Beyond the Letters is a podcast featuring LGBTQ+ educators, their stories, strategies and practical advice for creating safe and inclusive educational spaces for queer youth and educators, alike. Hosted by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts, each week features a new guest as they talk all things LGBTQ+ and education.
Kate and Maggie are joined by LaMar Timmons-Long in today's episode as they talk about being vulnerable, the intersections of race and queerness, and building brave spaces in our classrooms.
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Below is a transcript of this episode.
Maggie: Welcome to Beyond the Letters. I'm Maggie Beattie Roberts.
Kate: And I'm Kate Roberts.
Maggie: I'm very excited to introduce our guests today. LaMar Timmons-Long is an English teacher in New York City. Born and raised in Brooklyn. He is also faculty at Pace University and a member of the NCTE LGBTQ+ advisory committee, and the educator collaborative. You can find his writing on the NCTE blog, featured May of this year, 2019. The Time is Now; affirms black queer youth. LaMar has been one of the most joyful additions to my year, and I am so excited to share his voice and presence with all of you today. Welcome LaMar.
LaMar: Thank you for having me.
Maggie: You're welcome. There's so many places we could start. So I think I'll just start, if you think about your life as a queer person, as a queer educator, as a queer youth, do you have a critical moment or a turning point for you that kind of set you on your path that you're currently in?
LaMar: That is a really, really good question. I think that there's not been one moment, but there may have been multiple moments that if I wanted to, I can put them all into one. I think the first moment was really coming to terms with my identity and recognizing that I am a black queer male, and that is in itself a journey. And so when I really was able to sit down and really look in the mirror and say, "This is who I am." That was like, "Okay, this is it." And so then kind of figuring out how to operate in the world as this black queer male and being a teacher. I've never really hid myself from my students. I have never told my students like, "No, this is not who I am," if they asked. I would say, "Yes, I'm queer."
They are very open to the idea of having a black queer teacher, because I think our experiences are very similar in how we grew up because I do teach in an urban environment and I do teach students that look like myself and come from neighborhoods where I grew up. And so I think that that is also a barrier. That was also a crucial moment when I was able to say, "Wait, you guys accept me. Wow." Okay. So that was another moment that was kind of big for me.
And then this year meeting one of the most amazing, talented, super awesome authors, meeting Michael Arceneaux and Darnell Moore this year was probably the moment that made my entire body explode, both internally and externally. And so meeting them was another moment for me to say, "Okay, you can operate in this world in you're a black queerness, and you are seen and heard, and there are other men out there that identify just like you, and that understand what you have to internally deal with, and externally deal with." So those would be the three moments in my life that I could think of right now that really were big for me.
Kate: It's lovely. Because all three of them are so beautifully about acceptance and being accepted and seeing yourself. There's the seeing yourself in the mirror, then there's the seeing yourself in the acceptance of your students and getting that affirmation. And then there's the acceptance of seeing a mentor or a hero or something, something of like, "I can be that someday.' The acceptance of the future you that's out there now. That's really beautiful.
LaMar: Yeah. It's empowering, for sure. It's very empowering
Maggie: And like a precise reflection. This idea of, I see not just one side of myself reflected in this person that I admire, but I see many sides of myself that are all intersecting the same way with another person. And just how validating and empowering that is to be able to bond with people that you have nothing in common with, to bond with people that you have some sides in common with, but also to have a bond with someone that you just have a lot in common with in terms of the different ways that you identify.
LaMar: Yes, absolutely. I think that that's ... The Antiracist Book Festival, that session, queering education featuring Darnell Moore and Michael Arceneaux are literally, my mind exploded.
Kate: What was it about the session? So there's the representation, right? If you see it and you're like, "Okay, I can be like that too." But was there other stuff about that session that you found so powerful?
LaMar: Oh man. I mean, looking at them, it was great to have that mirror, but then to also have language, right. I remember clearly hearing Darnell say, and I am going to paraphrase a little bit because it was a little while ago, but queerness and blackness are somewhat in the same. Where we're both kind of fighting against the norm. And we are part of groups that are oppressed. And so we're fighting for an equitable seat at the table.
And when he said that, I was like, "Oh, I've never looked at it like that." And I think that if more people did look at it from that lens and that perspective, then you would understand why people within the queer community that identify as within one of the groups for the IBPOC, right. Why we have to have multiple perspectives, and why we think the way we may think, or why I think the way I think. Or how I view the world, how I operate in the world, because I can only speak my truth.
