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109. Social Studies Curriculum Using the Identity Wheel with Dr. Lindsay Warren

by Lindsay Lyons
April 4th 2023
In today's episode with special guest, instructor, and teacher Dr. Lindsay Warren, Lindsay discusses how using the ide... More
I am so excited for you to hear this episode with Doctor Lindsey Warren. She is an adjunct instructor and high school teacher at public institutions in New Jersey. Her course offerings span her professional interests relating to gender and sexuality through historical and contemporary lenses and also highlight her graduate work which focused on genocide and trauma when she's not teaching. Lindsay enjoys spending time with her wife and four pets. You guys. This is an amazing episode. She talks about all the things that are part of her history curriculum. We talk about thematic versus chronological. We talk about lesson level activities, big essential questions, a amazing tool that she's going to share actually as a freebie to this episode that they created in her district called the Identity wheel. Let's get to it. 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 nerdy out about co creating curriculum with students. I made this show for you. Here we go. Doctor Lindsey Warren. Welcome to the time for teacher shift podcast. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. Awesome. I'm so glad to get started in this conversation. I think we're gonna talk about some amazing topics and there's so much in just your bio and the context in which you teach and the multiple contexts in which you teach that just resonates so much with me. So I at the very front of this episode will have just read your like professional bio. So in addition to that or um adding some contexts or layers to that, is there anything that you want to say to kind of frame our conversation today? Yeah, I think, I think my, my perspective for teaching and, you know, often considered philosophy of teaching that I've written ad nauseum for different things over the years. But I think so much of it's framed by my own experiences, my own educational experiences um from being an A P US history student knowing I wanted to be a history teacher hitting that A P test and realizing I didn't know how to answer any of the questions about women.

And when I asked, my beloved was beloved, is still beloved A P US. History teacher. The response I got back was there's just not enough time for all of it. Um As an 18 year old that didn't sit well with me, I was reading literature that was kind of opening my eyes. I was doing that sort of typical 18 year old, um jaded a critique of the world around you thing. And I went to college and I just let myself kind of explore, um, explored courses, explore my own identity came out, um got a W G S minor and ended up sort of having a very um very what we would call today, very much social justice, but really just a very inclusive view of history and how it should be taught. And I think that sort of those moments as a, as a high school student very much launched me into that path of, you know, who isn't in the historical narrative, who doesn't have their stories told and knowing I was going to be a history teacher even in that moment.

It was like, ok, well, this is a problem, how am I as an individual going to approach, kind of solving this problem? And uh and the journey sort of just continued from there. Wow, I love that. I mean, it makes me reflective of my own conversations with myself as a child and like in, in high school and in that, and I also think of all the, all the people who have been on this podcast or who I've just talked to, who have shared those moments in their classes, like often when I open a workshop, it's like, what was it? Who was a teacher that you could think of? They can immediately identify a teacher that has shaped the trajectory of their life. And so what a wonderful reminder that like, what we talk about in our classes and in our curriculum and how we navigate that is so central to a every single child's like long term memory of school and like a lot of things, yes, we have a lot of power to do good and also um potential to, to do harm. Yes, absolutely. And I think that's a beautiful turn to like thinking about the, the do good component and the not doing harm component. When I think about Doctor Bettina Love's quote about freedom dreaming, right? This idea of dreams grounded in the critique of injustice just really shapes what like the possibilities of school can be through that lens.

I'm just wondering what your freedom dream is around curriculum, around instruction. In that sense. I just want kids to feel seeing, you know, I, I recognized in that moment that I, I didn't feel seen in that, that instruction in A P history, even though I understood it was teaching to the test, I was like, even it was even on the test, right? Um I, I knew uh in traditional textbooks that I didn't really have to read the stuff in the boxes. You know, I'm a, I'm an old millennial and so I knew that the boxes were extra. Right. And, you know, going into college classes and kind of examining what is, what is that doing to the, the messaging we're sending to kids that if the box about Children or truth isn't integrated into the text and, and, you know, many places my district included were pretty much away from textbooks. And so those boxes aren't an issue. But when I was coming up 16 years ago and really 20 years ago, going into college, it was a situation where I wanted to, to approach the situation of how do I get a more comprehensive history in the hands of my students.

And so for, for me, it's about trying to help them feel seen and it's, it's impossible to do it every day in every lesson and do it in authentic ways because that matters too. I don't want to just be doing the like, oh, it's Black History Month. We're gonna cover a famous black person every day. And then we get to March and we move on to women and then, you know, we move on from there and it's like, but I haven't talked about black people the rest of the semester, the year, et cetera. And it, to me, if it's not integrated, it's not authentic. And if it's not like thought out and woven throughout the course, um it's not, it's not gonna resonate the same way for students. And so, um that's my personal philosophy and I feel very grateful that I teach in the State of New Jersey where we have like numerous content mandates, especially in social studies where we, we have to do it. And I'm also aware of the fact that, you know, not everyone is doing it in that authentic holistic way. They're doing it more in the checkbox way and maybe even their leadership is telling them to do it in the checkbox way.

