204: Sustainable Writing and Multimodal Pedagogies with Ariana Brown

204: Sustainable Writing and Multimodal Pedagogies with Ariana Brown


In this episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast, I interview Ariana Brown who discusses the topic of sustainable writing and multimodal pedagogies. Ariana Brown is a queer Black Mexican American writer based in Houston, TX. The author of the poetry collections We Are Owed. and Sana Sana, Ariana’s work investigates queer Black personhood in Mexican American spaces, loneliness, and care.

She holds a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies, an M.F.A. in Poetry, and M.S. in Library Science. Ariana is a national collegiate poetry slam champion and owes much of her practice to performance communities led by Black women poets from the South.

In this episode, we cover the common challenges in traditional learning environments and the need for flexibility and understanding. What are multimodal pedagogies and how can they be used to make learning more accessible. The role that empathy can play in creating more inclusive and supportive classrooms. And Ariana offers invaluable advice for emerging writers and educators.


You can connect with Ariana at the following links:

Website: www.arianabrown.com
Patreon: www.patreon.com/arianathepoet
Twitter/IG: @ArianaThePoet


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Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 0:02

Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. This is your host, Doctora Yvette. And today we're going to be covering not one, but two exciting topics. The first one is on building a sustainable writing practice. And the second is on using multimodal pedagogies in the classroom. I feel like each of them could be its own podcast, so maybe we'll have to have you come back to the show. But yeah, but for now I'm gonna get as much as I can because I'm so excited that our guest today is Ariana Brown, she they.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 0:40

Ariana is a queer Black Mexican American writer based in Houston, Texas. The author of the poetry collections, We Are Owed, and Sana Sana, Ariana's work investigates queer Black person hood in Mexican American spaces, loneliness and care. I just got chills. She holds a BA in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American studies and MFA in poetry and MS in library science. Ariana is a National Collegiate Poetry Slam champion. And as much of her practice, to performance communities led by black women poets from the south. She has been writing, performing and teaching poetry for over 10 years. Welcome to the podcast, Ariana.

Ariana Brown 0:41

Thank you so much for having me here.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 1:24

I'm so sorry. Please, please let me know if I'm pronouncing your name, right? Because if I want to make sure I say it, right.

Ariana Brown 1:31

No, I appreciate that. It can go either way. It's one of those things. So you're doing great.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 1:36

Thank you. So I'd love for you to start us off by sharing a little bit more about you about who you are about what you do. And I love when folks share their testimonials. So a little bit about kind of background backstory, how you how you became who you are today?

Ariana Brown 1:53

Sure. Well, I can say I'm from Texas, I've kind of lived in a bunch of different major cities in Texas. But I grew up in San Antonio. And I was a very shy child, I know might be hard to believe, because I do you know, I've been doing slam poetry and performing and teaching for so long. But before all of that I was very shy. I did not like talking to other people I prefer to read all the time. And a lot of that came from the fact that I for a long time, I was the only Black person in my neighborhood. And in my school, I was my mother's Mexican American, my father was African American. But he passed before I was born. So it was just me and my mom. So I was even the only Black person in my house, which is a very unique experience. And I felt very, I felt very physically different from everyone I was in community with or the people that were supposed to be my community.

Ariana Brown 2:52

I was constantly reminded of the fact that my blackness marked me as different. And I think that made me retreat into books, because I felt like I could trust language. And I also felt like if I could just get better at describing my experience that I would have some control over what was happening. So I found poetry, I want to say in middle school, and I kind of just fell in love with it. It seemed like it seemed like the perfect vehicle for me to learn how to express all the things I was feeling everything I was observing. And because of my sort of racialization at an early age, I was really interested in history. I wanted to know more about Black history, I want to know more about where I came from. I wanted to know things about the history of Black hair and culture and all these sorts of things. So it seemed only natural that I ended up majoring in Black studies when I got to college.

