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By Hedreich Nichols
Start your week Mondays with 5 strategies in 5 minutes at 5AM central to help you become a more inclusive educator. With these "small bite" strategies, author and educator Hedreich Nichols gives you actionable steps for creating more inclusive classrooms and campuses. If you have 5 minutes, you can do something NOW to join the fight for equity. Don't try to do everything, just do something. How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time! Get the links at
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Five Ways To Elevate Your Practice This School Year
Sometimes, it's the little things. And as you know, SmallBites is always about the high impact little things. Below are 5 ways you can elevate your practice this year. Know your state and district laws. "ban crt" and "don't say gay" type legislations are in over 500 jurisdictions in the country. UCLA's interactive map and corresponding resources will help you keep abreast of the latest laws that may directly influence what you can and cannot include in the teaching and learning loop on your campus. Knowing the laws, as well as your district's stance can help you navigate the complexities of teaching truth in America in the 2020s. If you are at the district level, consider what your legal and administrative response will be and let teachers know in advance what kind of support they can expect. Integrate diverse narratives. After finding out what laws are, do your best to push your students' critical thinking by challenging them to research lesser known stories and narratives. Here is a month of SmallBites Episodes and resources to help you plan and research diverse narratives; and shape conversations around diversity and equity. Teaching on a homogenous campus? Not possible! Sameness has more to do with culture, zip codes and melanin. Here is an article that is worth the read. In short, diversity matters--and it's all around us. Inclusivity is the opposite of judgment. Just let that sit.  Reduce your consumption of incendiary media. Fight the algorithms by broadening your searches and reading articles from a variety of sources. If you're in the classroom, teach your students to do the same. If you are at the district level, consider making media literacy a campus initiative and start an awareness campaign of the types of words and articles that make us mad and divide us. Awareness is the start, consuming less is the goal. Teaching is harder than it's ever been and the plates of educators are overflowing. Still, we all want to be better. Let me know how this podcast episode helps you and feel free to DM me on Twitter or IG to ask any lingering questions you might have.
September 26, 2022
SmallBites: Hispanic Heritage(s) Month(s)
As you know, if you've listened often, I am not a big fan of relegating cultural literacy to certain months of the year. However, since most campuses are highlighting Latinx communities this month, I do hope you'll represent the diversity of the cultures on your campuses. This week, please refer to my most recent Edutopia article for great information on how to respectfully give voice to diverse Hispanic communities throughout the month, throughout the year. 
September 19, 2022
BTS Edition: Losses, Gatekeeping and Selfcare
As I thought about the pomp and circumstance surrounding the death of the Queen, the national remembrance of 9/11 and how we, as a country, grieve, it occurred to me that our losses are ranked. And those rankings reinforce our caste system, our gatekeeping. Why, for example, are flags lowered for government officials and foreign dignitaries? Are those losses more profound than the losses suffered by "regular" citizens? If we accept grief rankings, where else might we be reinforcing structures that do not honor and value people equitably? How do those systems and structures subtly influence the way we approach building classroom and campus culture? What kinds of inherent structures of honor are in place on your campus? Who do "norms" honor and center? Are there "norms" that can be rethought? Let these questions guide your reflections this week. And to support you in being a reflective practitioner, listen to Angela Watson of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club in her powerful interview with Jennifer Gonzales. Being rested, balanced and regulated is THE best thing you can do to propagate a positive, supportive campus culture. Setting strong work-life boundaries is key. Finally, if you feel grief over the loss of the Queen, at the thought of 9/11 or at any other world impacting event; be true to your feelings. We feel what we feel, and that's ok. If others feel those losses less acutely, that's ok too.  Reflection and acceptance are perfectly balanced, leaving no room for judgment.  Happy Back to School, see you next week with more SmallBites.
September 12, 2022
SmallBites: Responding to Mass Atrocity Harm with Sarah Federman Pt. 3
In this final installation of the conversation on responding to mass atrocity harm with Sarah Federman, we talk about practical ways we can acknowledge and help diverse stakeholders, both those who suffer fallout and those who are perhaps unwittingly complicit. We also talk about how those who research and work with difficult topics like mass atrocities, social justice issues, genocide, etc., can circumvent burnout.  Listen to part 1 here. Listen to part 2 here. Buy Sarah's award winning title, Last Train to Auschwitz: Grounded in history and case law, Last Train to Auschwitz traces the SNCF’s journey toward accountability in France and the United States, culminating in a multimillion-dollar settlement paid by the French government on behalf of the railways.The poignant and informative testimonies of survivors illuminate the long-term effects of the railroad’s impact on individuals, leading the company to make overdue amends. In a time when corporations are increasingly granted the same rights as people, Federman’s detailed account demonstrates the obligations businesses have to atone for aiding and abetting governments in committing atrocities. This volume highlights the necessity of corporate integrity and will be essential reading for those called to engage in the difficult work of responding to past harms. About the guest: Sarah Federman is an Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School of Peace Studies. She is the author of the award winning Last Train to Auschwitz: The French National Railways and the Journey to Accountability (2021). She has also written for the Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Business Ethics concerning the corporate obligation to atone for participation in mass atrocity such as genocide, slavery, and violence associated with colonialism. In 2022, she testified before Congress concerning the responsibility of U.S. banks to respond to their slavery ties. This summer her co-authored anthology "Narratives of Mass Atrocity: Victims and Perpetrators in the Aftermath" will be published by Cambridge University Press. Federman comes to this work after a decade as an international advertising executive working with companies such as Google and NFL.
July 03, 2022
SmallBites Summer Edition: Understanding and Responding to Mass Atrocity Harm with Sarah Federman Pt. 2
Yes, it's summer. But I'm back anyway! This is part 2 of a conversation with Sarah Federman on enslavement within the context of mass atrocity 'reckoning'. (Listen to part 1 here.) Highlights in this conversations include suggestions and recommendations for impactful apologies and ways to acknowledge ties to harms that still impact communities in the present. The Baltimore Sun provides an exemplary template for what needs to be said--in government, in corporations, in organizations--in order for us to heal and move forward as a nation. This episode begins to explore ways to talk about present day ties to mass atrocities of the past without indicting people who themselves may be struggling with poverty or disenfranchisement. It also acknowledges the difficulty of the "it wasn't me, I wasn't there" argument. Come back for part 3 next week.  About the guest: Sarah Federman is an Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School of Peace Studies. She is the author of the award winning Last Train to Auschwitz: The French National Railways and the Journey to Accountability (2021). She has also written for the Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Business Ethics concerning the corporate obligation to atone for participation in mass atrocity such as genocide, slavery, and violence associated with colonialism. In 2022, she testified before Congress concerning the responsibility of U.S. banks to respond to their slavery ties. This summer her co-authored anthology "Narratives of Mass Atrocity: Victims and Perpetrators in the Aftermath" will be published by Cambridge University Press. Federman comes to this work after a decade as an international advertising executive working with companies such as Google and NFL.
June 27, 2022
SmallBites Summer Edition: Understanding and Responding to Mass Atrocity Harm with Sarah Federman Pt. 1
When we celebrate Juneteenth, we celebrate the freedoms given by the 13th amendment that only came to Texas 2 and a half years after the original proclamation. Upon closer inspection, this freedom was not only late in coming, but it also marked the beginning of mass illness and death, Jim Crow laws, segregation and gaps in wealth and education that still prevail even in the face of ever evolving laws and social programming designed to repair harm that we have yet, as a nation, to formally acknowledge.  Thinking about this celebration, beyond BBQ, led me to a Marketwatch interview of Sarah Federman, award winning journalist and author of Last Train to Auschwitz, a book on the French railway's journey to accountability in their complicity in deporting over 76,000 Jews and other civilians to Third Reich death camps.  I'm lucky to have her on SmallBites to talk about what she learned in her research and how her knowledge of corporate and community atonement can help us move forward as we confront our own Colonial complicity in mass atrocities like Indigenous genocide, Black trafficking and enslavement and mass incarceration.  Join us next week for Pt. 2 where we talk more about reparation models that work and what we can do to make a difference personally.  About the guest: Sarah Federman is an Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School of Peace Studies. She is the author of the award winning Last Train to Auschwitz: The French National Railways and the Journey to Accountability (2021). She has also written for the Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Business Ethics concerning the corporate obligation to atone for participation in mass atrocity such as genocide, slavery, and violence associated with colonialism. In 2022, she testified before Congress concerning the responsibility of U.S. banks to respond to their slavery ties. This summer her co-authored anthology "Narratives of Mass Atrocity: Victims and Perpetrators in the Aftermath" will be published by Cambridge University Press. Federman comes to this work after a decade as an international advertising executive working with companies such as Google and NFL.
June 19, 2022
SmallBites: Hello Summer
This summer comes after the most trying time in education since the era of bussing and integration. I don't have any stats on that, but having lived between most of those two Big Educational Events, I can't remember anything harder than the last two years. Educators are exhausted and leaving the profession in droves. If you are leaving, go, be brilliant, you'll be fine. If you are staying, rest, then go, be brilliant, you'll be fine. If the above statements don't feel true, please get whatever support you need to get healthy and become the you you want to be.  Finally, if you are fortunate not to have a set work schedule, give yourself to do absolutely whatever you feel like doing as much as you want. Rest IS productive. See you in fall, and thank you for being a part of the SmallBites audience.
June 06, 2022
SmallBites: Three Strategies for an Inclusive Class Culture (Restorative Practice Pt. 3)
Restorative practice is a big undertaking and is best done school or district wide. So if you are a classroom teacher, where can you start? At the beginning of the year, build a strong, inclusive foundation. Building an inclusive classroom is not about what's in the books or on the walls, it's about building community. Establishing and imparting a vision for an inclusive, supportive learning community can be done on every grade level. We've all seen the posters; "In this classroom we are kind, honest, respectful, etc." But in a world where people are so often everything but, how do we teach those skills?  First, tell your students that everyone is an important part of the learning community and explain that being excluded hurts. Teach them to notice who is being excluded and to invite them to the table/team/group. Remind them of how great it feels to be included and ask for examples. Then teach them to invite others into their groups. Teach them to notice when someone is being excluded. Explain that they don't have to be besties with someone to make room for them. Second, Teach civil disagreement with games like This or That and Would You Rather. Having students pick a side and justify their answers using 'kind words' is a skill. Teach them to accept differences in opinion and not to be emotionally tied to their choices. The "my choice is good, your choice is bad" mentality divides us. Finally, Use collaboration to build community. Use teams that work together and help each other. Have students discover learning more with the help of the community of learners than from you. Set collective goals with collective rewards. The more students can engage with each other, the deeper the connection. Once students feel connected, they begin to hold each other accountable. And when someone violates the code, the ground is fertile for the restorative process. If you have further questions about what this looks like in practice, please feel free to connect over Twitter, Instagram or per email at
May 23, 2022
SmallBites: Mass Shootings and Belonging
No matter what you think about the most recent mass shootings, two things are true:  1. The shooter felt like an outsider.  2. In his despair, he began to blame others for his misery and took action against them.  This goes deeper than hate or racism.  How do people walk among us and feel such misery, the kind that inspires acts of rage against random, unsuspecting people? I don't have a study to cite, but I believe that we all contribute. The question is what?  I am not saying the blame for a shooters actions lie at our feet. I am, however, suggesting that when we turn away from "playground shenanigans" to "let boys be boys" or when we look away when students draw circles around their friends and work to exclude others, our unwillingness to build a more inclusive climate in our schools may sow seeds.  No, of course every student sitting alone in the cafeteria is not going to grow up to become a mass shooter. However, according to studies cited in this NYT article, anger, isolation and resentment are the common thread linking mass shooters and domestic terrorists.  Once again, I am not laying the blame at the feet of educators, there is enough of that happening already. I simply want to call on the group of people who I innately believe, as a whole, have the best interest of students at heart, to intentionally build a culture of inclusivity on campuses. No kid should eat alone. No kid should be consistently chosen last for the team. No kid should be left out of group work when students choose. That means you teach your students how to include because there is humanity in including others. It means, you become more inclusive at school with other teachers, at home with others in your community. It means you draw bigger circles around your 'usses'. Being more inclusive may not stop the next act of violence against any community, but it will make the ground for these acts less fertile. That's an outcome we all need. Taking to kids about difficult subjects-All the Kids Are Not Safe Merging and managing divergent beliefs in learning communities
May 16, 2022
SmallBites: Against Exclusionary Discipline but For ??? (Restorative Practice Pt. 2)
It's easy to say "we are not suspending our kids", knowing that the number of suspensions directly correlates to the number of incarcerations. But without a plan for transformative discipline, the ensuing chaos disrupts learning. We can impact whole communities by ensuring that our discipline protocols keep our kids on campus, and empower students to own and manage their own behavior with strategic, caring guidance. When we take 'not suspending kids' seriously, we provide them with the tools they need to be successful members of the learning community and of society. From last week: A Whole Child Framework Restorative practice is a holistic framework for comprehensive culture shifts that impacts students, staff, parents and every member of the learning community in and beyond the school walls. This holistic approach takes what we know from SEL and trauma informed practices and puts stakeholders in the driver's seat. In the classroom that means respecting and valuing each community member and centering dignity and respect to help everyone think about how their actions affects others. This kind of #bettertogether approach, when consistently implemented, impacts the 'whole child'. In order to keep each child and the learning community healthy as a whole, those who engage in what is known as harm causing behaviors have a function, as do those who have been affected. Start with the student who caused harm and depending on the level of harm and the class climate, have the discussion in class with a talking stick or piece. (The practice of talking circles originates with indigenous peoples and you can watch this video to learn more about its history and how not to venture into the waters of cultural appropriation.) I didn't use a centerpiece or a stick but I did use a ball made of tape. The understanding was, as with a talking stick, that the holder of the ball deserved the absolute attention of everyone else in the circle. I found that students liked to catch the ball, so they volunteered to talk.  Restorative Practice Questions Why did you think that was a good choice/Why did you make that decision? How did that choice affect others? Who did it affect? How can you provide scaffolding and sentence stems to help the person who caused harm to take ownership of their choice? By having intentional conversations, either one on one or with other students, those who cause harm can begin to see themselves as empowered rather than seeing themselves as "the bad kid".  Join #SmallBites next week for part 3 when we'll delve into more questions and scenarios to help with the uptick of "behaviors" educators have seen this year. Learn More: Everyday building blocks of transformative justice Center for Restorative Process Manual From last week: National Educational Policy Center Meta-analysis of belonging and academic outcomes