And so that, that was one of the most powerful things that he said. And then having Michael sit there to really interject and give multiple counts of experiences that I was able to not only identify with, I was also able to say, "Some of my kids are identifying with this as well." So there's a bigger picture here, right? That session was the first session of the day, and that any other session I went to, I was ... It was great. They were phenomenal, but that one was so profound for me.
And then meeting the two of them after. And I had the books, the books were in my home, but I didn't have them with me. And so I decided I'm going to re-buy them and I'm going to go get them signed by them. And having these, because they are accessible, having these conversations with these other black queer males that felt like a home. It felt like home. And so that was, even now, I still get goosebumps when I just think about that experience. And that may not mean anything to anyone else, but for me, that was big.
Kate: ... speaks. We think about the importance of having ... I don't know what word you would use to identify them for you, but it strikes me as like heroes, or mentors, or models, or things we aspire to be, but also are like us. I remember aspiring to be Luke Skywalker, but he's a white straight dude. You know what I mean? So I can't be him. And it wasn't until ... And I didn't have many models of gender queer women to aspire to. And when I finally did meet some people that I was like, "Oh, not only can you be gay, have short hair, or be masculine, but you also can be outrageously smart and successful and amazing and accepted and not in a corner somewhere, but like on the stage. That's so powerful. And it strikes me that you are probably that for your kids too. You probably won't admit that, right? But just by your presence, that is the legacy, right? Of being able to like, "I see who I want to be, and then, therefore I can start to be that for somebody else."
LaMar: I would hope that. I would hope that when they see me that they see that identity is versatile, identity is multifaceted, identity it's like an entire bowl of gumbo, right? There's so many pieces to the gumbo to make it so rich, and so fulfilling. So I would hope that when they see me in my life, and when I share my experiences with them, that they see that I can do anything, that I can be anyone. That there was nothing that I can not achieve regardless of who I am, or what I identify as.
Identity is just a factor of me. I think that the world tries to make it feel like all you are is your identity. It's like, "No. I'm sorry, but there are so many other things to me that I identify. So many other groups I'm a part of as well, but you want to highlight or heighten this only aspect of me." Where I'm just like if we just did a whole identity wheel, and really broke down who we are... Not in percentages, but just to look at who you are, you will see that's a piece of me. But an important piece. Right?
Kate: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
LaMar: A piece that I have to consistently fight for.
Maggie: Your piece that debuted on the NCTE blog May of this year, The Time is Now: Affirming Black Queer Youth, made a huge splash online and offline. I didn't know if you could give us a little preview, or window into some of those thoughts that resonated with so many in terms of affirming Black queer youth.
LaMar: I definitely have to thank Cody Miller for that Cody Miller... Hi Cody. He pushed me for this. I really didn't want to do it. I have to be honest, I really was like, "No, I'm I know I'm a member of the committee, but no I don't have to write." He was like, "No, you're going to write." I was like, "Okay." So he had given me a plethora of ideas. Sometimes I can not ideate. Right? It's so interesting, I did some foresight training when I was in graduate school. There are four pieces of foresight where either you're a classifier, implementer, developer, or an ideator. I'm very low and ideation, but I'm very high in clarification, and development. Then I'm an implementer. So ideation's like really at the bottom.
LaMar: So I can't think of ideas, but if you give me an idea I can take it and run with it. So he had given me a plethora of things, and the one that I knew that I could come from both a personal and professional place was this piece here. So just talking about that experience of being in that session with those two amazing Black man, Black queer men at that, the words just flowed. It was interesting that when it was edited, there wasn't much that I had to change.
Maggie: That's great.
LaMar: That, for me, really solidified that I had did the right thing. That was my first real piece being published. So to have that piece publish at the time, it was my birthday month, it was... That came out. Then another piece after that came out, for #31days. So that piece alone wasn't difficult to write, but it was difficult to write because that mirror was put up in my face again. I definitely had some oppositions with myself in writing this piece. I definitely struggled. I didn't know where to go with it. I didn't have a final destination. I just know I just wanted to share this information, and share these five things that you could do to make your space more equitable for queer students. Particularly Black queer students. Right?
