Our Episodes

Transcription (Finalized Friday, Jan. 6, 2023)

Questions? Ideas? Responses? Wanna practice disability justice and help with transcription? Send your notes to us@dancingondesks.org or slide into our DMs on IG @dancingondesks.

Intellectual Inheritance

  • Curriculum Kweens: https://www.curriculumkweens.com

  • “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” | Audre Lorde

  • “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” | Audre Lorde

  • Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism | adrienne maree brown

  • We Do This ‘Til We Free Us | Mariame Kaba

  • Decade of Fire documentary | Vivian Vásquez Irizarry and Gretchen Hildebran


Season 2, Episode 3 | Educator Erotic & Fire Ass Refusal

Audre Lorde’s “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” shapes our reflections on practicing refusal in community with our colleagues. We speak with Natalia Foreman and Pam Segura of the NYC-based Curriculum Kweens collective, who share stories of disobedience to systems of power and oppression, loving accountability, and the fullness felt when, in the words of “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” Audre Lorde, “we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion.” Tiffany Mason, a mother and elementary educator teaching in Brooklyn, shares her Saturday freedom dreams and the obstacles to getting there. We leave with the questions: How do we move beyond the mediocrity expected of us and become accountable to our erotic? What acts of disobedience do we engage in and commit to?

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  • Turn Me Up prod. Jwayne Cross jwdent91@gmail.com

  • Vibe to the Rhythm prod. Grezzo IG: @truegregmusic

  • Temptations prod. DutchRevz

  • In the End prod. Nabil Sioty nabilsioty@yahoo.com

  • groove theory prod. ae beats IG: @aebeats_/

  • AfroDrill prod. Bigmousebeat

  • Dancing on Desks Theme song composed and arranged by Mara Johnson and Elliott Wilkes

Season 2, Episode 2 | Reading Love: Beyond Adult Supremacy

What can happen when we invite youth to imagine and create community and learning spaces in their own vision? This summer, Amara and Madison, our inaugural Beyond the Ban youth fellows created Annotation Archives, a Detroit-based pop-up book giveaway and community annotation project. They join monét and Erin to share about their reading lives, the ways they find affirmation in books, their dreams for liberated reading in schools, and their learnings from their summer of creating the Annotation Archives. Poet and Brooklyn high school student, Adedoyin, shares her poem, “This Side of Town,” reminding us that we have whatever we need. Then, LaQuesha Sanders is back with part two of our miniseries on student debt. We leave with the questions: What are we building? What possibility does youth imagination offer school abolition and liberatory teaching and learning?

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Season 2, Episode 1 | Move, Get Out the Way!

After a summer of walking with our dogs, listening to the leadership of youth, and saying yes to ourselves, we're back with Season 2 of Dancing on Desks! The season begins with a conversation with Detroit youth organizers Hafiza Khalique, Brittyn Benjamin-Kelley, and adult organizer Julia Cueno. We also chat with Brooklyn elementary school teacher Emily Stutts and three of her former students—Kaide, Greyson, and Kyndle—about their bike to school day. We close with LaQuesha Sanders, a lawyer and historian, who shares the origin story of student debt, why student loans are trash, and why the U.S. government has more than enough money to cancel all of the debt student owes. Our storytellers offer us an opportunity to think about the questions: How do youth and adults co-build spaces of accountability, listening, dreaming, and freedom in and outside of school? What allows relationships between adults and youth in schools to exist in what activist, freedom dreamer, and writer adrienne maree brown calls liberated relationship?

Transcript (finalized 10/10/22) If you’re interested in helping us with transcription, please send us an email at us@dancingondesks.org or call ‪(313) 314-1678‬. We’d love to steward this with you.

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  • Teaching to Transgress and All About Love: New Visions, bell hooks

  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire

  • “On Knowing: Willingness, Fugitivity and Abolition in Precarious Times,” Dr. David Stovall, Journal of Language and Literacy Education, Spring 2020

  • Where Do We Go From Here? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Emergent Strategy, adrienne maree brown

  • Piecing Me Together, Renée Watson

  • Wonder, R.J. Palacio

  • Nnedi Okorafor (Read all of her books!)


