Literacy Studies faculty discuss, sign book on culturally responsive practices

The East Carolina University College of Education hosted a book talk and signing on Dec. 2 in Joyner Library for a recent publication by three faculty in the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education and History Education.

Drs. Mikkaka Overstreet, left, Christy Howard, center, and Anne Ticknor hold copies of their book during the Dec. 2 book talk and signing event in Joyner Library. (Photo by Kristen Martin)

Drs. Anne Ticknor, Christy Howard and Mikkaka Overstreet published their book, “It’s Not ‘One More Thing’: Culturally Responsive and Affirming Strategies in K-12 Literacy Classrooms,” in July. The book focuses on how educators can incorporate culturally responsive pedagogy into their classrooms.

“Teachers are tired. Teachers are busy. Teachers have so much on their plates. We don’t want to add something else to that,” Overstreet said. “Culturally responsive instruction is not separate. It’s a part of the way we think, a part of the way you interact with the students and families that you have in your classroom, the way you teach, the materials you choose. Every decision that you make throughout the day should be done through this.”

While they started the book in October 2019, a lot of the work was done during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working on a book during that time was not an easy feat.

“We didn’t really see each other,” Ticknor said. “We had some really difficult conversations because it was hard to do the work with people that you knew and you loved and you trusted and who supported you but you weren’t face to face with.”

The trio embraced a quote by Dr. Bettina Love, an author and educator, that helped define their work: “Education can’t save us. We have to save education.”

“What if education could save us? What if in education we taught our students how to be anti-racist, we taught them how to be anti-biased, we taught them empathy, we taught them humility, we taught them how to validate and affirm everyone no matter what they look like, who they love or what they believe?” Howard said. “What if education did that? We believe that education can do that with culturally responsive instruction.”

According to Howard, one of their hopes with the book is that if culturally responsive practices are taught and adopted in classrooms, many of the events that have happened recently, such as the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, will not happen in the future.

“The Department of Literacy Studies, English Education and History Education is proud to have three faculty members who are leading experts in culturally responsive and affirming literacy instruction coauthor a book,” said Dr. Elizabeth Swaggerty, department chair. “Their authentic, urgent desire to create classrooms that are more equitable and inclusive so that all children have opportunities to thrive is contagious.”

Howard, Overstreet and Ticknor’s work is not finished. Publishers have accepted their proposal for a second book, which they are beginning work on. Learn more about “It’s Not ‘One More Thing,’” on Rowman & Littlefield publishing company’s website.