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October 3, 2019 Comments (0) Views: 271 Podcasts

Groundwork: Middle School Principal Joe Truss Tackles White Supremacy

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In this episode of the Unboxed Learning podcast, Alec spoke to Joe Truss, principal of Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, about Joe’s decision to tackle “White Supremacy Culture” head-on with his staff, and how that has played out so far.

Show Notes:

Table of Contents:

Who Joe Truss is & why we’re talking to him (0:37)

White Supremacy Culture, defined (1:02)

White Fragility, defined (1:44)

Growing up in the Tenderloin (2:24)

Why Joe was academically successful when most of his friends weren’t (3:57)

Tracked classes and White Supremacy Culture (5:52)

How writing is taught and White Supremacy Culture (6:29)

Reading: For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Chris Emdin, and We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina Love (8:16)

Joe’s initial approach to teaching: “social justice wrapped in white supremacy culture” (9:41)

Joe’s journey to transform his school’s practice begins (14:00)

Reading: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond (14:31)0

The year of tackling White Supremacy Culture begins with “Brave Norms” (14:54)

Joe describes the staff’s first day back from summer break (15:28)

Reading: “Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: A New Way to Frame Dialogue Around Diversity and Social Justice” by Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens, from “The Art of Effective Facilitation: Reflections from Social Justice Educators” (16:02)

How Joe would prompt first-day discussion differently if he did it today (21:52) What happened after that first day back, for Joe and for the school (25:17)

Joe’s mentors and how he found them (27:19)

Reading: Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun (29:59)

Joe introduces “White Supremacy Culture” and “White Fragility” to the staff in December (32:36)

Getting into the risks to Joe’s own position of tackling this (37:16)

What happened next: January (47:35)

Connecting White Supremacy Culture to School Discipline (49:42)

What Joe’s doing with his staff this year to build on last year (52:01)

Joe’s long term goals for the school (55:30)

 

More about Joe Truss

Check out Joe’s website, and follow him on Twitter here: @TrussLeadership.

Joe is leading a full day workshop on Dismantling White Supremacy Culture coming up on Saturday, November 2nd. Details can be found on the site.

 

And one final shout-out…

The English headteacher who told me the line about “what happens on a wet Wednesday afternoon” is Andy Raymer, now-retired headteacher at Matthew Moss high school in Rochdale.

 

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