Ariana Brown 3:48

And that was so foundational for me because it gave me the language to understand power, who has power? In what situations who doesn't? When did when do those things change, right? What are the contingent upon certain things. And that gave me a lot of clarity around my specific lived experience. I learned that I could look to history for answers as to why I was experiencing certain moments of anti Blackness or feelings about sidedness in the community that I was supposed to be a part of. Right. And so I started writing about those things. That's what a lot of my poetry is about understanding race, geography, because Texas is a very particular place to be from. And are all those things kind of combined to shape our everyday lives? So I've been performing poetry since I was a teenager. I'm 30 years old now. It's been 13 years I think. I got restarted and community performance spaces, open mics, things like that. But I started leading them pretty. Pretty soon after I started writing. I actually taught my high schools Poetry unit in my English class. So I've been teaching community based sort of performance workshops that are very focused on accessibility since I was really young. This idea that like, the way that we get taught poetry in school, it tends to feel very exclusive. You know, you know what I mean? Like we get taught Robert Frost, and Shakespeare and all that stuff is

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 5:24

I'm rolling my eyes as a former English major theater minor. So I know about all the, whether it's British literature, or US American literature is on White Eurocentric.

Ariana Brown 5:39

Absolutely, you know, and it doesn't reflect your own experience. And so when I found slam poetry, I was like, Oh, this is incredible, because you don't have to write it in a particular form, right, it doesn't have to follow these really restrictive rules that a lot of these older Eurocentric forms follow. And you can write about your life, right. And so that was really, I don't, I don't always think of that as my introduction to accessibility. But I think that it was a me learning how to how to teach different kinds of poetic concepts or, you know, embracing creativity in a way that is inclusive of everybody that to the point where someone who doesn't have a background in poetry, or maybe doesn't even like poetry can come into that kind of workshop, and feel like they got something out of it. So I've basically been writing, performing and teaching, ever since I teach a lot of online writing classes now, especially since the pandemic began. So that's a little bit about me.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 6:36

Wow. It's so interesting, I was going to ask you about your identities and how they influence the work that you do now. But you started talking about first your interest in poetry as a way to be able to articulate kind of your experiences, but then looking to history for answers, and then becoming a teacher yourself and arriving at this kind of notion of accessibility through rethinking how we learn about writing. And so I would love for you to maybe say a little bit more about that about both your identities as queer, Black, Mexican American, but then also like, even being able to articulate the word accessibility and what that means and how it relates to this notion of developing a sustainable writing practice. I know that's one of the things that you're here to talk about. And sustainability and accessibility are words that I know I use a lot, but I don't always define them. But I would love to hear more about you like your take on accessibility, your take on on sustainability and sustainable riding practices. And I know it's, it's shaped by who you are. So like, yeah, and how, like, even you and who you are, how that is, informs what you do?

Ariana Brown 7:58

Absolutely. I think of accessibility in two ways. I think maybe I kind of came into my understanding of accessibility in two waves, I'll say. So the first wave was sort of, as a teenager, being present in these community run performance spaces where everybody who was involved, none of them were, you know, none of them had degrees in English, none of them had published books, we all sort of understood that, because we were performing spoken word poetry that our work was never going to be respected by the professional literary world. But because we understood that and we accepted it, we made our own community, you know, and so everyone that I was taught by when I was a teenager had a regular nine to five day job. And they would volunteer their time in the evenings or on the weekends to host the youth poetry slams, to drive the kids to the slam to host the writing workshops that were free and open to the community. So I saw people really giving up their time and space, and there was really this energy of anybody is welcome. Everybody is welcome, right? You don't have to, like writing right, you will get something out of it. And the fact that it's slam poetry is lends itself to performance, right?

Ariana Brown 9:10

We had a lot of a lot of youth poets who, you know, probably did not love to read, you know, maybe we're not loving their English classes, but they loved to perform. They wanted to write persona poems as superheroes. You know what I mean? So there was also that kind of just fun element of it. It doesn't have to be so serious and restrictive. You know, you can kind of make it your own. And so that was sort of my first wave of like, oh, this is how you teach in a way that makes things engaging, fun. Interesting, right? But also clear, clear to an audience, right and the slam the person on the here's the poem one time, they can't see the text of it. And so it also teaches you a lot about how to communicate yourself effectively and clearly because audience will let you know, if they don't understand what you're saying? Yeah, go ahead.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 10:05

No, I was just gonna say and I'm hearing about how it's also a practice that is both financially accessible and educationally accessible too.

