Resources for Educators Focusing on Anti-Racist Learning and Teaching

The Early Education Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has recently released a tremendous resource: Resources for Educators Focusing on Anti-Racist Learning and Teaching.

In their own words:

The Early Childhood Education Assembly’s Statement on Race and Early Childhood Education was posted in June, 2015. To support our suggestion that early childhood educators engage deliberately in focused anti-racist work, we promised resources. We have begun to collect resources at the links below. Our intent is to continue building and expanding this collection but we offer it now as a beginning, in support of educators working to (a) deepen understandings about institutional and interpersonal racism and its manifestations in early childhood settings, (b) understand the depth and breadth of histories often left out of or misrepresented in our teaching, and (c) apply new awareness to transforming practice and policy. We envision these resources as impetus for teachers, staff, families, and community conversations and professional development focused on awareness and action.Our next steps will be to consider ways to collaborate virtually among educators across the country.

To access these resources, click here.


Building a Diverse, Anti-Bias Library for Young Children

Let’s start with some tips for being intentional as you assess your existing collection and build your library.  Check out:

Next, there are lots of online libraries and booklists to help you find the diverse, anti-bias children’s books you need:

It’s also important to note that despite the existence of all these fantastic resources, there is still a lot of work to be done.  For example:


The We Need Diverse Books campaign is actively working to improve the diversity in children’s literature (while simultaneously highlighting existing literature on their webpage and on social media).  And there are lots of ways for you to get involved!  Here are three ideas:

  1. Write your own story!
  2. Hop on social media using #weneeddiversebooks
  3. Sign this petition:

Lastly–but certainly not least–it’s super important to remember that while ensuring that you’ve got a library full of diverse, anti-bias children’s literature is necessary, it is certainly not sufficient.  The really critical piece is what you do with these books.  Research has shown that simply increasing the diversity of books and other media that young children are exposed to is ineffective in reducing bias (Aboud & Levy, 2000).  Rather, parents and teachers must select and use these materials wisely and thoughtfully.  In short, the books don’t do the work for you; they simply provide opportunities to have the conversations you need to have, to model the kinds of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors you want your little ones to learn.

This piece was originally posted by Megan Madison on her personal blog.

Meeting the Needs of Bilingual Children

Happy Real World Wednesday!! This week we have the tremendous pleasure of learning from Milagros Ramirez.

Millie Slide

Milagros is currently a PhD student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. As a PhD student, she has written about education and child & family policy issues, including the importance of Head Start in supporting the long term success low income children. She has also worked for three years as Director of Program Evaluation and Development at a Head Start program where she supported evaluation and grant writing efforts.

Today we’ve asked Millie to help provide some insight around how early childhood programs can better meet the needs of dual language learners and their families. Millie, what does the research say about meeting the needs of bilingual children in early childhood settings?

Here’s Millie’s thoughtful response:

Children from immigrant families represent an incredibly diverse and growing segment of the U.S population. Many young children from these families (including children who are foreign born) speak a primary language other than English. While there are several terms used to identify their linguistic background, such as Dual Language Learners and English Language Learners (for clarification of these terms, click here), these only begin to tell their story. Several important distinctions can be made in order to understand their complexity, including:

  • Children learning two languages are vastly heterogeneous not just in background, but also in experiences, as well as language and literacy abilities.
  • Children learning two languages, particularly Dual Language Learners, build parallel language systems that can support communication in both their first and second language. Hence, many young children can learn two languages at the same time early on[1].

Early childhood programs are a key resource for these children and their families, providing valuable educational and supportive services. While there is extensive research on the benefits of early childhood programs, more research specifically focused on dual language learners is needed. There is a consensus however, on several dimensions that are important for supporting these diverse groups, including:

  • Promoting home language skills can be meaningful for development: In optimal educational settings, instruction in the home language contributes to growth in both English language skills and home language skills. Additionally, promoting the home language can have a positive impact on the social-emotional development of young children[2].
  • Involving families in their children’s learning is key: Research has demonstrated that young children can learn more than one language. Hence, language development need not be a zero-sum game. Working closely with families of dual language learners can and should include activities for supporting home language skills development[3].
  • Professional development strategies specifically designed to address the needs of dual language learners can foster effective instruction: Ideally, early childhood education staff should receive professional development that educates them on the needs of dual language learners and keeps them up-to-date on bilingual issues, and the rewards of bilingualism, so that language diversity is truly accepted in the classroom. This kind of training and awareness will help create a continuous dialogue between teachers and families.