  • “Blessed”, “Holy Water”, “Los Angeles”, “Pink Cadillac”, “Say Grace”, “Suzie” | Yogic Beats yogicbeats@gmail.com

  • “DC GoGo Beat 2018, Pocket Beat” | Slick City Beatz slickdc202@gmail.com

  • Dancing on Desks Theme Music is produced by Mara Johnson, Elliott Wilkes, and monét cooper

Episode 9 | Our Love Letter to Education

As educators and young folks reflect and engage in end-of-school rituals, we’re closing Season One of Dancing on Desks with our Love Letter to Education. We hear from storytellers, poets, students, and educators who joined us this season to check back and hear about their summer dreams. We have collective dreams of reading books, taking naps, swimming in lakes, oceans, and pools, gardening, swimming, hugging our families and friends, and resting. Erin and monét share their love letter to education, discussing the ways in which abolition is an invitation to living by a love ethic (shout out to bell hooks) and centering practices of care and accountability and R-E-S-T. High school teacher Jessica Rucker shares her abecedarian, “A Love Letter to Education and Unlearning” as she leaves the classroom to pursue her dreams. Poet and graduating high school senior Zoe Bredesen protects her peace in her poem “If the Roles Were Reversed”. Finally, we offer our questions: If we love education, what does this love sound like, feel like, look like, smell like? How might we live there? Send us your responses to dancingondesks@gmail.com or slide in our DMs on IG @dancingondesks. Let’s get free, y’all!

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  • Free, IG: prod.mxrio

  • Summer Walker x Bryson Tiller | R&B, Sejji Bonz

  • Dust, Mokart Beats

  • Riding Downtown, Alchemy Beats

  • Tobacco, Beatowski

  • Abenaki Greeting Song, Marge Bruchac and her husband Justin perform at Focus the Nation at Mount Holyoke College. Marge sings traditional and contemporary Abenaki greeting songs, friendship songs, dance tunes and original ballads, accompanied by drum and rattle, both solo and with her husband, Justin Kennick. As a storyteller, she brings the northeastern Native past to life with trickster tales, lesson stories, and historical anecdotes to intrigue, teach, and entertain listeners of all ages. She also performs with both the Dawnland Singers and W'Abenaki Dancers. Contact: maligeet@earthlink.net

  • Dancing on Desks Theme Music is produced by Mara Johnson, Elliott Wilkes, and monét cooper

Episode 8 | Reclaim This Space and Place

In this episode we talk with Alex Bailey, co-founder of San Antonio-based Black Outside, and Aven, a youth participant in Black Outside’s Bloom Project. They discuss how simply stepping outside and tasting the outdoors has been an exercise in courage, love, and intergenerational exchange. We also hear stories of learning with Abenaki elders Sherry Gould, Madeleine Wright, and Rob Wright of the Abenaki Trails Project in N’dakinna, what is now called New Hampshire. Poet Jennifer Huang leaves us with their poem “Departure,” which begins in the most exquisite way. Erin and monét reflect together about what the outside means to them as humans and educators, thinking about opportunities for coalition building, and drawing from their wells of memories in the Northeastern and Southern parts of the U.S. Finally, we offer you our lingering questions: How do we learn from the outside? How can educators take their cues from Black and Indigenous placemakers, elders, ancestors, and youth in undoing our consumptive relationship with the outside? Send us your responses to dancingondesks@gmail.com or slide in our DMs on IG @dancingondesks. Let’s get free, y’all!

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Episode 7 | Queerness, Selfhood, and the Blessings of Creativity

We invite you to our conversation with queer Chicanx educator Ale, who teaches English to 9th graders in Los Angeles. She shares about the pandemic as a portal to creativity, letting go of perfectionism in and outside of her classroom, co-creating space with her LGBTQ+ students, and what it means to explore her queer identity from a place of joy and ease. We also reflect with J, a college senior on the cusp of graduation, about her exploration of selfhood and sexuality in school. Brooklyn high school teacher and poet Meghan Dunn shares a poem about girlhood and the body from Curriculum, her beautiful book of poems. Finally, we ask: What are the ties to heteronormativity that you must break in order to do your self-work? What do you have to relinquish as a return to loving yourself and to loving? How will you move into deeper connection with yourself? Join us, then share your thoughts with us!

