Re-envisioning the Possible in Classrooms – imaginED

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

The purpose of freedom is human creative imagination, the enhancement, and elaboration of existence ~ (Nachmanovitch, 1990)

When I was increasing up in Venezuela, I usually observed myself on my mother’s bed or at our dining area table listening to stories. We didn’t have a tv. My mom and Tia Elsita stuffed our room with all types of stories — from times when they were expanding up throughout politically turbulent occasions to a lot more present-day tales of their day-to-day lives. The stories of our grandparents tapped into ancestral expertise and shaped future generations, tales of dichos, consejos, pleasure, sorrow, adore, and resilience. I do not recall when the learnings from those people stories commenced to influence who am I as a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, colleague, and academic leader. But they did and for that I am often grateful.

What I do remember is that in my profession as a faculty leader, sharing my tale was not a little something that I felt I needed to do— instead I felt that I needed to assimilate to the dominant lifestyle on the other hand, a short while ago, as I undertook a undertaking to provide the stories of family members and little ones into the school, I felt the require to share my mother’s stories as a basis of my perform. When we, as associates of communities of colour, enter the white dominated educational method, we are compelled to depart our lifestyle “at the door”. There is no area for our voices. As a principal, I realized that I required to tap into creativeness and creativity to assist lecturers to bring the voices of Pupils of Colour into the curriculum. As Communities of Colour have interaction in counter-storytelling, their hopes, desires, and aspirations for their young children occur to the forefront.

As a principal, I knew that I necessary to tap into creativity and creativity to guidance teachers to provide the voices of College students of Colour into the curriculum.

I invited a group of three instructors, a counselor, dad and mom, and a community member to engage in a participatory action exploration venture that entailed three successive cycles of inquiry above 18 months to convey the voices and stories of households of coloration into the curriculum. We were being specific that furnishing a location for households to engage in a understanding trade and share tales and reminiscences would guide to additional revolutionary curriculum in the fifth-quality classrooms. And we had been suitable!

Inspired by the discovering trade philosophy and perform of Guajardo et. al. (2016), I started with the self. I shared my story of escalating up in a bad section of Caracas and getting an immigrant to the United States. Then, we invited mother and father to a Spouse and children Neighborhood Finding out Exchanges (CLE) at our university to share their tales and histories. This work expected imaginative considering (Judson, 2018) to have interaction the households in drawing, contemplating, and talking about their day by day lives, their family histories, and the situation of their current ordeals.

As students and instructors listened to each other’s stories, the tales turned additional than a story. These tales constituted testimonios, a stronger phrase in Spanish for bearing witness, comparable to what Emdin (2016) recommends in pedagogical strategies to replicate the cultural practical experience of the Black church. By testifying, the mothers and fathers and people laid claim to tales of their power and gained a distinctive sort of agency in the studying exchanges and, subsequently, the fifth-quality students did in their lecture rooms. The romantic relationship among lecturers and learners modified from hierarchical to horizontal, and the tales of the learners grew to become the foundation of building a classroom group.

We used the stories shared by moms and dads at the CLE to develop a curriculum of storytelling in the fifth-quality classrooms– what Muhammed (2018) names as crucial literacy. The academics and I realized that we experienced asked pupils to publish emulation poems previously and the learners had shared the “I come from a place” poems for quite a few many years. Having said that, this time we observed a variation. In this situation, the lecturers understood that pupil testimonios as a approach of witnessing—meaning community listening and relating to the stories— builds more powerful neighborhood. As a end result, academics requested for tales from their pupils with the end intention of making local community and not an assignment.

Alaina, a fifth-grade instructor reflected on this shift:

As an alternative of this is an assignment where you’re bringing your tale and you’re educating us about you. This identity venture was far more like we’re developing the neighborhood. You are component of this. You are bringing your story and bringing it into the classroom exactly where the tale is like the bonds that we’re owning. And I necessarily mean, the tales are who we are as a course. (Alaina Lee, December 5, 2020)

What we discovered during this project is that the storytelling procedure necessary modifying associations among individuals from hierarchical to horizontal. For academics and directors to master from households of color, we required to be susceptible, to let down the partitions that different us from the parent group, and to exercise a different variety of listening. To do this, we had to engage in the imaginative act of witnessing tales. Applying CLEs and protocols, we produced a gracious space for further listening with our parent group (Guajardo & Guajardo, 2013 Hughes & Grace, 2010). Intertwined in the method of sharing just about every other’s stories in spouse and children knowledge circles, we were being able to see every other differently–not as gurus and mothers and fathers interacting in a school environment, but as co-storytellers and listeners. The course of action humanizes the encounter for absolutely everyone and sustains interactions in our get the job done (San Pedro & Kinloch, 2017).


Guajardo, M., Guajardo, F., Janson, C., & Militello, M. (2016). Reframing community partnerships in instruction: Uniting the power of area and wisdom of people today. Routledge.

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

Nachmanovitch, S. (1990). No cost participate in: Improvisation in existence and art. Tarcher/Putnam.

Quinn, J. & Blank, M. J. (2022). Twenty several years, ten lessons: Neighborhood educational institutions as an equitable improvement system. Voices of City Training, 49(2).   DOI:

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