Conference Workshops

Making Diversity Matter for Dominant Groups

Presenter: Johnny Cole

The focus of equity work in K-12 schools often focuses on the marginalized, those students who are disproportionately affected by the opportunity gap. The benefits of enrichment programs that hope to close that gap are often focused on those same groups, but what are the benefits for all students? In this workshop, we will focus on the benefits of diverse learning environments, including those who typically succeed in traditional environments, and how to capitalize on those benefits to create coalitions of allies who come from groups of power and privilege.

Working with Difficult Literature: Examining Image and Impact of Difficult Literature (using Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye)

Presenters: Leslie Smart

In this workshop we will read an excerpt from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and discuss the social-emotional impact of perceptions of beauty, race and colorism and how this can impact students of color in your classrooms. We will use discussion, videos, and media images to help inform our practice in approaching and addressing student-teacher conversations around literature and the impact of societal expectations.

Whose History Matters? A Reflection on First Nations Stereotypes and Myths

Presenter: Claudia A. Fox Tree

Missing information, inaccurate narratives, stereotypes, and distortions have perpetuated misconceptions and myths about First Nations people. If you cannot describe the indigenous perspective of "first contact" in the Caribbean or understand the historical trauma surrounding “Thanksgiving” or articulate the problem with “mascots,” then you may have internalized the systemic racism inherent in the United States through the images we are shown, language that we use, history we are taught, and contributions we never learn. Explore the role of "allies" and their power to be co-conspirators, intervene in microaggressions, and challenge historical inaccuracies.

Mindfulness, Race and Arts Integration at the Elementary Level

Presenter: JoAnne Kazis

The key to educating the whole child involves combining Social Emotional Learning/Mindfulness, Culturally Responsive & anti-bias/anti-racist work and the arts. Cultivating a mindfulness practice, exploring identity and place through the arts and with the arts allows students to literally find themselves in the curriculum a well as providing an opportunity to bring back creativity and to increase engagement and student achievement at the same time.

Disrupting Deficit Narratives, Developing Positive Self-images and Academic Identities

Presenters: Dawn Shearer-Coren

The dominant narratives that exist all around us, can be disempowering to our most vulnerable and marginalized students. From the walls of our buildings to the lessons and curriculum, we can find ways to ensure that all students are able to see themselves and others through an asset-based lens. Participants will consider the importance of countering dominant and deficit narratives. We will look at multiple strategies for promoting positive identities and supporting students to own their learning.

From Early Messages to Unconscious Biases to Microaggressions

Presenter: Doug Weinstock

We all got 'em, we all do them: Understanding early messages we caught or were taught about differences, the resulting unconscious/implicit biases, and how these lead to microaggressions. Enhancing awareness can lead to understanding of what we bring to the role of educator and ways to reduce our biases.

Overcoming White Fragility

Presenter: Rebecca Smoler

Robin DiAngelo describes white fragility as the defensive moves that white people make when we are challenged racially. These reactions, which can include anger, defensiveness, fear, and guilt, have the power to derail efforts towards culturally responsive schools and classrooms. In this workshop, participants will explore ways white fragility can pop up in educational communities -- in our students, colleagues, parents, community members, and if we are white, ourselves. We will examine steps we can take to challenge our own and others’ fragile feelings to be better allies and anti-racist educators.

Concrete Strategies to Reach All Students

Presenter: Caroline Han

Culturally Responsive Teaching. Developing a Growth Mindset. Closing the Achievement Gap. These are familiar buzzwords in the world of education, but how do they translate into concrete strategies that we can use every day? How can educators be the “guardians of equity” that UCLA professor Dr. Pedro Noguera believes are an essential component of affirming all students and their ability to achieve? This workshop is based on 28 years of teaching history to a wide range of learners, and listening to students talk about what they want and need from their teachers in order to learn and succeed, Participants will learn about what researchers indicate are the “best practices" to promote educational equity and will learn some easy, doable strategies that teachers can try right away. There will also be time for discussion and collaborative problem-solving.

Panel: From IDEAS to Action

Moderator: Edward Walker

Many educators have taken a variety of courses offered through IDEAS. Panelists representing elementary (Katie O’Hare Gibson), middle (Jennifer Hannon and Melissa Wong), high school (Ariel Cox) and administration (Stephen Wrobleski) perspectives will be shared. This panel will provide an opportunity for these educators to share how they have applied their learning in their classroom, curriculum and/or school. They will share their experiences and discuss what has worked and what has not worked. There will be an opportunity for questions and answers as well as input from other attendees.

Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity and Social Justice

Presenters: JoAnne Kazis

The purpose of this workshop is to explore how to promote social justice, challenge bias, and engage students in discussions about diversity in the elementary classroom. We will explore the differences between Multicultural, Culturally Relevant and Active Anti Racist curriculum, the role of mindfulness in diversity work, and use Social Justice Standards as a road map and as an anti-bias lens to look at curriculum.

Back by popular demand from 2018!

Creating Safety and Welcoming the LGBTQ+ Community

Presenters: Johnny Cole

As educators, how do we create safe and welcoming school environments for members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially when some factions of our schools may feel the acknowledgement of that community infringes on their rights to comfort? In this workshop, we’ll review all that is incorporated in the LGBTQ+ moniker, spend time grappling with the difference between “safety” and “comfort” as it pertains to dominant groups facing marginalized experiences, and brainstorm ways to welcome the LGBTQ+ community into our classrooms and schools.

That Awkward Moment: Identifying and Addressing Biased-Based Student Comments in School Settings

Presenters: Jennifer Dirga

Biases and microaggressions: we all have them though they can be hard to see and even harder to admit or address. In this workshop K-12 educators and participants will explore how we and our students learn about differences at an early age and how the resulting conscious and unconscious biases and microaggressions can be identified and addressed when they emerge in school settings. Participants are encouraged to bring actual situations/dilemmas they have faced when hearing seemingly biased or offensive student or staff comments. A portion of the workshop will be devoted to affinity groups of elementary and secondary educators in order to tailor response option appropriately by age.

Back by popular demand from 2018!

No Excuses!

Presenters: Rebecca Smoler and Katie O’Hare Gibson

“That’s not in my wheelhouse.” “What if I mess it up?” “It’s hard to make room in the curriculum.” “As a white teacher, who am I to teach about this culture?” “What we need is a more diverse staff.” -- While there are endless reasons not to teach unfamiliar and uncomfortable content, the reality is that we have students in front of us now, and in 2018, 90% of MA public school teachers are white. While we must keep working to address the concerns above, if we wait for more ideal conditions, our current students miss out on the benefits of an inclusive curriculum. In this workshop, Rebecca and Katie will model their process for teaching "new" content on hard history and current events.

Using Action Research to Improve Your Instructional Practice

Presenters: Paula Martin

This overview will present educators with Action Research based methods for conceptualizing, organizing, planning, conducting, and disseminating educational research in school and/or classrooms based on academic achievement, racial disparity, and issues of privilege, equity and access for students and teachers.

Back by popular demand from 2018!

Linking Student Learning and Family Engagement

Presenters: Dawn Shearer Coren

Schools put a high value on "family engagement", but what is our purpose? When we decide to link engagement to student learning, we invite families into their child’s school experience and can impact achievement. Like teachers, families want to see their students’ progress. Participants will think critically about school, as well as family, structures that create barriers. We will consider multiple ways to foster home-school connections and provide families with opportunities to support student learning. We’ll consider when and why we attempt to engage families and look at ways to strengthen our current practices to deepen the links to student learning.

Creatively Breaking the Cycle of Oppression

Presenters: Ed Walker

The format of this presentation will be an intensive, interactive and engaging dialogue among fellow educators looking to eradicate the conditions of oppression that students face. Participants will engage in a self assessment that places them in the cycle to better understand their role in perpetuating the cycle, but more importantly to also assess the necessary move(s) needed to break the cycle for self and others. Together, we will explore the following questions: What is my place in the cycle? How do I break from this cycle, and what stands in my way? Regardless of one’s level of knowledge of the Cycle of Oppression, all are encouraged to join this session. In essence, we will construct a think-tank where participants are learning about ways to break the cycle, but also sharing their own creative and effective ideas.

Educators Empowering Our Students of Color: A Panel Discussion

Moderator: Jennifer Wolfrum

A panel of educators (Margaret Credle Thomas, Mark Liddell, Bill Craft Jr. and Caroline Han) will speak about their experiences helping to empower students of color in their schools. They will discuss what they have done that has worked, what they have done that has not worked and what recommendations they have for other educators who want to empower their students of color. There will be time for questions and answers.