After living and teaching through a pandemic for over two years, we all need time to process and release in a collective manner. Where do we start?
Today on the podcast we are excited to share an excerpt of an interview between Roberto and Lorena Germán as they discuss the far-reaching impact of Lorena’s latest book Textured Teaching.
This episode originally aired on Our Classroom, hosted by Roberto, which explores the intersections of race, bias, education, and society. To hear the full episode, head to multiculturalclassroom.com, or search for Our Classroom on your favorite podcast app.
Below is a full transcript of this episode.
Roberto: Welcome to Our Classroom! In this space we talk about education, which is inclusive of, but not limited to what happens in schools. Education is taking place whenever, and wherever we are willing to learn. I am your host Roberto Germán, and Our Classroom is officially in session.
Today's episode features Lorena Germán, the author of Textured Teaching. She's a Dominican American educator, the co-founder of Multicultural Classroom, and co-founder of #DisruptTexts. She is also the chair of NCTE's committee against racism and bias in the teaching of English. We're excited to have her here today. It is going to be different, it's going be special, so tune in.
All right. So let's dig in to Textured Teaching, but let's talk a little bit about the experience with this publication, and what you've learned, and what you're noticing, and just open it up to processing what this has been since it got published in mid-September.
So it's been over six months, and you've had an opportunity to sit with that wondering, now that we're at this stage of the half year mark with the publication of Textured Teaching, what are some things that have surprised you along the way?
You've been doing workshops, you've been doing speaking engagements. You've been getting a lot of feedback about the text. You've been seeing people posting about it, IG, Twitter, Facebook, so on and so forth. What are some things that have surprised you in regards to how people are processing Textured Teaching, how it's impacting them, how they're using it.
Lorena: I think I was surprised for a little while to see how many college professors were using this book as a textbook with their pre-service teachers. That was really moving for me in a positive way, because I know that I've had a lot of conversations with people on social media, but also just in person about how much their education program was lacking, how much it was missing in terms of these conversations about anti-bias, and anti-racism education in the classroom.
And so seeing that professors are all about it and really hungry for this type of content, and that now it's getting actually published. There hasn't been a lot of hesitation. So I guess it just makes me think the excuse, if you will, that like there wasn't this stuff, and that's why they weren't including it was real, because now that it's out there, they are including it.
And so that's been cool to see professors all around the country, all types of universities and colleges commenting, and saying, "Oh yeah, this is one of the texts in my course on this, and this, and that." So that's been cool to see, that was unexpected.
Roberto: Were you just expecting it to be utilized by a K through 12 folk?
Lorena: Yes. So I thought it was going to be mainly like a classroom teacher going out of their own way. In some cases, maybe an administrator being like, "Okay, let me get a resource for my teachers in this building."
Yeah. I mean, there's been some of that for sure. There's been a lot of teachers. There's been department chairs, there's been principals. At the university level there's just been a lot of that. Like I said, "I just didn't expect that."
Call me naive. I don't know. I just didn't expect that college professors were going to be like, "Yeah, let's use this for discussion, for conversation, for learning about what to do in schools." Like, "That's super important."
I think it's even hard to even say right now, like, "I'm a published author." And obviously this is the second book, but this book feels a little different than the workbook. The workbook is this little step of faith, even though that's had its own legs, and is its own project that it's also done well above and beyond what I ever thought it was going to do.
But with Textured Teaching, what feels so different is that there's a whole team. There's a whole company behind it, in a way that feels different from the first book.
Roberto: Yeah. Shout out to Heinemann Publishing for the work that they've been doing, supporting, getting it out there.
Lorena: So it just feels like, there's people rooting for this book, working hard for this book to do well, making [inaudible 00:05:50]. Space for this book using everything that they have, right? That company is using everything that they have obviously to sell the book, but I know that it has been communicated with me, and I also feel it that they understand the power of the book.
That it's not simply a product they're trying to make money off of, they understand the mission and the vision. And so that means a lot to me too, that the company is behind publishing a book that talks about this, particularly in this political climate, right?
Roberto: Yeah. And I want to come back to mission and vision momentarily, and talk about how it is specifically, you're seeing the impact of the book in schools and different organizations, and whatnot. But I want to back up to what you were saying in terms of you're surprised that colleges and universities are utilizing the text. That professors are integrating it into their curriculum, their courses, and whatnot.
I want to give you a moment. I want to give you space to make your pitch. Let the professors know, let the college and university people know why they should have a copy of Textured Teaching, why their students should be reading Textured Teaching, now. Well, next semester, because this is almost over, but go ahead.
Lorena: So, oftentimes there's professional development at schools, or in organizations, and the professional development facilitator comes in with some very great and important ideas. I'm not saying that they're not. All of that is very important. And at some point though, we have to move past the conceptual. And often those PDs are very conceptual.
Roberto: Right, they're up here.
Lorena: And they do though-
Roberto: [foreign language 00:08:18].
Lorena: [foreign language 00:08:20]?
Roberto: Yeah, that's what I meant. [foreign language 00:08:23]. Got excited, and I said, "[foreign language 00:08:26]."
Lorena: Sometimes they do bring it to the individual though, so they'll help people process their own stuff, their own bias, their own layers. Again, that's very good and important. And teachers are people that also need concrete steps. One of the things that we talk about often, what does this look like tomorrow morning at 8:30 when I walk in my class?
Roberto: Boom, tangible.
Lorena: Oh, Textured Teaching will do that. Textured Teaching answers that question. What does teaching for social justice centered in love grounded in theory, in research-based educational theory, what does that look like, to teach for social justice through an anti-bias, and anti-racist lens look like tomorrow morning at 8:30 in the morning. I have examples. I have suggestions. I have advice. I have tips. I have frameworks. All the things in there.