And so for me, I, I've literally seen the power of, you know, my queer kids hearing about queer soldiers in the civil war, hearing about queer suffragist in the, the suffrage movement in the progressive era. And I've seen even in their little 14 year old selves, like little light bulbs and little moments and little recognition of, of, oh, oh, wait a minute. This, this suddenly matters to me in a way that industrialization didn't matter, right? It didn't, it didn't click into their lives in the same way uh because it didn't resonate. And so like my, my, my dream, really freedom dreaming is that um we can move beyond the, the myths of American history, the um folklore around American history as an American historian primarily, um and classroom teacher primarily and, and, and sit with the truth, sit with the, the reality of the history at the same time that we're able to celebrate joys of all these different groups as well.

Like where are the struggles? Sure. But also who are the people that are making it happen? How are they making it happen and how are they, they celebrating their success when it, when it's happening? And not just sticking in that? Like, I think that very often um easy to kind of fall into trap of like, well, it's all all bad for this group of people or it's all awful for, for these various ethnic minority groups. And um trying to find that balance is difficult, but that's sort of my, my freedom dreaming for sure. Oh, wow, there's so much, there's so much there that was so good. And, and so let's see, where do I want to go next? I think one of the things that I wanted to just touch on very briefly that you mentioned is is this idea of like that integration and, and the meaning and the authenticity of doing this, right of, of making sure it's not an add on. So I think of like Sandra Harding, the feminist who was like a woman and stir when getting women into like the right that doesn't work. We have to add women and start, we have to change the whole thing. And so I think about that a lot in terms of how people are trying to just like add bipoc authors and stir add your authors and stir and like my R E A class is great.

Now, our history class is great. And I think when we, when we can fundamentally shift like a unit driving question or a unit project that centers like stories that have historically been marginalized, histories that have been marginalized or even just like enable students to take action to address the things that it matters to them. Now using the historical, you know, whatever that they learned that is so much more meaningful to students. And so I just, I'd love to kind of think about how you shared that for your queer students for, for example, seeing themselves in history, seeing people like them in history, that identity connection like has an impact. And I I'd love to hear more about like either what that impact is or like what you think leads to that impact. So I often talk about like that culture of partnership, the pedagogical pieces and student voice in the classroom, the assessment and then also seeing yourself in the content. So there's like all these pieces that are important. Do you want to speak to like any of those being like this is the thing my students connected with? Sure. So there's, there's a number of directions I can go with this.

Um One of the things that I want to start with is that um my district as a whole was actually pushed by students to do more of this. Um Despite the mandates and everything else is, um, in the really 2020 2021 where as many places across the country were grappling with the aftermath of George Floyd's murder and sort of the reckoning that was occurring around race, which is part of that, the Long March, right, the Long Movement. Um But for them, they're, they're gen Z. And so they're, they're activist generation. And so they came to um teachers that they felt like they could trust and they went to some administrators, they felt like they could trust and they basically worked to um push to create a, a comprehensive multiyear social studies curriculum that would teach on bias and prejudice and discrimination and be woven in and be um teaching kids skills about how to identify it in current events and how to identify it themselves and how to identify the history. And um thankful in, in the situation that I'm in, I'm very thankful that my administration um ran with it to the point where we actually uh develop some of these curriculum materials that we use and then are standardized across the board of our, our three required classes.

We brought the kids in and we presented it to them in the summer and said, does this look like what you were thinking? Is this along the lines of what you, you wanna see? Um You know, some of us had been doing it, we've been doing sort of that rogue, you know, pedagogy of Um I'm tenured. I'm gonna do it, let's see what happens, right. And it was successful. And so we had sample lessons to kind of go off over. We had uh some best practices to use and, and we built that in, in uh additional sample lessons for our colleagues that maybe wouldn't feel as comfortable. We, the big thing that we created um to try to make it as authentic as possible was an Identity wheel. And this is actually what my colleague and I have been presenting uh at some of the conferences in the fall, both at the state and at the the national level. And it's something we're really proud of because it's, it's unique to our needs, but it's also really universal. It is looking at 13 different identity categories that you could argue there could be more, there could be fewer. These are the ones we landed on. Um my colleague did a beautiful job with graphic arts and graphic design.

