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162. How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations across K-12 with Matthew R. Kay and Jennifer Orr

by Lindsay Lyons
May 7th 2024
In today's episode with special guests Matthew R. Kay and Jennifer Orr, Lindsay discusses how educational leaders and ... More
Hi, my name is Leon. I'm part of the team that produces this podcast. Our two guests today are Matthew Kay and Jennifer or in this episode, Matthew Kay is a proud part of Philadelphia's public schools and a founding teacher at Science Leadership Academy. He's a graduate of West Chester University and holds a master's in educational leadership with a principal certificate from the University of Pennsylvania. Jennifer. Orr has been an elementary school classroom teacher for more than 2.5 decades, teaching kindergartners through fifth graders. She's the author of demystifying Discussion, how to teach and assess academic conversation skills K through five. And the, the author of we're going to keep on talking how to lead meaningful race conversations in the elementary classroom. She's a National Board certified teacher and a frequent mentor to new and Preser teachers. I hope you enjoyed this episode back to the show, educational justice coach Lindsay Lyons. And here on the time for teacher podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership.

I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach. I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling, and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings if you're a principal, assistant superintendent, curriculum director, instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nering out about co-creator curriculum of students. I made this show for you. Here we go, Jennifer or, and Matthew K. Welcome to the Time for Teachers Podcast. Hello. So excited to have you both. I absolutely loved both of your books, Matt and, and Jen your your book with Matt. It has been incredible to think about and use as a resource in instructional coaching conversations for folks who are having discussion, particularly about like meaningful discussion, racial justice discussion, things happening in the world, discussions, books, discussions, social studies discussions, all the discussions. So I think one of the big things that I want to know from you and from all the guests we usually start with is this idea of freedom dreaming, really anchoring our conversation.

And so Doctor Bettina Love talks about this beautifully, as she says, dreams grounded in the critique of injustice. And so with that in mind, I'm wondering what are the dreams that you each hold for education, for teachers, the fields? That's a really big question. Um Having just had the chance to listen to Doctor Love recently um which was such a gift. Um I feel so inspired, so motivated um so called to action by her. And I, I think having been in this profession for so long now, this is my 26th year of classroom teaching. Um I, it feels small to dream that teachers be treated as professionals and be trusted as professionals. Um But I, I think that's where I am, sadly, just that idea that we can respect and know that teachers know what they're doing and trust that that's happening on a regular basis. Oh, that's a good one. I second that um I think uh I, my dream would be that kids are treated as thinking beings again.

Um And like as people who can make up their own minds about things. It's funny how um paradoxically all of the like anti indoctrination conversation is actually doing the, the, the indoctrinating. Like those are the folks who are kind of cutting off kids access to ideas because we feel like they can't make up their own minds. Um So we feel like we have to, you know, over guide and I think just kind of respecting kids as humans who can make up their mind, I think would be my dream. I love that so much. I was looking back at my initial reflections in 2020 when I read your first book that and I had written down the quote, there is no more effective form of intrinsic motivation than the opportunity to say something new. And I absolutely love that. And I love that this book, you all are gifting teachers with the tools and the ideas to be able to invite students to say something new and to think for themselves and create something new, which I think is, is absolutely part of my dream as well.

So I, I really appreciate that as like an anchor to this conversation and Jen to your point that treating teachers like professionals, right? We have to believe that we are, we are capable of making these decisions that are in the best interests of students. I recently had um on the podcast. It may air after this but um Diana and uh Diana hat and Paul mcavoy who talk about the political classroom and they talk about this idea of discussion. Um and, and just along those same lines of when we make decisions as educators about when to step in and when to step back from conversations, which you all talk about in the book quite a bit, they were talking about, it's fine to do whatever you need to do given all the context, but you have to have the student's best interests at heart, right? It's not about what makes me comfortable or uncomfortable or I wanna share my thoughts or not. It's like what is in the best interest of furthering students thinking for the themselves. And I, I think there's a lot of trust for teachers in that and there's a lot of both of your dreams in that. Um There's, there's so many different pieces to this work that I kind of want to name a few and then just see what grabs your attention and we could go down any of those paths.

