Being a Teacher of Color and Teaching for Social Justice

An article I wrote about the importance of teaching social justice.

Young Teachers Collective

By: Gaby Guzman

For those of us who received an education, by whatever means, on the systems of oppression that exist in our world, once the veil dropped from our eyes, we could no longer live in neutrality and blissful ignorance. We are moved to act, to influence change…no matter how lofty our goals may seem. It is for this reason many of us decided to become teachers.

Education can be a powerful agent of change, not an equalizer of opportunity, but a tool for liberation. We all had our moment, or series of moments, where we experienced just how liberating an education can be. For me it began in a course called Knowledge and Power: Issues in Women’s Leadership. I took this course as a sophomore in college. The process of liberation did not occur instantly, but was rather a process, a journey, of unlearning all the “lies…

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Gender Discrimination

Editorial Cartoons: Gender Discrimination

The editorial cartoon points to the disparity that exists between boys’ and girls’ sports in high school. The cartoon can be used to teach a lesson on gender discrimination in high school. The students can identify the impact the symbols and words on the cartoon have and the intentions of the cartoonist. The cartoon should be supplemented by informing the students on Title IX a law banning sex discrimination in public schools. The students can do additional research on Title IX and the effects the law has had. This editorial cartoon class activity can be used in reading and language arts, social studies, arts, and ELL/ESL classes. Grade: 6-12

Grouping in Detracked Classrooms

Grouping in Detracked Classrooms Article

In Beth Rubin’s article, “Grouping in Detracked Classrooms,” she discusses methods for how to make up groups in detracked classes. The best method is not always placing students in heterogeneous groups. As Rubin illustrates, some students will feel as though they are being separated from members of their race/ethnicity. Homogeneous grouping can be effective at times. The grouping tactic is small groups. Pairs work better than larger groups because the responsibility can be shared more equally among group members and the group members can get to know each other better. As a future teacher, I want to implement these different strategies of grouping in my hopefully detracked classroom. What I need to remember is to switch up the way I group students; there isn’t a one size fits all method in grouping students. Grade Level: K-12

Identity Wheel

identity wheel


The purpose of the identity wheel activity is to get students thinking about different aspects of their identity and to identify which aspects of their identity is salient. The categories in the identity wheel are race, sex, gender, religion, class, ability, sexual orientation, and age. The size of the slice on the circle should reflect the individual’s awareness of that social group membership. The students should then place a T or an A for targeted and advantaged, respectively, signifying if their identity in that category makes them advantaged or targeted. I have done the identity wheel activity in two different classes. The weakness of this activity is that some students will not know what ability means and what the difference between sex and gender is. Before having the students do the activity the teacher should go over the definition for each category. This activity can be done in a social studies class. Grade Level: 6-12

Make Up Your People Activity


Make Up Your People is a class activity where each student receives a worksheet where they make up a group of people and answer questions about their made up group pertaining to the group. Some of the questions are who counts as X-group, who is counted for X, how should X behave, what is being correlated with X, what is natural about X, how does the state treat X and how does X resist these categorizations? The objective of the activity is for students to learn about the social construction of  categories and groups. Make Up Your People is a good introductory activity for a lesson on the social construction of gender or race. I tried this activity when I was a peer mentor in the course Knowledge and Power: Issues in Women’s Leadership. This activity needs to be explained well. When I tried this activity not all the students understood the instructions which affected the objective of the activity.

Grade Level: 6-12

Precious Knowledge

Precious Knowledge is a documentary film portraying the controversial ethnic studies program in Tucson High School. The ethnic studies program was considered a threat by Arizona politicians who saw the program as teaching “reverse racism,” communism and terrorism. The false accusations and political fight were successful in removing the ethnic studies program from Arizona public schools. This film is an inspirational documentary that reminds me of why I want to go into teaching. The school curriculum needs to reflect the cultures of the students. Non-white students do not see themselves represented in the curriculum and this can contribute to a lack of enthusiasm and motivation in school. The students in the Raza studies class were motivated to learn and excited about what they were learning in their classrooms. I want to apply the teaching practices of the teachers in this film in my classroom. I want my students to learn and be educated about their culture and their history. This documentary would be a great film to show to high school students in the context of social justice and students participating in social justice.

Grade Level: 9-12

Teaching History



In my Individual Cultural Diversity Course, I read chapter 2 in Lies My Teacher Told Me. The chapter I read in this book debunked a lot of the myths surrounding the story of the conquest and Christopher Columbus. As a future social studies teacher, I want my students to read this book and see the way history is constructed. In many historical accounts there are myths mixed in with facts. I want to my students to get an accurate account of history and American history. I would have my students read this book as well as other books and primary sources on the subject. A weakness of a lesson including this book would be using the book alone with no other sources. I would counteract this weakness by including primary sources of the historical figures discussed in the book. Lies My Teacher Told Me encourages readers to analyze historical accounts and informs them about the interpretative aspects of history.

Grade Level: 9-12