Just Conversations
Real talk about race, equity and social justice in the secondary school classroom
Two white high school English teachers meet to reflect on their journey to be antiracist educators. Melanie White and Amanda Potts talk about the decisions they make in the classroom and critically evaluate their teaching. These powerful conversations include book choices, canon, systemic racism, prejudice, poverty, social class, teacher efficacy, and more. In their pursuit of equity in the classroom, Melanie and Amanda open themselves to one another, and to you, the listener, since teaching is a shared experience.
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Sabrina Kayed, a new teacher in the OCDSB, shares the ways that she incorporates her identities, interdisciplinary studies, and social justice into her high school science teaching. She candidly discusses her activism, the pressures she faces as a new…

Amanda noticed a threaded discussion on Twitter after Melanie posted some student work. There were challenging comments which raised important emotions. Here they acknowledge and try to work through their responses in this short but intimate episode. 

The overlapping disruption of the pandemic, being called out publicly, and converting to a quadmester and hybrid model has Melanie and Amanda struggling with massive social change. They consider creating community with students, granting more grace to…

Melanie and Amanda invite Tobi Hunt-McCoy into a discussion about summer webinars, what they’ve learned, and what they want to bring into the classroom this year. They share some of their actions and the planning required to restructure the content of…

Amanda took a walk and encountered an activist in her neighbourhood. While listening to a podcast with Austin Channing Brown, she had an epiphany about antiracist teaching and learning. Melanie shares some of her observations about the institutional…

Melanie and Amanda explain their long silence, the trouble with speaking out, and their learning journey as they work within and without in pursuit of equity. They discuss some of the systemic inequities and question their roles as educators while…

Seeking to further understand how students of colour experience school, Amanda and Melanie interview a Black student who attends the predominantly White school where Melanie teaches. Dina Efrem, a Canadian student with family roots in Eritrea, was in…

Melanie and Amanda have a phone conversation with Adrienne Coddett, a high school teacher and respected local leader. She is also well known in Ottawa as co-host of Black on Black, a public affairs radio show which broadcasts every Saturday morning on…

Dealing with silence, exhaustion, tears, and trust – Amanda shares her experience of gender bias in an online course and she draws parallels with the students in our classes who experience racism. Melanie shares how struggles, vulnerability, and a…

Taking the Racial Literacy Self Assessment – Melanie and Amanda take a self assessment posted on Twitter and struggle with their response and understanding of racial literacy.

In today’s episode Amanda and Melanie ask the question: How do we handle challenging conversations with students who come from a position of privilege? We talk about a classroom lesson on cultural appropriation and Halloween costumes; some of the…