She's, she's the talent there and basically created this beautiful rainbow wheel and it has layers of um of power sort of implied in the center. It's, it's designed to get you thinking about who has the most power in the middle, sort of layers of the circle, uh who has some degree of power and then the outside where groups are more marginalized. So it sort of works on that level. Um the least power and this is a great way for us to introduce primary sources, introduce units, introduce topics to students and sort of say, ok, what do you already know we, are we gonna do a historical lens? Maybe, are we gonna talk about today? Maybe it works in all of those ways. If they don't have any idea, it's a good opportunity for us to teach and talk about it. Um, neurodiversity and ability are on there. Uh Some of them know what neurodiversity is. Some of them don't depending on the age range and their own sort of personal connection to it. And so it's, it's just been a really great tool for us uh, to, to use it was something the kids saw and they like, oh, wow, that's, yeah, that's really fantastic.

Um, it's been, you know, a little bit of a learning curve for colleagues that maybe don't have like the, the women and gender studies background like I have or haven't been doing as much work in, in anti bias education, anti-racism education, but the vast majority of people are doing it. They're trying it, they're getting more comfortable with it. The kids are, are great and kind of, are able to recognize things pretty much right away and they're really sharp. And so if you're talking about socioeconomic status, they tell you right away, it's more power. If, if you're talking about race, they can tell you right away. It was more power. Um, they may get a little bit trickier in certain conversations about some power, but that leads to really beautiful nuanced conversations. And you know, the way we created it sort of um broad format is that teachers can use it to their comfort if you want to use it with one specific document and say, OK, this is a, this is a document by I W Wells Great who is Ida B Wells map her on this.

Let's talk about that. Let's talk about what her sort of bias and perspective as a person is trying to help them understand that bias is not really a bad thing. If we're talking about a place of bias, there's sometimes even more attaching a negative view to it, right? And it's really just perspective and saying, OK, like now we know this, what do we do with these pamphlets that she wrote about lynching? How is that informing sort of her work as a reformer as a journalist, et cetera? And so it's, it's been a great journey to incorporate sort of what the kids were literally asking for. And also um in the case of New Jersey, we meet our mandates because we do have numerous mandates for inclusion based historical um content. And um and for me, I I think I also sort of truly try to challenge my department in one of the key areas that I think our, our initial like overall course question in both us history one and us history two needs to be who is an American because there's the history, like you're not putting it in boxes that you check off different months.

Now, if you are doing like that as a through line through both of your classes, no matter if you are like me and like to teach it thematically, no matter if you're like many of my colleagues that prefer to teach chronologically, keep asking that question, keep bringing them back to that question and keep saying like in this moment in this time, who is an American? If you're looking at a primary source and you're looking at our wheel citizenship is on there, drawn back to it each time and say, OK, to what extent is this person able to be an American to what extent do they have what we consider to be like full civil rights in the country? Uh And in what ways do they not? And it takes away so much of the like potential for critique and pushback. And um well, you know, this, this isn't the history. Yes, it may not be the history you learned, but it we have the primary sources. Um Let's, let's take a look back. Let's take a look at People V Hall 18 54 California. Really? What does it say?

OK. Very good. What do you make of that? Oh Is that what you make? OK, that's your realization. Oh Asian people were not full people, they couldn't testify against white people. OK. That tells you a lot. All right, good. What are we gonna do with that information? You know, when are we applying it to this next source or this next piece of information that I'm presenting or you're gonna be digging out yourself? And it really, I think has framed the conversation in our classes, um from the perspective of breaking down those myths, breaking down some of those, those just misconceptions about America that, that, you know, no shade directly to their elementary and middle school teachers. Um But they may have reinforced those myths with various lessons and techniques and practices and so often they get to high school and what we're doing is um opening their eyes a little bit more, helping them understand the nuances. And it's just a really good overarching curricular pedagogical approach to say, all right, who's got power?

Who doesn't, when do they have it? How long does it take? How does it ebb and flow for different groups? And I mean, you could, you could go in a number of different directions with it. And that's kind of the, the nice thing about my, my school, my district, my department is that there's a lot of freedom in how we teach and what we teach. And so a class, a question like that to kind of over ach our, our two classes is great because people can kind of roll with it and are still being um inclusive than they were before. Wow, there's so much in there that I want that I want to highlight just I, I think the idea of presenting curriculum for, for two students and getting feedback from students is huge, like amazing just as a a process. Um So I, I hope some listeners and district leaders can like take that away from this conversation because that, that right there is amazing. Um Also just all the things. So I am curious, there's so many follow up questions I have, but I will try to limit myself to two. I'm curious about the themes. I think this is a huge conversation in history, right? Thematic teaching versus chronological.

