Roberto Germán [00:00:01]:
Welcome to our classroom. In this space, we talk about education, which is inclusive of, but not limited to, what happens in schools. Education is taking place whenever and wherever we are willing to learn. I am your host, Rovelto Herman, and our classroom is official. Welcome back to our classroom. Today I am joined by a special person, somebody who is close to somebody I know and live with, Lorena Hedmang, a co founder of Hashtag Disrupt Text. Trisha is an amazing advocate for literacy instruction rooted in equity and liberation through critical literacy, and she has published this new book, Get Free Instruction. Wow, I love the Bright Cover.
Roberto Germán [00:01:09]:
Get free instruction for strong anti bias literacy for stronger readers, writers, and thinkers. Listen, folks, I'm still working through this, but I could already tell you this is a gem. This is a gem right here. I've been digging in in order to prepare for this interview. Tricia has 20 years of experience teaching high school English, is the director of Diversity, Equity, and inclusion at an independent school in Philadelphia. She's also co founder of the Institute for Racial Equity in Literacy, a national writing project. Educator Trisha does it all, but we're here to talk about anti bias literacy, so we gonna dig in. Thank you.
Roberto Germán [00:01:59]:
Thank you. Thank you for being here. Trisha, it is my pleasure to have you on the platform.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:02:06]:
Thank you so much, Roberto, of course, and I'm so happy to be here. And, of course, Lorena, shout out to Lorena for connecting us and can't wait to talk.
Roberto Germán [00:02:17]:
Yes, well, and, Trisha, how do you pronounce your last name? I always want to make sure I'm saying folks name the right.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:02:24]:
Thank you. Thank you for asking because it's been mispronounced many times. It's Ibarvia.
Roberto Germán [00:02:29]:
Abarvia. That's what I thought. But better to ask than to assume. So, thank, um, listen, we're not going to waste any time because I got questions. I've been thinking about flipping through the pages, and so let's go ahead and start with the title of your debut book, get Free Anti Bias Literacy and structure for stronger readers, writers and thinkers. What are you trying to free people from?
Tricia Ebarvia [00:02:58]:
So I think, for me, the title really, it's really about people freeing themselves, right? It's about people understanding that, look, we live in society where we've all been socialized by all the isms, right? All these different forms of oppression. And if we're not conscious of them, if we don't stop and do our work and think about the ways in which every thought, action, decision, and if we're teachers, every instructional decision that we make. If we're not conscious of the ways in which that all of that has socialized us, then we might end up just perpetuating those things. So the idea of getting free for me is being able to be free of the way that socialization controls us. Right. Or informs our. You know, this idea really came to me from. There's a quote, I think it's the first.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:03:51]:
Yeah, it's the first quote that I cite in the book from Dr. Barbara J. Love, Roberta. Can I read it? I'll just go ahead and read.
Roberto Germán [00:03:58]:
Tricia Ebarvia [00:03:59]:
Okay. So she says that a liberatory consciousness requires every individual to not only notice what is going on in the world around him, her or him, but to think about it and theorize about it. That is to get information and develop his or her own explanation for what is happening, why it is happening, and what needs to be done about it. So when I think about getting free, I think about that liberatory consciousness, right. That I can be conscious and aware and see the ways in which I'm both complicit and challenging things around me and then being able to have agency in doing something about it.
Roberto Germán [00:04:37]:
That's good. Being complicit and challenging. Right. Looking at all angles of this and how it is that we can work towards our liberation individually and collectively. And that's going to bring me to my next question, which is, here's a quote early on in the book. To have the part of my identity reflected in these pages means something, everything. Can you elaborate on this quote? Find. It's found in a page titled a note on artwork.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:05:13]:
Yeah, thanks. So thanks for bringing up the artwork because that was something that was really important to me. I have seen and read my own share of professional books, and I don't know. You've read your own share of professional books, too. And there's always this look to them, right. They kind of have this generic. I mean, traditional. They're getting better, but they always have this sort of look.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:05:34]:
There's like a title, and then there's always, like, pictures of kids, and then there's, like, a teacher sitting next to them. It's a very generic kind of, you know, this is a teacher book, right. And I don't have anything against those books necessarily, but I knew that that's not me. Right. And I think, as someone, I say in the note on artwork, how growing up didn't really see many mirrors to my own cultural and ethnic experiences and anything that I read, or, I mean, forget about art, I still have to work to do today to really understand and learn about Filipino artists and such. But I knew that I didn't just want the words on the pages to reflect me, but I also wanted, like, I'm a visual person. I like to see things, and graphic design is really important to me. Anyone who knows me knows that my slide decks and my PowerPoints are on point.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:06:29]:
I have to have a certain way. When Lorena and I present together, I was like, Lorena, just send this stuff to me, and I will make it look pretty. So it was really important for me to have the artwork throughout the book and the COVID really be reflective of my identity. And so when I spoke to my, said, you know, there's a few artists that I've seen out there. I would love to have a person of color be the person to design the COVID better yet, if it's an Asian American, and better yet, if it's a Filipino. And I went on Instagram, and I found Guillon Wong's work, and I just loved. Just. I love the way that all of his designs, if you find them on Instagram, all of his designs incorporate, like, Filipino elements, but with, like, a modern twist.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:07:18]:
And I just fell in love. They reached out. He said, yes. And I'm just so grateful. And for readers who look at the book, that note and artwork that you said, where I wrote that, there's, like, a little key that actually has all the things, all the artwork in it. Like, every chapter is one of his illustrations, and it corresponds to the theme of that chapter. So he got a full manuscript, a draft, and so he was able to look at. Yep.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:07:50]:
And then think about what ways he could represent the ideas of that chapter through some sort of artwork related to the Philippines. So that was really special to me. So I just love that part of the book.
