Re-envisioning the Possible in Classrooms – imaginED

ByLavinia E. Smith

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By Moraima Machado, Ed.D (Principal in San Lorenzo Unified School District)

The purpose of liberty is human creative imagination, the enhancement, and elaboration of lifestyle ~ (Nachmanovitch, 1990)

When I was expanding up in Venezuela, I usually located myself on my mother’s bed or at our dining area desk listening to tales. We didn’t have a television. My mother and Tia Elsita crammed our area with all types of stories — from times when they have been developing up during politically turbulent moments to far more present-day tales of their day by day lives. The stories of our grandparents tapped into ancestral know-how and shaped long run generations, tales of dichos, consejos, joy, sorrow, enjoy, and resilience. I do not recall when the learnings from individuals tales began to impact who am I as a mom, wife, sister, daughter, buddy, colleague, and educational chief. But they did and for that I am constantly grateful.

What I do remember is that in my job as a school chief, sharing my story was not some thing that I felt I required to do— as a substitute I felt that I necessary to assimilate to the dominant tradition on the other hand, lately, as I undertook a challenge to bring the tales of people and small children into the college, I felt the will need to share my mother’s stories as a foundation of my get the job done. When we, as members of communities of shade, enter the white dominated academic program, we are compelled to go away our lifestyle “at the door”. There is no space for our voices. As a principal, I understood that I necessary to tap into imagination and creative imagination to assist teachers to deliver the voices of College students of Shade into the curriculum. As Communities of Coloration have interaction in counter-storytelling, their hopes, desires, and aspirations for their young children appear to the forefront.

As a principal, I understood that I required to faucet into imagination and creativity to guidance academics to bring the voices of Students of Color into the curriculum.

I invited a group of three instructors, a counselor, moms and dads, and a local community member to engage in a participatory motion analysis job that entailed 3 successive cycles of inquiry above 18 months to deliver the voices and tales of households of coloration into the curriculum. We were being specified that delivering a position for households to engage in a finding out exchange and share tales and reminiscences would lead to additional ground breaking curriculum in the fifth-quality lecture rooms. And we were being proper!

Impressed by the studying trade philosophy and perform of Guajardo et. al. (2016), I began with the self. I shared my tale of growing up in a poor portion of Caracas and becoming an immigrant to the United States. Then, we invited parents to a Loved ones Community Learning Exchanges (CLE) at our university to share their tales and histories. This do the job essential imaginative pondering (Judson, 2018) to have interaction the households in drawing, contemplating, and talking about their every day lives, their loved ones histories, and the conditions of their existing activities.

As learners and lecturers listened to just about every other’s tales, the tales turned much more than a story. These tales constituted testimonios, a stronger term in Spanish for bearing witness, similar to what Emdin (2016) endorses in pedagogical strategies to replicate the cultural working experience of the Black church. By testifying, the mothers and fathers and households laid claim to stories of their electric power and attained a distinct variety of agency in the mastering exchanges and, subsequently, the fifth-quality learners did in their classrooms. The partnership among instructors and students modified from hierarchical to horizontal, and the stories of the students became the foundation of making a classroom group.

We employed the tales shared by parents at the CLE to develop a curriculum of storytelling in the fifth-grade classrooms– what Muhammed (2018) names as crucial literacy. The lecturers and I realized that we had asked pupils to create emulation poems formerly and the pupils experienced shared the “I arrive from a place” poems for several decades. On the other hand, this time we observed a variation. In this scenario, the academics recognized that pupil testimonios as a course of action of witnessing—meaning general public listening and relating to the stories— builds much better group. As a final result, lecturers questioned for tales from their learners with the stop objective of making local community and not an assignment.

Alaina, a fifth-grade trainer mirrored on this change:

As an alternative of this is an assignment where you are bringing your tale and you are instructing us about you. This identification undertaking was much more like we’re building the local community. You are section of this. You are bringing your tale and bringing it into the classroom where the story is like the bonds that we’re obtaining. And I mean, the stories are who we are as a course. (Alaina Lee, December 5, 2020)

What we acquired all through this project is that the storytelling system required switching interactions amongst participants from hierarchical to horizontal. For academics and directors to discover from households of shade, we required to be vulnerable, to permit down the walls that independent us from the parent community, and to observe a different variety of listening. To do this, we experienced to interact in the imaginative act of witnessing stories. Applying CLEs and protocols, we established a gracious area for further listening with our parent group (Guajardo & Guajardo, 2013 Hughes & Grace, 2010). Intertwined in the course of action of sharing each other’s stories in family knowledge circles, we were being able to see each and every other differently–not as specialists and mothers and fathers interacting in a college location, but as co-storytellers and listeners. The method humanizes the working experience for anyone and sustains associations in our get the job done (San Pedro & Kinloch, 2017).


Guajardo, M., Guajardo, F., Janson, C., & Militello, M. (2016). Reframing group partnerships in training: Uniting the electrical power of spot and wisdom of men and women. Routledge.

Judson, G. (2018). Re-imagining university management: Beginnings. imaginative academic management.

Nachmanovitch, S. (1990). Absolutely free enjoy: Improvisation in lifetime and art. Tarcher/Putnam.

Quinn, J. & Blank, M. J. (2022). Twenty decades, 10 lessons: Neighborhood faculties as an equitable improvement system. Voices of City Training, 49(2).   DOI:

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