So I'm curious just about some of the themes that you might teach on if you're willing to share and then, oh, awesome. OK, cool. And then I'm also curious about the protocols or like activities like it sounds like you have a very discussion based class where we can like have these conversations and discussions. And I'm just curious, like, are they what those activities look like if they're like whole class discussions? Do you use it? Like Craic seminars circles? Are they like document based? And yeah, I'm curious about all the things. Yes, basically. Um So I primarily teach us one which for uh my district is 1/9 grade course. Uh And then us two is 1/10 grade course. I have a one little section in an alternative program of, of us two so I'm not, I'm not, that's not my area of expertise and not, I mean, I know it, but it, I haven't worked on that curriculum as in depth. Um, I do teach it thematically but like no one else does and I'm like, why people this works. Um, but it's ok. Us two is a behemoth in ways that US one is not. Um, but for 16 years I have taughtt us one and so I have very much, um, gone through pendulum swings in what we've been asked to teach and sort of, to some extent how we've been asked to teach it.

Um Right now we do 100 years of history in each of those courses. And so For better or worse, we allow our various middle schools because it's a regional high school to get them up to um antebellum, shall we say America. And so we start really loosely 1800-1830 depending on the topic. And because I do it thematically, it kind of does depend on the topic. And then we really go to 1929 with the stock market crash. Um chronologically I do it and several of my colleagues do it in a really interesting thematic approach. And I think it, it just really lends itself in us one because the minutia is not interesting to kids, especially in us one. And they just really don't care about all those g age presidents. They just, they just don't, they all melt together to them. And honestly, me too. And so we do um the causes and consequences of national conflict, which is just a really fancy way of saying the civil war, right? Causes and effects of the civil war. And so we do each unit that 100 years. So we're going roughly 18 twenties, 18 thirties pulling back a little bit if we need to moving um ahead as we, as quickly kind of as we can.

And then we get to in that first unit, I'm not pushing necessarily all the way to like 1930. I'll kind of blend in some of the 1900 stuff in my third unit. I'll get to that in a second. Um But it's really more antebellum, more reconstruction a little bit into um Jim Crow and then us one second unit is um political and economic changes. And so it's tying together the major um economic themes of that 100 years. So really market revolution, industrialization, tying an immigration, urbanization, Getting to the, the 20s uh kind of as quickly as you can because you don't have all the time in the world and then getting to the crash to like get them ready for understanding the Great Depression more in the us too. In unit three. It's um social change and reform. And so it's again, going all the way back doing anti baum reform movements helping them see sort of like a long trajectory of change, which I think for this generation in particular is really important because they're activists, but they want to change right away and, uh, the world doesn't always move quite that quickly and institutions and systems definitely don't move that quickly.

And so they're able to sort of see, like, ok, it's, it's generations of people that had to work toward things like prohibition, you know, will debate how good it is. But they had generations of people working toward it. There's generations of people working to just even the broad women's rights movement, but especially the right to vote and, and like blending in, um as many sort of different movements all the way through progressivism and then doing some of the fun stuff in the twenties at the end with sort of social change in the twenties, like, ok, well, we've got prohibition and we've got the vote. So how's everybody doing? Um, and it's, it's nice to be able to do some happier things like the Harland Renaissance. Um, and, uh studying a little bit of the, the fun of the twenties. And then in the fourth unit, we do territorial expansion. So we've done the Civil war, but we haven't done anything else in terms of conflict and even just like sort of negotiation for territories. And so this, I, I love this unit because it does such a beautiful job of helping them understand settler colonialism and then colonialism and showing them that just trajectory that um America goes from, you know, this size in 18 2018, 12, 18, 30 whatever.

Ok. 18 48. What with Mexico? OK. What's that about? Why is that going on? Oh, let's talk about Texas a little bit too. Why they need that in pendant. OK. Circling right back to some of the things from unit one going forward into um treatment of indigenous people, kind of going forward and backward with that. I try to do uh a couple of lessons on helping them understand like we, we're in New Jersey and they had different groups and let's actually dig into that. And some are like, oh yeah, in fourth grade we did that like, ok, well, let's do it at a high school level now and, and see what the tribes themselves say about themselves. Um Try to do a lot with just helping them understand the realities of the reservation uh system and, and the, you know, wars and what they really involved. And then we go right into imperialism and they're just like, oh, ok. And so you bring that question of who's an American right back? Ok. Interesting. You know, why do these people need democracy and Christianity when they have Catholicism?

What's going on? Why, why do they need to be a part of America? But aren't really ever really a part of America? Why are certain things extended to Puerto Ricans when they live in the United States? But not when they're Rico, what, what? And so we do end the, the year when I do it this way with um World War One. So it, it shifts a little bit into sort of that more foreign policy. How is the United States is getting involved in a foreign war? But there's also the issues of, of what is this democracy really fighting for and how democratic are we at that point? Um You've got ties back to the suffrage movement. You've got the critique of Alice Paul and others. You've got uh Eugene V Debs is a labor leader saying, you know, wait, wait a minute, what's going on here? And it's kind of a nice way to tie it together and it does a good job. I think of helping prepare them for that next level where they are gonna look a lot more at international relations and foreign policy. And I argue their little brains are ready for it more so than they were earlier in the year. So it's a, it's a trajectory I'm really proud of. It's something that my department and I worked on for, for years to kind of fine tune it that way.

