Category: The Pod

Listen to Episodes from Seasons Past and Present!

86. Resist. Heal. Create. Ki Gross of Woke Kindergarten!

Ki Gross is clear on many things. They are here to serve Black and Brown children, their families, and communities. They center healing and radical love of Black and Brown babies. They create spaces for all manner of Black, Brown, and LGBTQIA+ folx. We’ve been excited about Ki’s work since we first heard of Woke Kindergarten on the Abolitionist Teaching Network’s podcast hosted by Dr. Bettina L. Love, and are deeply honored and humbled to conversate on the show with them.

We were not prepared for the deeply spiritual and healing conversation that ensued. They started by asking us not how we were doing, but “How are you nurturing your spirit today?” And that set the tone. Ki pushes us with passion and love to develop deep learning of the spaces we occupy. Before teachers put a curriculum in place, we must form relationships with our students, their families, and communities. We engage in the practice of education as a community, setting priorities as a collective.

Among the most powerful statements Ki makes to students that “you exist in the future” and that Black and Brown lives are precious. Yes, there are resources shared here, like the Tenets of Woke Kindergarten, the Nap Ministry, 60 second stories, Little Revolutionary, and Black Children Play. But really the power of their ideas is in causing us to reconsider ways in which we may center healing in our work. This conversation was mind-altering, and we hope it gives you the chills of possibility as it did for us.

Please consider attending the Bank Street Early Childhood Symposium TODAY, February 4, 2021!

85. 2021 Texas Teacher of the Year Eric Hale!

This one is a history-making episode, y’all, and instant classic. We go for an energetic and inspirational ride with Eric Hale, the 2021 Texas Teacher of the Year. The first Black man to earn this award in the history of Texas. We cover a wide range of topics, from serving your community and meeting its needs to raising the achievement of his students who come from historically marginalized communities, to raising money in the wake of a tornado that devastated his community. Also, we discuss his critical perspective on the TooDope Top Five MCs .He has appeared on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, as well as the Kelly Clarkson show, and now he is with us!

Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy this conversation! It left us ready to run through a wall, honestly.

84. “I Didn’t Have Teachers Like Me” LGBTQ Educators of Color

This week we have a fun, insightful, and heartfelt conversation with Julio and Daniell, two queer educators of color in our city. In this honest and direct conversation, they explain the spaces they inhabit, their process of accepting and celebrating themselves, and the daily identity negotiation that comes with working closely with students and their families. 

Our podcast has not done nearly enough to bring stories of LGBTQ educators of color to light, and we are grateful that these two brilliant and energetic educators shared their stories with us. The discuss their childhood, the impact of adults, the influence of educators and mentors, and their hope that they can be role models for LGBTQIA students, students of color, and students who live in those intersections. Plus top five rappers.

You will not want to miss this episode.

Bonus Episode! Natalie Vardabasso of #educrush

In this bonus episode, Gerardo sits down with Natalie Vardabasso, host of the #Educrush podcast. In this conversation, we discuss the ways in which antiracist and culturally responsive practice must merge with principles of feedback and student growth. Natalie shares her insights on feedback, grading, and growth rooted in relationships.

This episode is a crucial listen if you are a teacher who is weary of the grading rat-race. Enjoy!

80. 2021 Premiere: Cornelius Minor!

What better way to kick off the most uncertain semester in the history of public education than with educator, author, revolutionary, superhero and trickster Cornelius Minor? He sits with us for a fun, energetic, optimistic and wide-spanning conversation that covers such eclectic topics as race in education, a pedagogy centered in Black and African spirituality, community and intellectualism, basketball, comic books, movies, and the Dr. Xavier of BIPOC educator-superhero-tricksters. We laugh, we become serious, and he has a special offer for the first 5 TooDope Patrons to join us this month!

Also, fun fact: this is our 80th regular episode but our 100th overall episode (including mixtapes and emergency episodes)! Thank you for helping make this possible!

Bonus Episode! Lauren Piraro of Teach to Blossom

We’ve really tried to avoid thinking about work these last couple of weeks. However, we agree that in these few days before we see students, some planning is in order.

Lauren Piraro is a brilliant early-service teacher in the Bay Area. She teaches high school history, and like so many of us, is dedicated to doing the best she can for ALL students, especially her students from communities of color and LGBTQ communities.

