Today, I was able to attend a pre-conference session to the School Reform Initiative Conference focused on equity in education. The delightful Amber Kim presented a variety of research, videos and activities designed to push educators from across the country to think more deeply about what equity really means. Additionally, she provided practical, academically grounded approaches that encourage educators to build a system of education that increases academic achievement for students, while equipping them with equity literacy and positive socio-cultural identity. Before even attending the conference, I knew that the session was going to push beyond the typical conversation around equity based upon the thought-provoking article we were asked to read before the session. While it is impossible to capture all of the amazing things shared in today's session, I hope to share some of my major take-aways in this post.
One of the things I really appreciated about this session, was the strategic use of videos to illustrate many of the concepts presented. Luckily, Amber has an entire Youtube playlist that has all of the videos from the session and more. My favorite of these videos reminded me of my students. It wasn't until I saw this video that I understood some of the conversations I had with my students around pronouncing their names correctly and they impact it had on our relationship. You can see the video below.
The next concept that was particularly helpful was the idea of equipping students with equity literacy. This includes helping students see or recognize bias and inequities, respond to those biases and inequities and redressing the biases and inequities they see. I especially appreciated the way that Amber argued that an equitable education includes not only academic achievement, but must also include both a positive socio-cultural identity and a deep understanding of equity literacy in order to be truly equitable. I believe this is an important distinction that is often overlooked in the eduation world - test scores wrongly tend to be seen as the only measure of success that matters.
One of my favorite concepts from the session was the graphical model of the concept of resistance. As a math teacher, it really helped me to visualize the many ways we handle addressing issues of inequity in society and how they can fit on a spectrum. While I would try to describe the graph below, I recommend checking out this site for a brief, clear description of the model. Amber did an excellent job helping us process the model by placing images and scenarios on the graph. She also gave several examples of how teachers can help improve student equity literacy by encouraging them to place historical figures, fictional characters, modern-day celebrities, etc within the model.
As I continue to work on the Bias and Equity Training Hybrid Course (mentioned in a previous post), I am sure that I will continue to come back to the many resources presented in today's session. Addressing inequity in our education system and society is incredibly important work that has an increased sense of urgency in today's climate. Our students need us to educate ourselves around issues of inequity and ensure that we do not contribute to an already bias and inequitable system. We cannot sit back and wait for others to move this work forward. In a time where many things are uncertain, we need to be the best advocates possible and serve as a role model to our students. I know I will continue my own personal and professional work around equity and I invite you to do the same.
What work are you doing around equity? What resources or tips can you share? Please share any reflections or suggestions in the comments below!
Mattea Garcia is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools, instructional coaching, and educational equity.