May 09, 2022
SmallBites: Against Exclusionary Discipline but For ??? (Restorative Practice Pt. 1)
Between a Rock and a Hard Place Across the country teachers are being squeezed between data deep dives on one side and recurrent student behavioral issues on the other. The caught- in-the-middle pressure is putting a squeeze on teachers that is sending them out of the educational sector in droves. While the academic disparities are real, doubling down on looking at data and more testing will not make an impact with our most vulnerable students as long as teachers struggle with repetitive classroom disruptions with little or no strategic support from admin. I say strategic support because increasingly I hear that districts are against exclusionary discipline but have no practices in place to support teachers increasingly overwhelmed by violence and threats. As the National Educational Policy Center puts is, a "sole focus on a reduction in suspensions and expulsions will not address the systemic and structural inequalities that impact students’ social, emotional, and academic well-being". In short, being against something without defining what you are for, especially when it comes to school culture, negatively impacts teaching and learning. Restorative Practices provide structure to culture building and can keep students on campus while also respecting the need to maintain a safe, non-threatening learning environment. A Whole Child Framework Restorative practice is a holistic framework for comprehensive culture shifts that impacts students, staff, parents and every member of the learning community in and beyond the school walls. This holistic approach takes what we know from SEL and trauma informed practices and puts stakeholders in the driver's seat. In the classroom that means respecting and valuing each community member and centering dignity and respect to help everyone think about how their actions affects others. This kind of #bettertogether approach, when consistently implemented, impacts the 'whole child', that person schools say they teach. Consistency can mean the difference between success and failure. Failure, at its worst, leaves teachers and students who "just want to learn" feeling unprotected with their needs often being unmet. It means schools lose good teachers and good students.  Next week, I'll be covering more about RJ practices and how to implement it on a classroom, campus and district level, but for now, here are 5 questions you can use in your classroom today when someone makes a less than optimal choice: Why did you think that was a good choice/Why did you make that decision? How did that choice affect others? Who did it affect? How are you affected by the choice? What do you think you can do to make amends and give back to the learning community? When students know they are valued members of a community who will need own up to their choices and make amends for any harm caused, they think differently about the choices they make and grow; both individually and as a part of the learning community. That deeper sense of belonging is what augments academic outcomes.  Learn More: National Educational Policy Center Meta-analysis of belonging and academic outcomes
May 02, 2022
SmallBites: Teaching Truth about Columbus and Conquests
Did you ever stop to think that Christopher is an anglified name? An Italian explorer would have been named Cristoforo Colombo, in Spanish he would have been called Cristóbal Colón. That’s the funny thing about the truth. Depending on your perspective, it might be different. Not more or less true, just different. Europeans called this side of the Atlantic the “New World”. But in fact, when looking at a timeline of civilization, Europe itself was once the new world.  As I lay on the beach on the island Columbus named Hispaniola, when his ship sunk, I looked at the people there. The Dominican people look like me, like my son. People spoke Spanish to us there. But the Arawakan, or Lokono, language, the Taino people, what had they been like before the European invasion and enslavement? What would the island be like today if the Taino had been able to keep their resources and flourish as a people? The Yale Genocide Project gave me some answers, but not all. I only knew that I was in the place where European conquest changed changed the trajectory of nations. As I stared out over the ocean Columbus once sailed across, it made me sad. What would the Taino have told of that fateful landing in 1492? Would they be grateful to have been discovered? Taino Leader Jorge Estevez provides perspective on a missing side of the story in this National Geographic article. What do we tell our students when teaching about 1492 and the discovery of America? How do we advocate for the integration of truth when the fables we learned as children have become our national narrative? For this and any other historical facts taught from only one perspective, we can ask our students the following: 1. Whose stories are centered? 2. Whose stories are missing? 3. Who is telling the story? Every author has a perspective and a purpose, and by examining varied perspectives, we can get a fuller picture of the truth. Just as a doctor listens to your lungs and gets and xray to make a diagnosis, all of the pieces are needed to see the whole picture. #TeachTruth Further reading: Edmund S Morgan setting the record straight: Columbus simplified:
April 25, 2022
#SmallBites Will Be Back Next Week!
SmallBites is taking a short break this week and will return next week. Meanwhile, as you celebrate your faith, if you do, reflect over whether or not you may be judging others for being different in their expression of faith or identity. Let's make faith count!
April 17, 2022
SmallBites Meets Cult of Pedagogy
If you have not yet found your way to Jennifer Gonzales' Cult of Pedagogy, please use this as your gateway. In this small bite of our interview, you'll hear one of the 8 questions below that you can use to challenge yourself on your way to becoming a more empathetic, inclusive educator. For the entire podcast and show notes, please visit While you're there, click around. I know you'll find resources you can use to better your practice. For additional resources, pr to get your copy of FInding Your Blind Spots, please visit How diverse is your personal circle and why does it look like it does? While not having a diverse circle doesn’t mean you are racist, elitist or any other -ist, it probably does mean that you don’t have much experience with people unlike you. Who are the ‘others’ in your life? Make a list of 10 people you consider “us” and 10 people you consider “them.” These could be family members, work colleagues, neighbors, students, or anyone with whom you have fairly regular contact. In what ways are the people on your “us” list different from you? How are they similar? What about your ‘others’—how are they different? How are they the same? You can make lists, Venn diagrams, sketchnotes or any other representation to show differences and similarities. How often do you use generalizations? Take a week and intentionally keep track of the times you use “they” to describe people of a certain color, culture, identity, gender, etc. One common campus generalization is “the Special Ed kids,” as though students under this umbrella are homogenous. Another is the admin/central office “they.”  Teachers often see admin as others. Keep track of “harmless” generalizations as well–”the students,” “the neighbors,” “the football team,” etc. What is your initial perception when you talk to someone with an accent different from yours, for instance, a customer service rep, parent, or even a student? Do you consider the integration of diverse historical perspectives best practice or divisive politics? One example of multiperspectivity is looking at different narratives between the European settlers and Indigenous people in the colonial U.S. For instance, the Thanksgiving story is usually told from the perspectives of the Pilgrims and mainly portrays their struggles for survival. Rarely do we hear of the hardships that the Wampanoag Indians endured or how they were holding feasts of thanks years before the Pilgrims even arrived. Another example of a lesser-known narrative is that of the Powhatan confederation, the Indigenous peoples who lost both land and life due to colonization in Virginia. Who is on your “free pass” list? We tend to be more forgiving of those we like and are in agreement with. List five people–friends, students, public figures–whose failings you tend to excuse or write off. Explain also why you tend to “go easy” on them. When do you tend most toward non-acceptance and judgment? Are your triggers cultural differences? Ideological and religious dissimilarity? In-group/out-group challenges? How much cross-cultural literature, TV, and movies do you consume in order to familiarize yourself with what for some is an uncomfortable shift to a more diverse community?
April 11, 2022
From Church and 'Colored People' to People of Color
This week’s SmallBites is a round table with Jonathan Reidenouer, Hal Roberts and Emily Witt, three people shaped by the fundamentalist Christian community who have come to embrace the need for representation and cultural literacy. Why is it so hard for people from the Evangelical movement to embrace what some in the community call “woke” ideologies? Why do some church organizations draw a line when it comes to having uncomfortable conversations on topics like race, gender and American History as learned in schools, even as they ensured that all students are seen and represented? In this round table, we follow the journey of three school and community educators as they talk openly about their journey from evangelical church circles to understanding the importance of representation and cultural literacy. You can follow Jonathan Reidenouer at @JReidenouer After 15 years working in restaurants, Jonathan got his graduate degree in Education in 2011 and has not looked back. Since then, he has worked as a math teacher in an alternative school and as a substitute teacher in both public and private schools. Self-employed for seven years now, he is a professional tutor who specializes in math, test prep, and writing. Last year marked 15 years of marriage to spouse Dayna, who is a copyeditor and fiber arts enthusiast. Since first gaining access to the internet, Jonathan has spent time learning all things about American history that weren’t taught in school. You can follow Hal Roberts at @HalLRoberts Hal Roberts is a retired superintendent after serving for 38 years in education, with 30 of those in leadership. Hal taught students in grades 4-12, coached boys and girls 7-12, served as athletic director, elementary principal, high school principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent. He has spent the last six years researching both leadership and neuroscience and how those relate to each other. You can follow Emily Witt at @witty_witt93 or view her work at Emily is an Austin-based playwright and communications professional working for Texas Freedom Network, a multi-issue progressive & advocacy organization. Previously, she worked at CASA of Travis County, helping to expand the diversity of their volunteer base to better serve children and families within the child welfare system. She earned her BFA in Playwriting from Chicago’s DePaul University, where the mainstage production of her play about our country's barriers to abortion access, Mrs. Phu’s Cleansing Juices (and also salads), received a Distinguished Achievement Award for Playwriting from The Kennedy Center. She spends her free time volunteering at SAFE (an org serving sexual assault and domestic violence survivors), going to as much live music as possible, and hiking with her dog. Link to Geronimo Link to Indigenous Peoples’ History of the US
April 04, 2022
SmallBites: SCOTUS Nominations and the Danger of Tropes
Seeing the highlight clips of the Ketanji Brown Jackson Confirmation Hearings morph into full blown defamation and attacks from pundits on the right made me wonder if indeed, Judge Jackson was singled out. This was, of course, due to the popular assertion that “we” think everything revolves around race. The “we” happens to be any Black or Brown person that made a statement about the fact that much of the questioning bore little resemblance to that of previous nominees. Do "we" still think that this hearing showed that we have to be twice as good to get half as much, like our grandparents taught us? I know it made me think so, and it was uncomfortable to watch. Unless Judge Brown was running for school board, or unless she had passed some ruling or sentencing protocol down on the use of Antiracist Baby--which was also sorely misrepresented--this was at best a political stunt, at worst, slanderous denigration. Sadly, this lack of respect for the record and qualifications has also been overlooked before. Think Amy Coney Barrett. Ted Cruz asked her about piano lessons and distance learning for her 7 children. While not as glaringly antagonistic—nor as dangerous—as his line of questioning with Judge Jackson, the subtle mommy track questions were just as insulting. In both lines of questions, the nominee was little more than a trope, a 2- dimensional caricature. Neither woman was considered worthy of questions befitting accomplished legal scholars. Why is this type of thinking dangerous and how does this apply to you? In your mind’s eye, when you see your students and staff, how many of them are archetypes? Do you see the ‘coach’ the ‘theater teacher’ or the ‘TA’ as representations of ‘their kind’? How about your students. Do you see the emo kid and the SPED kid as monolithic representations? Chances are, in some cases, that you do. Knowing that is half the battle. How can you better connect with students whose characterizations you need to round out? Whether it’s having a lunch date or making it a point to listen better, recognizing that no-one is just one thing can help you avoid pigeonholing your students in the way that Ted Cruz  pigeonholed the SCOTUS nominees. #RelationshipsMatter
March 28, 2022
SmallBites: Talking to you Students About the Russian-Ukrainian War
I don’t know about you, but I don’t understand war. 'Let’s just all point guns at each others heads so you won’t get more than I have' seems frightfully ineffective. Oh, and actually, 'let’s send my kids to fight your kids to solve the disputes of wealthy, power hungry regimes' makes even more sense. If this doesn’t make sense to you, it may be hard to answer questions about a war in a far off land, especially when you’re a couple of your students say they missed school yesterday because momma couldn’t afford to put gas in the car.  We'd love to think that our kids are too self involved to pay attention to the newscast running in the background, but they aren't. Further, they have their own news sources in the form of reels and Tiktok posts. How do we answer their questions when we have so many of our own? As I pondered Russia’s attack on the Ukraine and the world’s response to that attack, I came up with more questions than answers. My research led me back to WWII, the formation of NATO and the varying success and ineffectiveness of sanctions on a global level. I gathered a lot of information but nothing that made me see the logic of land power grabs. If you, like me, tend to have difficulty seeing the logic of fighting  ̶o̶v̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶o̶y̶s̶ wars over borders, hopefully this allegory will help you to at least make peace with it. Moreover, it is a read-aloud that you can play for students of every age. Below are also reflection questions you can use for class discussion or journaling.  Questions for littles: How did Jenna, Natalie and Natasha feel when they heard things about the war they didn’t understand? Do you hear things about fighting that you don’t understand? Where do you hear it, on the radio in the car? TV? Adults talking? Who do you talk to when you feel afraid or confused? What could countries do to solve conflicts, besides go to war? Questions for middles: What is this story a metaphor for? Why are the names Natalie and Natasha used? Who might those names represent? Why the name Stoli and who might that name represent? Who do you think is represented by “the small group of families” who watch out for each other? What could countries do to solve conflicts, besides go to war? Questions for older students (in addition to the questions above): What is this story a metaphor for? Why do the people on the south side of the sea need to be concerned about what happens on the north side of the sea? What are the economic ramifications for independent homeowners if the Rich Family begins an unchecked practice of taking over the homes of others? What could countries do to solve conflicts, besides go to war? The first two people to email me at with the correct answers to the middle school questions will win a copy of Finding Your Blind Spots, available on Amazon and If you would like to deepen your knowledge and provide your students with further context, here is a comprehensive resource from Albuquerque schools on all things pertinent to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
March 20, 2022
SmallBites: Just Why DO We Need to Highlight Women?