Because I want people to always understand when you ask me, "What do I identify as?" I'm going to say, "I'm a Black queer male." Right. So Black always comes first. Not just because of how the world sees me, but that's what I identify with first above anything else. So I think that in creating these five tips, if you want to call it that, it really was a self reflection for me as well. Because not only did I have to believe it, I had to live it. How am I bringing this into my classroom as well? So that, yeah,
Maggie: Well, it's like there, that piece there of, "How am I bringing this into the classroom?" Also, this idea of like Cody setting you up.
Maggie: Then you flew. It makes me think about what are the ways that you set up your kids to help them fly, right? Whatever story they are. I can only imagine being a student in your classroom as I've been having the honor to get to know you. What are things that you do in your classroom that we could replicate, hold onto that gives the kids the space that we know that you give in the classroom?
LaMar: Well, I work really hard with my students and understanding that everyone is accepted in this brave space. That regardless of what your ethnicity is, your identity, your gender, your religious beliefs, everyone is accepted. What we're not going to do is create a space where we make others that are very different than what we may identify with or what we may believe, "That, that's unacceptable." My kids know that. That if I am able to come up here and be vulnerable... And so I guess it's a lot of modeling as well.
Modeling to how to be vulnerable, and modeling, and sharing stories from my life. I've cried in front of my kids in sharing something personal to them, and with them. I think that, that's the first step is to be this model for your kids that will allow them to see your humanity, as well as see, "Here's another way that I can show up in the world and be better. And while I may not agree or believe I do respect you." As teachers, we can look at our kids and we know when they are about to say something that's not going to be that great, that's not going to be that pleasant. I can frightfully give them a look in a kind of reminder that this space is for every single person in the world if they wanted to come in here.
Maggie: Well, the idea there that modeling vulnerability, I don't have to be queer to model vulnerability-
LaMar: I don't.
Maggie: I don't have to have a specific identity to model being an open human who is willing to share a part of myself that maybe isn't the sort of cookie cutter story.
Maggie: I think sometimes if I'm a white, straight teacher, I may not think I have that, but we all have those stories to model our openness and our vulnerability, which then gives our kids permission.
LaMar: I think it just allows, it forces teachers. So if you're not queer, you're not Black, or indigenous, or a person of color, you if you're white, you have to just do some work in asking yourself and reflecting, "Where in my life have there been moments where I've had to be vulnerable, that I'm willing to share with my kids?"
So first. "Am I willing to share this piece with my kids?" That's the first thing, right? Am I really willing to share this? Because it's so personal and it could hurt to relive some of these things. So am I willing to do that? If I'm not willing to do that, what does that really say about you? Who are we as teachers when we are the foundation of the entire world? So every day when we're coming into our classrooms, when we're working with our students, they're watching everything we do. Literally they watch every single move that we make. So how are you making sure that you serve as a model of what justice is, that you serve as a model of providing access to groups that don't have access. That you show vulnerability because if you can show it you're now showing them that I can be vulnerable as well. And if I'm vulnerable and you guys are listening and then one of your classmates decide to share something personal as well, it's just going to be a ripple down effect right? And then they begin to see the humanity of themselves amongst themselves, within this space.
Maggie: When I heard you talking about creating space and creating safe space, what I loved was, you were like, "It's not just safe space here; it's a brave, safe space." I'd love to pause and linger there in terms of, what are the markers of a brave safe space? What indicators do you put up in your classroom that communicate, that this is a brave, safe space where you can be out loud? Tell us a little bit about that.
LaMar: And so, the beginning of the school year is probably the most tiresome any teacher ever is. But at the beginning of any school year is the foundation that is laid for the year, right? And so spending time in building community norms, is so important. And not norms that you want but norms that the kids want right? Because when the classroom reflects them directly, then they can really say, "This is not just Mr. [Timmons-Long's classroom, this is my classroom as well. You're not a dictator, this is a partnership right?" I'm slowly, I'm still working on it but getting away from the idea of student and teacher and I'm moving toward co-learners, right? Because although I may know this content, there are things that you may say that I, didn't even think of, and I'm like, "Oh God, that was so profound." Right?
And so, the idea of moving from, student, teacher to co-learner. Trading these community norms, right? And making sure that everyone agrees with these community norms, right? And then naming when the community norm is being done well but also naming when it's being done incorrectly right? And going back into saying, "What do we establish together as a community? Let's go back to our norms maybe we need to revisit this." And then taking time throughout September and October to build a strong community. Whether it is through watching videos, looking at text, conversations, open ended questions, having them really reflect on self and identity, right? Like "Who am I? What is my place in the world? What do I identify as? What do I want to be when I grow up?" That big question that we're asked when we're kids, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Right?
