Teacher’s lounges are full of coffee cups with cheesy slogans: “Teachers Change Lives,” “Children are the Future,” “To Teach is To Touch a Life Forever.”
But though they might seem trite, the thing about these slogans is that they’re 100% true.
When we’re witnesses to inequity, it can be all too easy to feel powerless. But while everyone can take action, teachers are uniquely positioned to change the world. It’s what we do. We have the power to help eliminate hate by filling students with empathy for one another. It’s our responsibility to give all students a chance to succeed, to love the kids who need to be loved the most, to reform hateful habits.
In a world that often is not equitable, we need to create classrooms that are. Showing our students how to live with respect and empathy for each other teaches them skills that will impact the future. We are not powerless. In fact, we have an imperative responsibility.
So how do we take on this mighty and necessary work? Its importance sometimes makes it feel so big. But there are amazing resources out there to help. Here are 5 of my favorite:
The Southern Poverty Law Center has created an incredible collection of anti-bias resources through its Teaching Tolerance program. From classroom resources to film kits, they have a wealth of materials for students of all ages.
The National Equity Project is committed to making sure all students have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Their site has a great collection of resources and recommended readings, and includes a blog with posts on culturally responsive teaching and anti-bias curriculum.
This group believes that “a good education should teach people — particularly low-income youth and youth of color — how to understand and challenge the injustices their communities face.” My favorite part of their site is the EdLib Lab, where teachers can find, create, and share social justice teaching materials.
World-Trust was formed to combat racial inequity through film and conversations. You can buy their films and training modules, but there are also a variety of helpful free resources on their site. My favorites are the blog, and their support for folks running diversity and inclusion challenges.
Through a magazine available both in print and online, Rethinking Schools is “firmly committed to equity and to the vision that public education is central to the creation of a humane, caring, multiracial democracy.” Many articles from each issue are available for free on the Rethinking Schools site.
Let’s go back to the cheesy coffee mugs and remember, “To Teach is To Touch a Life Forever.” What kind of future will you help create?
Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.