Chris Lehman and Julia Torres Teach Literacy as a Tool for Collective Liberation in Alumni Speaker Series Workshop

Chris Lehman and Julia Torres Teach Literacy as a Tool for Collective Liberation in Alumni Speaker Series Workshop

Founder of The Educator Collaborative, Chris Lehman, and The Educator Collaborative Book Ambassador and teacher librarian, Julia Torres, led the first Alumni Speaker Series of the 2019-2020 school year. Their presentation titled, Literacy as a Tool for Collective Liberation: Culturally Responsive Teaching in the K-6 Classroom, centered on confronting the many challenges educators face on the way to learning what it truly means to engage in education as a practice of liberation to move literacy work toward culturally responsive teaching.

This workshop supported educators in critiquing and revising literacy practices, including reading and writing lessons, conferring, and designing formative assessments. Participants had the opportunity to study shifts, big and small, for more inclusive practices and curriculum. They were also challenged to look at their areas of privilege or power and to support their on-going journey of self-examination with the purpose of being a more aware and critically conscious educator.

Alicia Jackson, an alumna mentor at Farragut Elementary School, attended the workshop because “I wanted to learn about culturally responsive teaching practices and experience this learning with colleagues from my school district. The issues discussed in this workshop are important to the field of education and our nation. In order to heal our historical wounds from racism, and to build a nation based on growth and equality for all, we must learn the names, faces, and backgrounds of ALL our students, and share and honor their experiences.”

Educators left the workshop feeling challenged and uplifted, full of practical strategies and key ideas to bring back to their schools. Annette Stankovich, an alumna and returning mentor from Heideman Elementary School, commented, “It takes effort to be aware of your own bias. I’ve learned to look at children’s literature through different lenses. I never thought about how important it is to consider the author’s background, race, or heritage and how this knowledge helps us to be more aware of the diversity around us. Diversity is more than the color of our skin.”

The Cotsen Foundation for the ART of TEACHING is honored to have prominent speakers, like Chris and Julia, lead our professional development workshops and conferences. More workshops and study networks will be offered in the near future as the 2019-2020 school year kicks off this month.

Chris Lehman is the Founder of Educator Collaborative and author of: Falling In Love With Close Reading with Kate Roberts; Energize Research Reading and Writing; Pathways to the Common Core with Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth; and A Quick Guide to Reviving Disengaged Writers.

Julia Torresis The Educator Collaborative Book Ambassador and a teacher librarian for five schools. She facilitates workshops pertaining to best practices in reading and writing instruction, culturally sustaining pedagogies in language arts, as well as digital literacy and librarianship.

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