Many who think of gender equality think of Women's Suffrage and perhaps yesteryear's fight for equal pay. One little known fact is that gender equality in the workplace is still an issue, with women earning, in some cases just over half of what White males earn.  As we highlight diverse stories for Women's History Month, it's important to discuss with your students why we have the need for a Women's History month at all. It is also important to highlight not only the strides women have made, but also the gains still needed, particularly economic and career gains.  While I am not a fan of cultural and heritage months, they offer an immense opportunity to open discourse with your students on cultural and gender norms. There is history and then there is African American History, Women's History, Native American History, Asian American History, all as seeming adjuncts to just plain old, regular history, which continues to be largely dominated by figures who are male and of British and Middle European descent (White). This month--and during every cultural month--be sure to discuss the need for such months and why multiperspectivity is not the norm and why everyone's stories are not woven into one great big beautiful tapestry called history. For classroom resources and lessons on the world's global goals for gender equality, visit the World's Largest Lesson. For Census Bureau stats and facts on women in STEM, click here. To read the good news on home ownership by women from Urban Wire, click here.  Get a gender wage gap overview from the Center for American Progress here.  Visit for additional resources. 
March 14, 2022
SmallBites: Was Macht Hedreich?? A conversation in English and "Schweizerdeutsch"
This week, I got to speak with educators in my second home and was reminded that people are interested to know what I do now. So I'm interrupting the regularly scheduled programming to have a conversation with 3 friends and educators about my work as a writer and consultant. The podcast is in two languages and describes my work as a consultant and author seeking to give every student a voice and create change one small bite at a time.  In case you don't know, SmallBites is important because it gives educators a context for the devisiveness around identity politics in the country and across the globe. It helps others recognize that everyone's journey is not the same and that prejudicial treatment because of color, culture and identity still exists, especially in classrooms. My work through SmallBites, in particular Finding Your Blind Spots, provides educators with a framework to mitigate the behaviors and biases that creep into our work, making us less effective at building the kinds of relationships that improve academic and mental health outcomes for our students.  Diese Woche habe ich mit Pädagogen in meiner zweiten Heimat gesprochen und wurde daran erinnert, dass einige Leute in der Schweiz daran interessiert sind, zu erfahren, was ich jetzt mache. Also unterbreche ich das regelmäßig geplante Programm, um mich mit 3 Freunden und Pädagogen über meine Arbeit als Autor und Berater zu unterhalten. Der Podcast ist in zwei Sprachen und beschreibt meine Arbeit als Berater und Autor, der versucht, jedem Studenten eine Stimme zu geben und einen kleinen Bissen nach dem anderen zu verändern. Falls Sie es nicht wissen, SmallBites ist wichtig, weil es Pädagogen einen Kontext für die Abwege in der Identitätspolitik im Land und auf der ganzen Welt gibt. Es hilft anderen zu erkennen, dass die Reise nicht für alle gleich ist und dass es immer noch Vorurteile aufgrund von Hautfarbe, Kultur und Identität gibt, insbesondere in Klassenzimmern. Meine Arbeit durch SmallBites, insbesondere Finding Your Blind Spots, bietet Pädagogen einen Rahmen, um die Verhaltensweisen und Vorurteile zu mildern, die sich in unsere Arbeit einschleichen und uns weniger effektiv beim Aufbau von Beziehungen machen, die die schulischen und psychischen Ergebnisse unserer Schüler verbessern. Special thanks to Monika Burges, Simon Gisler and Irene Siegrist for taking out time from their schedules to conduct this interview.  Besonderer Dank gilt Monika Burges, Simon Gisler und Irene Siegrist, die sich die Zeit genommen haben, dieses Interview zu führen.
March 07, 2022
SmallBites: Black History and White Diversity
Black History Month is over, but the need to elevate the stories and achievements of Black Americans to their rightful place in American history books and curricula is still in its infancy. In actuality, history has been dominated by the achievements of White Males to the exclusion of many other important voices, stories and heroes. Remember the old adage, know better, do better? When I found out butter was better than margarine and olive oil was better than both, I began to use my oils in different settings, but all have a place in my cupboard. Likewise, now that we know Beethoven and Bach are not the only classical composers, van Gogh and Dali are not the only famous artists and Newton and Einstein weren’t the only scientists, I can go looking for the achievements of people from diverse communities so that my students who are not white or male can see themselves reflected and know that the world is theirs for the taking. Representation Matters It’s important for my Black kids to know they can be more than rappers and athletes, so I make sure they see Mae Jemison and Bryan Williams. My Hispanic kids may not see themselves as artists so I make sure they know Frieda Kahlo—and that Picasso was Spanish. My White kids may also not know that Newton, Einstein, Beethoven and Bach all had countries and heritages that may be similar or dissimilar to their own. Newton was English, Einstein Jewish, Beethoven and Bach German. Side by side, Germans, Jews and the English may all have similar amounts of melanin, but culturally they are quite different, even having fought on different sides of great wars. Since navigating teaching truth in schools these days is akin to navigating a minefield, perhaps we should instead look at Google and ask our students why the representation of any search for famous_____ yields largely males of European descent. Their answers might surprise you. Why is "White" "White"? We can also ask them how WWII enemies came to be one cultural group. If we’re going to amplify diverse voices, let’s have a talk about what diversity really means, whose narratives are missing and whose narratives continue to play a starring role. I wouldn’t be surprised if they ask you why everyone’s story should not be told. Goodbye Black History, Hello History Meanwhile, as we close out one more Black History Month, remember that stories matter, representation matters. Do what you can to make sure your kids learn truth. Unlike Harriet Tubman and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who were deemed subversive in their day but proclaimed heroes by history, those who seek to silence truth may not be remembered so kindly. As much as you can, be on the right side of history. For a look at ‘whiteness’ and the map of ethnic groups in America, go here. For more resources
February 28, 2022
SmallBites: I Babysat Bryan Williams the Math PhD
If I babysat a math PhD who married a Math PhD, one of 4 Black Math PhD graduates from University of Mississippi, I will do well on the GRE when it's time to get my own PhD, right? Probably not. But am I honored to know young math movers and shakers who can be role models for my students? AB SO LUTELY. A lot of the Black History resources I have shared this month point us not so much to a sepia past, but a bright and colorful future, with more young people from the Black community making great strides in maths and sciences. Exposing your students and children to these role models will broaden their horizons in a way that no look at the past can. WHile knowing our past is hugely important, people doing great things now will give them templates to reach new heights in the future. Here are the latest role models in this series: Bryan WIlliams Carla Cotwright-Williams Here are more on the website mentioned: Mathematically Gifted and Black Here are the playwright and singer mentioned in the podcast: Lorraine Hansberry Nina Simone And here is the song Nina Simone wrote with poet Weldon Irvine honoring Lorraine Hansberry. This version is by Donny Hathaway.
February 21, 2022
SmallBites: Black History's Ida B. Wells
I actually planned to talk about entertainer extraordinaire, Cab Calloway, but a little thing like my low-key childhood shero got in the way.  I remembered the name of the first Black female writer, Ida B. Wells from my childhood. I decidedly did not remember that she was so much more than just a journalist! She was a teacher, an advocate, a fierce leader who refused to be content with the status quo. I think of women like Patrisse Cullors, Sara Parker Remond and others like them; women who at great personal cost have advocated for civil rights only to be misunderstood and vilified. You see, Harriet Tubman did not have a cheering fan club either.  Only when we look back in time, when we see our mistakes and inhumanity towards others, do we set those powerful women in their rightful place as civil rights leaders, as leaders for all of us, who push us toward the as yet elusive 'liberty and justice for all'.  As I read more of Ida's story, I thought about my books on Krause's banned book list. Is that my cross? Will there be more indignities to bear? Will more people write that "there is a place in hell for people like me" because I try to ensure a more inclusive society in my small way?  I'm sure that Ida only did what was in her heart. She sought a fair and free society for people who looked like her. Now, 130 years on, her vision is still in danger, the stories of Ida and women like her, being erased. While that makes me sad, it also emboldens me. Although there are those who want to turn back the clock to a time when diverse stories were yet unknown, you can't put the cat back in the bag. I'm heartened to know that if Ida did it; if Sara did it; if Patrisse did it; I can do it too. Teachers, we can do it too. #TeachTruth
February 14, 2022
SmallBites: Chicago's Bronzeville
This week is part two of the SmallBites Black History series. It could aptly called "Beyond the Struggle". When I think of June and Pride celebrations, there is so much joy. Yes, there is talk of Stonewall and the fight for human rights, but there is a joy that we are missing in February. I believe that comes from the focus on our civil struggle and a lack of knowledge about the many achievements of people from the African diaspora in America. I invite everyone to take time, this month especially, to celebrate all that Black Americans have accomplished in the face of insurmountable odds. Did you know that most enslaved people were freed with no education, no restitution and no path to transition from enslavement to freedman in a hostile environment? And yet, there have been notable achievements in every sector, achievements that are not widely known. Since this month is dedicated to Black History, allow your students to research Black business owners, scientists, writers, inventors, choreographers, educators, politicians, generals, etc. Discuss who they find and allow your students to take the lead. I'm hoping that will be acceptable even in today's climate.  If you do find someone especially interesting, I'd love to interview one or two Black History super sleuths this month for SmallBites. Message me at You can read more about Bronzeville in one of 3 of my social justice titles for Cherry Lake Publishing, From Black Wall Street to Allensworth You can read more about the humanitarian crisis of emancipation from Professor Downs' book, Sick From Freedom.
February 06, 2022
SmallBites: Black History Kickoff - Dr. Tai-Danae Bradley
With book bans sweeping the country, I felt the need to record some of the words I've written, just in case. Cherry Lake publishing has released a phenomenal Black Achievement series, designed by Kelissa Wing, just in time for Black History Month. I am honored to have written 3 titles, one of which I'll preview here.  In this episode, you'll hear about Dr. Tai-Danae Bradley who looks more like a girl-next-door Instagram model than any mathematician I was ever introduced to in school. Reading her blog and watching her Youtube videos was actually interesting for me--a confirmed anti-mather! The greatest thing about introducing living (Black) American heroes is that your students can see themselves reflected in the here and now. These are people your students can follow on Twitter and Instagram, which makes their achievements feel much more relevant than our normal content connections to old dead people. Not that old dead people aren't great, but who wants to grow up to be dead and then famous? Certainly not your students who see instafame on the regular.  I'll be previewing other lesser known Black History heroes in the coming weeks, but I hope you'll do some research on your own with your students to discover other American stories beyond Martin and Rosa. I hope also, that you will consider investing in books that highlight those stories. As you consider what choices you make for your class library and how much say the state has in those choices, make sure you invest in literature you feel is valuable. And as always, remember to vote your conscience, not only in national but also upcoming local elections. Our democracy depends on it.  You can pre-order the Black Achievement books here or order bulk copies here. You can read more about US democracy rankings and "backsliding" here.
January 31, 2022
I'm a Teacher, You're a Teacher...
Over the past few weeks, I have awakened daily to the news of new humans in the classroom. Now, if you've taught a while, you'll remember when "new humans in the classroom" meant meeting a fresh-faced new group in August or September of each year. Now, it means new humans teaching in the classrooms. Well, teaching is relative. As long as the children are attended, we're good. Hey Rick Grimes, got a few minutes?? You see, when free public education was conceived centuries ago, it was designed to cement a unified version of American pride and way of life after the Revolutionary War. Later, after the industrial revolution and, more importantly, after women entered the workforce in large numbers, it evolved as a cost effective way to provide social services and keep our GDP growing.  Under the flag of education we have designed a system that cares for, feeds, assesses and entertains students for most of the waking day while parents work. Working parents means more money flows into and through the economy. Or at least, that's how it was before COVID. After shut downs crippled and even killed off businesses, the right people must have cried foul: Schools MUST be kept open at any cost. Of course, "virtual learning doesn't work" was the tagline. 'Learning loss', especially 'in our most vulnerable populations' was a big problem. Quality learning face to face with teachers, that's what we needed to do for our kids. Fast forward, more COVID, so much so that schools are suddenly closing on an emergency rolling basis. And in order to prohibit that? Creative thinkers everywhere are getting warm bodies into classrooms to keep schools open. The learning loss needs of fall have given way to the economic needs of winter and the other Big Lie is now lain bare. Learning loss is not and never was the real concern.  The US does not have the number 1 GDP in the world for no reason. We have been ruthless in prioritizing profit, this is no different. Schools are necessary to the economy. Now you, as a teacher, are most likely in this job for the kids. And if you really want the best for them, here are three things you need to do THIS WEEK to prioritize academic needs. PRIORITIZE VALUING THEIR TEACHER. Decide that if anyone can stand in your class to teach and get bonuses and special permissions, you deserve bonuses and special permissions too. Get together with other teachers and decide what kinds of monetary and non-monetary bonuses would best support the valuable work you do.  Stop giving your employer money. If you're working 10+ hours more than your contract calls for, you're investing in a system that does not value prioritizing you or education. Make needed changes, start here with the 40h teacher work week. The free resources are a good beginning. Write your school board members and show up to meetings. Use your voice, do your research and vote in local elections. Better yet, run for office. Mostly, we have work to do. Our students need more resources than we can give and it's time that education gets a bigger slice of the pie. Valuing the job you do is a big part of that.  Not only are you an educator, you are an essential part of the largest GDP in the world. Start valuing yourself, and ensure that others do too. Note: This OpEd is designed as a thought provoking, rather than research based, informative article. 
