Foreword by: Ericka Huggins
Publication Date: July 22, 2022
In a thriving education system, students experience learning that prepares them as the vital keepers of a just and democratic society. Teachers as professionals and experts, not cogs in a machine, are essential to this goal. Sparks Into Fire offers design principles for facilitating effective professional learning in which teachers are active learners engaging in experiential learning, discussing problems, analyzing student work, and sharing their expertise with one another. The author introduces each principle with a compelling and illuminating story from his extensive experience teaching students and facilitating teacher learning in Providence, RI; Oakland, CA; and South Korea. These narratives, along with specific practices, show the reader not just what to do but how to do it. Whether you are a school leader, lead teacher, PD facilitator, or teacher educator, you can apply the ideas in this book to design collaborative experiences that revitalize teacher practice and, in turn, spark a fire in the hearts and minds of students.
Young Whan Choi is manager of performance assessments for Oakland Unified School District where he leads the ethnic studies program and supports schools to provide high-quality instruction through a performance assessment system aligned to the district’s capstone project. He produces and hosts The Young and the Woke podcast.
“Throughout this book, Young Whan Choi shows us how to facilitate interactions among teachers that are caring, thoughtful, intentional, and relational. In turn, educators can go about the work of creating learning environments that center students’ lives.”
—From the Foreword by Ericka Huggins, activist, writer, and educator
“Young Whan Choi’s timely offering is truly a healing gift of fire that provides a range of stories, questions, and practices to reignite and restore our individual and collective purpose as educators in a time of traumatizing burnout. He takes us to the beautiful streets of East Oakland, South Providence, New York City, and Seoul to remind us that authentic teaching and learning must always begin with a spark that can only be fueled by our willingness to exercise courage, vulnerability, and empathy, and to engage in shared humanity with our students, each other, and ourselves.”
—Christina "V" Villarreal, lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education
“Young Whan Choi’s Sparks Into Fire courageously challenges us to rethink how we approach teacher learning, from the life-draining, sit-and-get-banking model of PD to fueling a guided development process that centers purpose and the principle of collectivism. Young Whan’s weaving of storytelling with praxis offers us a ‘counter-manual’ that deconstructs the systems that breed linear, neoliberal teaching while also providing detailed and applicable offerings that can be used in our practice tomorrow.”
—Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, professor, San Francisco State University