nor against an issue. Rather, primary resources simply present factual information for the consumer to develop their own understanding or opinion about the information.

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The American Library Association condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. Every year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on information from media stories and voluntary reports sent to OIF from communities across the United States. The Top 10 lists are only a snapshot of book challenges. Surveys indicate that 82% to 97% of book challenges – documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries – remain unreported and receive no media attention.

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Lucia Stanton, senior historian of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, has been studying and writing about Thomas Jefferson and his enslaved community for more than 30 years. In this program, she argues that the President sometimes treated his slaves as human beings, and other times as property. Using thousands of documents and records kept by the third president, Stanton attempts to imagine what life was like from the point of view of the slaves.

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David Waldstreicher talks about his book Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution, published by Hill and Wang. In the book he re-examined Benjamin Franklin, slavery and the American Revolution. In his speech, he argues that Benjamin Franklin was not the hero of abolitionism that many people remember.

Teaching Tool

1619 is a New York Times audio series hosted by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who created The 1619 Project initiative for The New York Times Magazine. The podcast features five episodes, spanning three hours of listening time. Through the oldest form of storytelling, the podcast takes the listener through 400 years of history and the present depicting how slavery has transformed this country.

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