Anti-Racist Pedagogy: Notes and Takeaways

Before Thanksgiving, Middlebury education studies professor Tara Affolter joined us for a discussion on anti-racist pedagogy.

Some key points were:

  • Professors shouldn’t be asking students to check their identity at the door or as was elegantly said “Affirming the dignity, the voices, and stories in the room”
  • Considering who we think is at Middlebury versus who is at Middlebury
  • Making anti-racism the whole meal versus a desert
    • Think about what you are working towards
    • Who gets to tell their story?
    • Focusing on stories of hope and resilience rather than only stories of oppression
  • You need to earn your student’s trust
    • Students will go with you if you do the background work
    • Respond to the students’ levels after tragedies on campus/the world
    • Respect students need to know schedules to plan work hours
  • Hope to move towards anti-racist TA’s but it’s hard enough to get syllabi submitted
  • In terms of PBL, anti-racism requires a lot of attention to group dynamics


Much of what we talked about in our meeting was on reflections, trust, classroom dynamics, and building spaces where students feel comfortable sharing. As a student, I feel it is necessary to emphasize the level of trust needed for a productive reflection. Like many of my peers, I take on projects that I am passionate about, which means they are often personal. Without trust, any refection written around that project can feel disingenuous. I am not going to exploit unhappy memories for a grade but sometimes glossing over them is impossible. This is something to keep in mind when assigning reflections and bringing more personal experiences into the classroom.


Along with our discussion of anti-racism, we also discussed ungrading. If you are interested in learning more about ungrading Jason Duquette-Hoffman is a resource. He can be reached at


Speaker Tara Affolter can be reached at:

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