January 24, 2022
SmallBites: The MLK Day '22 Edition
It was not so very long ago that Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina led the charge against this MLK holiday that we now celebrate. Today, that congressional fight has largely faded from memory as we celebrate the powerful words Dr. King spoke. In Selma. In Detroit. In Washington. From the many great speeches: I have a dream...; Now is time to make real the promise of democracy... so many great words flood our social media threads on this day. We remember the greatness but forget what he fought for. Dr. King's marches began because of segregation and voting rights. This past year, the rights he fought for have been under attack like no time since he began the fight. From In 2021, the state legislative push to restrict access to voting was not only aggressive — it was also successful.  Between January 1 and December 7, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions. These numbers are extraordinary: state legislatures enacted far more restrictive voting laws in 2021 than in any year since the Brennan Center began tracking voting legislation in 2011. More than a third of all restrictive voting laws enacted since then were passed this year. And in a new trend this year, legislators introduced bills to allow partisan actors to interfere with election processes or even reject election results entirely. Unfortunately, the momentum around this legislation continues. So far, at least 13 bills restricting access to voting have been pre-filed for the 2022 legislative session in four states. In addition, at least 152 restrictive voting bills in 18 states will carry over from 2021. Who are we? Are we really who our founding documents say we are, or are we only patriots when it serves us? Gerrymandering, redrawing districts and attempted coups make me afraid of what that answer might be. How will you honor the memory of a man who believed in the America we could be? My ask this week is that you spend some time reading the article linked from the Brennan Center and that you contact your congressional representatives. After that, ask at least 3 friends to do the same. If you'd like additional information on voting rights and redistricting (wtheck do we do that for anyway??), head to Ballotpedia and use the dropdown menu on the left. MLK was not just a Nobel prize winner, not just a man of great words. He was a man of action, arrested 29 times and finally assassinated, shot in the face at the age of 39 for leading the nation into the constitutional promiseland of liberty and justice for all. If you want to honor his legacy, skip the quote post and instead, post a copy of your protest letter. That would be a celebration worthy of a King.
January 17, 2022
Invisible for Christmas
This episode is dedicated to Sidney Poitier, the first actor I remember seeing who looked like me, may he rest in peace. I don't remember when it happened, but somewhere along my journey, I lost my taste for 'classic' movies. As much as I loved curling up together with my grandmom to watch old Hollywood movies, and as much as those memories warm me, the movies themselves no longer hold the same enchantment. Without using Google, the only big stars I remember who looked like me in mainstream movies were Butterfly McQueen, Lena Horne and Sidney Poitier. As a matter of fact, the cartoons and sitcoms were similarly populated, until Norman Lear came along, with mostly Americans of European descent. Since that was my norm, I never really knew what I was missing. The old adage "you can't miss what you never had" could not be further from the truth. Just as childhood trauma leaves scars to be reckoned with in later life, the lack of representation in my childhood smacks me in the face quite often. Scooby-Doo? Where were the diverse actors. After school cartoons? Same question. And hollywood 'classics'? Well, geez, we couldn't even get a Black Cleopatra. This year, that smack in the face came as I settled in to watch some of my childhood favorites for Christmas. My invisibility weighed heavily on me, cast a pall over my downtime--until Amazon Prime Video breathed new life into the phrase "Christmas Classics". I found myself in romcom heaven with Black protagonists doing all the kitchy stuff people do in romantic comedies. And they were doing it in falling snow and red and green Christmas lighted backdrops. My little girl's heart found what it had missed!! Everytime a child sees themselves reflected in the classroom around them, they stand up a little taller, knowing that their place in the world is secure. And everytime children see the world as a place rich in diversity, they develop a little more empathy, understanding and respect for differences. That's a win for us all. The next time someone tells you that culturally responsive teaching is a bad or dangerous thing, share this blog with them. Responding positively and with inclusivity to the diverse populations that make up our nation isn't indoctrination, it's just good teaching.
January 10, 2022
SmallBites Lagniappe: See You Next Year!
Hello all, Smallbites is taking a short winter break and will be back on January 10th with SmallBites Lagniappe as the Flagship SmallBites production! Take care, happy new year and 'see you' in 2022!
December 27, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Teaching from a Neutral Space
With states enacting legal bans on what people and politicians call CRT, which is a catch all for most anything to do with race and identity, teachers are coming under scrutiny for 'indoctrination' if they flaut any of the very non-specific rules in these state bills and laws. Since the rules of these laws are broadly written, teaching history and talking about the Trail of Tears vs. Westward expansion or Sally Hemings alongside Thomas Jefferson could could put a teacher in hot water with parents, admin or even senators in other states.  While there is no such thing as neutrality, teachers must strive to teach from a position of neutrality in order to keep their jobs. While each educator has to decide when, where and how to take a stance, that shouldn't come at the expense of clothes and shelter for your family. By examining your strong emotions about diverse issues, you can better guide your students in inquiry lessons that teach them the critical skills needed to find their own truths.  Whatever your hot button issues are I hope that in the coming week or weeks even that you'll have an honest conversation with yourself in the mirror so that you can examine what you think about things and why. In the coming weeks months and years you are likely to have a student ask you something that could perhaps put your job in peril. How are you going to guide that conversation in a way that promotes student inquiry, in a way that allows students to make up their own minds about issues and that keeps you from doing anything that could be called indoctrination by people who don’t espouse your opinions.  Most of all, how will you model truth and a non-combative stance for your students and others around you? I don't have the answers, but I am hoping that a little self examination will help you find yours.  For more activities like the one above, get your copy of Finding Your Blind Spots, 8 Guiding Principles to Overcome Implicit Bias in Teaching.
December 20, 2021
West Side Story and Whiteness
Watching the big Hollywood musicals as a child with my family was always my happy place. We were a musical family and as the years passed, I learned the lyrics and sang them along with my mom and the characters on TV. West Side Story was no different. I dimly remember talk about Natalie Wood, the original Maria, being White, but it didn't really make sense to me, she was pretty and she could sing. Now, it makes even less sense to me. I wonder, not why Natalie Wood, a woman born to two Russian Immigrants, was playing the role of a Puerto Rican instead of a Puerto Rican or at least Latinx actress; I wonder why she was considered White.  What is it that defines Whiteness? Albino Black people are white. Jewish people are white. And yet, they are not considered White, even though they lack melanin. And what about eastern and southern European immigrants? They were still considered immigrants into the mid 20th century, at least for a couple of generations.  What do we mean when we say White? And how did white get to be White? Why don't we say European American or German American or British American like we say Asian American, Mexican American or African American? Until we look at the origin of Whiteness we will continue to lack context for impact-making conversations and actions surrounding culture and identity. To get you started, here is an article from the Smithsonian with corresponding questions you can ask yourself.  Is Whiteness centered in your classroom? How will you know? Who is included, who is excluded and who is in charge of the including and excluding? Let's be intentional about examining whiteness as the default setting and how the concept originated. Finding Your Blind Spots is a good resource, as is this article from SAIC's John M. Flaxman Library. Once we deconstruct what whiteness is, we can look at our other commonly held beliefs about identity, culture and gender so that we can reach and teach each one of our students better. That's what we're all here for, isn't it? Visit for more resources.
December 13, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Finding Your Blind Spots Recap
In case you missed it, Finding Your Blind Spots launched officially on Friday night with much fun and fanfare. You can see the festivities here. But if you'd like a deeper look at the book, order your copy here and scroll to the bottom of the page to get the free reproducibles. The thing that I am most excited about is that, beyond CRT bans, beyond arguments on discussions on race and representations, Finding Your Blind Spots gives every educator the chance to become a better practitioner through introspection and SEL practices. If I could reduce the book to one central theme it would be, "create a sense of belonging for every student". If we want better relationships and better outcomes, we have to be willing to look at our own biases and how they play out in the classroom.  Enjoy the read and visit for more resources.
December 06, 2021
#NoNegativity Challenge
Last week after an exceptional conversation about education, bias and divisive rhetoric on the Tom Schimmer podcast, I reflected on a question he asked me. He wanted to know what we could do about all the negative rhetoric on social media, as well as face to face. It was a real idk moment, and I don't have a lot of those. The question made me feel small and helpless because not being mean seems like such an easy thing to do. Why are humans so mean to each other and why do we feed on others being mean to each other? I have my thoughts, but I'll save them for another day.  Today, I want to simply move toward a solution based on two grandma axioms: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" and "garbage in, garbage out". First, do no harm. If you have the chance to react to someone's rant, just say no. We don't have to engage. And second, if you read something you disagree with, disagree silently. Having an opinion does not mean you have to voice an opinion.  Finally, spend this week putting some realistic positivity into the world. Join me in posting something kind, funny or uplifting at least once a day for all of December. Don't move into the sunshine and rainbows area, but take time to empathetically encourage others. And if you get stumped, post puppy and pet pig pics. I find them comforting.  In case you need a spot to feed your own soul, try Reader's Digest or the Good News Network. Sometimes we just need a break from the headlines.  Finally, in case you are wondering why this is meaningful for teachers working to be more inclusive, I'll just say this: You can't pour from an empty cup. Fill your cup and let it spill over to others, all month. 
November 29, 2021
Rittenhouse and the Race Card
The social media fights always get me down. I rarely venture from Edutwitter out into what some educators call "gen pop", but when I do, it's a cruel world. 'Kyle Rittenhouse is White so why is this about race', right? The overrepresentation of people of color in our jails and the harsher punitive measures taken are glaring indictments of our 'liberty and justice for all'. Seeing Rittenhouse go free, it was impossible not to think that, had it been a Black man killing two White men at a Proud Boys rally--even if there was some altercation, he'd be jailed, assuming he'd survived in the first place. Even a cursory scanning of the US Sentencing Commission's findings will give you context on just why this was 'about race'.  Can you imagine a Black group storming the capital without being gunned down? Most Black people could not. Can you imagine a Black person shooting 9 people at a White bible study being taken alive? We can't. Twelve year-old Tamir Rice couldn't even play with a toy gun in the park so how could we imagine anything else? If you find yourself always excusing the officers or blaming the loudmouthed person who "would never have gotten shot if they had complied", my ask is that you consider, whether or not your go to response is to deny any possibility that race or bias could be in play. If it is, I'm asking you to consider having an honest conversation with someone who has had to give their prepubescent son the talk. And then, just consider for a moment, that there might--just might--be something to what we say when we say that something is "about race".  I'll leave you with these words from Elvis Presley's Walk A Mile in My Shoes (Written by Joe South): You never stood in that man's shoes or saw things through his eyes or stood and watched with helpless hands while the heart inside you dies. So help your brother along the way, no matter where he starts for the same God that made you, made him too, these men with broken hearts For more reading: Context on disparities in the justice system, courtesy of LSE.
November 22, 2021
One Student at a Time
One of the resources I share in Finding Your Blind Spots is a list of people and accounts to follow on Social Media. If you are an educator who has not tapped in to micro and macro social media platform PDs, here are a few to get you started. History and first-person information on Indigenous American, LGBTQ+, Arabic, and Black communities: @arabicmclovin (Tiktok) @Antiracistcalendar (Instagram) @lgbt_history (Instagram) #Nativetiktok (Tiktok) #LGBTHM (Twitter) Authors, educators, organizations and hashtags providing information and resources to support teaching diverse populations: @DrIbram-Ibram X. Kendi (Twitter) @Blairimani-Blair Amadeus Imani (Twitter) @WorldProfessor-Walter D. Greason (Twitter) @adamlevineperes-Adam Levine Peres (Instagram) @Bree.newsome-Bree Newsome Bass (Instagram) @learnforjustice-Learning for Justice (Instagram and Twitter) @AdamLevinePeres-also on YouTube (Instagram) #HispanicHistory #BlackHistory #indigeneous #Asiantiktok #Indiantiktok (platform agnostic) As you scroll, learn more about the changing world around us, in order to serve the families in our communities better. And when you think of big terms like 'systemic racism', 'culturally responsive pedagogies' or 'gender and identity bias', reduce them to the smallest cog in the wheel. If we not only teach our babies to love other babies, but also learn to better serve the one student standing in front of us, systems will change. The wall comes down one brick at a time.
November 15, 2021
Teaching My Babies to Love Your Babies
Who would have thought that a picture of a mug could encapsulate everything I do? "I promise to teach my babies to love your babies". There it was, on a white ceramic mug with little hearts in shades from beige to brown, with a little rainbow heart on the end. I'd planned to talk about the Archbishop's judgy, loveless rant about the gaps in today's religions being filled by those who show they care through social justice movements (full transparency, 'judgy rant' is biased language and this sentence is my fixed version of what he said). His words, “We need to tell our story of salvation in a new way, with charity and confidence, without fear”, reminded me of the lack of love in all of our arguments about how to teach and reach every child every day. It reminded me that those arguments 'don't hold water' when held to the standard of the consummate definition of 'charity', of love. (Side note, it also reminded me that Jesus wasn't well liked by the religious leaders of his day either.) In this episode, I hope you'll listen and remember what educators are trying to do all over the world. Esteem their students and teach those students to esteem others. If woke words bother you, use other words. But if we really want our students to grow into respectful, empathetic citizens, we have to tell everybody's story with love and confidence without fear. Meanwhile, I will keep on doing what I'm doing. "I promise to teach my babies to love your babies" and I hope you'll be teaching yours to love mine. Visit for more vignettes and educational strategies.
