Teaching Guides

Teaching for Black Lives

Teaching Guide. Edited by Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian, Wayne Au. 368 pages. 2018. Rethinking Schools.
Essays, teaching activities, role plays, poems, and artwork, designed to illuminate the movement for Black students’ lives, the school-to-prison-pipeline, Black history, gentrification, intersectional Black identities, and more.

Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity

Teaching for Black Lives (Book) Zinn Education ProjectTeaching for Black Lives grows directly out of the movement for Black lives.

This teaching guide is a compilation of essays, teaching activities, role plays, poems, and artwork, designed to illuminate, the movement for Black student lives, the school-to-prison-pipeline, Black history, gentrification, intersectional Black identities, and more.


1: Making Black Lives Matter in Our Schools

2: Enslavement, Civil Rights, and Black Liberation

3: Gentrification, Displacement, and Anti-Blackness

4: Discipline, the Schools-to-Prison Pipeline, and Mass Incarceration

5: Teaching Blackness, Loving Blackness, and Exploring Identity

The book is designed to show how educators “can and should make their classrooms and schools sites of resistance to white supremacy and anti-Blackness, as well as sites for knowing the hope and beauty in Blackness.”


Again, the folks at Rethinking Schools have stepped out to produce a timely volume that should become a central staple in how we understand race and the radical imaginary in K–12 classrooms.
David Stovall, Professor of African American Studies and Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago

In this edited volume, we learn that Black Lives Matter is not just a rallying cry in the movement against police abuse and violence, but it is also a critical framework for understanding the persistent attacks on public education. As public schools face withering attacks on the national, state, and local level, this important collection edited by Watson, Hagopian, and Au will educate, inspire, and rally those in the struggle for education justice. From students, to educators, to a public that cares about public education, this book is a must-read to know the issues at stake and the strategies necessary to win.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

Teaching for Black Lives is a moral lifeline for all educators looking to rehumanize our schools and society through education, love, and action.
Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price, educator and national co-organizer of Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action

Learn more at the Teaching for Black Lives website.

ISBN: 9780942961041 | Published by Rethinking Schools.

Teacher Quotes

The Teaching for Black Lives book is part of my Civil Rights unit. Using Zinn Education Project and Rethinking Schools activities, students were excited to see themselves in the history. Then, they could make critical connections between the past and the present.

—Whitney Blankenship
Social Studies Teacher, Providence, Rhode Island

Police violence and racial profiling loom large for my students, and often our solutions are legislative or civic. But Renée Watson’s guidance in “Happening Yesterday, Happened Tomorrow: Teaching the Ongoing Murders of Black Men” allowed me to bring hope and heart to a grueling and gruesome topic.

It was empowering to create art and think about the history of protest via artistic expression. My students were inspired to create not only poems but also posters and murals they displayed around our school. Watson’s lesson took a big, messy, horrifying topic and made it digestible for middle schoolers. They were able to acknowledge the pain and injustice of racial profiling, and then use their feelings of frustration, disgust, and guilt to make something meaningful and immediate.

Too often we are asking our students to wait and this allowed them to talk back immediately.

—Liz Iverson
Middle Language Arts/English Teacher, Chicago, Illinois