We found her on instagram under the handle @TeachtoBlossom, where she shares a wide range of professional experiences. From her exemplary planning and leveraging of digital platforms to her own work as a graduate student in History, her field of passion, Lauren works hard to connect to others and build community.

Planning is at the center of equitable praxis. The more energy we dedicate to planning and responsiveness, the more we reach all students, especially students from traditionally oppressed and marginalized communities. Her Instagram account reflects these realities in a powerful way.

In addition to, and more importantly, Lauren makes her content relevant and accessible to students. Her students complete a local history project, even in her Advanced Placement History class. We mention the AP class because she has taught us and so many others that there is ALWAYS a call to make content and skills applicable to students’ lived experiences, and curricular demands, especially high-stakes assessments must NEVER throw us off that focus.

Gerardo has a fun conversation with Lauren. Follow her at @TeachtoBlossom on Instagram where, in the interest of community and collective learning, she unselfishly shares her wisdom and resources.

Encore! Dr. Bettina L. Love at NEA #EdJustice 2020

This past summer, Kevin and I had the privilege, the blessing, the amazing opportunity to be a part of the National Education Association’s Justice Summer Camp. Our partnership with NEA on the issue of educational justice has been a thrilling two-year experience, and we must thank the amazing Shilpa and Stephanie for coordinating for us and connecting us to dope educators, thinkers, and artists who are out here doing this work.

When we learned that we had been selected to interview Dr. Bettina Love, author of We Want to do More than Just Survive and Hip Hop’s Lil Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities, we about lost our minds. Her revolutionary work around Abolitionist Pedagogy has represented a tipping point for us in the last year, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and her work has guided us in this turbulent school year.

When Dr. Love addressed the topic of schools’ role in the spirit murder of Black children, Kevin responded with a call for us as teachers to be spirit HEALERS, eliciting a cheer from Dr. Love. That has remained our call as we have navigated this year, and we are so grateful to Dr. Love for her work and spiritual guidance. ALSO we are so grateful for her top five!

79. Semester Finale! Mama, We Made It!

We have arrived at the most anticipated winter break in the history of public education! We have a lot on our minds, and a lot to decompress; thankfully, we have our nation of toodope therapists to listen and not judge us! In this episode, the final episode of 2020, we discuss lessons we have learned, both school-related and otherwise, during this year, we discuss the importance of healing, and make some resolutions for the new school year. In fact, this year has taken such a toll that Kevin even tries to convince Gerardo to freestyle and, well, you’re just gonna have to listen to the show to hear what happened.

We love you all, and are so appreciative of your support this year. We have made major strides in this of all years because of you!

78. Trauma-Informed and Anti-Racist with Emily Santiago of the Center for Cognitive Diversity

Gerardo flies solo this week, as Kevin attends to family business, as Emily Santiago of the Center for Cognitive Diversity breaks down the urgency of trauma informed practice and antiracism in schools. After beginning her career as a Montessori teacher, Emily discovered that providing true social/emotional support was her true calling. As the executive director of the Center, she and her team have provided important programming for whole school communities, including adult staff, who also deserve the lens of trauma informed praxis. This episode is a must-listen in these anxious and stress-inducing times.

77. They Don’t Know Who We Be: Evaluations and BIPOC Teachers

The DMX episode…

December is nearing the halfway point, and we get together to talk about our continuing (unending?) COVID-19 experience. Despite all that has changed in school and system accountability practice, teachers in many states will still be evaluated this semester, and this year.

Evaluations are a loaded and emotional experience for all teachers, but the biases and assumptions that BIPOC teachers, especially Black teachers, have even more dire consequences. We sit down and discuss a number of studies regarding the evaluations and teachers of color, and call upon administrators, coaches, and other teacher evaluators to recognize the fraught situation that is the yearly appraisal.

It comes down to the lyrics of DMX’s “Who We Be,” because for many teachers of color, their leaders don’t know…who we be. Take heed: this disruptive episode will ask you to re-think how you coach your teachers in general, but especially your teachers of color.

A special thank you to our Hella Dope Patrons, Jackie Parkins, Bram Hubbell, Ryan Sullivan, Matt Busch, Asia Lyons, Natalie Shaffer, and Jill Boyd Meyers, as well as Kelsey Gray, whose donations alone make each episode possible. Thank you.