TeachLab with Justin Reich

Dr. Liz Self

Episode Summary

Dr. Liz Self, Assistant Professor of the Practice at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development joins Justin Reich on TeachLab. They discuss Liz’s early teaching experiences, racial equity in the classroom, and Liz’s current work where she uses clinical simulations to help teachers practice for challenging situations in teaching.

Episode Notes

Dr. Liz Self, Assistant Professor of the Practice at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development joins Justin Reich on TeachLab. They discuss Liz’s early teaching experiences, racial equity in the classroom, and Liz’s current work where she uses clinical simulations to help teachers practice for challenging situations in teaching.


About Our Guest: Liz Self

Dr. Liz Self is Assistant Professor of the Practice at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Her current research focuses on designing and using clinical simulations, to prepare preservice teachers for culturally responsive teaching. These instructional tools help teachers recognize their assumptions, biases, and prejudices within the context of systems of oppression.


Additional Resources for Teachers and other Listeners

https://my.vanderbilt.edu/elizabethself/about-me/ - Learn more about Liz Self’s work

https://www.amazon.com/Pushout-Criminalization-Black-Girls-Schools/dp/1620970945 - Check out Monique Morris’ book mentioned in the episode





Join our next course on edX!

Becoming a More Equitable Educator: Mindsets and Practices


Produced by Aimee Corrigan and Garrett Beazley

Edited by Kate Ellis

Recorded by Garrett Beazley

Mixed by Corey Schreppel

Filmed by Denez McAdoo


Follow Us On:




Episode Transcription

Justin Reich:                 Every teacher I know went into the profession because they care about children and want to help them grow. But sometimes we can harm our students and our colleagues with biases and blind spots we aren't even aware we have. Liz Self is trying to reduce the chances we do that by training future teachers in culturally responsive teaching methods. Liz is an assistant professor of the practice at Vanderbilt's Peabody College of Education and her teaching methods are truly cutting edge. She uses clinical simulations in the classroom that allow pre-service teachers to practice what they would do in high stakes moments with their students and colleagues.

Liz Self:                         What they take away, in addition to the very concrete learning around stereotypes and stereotype threat, is that need to recognize the moment in which you may replicate harmful practices and the need to slow it down so that you can think harder about it.

Justin Reich:                 From the teaching systems lab at MIT, this is Teach Lab, a podcast about the art and craft of teaching. I'm Justin Reich. Today, Professor Liz Self. I interviewed her at the Peabody College of Education in Nashville. Self became a teacher soon after graduating from college. She didn't have a lot of formal training when she got her first teaching job in North Carolina and a few years later she took a teaching job in Chicago.

Liz Self:                         So when I went into teaching, I definitely was guilty of having that idea of, "Well I can figure this out as I go" kind of thing. And I was really fortunate to be in a setting where there was a close knit teaching community and people helped me start to figure things out. And then I started teaching at an all girls charter school on the South side kind of in the Bronzeville area and realized that I did not know a lot of things that I needed to know about teaching. And so I had a whole new level of growth there teaching humanities, which meant figuring out how to teach social studies, figuring out how to teach at an all girls school, figuring out how to teach in a school that was predominantly girls of color, especially black and Latina students, but also in a pretty racially and ethnically mixed faculty. And that is really where my interest in what it meant to teach for equity or to teach an anti-racist and anti-oppressive ways burgeoned because I wasn't doing it and I was trying to figure out how to do it.

Justin Reich:                 Are there moments that you can remember now where you're like, "Oh yeah, that was a moment that I was not doing it, that I was unprepared for?"

Liz Self:                         Yeah. The things that I did well when I was teaching there were creating good instructional tools. I got to develop my own curriculum. And so we learned women's American history from the vantage point of marginalized population. So how did the experiences of indigenous women change with colonization? So I had lots of supports to do and try those kinds of things. And I think that I really got to know my students and tried to understand them. But it was in those finite interactional spaces that I continually would fall down.

Justin Reich:                 What's a finite interactional space?

