Inquiry to Action Groups-- Report Back on our Stories and Successes

April 12, 2010 0 comments

Chicago's Teachers for Social Justice just completed our first-ever round of Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs). Shared with us by our sister organization NYCORE--New York Collective of Radical Educators--ItAGs are an opportunity for educators and their allies to build community, access new resources, and link social justice with classroom practices.

The goal of an ItAG is to pursue a common inquiry on a social justice topic and create an action around this area of study.

Here's what teachers had to say about the iTAGs:

" [The ItAG] kept me aware of my own motivation to work towards social justice and it gave me support from others trying to do the same."
"We decided to use our ItAG space to help each other stay on top of our projects. It made us go above and beyond our meeting space to affect change in the world." 
"I loved the opportunity to share ideas and hear perspectives of teachers at all different age groups and types of schools." 
"It was very rich, relevant and applicable; it as really made me rethink what I do in my classroom."

With this in mind, Jonah Bondurant and Sarah Atlas got together to launch this process. We did outreach among educators across the city, surveyed interested people for the most relevant topics to their studies and practice, and found amazing facilitators to help us get this off the ground. This past January, educators, parents, students, activists, teaching artists, and community members formed five ItAGs--Early Childhood Education, Education for Liberation, Arts and Social Justice, Hip-Hop and Social Justice, New Teachers and Social Justice. This range of themes brought together a community of learners from all over Chicago.

We began with a kickoff event to cultivate the common energy we all had for studying together, learning from one another, sharing resources, and taking action. We launched into this with the idea that you cannot have study without action nor action without study.
With this idea in mind, the ItAGs met for 6 weeks, for approximately two hours each meeting. The ItAGs became spaces for democratic education to take place while allowing for each group to have its own structures, activities, readings and processes. And each group had its own successes and challenges.

As the individual ItAG meetings came to a close, we came back together for our finale and celebration. It was evident that though the ItAGs were around different topics and were meeting all across the city, each group shared a passion for critical analysis, energy for learning and sharing, necessary hope, and shared commitment to bring social justice even deeper into our practice as educators.

As we reflect on this process and harness this energy, TSJ will definitely continue hosting Inquiry to Action Groups. At the request and commitment of many of the ItAG participants, we will launch our next round of ItAGs in the summer of 2010.

Interested in participating? Interested in facilitating? Want to know more? Let us know, this is definitely a learning community we want to grow! Email Jonah Bondurant holajonah(at)gmail.com and Sarah Atlas seatlas(at)gmail.com
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