November 08, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Banned Books (Including Mine)
I never thought I’d be on a banned book list. I remember reading Fahrenheit 451 back in high school in SE Texas. I remember being incredulous that literature and Great Works were being burned, and that a select few were governing the thoughts of the many. Now I am wondering if I should be worried about my own books being slated for a burning, Texas legislator's list circulates with my name on it.  Further, should I be worried about my personal safety? For people to latch on and use the titles as rallying cries is worrying. Still, the path of change is the one I've chosen. He who has ears, let them hear. Here's Brian Lopez' Texas Tribune article. There's a link to the list in the story as well. 
November 01, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: SohCahToa and THAT Teacher
Oh so NOW you’re mad? You want to try, judge and jail a teacher for being 'racist'? You want to say with surety she did all that stuff we saw in the video with malicious intent?  Was it bad? Yes. Was it an offensive and insensitive display mocking the sacred traditions of a community this country has already taken from over and over again? Yes. But before we go casting stones: Have you ever watched a Western? Did you watch Pocahontas without having conversations about the real daughter of chief Wahunsenacawh?  Have you ever celebrated Columbus Day or Thanksgiving without telling your children and students the truth about the Taino and Powhatan? On the flip side, have you ever organized or even participated in a protest against legislation that restricts multiperspectivity in classrooms? Have you voted in every local election and researched stances of the candidates who sit on your school boards? Are you willing to teach truth even if it means losing your job? The teacher in California made a really bad mistake, one I wish she’d had the education not to make. But: let he who never celebrated Halloween with a “hula girl”, an “Indian”, a “hobo”, or a “gypsy” cast the first stone (fyi, all inappropriate terms and costumes). As an applied researcher, I spend countless hours learning things I should have learned in 18 years of schooling. Unfortunately, like this teacher, the education I got did not arm me with the cultural capital and historical truths to be knowledgeable and empathetic towards diverse populations. It's easy to feel self-righteous because you know how wrong and hurtful this is; but it's much harder to do the work to ensure that everyone in this country understands that this is wrong and hurtful.  Now's the time to do the hard work and leave the stone casting to those pretending to care. Find out about your local politics here. Find out how to contact your elected officials here. Find an organization and get involved here.
October 25, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Going Up The Middle
For those who watch football, imagine; Pats are deep in their own territory and they run the ball every play, straight up the middle. Now, for those who don’t watch football, just know, that's a pretty ridiculous strategy, even though it's called football not throw ball. Fact is, different strategies and plays will have varying chances of success depending on a variety of factors. Adapting for those factors makes the difference between being 5-1 or 2-4 going into next week's game. Now, imagine going into every school, every corporate event, every school board meeting and saying, "you are all racists and you are holding up a system based on White supremacy. Feel your White guilt, throw off your White privilege and change." Ummmm, yeah. That's running straight up the middle. Before you can get that 10 yard sentence out, the opposing team will shut you down.  What are your goals in having conversations on issues of equity and inclusivity? Do you want students to feel welcome whether they are in the majority or minority on campuses? Do you want the stories and heroes our kids learn about to reflect all kinds of people? Do want the musical, artistic and scientific accomplishments of various populations to be known so that we see the world in all its diversity? Do you want students to learn from curriculum that allows them to understand that everyone has something of value to contribute? Those are my goals and I talk to people with those goals in view. I don't run up the middle on every play. It's not effective, it can even be counterproductive. Running up the middle is not the play coaches pull out in every situation so why should it be a foundational strategy for those of us working toward societal change? This isn't football, it's more like persuasive essay writing. It's about helping people to see the goal so that they want to get on board with making classrooms and campuses welcoming places for every child every day. I'm gonna run up the middle with this one and say, STOP GOING UP THE MIDDLE. Use language and strategies that inspire. The work is too important to do otherwise.  Here's more on playing to win from Friday's A Spoonful of Sugar, as well as E44, Isms and Phobes. 
October 18, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Indigenous Peoples Day vs. Columbus Day
Who are our heroes? What do we celebrate? Why do we celebrate them? And if it's still Hispanic Heritage month, do we have to deal with it at all? So many questions. I have no answers. Except, decide to look beyond the surface.  It seems Columbus day was not all about Columbus. The holiday was always embroiled in turmoil. Now, this day means "see me" to Native American tribes. An acknowledgement of the decimation, genocide, sexual abuse and other crimes committed against indigenous peoples is what the day is about. As a start. So, let's start. Read up on the early colonial lack of regard for life of non-Christian, non-western European people. And tomorrow, reflect and remember. And mostly, share this perspective. Voices that have been silenced should be silenced no more. 
October 11, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Redlining, Redistricting and Learning Loss
If 'no man is an island, no man stands alone', then the same is probably true of schools. A school is not an island, separate from the community it supports. As we look for ways to close 'learning gaps' and combat 'learning loss', let's first remember that until the 70s, this country was still legally legally non-White student access to the same education it provided White students. That means that 50-something Gen Xers--especially in the south-- were just beginning to go to integrated schools. It also means that many teachers had to teach children they grew up believing were inferior. Separate was never equal, but integration came with its own problems. The educational gaps we talk about began when it was illegal for my forebears to learn to read. And the great-grandmother who helped raise me was born only one generation out of slavery, so that was not so long ago.The disparities were always there, COVID has not unearthed something new. However, how can we acknowledge what the pandemic has highlighted and use that knowledge to make our educational system better for all students? This week, start with a little research. Archie Bunker, famed protagonist of Norman Lear's All in the Family,  thought the playing field was level and that "Spics and Spooks" were just too lazy to get their piece of the American Dream. Let's see if that holds true, or if there is inequity baked into the systems. Do some research on redlining, redistricting and gentrification. Oh, and here is a recent article about redistricting in my home state of Texas. As you read, make a few notes. What do you notice? What do you wonder? How is what you read related to 'learning gaps'?Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or IG and let me know your thoughts. Knowledge is power, and learning about the roots of educational gaps will help us become real change makers.
October 04, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: The Emotional Labor of Teaching
After experiencing the exhaustion of so many educators as seen through their stories on social media throughout this first 6 weeks, I am on heightened alert. How do we fight off the demoralization and feelings of futility that I talked about in Friday's YouTube episode?  In her "Seven Strategies for Embracing the Emotional Labor of Teaching", Colorado State's Dr. Ashley Harvey explores strategies for not only reframing beliefs in students but also some to help us re-evaluate where we are in our practice. How much do you have to pretend happiness and calm in your classroom? Twenty percent of the time? Forty percent? More like ninety percent? If you find that experiencing genuinely positive emotion is difficult, or even worse, nearly impossible, it's time to reflect on how you can make stainable changes.  Visit and read I'll Rise Up for more coping strategies.
September 27, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: "Are We Asking Schools to Do Too Much?"
This week's episode continues to explore "learning loss" through an Education Week article by Mark Lieberman in which he cites instances of all the wraparound services provided, often as mandates without funding. He writes, “All the while, we’re asking schools to accomplish more than what their funding allows and their employees to do far more than they’ve been trained to do. And we’ve been doing it for a long time." Truer words have never been spoken. How do we advocate for ourselves, our students and our schools in order to get what we need so that we, as educators can concentrate on teaching and learning? How do we look for more sensible ways to check for understanding (read: less time and money intensive) so that we can concentrate on teaching and learning? How do we ensure that students get "wraparound services" through appropriate channels so that we can concentrate on teaching and learning? I am only just beginning my research on "learning gaps" as a societal problem rather than an educational one, and I look forward to your accompanying me on this journey. At this stage, I know that activism (advocacy + action) as well as community and industry partnerships need to be a part of the equation. Vote. Vote every time the polls open. The smaller the election, the better your chances are that the candidates have something to do with your community directly. That's activism and it's easy. If you're feeling fancy, run for school board. Go beyond #clearthelists. We support each other while buying supplies for our own classrooms. We ask and offer each other for favors and help. That's community, but let's tap into our local communities. Make parents a welcome part of campus life (once COVID is under control). Ask them to donate a dollar, a book, a bag of treats. Have them help with hall and carline monitoring. Parents are not the enemy and strong parental involvement is one metric that positively impacts student outcomes. Here are some examples of strong community programs. Build relationships with business owners. As it turns out, I'm late to the game, being aware of college industry partnerships but not K-12 partnerships. Here's a start, with worksheets and resources you can adapt to help you get set up. I will never let a student go hungry, and I do not know a teacher who would, even to support the longterm goal of not "propping up the system". And yet, I am sure that schools are being asked to do too much.
September 20, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Interrupted (Again) Learning
The thing about interrupted learning, is that we are treating it like this is the first time learning has been interrupted. Oh, we acknowledge the summer slide and consider year 'round school but we don't consider the many systemic interruptions that have brought us to the place where we just can't get the learning gaps to close.  Our educational system is like a woman trying to get into a dress she bought because she intended to lose weight. It didn't fit when she bought it. It didn't fit after the first big fad diet. It didn't fit after the second, third or fourth weight loss attempt. And it does not fit today.  Marginalized populations have consistently experienced community and societal factors that disrupt learning. From the Middle Passage, Western Expansion and broken treaties to Gerrymandering and redlining, the systems of inequities have been like the dress that never fit to start with.  Until we look at the educational and societal systems that have only just begun to be recognized as inequitable, the dress will never fit. COVID "learning loss" is simply one more event that has disadvantaged populations who have endured one traumatic learning interruption after another. My generation is the first post Civil Rights Act generation and that means that the challenges to rising above poverty caused by enslavement, reservation life, immigration, etc. are only now beginning to be addressed. How do we examine the root causes that keep marginalized populations marginalized? How do we connect those root causes to the interrupted learning outcomes we see today? First, we have to look holistically at poverty in our nation and decide to resource our communities without using an educational system to provide "wraparound services". Next, and most importantly, we have to look critically at intergenerational trauma and the adverse childhood events that impact teaching and learning with an eye toward critically reevaluating the systems themselves, rather than the students those systems serve. It's why culturally sustaining pedagogies have to be in our teacher tool belts. For example, understanding how slights endured in the fight to survive take up cognitive energy means one, that physical and mental health outcomes are impacted, but it also means that there is learning taking place, learning that is not measured on standardized tests. Different kinds of learning as well as missed opportunities to learn in formal settings across  generations has to be a part of every learning gap conversation, including the one around this latest interrupted learning. If we approach COVID learning loss as if it is something new and specific to COVID, we will miss an extraordinary opportunity to do a hard reset in which we reevaluate learning gaps, learning evaluation and learning itself. 
September 13, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Do Ask, Don't Tell
As Texas is praised for/comes under scrutiny after its recent landmark #abortionban, I am reminded of a conversation between students talking about reproductive rights. They were on opposite sides of the abortion issue and yet, they acknowledged the validity of all arguments presented. They also agreed that it was wrong that men who fathered children were not held accountable, and that men should not be responsible for making laws about body parts they don't have. I was a fly on the wall. I asked for clarification here and there, but mostly, I just listened and let them know how proud I was of having students who could disagree about a heated topic with maturity, respect and civility. I may have said something about how they were way better at civil discourse than many adults. If I didn't, I should have.  This year, that conversation or conversations like it, could be heavily scrutinized because of legislation passed to restrict conversations around race and gender discrimination. It could be scrutinized but I could not be penalized because I never offered my opinion. My goal as a teacher is to ensure that students learn to think and not parrot what they hear, even what they hear from me.  This year, especially as laws around classroom conversations shift, ensure that you teach strong media literacy skills, critical thinking and ask, don't tell. Use this infographic on the 6 types of socratic questions to help you craft strong questions and stay out of the way of student learning.  Source: R. W. Paul, L. Elder: The Thinkers Guide to The Art of Socratic Questioning, 2007; via
September 06, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Afghanistan and Activism
Today we'll be flying the last plane out of Afghanistan, ending our longest war ever. To those who've lost family in Afghanistan, thank you for your sacrifice. I'll never understand loss of life on foreign soil, my condolences are with you. To those who made the decision to spend 300 million a day every day for the last 20 years, I am afraid my sympathies don't run so deep.  As an educator, a parent, an advocate, I can't help but look at the Brown University Cost of War numbers and wonder kind of impact a daily 300 million dollar domestic investment would make. According to the National Priorities Project, we spend almost 10 times more on military than on education. In fact, over half of the 2019 federal discretionary budget was devoted to military spending. What does that say about our priorities? We say that we prioritize education and our country's future but we don't invest in it. The next time you have a chance to vote in a local election, I hope you'll consider what you learned here and vote your priorities.  Find out about your candidates and their priorities at Ballotpedia.
August 30, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: One Small Ask...
My mom said that when I was a little girl I once came in crying. When she asked what was wrong, my reply was that the kids were fighting, and I wanted to play, not fight.  I know that sometimes conflict is necessary, but why we're having conflict over doing our best to protect people--our teachers, our nurses, the frail among us--I'm not sure. This week, I don't have many strategies, only this from the CDC: Due to the circulating and highly contagious Delta variant, CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. As you listen to this week's SmallBites, think of the costs and anxiety involved for those listening to news about rising COVID cases and impending court cases. Think of the unthinkable: threats to withhold funding in a year when students already need access to every resource possible. Think of how, by wearing a mask, we can change all of that for the better. Now think of who you can call or write--a friend, a politician, a co-worker with kids. Share the CDC guidance with them. Share SmallBites with them.  Access and equity begin with health and life, so want to 'love your neighbor as yourself'? Try this: One simple ask, wear a mask. 
