Resources for Identity Safe Classrooms

We designed this resource guide to provide additional information on many of the ideas shared in the book. We annotated the resources to explain their links to identity safety. This guide is presented following the organization of the book.



“On Thin Ice” by Claude M. Steele (1999)

Professor Claude Steele explains what stereotype threat is and how it can reduce academic achievement.  For example, when capable black college students fail to perform as well as their white counterparts, the explanation often has less to do with preparation or ability than with the threat of stereotypes about their capacity to succeed.

Claude Steele Speaks About Stereotype Threat

In this interview Dr. C. Steele explains the concept of stereotype threat and its antidote “identity safety.”  Many African-American men go to great lengths to counteract the pernicious stereotypes to avoid being profiled. For example, when journalist Brent Staples was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, he realized that his very presence was making others as he returned from the library to his apartment.  His solution was to whistle Vivaldi to indicate to white students that he was not a thug, but a graduate student, like them. 

Steele’s book, “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do About It” (2010) offers a more in-depth discussion.

Reducing Stereotype Threat

Reducing Stereotype Threat is a research site with articles and strategies on stereotype threat and negative stereotypes. The site offers suggestions for reducing the negative consequences of stereotyping in academic settings and strategies to address negative impacts.

Self Affirmation Theory

This short book section by Geoffrey L. Cohen and David K. Sherman explains self-affirmation theory, which “…posits that people have a fundamental motivation to maintain self-integrity, a perception of themselves as good, virtuous, and able to predict and control important outcomes.” In virtually all cultures and historical periods, there are socially shared conceptions of what it means to be a person of self-integrity. Having self-integrity means that one perceives oneself as living up to a culturally specified conception of goodness, virtue, and agency. Self-affirmation theory examines how people maintain self-integrity when this perception of the self is threatened. 

“What is Identity Safety?” by Dorothy M. Steele (2012)

The chapter Identity safe school environments, creating. provides an overview of identity safety. It is part of a comprehensive 4-part series that covers research and literature on issues that include race, class, gender, religion, language, exceptionality, and the global dimensions of diversity as they relate to education.


Belonging Research

Stanford psychologist Gregory Walton explains how a relatively small psychological intervention can help improve student achievement and workplace environments.

Empathic Civilization

In this animated TED Talk, author Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways it has shaped human development.

U.S. Department of Education/

The Department of Education maintains a comprehensive website with resources on identifying, responding and combating bullying and cyber-bullying. The site offers statistics, research and practical tools for use by schools, educators, families and youth.

ASCD Whole Child Initiative

Research, practice, and common sense confirm that a whole child approach to education will develop and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow by addressing students' comprehensive needs through the shared responsibility of students, families, schools, and communities. ASCD provides an array of research, tools, and strategies to meet the needs of the whole child.


Anti-Defamation League (ADL) A World of Difference Institute

The ADL’s A World of Difference Institute provides a comprehensive array of anti-bias education and diversity training programs, curricular resources and online materials and curricular content for Pre K-12 educators, students and families.

Center for Multicultural Education, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

The goal of multicultural education is to create equal educational opportunities for all students by changing the total school environment so that it will reflect the diverse cultures and groups within the nation's classrooms. Professors James Banks and Cherry Banks identified five dimensions of multicultural education. They are: content integration, the knowledge construction process, prejudice reduction, an equity pedagogy, and an empowering school culture and social structure (Banks, 1995a). The Center for Multicultural Education offers publications, courses, and an overview of current research.

Facing History and Ourselves

Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational organization whose mission is to help teachers engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice and anti-Semitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. Their website has a wealth of primary source and historical materials and lesson ideas. While it is mostly aimed at the secondary level, some materials may be appropriate for upper elementary students.

Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN provides school-based programming and training, conducts research and sponsors campaigns such as Day of Silence and No Name Calling Week.

National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME)

NAME is a national education and advocacy organization that celebrates diversity and equality for all regardless of culture, ethnicity, race, language, age, gender, sexual orientation. NAME provides a digital clearinghouse of resources about educational equity and social justice.

“Race in the Schoolyard” by Amanda Lewis (2003)

According to the author, Amanda E. Lewis, “The book is geared mainly for teachers, school personnel and people who want to work in schools. The main point is that intentionally or unintentionally, our implicit assumptions about people and race shape our interactions with them, as well as our expectations for them. If we don't pay attention to how that's happening, we can generate unintended outcomes. By far, most teachers have the best intentions and want to be doing the right thing. My hope is that the book will help teachers serve all kids better.”

Teaching Tolerance

Founded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable schools. The organization provides numerous  lesson plans and other free educational materials and programming to educators including Mix It Up at Lunch Day program and Teaching Tolerance Magazine.

Understanding Prejudice

This website offers a collection of educational resources and information on prejudice, discrimination, multiculturalism and diversity, with the ultimate goal of reducing the level of intolerance and bias in contemporary society.

