Ethnic Studies from K-12: A Teaching Conversation

High School Ethnic Studies Initiative Meeting

Having the opportunity to teach Ethnic Studies allowed me to find my voice. I had the chance to ask how teachers can bring in different perspectives that were not in textbooks.
Chrissy Emmons


  • Chrissy Emmons, Ethnic Studies Teacher on Special Assignment, Castro Valley Unified School District
  • Hasmig Minassian, Universal Ninth Grade Teacher Leader, Ethnic Studies & Social Living Teacher, and Lead Teacher of​​ Growth Hive, Berkeley High School
  • Jason Muñiz, Associate Director, History-Social Science Project, UC Berkeley
  • Joemy Ito-Gates, Ethnic Studies Teacher on Special Assignment, Berkeley Unified School District
  • Keith Feldman, Chair, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Victoria Robinson, Faculty, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

Event Description

In March 2021, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 101, adding an Ethnic Studies graduation requirement for all California high school students graduating during the 2029-2030 school year; it also states that high schools must start offering approved Ethnic Studies courses beginning in 2025-2026. The American Cultures Center, along with several other units and academic departments, is developing a campus-wide initiative to support high school teachers and districts in meeting the requirement rollout. 

On November 14, 2022, the American Cultures Center, the Department of Ethnic Studies and History-Social Science Project hosted a conversation with local middle and high school teachers for undergraduate students to learn about building a career as an Ethnic Studies teacher, given that they will be needed now more than ever. Some key discussion topics include:

  • What's a typical workday for an Ethnic Studies teacher?
  • What makes teaching Ethnic Studies courses different from other subjects? 
  • Advice for new Ethnic Studies teachers 
  • How can instructors engage students and families, especially when it comes to explaining complicated concepts?
  • What materials and sources do Ethnic Studies teachers use in developing their curriculum?
  • How do you effectively teach an Ethnic Studies course considering the various backgrounds and experiences of students in the classroom? 
  • How are students' voices centered and empowered in Ethnic Studies courses? 
  • How do you handle teaching sensitive topics in an Ethnic Studies course, especially topics that might be triggering for students?