August 23, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Engage All Learners (Back to School Edition '21)
It's that time of the year, folks! While you're on your Dollar Tree/Target, run listen to my Babyface concert story, I had a ball. Oh, and special for August, I mention a few activities you can use to build community in your class. This year may be different because of what kids learned and may not have learned last year; because of what you may or may not be able to talk about in your class; or even because the last 18 months have shaken you to your core and changed your priorities as an educator. One thing that has not changed is the fact that all good years begin with good relationships. Here are a few tips and strategies for doing just that.  Happy back to school! 5 ways to promote class unity and understanding: 1. Explore diverse perspectives by having students discover and retell a family history story from a grandparent or older relative or adult.Bonus points if they bring artifacts—or the relative! 2. Promote media literacy by allowing students to examine the story of the week using AllSides Media. 3. Celebrate learning by having students share what they learned or a challenge they overcame during the pandemic. Here are some examples. 4. Develop leadership skills in your students by appointing app captains to coach other students (and you too) in the usage and mastery of school related ed tech applications. 5. Build community and teach civil discourse by allowing students to lead discussions on current events or possibly controversial topics. Visit for more resources.
August 16, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Bias and My Son's Traffic Stop
When my son finally made it to me at the airport to pick me up after a wonderful week with the Jefferson County Public School educators, he hugged me hard and whispered these terrifying words into my neck; "Mom, I got pulled over."  Still shaken, he recounted the terror going through his brain ('just act normal, don't get shot') the menacing words of the officers ('cooperate with us, we'll cooperate with you'--why wouldn't he cooperate?) and the humiliation of standing in the high grass getting bit by Texas mosquitoes as they searched his car.  I wondered at his calm in recounting it, how he said they were only doing their job, that it was no big deal. I held him tightly, thankful that I still could. It was 15 or 20 minutes of his life. He made it to me. Why am I still not able to let it go? It's because too many BIPOC drivers are pulled over and far too many encounters end tragically. It's because in similar countries, US police officers lead the world in the use of deadly force against civilians. It's because my son has been driving less than 3 months and neither officer thought to reassure him that he'd be fine.  What about educators? Are the discipline statistics similar in that the number of referrals in BIPOC communities are disproportionate? They are, and it's frightening. The bias that plays out on the streets between BIPOC communities and police is the same bias that plays out in classrooms each week between August and May.  What do you think about your students? What shoe box do you put them in? Is it a help or a hindrance to them? To you? To your school community?  Where can you start if you want to learn about and mitigate your personal biases? Well, here are some tests you can take from the Harvard Implicit Project. Here is my favorite infographic on cognitive biases. And here is the SmallBites Bias Collection to get you started. Policing has its issues and departments are working on them. However, as an educator, I understand that change in K-12 equals change in policing and in every other industry.  It's almost time to go back into our classes, let's go back being more inclusive and less biased in service to us all. 
August 09, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Shackles of a Myth called Learning Loss
I've always been one for a dramatic title, this week is no different. And yet, the drama adequately reflects what I see as the biggest challenge to learning in the coming years. Operating out of fear is always a bad idea and we have allowed the learning loss data to morph into an evil mythical creature of epic proportions. How will we slay the dragons, keep our funding and keep from going insane in the process? There is only one way. High quality teaching, one small bite at a time. Yes, there may be a few tweaks, but hopefully, you are simply going to be doing your best--like every year. The educators I know are already doing a phenomenal job of being responsive to the needs of their learners, hopefully you are too. Here are a few guiding tips: first, let's approach this year from the position of strength. What have your students learned during the pandemic? Tenacity, team spirit? Have they learned to care for each other remotely? Have they learned to take more responsibility for their families and themselves? Have they simply survived the worst global crisis of their lives? Praise them for it. Remind your students and yourself that we have all learned things that no test developed for a pre-pandemic world will measure. Start there.  Next, don't let the data scare ya. You can still only do your best for one student at a time, one class at a time. Do that. Do what you do best. Resist the urge to take your anxiety home about what will happen if you don't "catch the kids up". There is no such thing. We will never return to a pre-pandemic state of learning. The whole world is in the same boat. So remember, and remind your students, parents and even admin if you need to. Celebrate wins, learn from losses and do your best, just as you (hopefully) have every year of your career. Take care of yourself, take care of your kids. The rest will come. Do your best, do what you can to augment learning (cause, hey, isn't that what you do anyway?) but spend this year just being grateful that we all survived.
August 02, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Critical Race Theory-The Conversation, with Sheldon Eakins (Pt. 2)
What happens when 2 educators get news of a post describing 21 JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) terms as Critical Race Theory terms being used to indoctrinate students in K-12 classrooms? In part 2 of this podcast, Dr. Sheldon Eakins of the Leading Equity Center helps explain the tenuous, almost mythical connection between culturally responsive teaching (CRT) and critical race theory (CRT). Spoiler alert: Only the initialism is the same. Once again (for the people in the back), critical race theory is: "a framework that offers researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers a race-conscious approach to understanding educational inequality and structural racism to find solutions that lead to greater justice."--The Oxford Research Encyclopedia "a theoretical and interpretive mode that examines the appearance of race and racism across dominant cultural modes of expression. In adopting this approach, CRT scholars attempt to understand how victims of systemic racism are affected by cultural perceptions of race and how they are able to represent themselves to counter prejudice"--Purdue Owl “not a diversity and inclusion 'training' but a practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society that emerged in the legal academy and spread to other fields of scholarship."--The American Bar Association Further, "in the field of education, CRT is a helpful tool for analyzing policy issues such as school funding, segregation, language policies, discipline policies, and testing and accountability policies. It is also helpful for critically examining the larger issues of epistemology and knowledge production, which are reflected in curriculum and pedagogy." --The Oxford Research Encyclopedia If you are reading or hearing that CRT is anything other than a way to reflect on whose voices are being heard and whose are lacking in representation; so that you can amplify the voices of all students, you are being misled. About the guest: Sheldon L. Eakins, Ph.D. is the founder of the Leading Equity Center and host of the Leading Equity Podcast. With over 11 years in education, he has served as a teacher, principal, and Director of Special Education. Dr. Eakins has a passion for helping educators accomplish equitable practices in their schools. He has earned a B.S. degree in Social Science Education, an M.S. degree in Educational Leadership, and a Ph.D. in K-12 Education. Hear an earlier conversation between Dr. Eakins and Hedreich on Critical Race Theory on the Leading Equity Podcast here.
July 25, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Critical Race Theory-The Conversation, with Sheldon Eakins (Pt. 1)
What happens when 2 educators get news of a post describing 21 JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) terms as Critical Race Theory terms being used to indoctrinate students in K-12 classrooms?  In this podcast, Dr. Sheldon Eakins of the Leading Equity Center helps explain the tenuous, almost mythical connection between culturally responsive teaching (CRT) and critical race theory (CRT). Spoiler alert: Only the initialism is the same. Once again (for the people in the back), critical race theory is: "a framework that offers researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers a race-conscious approach to understanding educational inequality and structural racism to find solutions that lead to greater justice."--The Oxford Research Encyclopedia "a theoretical and interpretive mode that examines the appearance of race and racism across dominant cultural modes of expression. In adopting this approach, CRT scholars attempt to understand how victims of systemic racism are affected by cultural perceptions of race and how they are able to represent themselves to counter prejudice"--Purdue Owl “not a diversity and inclusion 'training' but a practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society that emerged in the legal academy and spread to other fields of scholarship."--The American Bar Association Further, "in the field of education, CRT is a helpful tool for analyzing policy issues such as school funding, segregation, language policies, discipline policies, and testing and accountability policies. It is also helpful for critically examining the larger issues of epistemology and knowledge production, which are reflected in curriculum and pedagogy." --The Oxford Research Encyclopedia If you are reading or hearing that CRT is anything other than a way to reflect on whose voices are being heard and whose are lacking in representation; so that you can amplify the voices of all students, you are being misled.  About the guest: Sheldon L. Eakins, Ph.D. is the founder of the Leading Equity Center and host of the Leading Equity Podcast. With over 11 years in education, he has served as a teacher, principal, and Director of Special Education. Dr. Eakins has a passion for helping educators accomplish equitable practices in their schools. He has earned a B.S. degree in Social Science Education, an M.S. degree in Educational Leadership, and a Ph.D. in K-12 Education. Hear an earlier conversation between Dr. Eakins and Hedreich on Critical Race Theory on the Leading Equity Podcast here. 
July 19, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Grey's Anatomy (Not Critical Race Theory)
Although I am a writer and a researcher, I also enjoy using pop culture references to bring home points about academic topics. This episode uses Grey's Anatomy's S11E4 to take an allegorical look at just how bad a problem can get when its ignored. In the episode, there is a happy ending, but not before a girl with a mass the size of a soccer ball almost dies. Her mother is undocumented and said, because of her fear of the outcomes, she hoped, prayed her daughter would be ok. Pretty soon no longer saw the mass when she looked at her daughter.  See where I'm going with this? Join SmallBites next week when DR. Sheldon Eakins from the Leading Equity Center will join me to debunk some popular myths in a 2 part series on Critical Race Theory.
July 11, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: I Am A Patriot
This episode is less a resource and more an admonition. While I pride myself on not telling folks what to do, I am certain of this one thing: If we do not stand for liberty, justice and democracy, not only do we flaut the ideals of our founding fathers, we are heading in a direction that may lead to more devastation than we can imagine.  Read our constitution. Read the preamble. Decide whether the rights of any one party or candidate are more important than the ideals that have made this nation great.  When I saw our flag being used to beat the blue instead of back the blue, I hurt in a place deep in my patriotic soul. Have we really come so far that our flag means so little to those who claim the word 'patriot' as their own? Let this episode remind us all of what we stand for and let's sacrifice individual preference for the greater good of us all. With this admonition, I affirm, I. Am. A. Patriot.
June 28, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Much Ado About Nothing
I didn't mean to talk about Critical Race Theory, but with Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday, people have been ranting about how we can't teach the truth about Juneteenth and enslavement because of all the bans. Well, like most trending social media rants, this one is not based in fact.  As I have stated, you aren't teaching critical race theory when you teach critical aspects about race and racism. Since your job as an educator is to teach your students to think critically about the world around them; since you want to teach them to be good problem-solvers; since you hopefully aren't training them to be your ideological minions; you do not have to worry about critical race theory bans in education. First, CRT is more concerned with the systems that disenfranchise populations than the individual racist. The bans seem more concerned with evil educator ideologues teaching students that all members of any particular group are racist, sexist oppressors. Raise your hand if that was on your syllabus last year.  If you weren't telling your students they were guilty or superior or inferior, stand down. Know your standards. Read the bills (Here's HB3979 from Texas). Prepare your lessons and teach your students to read, investigate, write, evaluate and be good citizens. If you'd like more info, here is my Critical Race Theory series on YouTube, along with some additional resources to help you do your own research so you can feel confident about the upcoming school year: Critical Race Theory-The Basics (15m listen) What You Need to Know About Critical Race Theory with Sheldon Eakins (45m listen) Critical Race Theory and SEL (4m read) Get the more resources at
June 21, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Loving Day
This episode was sponsored by Bonnie Nieves author of the newly released Be Awesome On Purpose. If you want time to dedicate to creating more equitable spaces, start with student led, student centered and gradeless (yes gradeless!) practices to streamline your administrative task list and give your students more choice and voice. Get your copy today! Pride month usually focuses our attention on the right love who we love. That struggle historically does not only belong to the LG community.  Miscegenation was illegal in all but 9 states at some point in our history. This country may not be able to agree on pandemic mask wearing, but it sure was unified on miscegenation, or, mixed marriages. No Catholics and non-Catholics in some states, no Whites with Asians or Filipinos and of course, no Whites with Negroes, Mulattoes, Quadroons, Octoroons, etc.--if you're wondering what or who all those words mean, I'll get to the 1 drop rule soon. At any rate, the Lovings--yes, that was the last name of Richard and Mildred (néeJeter), were a couple who dared to love and marry, a marriage that was null and void in the state of Virginia. It's fitting that we celebrate the Lovings and their fight for the right to love who they chose this month, when so many are celebrating that same right, even as some state constitution language still says otherwise. Read more about Loving Day on VIsit YouTube/hedreich and for more resources. Connect: Twitter: @hedreich   Instagram: @hedreichnichols  Facebook: Hedreich Nichols  LinkedIn: Hedreich Nichols
June 14, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Lessons From Segregation
As I did research for an upcoming book on Black wealthy communities, I found myself getting a different view of segregation. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sitting where I sit in the theater, eating out wherever I choose and having my pick of seats on trains and planes. However, seeing the heyday of Black societies created by Black entrepreneurs showed me a few positives I have only heretofore considered in passing: There was respite from racism in a tightly knit community. There was support for doing it ourselves. When White lenders wouldn't insure us or give us business loans and mortgages, we built our own banks. Students were taught by culturally literate community leaders and educators. There were other lessons, but those stand out. And if I can find the silver linings in segregation, what does that say about other ideologies that I might not be on board with? Might there be lessons learned if I simply dive in, read up and look at things from another angle?  What if you pick ONE thing this summer and read the opposing arguments on that ONE thing with an open mind? What if you look at it from down instead of up or left instead of right? What if you purpose to learn about any one thing from a different point of view?  If you're like me and segregation, you'll come up with more questions than answers, more what ifs. You'll come up with a fresh perspective. If I were to teach on the Tulsa Massacre now, I would teach less about redlining and Jim Crow and more about the rich history that developed because of a tightly knit community that found strength in its reliance on its members.  Now, your turn. Drop me a line on Twitter or Instagram and tell me what subject you picked! Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies. Connect: Twitter: @hedreich  Instagram: @hedreichnichols Facebook: Hedreich Nichols LinkedIn: Hedreich Nichols YouTube: Youtube/Hedreich
June 07, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Critical Race Theory and Your Students
We can have the big conversations about the big bans. Finally, if you are not a legal scholar, you probably are in the dark about what CRT really is. Check the last 2 episodes of the podcast and the vlog for help here. But the big takeaway is this:  Get very clear WRITTEN directions from legal on what is and is not allowed. Stay away from partisanship in the classroom.  Teaching is political, you cannot get away from current events, mask protocols and a million other things that influence class campus and community. You can, however, keep your opinions out of the class discussions. Check your opinions at the school building door. Save them for Facebook. Your classroom is for student learning and exploration. Craft good questions and teach them to respect divergent opinions that do no harm. Foster mutual respect and teach media literacy. These skills will be much more useful than teaching critical race theory, which, I'd be willing to bet, no teacher is doing unless they are preparing ss for pre-law. Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies.
