Re-envisioning the Possible in Classrooms – imaginED

Dorothy S. Bass


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

The target of liberty is human creativeness, the improvement, and elaboration of lifestyle ~ (Nachmanovitch, 1990)

When I was expanding up in Venezuela, I often observed myself on my mother’s bed or at our dining area table listening to stories. We didn’t have a television. My mother and Tia Elsita crammed our place with all types of tales — from situations when they were being expanding up during politically turbulent moments to more present-day tales of their every day life. The stories of our grandparents tapped into ancestral information and formed future generations, tales of dichos, consejos, joy, sorrow, love, and resilience. I do not remember when the learnings from all those stories began to influence who am I as a mom, wife, sister, daughter, pal, colleague, and academic chief. But they did and for that I am always grateful.

What I do remember is that in my career as a school leader, sharing my story was not something that I felt I essential to do— alternatively I felt that I necessary to assimilate to the dominant culture on the other hand, not long ago, as I undertook a undertaking to convey the stories of family members and children into the faculty, I felt the have to have to share my mother’s stories as a basis of my operate. When we, as members of communities of colour, enter the white dominated instructional procedure, we are compelled to depart our lifestyle “at the door”. There is no home for our voices. As a principal, I realized that I required to tap into creativeness and creative imagination to aid teachers to carry the voices of College students of Colour into the curriculum. As Communities of Shade engage in counter-storytelling, their hopes, desires, and aspirations for their small children appear to the forefront.

As a principal, I understood that I desired to faucet into imagination and creativeness to aid teachers to convey the voices of College students of Coloration into the curriculum.

I invited a group of 3 lecturers, a counselor, parents, and a group member to engage in a participatory action investigate venture that entailed a few successive cycles of inquiry in excess of 18 months to deliver the voices and stories of people of coloration into the curriculum. We have been certain that delivering a position for families to interact in a mastering exchange and share stories and memories would lead to more impressive curriculum in the fifth-quality school rooms. And we had been right!

Impressed by the finding out exchange philosophy and perform of Guajardo et. al. (2016), I commenced with the self. I shared my tale of developing up in a weak portion of Caracas and getting an immigrant to the United States. Then, we invited mothers and fathers to a Family members Community Mastering Exchanges (CLE) at our faculty to share their tales and histories. This operate essential imaginative considering (Judson, 2018) to have interaction the people in drawing, pondering, and speaking about their each day lives, their household histories, and the circumstances of their present-day encounters.

As pupils and academics listened to just about every other’s tales, the tales turned much more than a tale. These stories constituted testimonios, a much better phrase in Spanish for bearing witness, similar to what Emdin (2016) suggests in pedagogical strategies to replicate the cultural expertise of the Black church. By testifying, the parents and people laid assert to tales of their energy and acquired a distinctive variety of company in the studying exchanges and, subsequently, the fifth-grade college students did in their classrooms. The romance amongst teachers and college students modified from hierarchical to horizontal, and the stories of the students turned the basis of creating a classroom local community.

We utilised the stories shared by mothers and fathers at the CLE to make a curriculum of storytelling in the fifth-quality classrooms– what Muhammed (2018) names as critical literacy. The instructors and I understood that we experienced requested college students to produce emulation poems formerly and the college students experienced shared the “I appear from a place” poems for a lot of a long time. Even so, this time we noticed a change. In this scenario, the teachers comprehended that college student testimonios as a system of witnessing—meaning community listening and relating to the stories— builds more powerful local community. As a result, teachers requested for stories from their pupils with the finish goal of setting up local community and not an assignment.

Alaina, a fifth-quality instructor mirrored on this shift:

In its place of this is an assignment wherever you are bringing your tale and you’re training us about you. This id project was more like we’re making the local community. You are component of this. You’re bringing your story and bringing it into the classroom the place the story is like the bonds that we’re obtaining. And I suggest, the tales are who we are as a course. (Alaina Lee, December 5, 2020)

What we realized during this undertaking is that the storytelling approach necessary switching associations amid individuals from hierarchical to horizontal. For instructors and directors to learn from families of color, we desired to be vulnerable, to permit down the walls that individual us from the guardian neighborhood, and to practice a various variety of listening. To do this, we had to engage in the imaginative act of witnessing tales. Making use of CLEs and protocols, we developed a gracious house for deeper listening with our dad or mum group (Guajardo & Guajardo, 2013 Hughes & Grace, 2010). Intertwined in the approach of sharing each and every other’s tales in family members knowledge circles, we were being capable to see every other differently–not as experts and moms and dads interacting in a school setting, but as co-storytellers and listeners. The approach humanizes the encounter for every person and sustains associations in our perform (San Pedro & Kinloch, 2017).


Guajardo, M., Guajardo, F., Janson, C., & Militello, M. (2016). Reframing local community partnerships in schooling: Uniting the electricity of put and knowledge of men and women. Routledge.

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

Nachmanovitch, S. (1990). Free play: Improvisation in everyday living and artwork. Tarcher/Putnam.

Quinn, J. & Blank, M. J. (2022). Twenty yrs, ten classes: Community educational institutions as an equitable improvement method. Voices of Urban Schooling, 49(2).   DOI:

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