Race Matters: How Can We Effectively Communicate the Needs of Students to Teachers Who Are Unfamiliar with the Culture of Others?
Jessica attended two Edcamp sessions that inspired her at Edcamp Bull City. The first titled Empathy, Equity, and Culturally-Responsive Teaching, which made her realize that not every educator present saw equity the same and that work was needed in the larger community. One principal present introduced her to the idea of their school’s initiative of School Saturday, which provided students and adults the opportunity to have discussions on race.The second session Jessica attended was Rethinking PD: Time, Place, and Pace where she heard about a 2-day professional development program focused on bring racial equity and conversations into the classroom. Combined, these sessions inspired a new initiative that Jessica was ready to take on.
Recognizing the need in her own school, Jessica outlined a seven phase plan for implementation. The ultimate goal of her grant proposal is to impact her high school and its feeder schools’ educators professionally. Jessica states that, "With a highly diverse, middle-class school population, I find it invaluable for us as teachers to have conversations with our students to recognize our differences and biases to better understand their wants and needs." Her grant funds will go towards supporting three teachers to attend a racial equity training that aims to challenge individual’s understanding of racism and to develop strategies for a deeper knowledge base of how the issue relates to others. Attending this workshop will kick-start Jessica's plans that are further detailed below:
- Phase One: Collect student surveys focusing on educator-student communication and understanding
- Phase Two: Form a Student Equity Team that represents the student population to assess survey data in order to gather a “large picture” of student perceptions
- Phase Three: Have the Student Equity Team and three selected teachers discuss survey results to distinguish needs of the school
- Phase Four: Have the three selected teachers to attend the Racial Equity Cabarrus and develop a PD session for the entire staff
- Phase Five: Implement strategies throughout the school
- Phase Six: Meet with representatives from each feeder school to disperse knowledge gained
- Phase Seven: Host a PD for the elementary and high schools that feed into the district.
The goal of this PD is to share the knowledge and keep the momentum going across the board for all educators that impact our students. Her goals will leave a lasting impact well past the six month period and the Edcamp community looks forward to seeing Jessica's progress over the next year!
Dr. Dorothy Handfield
What is Your Brand? I Educate Traumatized Students
Dr. Dorothy Handfield has been an educational leader in her district for ten years. Within those years, she has "worked feverishly to create a positive learning environment for all students. I greet students as they enter our school building and remain visible during the school day. I give students a voice as stakeholders within our learning community. In addition, I hire staff members who believe in our students and work collectively to increase student achievement. Despite our efforts of creating a nurturing environment, our students are constantly barraged with violence in their immediate community." She believes "The students’ exposure to community violence as witnesses and/or victims is evident in their in-school violent behavior. Many of our students are engaged in constant fights, assaults against other students and/or staff members, vandalism acts and/or violent outbursts." In reaction, Dr. Handfield attempts to answer three important questions as a leader in her community:
- How can she create a positive school climate and culture where students and staff members feel safe?
- How can she motivate staff members to remain as workers in our school without suffering from fatigue because of the constant in-school violence that causes interruptions during the instructional period?
- Most importantly, how can she provide a high quality education to students who suffer from trauma due to exposure to violence?
Her district is already moving towards creating a more understanding and nuturing environment through a Restorative Practice program implementation over the next year, however Dr. Handfield would like to be as prepared and confident when guiding other educators in the shared knowledge. Her grant funds will be spent attending a 2-day professional training on restorative responses to adversity and trauma, on top of the district's provided four-day training on Restorative Practices. Once completed with her training, she'll be responsible for leading several workshops within her district to share, guide, and teach what she's learned to other educators in the area. Dr. Handfield's project is inspiring and the Edcamp community looks forward to learning from her experiences and knowledge.
Homework - Helpful or Harmful?
Tracy McGarry's grant proposal was largely inspired by a passionate session she attended on the pros and cons of homework. Tracy listened as educators debated within the session and when she left, she "was feeling inspired, but also confused. I wanted to extend this topic. I also felt eager to bring back what was discussed to share with my co-workers and teammates at school who were not able to attend the Edcamp." After listening to some suggestions and researching several well-known books on the topic, Tracy decided to apply for an impact grant in the hopes of beginning a teacher-led book club that she would help facilitate at her school.
She explains how, "at our school, we are separated into 6 teams. I would love to get 10 copies of the book, allowing our teams to take turns reading... and meeting to discuss. Eventually, as the books get borrowed and passed through the school, there may be opportunity to spread the books to central administration and/or teachers from other schools within our district." Tracy plans to lead the initial discussions and keep the book club running as a constant opportunity for personal professional development for interested educators in her school. At the end of the year, Tracy plans to hold a larger, more focused discussion group on what the educators learned, as well as bring it onto the district level during the five shared PD days through-out the year. We look forward to hearing about the on-going and hotly debated topic, as well as how it changes Tracy's school culture!