Maggie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
LaMar: And also just, "How do I want to make an impact? Do I want to make an impact?" Right? And it's okay if I don't. Because it's my job to show you that, in whatever capacity you do and when you work and what you do, you will make an impact to someone right? And so I think doing those things really helps me build this space. This brave space for my kids to make mistakes, to get things wrong. And they know when they get it wrong. It gets to the point where you don't even have to correct them anymore. Because they're referred to the norm or they remember these conversations that we have had, one-on-one, a whole group, a small group.
And they're like, "Man, I messed up. I need to apologize for that." Or I even had a kid tell me, "I have some internal work I need to do." Yes, you do have a lot of internal work that you need to do right? But I am here to help you through that right? So where can we start? Where would you like to start? What can I refer to you? What can I view with you? What can I experience with you? And what can you experience on your own as well?
Kate: When you're building those community norms, what are some ways that you go about it, right? I'm sure you do it way, more subtly than I would at first glance. Would you be, "Hey, what community norms do y'all want?" I bet you do it in a more nuanced way than maybe I would at first.
LaMar: Well I think about asking them, "What's the perfect classroom? What does a perfect classroom look like for you? Not in this ideal world but in the world you currently live in, in the world you abide in; what does this perfect classroom look like?" And so then they write on post-its or they write on, what are those things called? Index cards.
LaMar: Right? And so they're jotting these things down, then they're sharing with partners. And they're asking questions because when you're talking, if we're having a conversation, I'm actively listening. And then after I'm done, I'm formulating a question because I know I want to think a little deeper. Because I'm trying to help them become better questioners of the world that we live in. And so, after they think about what the perfect classroom is, then it becomes, "So let's write some of these down. Let's talk about this."
And then I'm like, "So what I'm noticing is, what you guys like, is this, this and this. You want spaces where you are able to speak your mind. You want to respect everyone's voice. You want to make sure that the classroom is a direct reflection of you right?" And so I always think of Bishop's work with mirrors, windows and sliding doors, right? Where it's a direct reflection and is an access point, right? So, you want that as well. You want to make mistakes and be okay with making mistakes. So this is what I'm seeing. So are we all agreeing about this? Do we agree that this is what you want based on what I see? What I think teachers sometimes struggle with is, we come up with the norms, right?
LaMar: And then there's not that communication between you and the class right? Because I am nothing without the class, right? And so I have to now... I shouldn't make these but I think I have a little bit of say, right? And so my say I think comes from just reframing and restructuring and noticing what you're saying and bringing that into life and so we go from there. And sometimes we have to revisit it and say, "I think we need to add something." Right? Or, "I think we need to restructure one these norms." Because I've been noticing things. Or I'll ask them, "In the last 30 days what have you noticed happening in the class? Jot that down." So a lot of reflection, right? And then seeing how this space is going to be brave enough for you to take and make... What are they called? Take risk.
Kate: There it is
LaMar: That's what I was looking for. Take risk right? Because I think the classroom is a space for all students to take huge risk.
Kate: Well and to look back that is an active vulnerability too right?
Maggie: That is.
Kate: So, if you're talking about modeling vulnerability, I can model vulnerability with the stories I tell, what I tell kids about myself. But I also model vulnerability by saying, "This is your classroom. I'm your steward, I'm your facilitator, I'm your guide." But like, "Let's co-construct this together." That is a vulnerable place to be.
LaMar: I wish schools would give teachers time to do more focus groups with students at the beginning of the school year or bringing kids in where they can make the room there right? And I also think like each class has different norms because they're all different personalities. Each class has their own personality. So the norms are-
LaMar: So sometimes it's four charts of norms and we're like, "Period one, period five, period six, period eight." Right? So I think that's important as well, to know and think that there's not just one set of five.
Kate: That's right. I love that.
Maggie: What I am holding on to too is, your call and your confidence to take your time.
Kate: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Maggie: To intentionally build and help build not by taking it over but providing the materials for kids to facilitate their own building of a vulnerable culture, a safe culture, a brave space. And cautioning us not to rush over that, in the beginning of the year, cautioning us not just to do it once and then not revisit it. But really mindfully put in times where we are, posing the question back to kids to say, "Is this working for you?"
LaMar: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kate: Well and we're talking about kids in general and just classroom community. I think what hitches it so nicely to our podcast, Thinking About Queer Youth and Queer Teachers, is that we can't create a safe space for queer kids if it's not a safe space for all kids, which is why anytime I've done any kind of activism work, ...
