The Berkeley Teacher Education Program prepares teachers who are committed to co-creating powerful and enriching classrooms that embody the values, relationships, and experiences of a more just world. Such spaces of learning are only possible when teachers build on the strengths and assets of students. These spaces emerge from a commitment, grounded in humility and hope, to construct classrooms, pedagogies, and practices in solidarity with families and communities who have been marginalized. In doing so, we strive to fulfill ongoing struggles for education that are genuinely for the public good and that resist prioritizing market-driven agendas over people. Our work as teachers requires a profound recognition that schooling and education have been avenues for liberation, transformation, and justice as well as oppression, colonization, and dehumanization—an awareness that demands that each moment of teaching is intentionally approached as political, ethical, and moral. In BTEP, we embark on a continuous journey of naming and interrupting systems of oppression, including white supremacy, settler colonialism, patriarchy, ableism, and heteronormativity, and centering the knowledges, values, and experiences of marginalized communities. Knowing that power shapes what we teach, how we teach, and who we become as teachers and learners, we remind ourselves that washing our hands of conflicts in society is not neutrality—it is siding with systems of oppression.
Centering these social justice principles as teachers requires our close attention to the pedagogies and practices we refine and innovate, the relationships we nurture within and outside of our classrooms, and the systems we create in schools. We seek to cultivate classrooms that are joyful, where students and teachers authentically care for each other, and where teachers foster students’ curiosity and love for learning. We endeavor to create spaces that build on students’ intuitions, creativity, and capacity for joint meaning making to develop their agency as historians, mathematicians, scientists, readers, and writers. We integrate the arts, humanities, and social theory as we teach young people who imaginatively navigate and meld diverse social and digital spaces as democratic agents in an increasingly pluralistic society. Knowing that even progressive notions of care and student-centeredness have been instrumental in obscuring the abilities, ingenuity, and brilliance of youth from marginalized communities, we commit to examining teaching and learning in relationship to culture and power. In our classrooms and with our colleagues, we hold ourselves to interrogating our positionality and deliberately acting with an understanding of how we have internalized and are embedded in systems of oppression.
We believe teachers should be producers of knowledge who engage in a generative way with research as they approach their own classrooms and schools as sites for purposeful investigation. Teaching is a lifelong endeavor—a craft that deepens through an intentional stance of inquiry over time. It is also a profoundly creative and intellectual endeavor that requires the coupling of theory and practice, and the fortitude of dialogue and humility, as means to realizing our collective humanity. As members of the BTEP community, we recognize our collective capacity to transform, to look inward to become more honest, courageous and whole so that we can hold space and support others to do the same. Simultaneously, we look outward knowing that alone we cannot create the conditions in schools and society to fulfill these aspirations for teaching and learning. We consciously work to embody, with students, families, communities, allies, unions, and collectives of teachers and educational workers, the values and relationships that would characterize the world towards which we strive.