Equity and Inclusion Institute: Facilitating Conversations About Race: Grades K-8

Monday, November 18 - Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Grade: K-8
Featuring: Sonja Cherry-Paul, Arlene Casimir-Siar, and Gabby Vega with Colleen Cruz

James Baldwin once said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” During this institute we will explore the pathways and possibilities for shattering silences around race and racism in classrooms and schools.

Silences around race create missed opportunities for students to acquire the tools necessary to develop racial literacy. Echoed throughout the research on teaching and racial justice is that teacher discomfort is one of the biggest roadblocks to engaging in discourse around race and racism. Yet, with continued dialogue, practice, and education it becomes easier to engage in this work and to acquire the tools needed to talk and teach about race and racism.

Therefore, this institute will begin with a focus on ourselves and our identities. We’ll spend time doing the important work of learning how to grapple with challenging topics before taking this on with students. Throughout this process, participants will also learn about the kinds of initial conversations and lessons they can facilitate in the classroom that help students to learn about themselves and others. Early in the institute, you’ll learn about a protocol for talking about race that can be used in the classroom as well as the picture books, poems, novels, and digital texts that can spark grand conversations about race and racism.

A common misconception is that talking about race is divisive and polarizing; colorblindness is the answer. So part of our work together will be to understand how colorblind ideology contributes to racism and instead learn to be, as Melody Hobson names, “color brave” by centering discussions about race and racism in curriculum and classrooms. We’ll dive into historical and political research by critical race and culturally relevant theorists that inform antiracist practices. Then, we’ll draw from this research to grow our thinking and respond to the essential question: What does it mean to teach personal and collective responsibility and to push against silences about race in our teaching? Presenters will share strategies and lessons that empower us to reach beyond curriculums that uphold that status quo and instead teach in ways that connect the injustices of the past to the injustices of the present.

Racial literacy skills and the vocabulary students will acquire that help them to recognize, name, and challenge various forms of everyday racism are essential to courageous conversations about race and racism. Presenters will demonstrate lessons and texts that support students’ understanding of terms such as: race; individual, institutional, and interpersonal racism, privilege; ally; colorblindness; discrimination; microaggressions; stereotype.

Finally, we’ll develop an action plan that includes short and long term goals for implementing this work in our classrooms, schools, and communities. Throughout this institute, we will identify opportunities to extend our gaze beyond projects, “fill in the blank history month,” and units. Participants will leave with concrete plans for making conversations about race more intentional and fluid, in ways that flow between school and home.


$650/$600 NYC DOE


This institute will take place at the Teachers College campus.
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 W 120th Street
New York, NY