Q/A – I hate the textbook I’ve been given to use. What do I do?

By Rita Tenorio

In order to present students with multiple perspectives on any topic, it is likely that you will need more than one resource. Part of the challenge in becoming a social justice teacher is finding the materials you will need to supplement the books you have available in your school. Then there is also the trick of finding the time and opportunities in the weekly schedule to use them. It is not easy, but it is worth the energy you expend.

Take the time to review the textbooks you’re given. Then determine where you will need to add on to what you’ve got. Start with your school library. Tap the public library as well, for classroom literature. If you have access to a university, see if they have collections of curriculum materials available for lending. Then get on the Internet: Start with the resources and web links you’ll find at www.rethinkingschools.org.

The monthly book clubs like Scholastic or Troll often offer great prices for quality literature. This is an inexpensive way to begin collecting multiple copies of books for use in reading instruction. Don’t be afraid to ask if there is money in the school budget to add to your classroom collection.

Songs and poetry are great sources of alternative perspectives too. And you can use data and information from the news to help students explore concepts in math, science and other curricular areas.

If you still feel you’re “stuck” with poor resources, remember that you have the ability to help your students look critically at what they are reading and see the shortcomings for themselves. Help them find ways to “talk back” to the textbook and teach them how to find other perspectives that are not represented in its pages.