Liz Self:                         So I remember one afternoon I had a big event coming up the next day. We were having an event and we were going to have outside people come in to watch. And I had a couple of my students, all black students, come in to set up the classroom for the next day. We were also having a faculty meeting that afternoon and so I had several colleagues coming into the room. And one of my black colleagues, a man, said, "It's really nice that the girls came in to help you."

Liz Self:                         And I said, "Absolutely. It's like having slave labor." And yes. And so there's that moment where kind of everyone in the room takes this breath and you're like, what just happened? And I will be totally honest that I didn't even begin to understand in that moment why what I had said was so problematic. Fortunately, my colleague did and tried to engage me in a conversation and I did all of the things I now teach to my students are very common, but highly problematic for learning in those spaces and repairing the harm.

Liz Self:                         So I defended myself, that's not what I meant. Let's just move on. I hear what you're saying. It wasn't really that bad. And I remember going home and talking to my spouse about it and some neighbors down the hallway. I remember coming back to school the next day and getting an email from that colleague who had called me out saying, "I really think you need to hear this." Crying going to our principal and saying, "I feel bad, but he's being so mean." All of the things.

Liz Self:                         And it truly took three, four months for me to really process that moment and realize how layered that moment was. My whiteness as a woman, there being black students, the use of the term slave labor in a way that is ignorant of sort of the history of enslavement in the United States. And it took significant work for me to be able to actually learn and open up to the continued learning I then needed. And I know that that's a relationship that I will never be able to repair. I did harm with that colleague and while I have reached out to him in the ensuing years to say, "I appreciate you. You've taught me so much and while I know I can't fix it, I wanted you to know that." That's one of those things that I just have to own and I keep in my mind when I do the work that I do.

Justin Reich:                 Yeah, that's a really incredibly powerful story. Thank you for sharing that. So then part of your research and part of your training with future educators is trying to prepare them for some of those kinds of moments and you do a lot of that through simulation and practice. Can you describe some of the kinds of things you're trying to do now to help educators be better prepared for the things that you felt like you wish you had been more prepared for?

Liz Self:                         So a lot of the early work that I became interested in was this idea of critical incidents and professional development, which those exist in law, medicine, all sorts of professional preparation fields. And the idea of a critical incident is that you experience something and you become someone fundamentally different as a result of that incident, that finite moment, that interactional space. And so I was curious about whether or not we could reproduce or approximate, the word we use a lot, a moment like that for teachers so that they could get that learning in a space that didn't do harm to actual students and colleagues, where they had support from readings and conversations and instructors to make sense of the moment and then to sort of push them on to continue learning.

Liz Self:                         And so the simulations that we do are live actor encounters. So it's a pre-service teacher in a room with an actor playing the role of a student, a parent or a coworker. There's a story, we call it a protocol, that they get ahead of time that sets them up for the interaction that they're going to have. But then the actual moment is live with a person one-on-one with a camera rolling, but nobody else in the room. And then we leverage that interaction for continued learning.

Justin Reich:                 So if I'm a pre-service teacher, if I'm a student at the Peabody College of Education and I'm getting ready to do one of these simulations, I sort of have a moment to read, or a few minutes or an evening to read a little briefing book that's going to tell me about some situation, story that I'm about to enter and then I walk in and then there's another person in the room who's an actor who is playing the role of some person in this world that's been created. And then the briefing book gives me some task to do the in that interaction and then I sort of play that out for 15 minutes or 20 minutes or five minutes or?

Liz Self:                         So teachers get the protocol usually a couple days before.

Justin Reich:                 Okay.

Liz Self:                         Sometimes up to a week before. And we do that because there are limitations to these approximations and in real time, you wouldn't have that much time to think about it but you would have had time in the space to understand kind of what's going on. So we give it to them well ahead of time in order to sort of think about what they think is going to happen and to prepare for it and we do actually have them respond to a couple of questions like, what do you think the simulation is about? What do you think is going to happen? What do you wish or think you would know if this were real?

Justin Reich:                 And what's one of the first simulations? What's one of the first of these protocols that your students might encounter in one of your classes or programs?

