1st Edition

Talking Equity in Polarized Times Stories and Strategies from Teachers and Students

    256 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    How can teachers help students navigate tough topics in an increasingly politicized world? Featuring perspectives from teachers and students across the country, this unique book provides hope, applicable knowledge, and practical skills for teachers to address a range of current issues—including race, LGBTQIA+ advocacy, diversity and equity, civic engagement, ability and disability, school safety, social-emotional learning, immigration, and environmental justice.

    Each chapter addresses one of those controversial issues and examines how teachers are grappling with it in their own classrooms. Each chapter is also informed by youths’ insights, drawn from the authors’ work with the Youth Research Council and the Through Students’ Eyes project. Features include suggested resources, reflection questions, and talking points to support teachers in framing discussions of the topic positively and accurately.

    With the voices and skills in this book, you’ll be able to work with these issues no matter your own teaching contexts.

    1. Race and Racism  2. Immigrants and Immigration  3. Citizenship and Civic Engagement  4. LGBTQIA+ Advocacy  5. Ability and Disability  6. Diversity and Equity  7. Social-Emotional Learning  8. School Safety  9. Environment and Climate Justice  10. Caring for Kids  Appendix A: Self-Reflection Worksheet


    Meagan Call-Cummings, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. As a research methodologist, her work emphasizes the meaningful inclusion of those who are often excluded from the knowledge creation (research) process in that process – including but not limited to teachers, young people, and communities of Color.


    Kristien Zenkov, PhD, is Professor of Education at George Mason University. He is a long-time co-teacher with high school and middle school teachers and a dedicated boundary-spanning teacher educator. He’s most proud of his teaching, research, and advocacy work that recognizes youths and teachers as key informants for what teaching and school, at their best, might look like.


    Jeff Keller is a high school history teacher and a doctoral candidate at George Mason University where his work focuses on how students and teachers experience teaching and learning about controversial issues in today’s political climate. He has taught for more than fifteen years earning multiple honors at the school, local, and state level.

    "The insights in this important book come directly from the connections with students and their teachers. As discord spreads in their communities, youth often depend on how their teachers see, hear, and work with them — and that can bring thoughtful discourse across differences. As we hear these diverse voices speak their truths and grapple with their needs, we can envision a future where schools take the lead in shaping a better future."

    Kathleen Cushman, Fires in Our Lives, Fires in the Bathroom, and Fires in the Middle School Bathroom 

    "Call-Cummings, Zenkov, and Keller have written a book that serves as an amazing guide for pre-service, in-service, and school administrators to support not only their thinking but also their practice when working with diverse students and learners. The book has voices from the field that everyone 'in the trenches' of schools can connect to as it is the lived experience of so many educators. Further, this book is an excellent jumping off point for professional learning with a staff. As a current Superintendent of Schools, I would love to use the vignettes and chapters as conversation points with our leadership to identify how we, as an organization, create a set of conditions for all to succeed. The chapters scaffold that opportunity with excellent questions and reflections for the reader. This is a book every school person should have on their shelf!"  

    Peter J. Noonan Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools, City of Falls Church (VA) Schools 

    "It is essential as educators that we become comfortable with being uncomfortable. By modeling vulnerability and growth mindset, we can create a learning environment that embraces every learner. Call-Cummings, Zenkov, and Keller have written a volume that will assist in building collaborative relationships with students, parents, colleagues, and experts is critical in developing learning experiences that allow students to construct their own understandings of the world based on facts rather than opinions. We must strive to teach in a way that ensures all learners feel seen, heard, and represented, and this book can be a powerful tool in accomplishing that goal."

    Sheila Peterson, 2024 North Dakota Teacher of the Year 

    "This book examines and reveals the insights of classroom practitioners and students as they navigate the overt and sometimes covert systemic inequities plaguing many of our schools.  Through introspection and action, one can create a more inclusive environment for our most marginalized population. I highly recommend this book!"

    Michael Houston, 2024 Minnesota Teacher of the Year 

    "This book is an essential addition to any educator's library. The firsthand accounts amplify teacher voices, creating the feel of a conversation among colleagues and professionals. It equips educators with practical strategies to foster environments where teachers can uplift and empower their students. Guided by principles of hope and forgiveness, this book reminds us that educators are the key to overcoming divisiveness and promoting an inclusive future for all students."

    Eric Jenkins, Indiana Teacher of the Year 2024 

    "Talking Equity in Polarized Times is a vital resource for educators navigating today’s contentious climate. This book delivers a powerful toolkit for teachers to bridge divides in today’s classrooms, and is an indispensable resource and must-read for creating a positive impact in education."

    Kurt Russell, 2022 National Teacher of the Year

    "Meagan, Kristien, and Jeff have compiled a thoughtful guide to tackling the hot topics of public education. By tapping into their own experiences and the varied experiences of other front line educators and students, they provide a wholistic narrative of how the issues affect the American public education classroom. They also provide possible solutions and practices to combat the struggles that hinder student learning. This book is a great read for anyone who wishes to stretch their views on American schools and increase their capacity to lead systemic change for our community youth."

    Louise Smith2024 Mississippi Teacher of the Year, 2024 NEA Foundation Horace Mann Award Recipient