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June 1, 2020

Teacher Resources: Supporting Students of Color and Battling Racism

Advancement Courses stands with persons of color and antiracist allies as they work to establish lasting and positive change.

We don’t want this sentiment to be just words.

Our team believes that teachers play an important role in the battle against systemic racism, inequity, and injustice. And we know how difficult it can be to navigate these crucial issues and talk about them with your students in the most impactful, sensitive way. For this reason, we are curating a list of classroom tools and teaching resources to assist you in this vital mission.

Jump to the teacher resource that suits your needs:

Essays, Guides, and Articles

Affirming Black Lives Without Inducing Trauma

Teachers face a unique challenge. It’s your responsibility to tell the truth, but you also need to be sensitive to the old wounds that still sting. Teaching Tolerance has put together a list of articles and resources that assist you in addressing these issues without damaging vulnerable students’ mental and emotional well-being.

Addressing Race and Trauma in the Classroom

This guide, complete with supplemental resources, helps teachers understand the intersection of race and trauma. From the National Child Stress Network, this resource covers historical trauma to how racism affects different age groups.

Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School

This resource ends the notion that teachers ought to be silent about the goings-on in our country. At the same time, change can be painful, especially when it comes to how schools traditionally handle the communication of current events. From Ed Justice, this resource draws a map to talking honestly about racial inequity in your school.

How Should I Talk About Race in My Mostly White Classroom?

Not all areas of the country are racially diverse. But that does not mean that students from predominately white communities ought to be left out of the conversation. This article helps you navigate how to have a candid conversation about racism and privilege with students who may not encounter racial issues in their daily lives.

Teaching Race: Pedagogy and Practice

From Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching, this paper outlines crucial pedagogy for teaching about race and racism. What happens when students resist learning about this crucial issue? Challenging long-held believes create a challenge, but this resource helps you overcome that issue.

It’s Not So Black and White: Discussing Race and Racism in the Classroom

From our partners at Scholastic, this article helps teachers who feel hesitant to tackle the issue of racism in America. While we can’t heal the pain of the past, we can help mold a softer world in the future. First, we have to be brave.


The What Matters Web Series

Created by artists and activists from the Black Lives Matter movement, this documentary series chronicles the latest developments in the struggle for equality. From a profile of Breonna Taylor’s murder to how the coronavirus disproportionately affects persons of color, these videos deliver the most pertinent information.

Let’s Talk! Discussing Race, Racism, and Other Difficult Topics with Students

This webinar sparks a necessary conversation that our society has been ignoring for far too long. This presentation gives you the tools you need to start tackling the racism issue with greater clarity the very next day.

How to Be Antiracist

This lecture gives brilliant historical insight that is still relevant today. Defining racism is important; and let’s face it, many people don’t know how to do it. This video lecture enables you to help your students identify racism and empowers them to fight against it.

Robin DiAngelo: White Fragility in the Classroom

The author of White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo, discusses her thoughts on teacher accountability with respect to teaching antiracism. Why is there reluctance and hostility when it comes to diversity training? How do you overcome it in the classroom?

Interactive Self-Evaluations

Anti-Racist Educator Questionnaire and Rubric

Change happens first from within. This living document turns the spotlight on ourselves. As educators, we need to become aware of our own biases, even if they’re well-intentioned. Complete this questionnaire to get insights into how dominant teaching methods and assessments may hold students back.

Harvard’s Implicit Bias Test

Biases are most often hidden. Not until we bring those thoughts and behaviors to the conscious realm can we make a positive change. This test will help you and your students understand that these biases exist, so that you can address them.

Lesson Plans

Talking About Race and Privilege: Lesson Plan for Middle and High School Students

Many people get caught up on the word privilege. The term makes people feel as if someone is negating the reality of their struggles in life. We need to overcome this rhetorical hurtle. This is why it’s partially up to teachers to educate students on what privilege is and how being aware of it can lead to social change.

Emmett Till: A Series of Four Lessons

Emmett Till died at age 14 after being lynched for the “crime” of offending a white person. The courts acquitted his killers. Drawing attention to the brutality of racism and shedding light on the lack of fairness in the justice system, this Facing History lesson plan reveals the true ramifications that befall the world if good people do nothing.

Ku Klux Klan: A History of Racism

Sometimes called the first terrorist group in the United States, the Ku Klux Klan operates under the guise of patriotism and religious conviction. In reality, the organization seeks to commit acts of bigotry and violence upon persons of color and non-Protestant religious groups. While this material might be tough for younger children, educators will be able to adapt this lesson plan from the Southern Poverty Law Center based on the grade they teach.

Teaching Holocaust and Human Behavior

From Facing History, this lesson plan helps you to be sensitive, yet truthful as you teach about the atrocities of the Holocaust. Tragedies like the Holocaust mark the apex of systemic racism and barbarism. It’s up to educators to help students understand what happened, how it happened, and how to stop it from happening again.

Teaching Diversity: A Place to Begin

We should not only understand and accept diversity, but also celebrate it. There’s no better place to cement these critically important values than in the classroom. But how do you begin? Scholastic has developed a lesson plan that you can use with a wide range of age groups. The pedagogy focuses on the best practices for teaching students how to appreciate and learn from the privilege of living in a multicultural, multiracial world.