Liz Self:                         Typically for secondary teachers here at Vanderbilt, the very first interaction that they have is with a student name, either Darius or Daria, depending on how we play the role in terms of gender, who is a black student in a 10th grade honors classroom at a pretty evenly racially balanced school here in Nashville, mostly a black and white school. Who has been called out for talking in class and who in response has grabbed their stuff, walked out of class and sworn on the way out saying, "This is some bullshit. Why does it always have to be me?"

Liz Self:                         And so the teacher, here's the backstory that Darius, Daria is a fantastic student, really smart, school leader, plays sports, but is chatty in class. So we've set up this backstory in a way that is realistic but also generous. The teacher has tried really reasonable things that we would do. Standing near the student, helping them become more aware of when they're talking and not supposed to, but now it's blown up. It's a Friday. And so the protocol sets them up to say you don't want to let this go over the weekend. And you've asked the student to come back in and meet with you. And so the moment that they walk into the live interaction, they are walking into Darius or Daria waiting there to talk with them after school and they have, as you said, 12 to 15 minutes to run the interaction and then come out.

Justin Reich:                 And Daria or Darius is a trained actor, so they're someone who works for a local acting troop or local theater?

Liz Self:                         Our actors come from all over. But most of the roles that are supposed to be high school students are played by undergraduates here at Vanderbilt.

Justin Reich:                 Okay.

Liz Self:                         And that has been a really cool part of the work is working with the actors to help them feel ownership over the role, to speak into it in ways that they think make it authentic. And I always know that we've written a good scenario when I have actors who are representative of the role, say things like, "I absolutely was this kid when I was in school." Or, "I remember this moment playing out."

Justin Reich:                 So in this scenario with, let's use Daria. What does Daria do with that teacher comes in.

Liz Self:                         Sure. So Daria is quiet and not saying a whole lot when the teacher comes in. Whenever the teacher gives her an opening, though, she says something like, "I know I was talking when I wasn't supposed to be, but so were other people and I feel like I'm getting called out more often because I'm one of the only black kids in class." And we are really intentional around these phrases. So she immediately takes ownership for the fact that she was talking when she wasn't. She points out that other students also were. And then she really gets at the heart of her concern, which is that the teacher's racial bias is causing her to be unfairly disciplined in class.

Liz Self:                         And from there, the scenario really plays out depending on how the teacher responds. So if the teacher starts asking more questions or wants to understand Daria's perspective more, they'll find out that there are other things been going on. Things happened in another classroom, things happened today at lunch. So the incident in the classroom was very real and very salient, but it's also part of a series of things that have happened to Daria.

Liz Self:                         What more commonly happens is that teachers either apologize and try to move away from the situation or they dismiss it. That's not why I was calling you out. I want to assure you it's not because of that. And a lot of times those these replacement words, like they don't want to say black, they don't want to say race. And if the teacher sort of digs in, Daria opens up and gets a little more comfortable and reveals more. And if the teacher refuses to engage in the conversation about race, Daria gets more withdrawn, more frustrated, and continues to try to put out there that what she really is worried about is the fact that she's being unfairly picked on in this class because she's black and there's no clear resolution at the end. The teachers at best, have some sort of plan for paying attention to this moving forward, but for most teachers they they want to bow, they want to feel like everybody's okay at the end and they'll say something like, are we okay now? And our actors have specific instructions not to put a bow on it. To say, at best, "Yeah. I mean, I guess so," which is also a very teenager response.

Justin Reich:                 You're right? Right. Yeah. So, you're sort of in a particular moment of yeah, that doesn't have a resolution and part of what you have to do is process, okay, so how did that interaction go? Do you have people reflect on what they would do next, what they would do on Monday or other kinds of things? How do your students take this experience and then reflect on what they've done in it?

Liz Self:                         So, the reflection for us is really extended. So, the first thing teachers do when they leave that room is they go find another student in the class who has just finished their scenario with a different Daria actor. And they have an unfacilitated, but recorded conversation. And there's two questions. Talk about what happened, talking about how you feel about it. And it just really is this like unloading. So, Ben Dodger who sort of started this idea of working with live actors, simulations up at Syracuse, talks about this-

Justin Reich:                 In teacher education?

