The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!
Katie Spear: Hi! My name is Katie Spear and I’m a 4th grade Humanities teacher in Richmond, California. I’m a reader, a feminist, and mom to a very active toddler.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
KS: I’m passionate about so many things. As a teacher, I’m passionate about creating a classroom community that facilities learning because my students feel safe and loved. I work from the idea that the space in which I teach is our classroom, not my classroom, and I strive to give my students as much ownership and responsibility as possible. I’m passionate about helping my students learn about the world through a social justice lens in order to help them become active citizens in the world. This means teaching them about current events, providing space and language to discuss challenging topics, exploring identity, and using history to guide critical thinking about the world. Of course, I’m also passionate about reading! Books were my escape as a child, and as an adult I’d still prefer to read over any other activity, so instilling a love of reading with my students and my own child is a huge passion of mine.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
KS: This is the first year I’ve taught just two subjects, so this year I’ve really been trying to increase my own understanding of history in order to be a more effective Humanities teacher. Social Studies is such an important subject, one that is often less prioritized in favor of Science (I’m guilty of this). However, there is so much that history can teach us about the world and help us understand about why we still live in a society that is racist and patriarchal. My current big project is to decolonize my curriculum and ensure that as many diverse perspectives are included as possible when I’m teaching Social Studies. I’m finding that there are huge gaps in my own understanding of history, so part of this is just educating myself around the history I teach, thinking beyond the dominant narrative we’ve all been taught about history, and trying to hear as many voices as possible
Personally, I’m working towards diversifying my own world as a reader. At the end of 2018 I inventoried the books I read to see who I was reading, and I noticed that most of the books I read were written by white women. My goal this year is to read more books written by BIPOC authors. In connection with this, I’ve really been trying to amplify the voices of non-white authors and illustrators in my classroom, and I’ve been very transparent about this with my students
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
KS: I love recommendations of books and articles to read. I joined Instagram this last year as an educator, and I’m astonished at how much I can learn from my fellow educators through a social media application. Please reach out if you have something to share or recommend, or even if you want to collaborate on a project.
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?
KS: Some books I loved in 2018 were Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill and The Between by Tanarive Due.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
KS: My path as an educator has always been one of reflection and growth, so moving forward into 2019 I’m looking forward to continuing my own journey of self reflection and learning, especially around anti-bias and social justice education.
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