Roberto Germán [00:08:06]:
That's great context. It's nice to be able to create a product, write a book that tells a greater story than simply the words that you read. I mean, the words that you documented here tell us more than enough. But having that additional layer, I would imagine, makes it special for you. It's going to be something you're going to be able to hold on to and bring others into that particular piece of history as it relates to this book, but also that the illustrator is going to be able to. I was able to work my illustrations throughout the book and simply the COVID.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:08:54]:
I'm sorry, go ahead.
Roberto Germán [00:08:55]:
No, that's uncommon. I find that to be uncommon.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:08:59]:
Yeah. Well, I think the other thing is, too, I also wanted to be like, you know how sometimes when you have culturally specific or you have background knowledge and you see something, you know what the illusion is? Or, you know, like, this is something only Filipino people would know, or this is only something that certain different ethnic groups might just know because you just get it, right. It's not an inside joke, but you have that extra layer of being able to read a text, right? So I wanted people to be able. My hope was, and this is what I told Guan, that my hope was that fellow Filipinos and teachers, right, would look at the COVID and they would already know that a Filipino must have designed this cover, right? Like, from the colors, the chosen colors. LIke, someone said to me, oh, before they saw the whole cover, they're like, oh, I love how it's the colors of the Filipino flag. And I'm like, yes, that's purposeful, right? And little things like this flower is like a modern rendition of the Sambagita Flower, which is the national flower of the Philippines. Like, stuff like that, you have an extra. So a person who's outside of the culture will be like, oh, that's a beautiful cover.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:10:11]:
But then a person who's inside the culture will be like, oh, I see all this other stuff. And they might feel affirmed, right? They might feel like, oh, part of me is in this book, too.
Roberto Germán [00:10:21]:
That's dope. So, I'm curious to know how the work in this book intersects with the work of disrupt text.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:10:34]:
Yeah, it's totally integrated throughout. I mean, when you read the book, because I was writing the book at the same time we were founding disrupt tech. So all of it is just, like, enmeshed in it. So when I think about disrupt text, we got our four core principles. The first one is continuously interrogate your own biases. Chapter one is all about is all that. It's like, we teach who we are and how do we think about how. Who we are and how we even socialize informs our practices.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:11:04]:
The second principle of disrupt text is to center BIPOC voices. And a lot of the work that I try to do in the book through the mentor text that I've chosen, and then also through the mentor text, but also through the strategies, is all about the counternarrative. Like, identify the dominant narrative or misconception that students may be coming in into class with. And then what is the counternarrative? What's the mentor text? What are the things that I can share that helps open up and widen their perspectives? And the whole thing is strategies from a critical literacy lens. Like, the entire thing there's, like, one protocol that. It's one of my favorites. It's called CMM, which is, like, who is censored, who is marginalized, and who is missing, and how they might think about that in books that they're reading, but also in Arguments they're reading about in the world. And then the last principle of disruptex is to work in community with a lot of other antiracist, racist educators, especially BIPOC folks.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:12:02]:
And I think that that's just who I am. So you see how other people have influenced me throughout the book, and I was really intentional. And 75% of my citations are BIPOC scholars. Right. So that was really important to me, too. And to show that we build on each other. Right? We build on each other. Yeah.
Roberto Germán [00:12:24]:
Right. That's awesome. I love the way that you all, as a collective, have been able to make such a profound impact. And I'm also appreciating each of you shining as individuals and through your writing, because at this stage, each of you has now published a book.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:12:50]:
Yeah, I was the last one. The collection is complete.
