Episode 21: Anti-Racist Art Teachers: A Panel Discussion: Anti-Racist Teaching During A Pandemic

Anti-Racist Art Teachers: A Panel Discussion: Anti-Racist Teaching During A Pandemic (part 1)

Rebecca Potts: [00:00:00] This is a little different from the other episodes I’ve done where I’m talking with one person and really focusing on their art practice as well as their teaching, but I thought this was really important to talk about. And I’m so excited that you were willing to come on and have a discussion and kind of share the work that you’ve been doing. So I like to start always just with backgrounds, and I think that makes sense here, too. So maybe we could do like brief backgrounds, just kind of going around and sharing what you teach, what age levels and your teaching style in a nutshell. And then also whether or not you make your own artwork, because that’s something that’s always interesting. So those two kind of things: your teaching and your artwork, if you could share that in as brief as possible, just for time.

Paula Liz: [00:00:48] Hi, my name is Paula Liz and I was born in Puerto Rico, but I grew up in Maryland.

Paula Liz: [00:00:53] I went to school at MICA in Baltimore. I’ve taught in New York City, Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C., at Charter, private school, public schools, and I’m now an elementary pre-K through five art teacher in Maryland. And yes, I do and have and still do make my own art.

Rebecca Potts: [00:01:15] Awesome.

Khadesia Latimer: [00:01:16] I guess I’ll go next. My name is Khadesia Latimer and I teach in South Carolina. This will be my fourth year teaching and I am currently teaching at two different schools.

Khadesia Latimer: [00:01:27] Both of them are elementary, kindergarten through fifth grade. I do create art in my free time, but it’s not anything super serious. I am more or less being more intentional about trying to create something every day. And that’s pretty much it about me.

Rebecca Potts: [00:01:44] Nice. Thank you.

I always loved art. It was my way of communicating with people when I honestly couldn’t speak English.

Abby Birhanu

Abby Birhanu: [00:01:46] Well, my name is Abby Birhanu and I am originally from Ethiopia. I came to the States when I was nine. I always loved art. It was my way of communicating with people when I honestly couldn’t speak English. And that’s really about the time when I started discovering my artist’s identity. I guess I still do make art part of my life, although I’m really busy with two toddlers at home. So that’s kind of hindered my art making and process. I teach high school, nine through twelve, and I teach drawing, AP, the gambit, Art 1, Art 2, graphic… I’ve taught it all pretty much and will teach whatever is coming. And then I would say, I don’t know if you asked about teaching style yet, and I’ll talk about that later when we get to it, but yeah, that’s who I am.

Rebecca Potts: [00:02:32] Awesome.

Dr. Lori Santos: [00:02:34] Hi, I’m Dr. Lori Santos and I teach at Wichita State University. I work with pre-service students who are going into the field of art education. So my background is kind of mixed. My parents are from Hawaii and I also have heritage in Portugal, Puerto Rico and Native American. I use a lot of that sort of storytelling and iconography from my family in my own artwork.

Dr. Lori Santos: [00:03:01] And I’m a painter.

Rebecca Potts: [00:03:03] Nice! Awesome. Thank you.

Tamara Slade: [00:03:05] Hi, my name is Tamara Slade. I am a multiple subject teacher and so I’ve taught fifth grade, fourth grade, second and first, and I’ve been teaching for about four years. I guess before that, the six years before that I was working with kids. And so that’s kind of how I got into education. Yeah.

Rebecca Potts: [00:03:26] Awesome. Cool, thank you. So yeah, I guess the next question I had was your methodology. Are any of you TAB teachers (teaching for artistic behavior) or do you follow different sort of styles? Is there a variety here or…

Abby Birhanu: [00:03:41] Sure, yeah. I started dabbling in TAB because that’s what you do to start with, because it is very scary at first to give students full choice. I think most art educators teach some type of choice based art. From my conversations with a lot of educators, they give choice. But to give full choice is extremely scary. And so I’ve been dabbling in it now for three years and I’m progressively climbing up the spectrum of choice based art and trying to get to the very top. But I teach a mixture, I would say, and we’ll talk about this later, but a part of offloading – what we call offloading in TAB teaching with skills. But I also like to offload art history, offload antiracist concepts, offload everything. So it’s an amazing experience. And I’ve seen my students really enjoy the process and have been more engaged than ever before. So I don’t think I’ll turn back. But it’s still something that I’m growing into, I have to say.

Rebecca Potts: [00:04:40] Yeah, yeah. I think it’s something that can take years. Yeah.

Khadesia Latimer: [00:04:44] Well, I guess I’m a little different. I’m more discipline based. I have so, so, so, so, so many kids in my classroom. Not saying that you can’t do TAB with so many children, but for me, starting out, I think that that is the best thing for me to do. So I do want to eventually explore doing some things like that with some of my smaller groups, but as of right now, I’m discipline based.

Rebecca Potts: [00:05:05] Yeah, it’s trickier, especially when you’re trying to do those one on one check-ins about what they’re making and what their process is, yeah, that can be really hard with larger groups.

Khadesia Latimer: [00:05:15] Yes, definitely.

Paula Liz: [00:05:17] As for me, all my lessons and I didn’t even realize apparently I fall on the TAB spectrum according to Abby. All my lessons are focused on student voice and expression.

Paula Liz: [00:05:29] And I stay away from like the everyone do exactly the same thing. But with the younger students, I do have a lot more structure. And then the older they get is when I start to introduce a lot more choice in terms of materials and themes and concepts.

