On Saturday I joined educators from across the region and a team of teachers from Hastings at the IDEAS Conference Strength in Diversity. IDEAS stands for Initiative for Developing Equity and Achievement for Students, and is part of the Educational Collaborative organization that serves school districts in this area with services such as professional development programs for educators.
The Conference was a day of learning for us all. We started by hearing from the author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain; Zaretta Hammond. Ms. Hammond pushed us all to develop ways our teaching every day can impact ALL students, making a place for those who speak English as a Second Language, those with brown or black skin, those who have a disability. She reinforced the notion that culturally responsive teaching permeates all we do, and is not a set of lessons or a collection of picture books we use in our rooms. To quote Ms. Hammond, “All teaching is culturally responsive; it’s a question of whose culture it’s responding to.” Hammond used a powerful visual to guide us to strongly promote the perseverance and competence ALL students need to become agents of their own learning.
Breakout sessions during the Conference offered attendees time to hear from local educators and grapple with the hard conversations we must have around privilege, implicit bias and respect for one another. Several books and articles were recommended and I am passing them along here: Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism; Reading for Their Life by Alfred Tatum; The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander; Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Each text is a powerful story of our nation, the history most of us were not taught and the impact of that omission on our lives today. The day ended with a panel of high school students who shared their current experiences in the suburbs of Boston. Their stories indicated that we all have much to learn and lots of room to grow.