But there's the mindset piece that I hear you all talking about a little bit um in, in your book, right? Like what's that kind of culture of student learning? And what's that um thing that we need to think about as teachers to be able to maybe shift to or, or kind of set the stage for doing this. There's also the pedagogical moves. So there's kind of the uh how do we literally format it? What are, what are the prompts we're offering students to discuss? Um how do we step in, step out? And then there's also like the the content kind of like the prompts that you so beautifully kind of create and, and very intentionally. So I like how you walk through that a lot in the book. And so in all of that kind of the mindset, the pedagogy ps the content, what do you feel like as your heart or the teacher should know about as they're kind of thinking through this stuff? What's important for you? Um I'm always gonna focus on the pedagogical move part. Um because I think um that respectfully, there's a lot of smart people tackling a lot of the other stuff.

Um She's trying to help teachers get their minds, right? Trying to help kids. She's trying to help teachers you know, get, you know, the to, to, to be in the right place. Um, uh, and my focus is always going to be like, all right. So you're in the room with 30 kids? What do you do? Like, that's always gonna be my move. Like that's always gonna be my focus because a lot of times those peop those people get ignored. Um, once teachers are at that stage, it's like now go discuss and it's like, well, I don't know, I don't know what that means. Um, and I think, you know, we're very good at being told that we need to discuss something, but sometimes the conversation ends once we're at the point of discussing. And so I'm always gonna be like, how do you make the best prompts? How do you recover from mistakes? How do you, um, those kind of things? So that's always gonna be, you know, with, with deep respect for everyone who's working on other aspects of this work. Um I kind of find it refreshing for myself to stay in my lane about like, what do you do in the classroom?

And that's, that's kind of like my thing. J are you in the same thing? I mean, all of those things are things, Matt and I have talked a lot about and spend a lot of time thinking about. Um, but I do think the part that makes, that makes the biggest difference in, in that trust piece whether it's trusting ourselves as professionals to handle these moments, whether it's trusting our students to engage in these moments. Um A big part of that comes out of us, knowing those pedagogical moves and being prepared um for, for whatever those moments might hold. Yeah, that's a, that's a beautiful way to put it, right? So we can't, we can't like trust that everything's gonna work out fine if we don't have the preparation behind it and to know literally, yeah, what does it look like in the moment? So a student says this go like, what, how do you respond? Right. That's it like, and I think the fear of not having that, you know, coaching, idea preparation, whatever is what often times in my coaching relationships with teachers scares teachers away from ever engaging in it in the first place.

It's like, well, what if that happens? Right? And so I'm curious to know how, I mean, you talk about a lot of stuff in the book, what are the big pieces that you would name for teachers in terms of um having like the, the strategies, the approach that are really core to every, you know, every discussion that you kind of go in with like, OK, I have this in my head. I've set it up this way, you know, these are the keys. Um If you were talking for example to a, a teacher who's like, I wanna do this and I'm nervous um that was one of the first things that, that I learned from that in working on this was that, that is who we're talking to. Um, and that's a really important thing for, for me to hang on to like I'm not trying to convince you to do this. If you are not sold on, on engaging in these conversations, I don't want you to do it. Um It, it's too, it can be too easily fraught to push someone into it. Um I, I think a big piece of it for me and maybe it's because I work with young Children, maybe it's a general thing is that I don't want to jump into anything too quickly.

Um I want to know that I have spent the time thinking about it whether that's because it's a picture book we're gonna read or a novel we're reading together, whether that's because it's a piece of history that we're discussing. Um the deeper my thought process is and the deeper my background knowledge is the better prepared I'm gonna be for the kinds of questions and ideas that will come out from my kids. A great nothing real to add. I think that, yeah, that makes absolute sense. Iii I think also it's really important to distinguish, generate like you, you're talking about like young kids, right? And, and that, and, and myself as well, like high school is our RJ M and so it's a really different space uh in some ways and there are also these kind of core concepts that I think thread through. So Jen, one of the things that I think you were talking about in the book maybe from a space of elementary was this idea of like layering and threading. I, I can't remember if that's what you call a threading. Right. Yeah. Matt actually is probably a better person to speak to that. Oh, ok. Awesome. Because I was thinking, but this resonates so much for high schoolers.