Ariana Brown 10:16

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that was one of the big reasons that I came to writing in the first place. I always wanted to learn how to paint and how to play the piano, but you need money for those kinds of things, to buy those supplies to take those classes. Maybe one day, I'll I'll be able to afford piano lessons. But, you know, a pen and paper everybody has that, for the most part, you know, my second sort of introduction to accessibility was, was much more recent, actually. When I was in college, I participated in our, our college slam poetry organization, which I co founded, and one of my teammates. Their name is Jazz Bell, they do accessibility consulting now. But Jazz lived at a series of interlocking oppressions, a few of which were a disability and neurodivergence. And I learned a lot from Jazz, just being friends with Jazz and being on the same slam poetry team with them, of what some of the things that they needed, in order to actually in order for the space to actually be accessible for them. And so I just kind of learned by watching by asking questions by listening to Jazz.

Ariana Brown 11:25

And as their own sort of consciousness around healing justice and disability justice grew, they shared with me. Now, Jazz does accessibility consulting, and actually, I signed up for a consultation with them a few years ago, when I wanted to start teaching virtual classes during the shelter in place, because I, you know, I said, I have a decade of experience teaching these kinds of things in person. But now I have to learn Zoom, you know, and now I have to figure out I know, during, especially during the shelter in place, I feel like everybody's needs sort of accumulated in as far as what students would need from an educator, you know, like people were experiencing unprecedented grief, anxiety, lack of attention, right. And folks, were really just needing a lot of flexibility and compassion.

Ariana Brown 12:17

And I wanted to make sure that I was caring for I always say, I always tell my students, we come to writing with our whole selves. And so it's my job as a teacher to make sure that your whole self is cared for, right, you can't, we're not just going to come here and talk about craft and metaphors, I'm also going to make sure that you have a break to stretch your body, I'm going to make sure that we do a grounding exercise before we jump into the writing. You know, when we talk about heavy things, I'm going to ask us to take a collective breath and see how everyone's doing. I'ma make sure captions are enabled, you know. I just taught a class with a student who had an auditory processing disorder. And so we made adjustments as class was going on to make sure hey, if you're volunteering to speak with us, make sure you have a headset and that there's minimal background noise. So just like kind of learning to pay attention and to be flexible on the fly about, okay, someone's access need is not being met right now. How can we shift things so that the majority of people's access needs are being met in this particular moment, knowing that sometimes they will conflict, but we're gonna do our best to be clear and compassionate with one another as we figure this out?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 13:23

Yes. You know, as someone who is disabled, chronically ill, and neurodivergent, myself, it is. So what's the word for it? Like? I feel a sense of like relief to hear that you have someone in your life like Jazz to be able to provide you with that kind of education and support when they didn't, didn't necessarily have to do that. We don't all have someone like that in our lives. And some of us learn the hard way. Like I myself didn't learn about my own internalized ableism until I got super sick. And so now like, my lived experience informs how I work with everybody else. And I hear a lot of that, like, being flexible. You're saying pick to be flexible with how you work with and serve others, teach others, but then I'm also wondering how that also translates to the the sustainable writing practice going back to that, because I get folks asked me all the time, well, like how do you do things and what's your what's your schedule like? And what do you do for productivity and bla bla bla, bla bla, and I constantly saying there's no one size fits all. You got to figure out what works for you what helps you to be functional, what helps you to you know, to not just survive, but thrive. And it's kind of a list a lot of like, trial and error. I'm curious for you like what what's your take on how do you build a sustainable writing practice? With all of this in mind with you, you know, you are aware about accessibility needs and about different minds and bodies and spirits and how we all interact with the world in different ways.

Ariana Brown 15:06

Yeah. Yes, I fully agree with what you said about it's definitely not one size fits all, I am constantly telling my students that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 15:14

And some folks get frustrated, they're like, just tell me, tell me what to do.