It is a beautiful trajectory. And I think just at one takeaway if someone is listening and like wondering how that shift if they're currently teaching chronologically, you know, how do I make that shift? I think just repositioning like just the positioning of what it is that you teach and like putting it in order or in this kind of frame or in this unit to like think about territorial expansion and all those pieces within that category, just like you said, it's like, oh oh OK. Now I am tying all these things together that have never been tied together and I don't even need as the teacher to tie them together because I'm just presenting them in this order now where it's like, OK, students can make those connections much easier. So I think there's so much wisdom in what you do and so much like cool possibility to think about as I hear you like, talk through this, I'm hoping listeners are feeling the same like energy to kind of create in this way and redesign in this way. Um I'm, I'm also thinking that people are probably thinking, you know, how do you help students make those connections? And so from an activity standpoint, like, what are those activities? What's like a typical or like one of your favorite class activities for helping students make those big leaps.

So we're doing a lot with uh essential questions and guiding questions from the very beginning. So the who's an American is sort of that course, broad question. Each unit has its own essential question. We're driving um document analysis with a lot of questions. Um What I typically am doing is trying to get them set up with basics, you know, sort of establishing the historical context. And then we pretty quickly in most of the units are getting into, documents are getting into, um, trying to understand primary sources where The wheel can come in, sort of to help us understand the broad topic and sort of the broad idea as it existed then as it exists in our, our time. Now, the unit I'm in right now, I focus on socio-economic uh, status and, and that identity marker. And so we did a lot of, OK, like we know about 1840s, antebellum Southern States. Let's just sort of talk about who has economic power, who doesn't. And they're, we just did that in unit one. So they're right there. And I'm like, OK, well today who has economic power and who doesn't? OK, cool. And so like this whole unit, we're gonna be mostly looking at economics with some politics and, and political decisions thrown at.

And um we're, we're doing a lot of informal discussion. I do a lot of group work where my kids are sitting in pods and in groups of like four and five. And I'm asking them to bounce ideas off of each other to work together. Um analyze the document together, come up with information together. It really helps the reluctant ones. It helps in a class that is um just highly spread on the, I don't even want to say ability level because I hate that language. Um but just spread on their confidence in school and their belief in themselves and maybe they haven't ever really been shown, a a high number of primary sources before and something from like 1850 is a little hard. They have some kids who might be more comfortable readers and more comfortable with primary sources and would be able to sort of more uh guide that conversation. And so I do a lot of um really trying to be very methodical with the scaffolding. And then um we're working toward a lot of document based skills with those documents, but also comfort talking about them.

So, s Socratic seminar is a key piece. Um We actually just did a unit two summit of assessment, which is a score discussion based on a fish bowl style s Socratic seminar. And they're always like, well, why can't we debate? And I'm like, because the world is full of debate and I want you to be able to use evidence to support a common understanding. And then everyone in that circle, everyone in that group is actually having This like this conversation where you're building on ideas and you're not contradicting each other. And they're like, 01 or two people in there to contra. I'm like, I am doing this for reasons. I'm like, I have been doing this longer than you have been alive. Please trust me. And then they finally like get over it and they, they get it. Um And the same thing there, there can be a lot of trepidation with speaking, some of them are very comfortable with it. Others are, are very unfamiliar. And so I've developed a lot of approaches over the years to kind of help. We, we do partners, we do time outs. We, we kind of build that, you know, you don't know how to talk to each other, especially after the pandemic. So we're gonna build this skill from the ground up.

We're gonna practice it a few times throughout the semester. You're gonna do it in other classes. I know you are because in my school and it is, it is going to be something you're hopefully taking well beyond my class. Um We also do research projects that are usually inquiry based and so they'll start with like sort of the essential question for the unit, like in the fourth unit with territorial expansion. That essential question is like, I don't know what we were like, what, how much caffeine we were drinking, but we were like a professorial like, I don't know, dissertation type level question, but we break it down together and we say, what does this mean? What like what are we trying to get at? OK. We're trying to get at these key ideas in this unit and OK, now it's your turn, you run, you start asking some questions after we've done a little introduction to the unit. We usually in us one, we don't give them like the whole unit for the inquiry. We do, um, often I do like imperialism through the inquiry and, and getting them to try to, um, really dive into like, what, what do you wanna know more about?

And then we have sort of a guided piece to it because of ninth graders. They're, they're not as able to do the free range inquiry the same way that, you know, a p research and seminar kids are able to kind of thing. And so they are um taken through this process of looking at some of the things that are in the essential question, but kind of doing it in their own way. Oh, ok. You wanna focus on Puerto Rico? You're Puerto Rican? Oh, great. You wanna focus on Alaska because you went there. Great, beautiful. I'll help you find resources. And so it's, um, it's kind of trying to bring a lot of those um primary source and data analysis skills to um an, an extended level where they're finding the sources. We're walking through databases, good use of, of internet tools and searches and stuff like that. And um, it usually works out pretty well with the scaffolding kind of building them to that point where they're, they're able to be more articulate about it. Um They could do, they could do kind of whatever final product they want, the research and the process is the important piece. So if they're comfortable presenting, ok, you present, if you want to write something you write.