Ok. Yeah. Can you talk us through the idea and the concept of writing? And like, I think one of the things that you say is like, if every conversation can't be the conversation that you have about race in the classroom. Yeah. It's kind of like, um, with an, you want to take the pressure off the teachers to have the massive conversation that it changes the world or their community or the school or whatever, right? You wanna make sure that they're just trying to lead a good conversation that intrigues kids and challenges them and makes them think and respects them as thinkers and that's it, like, as far as the goal is concerned. Um, and I think what helps with that is if over a series of conversations, kids see a clear connection. Um and um that's, I think just good pedagogy regardless, but also when it comes to race conversations, I think it takes on another layer of, of importance. Um So it's like, I don't have to like, they don't have to un understand all that comes with privilege from one conversation.

They can see uh sequentially developed, understanding begin to emerge. Um And over the course of a unit and then between the units, like even connecting the units to um each other, I think that um that threading just literally tying the conversations together um is an important way to take the pressure off of ourselves to do it all in one go. Like, what if a kid's absent that day? Right. Do they get to do? Did they miss all of the anti racism for the whole year? Like what if they had a, you know, they left for a basketball game. So now, you know, they don't get to talk about race anymore. II I think taking the pressure off of any one moment or they don't like that book, it's like sometimes they don't like that book. And so if all of the conversations are couched in to kill a Mockingbird and they didn't like to kill a Mockingbird, then, you know, we're missing opportunities and I think, but making sure that we take the pressure off of any one conversation to do all the work is good.

Hi, this is Leah Popping and to share this episode's Freebie. It's a collection of videos based on Matt's concept, not light but fire. You can find it at the blog post for this episode www dot Lindsay, Beth lines.com/one 62. Check it out. Now, back to the show. I love that perspective too because it's about taking the pressure off. It's about what's helpful for teachers. I entered that conversation or that that point initially thinking well, threading is a way to also communicate to students, you know, that, that this is important and we're gonna kind of, but I love the layer of like this is, this is also really helpful for teachers to be able to not have that pressure or for the students to not have that pressure because I chose to like, you know, be with my basketball team that day. Like I think it does help, you know, I think um in addition uh to making it easier on the teachers, um it helps students if they are, let's say a kid a little bit quieter. Um and um sometimes the kids are quiet just because they're quiet and that's awesome.

They can be quiet. I have no problem with that, but sometimes the kids quiet because they're a little bit nervous about participating. Um which means if a conversation is again a one shot deal, then they miss their shot, right? But if you are having the conversation or different versions of it the next day and then the next day as you work your way through a book or as you read multiple um young adult books or children's books or as you like, if they, if there is a connected tissue, then they might have been nervous on Monday, but they might be less nervous on Wednesday and, and by next Monday they might be ready to put their hand up, you know, and I think that's another advantage to it. I love that. You said that because it, it makes me want to ask about the, the formats that a discussion can take, right? So for the quiet kid, I love that you're also saying the threading is kind of the support the scaffold for that student to enter the conversation and feel comfort and for the kid who is just quiet or who communicates best verbally or I mean, non verbally, right? I'm wondering, you, you all talked about this a little bit in the book um of those different formats that it could take um and the different supports that we could offer students particularly like I was thinking of the one example too of like the nuances of young kids because I, I didn't teach young kids.

So I was fascinated by your point about um listening patiently and like having the strategies to hold on to a thought for a young kid. And I also was like, I as an adult could use that, right? I think our high schoolers can also use a version of that, right? Because there's those kids who are talking so much because they don't want to forget what they have to say. So they're interrupting someone because they're so excited. So considering all the different styles and learning styles and um engagement styles of students in a room, what are those considerations? Like? What's the consideration for the kid who talks a lot? What's the consideration for the kid who's, you know, more a small group kid or, or a kid who is just a little hesitant to, to share verbally any cops on that? Oh, so many thoughts Lindsay. But I think one of the things that you just got at that is so huge is that while there are differences between having, engaging in these conversations with young kids and with high school kids, so much of it carries through. I mean, when Matt's first book came out in 2018 but not light a fire was out. I read it and it was such a support for me, even though in 2018 I was teaching third graders, maybe, um, maybe for kindergartners.