Liz Self:                         In teacher education. Talked about this as a raw debrief, which is what we call it too. And then they leave, they go on about their day and at some point they get access to their video and they have specific questions I ask them and with the Daria simulation in particular, I asked them questions like, what was your problem that you wanted to talk about? Which was the talking. What was the problem that she wanted to talk about? And whose problem did you spend most time talking about in the interaction? And a lot of times they realize the reason that the student kept surfacing the concerns about racial bias is because they never actually addressed them.

Justin Reich:                 That your students were talking about their problem, which is talking in class and not talking about the student's problem, which is them feeling like they're being singled out for their race.

Liz Self:                         So, a lot of times they're trying to figure out things like, well, what if I just hold my finger up and then we'll have a secret signal that will help, you know when you're talking. They want to fix the talking problem because they think that's the core problem. And as a result, they can't hear the core problem that she's bringing to them. So, they do these things and what we figured out after the fact, is that they also go show their video to their roommate, talk about it with a teacher that they had in high school, that they're close to, have a conversation on the phone with their mom.

Liz Self:                         They process it in other informal ways as well. So that when we come back to class, which is anywhere from five to seven days later, they have a pretty new perspective. And even if they're still pretty sure it went well, they're a little unsettled, they're a little unsure. And we've also, at that point, had them do readings and we really tailor the readings to specifically help them think about this phenomenon. So, we maybe have read something like Monique Morris' "Pushout" or we've read something like Lumeris Carabaio's, recent article on the construction of loudness among black girls.

Justin Reich:                 All of these things we can link to on our webpage.

Liz Self:                         Yes, absolutely.

Justin Reich:                 So we can get to.

Liz Self:                         So, all of these are pieces that really look at the phenomena of the construction of the loud black girl in class. And so it helps them start to think about how things they did that were from their perspective, very well intentioned, that seemed very commonsensical, we're reinforcing stereotypes around black girls in school.

Justin Reich:                 What are the scenarios that you have that go beyond anti-racism? So, what are the other kinds of structural inequalities that you have your students wrestle with through these kinds of scenarios?

Liz Self:                         We intentionally try to attend to lots of different systems of oppression that play out in school. So, the second one, most teachers do looks at immigrant mother who is herself not fully fluent, especially in terms of talking about schooling and education, who's been called in for a conference about her sixth grade student who is quote unquote, "Having trouble with reading and school."

Liz Self:                         And so, the teachers are having this moment of a parent conversation where they're trying to explain that they think a student is struggling and yet trying to do it in ways that aren't scaring the mom. So, they very often talk about he's having problems, he's struggling, he's having trouble. And she reacts to that in strong ways. And so, there we're uncovering issues around language, immigration, parents' comfort in coming into these kinds of conversation.

Liz Self:                         The last one that we do in this three series in the social foundations class is with a veteran teacher who's a white man at a magnet school here in Nashville, who is going to tell this teacher about a group of characters that are coming into their classroom in the subsequent year and proceeds to explain how all of these students are somehow different and things would just be easier if they sort of tried to be more like everybody else. And so the teachers there are really put in a position of, I'm a brand new teacher at a school, this person has been teaching for a long time, he also, not accidentally, is a white man and what do I say? What can I say in this situation?

Justin Reich:                 What are some of the ways that he tries to tell different kids to be more the same? Or where?

Liz Self:                         So, he'll talk about, Cameron, he's a great kid and one of the things that throws the teachers is that he always starts by talking about what wonderful students they are. They're ready for really deficit language around their abilities and they're getting something different. So, Cameron, really great student, he's very flamboyant, he comes in with his hair different colors, his nails done different colors and sometimes he gets teased a little bit, but I just tell him, "Just fit in. Tone it down and it'll all be okay."

Liz Self:                         And sometimes the teachers are like, "Well, what does that mean? Was that bullying happening? What did you do about that?" But a lot of times they really feel the emotional space of I'm a brand new teacher and they'll say things in debrief like I was afraid I would lose my job. And I'm kind of like-

Justin Reich:                 It's a pretend.