If you want to draw something, you draw something. Um I just need you using the insights that you gained and maintaining your sources. We have an annotated bibliography that they have to do. Like, that's kind of our common assessment piece for that unit with um The entire us one team. So it's it's pretty skills driven and pretty much designed to kind of really grow them so that they can go on to us two as just like much more competent young historians than they came to me as. Wow, I so cool. I never thought of an annotated bibliography as like the shared assessment to like, I feel like often there's this desire to have a shared assessment, but then there's also, I love student voice and like being able to have as many possibilities of like what it looks like at final iteration. So I love that compromise of like you could do the Anno biography and then you could do whatever it is that you want to do that is like aligned to your skill set and desires. So that is super cool. Thank you. I'm gonna be sharing that with everyone. I know. So that is awesome.

And I'm thinking too, I know we're, we're getting um about half an hour into the episode. So I wanna kind of be mindful of, of, of your time thinking about this transition, maybe for people who I know you were saying that there are some people who still, for example, techology. And I'm, I'm wondering if maybe some people are um you know, doing less of the, the, the weaving or the um kind of centralization of stories that historically are untold, you know, and maybe it is more of like an ad diversity and stir kind of situation. Like what are the kind of like uh mindset shifts that are, have, have been successful with people who are initially reticent or um any like challenges that people have kind of overcome in, in that work that have kind of done more of the work that you're doing. Yeah, I it's interesting during, during zoom times, during pandemic um teaching where, you know, we were in school and they weren't and sometimes they were in school and it was the whole thing. Um my department totally, you know, volunteer decided to start a book club and, and I actually really, you know, everybody in the world was starting a book club, right?

But I really credit uh several people who are in the book club with taking the messages from the books that we read, which were, we're not primarily social justice based, but we're largely, especially in that year, social justice based and saying I'm going to apply some of this. I don't know what I'm gonna apply, but I'm gonna apply some of it, you know, people's history type stuff. Um just really trying to bring more of the authentic lessons and, and so I have, I have one colleague who I use the, the book one drop to talk about race right at, right at the jump. Like we're using the introduction to this beautiful photo book on what it means to be a person of color in the United States. Really what it means to be black. And um it's a little bit international at times too, but I really love the introduction because it's a beautiful succinct history of the creation of race in the United States. And I do it early. My colleague was doing it now. She's chronological. I think she's doing it within the context of um really sort of like Jim Crow in the early 19 hundreds and kind of ramping it into um that, that leader part of what I would consider my first unit, but she's doing it more now and she was really stressed about it and she was talking to me, she was talking to another colleague who'd both done it and I was like, just, just make it your own, just like you don't have to do what I do.

I do it as teaching kids how to do close reading. Like it's, it's, it's very, it's a very prescribed where I have it because that's where I need it. I'm talking about race in my first unit based on the topic, right? And so that's the identity category we're really focusing on. You're, you're doing it now. OK. So, so use what you, what you want. If you don't want to use the entire in, it's a long give them an excerpt. I divide it. So my kids are in groups and looking at different sections, do what you want to do and make it work for you. And I think that's like the number one thing for people is make it authentic to your style in your classroom. You know, this is a teacher who's always been really, really good about doing women and stuff. And so it's good that she's really trying to, to bring in in an authentic way to her deeper conversations about race and the construction of race throughout us. One because she's again an expert teacher in us. One, she's been doing it. Hey, everyone. It's Lindsey Lyons hopping in here to talk about Dr Warren and her colleagues creation, which is our episode, Freebie. It's the identity wheel that she's referencing in the episode. We're gonna go ahead and drop the link to that in the blog post, Lindsay by lions dot com slash one oh nine.

Back to the show 15 years longer than I have. And she's still willing to try to innovate, innovate. She's still willing to um get ideas and get feedback and I can tell when she's nervous about something because she's like in my face in the lunch, you know, in the lecture. And she's like, how did you like? Ok, let's talk through this and also like, like, I know you're afraid of messing up but like, just try it and like, the more you do it, the easier it is. Um, you know, I do some tough lessons. I do a lesson on the N word in that first unit. Not right away. I want to have a little bit of comfort, but I, you know, a colleague and, and I, and I have several others think that it's just one of the most essential things we can do for our ninth graders, particularly with the content they're gonna to see not only in our class but in English classes and in uh later history classes and just helping them understand that words mean things. And that language is powerful. And that in this case, uh for a predominantly white school, this is a, a problem word in the hallways and it is a, a word that we need to just have more truth about truly, especially in our community and I sweat every time I do it and I've done it like several times now and I flat out tell the kids I'm like, I am uncomfortable talking to you about this.