Rebecca Potts: [00:05:45] Yeah, awesome. Lori or Tamara, did you want to say anything about methodologies? I know your teaching situations are a little different.

I think students need to construct their own meaning in something. So therefore we cover a little bit of all the different kinds of curriculum approaches. And I refer to it as the curriculum palette.

Dr. Lori Santos

Dr. Lori Santos: [00:05:53] Yeah. Yeah. Well, being in higher ed, I’m working with students who are just beginning their careers. And so I take a little bit more of a holistic approach. Personally, for me, I’m what you would refer to as a constructivist first of all, because I think students need to construct their own meaning in something. So therefore we cover a little bit of all the different kinds of curriculum approaches. And I refer to it as the curriculum palette. And students pick and choose. If I were going to go back into the classroom, though, I’d be a TAB teacher. I really think that that is something that’s essential. I also have a heavy emphasis on community and social practice, as well as social justice in my own classroom.

Rebecca Potts: [00:06:38] Yeah, I love that idea of a curriculum palette. That’s great. Like a great way to word it.

Tamara Slade: [00:06:43] So answering that question, being a multiple subject teacher, I’m not familiar actually with these terms – I’m learning them right now, but they sound it sounds pretty cool.

Tamara Slade: [00:06:51] I really believe in student choice. My teaching philosophy is mostly based on just being culturally relevant and responsive with a focus on that social justice lens of everything that I teach. And I just really value advocacy from a critical and cultural perspective.

Rebecca Potts: [00:07:09] Yeah, awesome. And then now thinking about that teaching style, how are you handling this pandemic and changing your teaching situation dramatically? You know, this is a discussion that could go on for a long time. But if you could maybe just briefly share, like, are you going to be online, on a cart, hybrid? What’s your sort of situation for this coming school year?

Khadesia Latimer: [00:07:32] Well, for me, being at two different schools, I have two different situations. So one school, I will actually be on a cart and the other school, I’ll actually have my students come to my classroom, so we’ll have face to face instruction. So in the past it was of course, a lot easier to have both schools doing the same thing because then I could keep the same lessons going. But now it’s going to be a little more difficult because I can’t necessarily do the same things that I would do in a cart in the classroom, or maybe I could. They’ll just be a little different. So I have to work through that a little bit.

Rebecca Potts: [00:08:05] Yeah, it’ll be modified. I was actually in that position this past year. I had one school on a cart and the other school in my classroom, but without all the other, like, precautions necessary.

Khadesia Latimer: [00:08:15] Yes.

Rebecca Potts: [00:08:16] But I kind of tried to follow the same thing and just made some modifications for the cart.

Khadesia Latimer: [00:08:21] I definitely need to look into that. That will definitely make it easier.

Rebecca Potts: [00:08:24] Yeah. Yeah, I’m happy to talk about it at some point later too.

Paula Liz: [00:08:27] My district initially was leaning towards the hybrid model, but our teachers union and families kind of had a lot of debate with that. So they just recently the other day announced that we’ll be online for the entire first semester.

Khadesia Latimer: [00:08:42] Wow.

Rebecca Potts: [00:08:43] That’s great. Yeah. When the teachers and parents can actually have a little bit of voice in these decisions. Uh, good. You feel relieved with that?

Paula Liz: [00:08:53] I do, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I had to when initially they were going with the hybrid model, a lot of art teachers in my district, we all kind of banded together to create imagery, to help advocate for the reasons why we thought online learning would work better and be safer.

Rebecca Potts: [00:09:11] Yeah, that’s great.

Dr. Lori Santos: [00:09:12] My school is doing a hybrid with highly recommended online as much as possible. I’ll be doing synchronous meetings with my students. And, you know, my students are going to be in the classroom with teachers like these wonderful teachers on the team. So I’m not sure exactly how that’s going to look, honestly. Well, we’ll see when it gets closer.

Rebecca Potts: [00:09:33] Yeah, student teaching. Ooh, wow.

Dr. Lori Santos: [00:09:36] Yeah.

Abby Birhanu: [00:09:37] I actually had a student teacher toward the end of the last semester and it was very interesting for her because we did the online thing together, too. We’re going in person as of now. I teach outside of St. Louis, Missouri, but there are options for hybrid and full virtual. And I think we’re going to transition as we see the numbers in the next few weeks. My plan is to make it as virtual as possible, because I don’t know if it’s sustainable to stay and I want it to be as consistent as possible for the students. So I’m pretty much offering a virtual option, like it’s a virtual course, but I’ll be there in person. And my focus is going to be just trying to build a community, because I think that’s what the kids are really craving more than anything. So to have the instructional component online and then like be there to support them in those communities. And while, because I honestly don’t foresee us going for longer than two or three weeks, unfortunately, just to get them into groups, maybe, not necessarily work together, but give them like an online platform where they can have like four kids to go to and talk to. And because I just see that with the high school students they’re really suffering in that area. So that’s that’s where we are now.

Rebecca Potts: [00:10:49] Yeah. Those are really great ideas for how to handle the situation. I think that’s that’s helpful to hear.

Tamara Slade: [00:10:56] So I am in L.A. and I’m in L.A. Unified.

Tamara Slade: [00:11:01] So we are district have made the decision to start distance learning, virtual learning, online shortly before the governor made the decision for the state, for all of us to start. And so I’m just kind of grateful for that. But who knows when we’ll go back because my union is still in negotiations with the district.

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