Ariana Brown 15:18

Well, that's the thing, right, is that everyone wants the magic answer when they sign up for a class, like, Oh, I'll sign up for this class, and then I will never have a problem again, right. But I do a lot of being really down to earth in my classes, and being very practical about okay, you know, we're gonna try some things, some of them are not going to work, some of them might work. And I tell my students to and I just taught an eight week version of my class building a sustainable writing practice. And something that I said often is, I'm going to make you aware of as many tools as possible, because there are going to be moments when you need to reach for a certain tool, and then there are going to be moments when that tool is not working for you. And we need to make sure that when you put that tool back, you have something else to reach for, you know, because our needs change, because that is what life is like.

Ariana Brown 16:04

When it comes to building a sustainable writing practice. It's interesting, because there's so many different types of neurodivergence, and disability. And some people, like myself, really require a lot of structure. That is where my neurodivergence leads me that I like a lot of structure, I need to have an established, you know, routine. And when things don't happen, I start to freak out. But I know a lot of people, I have a lot of very close friends, actually, who are writers and artists who have ADHD, and they are kind of the opposite. They need a lot of flexibility, accommodation, stimulation, yes, you know, lots of new things happening all the time. That sounds stressful to me. You know, like.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 16:49

I'm laughing because I can relate, a lot of my loved ones, I have a lot of loved ones who need that stimulation. And I'm I'm, I'm more sensory avoiding than sensory seeking. So I can relate to everything you just said.

Ariana Brown 17:04

Yes, it is. It's something that I have to pay extra attention to when I'm teaching because those are not needs that I have. And I feel stressed out sometimes when people are like, I had a routine and you know, or I tried five different routines, and they worked for a week. And now I have to switch. I'm like, I don't know how you're doing this. But we're gonna figure this out. When it comes to specifically building a writing practice, one of the things I talk with my students about is, a lot of us can recognize how capitalism and ableism shapes, different aspects of our day to day lives.

Ariana Brown 17:37

But a lot of us haven't really thought about how that affects our relationship with our own art, or writing. And so we say things to ourselves, like, oh, I don't know why I just can't sit down and finish this thing, or I don't know, I just can't figure out why I don't have the energy to do this. Or if I could just have another hour in the day, if I could just everyone seems to think that they are missing the secret formula that everybody else somehow has for how they're doing what it is that they're doing. And I spend a good amount of time in all of my classes, reminding people that there is no secret formula that if you are tired, there's no, that's not a moral failure if you don't have the energy to write, if you can't figure out what your practice is. It just means that you have different needs right now. And you haven't figured out how to meet them yet. That's all it means.

Ariana Brown 18:25

And you'd be surprised how often even folks who are familiar with Healing Justice and Disability Justice, how often that seems like a surprise to them that realization? Because we are so hard on ourselves. Yes. You know, when it comes to whether we're students, writers, we're so so so hard on ourselves about the language that we use. And a lot of that is capitalism and ableism. You know, we are whether you're in academia, or you're, you know, on the literary side, trying to publish a book, there's so much competition for such scarce resources. And so you are constantly comparing yourself to another scholar or to another writer who is winning all the awards and getting all the publicity and has the kind of career path that you want to have. And you start to internalize all of that external stuff that actually has nothing to do with the writing or the writing's value.

Ariana Brown 19:18

So I do I spend a lot of time that the first two weeks of my class, we just work on mindset shifts. Just realizing how much how much of our the way we talk to ourselves is actually really unkind and unsustainable. And from there, then we'd look at practical strategies. Like okay, this is what a writing routine could look like. Here are some tools, here's some ways to be flexible. Here's some ways to allow yourself to be distracted to follow that distraction and then come back to the task you were doing originally. So just building in a lot of a lot of flexibility and letting people know it's okay to not finish. I think it's okay to just do a what do we say? Halfway is good enough? And good enough is perfect.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 20:07

