Re-envisioning the Possible in Classrooms – imaginED


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

The target of freedom is human creativeness, the improvement, and elaboration of lifestyle ~ (Nachmanovitch, 1990)

When I was rising up in Venezuela, I generally identified myself on my mother’s bed or at our eating room desk listening to stories. We didn’t have a television. My mom and Tia Elsita filled our place with all kinds of stories — from times when they were developing up all through politically turbulent periods to a lot more modern day tales of their daily lives. The stories of our grandparents tapped into ancestral understanding and formed long term generations, tales of dichos, consejos, joy, sorrow, appreciate, and resilience. I do not remember when the learnings from those people tales commenced to influence who am I as a mother, spouse, sister, daughter, friend, colleague, and academic chief. But they did and for that I am often grateful.

What I do recall is that in my profession as a university leader, sharing my tale was not one thing that I felt I essential to do— in its place I felt that I required to assimilate to the dominant culture however, lately, as I undertook a undertaking to carry the tales of family members and youngsters into the university, I felt the have to have to share my mother’s stories as a basis of my operate. When we, as associates of communities of colour, enter the white dominated academic method, we are compelled to leave our lifestyle “at the door”. There is no room for our voices. As a principal, I realized that I needed to tap into creativity and creativeness to assist lecturers to deliver the voices of Learners of Colour into the curriculum. As Communities of Color interact in counter-storytelling, their hopes, desires, and aspirations for their little ones come to the forefront.

As a principal, I understood that I wanted to faucet into creativity and creativeness to guidance lecturers to carry the voices of Students of Coloration into the curriculum.

I invited a group of 3 instructors, a counselor, moms and dads, and a community member to have interaction in a participatory action exploration venture that entailed 3 successive cycles of inquiry over 18 months to convey the voices and tales of people of shade into the curriculum. We have been certain that giving a area for families to engage in a understanding trade and share stories and memories would guide to additional innovative curriculum in the fifth-quality lecture rooms. And we had been proper!

Motivated by the learning trade philosophy and operate of Guajardo et. al. (2016), I began with the self. I shared my story of escalating up in a poor section of Caracas and getting an immigrant to the United States. Then, we invited mother and father to a Household Neighborhood Finding out Exchanges (CLE) at our college to share their stories and histories. This get the job done required imaginative considering (Judson, 2018) to interact the people in drawing, imagining, and speaking about their day-to-day life, their loved ones histories, and the conditions of their existing experiences.

As college students and academics listened to each other’s tales, the stories turned additional than a tale. These stories constituted testimonios, a more robust word in Spanish for bearing witness, very similar to what Emdin (2016) recommends in pedagogical strategies to replicate the cultural encounter of the Black church. By testifying, the mother and father and family members laid assert to tales of their power and attained a distinctive kind of agency in the learning exchanges and, subsequently, the fifth-grade students did in their school rooms. The relationship involving academics and pupils improved from hierarchical to horizontal, and the stories of the pupils grew to become the foundation of developing a classroom community.

We applied the tales shared by mother and father at the CLE to create a curriculum of storytelling in the fifth-grade classrooms– what Muhammed (2018) names as significant literacy. The instructors and I realized that we experienced questioned pupils to produce emulation poems earlier and the students had shared the “I come from a place” poems for many years. On the other hand, this time we observed a variation. In this circumstance, the teachers understood that pupil testimonios as a approach of witnessing—meaning general public listening and relating to the stories— builds stronger community. As a final result, academics requested for tales from their college students with the conclusion purpose of setting up neighborhood and not an assignment.

Alaina, a fifth-quality instructor reflected on this change:

As a substitute of this is an assignment where by you are bringing your story and you are instructing us about you. This identification undertaking was far more like we’re developing the community. You are part of this. You are bringing your story and bringing it into the classroom the place the tale is like the bonds that we’re obtaining. And I mean, the stories are who we are as a course. (Alaina Lee, December 5, 2020)

What we figured out throughout this job is that the storytelling procedure required modifying associations among the participants from hierarchical to horizontal. For instructors and administrators to study from people of shade, we essential to be vulnerable, to let down the partitions that different us from the father or mother group, and to observe a distinctive sort of listening. To do this, we experienced to interact in the imaginative act of witnessing stories. Using CLEs and protocols, we established a gracious room for deeper listening with our dad or mum community (Guajardo & Guajardo, 2013 Hughes & Grace, 2010). Intertwined in the procedure of sharing every other’s stories in household knowledge circles, we ended up in a position to see every other differently–not as gurus and moms and dads interacting in a school placing, but as co-storytellers and listeners. The procedure humanizes the encounter for all people and sustains associations in our work (San Pedro & Kinloch, 2017).


Guajardo, M., Guajardo, F., Janson, C., & Militello, M. (2016). Reframing community partnerships in instruction: Uniting the electricity of place and knowledge of persons. Routledge.

Judson, G. (2018). Re-imagining school leadership: Beginnings. imaginative academic leadership.

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

Quinn, J. & Blank, M. J. (2022). Twenty years, ten classes: Local community educational facilities as an equitable enhancement tactic. Voices of Urban Education and learning, 49(2).   DOI:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Resource connection