After #Ferguson: Sample Questions for Reflection & Discussion in Our Schools (via #PubPriBridge)

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NOTE: Some folks may be familiar with #PubPriBridge, a twitter chat on alternating Mondays (5:30pm PT/8:30pm ET) that helps to build bridges across difference between educators in both public and independent/private schools. Further information and resources about #PubPriBridge are available at, including archives of past chats.


Earlier this week, #PubPriBridge set aside a planned discussion on school change in order to create space for urgent conversation about social justice and our schools, following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson – and Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, John Crawford, and Eric Garner in other cities. Beforehand, #PubPriBridge co-founders Peter Gow and Laura Robertson, our colleague Theresa Collins, and I brainstormed a series of questions to invite reflection and dialogue on the topic “After #Ferguson: Fostering Honest Conversations about Justice and Injustice in Our Schools.”

After the chat, we received some feedback from folks suggesting that some of these questions might be helpful to fostering ‘live’ conversations back at school – to encourage individual reflection, to inspire discussions with colleagues, to anchor semi-structured faculty/staff meetings, or to facilitate conversations with students in class — especially for folks who may not have returned to school just yet, and who may be searching for basic ideas to foster such conversation and reflection. To that end, we thought we’d share the list of questions in case you find them helpful for any of those purposes.

Following the list of questions, you’ll find an embedded copy of the full chat archive, featuring participants’ great contributions to Monday evening’s discussion. In addition to using this information however you wish in your school, please feel free to share your responses to any of these questions, to suggest further questions, or to offer any other thoughts in the ‘Comments’ below…



#PubPriBrige Questions | August 18, 2014
After #Ferguson:
Fostering Honest Conversations about Justice & Injustice in Our Schools

#PubPriBridge follows the Q1/A1 format. After a first question inviting participants to introduce themselves, the exchange was driven by the following questions:

Q2. Some folks tweeted/blogged this week about the power of our voices & the impact of silence online. What are your thoughts?

Q3. When evidence of grave injustice is so visible, how do we balance restraint & caution with urgency & action? Should we?

Q4. What blogs, articles, other resources have been important to your reflection/action this week? Why/how? (Please link.)

Q5. What are our obligations to our students and our communities in times like this? What *must* we do to support Ss?

Q6. How do our beliefs about the purpose of school inform our understanding of the value of these discussions in them?

Q7. Our premise following recent events: that active, explicit convos at school are necessary. Is that a legit assumption?

Q8. Knowing the year starts with so many pressing ideas/initiatives, how do we make sure these conversations are priorities?

Q9. Have you either felt, or experienced from others, any resistance to honest convos abt race, power, justice in your school?

Q10. So where might a conversation about Ferguson start – with students? — with colleagues? How best to begin?

Q11. How best to foster dialogue abt Ferguson, SJ w/ very *young* students? What are your thoughts on developmental propriety?

Q12. Recognizing diverse identities & POVs of students, what should we guard/protect *against* in such convos? Cautions?

Q13. What are other driving Qs to sustain productive, continuing inquiry abt recent events/implications in the classroom?

Q14. Are there any other resources you’d rec to support conversations with students or teachers at school? Please link.

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You can follow Chris Thinnes on Twitter at @ChrisThinnes