Like all social media networks, Twitter can be a valuable tool for educators. It can help us learn from each other and connect us with people from different backgrounds and perspectives. Over the past few months, Twitter and social media more generally has inspired me to learn, re-educate myself, and grow as a white educator. I’m sharing my journey in the hopes it will inspire you to do the same.
As a white educator committed to lifelong learning, it’s imperative that I find better ways to be an ally and advocate. And although race can be an uncomfortable topic, this discomfort serves an important purpose. The shame we feel from our wrongdoings (however unintentional) allows us to grow and become better, more inclusive educators for all of our students. This shame allows us to recognize how to serve our students better—many of whom must constantly think about their positionality in the world. While I’ll never experience what it’s like to be Black in America, I’ve learned that there are things I can do to be a better ally.
It’s Not on Black Educators to Educate White Educators
As the national protests against racism began, my first instinct was to reach out to the Black educators I follow on social media and ask how I could be a better educator. But then, I noticed a common theme—white educators were bombarding Black educators with questions about structural racism.
While it is great that so many white educators want to learn more about what they can do to help, we need to realize that it is not the job of their Black friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to educate them.
It’s no wonder nearly every single anti-racist resource empowers people to educate themselves. It is the responsibility of white people and non-Black people of color to re-educate themselves. That responsibility is too often left to Black communities.
My work—all our work—to become anti-racist is ongoing. It’s on each of us to take up and stay committed to the work. We must commit to improving ourselves and to amplifying the voices of Black educators. Here’s a list of Black Educators I am constantly learning from on social media and I encourage you to do so as well. And, while we know we didn’t highlight every Black educator working to build a more equitable education system, we’ve created an ongoing list on twitter to commit ourselves to uplifting voices of BIPOC educators continuously.
Must-Follow Black Educators on Twitter
Principal Kafele (@PrincipalKafele)
One of the most sought-after school leadership experts in America, Principal Kafele impacts America’s schools. He has delivered over two thousand conference and program keynotes, professional development workshops, parenting seminars, and student assemblies over his 34 years of public speaking. He is the author of the new book The Assistant Principal 50. Follow Principal Kafele for his great insights into leadership and his powerful personal stories.
Dr. Sheldon Eakins (@sheldoneakins)
Sheldon L. Eakins, Ph.D. is an accomplished K-12 educator and administrator. He has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels during his career and in Florida, Louisiana, and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Dr. Eakins also served as a school principal in Louisiana and Oregon. Currently, Dr. Eakins serves as the Director of Special Education at the Shoshone-Bannock School District in Fort Hall, ID. He is the founder of the Leading Equity Center. Follow Dr. Eakins for great insights into equity and be sure to take a listen to his Leading Equity Podcast.
Dr. Bettina L. Love (@BLoveSoulPower)
Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. She is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers. Her writing, research, teaching, and activism meet at the intersection of race, education, abolition, and Black joy. She is the author of the book We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. Follow Dr. Love for great tweets about abolition, anti-racism, and more. Also, be sure to check out her work as a board member of the Abolitionist Teaching Network.
Dwayne Reed (@TeachMrReed)
Dwayne Reed is an educator, speaker, author, and rapper based in Chicago, Illinois. Reed is on a mission to convince the world that relationships mean everything in education and that every child, no matter their race or social status, deserves a quality education. Follow Mr. Reed to learn about social and emotional learning, teaching, and reaching all students.
Joe Truss (@trussleadership)
Joe Truss is a middle school principal in San Francisco, California. He has fifteen years of experience working with public K-12 students—combining teaching, coaching, counseling, curriculum development, and school administration. Mr. Truss has extensive experience working in Title 1 schools serving low-income, immigrant, and students of color. He is the founder of Culturally Responsive Leadership and does workshops and professional development around dismantling white supremacy. Follow Mr. Truss to learn about anti-racism, equity, and social justice.
Nikki Wallace (@nwallacecxh)
Nikki Wallace is a researcher, speaker, science lover, and biology teacher at Crosstown High School in Memphis, Tennessee. She loves innovating and solving local problems in her biology classroom. Follow Ms. Wallace to learn about equity in schools, project-based learning, and science inside and outside of the classroom.
Andrew Brennen (@aebrennen)
Andrew Brennen is a National Geographic Explorer and Fellow in Lexington, Kentucky. He supports youth-led movements across the world. Mr. Brennen is the co-founder of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team that consists of approximately 100 self-selected students, elementary school through college-age, who work to integrate students as partners to improve Kentucky schools. Follow Mr. Brennen to learn more about youth advocacy and how to amplify student voices in real-world issues.
Zaretta Hammond (@Ready4rigor)
Zaretta Hammond run is a former educator that now runs a consulting practice from which she does research and writing as well as supports schools doing deep instructional-focused equity work. She is the author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, which is required reading in many education programs. Follow Ms. Hammond to learn the knowledge and tools to be culturally responsive.
Val Brown (@ValeriaBrownEdu)
Val Brown is a professional development facilitator. Her role includes designing, facilitating, and evaluating anti-bias professional development for educators across the country. She founded #ClearTheAir—a body of educators who believe that community, learning, and dialogue are essential to personal and professional growth. Follow Ms. Brown to learn more about instructional coaching, teacher leadership, and educator pathways.
Moving Beyond Following Black Educators on Twitter
We cannot simply educate ourselves and be done—we must also take action. This means listening to and learning from people who have different life experiences and perspectives than we do. It means going beyond empathy and actually challenging racist policies, procedures, and people. It means reexamining our hiring practices, understanding our own biases, rewriting our curriculum, and so much more. Black educators matter and it is important that we not only include their voices but that we amplify them in the fight for equity. Join us at the Rethink Together Forum to add your recommendations and continue the conversation.
Do you have an education leader, scholar, or activist who you go to for good insights on the education system? Please share your insights with us on the Rethink Together Forum and check out more posts on equity in education.
More Resources on the Forum: