Tricia Ebarvia Profile picture
Jul 15, 2018 22 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Reading a few conversations online recently, I've been thinking a lot about the urgent need for us as Ts to do some hard, internal work of unpacking the identities we bring to the classroom. (Thread, a long one 👇🏾) /1
Teaching is an intensely human activity. We know that the best teachers are those who know that teaching—and Ss—cannot be standardized. We teach who we are. This is what can make our practice so powerful—even transformative—but also dangerous. /2
We bring all of our identities—and the experiences that informed them—into our teaching. So we have to interrogate the ways in which these experiences have shaped our practices and relationships with kids. /3
These include our credentials, professional learning, and all our years in the classroom—we draw upon these experiences when we make decisions. We draw upon our years of kid-watching and theory-making. /4
But I would argue that it's often our personal identities and experiences that have the most profound effects on our teaching, and that which most often—and most dangerously—go unexamined. /5
Some quick examples.

Ts who defend the "canon" often argue that there are certain "literary" works that are rich and rigorous that all kids should have to be "educated," that they're missing out on something critical w/out [fill in the blank]. /6
But the thing is, most Ts, esp. HS English Ts, were educated in a system and in a "canon" of texts that included some voices but excluded many more others. To call into question the validity of the "canon" means that we have to acknowledge our complicity in this exclusion. /7
I think we need to recognize that when we defend the "canon," we might also be defending our own perceived expertise. It becomes personal.

I speak from my own experience. As an AsAm woman who has always felt the pressure to "fit in" and "prove" myself in many spaces... /8
...I saw my expertise in the "canon" as evidence of my intellect (and perhaps as a path to White adjacency). Ironically, when my Ss were reading Achebe's Things Fall Apart, we discussed how schools were often used as one of the most effective tools of colonizers. /9
What I didn't recognize was my own complicity in such a system. In the words of anti-apartheid leader Steve Biko, "the most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." This is why we must #DisruptTexts /10
Another example of the way my identities have affected my teaching is through my privilege.

I grew up and live in an affluent, predominantly White, somewhat progressive suburb. I teach & work in two of the most "high-performing" districts in the state. /11
At first glance, this seems like a great place to live: lots of public parks, low violent crime, access to multiple grocery stores and shops. But one reason for this is because of the racial segregation—legal & de facto—that have shaped many metropolitan areas. /12
I have to acknowledge that. I can say I live here because I want what's best for my kids, because my parents live close by and family is important. This is all true—but it is ALSO true that I'm complicit in an ongoing system of structural racism. /13
This structural racism has limited the diversity around me & perhaps my ability to empathize w/others. When I reflect on my own racial literacy in recent years, it's been my relationships w/other POCs that have transformed my understanding of racism, esp. anti-Black racism. /14
Why does this matter in my teaching? Because if I don't fully comprehend what impedes my own ability to understand racism as it exists in my own life, how can I teach Ss about racism w/the complexity and knowledge required? /15
How can I teach To Kill a Mockingbird? Huck Finn? Gatsby? Or really—ANY American literature? How can I teach students about holidays like "Thanksgiving" or figures like MLK, Jr. responsibly? How can I offer students #ownvoices narratives in my classroom library? /16
It's the privilege that my personal experiences afford me that also partially explains my shock at recent events: the racial slurs hurled at POC on buses, police called on Black Americans going to the pool, "family detention centers" erected to imprison refugees. /17
And although I am privileged (or perhaps because I am) and went to excellent schools, never in my schooling were the full atrocities of racism ever really explained. /18
This lack of knowledge limits my ability to teach fully and truthfully. Instead, I might combat racism w/platitudes like "be kind" or simply encourage kids to be "colorblind," which only further erases the experiences of people of color. /19
Where does this leave me? Overwhelmed, angry, impatient, and sometimes, resigned. But that's when I'll try to listen & read, fill in gaps I'm still unpacking; seek others who will challenge me to grow; and speak up, push back when I see practices that can be damaging to kids. /21
Educating ourselves—asking hard, uncomfortable questions that we might not like the answers to—is a form of activism. It's a first step, at least. Because something's got to change. /22
Adding my friend @SchleiderJustin's related thoughts here, too, from the point of view of another teacher and parent who is doing the work.…

