Anti-Racism is a #Call2Action- 7/26/2020

BINGO! Well, I did it. Five posts are done! I began Blogging Bingo on June 28, 2020 with my first entry- Self Care where I described how I had completed a milestone- completing Couch to 5K! My next entry on on July 11, 2020 and shares some Summer Learning Opportunities for Teachers. After that, my 7/14/2020 post described my feelings about staying safe in school. Finally, my last blog post shared ways to use tech tools to amplify student thinking. All of the posts were related to my commitment this year to #oneword2020 CHALLENGE myself to take risks.

Today's blog post continues on that vein. One of my #oneword2020 goals is to CHALLENGE myself to present more. This challenge is a newer one for me- in the last few months, I have become much more self aware, especially in terms of my white privilege as I described in my 6/6/2020 post. So when I got the opportunity to attend my district's equity symposium, I was eager to attend.

I have to be honest- this was not the first time that I had attended a training on Cultural Proficiency. In my time as an educator, this is something that I have attended many times. But many times, it felt like these sessions were crammed check off the box sessions, and all that I could think of was all the work I "needed to do." I wasn't racist- I was Jewish and a minority too. But after beginning my summer with some self guided hard work including reading "Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain" with a Dave Burgess Consulting book club, I was entering this session with a new mindset and ready to learn. This quote was shared during the opening keynote of the Equity Symposium. The environment at this virtual event seemed different to me. Each of us were part of something bigger than ourselves- we are collaborating together for #FCPSCall2Action.

Getting the Symposium Started

As part of the symposium, each of us got to attend the opening session and then choose at least three breakout sessions to attend. Even before the opening, participants got the opportunity to connect with each other on Twitter under the hashtag, #FCPSCall2Action. It definitely set the tone for the two day event. The opening presentation was truly inspiring. It celebrated "black joy," had students share their stories and even featured a keynote by Leah Dozier Walker. Her keynote was amazing. She offered practical tips to advance equity. She also shared much of the work being done in the commonwealth of Virginia related to educational equity. I was particularly fascinated to learn about the 5Cs of EdEquityVA framework and how it complements the 5Cs Future Ready Skills.

Learning By Listening

The first session I attended was about empathy interviews. I had heard of empathy interviews before this, but participating in this session really enabled me to see an empathy interview in action. In this session, we got to watch the interview in breakout rooms in a fishbowl style. The problem of practice identified was student engagement during distance learning. Watching as the interview was conducted as an observer, I loved how the facilitator really used questioning to probe into the interviewees' stories. It provided me a window into others' experiences. Using practices such as this provide all of us with an invaluable experience, to understand others' perspectives and experiences.

Opportunities:

  • Read "Stamped" or "Cultivating Genius

  • VAReadsBooks.com

  • Diversebooks.org

Tough Conversations: a Must

The second session I attended focused on amplifying student voice in both virtual and face to face sessions. This session focused on steps for allyship in order to amplify student voice. The quote shared to the right really struck me during this session. Being an ally is not an easy task- it requires a lot of listening in a world with a lot of noise. It can be messy and mistakes will be made but the work is so important. It requires you to practice empathy and share accountability.

One of the biggest takeaways I took away from this session was a new lens to look at the curriculum. Which students see themselves in the curriculum and which students don't? The facilitators shared the most frequently discussed historical people mentioned by name. As they went through the statistics, it was obvious how many of our students do not see themselves. But this session didn't just focus on deficits, but the opportunities they offer. They also shared some great websites and books to provide students with these opportunities.


Being an Ally AND an Accomplice

The next session I attended focused on providing meaningful learning experiences for all of our students. It offered us a choice of several learning opportunities where we could learn more about a facet of equity and then had us consider how we could shift "our learn to action." For my learning, I focused on digital equity and specifically the second digital divide: the usage divide. How do we promote students using technology when they do have access? Do they create or drill and kill? What inequities does that cause within schools? It really made me think about how this manifests in my school between our general education and advanced academic classes.

In this session, the focus on action was empowering. I love how action was framed in action terms. As the picture to the left describes, we can become allies, act like an ally, by creating connections with our students. But furthermore, we can become an accomplice, and work towards institutional change from the inside.

Just the Beginning...

This experience was truly transformational. It is amazing the growth that happens when learners are provided voice and choice. I learned so much over the course of those two days and connected with so many inspirational people. Why can't our pursuit of equity be comprised of experiences like these, not a required module here and there. Events like the Equity Symposium should not be singleton events, but need to become part of our collective culture. As our Superintendent shared in his opening speech, he is here as a lead learner. We all need to be lead learners for our students as we advance equity in education using a growth mindset where we truly are calling for action as allies and fighting for equity as accomplices.

'To close, I would be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to take the FCPS Equity office for creating such an amazing experience. I can't wait to see where the #FCPSCall2Action leads next...