I mean, definitely not older kids. Um, but the kinds of strategies that Matt talked about were things that I could kind of take on too because it, we as teachers are teachers across the ages and kids are kids. And so while there are certain things we have to think carefully about, there's a lot that carries through, um, when it comes to kind of the different kinds of kids in a group, I, I think there's some really easy things to keep in mind. One of which is giving kids options at different times to engage in conversations in different group sizes. So having kids turn and talk with one partner, having kids turned in a small group, having kids talk in the whole class. There's benefits and drawbacks to each kind of group size. But one of the benefits is that different kids get their voices heard or get the chance to speak up or feel more comfortable speaking up um in, in different groups. I'm also curious, I, I'm envisioning, you know, a a leader coming in to see your classes and thinking about all the dynamics of leader observation, leader, support or lack of support.

Um I'm curious to know, I think there's a lot of leaders who listen to this podcast, not just teachers. And so for leaders, how can leaders best support teachers who are doing this work? Like what's the, what, what's kind of your dream, whether whether you're experiencing it now or not? Like I, I think it would be really cool to uh tell leaders how they can either advocate support or um observe in a way that's actually really helpful and um supportive when we're doing this work. I mean, I have an excellent administrator who is very supportive. Um And so I think being encouraging is something that is sounds super simple and some people find ways to make that really complicated, like, like saying, thank you. That's another thing that admin like some people like the teacher did something and they didn't have to. So say thank you, like, you would think that that's a, like a, a some people make that way harder than, than it should be.

Um But I think beyond the encouraging, there's also um having consistent observation and clear structures. Um um And what I mean by that is like, and I know, look, admins have way too much on their plate. And so I'm not like there's a reason that most admin who's worth any salt would definitely want be love to spend all of their time in classrooms, observing teachers and doing other. So and the reason they're not is not because they're choosing not to. So this actually might even go a level above admins to be honest. Um A lot of this conversation is if you want to support admins, supporting teachers, you have to free up admins so that they can support teachers. Um um because, you know, if you're only being seen twice a year, um you know, or, you know, it's hard for a teacher to feel as supported. Um But also I understand why they can only be seen once or twice a year from someone from the administration team because they're busy, they're doing all sorts of other things.

Um But absent that I think setting up peer structures, um common planning time and those kind of things so that if the admin can't, you know, you know, it's not just the admin is doing the observations, the colleagues are doing observations and folks, you know, and they're given time to unpack what they see. Um um But I think just having consistency around that somehow we've got to find a way for teachers to have consistent observations with clear structures. I think that's the part that looks like so many di different things, but there has to be a consistency there. Um um That is often not the case. It makes me think of your threading idea, right? Of just like it can't be the one time that you come in. Like the whole idea is like we're learning and growing. So an admin who comes in in October and then comes back in November is like, oh wow, I can see the, I see that you've gotten better with this thing. Well, here's the thing that also this, this might be a little awkward to say, but like like average developing and good teachers need love too.

Like if that makes sense, like a lot of times the folks, the the the teachers who get as much uh to get consistent eyes on their practice are the teachers who are in a moment where they're struggling big time. Like those are the people who get teacher coaches, those are the people who have admins constantly. Those are the people who have all these structures set up to support them. But folks who are like their classroom is not burning down like they're like, cool, keep with the not burning down and it, it's, it's great and your test score, you know what I mean? Your test scores are fine. You're not always sending kiss at office, you know, like you're, um, and I feel like sometimes, you know, the average developing teacher of which we are all that person, like where we're like, we're just trying to get better. Um, they need, you know, they, they also need consistency and the teachers who are like nailing it like the Jens and Mats of the world also need, you know what I mean? Like we have a certain level of confidence and we're veterans at this and stuff like that, but I benefit, you know, I was just at dinner with Jen and I was picking ideas around just say, oh, I could do this like it's cool for us.

