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Spring 2021

Illustration by James Graham

Illustration: James Graham

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Anti-Racist Teaching at the Ed School

A new initiative helps Ed School faculty think through their own assumptions and expectations

“The shift to anti-racism does not happen overnight or after one professional development session: It happens through a process of self-discovery, healing, and learning to reject and call out racist ideas, people, and structures. Anti-racist teaching is not a teaching approach or method, it is a way of life,” writes author and professor Bettina Love in a piece shared with Ed School faculty this past fall for the launch of the Anti-Racist Teaching and Advising (ARTA) initiative.

Started with support from the Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL), and built on a foundation laid in large part by hgse students, alumni, faculty, and staff of color, the initiative is a multiyear project designed to work with faculty members to develop the knowledge and skills they need to not only engage in anti-racist teaching and advising practices that will empower students to do the same in their work, but also, as ARTA background material explains, “help reduce harm done to our students in our classrooms and to help instructors better repair harm when it occurs.”

In order to do this, the initiative will help faculty members think through and challenge racist ideas and behaviors in themselves, racism at Harvard, and racism in society overall. Through group professional learning and individual instructional coaching, faculty will be asked to look at their course content, their instructional methods, and their interactions with students and peers. Several monthly learning communities — Conversations on Race and Racism, Faculty of Color Affinity Spaces, and Developing as Anti-Racist White Educators — have already been formed to explore these practices and provide space for restoration and fellowship.

“I have been inspired by the engagement, reflection, and insights A new initiative helps Ed School faculty think through their own assumptions and expectations in these spaces thus far, and I am excited about HGSE’s commitment to continue expanding this work,” says Josh Bookin, Ed.M.’08, tll’s associate director of Instructional Support and Development.

“Our faculty at the Ed School are talented educators,” says Professor Adriana Umaña-Taylor, “who have a steadfast commitment to simultaneously providing a nurturing and intellectually stimulating experience for students at Harvard, and I am thrilled that our school is taking serious steps with this ARTA initiative to ensure that all of our faculty are equipped to meet these goals with an emphasis on racial equity and justice.

“This will not only impact our immediate community of students,” she says, “but also it will have reverberating effects on our society as these students carry this work forward in their personal and professional lives.”