Identity Safe Classrooms, Grades 6-12
Pathways to Belonging and Learning
- Becki Cohn-Vargas - Curriculum Consultant and Educational Coach
- Alexandrea Creer Kahn
- Amy Epstein
Foreword by Claude Steele
Welcome to Identity Safe Classrooms!
In identity safe classrooms, students facing negative stereotypes or viewed as different are “seen,” accepted, and valued for who and what they are. Their identity is embraced as an asset not a barrier for school success. Identity safety is a research-based set of practices that counter the harmful effects of stereotype threat and allow our students to reach their full capacity for learning, foster positive relationships, and better appreciate the full spectrum of human differences.
The second of a two-volume set, Identity Safe Classrooms, Grades 6-12, is a call for educators to come together and realize a vision of schools as transformative places of opportunity and equity for all students. Inside you’ll find:
- Design principles for promoting belonging and a welcoming classroom environment
- Compelling evidence from identity safety research on ways to mitigate stereotype threat along with counter-narratives that challenge societal biases about gender, race, and other differences
- Pragmatic strategies for student-centered teaching, including trauma-informed practices, that hold high expectations and validate each student’s background as a resource for learning
- Vignettes with concrete examples and try-it-out activities and prompts for self-reflection
Devour Identity Safe Classrooms, adopt its practices, and soon enough you’ll inspire in all of your students a greater sense of empathy and agency in their educational experiences.
“Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas along with Alexandrea Creer Kahn and Amy Epstein show us the intersections between adolescent identity development, racial identity development, and social-emotional development so we know how to use the diversity in classrooms as our strength.”
-Zaretta Hammond, Author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain
“Identity Safe Classrooms should be in the hands of every educator who walks into a school. It's clear and accessible, grounded in research, thought-provoking and engaging, and actionable, and fills a crucial gap in our resources for creating just and liberated schools.”
-Elena Aguilar, Author of The Art of Coaching
“The authors have done an excellent job showing how an identity safe classroom integrates the growth mindset in a secondary school. When students feel accepted and valued, when they feel safe learning from mistakes and encouraged to continually grow as learners, they can reach their highest potential.”
-Carol Dweck, Stanford University
"Creating identity safe classrooms is an essential condition for providing more culturally responsive instruction that increases equitable outcomes. But, how do we create those environments where our middle and high students feel socially, emotionally, and intellectually safe to reach their highest potential, especially those who have been historically marginalized? That is the question that Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas along with Alexandrea Creer Kahn and Amy Epstein answer in Identity Safe Classrooms: Grades 6 -12. They show us the intersections between adolescent identity development, racial identity development and social-emotional development so we know how to use the diversity in classrooms as our strength."
"To provide young people with the education they need and deserve, we must build skill, knowledge, and self-awareness about identity safe classrooms--which is what is precisely what is provided in this book. Identity Safe Classrooms should be in the hands of every educator who walks into a school. It's clear and accessible, grounded in research, thought-provoking and engaging, and actionable, and fills a crucial gap in our resources for creating just and liberated schools."