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The Pedagogy of Teacher Activism

Portraits of Four Teachers for Justice


Keith Catone

Through the artful science of portraiture, The Pedagogy of Teacher Activism presents the stories of four teacher activists—how they are and have become social change agents—to uncover important pedagogical underpinnings of teacher activism. Embedded in their stories are moments of political clarity and consciousness, giving rise to their purpose as teacher activists. The narratives illuminate how both inner passions and those stirred by caring relationships with others motivate their work, while the intentional ways in which they attempt to disrupt power relations give shape to their approaches to teacher activism. Knowing their work will never truly be done and that the road they travel is often difficult, the teacher activists considered here persist because of the hope and possibility that their work might change the world. Like many pre-service educators or undergraduates contemplating teaching as a vocation, these teacher activists were not born ready for the work that they do. Yet by mining their biographical histories and trajectories of political development, this book illuminates the pedagogy of teacher activism that guides their work.

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Chapter 3. Rosie Frascella: Creating Space


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Part I: Safe Space

Rosie Frascella pushes a small cart piled high with her laptop, projector, and other class materials and teaching necessities—lesson planner, student work, worksheets, and handouts—packed into a set of folders. Standing tall at just about five foot three and bent forward to be able to push the cart, Rosie cannot see much in front of her, but she navigates the crowded hallways with ease, weaving back and forth amid heavy student foot traffic, relying upon the good sense of students to move out of the way. Dressed casually in brown khaki pants and a plaid buttoned shirt, her comfortable-looking, rubber-soled shoes help quick hallway maneuvers.

It was the start of Rosie’s second year teaching at the International High School at Prospect Heights (IHSPS)—located just off Eastern Parkway—a wide thoroughfare in the heart of Brooklyn with pedestrian walkways separated from the busy center strip of road meant for through traffic and quieter side roadways where cars park and local traffic is funneled. The school is in a shared building, a common arrangement in New York City (NYC) as a result of large comprehensive high schools being broken apart into separate small schools within a single building. A marker of its longstanding history in the ← 25 | 26 → neighborhood, the building boasts an ornate stone façade characteristic of many old public school buildings in NYC. Wide stairways lead to the...

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