Liz Self:                         It's all pretend. Right. But we know that they're useful for something because they do really feel those emotions. It has a strong affective dimension to it that does something about helping them feel like they're practicing what that moment would really be like. And a lot of what we use it for is not practice doing it the quote unquote "Right way," but practicing what they think they would do and then having them look back at themselves and say, "Is this who you want to be in this moment?" And if it's not, what do you need to know? What skills do you need to develop to handle it in a way where you feel like you are standing up as an anti-oppressive educator in this moment?

Justin Reich:                 When your students respond to these scenarios, how wide is the range of responses? Could you now, having had a bunch of folks go through it, be like, "Well, when people do the scenario with the teacher describing their students and trying to make different kids be more the same, there's pretty much three ways that most people respond and then maybe a handful of others" or does it seem like each student brings a totally unique or lots of different flavors of how people react?

Liz Self:                         We see variations around themes each time we do it, but the more we do a scenario, I can usually predict that it's going to go one of a couple directions. One of the things we've learned through the process is that as our teacher preparation program and the participants become more racially, ethnically, linguistically diverse themselves, we can't predict as well what's going to happen. And so, then we have to make sure that the scenario attends to, is there still learning happening for this candidate?

Liz Self:                         So, when we first started doing the Daria simulation, we realized that for black teachers going through it, it felt weird. We hadn't prepared the actors about what to do if the teacher themself was also black. And so, we've now dealt with that. So, the idea that a black teacher may themselves carry racial bias and overly discipline black students is still real, but the way a student might respond to things they say is going to vary. And so we've had to account for that variation.

Liz Self:                         The other place that we saw that was with Mr. Dunkin, this white veteran teacher, he was in the middle of talking about Cameron and we had a queer identifying student and he pointed to the student's fingernails and said, "He paints his nails just like you do." And we saw that student in that moment visibly shift his posture and it suddenly became not pretend. It suddenly became very personal and his interaction really substantially changed in that moment. And so, we had to start thinking there also about how we were taking care of our students as they went through the scenarios to make sure that they could learn without dehumanization.

Justin Reich:                 And, I mean I'm sure every student is different, but students like those queer students or black teachers who are attending to potential anti-black bias, are you still finding this useful? I mean, is it too harmful for people to participate in these things for them still to be useful or do afterwards they say, "Oh, I'm glad I had that experience. It was hard in these ways, but I still feel like it was enriching." How's your?

Liz Self:                         What we by and large found is that teachers do say this was hard or this felt like it didn't fit totally, but this is what I got from it. And so, we take the critical feedback and try to develop either the scenario, the way that we prepare the actor or the readings that we provide after the fact to make sure that they feel like this was designed for me and I'm not an accident after the fact.

Liz Self:                         We're working with an article in my current class by Cherry McDaniel that talks about skin folk and always kinfolk and this idea of how black teachers and teachers of color can carry settler colonial identity. So, that's a piece I would imagine moving forward using so that black teachers are able to recognize that, "Hey, just because I have cultural synchrony or I look like the student in front of me doesn't necessarily mean I'm fully prepared for this. And so, I have work here to do too." And so we hope that teachers, as they go through, are able to tell us when they're feeling that harm because we need to hear that and we try to create conditions where they will give us that feedback, but that we're able to continually iterate the scenario or the learning that comes after it to make sure that the learning is designed for them as well.

Justin Reich:                 How do you think your pre service teachers go into their classrooms, go into the field differently having had this practice experience? Are you at a point where you can say we think now that we're doing this much more here, what we hear from our teachers as they enter the classroom is that these kinds of things are easier or harder or different for them?

Liz Self:                         The thing that we hear most often from teachers once they've gone out into the field and sometimes this is during professional year and sometimes it's two and three years out into the classroom, is that there's something about the feeling, again, that affective dimension that they have in the scenario itself that causes them to realize they need to pay closer attention. So, we talk about this at a very theoretical level as being pulled up short. So, a moment, as the philosopher Gadamer talks about it, something didn't fit my expectations and I can either just ignore it, in which case I'm not really pulled up short, or I can try to figure out what happened. And so, I will frequently get emails from teachers saying I had something happen in class today and it felt like a SIM was starting and that is frequently the language that gets-

Justin Reich:                 This is a teacher now, when they say in class today, I'm now teaching in the sixth grade and I've got real 12 year olds around me who are not actors and I feel like this is a SIM moment.