Roberto Germán [00:13:00]:
I salute you all because I've been able to witness all the great work that y'all have done collectively and to some degree, individually. But now to be able to hear your voice, get deeper into your thinking, really work through your writing, and Julia's writing and Kim's writing, and obviously, Lord Anna's writing, who I'm able to work through more closely than the rest of y'all. But it feels like so much has come together for you all as a collective, but also, it's come together for you individually. And I know that this was a great labor of love for you and that you poured a lot into in these last few years to make this happen. So I'm extremely excited to see where this goes and see the ripple effect that this book is going to have. I'm wondering, for people who oppose this type of work, those that argue that as teachers, we should simply stick to the standards or just do skill building versus anti bias work, how does your book respond to that notion?
Tricia Ebarvia [00:14:26]:
So, here's the thing. This idea that anti biased literacy instruction or antiracist instruction is somehow separate from skill building or somehow separate from standards is just false, right? It's not an either or. That's actually a fallacy to say that it's either or. It's a fallacy that I actually talk about in the book. It's integrated. It's inherent. In fact, you cannot build strong readers, writers, and thinkers unless you have an anti bias lens like that, period. You're not intentionally embedding anti bias literacy instruction into your literacy instruction, then you're not fulfilling the full potential of what you can do with kids.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:15:08]:
Right. And speaking of standards, to prepare for our conversation today, I was like, okay, let me actually look at these standards. So, did a little digging, and I'm in Pennsylvania. So I went and looked at the Pennsylvania Core Standards for English language arts, which I know pretty well because I taught in public school for 20 years. And standard CC 1.4 point eleven to twelve. One literally has the word bias in there where it says to distinguish the claim from alternate or opposing claims, to develop a claim and counterclaims that anticipate the audience's knowledge level concerns, values, and possible biases. Right? I know that you and Lorena are in Florida, so guess what? I look at the Florida standards, too. And the Florida Best Standards, that acronym for whatever it is, I think benchmarks for excellent student Thinking.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:16:03]:
Right? I don't know how you can have excellent student thinking unless you're aware of biases. Right? And so I looked up in the Florida standards, and do you know the word bias is in the glossary of terms that kids should know? Right. And it says clearly that kids need to have the tools of understanding how argumentation works as they're learning to write arguments. And then one of our other favorite states that's always in the news right now is Texas.
Roberto Germán [00:16:30]:
We know. We used to live there. That's where we came from.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:16:32]:
I know. And Texas, the same thing. Right? Chapter 110. Under Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for ELA Letter G, students should be able to examine sources for credibility and bias, including omission. Right. And I don't know how you can do that if you're not paying attention to which voices are missing from your curriculum, to which voices have been historically marginalized. You simply cannot do that. So people are like, we shouldn't be doing this stuff.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:17:03]:
That's false. You can't actually be teaching standards or skill building if you're not already doing this.
Roberto Germán [00:17:11]:
Came ready for this interview.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:17:13]:
Yeah, I came ready. I was like, let me look up these standards.
Roberto Germán [00:17:17]:
No, that's good stuff. That's good stuff. I want to pivot a little bit now, and I want to read an excerpt from your book, chapter Six in particular, which is titled Perspective Taken and Perspective Bending Strategies for reading instruction. Then I want to invite you to react. My parents immigrated from the Philippines in the 1970s, and although I grew up knowing I was proud of my cultural roots, there was so much I didn't know the Tagalog. Did I say that right?