A Contested History

Many of us have misconceptions about the Reconstruction era, most likely due to a number of fictional stories that give less-than-accurate details about the period. History has its roots in storytelling, but the truth is the most integral part of the subject’s DNA. This lesson plan from Facing History ensures that your lessons don’t include inaccuracies regarding the racial discrimination of this time in history.

Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity

With different sections based on the needs of specific grade levels, Scholastic has created a lesson plan that shows you how to make cultural sensitivity a cornerstone of your teaching. This lesson gives the spotlight to students, as it encourages them to share about their background and experiences in life.

Jamestown: Planting the Seeds of Tobacco and the Ideology of Race

From the Public Broadcasting Service, this lesson plan goes way back to the 17th century. The content goes beyond the history of this era by asking students to define how the events of the past dictate the goings-on of our moment in time.

First Encounters With Race and Racism: Teaching Ideas for Classroom Conversations

Featured in The New York Times, Jinnie Spiegler from the Anti-Defamation League has created a lesson plan that tackles a major question: Why is it so difficult to discuss race and racism? With video suggestions and a list of questions to facilitate discussion, this lesson plan guides you step by step to discuss a topic that is often considered uncomfortable.

Just an Environment or a Just Environment? Racial Segregation and Its Impacts

Designed for high school students, this PBS lesson plan gets into the often-devastating details of racial segregation. The injustice lasted for generations, and even after all these years since the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the time period has left a painful trace.

The Philosophy of Nonviolence

James Lawson, Martin Luther King Jr., Diane Nash, Bayard Rustin, John Lewis, and Ella Baker. These leaders of the Civil Rights Movement practiced a philosophy of nonviolence as they worked toward social change. But what does that philosophy entail? And why is it so paramount in the continuing struggle for racial and socioeconomic equity? Facing History’s lesson plan lays it all out.

The Empirical Challenges of Racial Classification

In this lesson plan for older students, PBS has created an advanced set of classroom activities that dig deep into the marrow of racism and bigotry in the United States. The first step is to look inward, asking students and educators alike to examine their own privilege in life.

Repositories of Free Resources

2020 Curriculum Resource Guide

This link includes an exhaustive and consistently growing stockpile of lesson plans, media, readings, and other teaching resources that span all age groups. Compiled by Black Lives Matter at School, this list puts much-needed resources at your fingertips. These tools range from elementary activities like coloring books to stark truths designed for mature students.

Resources for White People to Learn and Talk About Race and Racism

Teachers are by nature highly empathetic, but if we’re being candid, not everyone has the authority to speak on racism from an experiential lens. This list of resources helps white educators discuss racism with their students.

Repositories of Paid Resources

Diverse Books for Children

Representation matters, especially as it pertains to literature. Students of color need to see themselves in literary protagonists. This resource helps you locate diverse children’s books, so that every kid in your class feels like they’re part of the story.

Books and Resources to Help You Raise Anti-Racist Children

While it’s not your job to raise your students, you stand in partnership with parents and communities to guide children into upstanding adulthood. This list of books and resources help start the conversation about race and racism early in a child’s life. It’s never too early to start.

Children’s Books That Discuss Race and Racism

Discussing racism with young children can be challenging, but these books tackle the issue through stories and pictures kids can relate to. According to Brittany Smith, the teacher who curated this list, these books give children the tools to express otherwise hard-to-understand topics.

Affirming Black Lives in School: Teachers, Administrators, Students

This list of books, videos, articles, and more is specifically for teachers, administrators, students, and families who want to learn more about racial justice. The curators of this list focused on including works by people of color.

Scholarly Works on Becoming a More Culturally Responsive Teacher

Ph.D. student and veteran educator Abbrissola Shull has curated the following resources on developing a critical consciousness, becoming a culturally responsive teacher, and combating bias. Shull is currently drafting her dissertation for her Education and Social Change program on the topic of critical consciousness.

Her suggested reading list includes the following:

  • Bridgest, S., McCray, A., Neal, L.V., and Webb-Johnson, G. (2003). The effects of African American movement styles on teachers’ perceptions and reactions. The Journal of Special Education, 37 (1). 49-57.
  • Chen, D., Fraser, H., Ninmo, J. (2009). Becoming a culturally responsive early childhood educator: A tool to support reflection by teachers embarking on the anti-bias journey. Multicultural Perspectives, 11(2). 101-106.
  • Chow, K.A., and Mistry, R. (2013). How do teachers talk about economic inequality? The complexity of teaching at a socioeconomically integrated elementary school. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 12 (1). 370-394.
  • Gay,G. and Kirkland, K. (2003). Developing a critical consciousness and self-reflection in pre-service teacher education. Theory into Practice, 42 (3). 181-187.
  • Gunn, A. (2016). Teachers moving forward on a cultural self-awareness spectrum: Diverse children, museums, and young adult literature. Multicultural Perspectives, 18 (4). 214-220.
  • Fergus, E. (2017). The integration project among White teachers and racial/ethnic minority youth: Understanding bias in school practice. Theory into Practice, 56 169-177.
  • Love, B. (2019). We want to do more than survive: Abolitionist teaching and the pursuit of educational freedom. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Tierney, W. (2015). Rethinking education and poverty. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

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