Hayley Breden (MAEdu’16), graduate in educational foundations, policy and practice, has taught social studies at Denver South High School for almost 10 years, and she is always looking for ways to create awareness and inclusivity in her classroom.
In 2004, when Breden told her high school history teacher that she was considering becoming a teacher herself, the teacher introduced her to a variety of resources, including Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center that emphasizes social justice and anti-bias through its magazine and online resources. After college, she found the lesson plans and other educational materials to be helpful in challenging and changing how she saw her role as a white woman educator, as well as in bringing rigorous and engaging materials and lessons to her students.
Things came full circle when she was selected for the 30-person, national Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board in 2017. Since then, she has worked with dedicated, justice-minded educators from across the country and reviewed new materials to help bring Teaching Tolerance's ideas about diversity, equity and inclusion to thousands of educators.
Here, Breden shares what she has learned on the board and her advice for current and future teachers:
1. Know yourself, your history, your potential and your role in our world today. How can we be the best possible educators for our students if we don't know and understand the aspects of our identities that have shaped us?
2. Do your best to call in, rather than call out, colleagues and students who are doing or saying something that does harm to students or society. Find allies and work to educate people who make offensive comments or policies that promote inequity.
3. Remember why you're in this work, and be able to explain why for everything you ask of students and colleagues. We all know that our work is more meaningful to us when we can see how it positively impacts others; the same is true for students.
Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors and more—who work with K–12 children. Educators can use the materials to supplement the curriculum, to inform their practices, and to create civil and inclusive school communities. Learn more at tolerance.org.