No one talked to me about this when I was your age. I wish they had, I would have been less ignorant. And it's just this thing where we can't allow our discomfort to get in the way of what they, I can be sweaty. It's fine. It's what they need. Right. I may not be happy in the moment as I'm anxious and sweaty, but I will survive. I am a fully formed adult, you know, I'm taking care of myself and I have like, you know, good social supports and, and whatever else they need this, they need to be seen, they need these difficult lessons that no one has had kind of the, the guts to go over with them or tell them. And then in many cases for our white kids and their families are not touching. Uh And so it's a situation of if, if you're chronological, if you're like, I don't know how to do this where I'm, how do I put something else in? It's more of how can you blend it into what you're already doing? How can you make it authentic to you and how can you help more kids feel seen even if it makes you uncomfortable, like it's gonna take that personal work maybe beforehand, probably, definitely beforehand.

But it's a situation where look at your, look at your students, whether it's a AAA 100% white student body that you're looking at or it is a, you know, like my school increasingly diverse student body that I'm looking at. Um and think about what they really need. What do they really need when they leave us when they leave our classroom? Particularly from a social science classroom, a history classroom? Are they going to need to memorize dates when I first started teaching, we were given multiple choice tests and it had dates on it. And I came from a school district where I had to take tests and they had things like dates on them and presidents in whatever order they were in. And it was pretty quick into my teaching that I started, I actually asked kids, how do you learn best? What, what types of assessments am I giving that are resonating with you? And overwhelmingly they told me it was discussions and projects and I went cool, like that's gonna inform my practice and as sort of the discipline started to change as we had some, some folks retire and other folks um come in in leadership and just in the department overall, we got to this place where skills matter a lot more, the overall takeaway to their sort of life beyond our classrooms matter a lot more.

And, you know, as we keep kind of interrogating that thinking about what, what does that mean? Um It's things like media literacy, it's things like being socially aware, it's things like understanding different identities and intersections of those identities. It's ensuring the kids feel seen. It's, it's all of that as much as it's understanding primary sources, right? We can start with the primary sources and anchor ourselves in that because that's, that's the truth. Um I mean, we the rest of it in as it is authentic as it is possible as it is, um, something that will push you a little bit but not make you shut down. Yes. Oh, my gosh. I love the idea that our, um, our discomfort can't get in the way of what they need. And like to ask, what do our students need? I think this is such a lovely way to kind of, I typically ask the end. Like, what's one thing you would encourage listeners to do? I, I feel like that's like an answer to that, right? Like ask what students need and then don't let your discomfort get in them. But I also don't want to answer that question for you. So if there is anything different, you would say or if there's anything else we didn't get to talk about, I do wanna leave space for that. I, I would, I would trust them with difficult things.

Like that's, that's one of my biggest things is like you might be uncomfortable because you think it's gonna make everybody in the uncomfortable and it might, but if you give them the space to have the opportunity to reflect in, in written response and to give them space to, to talk, it's it's helpful. Um I, I do the N word lesson. We have a, a document that they can fill out. It's basically blank. It just says, what are your thoughts as we go through this? And um I encourage them at various points throughout that lesson to kind of turn to that document where, where, uh chromebook school and I'm like, all right, just, you know, on your chromebook, just write if you don't want to write anything, just sit there and think. And then at the end I give them space to talk and some classes wanna talk, other classes do not want to talk, but they've written me like pages and some kids wanna talk, some kids will write me pages. Right. And so I think it's more about just giving them that, that space and that really comes with trusting them. They are, they are not fully fledged humans. Right. Yes, we know their prefrontal cortexes are not fully developed.

They have impulse control, they have hormones, they have the bevy but, but they are human beings. They are not um something that literally by using a good lib phrase or something that could dehumanize them. They are truly human beings. And I think just a significant number of adults in schools don't treat kids like human beings. And so, you know, trusting them to handle difficult things, trusting that you have enough sort of control over the culture of that classroom and that environment that hopefully you have put a lot of effort into establishing that you can ensure that they're not gonna be glib about it that they're either they are, you handle it right? Or that if they know you're not going to tolerate it, they're not gonna try it, they're gonna keep their mouth shut. And so it's a situation where I would say like, yes, do the things that you said, like, like definitely ask kids, talk to kids, but also like trust kids and, and trust them to be able to think about big issues, think about things that are currently going on.