May 31, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Ms. McCall's Musings and CRT
While out in Twitter Gen Pop (code for out of the protected learning spaces of Edutwitter) I found a new friend. Ms. McCall. She doesn’t know me, but I have claimed her. We think alike, at least when it comes to CRT. Critical Race Theory and the legislation being put forth against it is legislation that wants to ban talk of race, racism, identity politics and for sure anything that smacks of the lack of historical empathy that we suffer from in our country. That means we want to indoctrinate our kids, just not in any new ways they have not already been indoctrinated. I want my students to think on their own. I want them to research, look at ideologies from all sides and know that there is probably not an evil ideology or a good ideology. As long as humans run systems, they will be biased and flawed. But: The more we teach students to examine critically what they learn, the better off we’ll be because critical thinkers do not blindly follow. SO either we want a Nazi Germany repeat or we want to build a nation of citizens who espouse empathy and understanding. Both need critical thinking and critical thinking cannot flourish in classrooms where civic disagreement cannot take place. Teachers, burn your partisanship card, or at least drop it at the schoolhouse door. Your students need a neutral guide to their student led discussions—including discussions on critical race theory.
May 24, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Critical Race Theory - The Basics
Building on last week's intro, this episode explores three of the basic tenets of Critical Race Theory, taken from Derrick Bell's original work. Be sure to watch #SmallBites e47 to keep up with the series as we explore what Critical Race Theory is and isn't and how components of CRT can help us to be better educators and citizens. 
May 17, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Critical Race Theory and SEL
This past week, my students gave me the highest compliments any student can pay a teacher. They mentioned, over and over, that I care, that I create a safe space and that they feel seen and validated. Some even mentioned learning, which is also a good thing. But at the end of the day, if my students know that our classroom is a safe space for discussion; if they know they will not be judged and that all discussions will have room for dissenting opinions and mutual respect (which are not mutually exclusive), I have done the most important part of my job. And honestly, if my students feel seen and accepted, they will learn.  When you hear about the big bad boogie man "Critical Race Theory", ignore the parts about Marxist theories (what is that again??) and revisionist historians and ask yourself if you know everything there is to know about our country's history. Ask yourself if there are stories you don't know, perspectives you haven't heard or contributions you never noticed. Ask yourself if someone in your class or on your campus has a story that is missing in our history books. Then ask yourself if science evolves and adjusts. Because if you believe the earth is round, without believing in 'revisionist science', then it's ok to evolve and learn more. Whether or not we like it, our past influences our present. It's why the doctor asks for a complete medical history. He wants to critically examine the way your past influences your health and well being. In that same way, we need to look critically at our thoughts around race and the way our past influences our wellbeing as a society. Join me Friday at 7c on YouTube, there's more to come.  This episode is an intro to Critical Race Theory with an emphasis on socio-emotional learning.  Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies.
May 10, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Not Hating is Not Enough
I'm a big Shonda Rhimes fan, having watched and rewatched countless Grey's Anatomy episodes. This season, both Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 are using primetime TV to allow us to watch some of the horror of what has been American life play out on screen. This week, Station 19 S4E12 caught my attention. It showed the complexities of people reacting to the George Floyd murder: the shock, the rage, the helplessness, the disbelief, the discomfort, the self-preservation, the complex mixture of any and all of those. I hope you'll watch it, there are many lessons to be gleaned. This week, think about what you've been taught, what we are learning about what we were taught and then consider the difference between being a racist and hating; and propping up racially biased systems by not actively working to disrupt them. Many of us desire to be inclusive. I hope most of us do not hate. But not hating is no longer enough.
May 03, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Why the Violence?
America is a world leader, an economic force to be reckoned with. America is a world leader, in gun violence. We kill each other more than in many developed nations and even more than in most sub-Saharan nations, considered to be the poorest in the world. As we wind down this school year, how about asking your students why they think that is? Ask them why such a great nation should be so violent. Ask them why the adults who teach them to use their words don't. And ask them what they think we need to do differently.  Then tell me, because this year's killings have me at a loss for words. 
April 26, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: As Long As You Are In The World
Enjoy the 5AM show a few hours early: Last week I was determined to hope fast to hope. Then Toledo got shot. And the people in Indianapolis. And the people in Austin Tx. Driving down the street, I asked my son who the flag was flying half mast for. His answer? This country. The weight of this world on top of the global pandemic is crushing and I could do a "how to talk to your students about..." multiple times weekly. How do I talk to them about the number of violent incidents that we keep brushing off as one offs? I will tell them the only thing I know; As long as YOU are in the world, you can be light in your corner of the world, you can be change, you can make a difference. I will tell them that I believe they can be better. I will tell them that I believe in them for my future, for their own.  And when the next headline comes, I will remind myself that as long as I am in the world, I can make a difference.  Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies.
April 19, 2021
Comply or Die Is Not a Thing
Another Black man is dead. His name is Daunte Wright. Daunte had the audacity to have an expired plate and a warrant. My guess is, a 20 year old father was juggling finances and didn't have it all together. I know I didn't at that age. We don't learn much about credit and finances in school. He probably didn't have rich parents or a support system who could help him navigate the real expense of auto ownership or parenthood. I don't know his story, but I know the media is going to probably hang him out to dry and tell every bad thing about him they can find.  My question is, should he have had to die because he 'was no saint'? Should he be dead because he ran? And can you say with certainty that he would be alive if he had not run?  He did not fire on an officer or draw a weapon. He ran AWAY, not aggressively toward the police. If you have students, think about how you frame this when it comes up in your classroom. Prioritize loss of life, not looting. Prioritize the pain of his family and of the community. Comply or Die is not a thing. You can teach them that our democracy should work better or you can teach them that extrajudicial killings are ok if a citizen does not comply with a police order. If you teach them the latter, if you believe the latter, we are all in grave danger. 
April 12, 2021
Hope Is Value Sized
My momma used to say that there are only two motivations, love and fear. And when reduced to those two motivations, you find arguments and counter arguments for everything. Fear is, without a doubt, the more powerful motivating force of the two. Where hope burns like the warm, steady heat of a good smoker fire, fear rages out of control like toxic chemical fires that can scarcely be contained. Hope keeps you warm, feeds your soul; fear, eventually consumes and destroys.  This weekend's White Lives Matter rallies have been using fear as the cornerstone for their speeches. Those who have rallied are confronted with their very real fears. They fear loss of jobs, money, influence; they fear 'replacement'. How do we advocate for human rights and unity in the face of all consuming fear? How do we bring arguments of logic and facts when fear, fight and flight put up every defence?  How do you put out a toxic chemical fire? That's what I am trying to find out. Because I know if we cannot overcome fear with hope, we, as a country, are in trouble.  Hope may not be as big as fear, it's value sized. But hope is and always will be the real game changer.  Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies.
April 12, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Talking to Students about the Derek Chauvin Trial
I am Black. I am a Black woman. I am a Black mother. I am a Black mother of a 17 year old. I am a Black mother of a Black man just shy of manhood. This. Trial. Is. Exhausting.  If you teach Black students or work with Black coworkers, realize, it's traumatizing for many of us, watching this latest in a long string of deaths that happen too quickly and often go unpunished. The sons and daughters of the Black community seem to always live closer to death at the hands of authorities called to serve and protect. This leaves me sad, angry and afraid for people I love.  However, when I stand in my classroom, those are MY feelings. I will check my tears and turmoil at the schoolhouse door. What we know is:  Derek Chauvin, then a police officer, had his knee on George Floyd's neck for over 9 minutes. The county coroner ruled his death a homicide, specifically, “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression...”. Chauvin is facing three charges: second degree unintentional felony murder, third degree “depraved mind” murder, and second degree manslaughter If students ask what happened, those are the facts. If they ask why it happened or how that could happen? Let them know that's what the trial is for. Beyond that ask them what they know. Ask students what they heard. Ask students how they feel. Let students guide the conversation and share their thoughts.  And if they ask how you feel, hopefully, you can say with sincerity that you are sad, like I am. Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies.
April 06, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: One Question with Charles Williams
How are Black Educators accepted? Are they accepted because they are assimilated, a kind of 'Black lite'? Are they given privilege and access when their speech mimics the comforting tone of a midwestern newscaster; or judged when their voices carry a 'southern twang' or an 'urban lilt'--whatever that is? Is it different when there is a John or Anna in the space than it is when there is a Daquan or Nylah? In the back of your mind, do you question the quality of a degree earned at an HBCU? Do you feel most comfortable when Black educators--or any educator from a culture other than your own--is not too unlike you? People from the non-dominant culture who are viewed as 'assimilated' often face less bias and have more access and privilege. But at what cost? This candid talk with Charles WIlliams from The Counter Narrative Podcast provides insight into the darker side of 'assimilation' and acceptance. Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies. About the guest: Charles Williams has been an educator for 15 years serving as a teacher, a mentor/lead teacher, an assistant principal, and a principal for urban students in grades K-12.  He also serves as an equity advocate through his work with Great Expectations Mentoring, Chicago Public School's Office of Equity, and The City of Chicago's Equity Office.   Charles is the host of The Counter Narrative Podcast, a show designed to challenge the dominant narrative that often negatively portrays our disenfranchised populations. He is also the co-host of Inside the Principal's Office, a bi-monthly show featuring educational leaders from around the world.  After presenting at numerous events including nationwide conferences, educational workshops, and fundraising events, Charles decided to launch CW Consulting - an organization committed to delivering personalized keynotes, workshops, and consulting services focused on helping institutions to unlock their potential and delivering results. 
April 02, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Lead With Love
If the religion and the whole Christian thing ain't yours, feel free to skip this episode, cause I'm 'bout to talk about Easter and the resurrection. If, however, you trust my voice, whether you espouse the Judeo-Christian traditions or not, there are nuggets of wisdom for all. Two things: "Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for a friend" and "Be a doer of the law and not a judge."  Pulled from the Bible, these two verses should guide our teaching. Our interactions. Our lives. If you can look forward to celebrating the resurrection Sunday but spend Saturday writing disparaging remarks on Facebook, are you really embodying the spirit of the resurrection? Is the old famous WWJD, now of meme fame, reflected in who you are at work? Or would students, faculty and staff call you the example of why they DON'T want to be a Christian? REsurrection=REset. If you've made some choices that you are not proud of, this is a great opportunity to do better, to BE better. This is your chance to reshape your interpersonal interactions and lead with love.  Here's to a new start. Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies.
March 31, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Woke Shaming-Let's Just Not
 How many roads must a man walk down...ok, those are Dylan's words, but let me borrow them and give an answer: as many as he needs to.  Sometimes our journeys go straight from A to B in a timely, orderly fashion; sometimes we don't even know there is a road and; well, sometimes we traverse in every imaginable way between. The fact is that learning about implicit bias, working on your own perspective, accepting some ugly truths about life experienced through the lens of others and translating that knowledge into educational practices that impact students is a lot. It's a long sentence and even a longer journey--a path that is as unique as each of us. Just because a plate of knowledge has been set out in the kitchen doesn't mean that everyone knows it's there.  There could be walls, closed doors, distractions and any number of reasons why people don't go after the knowledge. There really are learning gaps, but shaming does not open kitchen doors or minds. Shaming people for what they don't know is counter productive. If people don't have a safe space to learn and fail forward, how will they access and utilize the knowledge they need to become better practitioners?  If you really want better for your students, if you really want your own being "woke" to impact student achievement, don't woke shame their teachers. Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies.
March 25, 2021
BIPOC--Monolith Or Unifier?
Often diverse people of color feel like our identities are being smushed into one big vat of BIPOC, or 'Blacks and Browns'. Sometimes, it's important to refer to us in as much specificity as possible. Sometimes, however, like when we are dealing with a system of racism that can affect us all, the terms help us to unite in solidarity. We experience the hyphen American syndrome, the ___American, the person with a color or cultural descriptor forever before our names. It's good to know that we can support each other, and I hope we can remember that we are better together. Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies.
March 22, 2021
Stop Asian Hate
I wonder if we weren't reading "massage parlors" would the outcry be bigger? I wonder if 8 girls from Harvard had been gunned down, if the headlines would evoke more empathy? I wonder, if it was 8 senators, if the flags would be lowered? Since when do we rate the value of lives lost? Since forever, and that's the problem. Middle passage? Not worthy of remembering. Trail of tears? What's that? Half a million lives lost in a pandemic? Not gonna lower a flag for that. Young women shot? Let's blame them for working in a massage parlor. Think it's not happening? Go back and read the news reports. They have names and families. But what do we read first? "Massage parlor shootings". Violence against women. Violence against Asians. The same systems that did not protect them are the same systems that make Black mommas like me fear for their sons' lives. They are the same systems that cause learning gaps. They are the same systems that allow countless BIPOC women to go missing, ending up in the unsolved cases files of our justice system. While I see my Black American, Kenyan, Vietnamese, Mexican, Guatemalan, El Salvadoran, Haitian, Chinese, Ghanan, students as more than BIPOC students, we all share the same fight. The same systems that started out disenfranchising non-males and non-whites at the founding of this country are the same systems that create inequities in our country today. Black, Indigenous, People of Color are diverse cultures and individuals who should be recognized and celebrated as such. However, we stand in solidarity against hate and against the systems that consistently do not value us. Because as Fannie Lou Hamer says, until everybody's free, nobody's free. #StopAsianHate Visit for resources and more vignettes and educational strategies.
