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Nurturing Transformative Classrooms (Laleña Garcia)

  • Episode #12

Laleña Garcia discusses how comparison and competition among kids have deep societal roots. She shares insights on trans joy, community care, and building inclusive spaces. Through personal stories and projects, Laleña aims to foster understanding and support for all identities.

Teacher Tom’s Podcast is all about taking play seriously. In each episode, Teacher Tom inspires early childhood educators, parents, and other listeners with information, techniques, and best practices to provide children an authentic play-filled childhood.

“It’s really important for people with marginalized identities to see adults, to see happy, healthy adults who are in positions of power that share their identity.”

— Laleña Garcia

Laleña Garcia (she/her) is a kindergarten teacher, coach, trainer, and author living in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of Yale University (BA, History) and Bank Street College of Education (MS, Early Childhood and Elementary Education), she’s been teaching in New York City since 2000. Laleña also works for the New York State Early Childhood Professional Development Institute as a Gender and Sexuality Trainer, helping early childhood professionals and families to create expansive and supportive understandings of gender, sexuality, relationships, and family structure.

“Teacher Tom” Hobson is an early childhood educator, international speaker, education consultant, teacher of teachers, parent educator, and author. He is best known, however, for his namesake blog, Teacher Tom’s Blog, where he has posted daily for over a decade, chronicling the life and times of his little preschool in the rain-soaked Pacific Northwest corner of the USA.

For nearly two decades, Teacher Tom was the sole employee of the Woodland Park Cooperative School, a parent-owned and operated school knit together by Teacher Tom’s democratic, progressive play-based pedagogy. Teacher Tom came into teaching through the backdoor, so to speak, having enrolled his own child in a cooperative preschool, where he began working daily in his daughter’s classroom as an assistant teacher under the tutelage of veteran educators — although he’ll be the first to tell you that most of what he learned came from the children themselves. When it was time for his daughter to move on, he “stayed behind.”

Today, Teacher Tom shares his play-based pedagogy through online e-courses for early childhood educators; produces online early childhood conferences; consults with organizations about his “Family Schools” program; and inspires early-years audiences around the world (Greece, UK, Iceland, Australia, China, Vietnam, New Zealand, Canada, and across the US) both virtually and in-person with his engaging views on early childhood education, play, and pedagogy.

He was pressured by his blog readers into authoring his first book, aptly named Teacher Tom’s First Book, and is thrilled about the 2023 release of Teacher Tom’s Second Book.

Resources mentioned in this episode: 
Teacher Tom’s website:
Laleña’s website:
Laleña’s Instagram Page
The National Alliance for Children and Youth
English Language Arts
First Conversations Series

Host: Tom Hobson 
Producer: Michi Lantz 
Supervising Producer: Cynthia Lamb 
Audio Editor: Marvin del Rosario 
Executive Producer: Danny Iny 
Music Soundscape: Chad Michael Snavely
Making our hosts sound great: Home Brew Audio

Music credits:
Track Title: Blueberry Jam Jam
Artist: Simen Andreas
Writer: Simen Knudsen

Track Title: Childlike Wonder
Artist: Reveille
Writer: Brendan St. Gelais

Track Title: Tick Tock
Artist: Ivy Bakes
Writer: Erick Pena

Special effects credits:

24990513_birds-chirping_by_promission used with permission of the author and under license by AudioJungle/Envato Market.

To catch the great episodes coming up on Teacher Tom’s Podcast, please follow us on Mirasee FM’s YouTube channel or your favorite podcast player. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a comment or a starred review. It’s the best way to help us get these ideas to more people.

Episode transcript: Nurturing Inclusive Classrooms (Laleña Garcia).


Teacher Tom’s Podcast: Taking Play Seriously

If you have ever thought there must be a better way when it comes to educating young children, this is the podcast for you. Teacher Tom’s Podcast is all about taking play seriously. In each episode, Teacher Tom inspires early childhood educators, parents, and other listeners with information, techniques, and best practices to provide children an authentic play-filled childhood.