Roberto: Dope, dope, dope. We got a question from one of our viewers, one of our audience, one of our supporters.
Lorena: Do we have a question from one of our viewers?
Roberto: This is from brother Jordan Botello. Do you think people outside of education, but teaching at the university level in other fields need to utilize this book?
Lorena: Yeah. That's a good question. The answer is yes, because it's very much about how do I do this. So even though my experience is in English, and I cite a lot of examples from the ELA classroom, I tried very hard to make sure that the information and the descriptions are transferable.
So if you are in a setting where you are teaching a concept, this might be in an adult learning center at 6:00 PM on Thursday nights. This might be in a classroom, this might be anywhere. This is for you. This framework is for you.
Roberto: That's what's up, let's go back to mission and vision. You started to touch upon that. All right? How are you seeing this impact schools, how are you seen this impact young people, or impact teachers? And I would imagine that what you're going to share is based on feedback you received, or testimonials, and whatnot. So yeah, I'd like to hear you share a little bit about how you're seeing the mission and vision of Textured Teaching manifest?
Lorena: This is a very interesting time that we're in, in our country, right? Because in this political climate, it can be risky for a principle, or school leaders to say, "Let me bring in a speaker, or let me engage my teachers in this particular book study." Right? They could have legit pushback. They can have school committees trying to fire them, or city councils.
So they're taking risks in doing this. And I think that what I've been observing since all of this anti-CRT hysteria has flared up is, what I've been noticing is that in districts where you have some pushback, where you have people showing up, and making all these claims at school board meetings, what you have is surrounding districts, that go hard in response to that, right?
So let's say there's a district that has banned a certain amount of books, and they took the stance of, "We are anti-CRT." Right? Which is all lies. Well, districts nearby are like, "Okay, we're bringing in teachers, facilitators to come in and work with our young people." We're just seeing the complete opposite. In those districts, some of those books are selling out because libraries are buying it, because department heads are buying it for their English teachers, et cetera.
So, all of that is to say that, even though this book was not written in this time, right? I wrote this before all of this hysteria was happening. It was clearly written for this time though. It was written for this context because I think that a lot of schools are starting to understand, they're starting to see very tangibly why the teaching of truth matters, why we should have never left out conversations about race, and bias, and issues of social justice.
And so they're like, "Okay, well, how do we do this?" And so here is Textured Teaching for them. Right? And so I'm finding that the book is getting a lot more positive reception than I thought it might. I expected to see a lot more pushback. I expected to get a lot of the hate stuff that we've gotten in the past. At least not to my knowledge, we haven't really received too much of that. And so I thank God for that, for sure.
And I think it also just has to do with the fact that people who before may have been on the fence, understand that right now there's no time for that, right? The fence is complicitness. And so, a number of big amount of people are like, "Okay, I'm not on that side, which means I'm on this side. So I'm going to have to put my feet to the fire."
Roberto: Yeah. That's good stuff. And what is a message of encouragement that you want to share with the people?
Lorena: You always ask this question, and I still wasn't prepared. Let me think for a second. I think that what I'll say is being a teacher is really hard. I mean, being a person is really hard right now in the United States, particularly, but fine. Being a teacher is really hard right now for a number of different reasons that we all know. And I guess I just want to encourage people for whom it is clear that they are not leaving this field right now.
I want them to feel encouraged that this is a season, that as a field we will get through and past this. And that on the other side of this is growth. Growing pains are just that. They have pains. And this is part of that pain. Something is going to have to change. There is another side to this, because this right now is a hot burning mess. And so we are going to get past this.
I'm not trying to paint it rosy either. I'm not saying, "We're going to come out of this stronger." No, we might not. Right? As a field, we might not come out stronger than before, but I'm hopeful that we will come out wiser. I'm hopeful that we will come out ready, for what is next, and maybe more united as a field, right, as professionals in this field.
And then the other thing I'll say too is, in our society, the profession of teaching is not necessarily well respected for different reasons. And I still want us to walk around with confidence and owning that we are knowledgeable professionals in our fields. They need to put some respect on teacher's names. So I'm going to leave it on that.
Roberto: All right. Thank you.
Lorena: Thank you for having me.
Roberto: Yeah. Of course. Thank you, Lorena, for taking time out of your busy schedule to join me. Not too far away.
Lorena: But far enough for me to miss you.
Roberto: As always your engagement in Our Classroom is greatly appreciated. Be sure to subscribe, rate the show, and write a review. Finally, for resources to help you understand the intersection of race, bias education in society, go to multiculturalclassroom.com. Peace, and love from your host Roberto Germán.
Lorena Escoto Germán is a Dominican American educator focused on anti-racist and antibias work in education. She earned her master's degree at Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English.
Lorena is a two-time nationally awarded educator whose work has been featured in newspapers and journals including The New York Times, NCTE journals, EdWeek, National Writing Project, and Embracing Equity. She is author of The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook.
A cofounder of the groups #DisruptTexts and Multicultural Classroom, Lorena is the director of pedagogy at EduColor and Chair of NCTE's Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English. Of all her work, Lorena is most dedicated to her roles as wife and mami.
Lorena is the author of Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices.
Roberto Germán is a Dominican American educator and poet with more than fifteen years of educational administrative experience. He has led schools in grades PreK-8 in the public, private, and charter sectors. He has taught English Language Arts, Spanish, Physical Education, and other courses, as well as worked in traditional and Montessori settings. His work is characterized by a passion for supporting young people, prioritizing social justice, and a dedication to excellence. Currently, he is Executive Director of Multicultural Classroom and lives in Tampa, FL.