I know that one of my sort of areas of focus that I need to do better at is responding in the moment when bad things happen. I have a colleague who is excellent at it. He just like stops and is like, we're talking about this and I'm like, oh my anxious brain wants to just get through this curriculum because I have limited time. And so I'm trying to, to kind of calm myself down with that and say no, you'll get through it. You've done this for years, you know, where you can cut things, you can find new things to cut. It's fine. And um you know, talk about it. I uh in our pre uh recorded conversation, I was mentioning how I was doing a, a lesson on anti Asian discrimination and violence throughout American history as part of our immigration section of this unit. And with the shooting over the weekend, this past weekend in California, I needed, I knew I needed to create space to talk about it. If only one kid knew about it and none of the rest of them did. It was, it was inappropriate if I just jumped into it and didn't create that space. And my issue is gonna be tomorrow also creating that space for my other classes because there's a different group who had my lesson on Friday.

And so I need to kind of keep challenging myself to come back into the moment and, and trust them to, to want to know about these, these topics and to want to maybe um think more deeply reflect, share and not every kid is gonna share, but for the one or two that do it, it it's important to just give them that space. Yeah, such an important point about trusting students. And I think honestly, a lot of times adults bring that discomfort into the space about certain issues and it's like students don't necessarily, I mean, I maybe by high school but like particularly when we talk about like elementary students or something, it's like we bring that to them, like we introduce them to that discomfort and, and to an extent also probably high school students as well. So I think if we can get through that ourselves, so we can open up students and trust that one of the hard things. So in closing, I love to ask just like, and I think you had actually even mentioned things like this already. But I think everyone who comes on the podcast just loves learning and, and learning about a lot of things. And so this could be literally anything like you learned how to play a new instrument or you, you know, learned about a new book or topic, like, what is something that you're learning about lately lately?

Ok. Um, I am always learning, I am always reading like too many different book groups and reading for many books, I think three or four right now at one time. Um, I'm reading a great book called American Detox right now and it's, it's not anything, you know, for me, it's not revolutionary in the sense that like these ideas are being pulled together. But it is a lot of texts I have read over the last several years, maybe 5 to 10 years, but they're being brought together by um a white woman who was in yoga spaces and is someone who is a certified yoga instructor too. It's, it's a perspective that we, we really need more of, we need more people of color and indigenous folks speaking in uh wellness and health spaces. But that's sort of her point. That's sort of her argument and her, her crux, her name is Carrie Kelly and she gave a TED talk several years ago and it's kind of a quick hit at what this overall book's message is. But it's just really, we have a wellness industry that is um making billions of dollars on our dysfunctional broken system and systems and we cannot be actually well as individuals or as communities, if we don't put our energy to fixing and breaking and dismantling these systems.

And it is great to be reading it with the yoga community because there's just a lot of folks who are at various points in their journey, at various points of their, of their thoughts about this. And um we have the discussion in a couple of days and so I'm very excited to sort of see how, how it's resonating with everybody. I'm going through and I'm just doing a lot of head knotting. And I'm like, yes, yes, this is pulling these interesting threads together. It's, it's again, it's not super revolutionary, but it, it's just very neat to sort of see the, the work that was done to sort of weave um critique of colonialism, critique of uh racism, critique of patriarchy, critique of um entrepreneurs, basically taking advantage of, of mental illness and mental health issues and you know, fat phobia, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, woven into one uh relatively hefty text and the resources in it are, are exceptional. Like I'm like, yes, I, oh I, that's a new one. OK. So I love books like that where I can sort of see the threads come together but also get additional resources to sort of challenge me and continue to extend me.

That is fantastic. I is now on my reading list. Thank you for that. Fantastic. You're welcome. And the last question I have is just if people want to get in touch with you after the podcast episode? Where can they connect with you if you're open to that? Sure. Absolutely. I, I was an avid Twitter user and I have not been back in a while. Um, but I, I tried to create a little bit of a um community or space on linkedin. So linkedin is probably the best professional spot um to grab me and then if we, if we want to go email or anything else from there, it's, it's easy enough to do. Awesome. That sounds great. And I will link to your linkedin in the show notes too. Perfect. Awesome, Dr Warren. Thank you so much for being on the show. Happy to be here. It was super fun to talk. If you're leaving this episode wanting more, you're going to love my life coaching intensive curriculum, boot camp. I help one department or grade team create feminist anti racist curricula that challenges affirms and inspires all students. We weave current events into course content and amplify student voices which skyrockets engagement and academic achievement. It energizes educators feeling burns out and it's just two days.

Plus you can reuse the same process any time you create a new unit which saves time and money. If you can't wait to bring this to your staff, I'm inviting you to sign up for a 20 minute call with me. Grab a spot on my calendar at W W w dot Lindsay, Beth lions dot com slash contact. Until next time. Leaders continue to 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 dot com slash podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode.

109. Social Studies Curriculum Using the Identity Wheel with Dr. Lindsay Warren
109. Social Studies Curriculum Using the Identity Wheel with Dr. Lindsay Warren
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