Updated: Jan 20

Please join us in an exciting book study and discussion on a timely, integral topic in education: navigating race conversations in the classroom.

Matthew R. Kay centers his provocative and highly practical book Not Light, But Fire on wisdom shared by Frederick Douglass in 1852 when he was invited to deliver an address to a Rochester audience celebrating the Fourth of July; in his speech, he challenged Americans to admit to their constant preoccupation with “meaningless race conversations.” Douglass, who was often rebuked for his directness, was frequently told his role should be to “shed light” on the American race problem. Douglass’s retort, “It is not light that is needed, but fire” has inspired Matthew R. Kay, a veteran black high school teacher in Philadelphia, to bring the fire to classroom talk about race. He proffers the idea that high school classrooms are one of the best places to have these conversations if we create communities built on dialogue and respect.

He provides practical guidance on how to cultivate such a fertile environment: how to recognize the difference between meaningful race conversations and hollow ones; how to actually build conversational safe spaces, not merely to declare them; how to react to unexpected challenges and directions in discussions; and how the administration and structure of schools might equip teachers to engage in these conversations thoughtfully.

Kay’s energetic and direct voice draws readers into this timely and often scary topic, and he refreshingly offers many practical suggestions and anecdotes that teachers will be able to identify with, reflect on, and use in their classrooms immediately.


  1. Launch Session: March 2, 2022 (via Zoom. 4:30-5:30)

  2. Asynchronous discussion - Last week in March

  3. Wrap up: April 26, 2022 (via Zoom. 4:30-5:30)

Cost: $20 (Note, does not include cost of book which may be purchased through Amazon or other book retailers).

Discussion Leader:

At this moment in time when things are so uncertain and so ever shifting, it is critically important that we strive to develop ourselves, not just as educators, but as human beings. What can we do to be bigger and better versions of ourselves as collaborative team members and as leaders? This workshop, based on Jennifer’s new book, Stretching Your Learning Edges: Growing (Up) at Work, will introduce us to adult developmental theory and to five focused ways we can develop ourselves at work.

We will build our skills to:

  • know ourselves and our identities

  • better suspend our certainty and think with greater complexity and openness

  • take increased responsibility for our language and communications

  • engage with reciprocity and live ‘out loud’ our belief of mutual respect for all

  • build our resiliency and work on our emotional hygiene and health

Join us to consider what it means, in practice, to grow (up) – to develop our skills and capacities as lead learners in our schools.

*Jennifer's book, Stretching Your Learning Edges: Growing (Up) at Work, must be purchased by those attending this program.

More information at https://jenniferabrams.com/spotlight/

More information about Jennifer at https://jenniferabrams.com/about/

Information about purchasing the book in print or digitally at http://www.miravia.com/products/stretching-your-learning-edges-growing-up-at-work/


Presented by the Greater Rochester Teacher Center Network in Collaboration with the Genesee Valley ASCD. This program is open to educators in New York State.

March 10, 2022, 4:00-6:00 pm

This is an online event.

About the Author

Jennifer Abrams, Author

Jennifer Abrams is an international educational and communications consultant for public and independent schools, universities and non-profits. Jennifer trains and coaches teachers, administrators and others on new teacher/employee support, having hard conversations, collaboration skills and being your best adult self at work. Jennifer’s publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs, Swimming in the Deep End: Four Foundational Skills for Leading Successful School Initiatives, and her newest book, Stretching Your Learning Edges: Growing (Up) at Work.

A culturally responsive classroom needs to be a brave space. A brave space is an environment that affirms its occupants while also pushing them out of their comfort zones to examine personal biases and cultural misconceptions. With this comes uncomfortable conversations. Topics of race, culture, and sexuality/gender make many teachers nervous. In this one-hour session participants will examine real-life scenarios and determine how to respond to each in a way that affirms and honors the cultures and backgrounds of the students in the classroom. Participants will leave feeling better equipped to create a brave space in their classrooms and better prepared to react to charged conversations or conflicts that may arise from difficult conversations.

Date: January 12, 2022

Time: 4:30- 5:30 PM (virtual)

Registration: $20 ($5 discount for Nov. 10th participants)

Wednesday, Jan. 12th 2022 at 4:30-5:30pm

Online Event