Tricia Ebarvia [00:17:50]:
Roberto Germán [00:17:51]:
I'm proud of myself. The Tagalog words that rolled off my parents tongues, the comustas and Paris and oys that danced in the air and announced my relatives arrival before their feet stepped through the doorway. These words are the only ones I have. Whenever I read these lines from Rio's poem, I think about all the words that I didn't know as a child, and I still don't know even now, decades later. Unlike the speaker in Rio's poem, it's not because I couldn't choose the ones to be my own, but because there were the only ones I had left. Of the centuries of words that came before remain but a few I read that I'm like, wow, there's a lot going on there, and I appreciate you opening up and making yourself vulnerable by sharing this. Can you just elaborate what comes to mind for you as you hear these words, as you reread them, as you think about what you captured here in response and in reflection to the speaker's poem? To Rio's poem.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:19:23]:
Yeah. So for people listening or watching, that was an excerpt from an essay that I wrote in response to Alberto's Rios's poem, A House called Tomorrow, which is one of my top 510, if you don't know that poem already. A house called Tomorrow. It's beautiful. And in it, the speaker of the poem talks about language. And there's a line in there about how sometimes you don't know what to say, but it's not because you're insufficient or lacking in any way. It's because you have centuries of language poured into you and you're just still trying to figure out which ones you're going to use, which words you're going to use. And it's beautiful and affirming, and it's an example of this type of writing assignment.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:20:11]:
A caller not I call, but it's called a rumination essay that I found from another teacher. And it's where you look at some lines of text, and then you respond in a personal way, even as you're analyzing. Right. So that literary analysis isn't separate from who you are as a person. Right. Like, you cannot separate the eye who reads from the words on the page. You have to understand that how I'm reacting and how I'm interpreting is all rooted and informed by all my life experience. So when I think about those lines, I think about the ways in which.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:20:47]:
Yeah, language is culture. Right. And language conveys values and culture in ways that can get lost when you don't have language. And for me, and I've talked about this with a lot of people, I mean, this is like the impact of schooling, right? And especially the impact of Western imperialism. And I can get into a whole history of how the Philippines was conquered by Spain and then was colonized by the United States. And now the school system in the Philippines is actually like, they teach English in the school system in the Philippines and all these different things and how I don't have the words of my ancestors, right. My parents told me that. My parents say that until I was about four or five that I could speak Tagalog pretty fluently.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:21:41]:
I don't know if that's true or not. I have a sneaking suspicion it might be true because I can make some of the sounds that if you're not a native speaker, you can't make, right? Because you lose. Like, your tongue isn't able to do it anymore, but I can't call it up. Right. I don't have the fLuency, and I just feel like. I don't know. I feel like that's an experience that a lot of students have had. Students, especially if they're 1st, 2nd, 3rd generation, like, not too far removed from their home or heritage country, they feel that loss.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:22:22]:
I think that what education should be doing is. Should be helping to mend back together. The best version of school helps to mend back together the damage that previous versions of school and colonialism and imperialism have wrought, right? Like the separation, the division, the loss. A school that's culturally affirming, culturally responsive and sustaining is one that mends back together. Right. Or offers those opportunities. Yeah. So all those things come to mind when I think about those lines.
Roberto Germán [00:23:01]:
Yeah, that's real. I think that'll resonate with many people who are growing up in this country and trying to maintain the language of their home country. Language of their parents home country. Trying to maintain the traditions, the customs, the culture, while also trying to be present as Americans. So there's a real tension there. It definitely resonates with me, and I think it'll resonate with many others.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:23:36]:
Yeah. I think it's that idea of healing from loss and that's intergenerational. Right. But then also building something new at the same time. Anyway, I've always had students who could identify with that idea. Right. The idea of, like, what gets lost when you don't have language. I mean, even my own kids, my own kids, they wish that their grandparents had spoken them exclusively into college so they could have it.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:24:08]:
Right. And I don't know enough to teach them. So I just told them when you go to college, you could do Duolingo or some other thing and then you go to college. Just find a college that has a Tagalog class.
Roberto Germán [00:24:22]:
Yeah, I've read that excerpt and it remind me of a poem I have in my book, Blowing Tears, titled Lengua, in which I'm talking about my battle with trying to maintain and speak in the native tongue and how it's one way in my mind and it comes out another way out my mouth.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:24:47]:
Roberto Germán [00:24:51]:
I know what I want to say and it's correct form and everything. And then at the time of execution doesn't fully come out. Right.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:25:03]:
Yeah. There's like a distance, that distance between what you know is possible and what's in your mind and then what actually gets spoken and then heard.
Roberto Germán [00:25:13]:
Right. So this is always the fun part of the interview for me. If you had an opportunity to have lunch with anybody, who would it be and why?