Kate: ... or equity work, what's so striking to me that I know you share, too, is it helps everybody.
LaMar: It really, it's supposed to help everybody.
Kate: It's not just about this one marginalized group.
LaMar: Right, right.
Kate: Do you know what I mean? When we make something better for all kids, all kids flourish.
LaMar: I think that, when you think of the marginalized groups, we bring highlight to these groups because they are underserved, they're underrepresented. When we begin to make our spaces ready for everyone, we don't have to then say, "Well, let's not forget our black kids.
Kate: That's right.
LaMar: Let's not forget our queer kids. Let's not forget Latinx kids, our Asian students, our indigenous students." It's like, No, I've been intentional in doing this work and making sure that I'm making this space for everyone, even where ... I teach English, so thinking about how the texts reflect the kids I serve versus what the District wants me to teach, or what my administrators want me to teach, or you should use this over that. I'm a little bit of a rebel, so I will push back in a heartbeat and say, "But this doesn't reflect the students that I serve."
Kate: Beautiful. I love that idea. So we've got vulnerability and part of that vulnerability is creating a truly safe community, a kid-centered community that we co-construct with them. I love that. So, Lamar, we have a tradition of ending our podcasts with a closing five questions where we get to know you a little better ...
Kate: ... and see inside your soul, I mean your personality.
Kate: So are you ready for the first closing five question?
LaMar: Okay, I'm ready.
Kate: It's a fill-in-the-blank question.
Kate: I know. You won't see me without my _____.
LaMar: Bag of the day.
Kate: Oh, you have different bags.
LaMar: I will always have a bag on me. I feel naked without one.
Kate: And you have different bags?
Maggie: The bag I'm looking at right now... Oh, that's a beautiful bag. It's just a beautiful bag.
LaMar: So yeah. If I don't wear something, I will, "Wait, something's wrong. Who is missing on me today?" What's happening? I feel off balance.
Kate: Yeah, I know.
Kate: I love that. Okay. This might be the same answer. I don't know, you might struggle to have a different answer for this.
Maggie: Who knows, you never know.
Kate: Your favorite article of clothing is?
LaMar: Oh, that's a good one. My favorite article of clothing. That's a little hard. It depends on the season, to be honest.
Maggie: I can see that. Let's do winter.
LaMar: It's a scarf.
Maggie: It's a scarf, right!
LaMar: I love a good scarf. I love a good warm scarf. You know, I have no hair and so sometimes I don't want to wear hats, and so I like big scarves that I can wrap everything in, and so nice and toasty.
Kate: Oh, I like that.
Kate: I wish we all had scarves right now.
Maggie: I do, too. I do want to say that Lamar has an impeccable sense of fashion.
Kate: It's true, listeners.
Maggie: And ...
LaMar: Thank you.
Maggie: ... I see a future of Lamar being able to dress a teacher on a teacher's budget. Ladies, this would be a service ...
Kate: ... that he would be willing to offer you.
LaMar: They are absolutely correct.
Maggie: Looking from the shoes to the glasses, that if, Lamar, you could help me get dressed.
LaMar: I would love it too.
Kate: It would help us a lot.
LaMar: I would love to.
Maggie: I see a reality TV show in our future.
Kate: Okay. Your first concert that you remember going to?
LaMar: Oh, my first concert that I remember going to. Jill Scott, Radio City Music Hall. It was New Year's Eve, and she did a show at Radio City, and I had never seen her live and I was ... I mean, I was a fan but I became a fan after that show. She gave a show, a vocal show, not dancing. It was a vocal show. I was like, you're really a singer. Like, you really, this is your craft. Okay, yeah, Jill Scott.
Maggie: That's a good one.
Kate: May we all be as good at something someday as Jill Scott is at singing.
LaMar: At singing, yeah.
Kate: Absolutely. Okay, your first queer icon.
LaMar: Oh man. There's two.
LaMar: Grace Jones.
LaMar: Back then growing up we didn't have a language. In my mind I said label, but no, it's more of a language. We didn't have a language of how to really discuss identity. I would look at Grace Jones and be like, They are really beautiful, but what are they? Are they, is this a woman? Is this a man? What's going on? But they're so gorgeous, right. So, at a young age, I was like I have to operate like Grace Jones in the world, because they function in this duality that I think is just seamless. Watching them on the movie, Boomerang, I was like, "I want to be like that. I want to be like that."
