Fall 2022      Volume 50, Number 4

Climate Justice Now: Reimagining Teacher Book Clubs to Support Inquiry into Urgent Topics
By Kristine M. Schutz and Rebecca Woodard, along with Eva Compisi, Tiffini Cooley, Jasmine Grullon, and Ashley Stanley, Guest Authors

Document: Column 

Introductory Paragraph:  Inspired by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s (2020) work, we have conceptualized urgent writing pedagogies as those that support youth to read, write, inquire into, and collaborate about meaningful topics that are responsive to the social times (Woodard & Schutz, in press). There are many such topics circulating in America today, including—as just some examples—racial injustice, mental health, gender equality, and gun control. Multidisciplinary inquiries into these kinds of topics can feel consequential and motivating to youth and support them to learn to read/analyze complex texts and communicate to varied audiences.  Centering these topics in our curricula can also be fraught for teachers who are experiencing both unprecedented scrutiny from politicians and parents alike (Ujifusa, 2022) as well as heightened levels of burnout and chronic overwork (Chang et al., 2022). And yet, perhaps more than ever, we have felt the need to engage with our colleagues in work that feels meaningful and acknowledges and responds to today’s challenges.  Thus, we spent the 2021-2022 school year working as a collective of preK-college teachers inquiring into the topic of climate justice. We read the feminist anthology, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson (2020). Utilizing the book’s accompanying materials to guided literature circles (https://www.allwecansave.earth/circles), we met virtually eight times to discuss it and engage in related activities (see Figure 1). While we initially intended to design units to implement in our preK-16 classrooms, a number of factors led us to delay this process. Instead, we decided to linger in our learning, discussing our feelings about climate change, writing and making art together, exploring children’s literature, and developing/workshopping ideas for our future teaching.

DOI:  https://doi.org/10.33600/IRCJ.50.4.2022.69

Page Numbers:   69-74

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