We're Gonna Keep On Talking: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Elementary Classroom (Paperback)
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What should conversations about race look and sound like in the elementary classroom? How do we respond authentically and truthfully to children’s questions about the world?
And how can we build classroom communities that encourage these meaningful conversations about race?
Matthew Kay and Jennifer Orr take on these questions and more in We’re Gonna Keep On Talking: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Elementary Classroom. A companion work to Kay’s Not Light, But Fire, this book focuses on the unique and powerful role discussions about race can play in the elementary classroom.
Drawing its title inspiration from the lyrics of the freedom song “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around,” sung by hundreds of children marching against segregation in what came to be known as the Children’s Crusade of 1963, We’re Gonna Keep On Talking is written for teachers who are willing to match children’s courage and brilliance, and who believe that “a foundation in meaningful race discourse will help [children] to seek justice for themselves and their neighbors, to be kinder, [and] more thoughtful.”
Writing with the humility and honest storytelling of two career classroom teachers, Matthew Kay and Jennifer Orr share:
- Strategies for building safe and supportive classroom and school spaces for productive discourse
- Dozens of practical teacher moves for facilitating race conversations
- Classroom stories that allow readers to envision ways into the work through picture books, art, graphs, historical photographs, and current events
- Tips for aligning the work of race conversations to your grade-level standards
About the Author
Matthew R. Kay is a proud product of Philadelphia’s public schools and a founding teacher at Science Leadership Academy. He is a graduate of West Chester University and holds a Master’s in Educational Leadership with a Principals’ Certificate from California University of Pennsylvania.
Jennifer Orr has spent more than twenty years teaching and learning with elementary students from kindergarten through fifth grade. She currently teaches third graders at Fort Belvoir Upper School in Fairfax County, Virginia.
"More than ever, we need educators brave enough to engage students in conversations that will help them expand their perspectives and worldviews. Kay and Orr are those educators, and with this book, they have gifted the field with their insights and knowledge." —Dr. Val Brown, educator and founder of #ClearTheAir
“Couldn't put it down! Nineteen years as an elementary educator and there hasn't been a year where inquiries around race did not arise. This book is a guide to support how we prepare our students at the youngest ages to lovingly negotiate race in the classroom.” —Lynsey Burkins, elementary educator
“With We're Gonna Keep on Talking, Matthew Kay and Jennifer Orr equip elementary teachers with something we've been in search of for a long time: the tools and know-how to engage our young students in meaningful conversations about race in our classrooms. This is a book I will turn to again and again to inform my practice. More importantly, it will give all of us the opportunity to grapple with the type of thinking and discussions that will ultimately lead us all, students and teachers alike, to co-create a more just world. Thank you, Matt and Jennifer!” —Christina Nosek, co-author of To Know and Nurture a Reader
“Jennifer and Matthew show us what is possible when educators listen to children, are brave, and actively engage in the difficult conversations that our youngest children are already having about race, identity and social issues. It is our responsibility as educators to have meaningful race conversations with our youngest learners and guide them into these difficult conversations, not as isolated lessons, but as a way of being and living in our classroom communities. We're Gonna Keep on Talking shows us how we can trust the children and ourselves to have race conversations, why they are so critical, and is full of honest and relatable stories about having these conversations in our classrooms. This book has a sense of urgency running through it and will support you as you go into your classroom and "keep on talking" with your children. We cannot step back from these conversations as there is not a minute to waste. Our children, our communities and our world deserve spaces where meaningful race conversations are encouraged, supported and celebrated. This book will be the one you carry with you in your school bag, refer to often and take Matt and Jen with you into your classroom as you have these courageous and essential conversations with learners from Pre–K to upper elementary.” – Katie Keier, PreK teacher and co-author of Catching Readers Before They Fall: Supporting Readers Who Struggle, K-4