The other one would be Emil Wilbekin. I think I said that right. I hope I did. He was the Editor in Chief of Vibe Magazine when I was a kid. I remember seeing him do interviews with celebrities, and I was like, Wait, this is a Black guy on TV that works with this magazine Vibe, catered to black culture, and music, and fashion. I read vibe magazine. So, seeing him on TV was like, Wow, where are the others?
Kate: That's right, that's right. I found one. I found one.
LaMar: He's on ... We follow each other on Instagram, and anytime he does something great ... I named him my godfather because he's awesome. He's awesome, yeah.
Kate: And what about your current queer icon?
LaMar: Ooh, Darnell and Michael.
LaMar: They are. They may never hear this, right, and that is okay. There is not enough words. Thank you is not enough to discuss what they did for me in April. So, for me they are it. To watch how they operate and move in the world as a black queer male, and they move in the world that is not the stereotypical way that a black gay man, or a black queer man, would move, right? I am so thankful, and grateful, for those two men, and their literature, because I see myself in literature, finally. They are, and I think they will be for a very long time, because I think it's so personal, yeah.
Kate: I mean, I have to end with the same idea where I absolutely guarantee that you are that for your students, at least one of them, every year. That is who you are. Thank you so much for being here.
LaMar: Thank you for having me. This is fun.
Maggie: Thank you, LaMar.
LaMar: Thank you.
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LaMar Timmons-Long is a vibrant educator who believes that every student deserves access to an equitable and high-quality education. His main work centers around racial linguistics, anti-racist education, intersections between literacy, social justice, and language, as well as students experiencing disabilities.
LaMar teaches English in New York City, where he began his career after obtaining his Bachelor of Science in English Education, 7-12, from SUNY Buffalo State. He holds a Master of Education in Special Education and is currently finishing his advanced graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Pace University. LaMar has taught middle and high school grades and serves as a student advisor.
LaMar is a proud member of NCTE, where he serves as a member of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee. His writing and work can be found at the NCTE blog, the #31daysBIPOC project, and the Educator Collaborative. A compelling and contemporary voice in the advocacy for BIPOC and LGBTQ youth, LaMar bridges pedagogy with practice, personal with professional, whether teaching students in his NYC school or presenting to teachers at national conferences. This commitment to student learning and quality education guides LaMar’s focus on the use of literature to advocate for marginalized voices and as a means of promoting social justice within the classroom.
You can reach him via Twitter at @teachltl or email at email@example.com
Kate Roberts is a national literacy consultant, top-selling author, and popular keynote speaker. She taught reading and writing in Brooklyn, NY and worked as a literacy coach before joining the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in 2005, where she worked as a Lead Staff Developer for 11 years. Kate's latest book, A Novel Approach, asks how we can teach whole class novels while still holding onto student centered practices like readers workshop. She is also the co-author of Falling in Love with Close Reading (with Christopher Lehman), DIY Literacy (with Maggie Beattie Roberts), and she co-wrote two Units of Study books on Literary Essay. Her work with students across the country has led to her belief that all kids can be insightful, academic thinkers when the work is demystified, broken down and made engaging. To this end, Kate has worked nationally and internationally to help teachers, schools, and districts develop and implement strong teaching practices and curriculum.Follow Kate on Twitter @TeachKate and KateAndMaggie.com
Maggie Beattie Roberts began her teaching career in the heart of Chicago and then pursued graduate studies as a Literacy Specialist at Teachers College, Columbia University. She worked as a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project for nearly ten years where she led research and development in digital and media literacy, as well as differentiated methods of teaching and content area literacy.
Maggie is currently a national literacy consultant, guest teacher, author, and frequent presenter at national conferences. She is committed to helping teachers tap into the power of their own deep engagement in reading and writing, and leads school-wide staff development around the country. She is happiest teaching alongside teachers in their classrooms. She is co-author of the popular book, DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence (with Kate Roberts), and authored several Heinemann Unit of Study books on the teaching of writing. Her latest article, Thinking While Reading: The Beautiful Mess of Helping Adolescents Learn and Celebrate How Their Minds Work (co-authored with Kristen Robbins Warren), is featured in the December 2016 issue of NCTE's middle school journal, Voices from the Middle. You can learn more about Maggie’s work, as well as access videos and other resources, at KateAndMaggie.com.
Follow Maggie on Twitter: @MaggieBRoberts