Professional Development Day 2021

Today, our academic community came together for professional development with a theme of diversity and inclusiveness as well as awareness for inclusiveness in the classroom. This is not just for our students but for the benefit of everyone at the university from the staff to the professors. Small changes will go a long way.

This also includes social awareness and bringing together the students, educators, and the community to a better understand of each other. This also includes the language we use, we don’t use, and misuse within our syllabi, our lecture, and our speech. Words have power and we can use it to help include all students of all walks in life and backgrounds.

The message also includes doing more for the community as a whole with inclusivity as well as empathy for all.

“The ability to acknowledge blind spots can emerge only as we expand our concern about politics of domination and our capacity to care about the oppression and exploitation of other. A love ethic makes this expansion possible.”

Bell Hooks “Love as a the Practice of Freedom”

Our reading and viewing list includes “Love as a Practice of Freedom” by Bell Hooks, graduation speech by Alexis Pauline Gumbs and a sample of Dub by the same author, a video with Ebony Noelle Golden, and Race and Anti-blackness opinion piece by the New York Times.

“And after I’ve just been handing you the weight of the entire future: your dreams, the beauty that you’re going to impose on it, the love as life force that you’re going to cultivate, the power of love and the freedom to be wholly; I also want you just to have the freedom to release what is not yours, what does not belong to you, what does not serve you, anything negative that is imposed upon you from outside. Pay it no mind.”

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Alexis Gumbs, 2020 Lavender Graduation, to LGBTQQI graduates

We were also given a chance to see what Native American land we were occupying by using https://native-land.ca/ . It’s a humbling experience when you review the history and all that surrounds you. It makes you more cognizant to the shifting of the history.

Turntables was introduced by the speaker to reflect

“To be clear, “racism” isn’t a meaningless term. But it’s a catch-all that can encapsulate anything from black people being denied fair access to mortgage loans, to Asian students being burdened with a “model minority” label. It’s not specific. “

Kihana Miraya Ross, LA Times Opinion, “Call It What It Is: Anti-Blackness”

Another message is being able to build connections with the ancestral past, as teachers and parents, that can help shape the future as a society. This includes instilling in the next generation a form of understanding of what happened, where we are going, and how we can address any inequity for all in our society. Also, we as teachers, have the powers to enable critical thinking, empathy, and exploring of cultural history which will build the foundation of the future generation. Just as traveling and exposure increases empathy for our fellow human beings, education is journey of the mind that can expand this empathy and understanding for others.

We need to include inclusive teaching into curriculum because we have the power to do so as educators and teach with examples. This isn’t a direct quote from our breakout group but it is still something I was considering from today: “deliberately cultivating a learning environment where all students are treated equitably, have equal access to learning, and feel valued and supported in their learning.” As an educator, I never want any student to be felt left out and feeling powerless in their education, or unmotivated in their learning because of how they feel as a person.

All domains of teaching including content selection and delivery, interaction, and critical engagement should have the following:

  • Critical engagement – acknowledge student differences and allow them to connect personal factors to assignments
  • Academic belonging – trying not to use languages to exclude (e.g., “When you go home for Thanksgivings” or “Ask your mother and father…”), dignity of the students’ circumstances, and acknowledgement of diverse backgrounds
  • Transparency – clearly communicating with students, set deadlines but able to accommodate those within reasonable means
  • Structured interactions – protocols for equitability and access, ask about expectation and needs from the students, giving enough time and attention to each student based on needs
  • Flexibility – responding and adapting to student changes, balancing design and commitment to students, clear pathways for late and absences, availability of course materials for those who need a different pace,

Taking this lesson as a whole, one message emerges for me as an educator: “We can all do better”.