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More from @triciaebarvia

Oct 8, 2018
YAY! Excited to listen to @angiecthomas talk #TheHateUGive! @ncte
.@angiecthomas encourages readers to see the film and the book as “fraternal twins” - as two different works of art that complement each other, as an opportunity to look at how each shows versus tells. #NCTELearns @ncte
“I wanted each character to break away from stereotypes... to create characters that are 3-dimensional, as full, real people so that young people can say they see themselves”- @angiecthomas on #TheHateUGive and then quotes Dr. Bishop’s mirrors and windows. #NCTELearns @ncte
Read 7 tweets
Oct 3, 2018
My work right now is focused on curriculum, but not just on diverse text selection. For me, it’s about embedding anti-bias, anti-racist pedagogies into my daily practices in big and small ways, but relentlessly so. #ClearTheAir #DisruptTexts
Another one of my goals is to become more active as a role model and mentor to the AAPI Ss in my school as the Ss organization faculty advisor. Because of the Model Minority myth, too often AAPI Ss needs as ignored or underserved. #CleartheAir
My librarian and I are co-facilitating a social justice book club which has so far gotten a great response. Out first selection was Just Mercy and Ts stayed for almost two hours after school to talk! Our next meeting will be focused on action we can take. #CleartheAir
Read 4 tweets
Oct 1, 2018
This week, Ss consider the voices & perspectives that may be missing from texts like The Things They Carried, starting w/some reflection that considers the voices & perspectives they center in their own lives and who O’Brien centers in the text... #DisruptTexts #aplangchat 1/
Students selected articles from the @nytimes Vietnam in ‘67 collection:… #DisruptTexts #aplangchat 2/
Here are some examples of responses from Ss when prompted to consider additional perspectives #aplangchat #DisruptTexts 3/
Read 10 tweets
Sep 30, 2018
Catching up on #TheEdCollabGathering sessions I missed yesterday day—and YES to EVERYTHING my #DisruptTexts co-Founder and friend @juliaerin80 says: We are living in a historic time, a true renaissance of multicultural #yalit.
Like Julia, I didn’t have these texts as a teen. What a difference it would have in my life; what a difference it can make for our Ss now.

It’s an amazing time for #yalit. Will you be a T who engages in this moment or let it pass by? #TheEDCollabGathering #12 #DisruptTexts
I could listen to @juliaerin80’s booktalks all day and 💯 agree w/this: “Jason Reynolds has written the book for everyone.” I have 3 boys, ages 8, 11, & 13 — and all three are reading @JasonReynolds83’s Track series, 11-yr-old read #MilesMorales, & oldest read #LongWayDown 2X.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 29, 2018
So as many know, me and @Tolerance_org Social Justice Standards = 😍. Love how framework works as a foundation & guide for any unit of study, grades K-12.

Ex. Here are essential ?s based on the standards on a unit of study on the idea of HOME.


#TheEdCollabGathering #7
In #AmericanLit, we can explore the idea of HOME throughout the entire year — and #DisruptTexts — starting w/Native and indigenous literatures. #TheEDCollabGathering #7
Some related questions to explore: How have First Nations people defined home? How is home tied to land and language and culture? #TheEdCollabGathering #7 #DisruptTexts
Read 14 tweets
Sep 29, 2018

Of the many things I learned co-presenting w/@teachkate was how we approach planning from different starting pts. Kate, master of rdg workshop, starts w/skills, then texts, then essential ?s. Meanwhile, I start w/essential ?s, texts, then skills. #TheEdCollabGathering #7
But no matter where we start—whether we start with the skills kids will need to apply to new texts independently or the essential questions they can wrestle and grapple with—what is NOT a starting or ending point is the text.

#TheEdCollabGathering #7
We should stop treating texts & the "canon" as if they are fixed.

How often do we start & end w/the "text": reducing literature to content to be consumed v. a means to invite Ss to develop skills & grapple with big, important questions? #DisruptTexts #TheEdCollabGathering #7
Read 5 tweets

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