We benefit from having conversations about what we do and that happens. So rare, structurally with veteran teachers, they're like, you're, you know, you're not just not burning down, you're doing well. So godspeed like, like, and we are kind of left out of the conversation about, you know, how to get better. So, yeah, I think we, we find our own ways to do it because it is, we find our own way. It's not a systemic structural thing happening for us. I think that's a really good point. I would also add in thinking about how leaders can support in this work. I'm gonna totally support everything. Matt just said and add on the idea that in some places, at least doing this work can be risky. And so the more the leaders know what's happening in those classrooms and understand why it's happening and can have those teachers backs. That's gonna be huge. Matt and I are both lucky to be in places where that's not really a problem. Um, but that is not true for many, many teachers and to add off of what Jen said, um um, also not putting our admins in places where having our, where we're having our back is, is, is, is, is it isn't a fair thing to ask.

Like, like we, the communication has to go both ways. Hey, Edmund, I'm doing this, you know, this is what's going on, this is what might happen is, do I have any spots that I'm missing things? Do I have anything? I'm gonna need your, like, we have to stop surprising Edmunds too. Um I, that I've had that uncomfortable conversation with my boss a couple of times when I was younger and did that kind of stuff. It was kind of like, and he's like, oh, so I got your back but don't ever do that again. Like, don't ever like you need to, I'm getting parent like you knew parents was about to email me because you're reading that book, like you trying to read like if, if you're trying to read fun home with ninth graders. I need to know about it. Like you're trying to read, like, like you knew better than that. Like, you need to, like, we need to talk this through so we can figure out. And I think, and I, that landed with me, it said don't put me in a position where I have to cover for you and I'll know what I'm talking about because I don't help either one of us. So, um, yeah, that's a really good point.

I had, I have never heard someone actually articulate that end of it. That is beautiful. I'm so glad you said that I got fussed at. So I it got clear. He said, don't, don't do that to me again. Well, if we're going to ask our admin to have our backs, then the slightest thing we can do is make sure that they are not blindsided by it. They are ready, they are prepared. I think there, there are, I think this is really a point that you bring about in terms of like, um, I think j you use the word risk and, and just this idea of like parent phone calls or, and like all the things right that are happening in people's heads. I have a lot of thoughts about that, right? Like who's, whose family voices occupy our heads in the first is number one. So that's problematic, right? Who we're planning for on that. But I also think, you know, this idea of challenges is a big one, particularly for leaders who might want to kind of nurture and foster this in their teachers or teachers who are like, really excited about this. Um or the teachers who are like, you know, I'm, I'm um I'm ready and I kind of on the fence. I haven't started yet, but I'm, I'm ready to, to kind of get that, which is your target audience. I think, you know, what, what is the biggest challenge that you've had as educators or you've heard other educators share with you maybe as a result of the book and, and how have you helped like, work through it or help them work through it?

I haven't encountered, oh, no, go, go, go. I think just owning my privileged teaching where I teach, like I haven't faced as many, you know, issues from like, you know, racist parents and stuff like that. That's, that's not necessarily the demographic that I'm working with. Um um you know, I had the, the occasional blip but that's not a consistent, you know, thing. So I was gonna own that like, I have, you know, I, I have my ideas but that's not my lived experience. But um I think we don't talk as much as we probably should about student misbehavior. Like I think sometimes during conversations because a lot of times kids are coming from classrooms that are not that dialogic. And so it feels to them, like, free time. Like, they don't have an idea, they don't have the conceptual, like we are still working, we're just working through talking. They're like, we're just talking so I can do whatever I want. And I think that's part of what scares a lot of teachers away from having conversations because when, when you're doing other, you know, other activities, um, e everyone must be writing, everyone's filling out this sheet.

Everyone is re, you know what I mean? But when you're having a discussion sometimes, um, frankly, a lot of the biggest things and I don't, we didn't even write about this to be honest, but it's kids acting up. Um, and I think that in, in, in, in high school it's something I've seen, um, how well being dialogic has to connect with someone's basic classroom management, toolkit. Um, it's, it's, it's a, it's actually a really big issue and a lot of times, um, it's one thing that I'm constantly reminded of every year when I'm a student teacher because I have control of my classroom. Like I'm the alpha of my classroom. I do my, like I'm old school with many aspects of my, like, it's mine, y'all are just passing through. That's how I operate. Um, which means I can have all these open loose conversations because with the snap, I feel like I can, like, bring them back and bring like there's no, you know, I don't feel like I'm wrestling because I'm the alpha in the classroom.