Yeah. And even, you mentioned the flexibility but also curiosity. So even being willing to try new things, because sometimes folks get stuck on doing the same thing over and over again, that's no longer serving them. And but I'm glad that you yeah, that's great that you're talking about the importance of the the mind shifts mindset shift and of being more compassionate with ourselves, when you're talking about developing a writing practice, I also feel like, I can't not relate this to multi, not just, you're gonna talk about multimodal modal pedagogy too, but multimodal writing, too, because that's another thing that I know that the title of this episode is not multimodal writing strategies, but we could have gone there. Absolutely. Maybe we should because she has the thing that sometimes blows people's minds is when you when you introduce them to the concept of you don't actually have to write in the same way that everybody else is writing. It could be pen and paper, it could be on typing on a keyboard, it could be drawing, it could be recording yourself, it could be so many things. So I just had to make that connection. Because I think that's also speaks to the question of like, how do you make it sustainable? And how do you make it so that it works for you? Yeah.

Ariana Brown 21:25

Absolutely. I mean, I think one of the big things is kind of trying to do trying to do away with these binaries of good and bad, you know, of like, this is real writing. This is not real writing, this is good writing, this is bad writing, and just kind of getting folks to accept that there is no one good way or right way to do the thing. And part of that comes from my training as a librarian too you know.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 21:50

Interesting, yeah. Say more.

Ariana Brown 21:52

I got excited, we started talking about multimodal writing. And then thinking about multimodal reading, actually, one of the cornerstones of librarianship is access. Now, there's a lot of the librarians and libraries can be doing toward healing justice and the way that folks talk about access and that space, but one of the core principles of librarianship is equity of access, which means that anyone who might ever want to know, information on a particular topic should be able to access that information easily in a format that is accessible for them. And that is why libraries don't only stock books, it's why they also stock audiobooks, and movies and picture books, right, and comic books and all of these kinds of things. Because people deserve access, period, it's not a question.

Ariana Brown 22:42

And when I teach my students, you know, I did a actually did a unit on research and how you can use libraries for research in your own creative writing. Because I think a lot of creative writers think that research is only for academics and scholars. But I've read some fantastic books that were heavily researched and formed. And so we talk about, okay, how do we take some of the elitism and kind of the stigma and the intimidation that folks feel about this word research, and make it accessible? Right? How do we explain actually, a lot of people don't know, librarians are trained to help you, they want you to ask them questions. That's literally our job. We would love to stop helping people with the printer and actually ask a library, you know, research focused question. That's what we really signed up for it. But yeah, just letting folks know that there are lots of different ways to read. There's lots of different ways to research. You know, not everybody has access to, you know, buying new books all the time.

Ariana Brown 23:39

But I always tell people, YouTube and Netflix are full of informative documentaries that you can watch to learn that same information. I assign a lot of podcasts for my homework, you know, just like listen to this podcast episode, we're going to watch this tic tok playlist, you know, just having things available in multiple formats, which sort of goes into what you were, you know, addressing with the multimodal pedagogies. But that's really helpful for all learners. Yeah, you know what I mean? Like, sometimes we think that only folks who are disabled or neurodivergent or chronically ill need a particular way of learning, but it's actually helpful for everybody. Yeah, same information is packaged in different ways. Repeated, you know, we get to practice the things we get to verbalize what we are learning. We get to talk with each other about, you know, our questions. All of those things are part of a really holistic and diverse learning plan. And so it actually helps everybody understand the concept better if the information is available in multiple formats.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 24:39

Yeah, yeah. I'm just gonna keep saying yes. Preaching to the choir here. It's interesting. I do, I have noticed that for myself, and also when introducing different accessibility tools to folks that I've worked with, is is how much like the more you learn about accessibility, the more I can actually help you as well, not just those that you're serving. So thank you. Thank you for mentioning that. I would love for you to say a little bit more about the multimodal pedagogies, especially how you have incorporated some approaches to teaching in the classroom, and specifically the benefits and the challenges because I know there are challenges when you're trying to introduce different different tools, different strategies, technology, different needs different accommodations. And even sometimes the biggest struggle is teaching students who themselves may have needs but haven't been taught how to advocate for themselves. So yeah, maybe talking a little bit more about about your approaches, and also just some things you've noticed about. But I think you've talked about some of the benefits, but also some of the challenges.