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Episode 6 | Young People's Pedagogy

In this episode we talk about what happens when grown folks get out of the way of young people organizing their own learning. In our conversation with Maria Cedillo, Jay Gillen, and Jon Gray of the Baltimore Algebra Project (BAP), we learn about ways youth in Baltimore have organized fugitive spaces of learning, organizing, and loving each other. BAP is a youth-led and organized space, meaning that while adults support the space, no one over the age of 25 is making decisions or organizing the work. Cesarina Santana Pierre, a DC-based elementary educator, joins us again for Resource Room Part II with a story of how conversations about her students’ identities helped them to better know their community and themselves and Kabelo Sandile Motsoeneng shares a story of a queer South African boy’s coming of age. We invite you to think about the questions: What are you willing to risk in order for education to be the practice of freedom in your classroom? What must you unlearn in order to do this work? Send us your thoughts!

Our guests would love to be in community with you! Deets are below.

  • Maria, Casa de Maryland’s Baltimore Rapid Response Services Coordinator and BAP alum, mcedilllo@wearecasa.org

  • Jay, BAP co-founder, gillen.jay@gmail.com and 443-248-9032

  • Jon, BAP lead organizer, jgray@410ap.org, 443-226-9444,

ig @410_fsujon

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“Backseat” @remdolla

“Believer” Silent Partner

“Hot Coffee” Ghostrifter

“J Dilla Type Beat” Lute

"Like Dat" Ackah Dan

“Regimented Instinct” @TeknoAXE

“Green Tea” and “Slowly” Smith The Mister https://smiththemister.bandcamp.com

“Watercolors” John Deley & the Players

Original Theme Music by Mara Johnson and Elliott Wilkes

Episode 5 | Care is the Antidote

In this episode we talk about self-care—how we do it, why we don’t—and the ways grief, caregiving, and rest are all forms of self-care. First, we speak with Massachusetts-based social worker Adya Lindo, whose primary work during COVID has become supporting school-age youth in their grieving journeys and educators who work with grieving students—even as they’re grieving loss themselves. We also speak with high school English educator Christa Calkins and her newborn Wilder in rural New York during a time of parental leave. She discusses how her journey as a new parent has made her reexamine her relationship with care, capitalism, and whiteness. Our first Resource Room of the new year is with Cesarina Pierre Santana, an elementary educator in Washington, DC, who talks about being in her 26th year of teaching and what she’s unlearning in order to listen to her students. The convo with Cesarina was so delicious we will share part two in March. We also hear from fifth grader Sabreena, who comes to us from Singapore to share an essay she wrote about her faith, Islam. In this new year of learning, what are you refusing and unlearning? What commitments are you making to your self-care? Send us your responses at dancingondesks@gmail.com, on instagram @dancingondesks, or at dancingondesks.org!

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Other Books We Like for Conversations about Identity and Self-Portraits

Early Childhood and Elementary

  • Eyes that Kiss in the Corners, by Joanna Ho, Illustrated by Dung Ho

  • Skin Again, by bell hooks, Illustrated by Chris Raschka

  • The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad, Illustrated by S.K. Ali

  • The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

  • Where Are You From? By Yamile Saied Méndez, Illustrated by Jaime Kim

Middle/High School

  • American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang

  • American Street, Ibi Zoboi

  • The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo

  • El Color de mis Palabras/The Color of My Words, Lynn Joseph & Alberto Jimenez Rioja (Middle)

  • Mama's Girl, Veronica Chambers


  • Don't Be Afraid, Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart: The Story of Elvia Alvarado, Medea Benjamin

  • Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry (also an Oscar-winning short film)

  • Making Meaning of Whiteness: Exploring Racial Identity with White Teachers, Alice McIntyre

