AERIALE N. JOHNSON, she/her/we, is a Reggio-inspired, abolitionist teacher of third graders at Washington Elementary School, a school bursting with the energy of multiculturalism and multilingualism in downtown San Jose, CA. There she strives to build a democratic classroom where all adults (educators and families) believe in children, allow children to bring the fullness of their humanity into the space, and deliberately relinquish their power to the children.
Aeriale is dedicated to antiracism and works every day of her life to disrupt oppressive systems and promote a more just and equitable world wherein all folx can thrive. She is committed to the deep study of colonization and decolonization. This inquiry has led her on personal and professional journeys through Ghana, South Africa, India, and Alaska. (Aeriale likes to travel — a lot!)
Aeriale does this work alongside many phenomenal human beings, but it is her #squad — Tricia Ebarvia, Dr. Kim Parker, Tiana Silvas, and (nearly Dr.) Anna Osborn — that sustains her. It is with them that she has the most courageous (and ridiculous) conversations. Sara Ahmed is another top homie. She challenges Aeriale’s thinking and helps her keep it together when life goes awry.
Aeriale is a National Board Certified Teacher, specializing in early-middle childhood literacy, and a recipient of many grants and fellowships. Aeriale most recently served as a Heinemann Fellow.
Aeriale is an associate director for the San Jose Area Writing Project, facilitating professional development for teachers and writing workshops for children.
Aeriale serves on NCTE’s Build Your Stack committee and was recently elected to the Elementary Steering Committee. She is also a column editor for Language Arts.
Aeriale’s blogs, articles, and essays have been published by NCTE, Heinemann, the International Literacy Association, Scholastic, School Library Journal, and ASCD. She hopes to finish writing a book someday, but she has some mad procrastination skills.
What Educators Say
Her whole presentation made me very aware of things that I do not know, and that I need to do more to understand what I do not know. I have spent a lot of time thinking about what she has said and I will need to go back to re-listen to it, I am sure.Kay
I know I have many MORE wonderings than before I saw Aeriale Johnson’s piece. I am going to spend more time unpacking all of the layers.Stacy
Aeriale was so inspiring- speaking such truth to the times that we’re living in. I was so moved hearing of her seven and eight-year-olds after Stephon Clark did not receive the justice he deserved and the officers were let off. I love the way she decided to lean into what the children were asking of her even though she didn’t know the answers and her story of the way her children used the writing group to come up with a checklist for the cops was just truly inspirational and moving in this time.Karen