Liz Self:                         Yeah. I feel like I'm having a SIM moment or I have a Daria in class and what they usually describe is that what that moment did for them more than anything was to say, "I need to slow down because my automated responses to this maybe aren't the ones that I really want to play out. And so I have to slow down. I need to ask questions to understand the student's perspective, I need to think about what I know about the kid in my classroom and our school that might be shaping what's going on here. I need to ask for time if I need it. We find that the pre-service teachers often feel like they're supposed to be able to fix the problem in 15 minutes and so we teach them really simple things like saying, "Can I think about this over the weekend and let's talk more on Monday." That that is actually a tool that they can use in these conversations because they aren't solved in 15 minutes. So it seems like what they take away in addition to the very concrete learning around stereotypes and stereotype threat and you know what it means to be inclusive of gender and all of these kinds of things, is that need to recognize the moment in which you may replicate harmful practices and the need to slow it down so that you can think harder about it. Then we often have time too, when we're out in actual K-12 classrooms.

Justin Reich:                 I mean, to me that strikes as a really powerful list of three things that you just gave us for these moments in which things feel fraught of can I lean in to listening to this young person and really understand what they're going for and what they're trying to communicate to me? Can I think to myself about what I know and what I would need to know to do the best job I can, responding, attending, continuing to work with this situation and then can I make a commitment to the people around me for whom this feels uncomfortable, that we're going to keep working on it. That we'll do what we can in this moment to make things feel as right as they can. But then we're going to keep going forward. And it sounds like even just the acknowledgement of that, like it doesn't tie things up in a bow but at least it tells everyone we have not tied this up on a bow but we're also not letting it go and not giving up on it. We're going to come back to it.

Liz Self:                         Yes, exactly.

Justin Reich:                 So, your pre-service teachers go through it sounds like a series of scenarios that engage with having them reflect on themselves and what kinds of behaviors or attitudes or biases they bring to interactions. What's the kind of next level of work beyond that? What's the next part of your social foundations class?

Liz Self:                         It's been really important for us that this scenario is not just alive in one class. So they do start in that social foundations class that's early in whatever program they're doing. But we want to make sure that they understand that these sort of fraught moments or these interactional spaces exist. Not just when you're talking explicitly around race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, language. But that exist when you're teaching math and when you're teaching science. And so we spread them out into other classes as well. And specifically we make sure that they have at least some that connect to their specific discipline. So here we license English, social studies, math and science. And so in those and in some of the later sort of classroom management type classes, we have scenarios that get them to think about what am I going to do when the person who's saying the harmful thing or doing the harmful thing isn't me but it's actually one of the students in my class?

Liz Self:                         So, in our writing course we're having them do a writing conference with a student who has written some things that are really essentializing of Latin X families all based in this student's perspective in the text that they're supposed to analyze. In our math classroom, we have a situation where a student, one boy, one girl have gotten into an argument and what comes out as the teacher talks with them is that the male student is really ignoring the ways of thinking that the female student is bringing. And so we're starting to think about how we support girls in feeling heard, seen and valued in mathematical spaces.

Liz Self:                         So here with this next sort of slot of scenarios that they run into, they're thinking not just about what's my work to do as a teacher for myself and in myself but also how am I going to create classroom spaces and how am I going to manage these conflicts that come up in ways that create inclusive classroom spaces that again establish anti-racist and anti-oppressive classrooms so that my students are learning math but they're also learning in a way that doesn't perpetuate highly masculine spaces or that push out students of color.

Justin Reich:                 Have your colleagues embraced these sort of simulation practices? Has it been hard? What have you had to do to help other faculty in the college of education be good at using these approaches or be productive or have them be valuable to. the teachers who are learning here?