  • Poetry Like Bread, Martín Espada


  • Chill Soul Rap Instrumental, Nkato nkato888@gmail.com and @aI-instagram

  • Coffee, FYKSEN prodfyksen@gmail.com and @fmfyksen

  • Just Cool, unminus (WowaMusik) info@unminus.com

  • Real, nat (BeatStars) natbeats123@gmail.com

  • Slowly, Smith the Master and @aI-instagram

Original music by Mara Johnson, monét cooper, and Elliott Wilkes

Episode 4 | Carceral Curriculum | Building Futures: There's No Other Option

In this final episode of our three-part series on the carceral curriculum, we engage educators with what manifesting freedom dreaming might look like in classrooms and curriculum. Our guests this episode are Ebony and Zani, two early childhood educators who are spending this year designing a small Montessori preschool in Washington, D.C. by engaging community members, families, and students as they create their curriculum. They insist that abolitionist and liberatory education must be done in community and with accountability to our students, their families, and their communities. In our Resource Room, elementary administrator Leensa Fufa returns to the classroom and shares how she uses self-portraits to facilitate conversation around identity with young learners. Michigan poet Carlina Duan shares her poem “Alien Miss Confronts Her Past,” from her newest book of poetry Alien Miss (University of Wisconsin Press). And monét and Erin sign off for a long winter’s nap of freedom dreaming and rest. We’ll be back February 5, 2022, with our next episode. Take care of yourselves. We love y’all.

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Thank you to Rahsaan Mahadeo for recommending many of these texts in our conversation with him. And the ones he did not recommend were inspired by his words.


Original Music by Mara Johnson, Elliott Wilkes, and monét cooper

Episode 3 | Carceral Curriculum: It's By Design

During our three-part series on the carceral curriculum in our schools, we ask, “How do we abolish carcerality in our schools (and beyond)?” In this second episode, we ask Dr. Rahsaan Mahadeo: “How are schools designed for carcerality?” Rahsaan challenges us to consider how schools become places of racialized disablement for Black and Brown students through curriculum and discipline policies. Mahadeo implores us to consider how educators can refuse to consent to participate in school-based carcerality and to understand our complicity in upholding carcerality in our schools. Special education expert, LeShone Jai, adds complexity to our discussion of IEPs. In “What I Don’t Get Paid For,” Kishanna Laurie gets us to delete the email app from our phones and #ReclaimOurTime. Poet Kweku John moves us with a poem about dance inspired by Adinkra symbols. Thank you for listening. Love, us.

Episode 2 | Carceral Curriculum: Owning What is Ours

During our three-part series on the carceral curriculum in our schools, we’ll be asking, “How do we abolish carcerality in our schools (and beyond)?” In this first episode, we learn about curriculum violence, a manifestation of carcerality, through a conversation with Dr. Stephanie Jones, Assistant Professor of Education at Grinnell College. Dr. Jones defines curriculum violence as “planned activities, planned assessments within the classroom space that are particularly harmful to Black and Brown students and their knowledges,” whether it is intended to be or not. We also discuss how educators enact racial trauma via the carceral curriculum in their classrooms and ways we can be accountable to ending curriculum violence in our schools. In our Resource Room, Kishanna Laurie shares about her Reiki practice of self-care. Erin’s former student, Lissa, shares her poem, “Where I’m From,” celebrating the many parts of her identity. And throughout, Erin and monét invite you to sit with the violence we have enacted as educators and how we can repair and transform our classroom communities through our practices. Thank you for walking with us.

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Episode 1 | Teaching for Joy, Liberation, and Abolition

This episode is about knowing. We introduce ourselves, the podcast, and how we define teaching and learning for justice, liberation, and abolition through conversations with two teachers from our own schooling experiences: Mrs. Brenda Fleming and Michelle Cotnoir. In this episode's Resource Room, we hear from Chase-Mitchell about a book that keeps her grounded in her teaching practice and Zoe, a high school student from Virginia, shares a poem about language, identity, and the power to become. Who are your podcast hosts? (monét and Erin) Why this podcast, why now, and why should we join together on this journey toward liberation in our schools? Well, you'll just have to listen. Thank you for coming with us.