Ariana Brown 25:59

Sure. I'm just gonna make some notes. So don't forget to answer all parts of the question.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 26:05

And I'm happy to re say it.

Ariana Brown 26:09

This is my, my need for structure. My neurodiversity is going through. Let me go and make some notes while.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 26:15

Oh, me, too. I deal with brain fog, too. And so all the time, I'm right, I have my own notes on the side, because otherwise, my mind will go somewhere else.

Ariana Brown 26:24

Absolutely. Absolutely. In terms of multimodal pedagogies, something I did for my my recent class that I taught on building a sustainable writing practice was that I assigned homework every week, which I'm not someone who really believes in homework. But a lot of my virtual classes only meet once a week for like maybe two hours. And so I assign homework, because we just can't simply cover everything in that one meeting. And it's helpful for spring boarding conversation at the start of our next class.

Ariana Brown 26:57

But I try to make sure that the homework all of it can be completed in an hour or less. And what I would do is I would pick sort of one topic that all the homework was going to be on. And the homework is just kind of readings viewings, things to listen to, maybe an exercise to do, but nothing like writing a paper or something like that. So pretty low stakes. But often, what I would do is I would try to find multiple formats for folks receiving that information. So say we were we did a week talking on some of the issues in the public publishing industry, and why it's so hard for writers right now. And so I had a tic tok video that explained how a book gets made through the traditional publishing process. I had a short online article by a disabled writer about their experience with publishing. And then I also had a podcast episode that was maybe 30 40 minutes of writers talking about their experience in publishing.

Ariana Brown 27:56

What I also did every week was I told folks, not hey, it's great. I said, pick two of these, you know, pick two of the three to four, you know, items, to read, to watch to listen to. But if you don't have time to do any of that, what I did was I wrote a one page summary of all the main points of the homework. So people could just read that. And I also recorded myself verbally reading that aloud. So if you only had a couple of minutes, you know that week, because that happens, you still were able to access the information. And it was also a practice for me as an educator making sure that helped me formulate my discussion questions for you know, for lecture, the following week of okay, I just had to write the summary, you know, now I know I feel even more prepared as a teacher on how to do this.

Ariana Brown 28:41

There were a couple of weeks, that were just hard, you know, when you are working with folks who have a lot of different needs, and a lot of different, you know, off camera struggles that you don't see in the Zoom room, sometimes folks don't have the time or the energy to engage with anything outside of showing up for that two hours that they signed up for. And that's it. So there were a lot of people who said, you know, I didn't do any of the homework, either. I couldn't figure out how, because I'm still figuring out what my studying systems are like, or I just have a lot of stuff going on. And I can't give any energy to this. And so what I did, was really just tried to incorporate discussion questions that were specifically about the readings, but then also were just about the concepts in the reading. So maybe you didn't do the research. Maybe you didn't do the reading on how a book is traditionally published. But I can ask you if publishing is something that you have ever been interested in, and we can talk from there about what your goals are.

Ariana Brown 29:38

So it definitely required a lot of careful thought on my part of making sure that I was trying to include everybody as much as possible. But we also did a lot of discussion in the chat and we also set up a class discord so people could engage with each other outside of class and actually set up study groups if they wanted to meet up and talk about the homework, or, you know, do writing sessions together. So we tried to address a lot of things. But it is one of the things when you're working with folks who have such different needs is to acknowledge that not everybody's needs are going to be met 100% of the time, but I find that folks really do appreciate when you are communicative and compassionate if they can see you trying, and they feel cared for and heard, that really does go a long way.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 30:26

Yeah, that last line is so key. Because sometimes we're still learning on the spot, as instructors or on the other end of things, you're, as a student, you might still be learning, like what your needs even are. But if you know that you're working with someone who's willing to learn and listen and be compassionate, that's huge, because there's not a lot. There's not enough of that, I would say.

