Antiracist Praxis Study Circle Facilitator Guide Now Available!

Antiracist Praxis Study Circle Facilitator Guide Now Available!

Many of us have heard the terms antiracist and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), but how do we actually implement these large frameworks into our adult English classrooms? Where do we start?

Don’t worry! The Antiracist Praxis Study Circle Facilitator Guide described below is a wonderful place to start!

How did the Antiracist Praxis Study Circle begin?

I developed this study circle as my MA TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) capstone project at Hamline University. I started at Hamline to learn more about equity-focused approaches to teaching English, as I noticed a huge gap in the professional development (PD) that was offered in Minnesota. Since I am a person of color, part of the motivation behind this study circle was to provide antiracist PD that looks beyond white fragility and white culture. Though this study circle can of course be used by all adult English teachers, I hope that it is especially inclusive of BIPOC (black/indigenous/people of color) teachers’ PD needs, which are often overlooked in most DEI trainings.

And so the project began! We piloted the study circle with ATLAS last fall, and it was a huge success!

What is the Antiracist Praxis Study Circle?

This PD goes beyond defining antiracism and explores how the research around Translanguaging by Ofelia García and Culturally Responsive Teaching by Zaretta Hammond provides us with tangible tools to change the way we approach teaching.

The Antiracist Praxis Study Circle is not intended to be a basic “what is racism” PD activity, so there are some working assumptions that are foundational to this program:

  • Racism is systemic. White supremacy and systemic racism are leading problems in our education system. These systems are especially harmful to people of color and the English language learners we serve.
  • Identifying and addressing implicit bias is paramount to this work. It is a personal journey, and we all enter this work together from different places.
  • It is not enough to be “not racist”; we have to be intentionally antiracist.
  • We are willing to work in a collaborative environment and to hold each other accountable.

What is the Antiracist Praxis Study Circle Facilitator Guide?

The Facilitator Guide is an easy-to-use document with hyperlinks to a Google folder with all of the instructions and materials you will need for the study circle’s activities and discussions.

Materials included in the guide:

  • A table summary of each meeting
  • A more detailed description of each meeting
  • Meeting objectives
  • List of things to prepare for each meeting, including a sample email
  • A meeting agenda with a sample script
  • A sample evaluation
  • Links to activities and corresponding slides

The original design of the study circle consists of 5 meetings of 2 hours each. However, you and your colleagues can adapt this guide in whatever way best fits your context. Your group can only meet one hour a month? That’s okay! Take the guide as slowly as you need. Antiracism is a journey. This work is not done overnight. If you have a conversation and think you need to come back to it, take your time. The important thing is for us to constantly be thinking about antiracism and figuring out how to try it in our classrooms little by little. Try one thing and go from there! Antiracism is about making mistakes and continuing to grow.

Why should YOU do this study circle?

You know that antiracism and social justice are imperative, so keep it up! Maybe you’ve done tons of work, or maybe you started more recently; either way, we can all still learn and grow. This study circle can be the next step for you and your colleagues.

I know that often educators who care about antiracism have many barriers keeping us from committing to the work. Sometimes, we don’t know where to start, we are scared of making mistakes, or we don’t have support from our administration or colleagues to do the work. In my experience, even if I have colleagues interested in doing this work with me, we have to do equity work on our own unpaid time, which makes it all the more difficult to create change at our schools. Even though this study circle doesn’t solve all of those issues, my hope is that it at least gives educators a starting place for content and discussions so that change can begin.

Remember: it’s okay to make mistakes. Ibram X. Kendi reminds us that mistakes are part of the antiracist journey. If we let the fear of making mistakes keep us from standing up for racial justice, then racial justice will never happen. I like to repeat this sentence to myself, and I invite you to do the same:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

Thanks for joining me on this antiracist journey!

Study circle facilitation and participation

Posted in the ATLAS Cultural Competency library under Anti-Racism in ABE > Anti-Racist Instruction, the Antiracist Praxis Study Circle Facilitator Guide provides step-by-step suggestions for conducting a study circle no matter where your program is based.

Cydnee Sanders, Study Circle Creator ATLAS