Liz Self:                         I think I got really lucky in the sense that we do just have a close knit group of faculty here and so when we find things that seem to have a lot of promise, we try to take them up with each other. We recognize the importance of using similar structures throughout our courses. I think the thing that really brought a lot of people, especially in the secondary program and quickly is that my students, I was having them in the social foundations class and then they were going to their other classes where they were together as a cohort and they kept talking about the scenarios. They-

Justin Reich:                 Semesters later, years later.

Liz Self:                         Sometimes semesters later but certainly like they had something and then the next day they see each other and they want to talk about them. Like they find them interesting things and they want to talk about them. But yes, sometimes they would have a class the next semester and say, "This is like that scenario we did in Liz's class." And then they were like, "What are you doing?" And so there was just a lot of openness to like, well let's try it out, what would it look like here? And so it spread. And so they've really taken that up. But I would say the other thing is just that I've tried to remain open and those of us that really work on these have remained open to getting critical feedback from our colleagues, their concerns, their wonderings. I'm seeing this happen that maybe you are an attending, how are you taking that up? And so it's become a program thing where we learn and work with them.

Justin Reich:                 So do you have advice for districts or schools or other people outside of colleges of education that might want to try to adopt some of these practice-based, these simulation approaches with teachers who are currently working?

Liz Self:                         I think there are a couple of things that carry over well from the simulation work that we've done. One of them is to use those interactional spaces, those fraught uncomfortable moments, to use those spaces as a place to go back to in order to learn from. So if like my colleague did, you see a teacher, a colleague, someone in your school really mess up badly, to try to figure out ways to go back to that. And the teacher who's been harmed doesn't necessarily have to be the one to take on all that work but they might find ways just to call out a need for it. And then to really dig into those moments in ways that let us think about why did this happen? What were the various effects that were had? And what could help us change that practice moving forward to better support students, families to change systemic practices in our school, those kinds of things.

Liz Self:                         I think the second thing is that time is of the essence here and in the opposite way we normally mean that phrase that sometimes these things have to play out over long periods of time. And that's not something we normally embrace in teaching. We definitely have the one year let's get them here kind of mentality. And yet anyone who's been involved in an educational endeavor knows that you learn more as time goes if you stick with it. And that's true of just about anything.

Liz Self:                         And so if something happened and it was left alone for a long time and then you realize that is rich in opportunities to explore, bring that back up and say, "Can we talk more about this?" or "I know we had endless conversation about that, but I still feel like it's not done." Because there's a lot there. We know from the literature that there are so many decisions that are made by teachers that they're highly complex spaces and there's oftentimes real value in going back to something again and talking more about it. So those are the two big things that I would say are really useful coming out of this and just above all just stick with it and keep doing that work.

Justin Reich:                 Liz Self, the assistant professor of practice at Vanderbilt University. Thanks so much. It was a really rich conversation.

Liz Self:                         Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Justin Reich:                 Liz Self is assistant professor of the practice at Vanderbilt University's Peabody college of education and human development. Her work, using clinical simulations of the classroom has been a huge influence on our own work and the teaching systems lab. We basically asked the question, can we make digital versions of what Liz does?

Justin Reich:                 You've been listening to TeachLab from the teaching systems lab at MIT. I'm Justin Reich. You can learn more about Liz Self and resources connected to our work at our website, teachlabpodcast.com. That's teachlabpodcast.com. There you'll find lots of stuff including links to our upcoming free online course on EDEX called becoming a more equitable educator. We hope you will join us. You can also check out our YouTube channel teaching systems lab where you'll find the full video interview from this episode and even more video content from our online courses.

Justin Reich:                 All of our work is licensed under a creative commons license and we encourage you to use it and share. Next time we'll talk with Neema Avashia. Neema has been teaching civics in the Boston public schools for more than 15 years and she recently waged a public battle to keep one of those schools open. We'll hear what happened and how she used that experience to engage her students even more deeply in the subjects she teaches everyday. That's next time on TeachLab. This episode was produced by Amy Corrigan and Garrett Beazley, edited by Kate Ellis. It was recorded by Garrett Beazley and mixed by Corey Schreppel, filmed by Denez McAdoo. Thanks for joining us.