Ariana Brown 30:53

yes, yes, I agree. I agree. Yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 30:58

I guess one more question before we're gonna get, you know, close to going to our final thoughts or your final thoughts. But we've talked, we've been talking about sustainable writing practices, you've been talking about multimodal pedagogies and also kind of accessibility in the classroom. And and we've already started talking about how needs are different depending on whether you're disabled, neurodivergent, you name it. So that brings forth also a question of, you've already shared that you try to support different learning styles. But even that I still find folks asking me like, how do I figure out what my learning style is? And yeah, so maybe like, what are your thoughts on on continuing to the conversation on supporting disabled, neurodivergent students in the classroom and and also helping people to support themselves?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 31:56

So like, one of the things I share is like, link to like a quiz that you can take to learn what your what is your learning style. But there's also another thing that I know I share with folks, especially if they have a recent diagnosis of something is the Job Accommodations Network site, just to say, okay, here's some example of the types of accommodations you can ask for. But yeah, just in general, your thoughts on? How can we make learning spaces more inclusive? Because you've shared what you've done? But maybe what would you share to other folks who, who teach and especially those who teach writing in the classroom? What are some, some thoughts or advice that you would give to them? If they're new to this? If they're like, yeah, they're still trying to figure out and learn themselves. I'm starting to notice I'm getting more students who are asking me for accommodations. I don't know what to do.

Ariana Brown 32:55

There's a couple of things. The first thing I would say is, you know, I think teachers work so much, and so hard, that sometimes I imagine that it might feel frustrating to realize you actually have to redo your curriculum, you have to rethink this thing that you have already spent a lot of time planning. And so I really try to encourage folks to feel the emotions that are coming up, you know, we're encountering this difficulty because the society we live in is ablest. That's what you're responding to. That's where that frustration is coming up. And if you're already overworked because of capitalism, right? It's, it's understandable to feel tired to feel exhausted, to feel frustrated.

Ariana Brown 33:38

But that's not an excuse for not trying, you know what I mean? And so I think a little bit of humility on the teachers part really goes a long way. Because you, no matter how fantastic of a teacher you are, you still want to be teachable. You know what I mean? And so for me, what's been really helpful, and what I would recommend to other educators who are trying to learn more about making their classrooms more accessible, is sign up for some classes that are taught by a disabled and neurodivergent and chronically ill folks, because a lot of what I've encountered was a lot of able bodied folks, when they learned about principles of disability justice, they think it's not practical. You know, they're sort of like, oh, this is not in the real world. You know, nobody, you know, holds your hand or whatever. Those are kind of the responses that I've heard people say, which is so frustrating, right.

Ariana Brown 34:30

And so I think it's actually really helpful just to see an example, see how people are doing it. And then you realize, oh, this is actually kind of easy. It's actually easy to set aside five minutes at the beginning of every class to review my access statement and make sure everyone knows how to turn captions on and how to voice and access need that happens during class so that we can refocus. That's actually not that hard, right? I just have to set aside those five minutes. But if I didn't see an example of someone doing it, I might think, you know, it's not one other thing that I have to do. That's sort of the, the attitude that I've seen from from other educators. So I think, being teachable, seeing examples, right, purposely seeking out that information, and if you can consult with an accessibility coordinator, I mean, there's so many resources online, you know, teachers and professors, you know, how to research, you know what I mean? So, do some research on Healing Justice. I mean, as we discussed, it benefits your disabled your neurodivergent students, and everyone else, you know, and I mean, so I think it's something that is very worthwhile and worth studying.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 35:36

Yeah, thank you. Thank you for that. Yeah, I mean, I, I'm just going to keep echoing everything that you're saying about the humility about being willing to learn and to be teachable? Because no one, I don't think there's a person who's doing it perfectly. And I think even those of us that are that have already started learning about it. We're still like, okay, I guess the only other thing I would add is that to remind people that it's okay to make mistakes, so long as you're still trying. Yeah. I still feel like I have a long way to go in terms of my own learnings too. But it's, it's good to even be trying. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so now, I want you to speak to my listeners, specifically, my listeners are first gen BIPOC students, a lot of them are undergrads and grad students. And some of them may be emerging writers. And, you know, a lot of folks have this desire to write and struggle to even identify as a writer or as a creative. And some of them are also pursuing careers where they're going to be teaching writing in the classroom. So what advice would you have for these emerging writers, new pedagogues, new teachers who want to learn more about these topics about building a writing practice about teaching and teaching in an accessible and new and different ways?