March 17, 2021
SmallBites E39: A Bunch of Blondes and a Black Chick--Celebrating Women
Boy, what a title, eh? What could "bunch of blondes" and "Black chick" have to do with education? Well, I bet if you look at your class or campus full of students, you see people who remind you of yourself--the parts you like, yourself--the parts you don't like, or people you either have an affinity for or dislike of. Some educators may not make the connections to how they feel, they may stuff their preferences down, or at least they may think they do. It's a bad plan. Students know. And truth will out. So listen to my own reckoning and do some of your own. Find some connection and see how you can adjust for that experience to make doubly sure that no connection to a past experience is keeping you from being the most welcoming teacher that you can be. You'll be better for it and so will your students.  Visit for resources mentioned in the podcast and more vignettes and educational strategies.
March 15, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe/Spring Break PSA: Find Your Off Button
No, I do not have a litany of cool resources you need to check out. No, I am not presenting some revelation that will allow you to up your CRT game. Well, maybe I am: Chill. Lock your school computer away and take some needed time off. If you think you can use Spring Break to catch up on school tasks and household tasks and personal project chores AND be rejuvenated for the last 3 months or so of school you are mistaken. And if you think that what you do to and for yourself does not directly impact what you are able to do in classrooms and on campuses, you are going to soon find yourself spinning your wheels. If, however, your students and staff are important to you, take a step back; not to reevaluate, contemplate, reflect or do any deep soul searching, just to be. Do what feeds your soul outside of who you are as an educator.  The best way to power up right now is to power down. Happy Spring Break! Visit for more vignettes and educational strategies (just not today=D).
March 14, 2021
SmallBites E38: Rubrics, Randomizers and Tricks of the Trade.
Almost half of the educators I polled on Twitter this weekend said they don't use randomizers. A randomizer is a name picker. Teachers use it to call on students, randomly put together project and discussion groups or even to assign class jobs. What about rubrics? How consistent are you in using a written rubric All. The. Time? Chances are, if these two practices are not your norms, your favoritism is adversely affecting your students. We all play favorites: There is that one student you send on errands because you know she can get the job done. There is the student who gets a little extra love when you grade because he's having a hard time with his parent's divorce. There is also the student who is likely to walk the circle during recess more often than any other student because once she's on your radar, she's locked in. Randomizers and rubrics do not solve for x=favoritism every time. But chances are, if you know it is your tendency to call on the kid who will know the answer so you can move your lesson along, using those kinds of tools means you are aware of the effects of playing favorites and actively working against doing it in your classroom. Listen to episode 38 for more strategies you can implement TODAY. Visit for resources mentioned in the podcast and more vignettes and educational strategies.
March 08, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Back to Basics: Media Literacy
As an edtech/design teacher in an IB MYP setting, I anchor my year with strong digital citizen and media literacy lessons. Those are my gifts to the world. When students know how to be good citizens online, when they understand that it's necessary to use critical thinking to sort through the various sources of information and not just 'eat whatever is served', they become better citizens. This year, there's COVID, trauma, shortened instructional time, needed intervention, blah blah blah. "What had happened was..." right? Yes, there are many, many things happening that have influenced this unprecedented year. None of them minimize the need for people to learn to be informed media consumers. That goes for our students and us as well. Make sure you are using non-partisan resources like AllSidesMedia or the Annenberg Public Policy Center's, to check what you read and hear for validity and source reliability. Visit for resources mentioned in the podcast and more vignettes and educational strategies.
March 08, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: You Don't Have to Let it Go
With all the talk of Dr. Seuss and cancel culture, we are in a quandary about what we book under tradition and what is too inappropriate to keep. Who decides? Based on what criteria? How to we decide? And how do we make the hard decisions when our precious memories all seem to be tainted with some kind of -ism or offense to someone? Those very personal decisions should tie you to your humanity and the humanity of those you teach, interact with, even those you love. It is not easy, but it is a journey we all have to take. Since, as we learned last episode, no one is all good, no one is all bad, let's refrain from throwing everything out. Instead, let's critically examine things and carefully consider how we can use them as examples and non-examples. Maybe instead of throwing everything out, we use them as important tools of growth, adapting the narrative around them to better represent who we are as a community. Listen, reflect.  Visit for resources mentioned in the podcast and more vignettes and educational strategies.
March 03, 2021
SmallBites E37: I Like You So I Believe in You
#SmallBites episode 37 explains the pitfalls of the halo effect. If you've ever been guilty of pretty prejudice or giving the student you like a slight edge, you've experienced the halo effect. If you thought Obama could do no wrong and Trump could do no right, or vice versa, that's the halo effect. So how do you get around it? How do you teach your students and even personal kids to circumvent it to become more just and fair humans? Listen and find out. Visit for resources mentioned in the podcast and more vignettes and educational strategies.
February 22, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Humanity
This episode is a reminder that all the isms, phobes and phobia accusations cannot win over supporters. If you want to do the best for your campus, classroom and community, remember the one thing that connects us all, humanity. As we do our best for our students, our own families and the communities around us, we need to reduce all of the concepts to one no one can disagree with--humanity. Teach citizenship, teach respect, teach empathy, model humanity. Visit for resources mentioned in the podcast and more vignettes and educational strategies.
February 17, 2021
SmallBites E35: Civil Disagreement in the Classroom Pt. 2
This episode dives into the connection of communication and civics standards to every K-12 grade level and content area. We can't be afraid to teach respect, empathy and citizenship because we might get push back. Good citizenship is based on humanity and respect. Behaviors that do not exemplify those tenets can be discussed so that our students can be better. We cannot teach our students that bad behavior is ok if it comes from someone we like. We can't villainize those we don't like. Teach citizenship, teach respect, teach empathy, model humanity. From Part 1: As educators, teaching the next generation of citizens is a big part of what we do. We give students mottos and mission statement like be ready, responsible and respectful. We give schools mottos like Pro Scientia Atque Sapientia (for knowledge and wisdom) and Empowering all Students, Celebrating our Community, Inspiring Lifelong Growth and yet, when it's time to teach civic responsibility, we allow ourselves to be bullied into not teaching our students the art of civil disagreement. If you want a better world, be the change and help your students to do the same. This episode provides scaffolded resources for helping classes to actively listen and respect differences. Visit for the links mentioned in the podcast, as well as more vignettes and educational strategies. 
February 16, 2021
SmallBites E34: Civil Disagreement in the Classroom
As educators, teaching the next generation of citizens is a big part of what we do. We give students mottos and mission statement like be ready, responsible and respectful. We give schools mottos like Pro Scientia Atque Sapientia (for knowledge and wisdom) and Empowering all Students, Celebrating our Community, Inspiring Lifelong Growth and yet, when it's time to teach civic responsibility, we allow ourselves to be bullied into not teaching our students the art of civil disagreement. If you want a better world, be the change and help your students to do the same. This episode provides scaffolded resources for helping classes to actively listen and respect differences. Visit for more vignettes and educational strategies.
February 08, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: White People Shoes
They say you cannot judge a man unless you've walked a mile in his shoes. Well, I would like to know what it's like to send my son out without having him come home and say he was followed around the store. I would like to drive to Arkansas and not have to explain to my child why there is a cross burning on the land next to the highway. I would like to not have to pretend that I am fine while I choke down the terror; I haven't driven that stretch since. While I would not like to trade who I am and my Black Joy for the absence of the Melanin Burden, I would like to walk even a half mile in those White people shoes. A vignette on hair, Mexico and the justice system. Visit for more vignettes and educational strategies.
February 07, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: The Impeachment Trial Is Coming!
How will you keep your ideologically mixed classes from emotional arguments grounded in hearsay and conjecture? This prequel to Friday's episode will give you an overview. Visit for resources.  Proud member of the Teach Better Podcast Network.
February 05, 2021
Bias and Buzzwords
Is Bias a real thing or do people just like to throw around terms like White fragility and racist? Does offense at one negate the other? Listen, learn and share. Visit for more vignettes and educational strategies.
February 01, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: An Open Appeal to Campus and District Leaders
This year is exceptionally hard on us all and Administrators, I would not want to be in your spot. I understand that often you find yourself between a proverbial state or district level rock and teaching staff hard place. So it is not without much gratitude and appreciation that I make this appeal. One teacher I know suffered 4 losses in one week, while she herself, a teacher with underlying health issues, was waiting on test results. Another lost her mother while teaching. She came to school the next day. And the next. One teacher, 35 weeks pregnant mother of a 5 year old, was encouraged to return to school before her family's test results came in. I know many other similar stories, not to mention the 500+ AFT teachers known to have died from COVID while teaching. The self-care PDs and warm check-ins are not enough. We need time to recover from our own traumas, time to gather strength, time to be healthy enough to care for our students and for ourselves.  My ask is this: please, reduce the number of 'must haves'; streamline systems; minimize clicking around with the use of hyperdocs; and please, stop making us come to PDs on teacher wellness. The best wellness is time. Listen for other helpful tips and check out this tweet for others. Visit for more vignettes and educational strategies. 
January 31, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Why Last Week Mattered (Hint, It's Not the Inauguration)
Two little Black girls grew up in the 70s, a time when the Jim Crow south still cast a shadow over more of the country than we'd like to believe. Those two girls went on to stand on an international stage and I, another little 70's Black girl watched in awe, knowing. The fact that there were THREE (!) Black women on the stage; Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama and Amanda Gorman, was a Big Thing for little girls who look like me, for girls everywhere, and for everyone who loves girls anywhere. That feat combined with the APA's apology to the BIPOC community, with its historical addendum, made last week a Really Good Week for our country. Visit for more vignettes and educational strategies.
January 26, 2021
Belonging, Beliefs and Belittling (The Post Inaugural Edition)
In this episode, #SmallBites reminds educators that students cannot get the sense of belonging they need to be successful if we belittle them for their beliefs. Our feelings are not more important than their success.  Links to this week's strategies at, Easier Said Than Done.
January 25, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: To Administrators and District Leaders on the Eve of the Inauguration
Many educators as well as campus leaders are fearful about discussions going off the rails or parental backlash if they watch tomorrow's inauguration. There is no need for either. If we say the pledge in our buildings, "One Nation, under God Indivisible...", then we can find a way to watch history in unity. Listen to the end for a simple strategy that will support your campus in "forging our common destiny" (President Donald J. Trump). Visit for more educational strategies.
January 20, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: Ode to Martin
Integrating quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King in celebration of his birthday, this SmallBites is a spoken word tribute to Dr. King  applying his quotes to our time, particularly to this week's transition of power.  Consider visiting The King Center and/or reading Dr. King's works in their entirety.
January 18, 2021
SmallBites E31
I wanted to be able to tell my kids that they are safe, that what happened on Capitol Hill did not happen in their homes or neighborhoods. But then that same ugliness invaded my neighborhood and ruined what should have been a peaceful morning run for my son. All the kids are not OK.
January 18, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: In Good and Bad Times, We Rise
Not sure what to tell the students? Play them "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman: I am not a stranger to the dark Hide away, they say 'Cause we don't want your broken parts I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars Run away, they say No one'll love you as you are If America were to sing that, we'd tell he we love her, even when she does not live up to our ideals. That's what patriotism is. Then tell them...well, listen to find out.
January 17, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: #StopTheSteal
#StopTheSteal opens with a personal story about my relationship to the Confederate flag as a Texas born and bred Black kid. It goes from there to explore the words "stop the steal" from the perspective of those who've experienced gaslighting in classrooms throughout our nation's history (spoiler alert, that's all of us). Want to create more equitable and inclusive classrooms, campuses and communities, but not sure how? Join me as we explore 5 strategies each week to provide you with a "start here" game plan to help you build better relationships with each of your students, especially the ones who may look, think or opine differently than you do. BEGINNING JANUARY 18TH. Get the links to the strategies at and join me on YouTube Friday nights at 7 central to get a jump on Monday's content. Also, connect with me throughout the week on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Facebook.
January 10, 2021
SmallBites Lagniappe: What's in a Name (E27)
What's in a Name discusses the importance and historical context of just getting your students' names right. "A rose by any other name" may be just as sweet, but roll over and call your partner any other name in bed. Let me know how it works out for ya. Want to create more equitable and inclusive classrooms, campuses and communities, but not sure how? Join me as we explore 5 strategies each week to provide you with a "start here" game plan to help you build better relationships with each of your students, especially the ones who may look, think or opine differently than you do. BEGINNING JANUARY 18TH. Get the links to the strategies at and join me on YouTube Friday nights at 7 central to get a jump on Monday's content. Also, connect with me throughout the week on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Facebook.
January 03, 2021
Small Bites: COMING SOON!
Want to create more equitable and inclusive classrooms, campuses and communities, but not sure how? Join me as we explore 5 strategies each week to provide you with a "start here" game plan to help you build better relationships with each of your students, especially the ones who may look, think or opine differently than you do. BEGINNING JANUARY 18TH. Get the links to the strategies at and join me on YouTube Friday nights at 7 central to get a jump on Monday's content. Also, connect with me throughout the week on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Facebook.
January 03, 2021