Narratives of Social Justice Teaching

sj Miller, Laura Bolf Beliveau, Peggy Rice and David Kirkland

Narratives of Social Justice Teaching

This book documents how preservice and inservice English teachers negotiate the transfer of the social justice pedagogies they learn in university methods classes to their own work as beginning full-time teachers.

Based on a set of teacher narratives, this critical and evidence-based view of English teachers’ interpretations of, responses to, and embodiments of social justice explores the complex shifts and concessions that English teachers often make when transitioning between preservice and inservice spaces – shifts which cause teachers to embrace and negotiate a social justice agenda in their classrooms, or for some, to modify, or even abandon it altogether.

​This work also offers a fresh perspective on the specific, context-dependent pathways and mechanisms through which English teachers enter school culture and respond to their own racial, sexual, and financial positions in relation to the gendered, raced, and classed positions of their schools, students, and classrooms. The book will be useful to social justice researchers, English teacher educators, inservice and preservice teachers, policymakers, cross-disciplinary teacher education fields, and interdisciplinary audiences, particularly in the fields of anthropology, sociology of education, philosophy, and cultural studies.

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​Winner, Richard A. Meade Award from NCTE, 2007

Table of Contents

Foreword: If We Could, Only, What? 
Ruth Vinz

Introduction: Fourthspace – Revisiting Social Justice in Teacher Education
sj Miller

It’s in the Telling and the Sharing: Becoming Conscious of Social Justice through Communal Exploration
Laura Bolf Beliveau with Kristen Ogilvie Holzer and Stephanie Schmidt

Quiet Tensions in Meaning: A Conversation with a “Social Justice” Teacher
David Kirkland with Danielle Filipiak

Dream Big: The Power of Literature, Imagination, and the Arts
Peggy Rice with Alena Bogucki, Jamey Katen, and Emily Marie Keifer

Multicultural Spaces Meet Rural Places
sj Miller with Channell Wilson-Segura and Kristy Lorenzo

Lifting the Veil of Ignorance: Thoughts on the Future of Social Justice Teaching
Todd DeStigter


At this point in the history of education, it’s easy to be cynical about social justice. Too often it seems like talk without action, the wishful thinking of theorists and academics who fail to follow their ideas into real classrooms and see what happens when things get messy. The essays in this book are different. They tell stories that become bridges between ideas and actions. Such stories, by being true to the complexities of teaching for social justice, make it possible to be hopeful again.
  • Don Zancanella, Professor of English Education, University of New Mexico