Ariana Brown 37:09

Yes, I think a lot of these lessons that I'm about to share I learned from that early on period of teaching and community based writing workshops. My first piece of advice is to not assume anything, can't assume anything we walk into the classroom. I felt that that has served me well, we're going to be talking about terms, you better believe I have a bunch of different definitions on a term, we're going to spend some time talking about that to make sure we're all on the same page before we move forward in conversation. That also includes not assuming anything about your students backgrounds. There's a lot of times that I have in the past when I first started, when I started teaching writing workshops, where I really wanted to teach writing workshops about family and heritage. And I had to remember that not every student is connected to their family or to their heritage.

Ariana Brown 37:59

But I ended up teaching students who were adopted and had no knowledge of what their family or heritage was. So when I talk about accessibility, that basically means like, have you accounted for as many different types of people that might be in the room, even if you don't know this about their background, right. So trying to make things as open ended as possible, so that everyone has an entry point. That is really, really key.

Ariana Brown 38:23

The other thing I would say is race will sort of teach to the most marginalized, the most outsider person that you can think of, and then narrow down from there if you need to. The other thing that I would say is, especially if you're, you know, a first gen student of color, like I was, I would say, there are a lot of moments when you might feel like an outsider, when you might feel like you don't belong in a space. And I had a really hard time being in very fancy places for so long, because I grew up without very much money. So I just, I just felt so physically, you know, uncomfortable in very fancy spaces where everyone was, was dressed up, I just didn't even know how to be part of that. So something I would say is, you know, acknowledge the discomfort.

Ariana Brown 39:16

And work as hard as you can to separate your worth, like your the way that you think of your own worth and your own value from any external factors. Like if your relationship with your own studies with your own writing is not intact, is not a whole isn't that holistic and you know, protected. It's really easy for your relationship to your studies in your writing to be ruined by external factors. And so whatever your definition of success is, make sure that it's not reliant on these outside factors. Make sure that at the end of the day, whether or not you end up being successful or publishing the best selling book or writing the you know, the most cited paper of all time You know that you are an incredible person who has value and whose artistic creations matter. That is what I would say.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 40:09

Yes, I love that. And that the intrinsic notion of success is so important. Yeah.

Ariana Brown 40:18

And I talk to my students the most about a lot of that self doubt that we have that's been ingrained in us is ableist. It's capitalist, you know, like, oh, this, I'm sorry, I forgot one piece of advice. The last piece would be to find a community, find a community, if you if you have to create one, then you have to create one. But that is the thing that will, that's the thing that got me through. As a teacher, as a student, as an artist. There are so many moments of self doubt. There's so many times when you want, you have questions that you need to be answered. Having your supportive people with you who are rooting for you no matter what makes a world of difference.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 40:57

Yeah, for sure. For sure. Thank you so much. I I guess we're close to wrapping up. I can't believe it. I would love to hear for folks who want to hear more from you about you want to support your work, want to work with you. How can they reach you? How can they learn more? How can they follow you and your work?

Ariana Brown 41:17

Yes, I'm all over the internet. So arianabrown.com is my website. Everything is listed there. I'm on social media, Instagram and Twitter as @arianathepoet, Ariana spelled like, Ariana Grande. Those are those are the main places you can reach me I'm not on Tik Tok yet. We'll see.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 41:39

Well, thank you once again for sharing a plethora of knowledge experience everything you name it wisdom. I just was like, I feel like I could have just raised my hands for everything or, or clicked my fingers. I so appreciate you for joining us today.

Ariana Brown 41:56

Thank you for having me.

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