Welcome to GTAcast number 10! We have new technology! This is our first recording in the wild. As we get better with the device, there will be an improvement in sound quality. For now, however, we’re still learning and ask for the podcast equivalent of “pardon our dust”.

Recently, members of the Guerrilla Teacher Academy had the opportunity to attend the Green Schools Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh PA. The highlight of the event was the final keynote speaker, Dr. Christopher Emdin. He is a professor at Columbia University, an empassioned and eloquent speaker, and recently received the Early Career Award from American Educational Research Association 

We began this meeting by reflecting on Dr. Emdin’s talk. This discussion is what follows.


  • excavating is a continual practice
  • build systems that function as empathy bridges – we participate in the narrative of disconnection when we don’t know.
  • we need to ask better questions
  • how do we create inequality even if it’s not intentional?
  • how do we validate some kids and not others?
  • a need to escape the deficit model.
  • bring the voiceless into the conversation
  • when we say we’re going to save you, we are basically saying you have something wrong with you.
  • deconstructing respectability
  • are we legitimately co-creating our spaces that we are in or are we asking some people to make more trade offs than others?
  • be mindful of the space we are holding
  • the opposite of aggression is curiosity
  • have I excavated enough of myself to make the right decisions?
  • efficiency is attractive
  • frustration of how students treat each other, but we have to look at what we’re doing to them.
  • is what I’m doing for my students?
  • how do we engage further?


One of the ways we hope to encourage others to participate in this conversation is through these podcasts. We generate many questions through this work, and can only hope to answer them through introspection and dialogue. We hope you can find your own ways to engage in this work, and create space for your own excavation and grow your community’s capacity for empathy.

We’ll continue next week by looking at how creating seemingly inclusive classrooms can unintentionally exclude students and ponder the reality that there may be students who don’t want to be included.

For more information about the Green Schools Conference, go to

To learn more about Dr. Emdin and his work visit or follow him on twitter @chrisemdin.

We are counting  down the days until the Guerrilla Teacher Academy descends upon New Orleans for the Teach to Lead summit. Kaz alluded to some of what we hope to accomplish there – building empathy bridges. We are hoping to talk to other participants and bring their ideas to you as well.

Our music is Real Swing Shet by Ménage Quad and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

GTAcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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