APRIL 4, 2024

Identity-Affirming Classrooms: Thought Partner Series

Learn about a new thought partner series from the AFT Identity-Affirming Classroom Team on how communities can work together to create and sustain equitable learning communities. 

Author:  I-ACT (Identity Affirming Classroom Team) 


Calling all allies, equity warriors and change-makers!

In collaboration with the AFT Identity-Affirming Classroom Team (I-ACT) and esteemed book authors and educators Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas and Dr. Debbie Zacarian, Share My Lesson is delighted to present a new three-part podcast series launching Tuesday, April 23! But first, a bit about our thought partners. 

Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas is a consultant and curriculum specialist who provides professional development and expertise on topics of identity safety, culturally responsive teaching, and bullying prevention. Cohn-Vargas has co-authored the best-selling book Identity Safe Classrooms K–5: Places to Belong and Learn, along with several other popular titles. She spent more than 35 years as a Spanish bilingual teacher, principal, curriculum director, and superintendent in preK-12 rural, urban and suburban school districts, where she focused on fostering educational equity. 

Dr. Debbie Zacarian is known for her expertise in strengths-based leadership, policy analysis, instructional practices, and partnerships with culturally and linguistically diverse student and family populations. With more than three decades of combined experience as a district administrator, university faculty member and educational service agency leader, she founded Zacarian & Associates and has written many books (including top- and best-selling) and more than 100 journal articles as well as district and state policies focused on leadership, strategic planning and analysis, and instructional practices with diverse learners—including multilingual learners and students living with adversity.

You won’t want to miss this opportunity to listen in on a series of three intimate conversations between members of the AFT Identity-Affirming Classroom Team (I-ACT), including program facilitator Melanie Hobbs, AFT senior associate director, Educational Issues, and leading authors and researchers Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas and Dr. Debbie Zacarian about their new book Identity Safe Spaces at Home and School: Partnering to Overcome Inequity.

Throughout this virtual learning podcast series, Cohn-Vargas and Zacarian provide listeners with practical, research-based approaches that empower educators, families and students to work together to create and sustain equitable learning communities and dismantle policies and practices that perpetuate stereotype threat, marginalization and “othering.”

Each episode includes a guest contributor from the book, whose experiences are a testimony to why schools, families and the community at large must partner to disrupt the harmful effects of systemic racism and discrimination for future generations. You’ll hear about poignant moments in the stories shared where empathy, compassion and caring made a difference and how each contributor to this day uses the agency they gained to influence the lives of others.

This series is intended to support the strengths that all students, families and educators possess so that we can collectively support students to succeed in school and in their lives.

We welcome everyone to tune in—not just those who work in schools and families but also community-based organizations, policymakers and anyone who wants to shape a new vision for identity safety, where all are welcome, included and empowered!

Register now to listen first, and then join us for an X (formerly known as Twitter) chat on Tuesday, May 14, at 7 p.m. EDT to extend the dialogue in community with others whose mission it is to create identity-affirming and safe spaces through partnerships and action. Use the hashtag #IACT and tag us @sharemylesson and @aftteach.

Series Episodes