Teacher Action Group-Philadelphia brought its Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs) back to Philadelphia in February. ItAGS are themed groups of educators, parents, students, and concerned community members who come together to discuss relevant social issues. Teachers are also given tools to develop a spirit of activism in classroom curriculum.
The eighth annual ItAGs offer six themed sessions, providing attendees with a support system and a space to share personal experiences, respond to relevant social issues, exchange ideas, and develop plans of action about social justice issues.
The workshops, held from February through April, are hosted at schools and other locations throughout the city. Topics include empowering students to become leaders in policy issues, environmental justice in the urban classroom, justice for immigrants and the fight for sanctuary schools, and the impact of systemic racism and implicit bias within schools.
Through ItAGs, TAG members said, they hope that teachers will educate and influence all students to become future leaders in government, culture, and society.
Ismael Jimenez, an 11th-grade teacher at Kensington Creative & Performing Arts High School who specializes in African American literature, said that ItAGs cultivate deeper communication with people of different races, ethnicities, and beliefs.
“ItAGs provide a space not just for professional educators, but also for parents and community members to talk about relevant topics and, most importantly, discuss how to guide the students on transforming the world,” Jimenez said.
Max Rosen-Long, a Spanish teacher at Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber and the facilitator for the ItAG on environmental justice in the urban classroom, said that with every workshop, participating educators build a network of shared resources and experiences that helps address the problems of their students.
“All these people from different studies and experiences talking to one another allows us to re-center the needs of local communities, particularly those of our students,” said Rosen-Long.