In the summer of 2018, I had the opportunity to read the words of Renée Watson, Jewell Parker-Rhodes, Jacqueline Woodson and Nikki Grimes alongside seventh and eighth graders. Our conversations were grounded in the students’ lives and in stories and poems crafted by Black women. I had the responsibility and honor to select the texts, develop the curriculum and co-create a space with students. The authors’ words helped students process not only the authors’ craft but also how students navigated issues from microaggressions to tensions in friendships, from the oppression experienced at the intersections of their identities to the role of art as healing. My planning was informed by culturally sustaining pedagogies (Au et.al., 2016; Paris & Alim, 2017) and critical bilingual literacies (España and Herrera, 2020). With this approach I sought to center the experiences of the students of color, particularly focusing on writing by Black women.

Author Biography

Carla Espana

Dr. Carla España is an instructor in the Bilingual/TESOL program at Bank Street College Graduate School of Education. Dr. España received her Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her teaching and learning from bilingual Latinx students began in Harlem, NYC with sixth graders. Dr. España’s writing, teaching, and research examines the ways teachers and bilingual/multilingual students make meaning of their language practices and schooling. Her teaching and research interests include bilingual education, children’s literature, translanguaging, culturally sustaining pedagogy, and teacher preparation. Follow her on Twitter @ProfesoraEspana.



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