Tricia Ebarvia [00:25:27]:
Okay, so I thought a lot about this. I was like, well, there's obviously some correct answers you're supposed to know. The one name came out to me, up to me. And I think if I had that one ticket, I would have a meal with Angela Davis and I would have a meal with Dr. Davis because I had the opportunity to see her speak a couple years ago where courageous conversations summit. So she's on stage with Glenn Singleton, and it was the first time I've seen her speak. And I was just in awe that I was like, literally like 20ft away from her. And Dr.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:26:09]:
Singleton asks her, so you had a long life. You must be very proud and you're still working and so on. And he set it up and then he said, basically said, we have a lot of younger people in our audience, of course. And you and I are like, in the second half of our lifetime. And he's like, what advice would you have to give to some of our younger people working towards justice? Or what advice would you give to your younger self knowing all you've known? Right. That idea of like, it's a thing like letter to your younger self. What advice would you give to your younger self? And she was like, well, I'm going to turn the question around, which I love that she did. She was like, I don't like that question.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:26:53]:
She's like, here's a question. She's like, this is what I would not give advice to my younger self. I would actually ask my younger self how they think I turned out. And I love that idea. Because then she goes on and talks about how the youth have such fierce idealism, right? Sometimes you dismiss young people. They're so unrealistic. TheY just want everything now and blah, blah. But she's like, I want my younger self to look at me now and see that maybe I didn't sell out or I stayed true to my principles, that I became someone that that younger self could be proud of.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:27:34]:
Right. And I always think about that and how, yeah, as I'm moving through life, it's just such a different way to think about the mean. I got that from just sitting in an audience listening to her. So if I could have lunch with mean, I don't even know what I would do with myself. So, yeah, I would definitely pick Angela Davis. And if I could pick, and if I'm going to twist time around, and I can do any time, period, I would actually love to take her inspiration, and then I would actually love to have lunch with. If I were to have grandchildren, I would love to have lunch with one of my grandchildren and just kind of figure or great grandchildren, like some descendants, so I could just sort of see how their life turned out and hope that the world is okay, that they've inherited a world that's, gosh, worth inheriting.
Roberto Germán [00:28:24]:
Wow. That's great. So, for those that are listening, what's a message of encouragement that you want to offer?
Tricia Ebarvia [00:28:34]:
Yeah, it's hard. I think teaching is the most important work, and it's a cliche to say that teachers teach all others, but it's true. We make every profession, and it's hard work. And I thought for this question, I would just read the last lines that I wrote for the book, and it's in the epilogue, which was, like, the last thing that I wrote. You're not supposed to fall in love with your own writing. But if I do like any part of my own writing, it's probably just this last part, because I love teachers so much. So I'll just read this. Teachers know about love.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:29:17]:
When we teach with love, we see each of our kids with the respect and compassion, complexity and messiness that makes them human. When we teach with love, we lead with grace and openness and hope. When we teach with love, we know that our liberation is bound in each other. If you're reading this book, I hope that it may encourage you to love fiercely, even on days when our grief about the world, when people or systems let us down, seems unbearable. Perhaps especially on those days, because the list of things to fight for is everlasting.
Roberto Germán [00:29:57]:
That was beautiful. That was beautiful. That's great. That's great. And my business coach, Diana Benitez, is going to love that because you said teach with love like three times, and that's the name of her travel company.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:30:12]:
Roberto Germán [00:30:14]:
But more importantly, it's what her company focuses on, really identifying teachers that do teach with love and bringing them on these cultural experiences in which you can just fall in love with different cultures and hopefully bring that into the classroom and figure out what you learn from such experiences. But love should guide our work. Absolutely. And you mentioned few keywords that you mentioned here. Respect, compassion, complexity and messiness. And love to see you through all of that. Right?
Tricia Ebarvia [00:30:53]:
Roberto Germán [00:30:53]:
We know teaching is messy work.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:30:56]:
It's human work. It's the most important work. Yeah.
Roberto Germán [00:30:59]:
On so many levels. I want to thank you once again for this wonderful publication, anti by literacy instruction. Get free, folks. It is available now. Don't sleep. All right? Keep the enthusiasm that you all had a year or two ago when things were really crazy in this country. Not that things are less crazy, but we need to continue to dig into texts like this to inform our practice so we could learn and grow. And there's amazing people doing all types of work and publishing all types of books.
Roberto Germán [00:31:42]:
This right here is a resource that you need to have, and you need to implement this ASAP. It's extremely practical. There are visuals in here. There are sample lesson plans, QR codes for you to scan. Listen, there's no excuses, folks. All right? This is a wonderful guide. And in addition to the book, you want to make sure that you get the merch because the merch is looking real fresh.
Tricia Ebarvia [00:32:16]:
I see that sweatshirt I know.
Roberto Germán [00:32:19]:
Looking real crispy. I love it. Get yourself a T shirt. Get a sweatshirt. Support what Trisha is doing. Trisha, once again, appreciate you and cheering you on. Going to see you real soon at NCTE and so looking forward to building in person. But thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to come to our classroom and share this wonderful work.
Roberto Germán [00:32:48]:
Tricia Ebarvia [00:32:49]:
YEAH. Thank you, Roberto. Thank you, everyone. APPRECIATE YOU.
Roberto Germán [00:32:52]:
PEACE. As always, your engagement in our classroom is greatly appreciated. Be sure to subscribe, rate the show, and write a review. Finally, for resources to help you understand the intersection of race, bias, education and society, go to multiculturalclassroom.com. PeACE AnD love fRoM yOur hOst, ROVELTO HERMAn.