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For the Love of Teaching: Dyan Watson Departs L&C After Ten Years of Social Justice Education

June 29, 2020

  • Image of Associate Professor Dyan Watson.

Associate Professor Dyan Watson is leaving Lewis & Clark after ten years to take on the role of director of inclusion at the Oregon Episcopal School on July 1.

“Looking back over the past decade, I see great growth personally and professionally,” Watson said. “I appreciate the role Lewis & Clark has had in this growth, and I hope I was able to impact others positively as well. There are so many good people I will miss. Whatever happens in the coming months and years, stay open and poised to love and be loved. Teaching is one of the greatest opportunities to shape other people, but it’s also a grand opportunity to be shaped. No matter what, love, love, love. Love teaching, love the communities who need us the most, love the students, love each other, and love yourself.”

Watson’s primary research focus is exploring how teachers semantically encode race, and the intersections of race and teaching. During her tenure at Lewis & Clark, Watson was an editor of Rethinking Schools magazine, a national publisher of educational materials, and a coauthor of several books including Rethinking Elementary Education, Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice, and Teaching for Black Lives.

Teaching for Black Lives was added to the Social Justice Books’ 2018 list of top books about social justice. Watson’s book arose from the Black Lives Matter at School movement which, in February 2018, witnessed thousands of teachers focus lessons on conversations surrounding Black history and identity, restorative justice, and institutional racism.

Watson was featured earlier this month for her work on the role of education in fighting racial bias and inequality on the iHeart Radio podcast “Here’s Something Good: Building Bridges Through Education.” Her latest project can be found at www.teachingforblacklives.org.

Watson believes the best teachers understand their students just as well as their subject matter. She is passionate about fully preparing teachers to enter the classroom: she trains them in the field of social studies as well as in the methods of the most effective educators. Watson credits Portland’s Jefferson High School with preparing her for future success, including earning her doctorate at Harvard.

In this video, Watson describes her research into how teachers encode race by using words like “urban” and how that evasiveness impacts discourse in the schools.