Classroom Strategies
Part 1 of What It Means to Disrupt Text

What It Means to Disrupt Text

Reflecting on Lorena Germán's Coffee and Conversations session

In September, we welcomed Lorena Germán, one of the cofounders of the Disrupt Texts collaborative and owner of Multicultural Classroom, to Coffee and Conversations. The Disrupt Texts collaborative was founded by four educators of color—Tricia Ebarvia, Lorena Germán, Julia Torres, and Dr. Kim Parker. The group’s work has centered on the necessity of not only ensuring more complete and inclusive representation for marginalized folks in the texts we teach in K-12 classrooms, but also advocating for the decolonization of the approach teachers use in engaging students in literary analysis of all texts.

Our conversation with Ms.Germán, entitled “Going Beyond Representation: Planning for Meaningful BIPOC Inclusion in Your Curriculum,” focused on a few key ideas:

  • The Intersection of the Shifts and Anti-Racism: Being an anti-racist teacher and ensuring your instruction embodies the Shifts can go hand-in-hand. 
  • The Importance of Context: Knowing your students, their families, and the communities you serve seriously impacts your ability to write and enact an inclusive and responsive curriculum. Start with knowing and respecting the people you seek to serve.
  • Culturally Sustaining Classrooms: Classrooms that rethink curricular choices and seek to disrupt the power dynamics inherent in traditional American teaching and learning are able to approach cultural sustainability.
  • Strategic Pairings + Rethinking the Canon: Don’t throw it all out! Think about ways to strategically pair texts that are already in your curriculum with other texts that throw the cultural assumptions inherent in the “traditional canon” into high relief. One amazing suggestion from Ms. Germán is to think about the ways in which Gatsby is “passing” in The Great Gatsby. How might his experience contrast with that of the protagonist in Nella Larsen’s Passing?

This Coffee and Conversations session highlighted the amazing possibilities presented by the Disrupt Texts collaborative. In a conversation with KQED’s Katrina Schwartz, the founders of Disrupt Texts outlined the four pillars of their framework, which now anchor SAP’s Disrupting the Canon seminar series.

Each of the pillars offers a different strategy for responsibly questioning and reimagining one’s literacy curriculum:

  1. Interrogating Our Own Biases
  2. Centering Black, Indigenous, and Voices of Color
  3. Applying a Critical Literacy Lens
  4. Working in Community with BIPOC Educators

These pillars do not stand alone; they work together to create the conditions in which inclusive and sustaining literacy instruction are able to happen.

For more information on each of the pillars, and to practice applying them to your work, please look out for our Disrupting the Canon online course, which will go live in mid-November.

For more information and resources on anti-racist teaching, please take a look at the resources from our relevant Coffee and Conversations events:

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About the Author: Joy Delizo-Osborne is a Program Manager on the Professional Learning team at Student Achievement Partners. Prior to joining the team, Joy worked with district leadership, principals and school communities to rethink and redesign schools for improved student experiences and outcomes. Her school-based experience includes work as a 6-12 English teacher, a dean of instruction, and an administrator in both district and charter settings across the country. Joy holds a bachelor’s degree in English/Women’s Studies from Pomona College and a master’s degree in Education from Claremont Graduate University.