But sometimes, um, student teachers come into the room and they're on some, like, I get student teachers from Penn and some other place and they're getting like this super progressive, like, like student voice centered, you know, and so they come in and they're like having trouble saying, like, stop talking, like, they have trouble with that. They're like, guys, this guy, they make a lot of, and they're, and I think conversations about leading class discussions have to also include discipline and structures of discipline and like, and having the confidence to assert yourself in the space. Um, and I think that's, most of my problems have been, like, internal, like, around that. Um, and, and I don't, it's not as much of a problem for me anymore. Uh, but seeing young teachers, I see, um, or not young, uh, uh, new, new teachers. It's, it's like that is a big and I think it's probably one of the biggest reasons why teachers don't.

They're like, once I start having conversations they, they start acting up and so I don't wanna do that anymore. Yeah, I think that's true at all levels too. Um, although if we did a better job of it earlier, it probably wouldn't be as big a problem by the time they get to you Matt. But I don't know, kids are gonna do it ma, to participate in class conversations more frequently. Um, I think another piece of that same problem. And this, I see more by upper elementary is that when conversations get difficult or uncomfortable, um, kids start to get goofy as a way of dealing with their discomfort. And so similarly, you, as the teacher have to be prepared both to address that in the moment, but also to support those kids in their discomfort because they're not doing it to be difficult, they're doing it because they don't know how to function in that in that moment. Um And so how do you help them while also making sure that that doesn't completely throw the conversation off the rails? I love that. You both just named that I am fascinated by that. So I think, yeah, one just thought for listeners who are like, you know, what if I do have those challenges?

One uh I think co creating class agreements is always really helpful for me. So just to be able to have that shared accountability is something I think that you, you guys talk about in the book, just like with this idea of um we are a community, these are community agreements, we are communally agreeing to them. So, you know, me being able to say like we need to stop talking is because we said we would stop talking when one person is talking, right? And so to be able to anchor in that I think is important and it also love this idea of um this idea of like this discomfort and being in discomfort and how do we exist in discomfort as this thing? We need to help students experience to grow. And so I think it's intrinsic to this, to conversations about race. So that what we're talking about today is your book. It's I think also just, you know, this could be extrapolated into many spaces and many growth spaces in education is a place where growth spaces are happening all the time. I think about so many adults who struggle and who make a joke to kind of avoid the conversation, right? Who, who are avoiding in some way where that behavior shows up and you're like this is happening in this second grade class D what is going on like that?

We haven't figured it out as adults. So I think that's a huge, huge area of practice and and just kind of like acknowledgment for teachers. But also I'm thinking about leaders who are dealing with staff members who may be feeling the same way about conversations about race or current events or things that are connected to race, right? Like in teacher spaces, like in the the hallway or in the teacher lounge or you know, whatever the space is, I think there's, there's so much um that educators at all levels can do to just address it, bring it up and, and have people feeling like it's good to be in discomfort. It's not, that's where we go my, my husband is a college professor and his, like, go to phrase with his students is I want you to be uncomfortable but not frozen because that's where we learn. Like, if you're too uncomfortable it's over. But if you're too comfortable then you're not growing. I think I wrote down the quote from this latest book. I think Matt, you had written it at your Children are gonna be loved, listened to and developmentally appropriately challenged. It's like, yep, that's, that's it.

Right. That's the combo. So in closing, I'm thinking about, you know, the educator who's listening to this, getting ready to maybe enter their school day or prep the lesson for tomorrow. What is like one thing that they could do tomorrow or in the next 24 hours that might be a nice, like starting point or, or refining point to something um, that they could do maybe building on something they already do as typical teacher practice or entering the space fresh if they are in. No, that's fine if they're entering the space fresh. I think the answer is a little bit different. Um My thing would be to find a consistent, um, community building activity that matches their personality and matches the, that meets the kids where they are. Um, and something that they can commit to. Um, like for me, it's like good news, Mondays. We do. We're rocking with that every Monday. It's gotten to the, I'm trying to add journal Tuesdays and I always kind of fall off.

