In the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, record numbers of white people heeded the national call to step out of the shadows. White educators were no different. We heard countless stories of racism shared by BIPOC students—both online and within our independent school communities. For white educators, that summer was particularly personal and for a moment, the path for us seemed clear. We attended white affinity spaces committed to fighting racism, sought out opportunities to better understand our own racial identities, and led challenging classroom discussions as well. As white educators, we needed to come together and address the toxic impacts of white supremacy in our schools. We were ready to have the conversations about whiteness we’d put off for too long. Yet, three years later, many white educators seem to have gone back to sleep. The aftermath of the pandemic and the daily grind of school life have muted many conversations that had only just begun. And unsurprisingly to many BIPOC educators, the momentum has been lost yet again.
Even so, there are white educators in schools everywhere that continue to push for conversations about whiteness and its impacts. This summer, please join us for a restorative, generative, and interconnected workshop about what it means to lead, support, and be a part of conversations among white educators here and now, at this moment. Together, we’ll reconnect to our own journeys as white educators and learn and practice approaches, practices, and habits that encourage the transformative conversations we need to be having as white educators in our schools. We’ll share stories about our own challenges as educators and facilitators and build a network of support in each other. The work of white educators addressing white supremacy culture and racism in schools can be daunting, discouraging, and humbling. However, when we tackle the challenges together, we feel more connected, whole, and committed to our journey. We hope you can join us!
Liza Gleason has been an educator in the Bay Area for more than 25 years. She recently completed her Educational Doctorate at Mills College, where her research focused on white women teachers. Liza has taught in both public and independent schools at the elementary and middle school levels. She is passionate about the intersection of building inclusive schools and white educator identity development. Liza uses vulnerability, care, and emergent thinking to ground her work with educators. She currently coaches individual teachers and teaching teams on curriculum and instruction and facilitates dialogue groups for white-identifying educators. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, teenage son, and two rescue dogs, Sammy and Cali.
Rob Wasielewski is an educator at Live Oak School in San Francisco and seeks to advance equity and justice through his work with students. As a middle school humanities teacher, Rob is passionate about creating antiracist curriculum and building strong, trusting classroom communities alongside his students. Alongside Liza Gleason, Rob co-facilitates AWARE (Aspiring White Anti-Racist Educators), a space for white faculty and staff at Live Oak to regularly meet, critically discuss whiteness, and advance antiracism practices. He lives in Oakland with his wife and their newly growing family.