And for more information, Millie recommends checking out the following websites:

The information above can be found in PDF form here: Millie One-Pager

[1] Williams C., (2015), Dual Language Learners: Summarizing the Research on Dual Language Learners, American Educator

[2] Goldenberg C., Hicks J., Lit H., (2013) Dual Language Learners: Effective Instruction in Early Childhood, American Educator

[3] Same as above.

Welcoming ALL Families

RWW with BillieThis week we have the pleasure of introducing Billie Deig!  Billie has a decade and a half of experience in the field, working in a variety of roles–from floater teacher to center director–and now works as a Resource Coach, training, mentoring, and coaching teachers in Head Start. Along the way, she has obtained both an AAS in Early Childhood Education and a CDA, and is currently working on her BA in ECEDU with a minor in Teaching Spanish! In her own words, “I love working for the CAP [Community Action Program] and the Head Start program along with course work and personal research has sparked a passion for everything this forum stands for.”

Given her extensive expertise in working with families, we asked Billie for her suggestions for teachers who want to make sure they are welcoming all families into their classrooms and programs this month.  Here’s what she said:

The beginning of a new school year can create feelings of excitement, nervousness, and at times can be a bit overwhelming for teachers. There is a large amount of preparation that goes into setting up a classroom, preparing curriculum, and making sure the I-s are dotted and the T-s are crossed. There is a side of preparation that sometimes we as teachers can overlook and that is the side of our families. Our families may also be feeling excited, nervous, and a bit overwhelmed. With some planning and intentionality we can make sure that all our families feel welcome and confident going in to the new school year.
While there are so many things that can be done to prepare for families I have tried to narrow my long list down to a few suggestions:

  1. RESEARCH! Find out a little bit about your families through basic enrollment information. Does the child have siblings? Are there any special needs to consider? What is the primary spoken language for the family and the child? What does the family system look like? The answers to these questions can give us many ideas about what we will need to create an inclusive and culturally responsive classroom.

  2. Create a welcoming environment! By planning ahead we can make sure each child has a space for personal belongings in the classroom labeled with their name (correctly spelled) and a family photo. A simple survey sent out prior to the start of school can give us ideas about favorites to have on hand for each child. Bi-lingual labeling and paperwork will create feelings of inclusion for families and children that have limited English proficiency. Remember all that research we did using basic enrollment information? The environment is the place to apply it. Imagine walking into a classroom and you see your own photo along with your family’s and everything is labeled in a language you understand.

  3. Programs should have policies in place to include orientation for families prior to the start of school. Families that get to meet their child’s teachers prior to the first day may not have such strong feelings of apprehension or nervousness. It is important for children to see their family interacting with their teachers in a positive loving way. This will help the children transition easier which will in turn help the families with their own transition.

  4. Take time to really connect with each family early on; they must feel welcome and included. Families appreciate knowing that we are genuinely interested in the children and in getting to know them. Please be friendly! If a family thinks we are not fond of their child they could shut down and disengage. This is the last thing we want. Lastly, we must always respect our families. Try to remember that the parent truly is the child’s first teacher.

She also shared the following links to additional articles and helpful resources:

In closing, Billie reminded us that,

In my experiences I have thoroughly enjoyed working with families. I have made mistakes and have learned a great deal from them. A forum like this is exactly what we need to bounce ideas off of one another. Please feel free to comment with more great ideas or questions you may have. Thank you!

All of this fabulousness can be accessed here (Billie Issue Brief) in PDF form.  Enjoy!