Throughout my 14 years of teaching across three of the most diverse school districts in the country, I’ve personally observed how our nation’s educators, especially in an urban context, are not racially reflective of the students we serve. In other words, while our nation’s population is becoming increasingly “browner,” our teachers are becoming more White and female.  This can potentially create a glaring disconnect between students and their teachers, impacting both groups’ ability to fully achieve their potential.

How can we bridge these divides – across race, class and gender – to transform the lives of every student?

I hope to raise this question at this year’s fourth annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit, a statewide day of learning, led by and for teachers. During my talk, “But I’m Not from their Hood: How to be a Transformative Teacher for Diverse Learners,” I’ll share three commonly-believed myths pre and early in service educators are encouraged to adopt around being an effective teacher, the fallacies in this logic and clear, practical solutions that every teacher can begin implementing tomorrow. By sharing the insights I’ve gleaned throughout my career, I hope teachers, particularly those who are not of the same racial and ethnic background of most of their students, can increase student engagement, build deeper connections, and ultimately generate better academic performance.

That’s what this year’s Summit theme, “It’s Personal: Meeting the Needs of Every Student” is all about. It’s about building consciousness and awareness around equity and access. It’s about developing all young people’s capacity to transform education and larger socio-economic systems that constrain the opportunities of so many. And it’s about taking a more personal and empowering approach to education – and making every student feel safe and valued in our schools, despite the political chaos raging outside of it.

Given the current political environment – from teacher shortages to anti-immigrant, de-humanizing narratives – we need politically and intellectually-engaged teachers now more than ever. By bringing teachers together to collaborate and share ideas, we can continue the conversation to meaningfully address the educational inequities in order to and create classrooms and schools where every child can succeed.

To learn more about the California Teachers Summit and register at one of 31 locations across the state, go to