I have some classes, I'm, but, but I've decided I'm fighting that fight. Like this is a fight, I'm fighting. I will continue to do that. And, you know, SSR Friday and I mean, and, and, and I'm trying to like, and, um, um, I, I think it's the things that you can when things get crazy and you have all these things to do and it's State Testing Day and it's this, that this, that and there's an assembly and all the things that happen are what, what is the thing that you are going to? I'm even going to sacrifice something else for this. We will do this and I think having one is better than having 10. Um And I think as far as community building, so I think if you're starting off, it would be that and if you're in the middle of a year or something like that, it would be um uh testing something like that while being fair to yourself, knowing that it's the middle of the year, there are systems, the kids are used for something else and not overanalyzing how well it worked because I'm, there's a couple of things like I'm trying out a new way of doing SSR, but I told the kids openly as I'm trying to decide this is about next year for me.

You are guinea pigs right now. This is about next year for me. Um but I'm trying to see. I'm testing out some structures um to see if it works. But I think specifically with community building and getting to know your kids or any of that stuff that you see Jen or I wrote about with safe space. Like, hopefully I made it clear that there's nothing special about good news or high grade compliments or, or, or the burning five minutes. Like those are things that, you know, half of them I took from Zach Chase, half of them I took myself and it, it's one of those, those activities aren't special. It's the committing to it every week that's special. And so whatever it is that you do, um, find that thing, um, that would be my biggest. And so the teach, so the kids know you for that thing that in the, like you're known for in this class we gonna do this. Um, and they can depend on it. I think that's the hard part with all of those, like crunchy granola, touchy, feely, emotion stuff is that we don't stick with it.

Like, but there's gotta be like something that's kind of like we, we're going to do it every Monday. Yeah, I would definitely second that because I don't care what the conversations you're having are, they don't happen. Well, without that, you could be discussing multiplication strategies and you're not gonna have good classroom conversations unless you have that classroom community. Um, and I think Matt hit on the hardest part of that for many teachers is that you have to carve out the time for it and we all feel crunched on time. And so we feel like, but I don't have time for that yet. You don't have time to not do it. Like not doing it costs you in the long run. But that's a really hard thing to begin to truly understand. Um, but that, yeah, that whatever it takes to ensure that you have a really strong solid classroom community because conversation about anything doesn't work without it. I love those. Those are excellent. I think as a final question, I'm just curious to know where you would want folks to follow up with you if they want to kind of follow you on social media, I'll link to the book in the show notes. Um Other places that you would want to connect with people, all of my socials are some version of Matt RK.

So if you look it up, you'll see um and uh uh website, not light.com. Um So check that out. Pick me up. Yeah, Matt and I have both been around long enough to just have our names. So everywhere for me is Gen or um including Gen or.com. Um Yeah, I think it's a sign of how old we are. I'm in the same boat, so we're all, we're all there. Awesome. Thank you both. So, so much. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you today. Thanks Lindsay. Thanks for the invite. If you like this episode. I bet you'll be just as jazz as I am about my coaching program for increasing student led discussions in your school, Shane Sapper and Jamila Dugan talk about a pedagogy of student voice in their book Street Data. They say students should be talking for 75% of class time. Do students in your school talk for 75% of each class period. I would love for you to walk into any classroom in your community and see this in action. If you're smiling to yourself as you listen right now, grab 20 minutes on my calendar to brainstorm. How I can help you make this big dream a reality. I'll help you build a comprehensive plan from full day trainings and discussion protocols like circle and Socratic seminar to follow up classroom visits where I can plan witness and debrief discussion based lessons with your teachers.

Sign up for a nerdy no strings attached to brainstorm. Call at Lindsay, Beth lions.com/contact. Until next time, leaders think big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the teach better podcast network. Better today, better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better.com/podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode.

162. How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations across K-12 with Matthew R. Kay and Jennifer Orr
162. How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations across K-12 with Matthew R. Kay and Jennifer Orr
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