Monthly Archives: December 2016

Announcing TAG’s 2017 Inquiry to Action Groups

Teacher Action Group (TAG) is excited to bring ItAG’s back to Philadelphia for 2017!

Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs) are an opportunity to build community by learning together, developing as activists, and linking social justice issues with classroom practice.

Small groups will meet for six to eight sessions between February and April to share experiences, respond to readings, exchange ideas, and develop plans of action.

Below find the titles and descriptions of this year’s six ItAGs. To register, complete this form. And please plan to join us for our kick-off event on February 16 at 6pm at Science Leadership Academy-Center City (22nd and Arch).


2017 Inquiry to Action Groups

1. Creating Grassroots Curriculum, Part II

In this Part II to a previous ItAG, we will engage in a series of workshops that build upon the work we completed last year.  We will begin by reviewing last year’s work, which resulted in a curriculum outline, themes and primary foci for a 7-12 Philadelphia humanities curriculum.  We will also explore existing models of grassroots curriculum and continue to create grassroots curriculum to serve our immediate environments and communities.  We will examine what makes a curriculum grassroots and solicit input from the various stakeholders that are vital to producing a sound, viable curriculum that can be used both inside and outside the learning institutions of our communities.  We welcome you to join us whether or not you participated last year.

Stacy Hill is a 14 year veteran teacher who has worked toward educating youth of all ages within the context of community, youth and curriculum development. She is a founding member and active board member of the Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce.

2. Education to Govern: Exploring the Possibilities of Public Education

How are we preparing our students to be leaders who can push forward a more equitable, liberatory society? How can our classrooms and schools be practice spaces for building the skills and strategies of active democracy? Using the text “Education to Govern” by Grace Lee and Jimmy Boggs as an anchor, we will firm up a framework, assess our classrooms, and explore tools to prepare our students to develop the capacities needed in order to collectively govern, now and into the future. We will work with various protocols for engaging in critical dialogue in the classroom, as well as brainstorming pedagogical shifts toward the classroom as an organizing space.

Hanako Franz, Ismael Jimenez, Anissa Weinraub — Philadelphia educators and organizers. Members of the Caucus of Working Educators and Teacher Action Group.

3. Environmental Justice in the Urban Classroom

How do environmental justice issues affect our students, schools, and communities? Issues in our environment affect every breath we take (both figuratively and literally), but the concepts and language of environmental justice aren’t familiar to most educators, students, and families. What are the issues, and how can we contextualize and fight for them with our students and schools?

Environmental justice issues include sustainable food systems and food deserts, air pollution and fossil fuels, water contamination and oil transport, #NoDAPL and indigenous rights, global warming and globalization’s effects on the world and workers, to name a few.

The goal of this ItAG is to bring together educators interested in exploring environmental justice in their classrooms, schools, and in the city. There are no experts, only fellow learners. Some of us have been using environmental justice concepts in our teaching for years, others are still trying to figure out what it even means. We will also invite environmental organizers from around the area to discuss their work and campaigns.

We will discuss the issues, collect and develop resources, and explore best practices. We will develop the agenda and essential questions at our first meeting.  Educators are encouraged to bring any resources or ideas you have to share. We hope this will be a jumping-off point for future environmental justice teaching and practice in our city and beyond!

Max Rosen-Long teaches Spanish at SLA Beeber.  He is a member of the Environmental Justice Committee of the Caucus of Working Educators. He became interested in environmental justice while working on the campaign for PSERS to divest from the DAPL Pipeline and Fossil Fuels.

4. Immigrant Justice and the Fight for Sanctuary Schools

In the aftermath of the election, students and educators across the country are mobilizing to transform their schools into places of sanctuary to protect students of immigrant backgrounds from the violence perpetrated by the state, as well as interpersonal violence. In this ItAG, we will explore what such a project entails by considering the following questions: What does the idea of a “sanctuary school” mean to us? What are the historical precedents of this social movement? How can we expand the notion of sanctuary across various facets of our teaching practice? What would it mean for us to put it into practice with and for our students?

Jazmín Delgado is an interpreter for the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia. She is also pursuing a doctorate in American Literature with a special focus on U.S.-Central American relations.
Rosi Barbera teaches Social Work with a focus on human rights and social justice at La Salle University.  She has worked with various immigrant-focused organizations in Philadelphia.

5. Trauma and Resilience in Education

This ItAG will integrate an exploration of trauma informed practice and self care, and how both affect ALL of us in education.  To explore trauma, we will read articles and one very practical book about teachers’ and administrators’ roles in a developing a trauma informed space. We will also focus on the Sanctuary Model by Susan Bloom and look at the wider implications of trauma and how it affects everyone from classrooms to cities, to society as a whole. We will be joined by clinicians who have certifications in trauma treatment as well as other practitioners in the field. To explore resilience and self care, we will consider the following questions:  How do we keep the fire burning? How do we maintain our passion, energy, and commitment in the face of difficulties, frustrations, and traumas? What helps us bounce back after disappointments and failures? How do we creatively and realistically create change, without succumbing to cynicism, complacency, or despair? How do we balance patience and persistence with a sense of urgency? What habits and practices sustain our sanity and help us flourish and grow over the long term? How do we care for ourselves in order to care for others? How do we balance cycles of sacrifice and renewal? How do we, and how can we, support each other in this work?  
Our goal is for participants to feel empowered with strategies, information and be willing to act further to help push forward the movement of having trauma informed practice as the norm, and a clear sense of their own path towards resilience.  

Erika Dajevskis is a school counselor at W.C. Longstreth Elementary.
Ericka Morris is an EWS Case Manager at the Philadelphia Education Fund, as well as a part time educational consultant focusing in areas of trauma informed teaching practices, self care and best practices for urban educators in general.  Ericka taught at three Philadelphia schools and has one year of administrative experience.  Ericka has also been a certified trainer through Handle With Care, a crisis intervention and behavior management training organization.

6. White Educators and Race: Exploring Our Practice

According to 2012 data, Philadelphia’s teaching force is 69% white, while its student population is 59% black. It is essential for us to have conversations about race, whiteness, and implicit bias with our colleagues, especially white educators. Through this ItAG, we will interrogate the impact of systemic racism and implicit bias on our own practice as educators, review examples of whiteness and implicit bias trainings that already exist, and work to create a training module, specifically designed for Philly educators, to help Philly teachers explore the impact of race on our practice. While the goal of this ItAG is specifically to encourage educators to interrogate whiteness, this group welcomes participants from all backgrounds and professions who are interested in engaging in this work.

Essential Questions:
– How does systemic racism in the United States affect the thoughts and actions of white educators?
– How can we examine the impact of race and bias on our classroom practice?
– How can we engage in conversations about race and the classroom in constructive and critical ways?

Charlie McGeehan is a Humanities educator at The U School. He is involved in racial justice work through Teacher Action Group and the Caucus of Working Educators.