The Bridgeport Studios were a little more crowded last night when we stepped in to record episode 6 of the pod. Cal and Andy gladly shared a mic as we welcomed our very first in studio guest: Aiyeshia Wong!
Aiyeshia teaches 9th grade reading at Foundations College Prep and serves as the school's Dean of Culture. Way more than teaching kids to make inferences or use context clues to understanding new vocabulary words, Aiyeshia centers her class on high-engagement, high-rigor texts that force kids to think about what's going on in the real world. Some might call the topics of these texts "controversial" but Aiyeshia sees them as reflecting the realities students face (or need to face) on a daily basis. Feminism, Black Lives Matter, police violence, voter suppression, sexuality - no topic is off limits in Wong's classroom because kids will encounter these topics elsewhere if not with her.
Wong helped us dissect teaching as activism and the role (and responsibility?) that teachers have to bring "controversial" topics into their classrooms. Is this approach at odds with test-driven, skills-based instruction? Is it crossing lines that shouldn't be crossed? Or is it necessary in a world where fake news is indistinguishable from facts and consumers of media blindly accept whatever is told to them?
Aiyeshia stuck around to help us answer a few calls/emails from our listeners. Our first caller has some...let's say "traditional"....colleagues in his building that he's struggling to work with when he wants to take more innovative approaches to his instruction. Our next caller is experiencing a clash with his new instructional coach who has a very different instructional philosophy than he does and may not have gotten as strong of results as he has in the past.
Finally, a caller revived the ol' school dance, field day, field trip debate. We gave Aiyeshia the final say because there is no way Cristin or Andy or Cal was going to cede any ground on the matter. Michelle Obama can be the final arbiter though...
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