1st Edition

Teaching for Racial Equity Becoming Interrupters

    Recipient of the 2022 Excellence in Equity Award! It is not enough to be against racism in education teachers must be actively antiracist. Yet how do we start reflecting on our own beliefs and lives so we can truly teach for racial literacy? In the award-winning Teaching for Racial Equity: Becoming Interrupters, authors Tonya Perry, Steven Zemelman, and Katy Smith engage in honest conversations between educators of color and their white colleagues. Authentic, inspiring, and sometimes uncomfortable, teachers share stories of personal histories and experiences that shaped them as people and educators.In this book you will find:

      Strategies to understand different backgrounds through a racial lens and ways to address potentially difficult conversations with fellow educators In-depth overview of Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz’s Archaeology of Self™ and how it can be personally and professionally adopted Lists of resources for teaching about and actively interrupting racism in education and tools that document systemic inequalities in the classroom Ways to facilitate student-led conversations which examine race and inequitable conditions found nationwide

    By examining inequalities found at a systemic level, teachers can start to remove some of their internal biases and allow students to show who they truly are. In turn, this can help create a school curriculum that makes space for BIPOC voices that inspire and invite students to share. Teaching for Racial Equity: Becoming Interrupters provides a resource for teachers and educators to critically reflect and begin work to interrupt racism at all levels.

    Introduction; Time Out to Talk; Chapter 1: Racial Literacy: A Guiding Concept; Time Out to Talk; Chapter 2: Starting with Ourselves; Time Out to Talk; Chapter 3: Helping Students Teach Us About Who They Are; Time Out to Talk; Chapter 4: Building Criticality for Students— and Teachers; Time Out to Talk; Chapter 5: Promoting Student Voice and Independence; Time Out to Talk; Chapter 6: Creating Interrupters; Epilogue


    Tonya B. Perry is a Professor of Secondary English Education and serves as the Executive Director for GEAR UP Alabama and the Red Mountain Writing Project at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In her roles, she works for equity, focusing on civically and justice-engaged teaching, service, and scholarship.

    Steve Zemelman is a founder of the Illinois Writing Project. He’s helped start innovative small schools in Chicago and promotes student civic engagement there. His most recent book is From Inquiry to Action: Civic Engagement with Project-Based Learning in All Content Areas. He has two sons and one brilliant eight-year-old grandson.

    Katy Smith is a Professor of Secondary Education and a Department Chair at Northeastern Illinois University, where she and Steve Zemelman direct the Illinois Writing Project. She has dedicated her career to developing and enacting equitable classroom practices, first as a teacher of high school students and now as a teacher educator. 

    “Let’s be honest: Sometimes we all buy a new book because we respect the authors or want to know more about the topic, but then we let it sit on a table, a desk, or a shelf. We mean to read it, but . . .  If you do that with Teaching for Racial Equity, you will have done yourself, your students, and your school community a disservice. This book offers us all a chance to do more than think about antiracism; it shows us how to examine our lives and make whatever changes we discover are needed in our personal and professional selves to better love, teach, encourage, support, and value all students in our classrooms. Read this one with a friend because you’ll want to read, talk, reflect, talk, and then read some more. But don’t dare leave this on your shelf. This one must be read.” —Kylene Beers, co-author of Forged by Reading and Disrupting Thinking

    Teaching for Racial Equity: Becoming Interrupters is an important contribution to literature focusing on supporting teachers as they endeavor to build knowledge, attitudes, mindsets, dispositions and skills necessary for equity-centered teaching in PreK–12 schools. Tonya Perry, Steven Zemelman, and Katy Smith remind us that teachers are far more than mere transmitters of subject matter. Rather, teachers are and should be interrupters of inequity in the fight for social justice. A call to move beyond complacency, this book is an invitation to press for racial equity during a time when students need—and deserve— next level practices.” —H. Richard Milner IV, author, Start Where You are But Don’t Stay There

    "Reflect. Interrupt. Build 'Critical(ity).' This book captures the essence of education: listen to students. It is an excellent reference for students, teachers, and scholars—those who advocate for racial equity in the classroom. As a teacher, I come away with rejuvenation for learning, especially through the book's bottom line: an understanding of race starts at the roots, not the branches. This book makes me ruminate my own upbringing and racial literacy development, especially through the 'Archeology of Self'." —Alfredo Celedón Luján, Teacher at Monte del Sol Charter School, Santa Fe, President of the National Council of Teachers of English

    Teaching for Racial Equity: Becoming Interrupters is a thought-provoking invitation for educators to explore issues that emerge from their practice as they work toward becoming anti-racist human beings. The authors' use of a delicate but firm conversational tone sets the stage for the type of self-work they are asking the readers to engage in through the book. This is a must-read for anyone working in K–12 classrooms.” —Detra Price-Dennis, Teachers College, Columbia University

    “To really interrupt racism, educators need to think about their classrooms differently, build curriculum differently, and teach students differently. Through its blend of narrative, analysis, conversation, and concrete teaching plans, Teaching for Racial Equity moves readers beyond rhetoric and into action. This is a book for every classroom, school, department, district, and education institution that claims to put equity at the center of its work.” —Linda Christensen, Director, Oregon Writing Project

    “Teaching for Racial Equity: Becoming Interrupters brings three important themes to the forefront of our teaching work that deserves to be highlighted over and over again: (1) professionalism, (2) listening, and (3) community.  America’s history is a confluence of multiple histories, where traditions, beliefs, values, and stories should come together to ask, ‘What does it mean to be human?’ Yet, curriculum has more often favored a single, if not dangerous narrative. Tonya B. Perry, Steven Zemelman, Katy Smith, and a team of incredible teachers invite us to consider our stances on race in education and to participate in honest conversations. They challenge us to act professionally, to listen to one another, and to participate in a community to build equity for all. Teaching for Racial Equity provides a stellar blueprint for all of us to follow as we listen to one another.” —Bryan Ripley Crandall, Associate Professor of English Education and Director of the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University

    “According to someone I know who follows conservative media, there is no racism in the USA, and there are no oppressed people. Critical Race Theory in this discourse is ‘evil’ and, as it has been in many districts, needs to be banned, with the threat of punishment. This timely book from Perry, Zemelman, and Smith is designed to interrupt this ideology and replace it with conversational interrogation among young people of their society and its racism. It may well be banned. And for that reason, like many banned books, it deserves our most acute attention.” —Peter Smagornsky

    “In Teaching for Racial Equity, Perry, Zemelman, and Smith have written with the gloves off, and I’m so here for it. I can’t imagine a more rigorous, more detailed, more compassionate book about interrupting racist systems in both our classrooms and in the larger learning communities we serve. Read patiently, you’ll be a better teacher for taking this book’s journey at a speed you can savor!” —Matthew R. Kay, author of Not Light but Fire