Tracking and Inequality

An updated edition of Jeannie Oakes landmark book, Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality was published in 2005. Oakes writes “, our search for the solution to the problems of educational inequality, our focus was almost exclusively on the characteristics of the children themselves. We looked for sources of educational failure in their homes, their neighborhoods, their language, their cultures, even in their genes. In all our searching we almost entirely overlooked the possibility that what happens within schools might contribute to unequal educational opportunities and outcomes” (p. xiv).

“Dreamkeepers, Successful Teachers of African American Students” by Gloria Ladson Bilings (2009)

In this widely read book, Gloria Ladson Billings shared the stories of teachers, both black and white who have successfully taught African American students. Holistic practices illustrated in these profiles mirror many aspects of identity safety.


The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

CASEL is a leading organization that works to advance the science and evidence-based practice of social and emotional learning (SEL). They provide research, model programs, policy and advocacy.

SEL is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging, and meaningful.  Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen, and worker; and many different risky behaviors can be prevented or reduced when multi-year, integrated efforts develop students’ social and emotional skills.

Differentiating Instruction

“Diane Ravitch defines differentiating instruction as a form of instruction that seeks to "maximize each student's growth by recognizing that students have different ways of learning, different interests, and different ways of responding to instruction.” ASCD provides definitions, resources, videos and tools to help educators  meet the needs of students from all skills levels, teachers must construct learning opportunities that meet students where they are while helping them to stretch to the next level of understanding.

ASCD English Language Learners

In the area of ELL, ASCD provides research and information on best practices in the form of articles, discussion groups, books, conferences, and professional development resources.

The Growth Mindset

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has brought to light the relationship between students’ theory of mind about ability and their efforts at persisting with difficult work.  She calls this “mindset.” Students who believe ability is unchangeable have a fixed mindset, based on the notion that their intelligence or talent is given and not modifiable by practice and effort.  

Students who believe ability can grow/change have a growth mindset.   They believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through opportunity and effort.  Students’ views of ability, whether it is fixed or changeable through effort have important implications on their ability to learn new and challenging things.


Caring Communities of Learners

The Developmental Studies Center (DSC) conducted research in twelve districts over many years to demonstrate the impact of caring classroom communities on student academic and social development.  DSC produced a rich collection of publications, videos, and lesson models. The book, “Ways We Want our Class to Be” (1996) describes how to organize Class Meetings to help students learn to be caring and committed to learning. 

Responsive Classrooms

Responsive Classrooms offers a set of resources, including video clips, blogs, and professional development to create school cultures that promote effective teaching that engages students in academic learning and nurtures the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in and out of school.

Character Education Partnership (CEP)

CEP serves as a resource for people and organizations that are integrating character education into schools and communities. CEP offers tools for evaluating effective character education, professional development of teachers and administrators focusing on school-wide systemic change, and a school improvement process for schools or districts through the National Schools of Character (NSOC) program.

National School Climate Center (NSCC)

NSCC promotes positive and sustained school climate: a safe, supportive environment that nurtures social and emotional, ethical and academic skills. They work with schools to integrate crucial social and emotional learning with academic instruction, to enhance student performance, prevent drop-outs, reduce physical violence and bullying, and to develop healthy and positively engaged adults.

Alternatives to Zero Tolerance

The ACLU has examined the impact of “zero tolerance” policies on students’ academic outcomes.  The school-to-prison pipeline is one of the most important civil rights challenges facing our nation today. The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the national trend of criminalizing, rather than educating, our nation’s children.  The pipeline encompasses the growing use of zero-tolerance discipline, school-based arrests, disciplinary alternative schools, and secured detention to marginalize our most at-risk youth and deny them access to education.

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is an approach to student guidance that provide an alternative to punishment for unwanted student behavior.  This process brings students into the school community instead of pushing them out as “bad guys.”  This process works by teaching conflict resolution skills, building stronger relationships and providing alternative approaches to discipline. These articles discuss how to implement restorative justice and the experiences schools have had with this approach to school discipline.

AbilityPath is an online community that brings together professionals and parents of children with special needs to connect and learn about the process of supporting ongoing healthy development of children with special needs and disabilities. The site couples social networking with expert medical advice to provide maximum support and encouragement.

Linda Darling-Hammond’s Blog

Linda Darling-Hammond is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University. She also served as executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, which produced the 1996 widely cited blueprint for education reform: What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future. Darling-Hammond’s research, teaching, and policy work focus on educational policy, teaching and teacher education, school restructuring, and educational equity.

Rethinking Schools

Rethinking Schools is a publisher of education materials committed to equity and to the vision that public education is central to the creation of a humane, caring, multiracial democracy. While writing for a broad audience, Rethinking Schools emphasizes problems facing urban schools, particularly issues of race.