Learner • Educator • Evolving
Liz Kleinrock is an anti-bias educator and consultant. Her social justice based school curriculum brings current community discussion to the forefront of the classroom. Most importantly, Liz teaches us the significance of opening this valuable dialogue with even the youngest of children. These conversations, Liz says, is how we change the world.
Setting the Stage for Change
Growing up in a transracial adoptive family, Liz often struggled with her own identity. She didn’t have access to the language or conversations necessary to understand the dynamics of the world around her. Today, Liz's work provides children with access to these vital tools.
Teaching Social Justice
With a strong focus on social emotional learning, Liz taught first through fifth grade for a number of years. Year after year, she retaught many of the same children, so there was certainly a need for fresh content. This necessity for new content lead Liz to integrating social concepts into the classroom.
Liz knew, without a dount, the students would take the language and skills learned inside the classroom to the outside world. Starting with the overall concept of gender stereotyping, Liz’s second graders immediately viewed the world through their newly shifted critical lens.
It was here that Liz’s business, Teach and Transform, was born.
Bringing Educators Together
Teach and Transform began as a way to connect like-minded educators who are doing similar work in their classrooms. Oftentimes, social justice work feels isolating, so Liz created a way to build community. What started as a way to share books and lessons focused on biases, anti-racism, and social justice, quickly morphed into a space to hold discussion about the planning and teaching processes involved in this deeply transformative work. Teach and Transform is now a platform used to springboard social justice initiatives where schools and organizations work to grow their own anti-bias practices.
Kids are capable!
Through all of her work with children, Liz finds that kids tend to understand newly introduced concepts easier than adults do. In addition, kids focus on action, and that’s really what anti-racism is all about. It’s taking action to create change. Liz’s work demonstrates the importance of presenting these ideas to children from a very early age. They are already experiencing societal norms in their daily life, so the discussion is completely relatable. Did you know, Gender identity and racial biases often begin to form prior to entering preschool!
Undoubtedly, trust is a major component of this transformative work. Families are called to trust Liz and other administrators with significantly sensitive topics. If we want to see a change, we need to come together as a community and raise our children up. They are capable of so much more than we often give them credit for.
Other Resources Mentioned In Liz’s Interview
Jacob’s New Dress – by Sarah and Ian Hoffman
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
You may also be interested in the following episodes:
- Give kids access to language and conversation around social justice, and change the world.
- Kids start to form biases around the age of 6, so opening conversation to address these topics is super important!
- There’s a lot of value in teaching kids to honor people's cultural backgrounds and experiences and talk about that gives them strength.
- Personal growth isn’t always about learning something new; it’s often about changing the way you think about and view the people around you.
As an advocate for social justice, Liz supports The Equal Justice Initiative. The organization works with people who have been wrongfully accused – oftentimes incarcerated as youth. Providing legal representation to those in need, The Equal Justice Initiative aims to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment while protecting the most basic of human rights.
Liz is an incredible educator; however, her work stretches far beyond the walls of the classroom. She sits on the Advisory Board for Teaching Tolerance, a branch of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In fact, she won their 2018 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching!
She's also writing a book of her own. The book will provide proactive souiltions on how to break through barriers related to social justice and anti-racisim work. It will be especially helpful for educators who are struggling with implementing equity and inclusion work in the classroom.
To learn more and take action, check out some of Liz’s articles written for Teaching Tolerance here.
Connect with Liz
We can change the world. Unquestionably, it all starts with transforming the way we teach our kids about social justice!
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