An important part of our DEI initiatives for the 2019-2020 school year include professional development for our staff, faculty, and parents. Over the past week we have participated in two thought-provoking presentations to help us further in promoting a learning environment and school community where everyone can feel welcome.
On Friday, November 1st, we hosted Liz Kleinrock, a Teaching Tolerance Teacher of the Year who worked with us as a whole group and then in small, grade level teams around the idea of identity. We began our morning discussing the question, "How old were you when you first noticed race or experienced racism? Did you have a conversation with an adult? Why or why not?" We noticed that a majority of our faculty saw or experienced race or racism at a very young age, and when speaking to an adult heard, "That is just the way it is." As a school we are continuing our discussions with children about appreciating and respecting all differences and similarities.
Another powerful discussion from the morning allowed us to see, based on our own implicit bias, how we come into a conversation. When entering a discussion about any aspect of DEI, every person brings a different perspective to the conversation, and it is important to understand where each person is coming from for the dialogue to be meaningful. As the chart below shows, people come from one of four areas when discussing a difficult topic. Some come from an intellectual place where they have deep thoughts and perhaps data or research. Others from an emotional place where they are speaking from the heart. Depending on the topic, some people might approach it from a moral perspective, while others are more relational and more physically engaged in the discussion. Think of a difficult conversation you have had recently. Where were you coming from?
After an enlightening day with Liz Kleinrock, a team of Administrators, Staff, Faculty, Parents, and Trustees had the opportunity to attend the third annual Pollyanna Conference at Harvard-Westlake School where we heard from Rodney Glasgow, Chief Diversity Officer at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, MD. and Founder of the Student Diversity Leadership Conference. Our day focused on gender stereotypes and what it takes to create a school environment where students feel both safe and happy. As a school team we also spent time celebrating the accomplishments that we have made in the area of DEI and planning for the future.
DEI is such an important aspect of "Life at Laurence" and we invite you to join us at our next Global Garden meeting on November 19th at 8:00 am to hear more about these conferences and how we can continue to promote a community where everyone feels welcome and heard.