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Latest blog entries/newsletter blasts:


7 Ways Educators Can Support the Identities of Students of Color

Martha Caldwell

Identity and learning are intricately related. Fifty years of research shows that a racial identity solidly grounded in a sense of one’s own intelligence and integrity results in greater engagement in school, better academic performance, and ethical leadership.

Yet all too often Black and Brown students face racist stereotypes from other students and teachers. Racial Stereotype threat occurs when students feel at risk of confirming a negative racial stereotype about their race.  The fear of fulfilling the stereotype interferes with cognitive function and lowers their performance. Stereotype threat has profound effects on learning and achievement, especially when the negative stereotype relates to intellectual competence. This can cause students to spend less time preparing for a task or deny the task’s importance to avoid a sense of failure. Stereotype threat results in altered identities and inhibited aspirations.

The good news is that, as educators, we have the power to consciously and intentionally strengthen our students’ identities. (Read the rest of the article.)


Stepping into the Facilitator Role

Dr. Danielle Stewart

When you step into the role of facilitator, you step into the center of this beautiful, transformative change work. The work of cultivating empathy, building and sustaining connections, and creating communities of love and support is the heart of diversity, equity and inclusion leadership. Some of us resist stepping into the facilitator role due to feelings of inadequacies. Despite how we feel, however, we reluctantly find our way into facilitation because these conversations are essential to moving us closer the changes we are collectively working towards. (Read the rest of the article.)


What Should Teachers Learn from the Murder of George Floyd?

Six Recommendations for Educators

Oman Frame and Martha Caldwell

This article was a submission we were invited to make to Larry Ferlazzo’s Classroom Q&A column in Edweek. It was published as part of a series on how educators can respond to George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing social response. The article was published on June 6, 2020. The full series can be found here.

We begin by acknowledging that our Black friends, colleagues, and students are hurting. In the midst of a global pandemic that disproportionately impacts their families and communities, they are again forced to bear witness to cruel and senseless acts of violence against Black bodies. As we mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, we remember Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and so many others. Our collective grief calls us to face 400 years of state violence that still visits inequity, fear, and intergenerational trauma on Black communities.

No more sitting on the sidelines watching someone else do the work. No neutral place of refuge in the comfort of color blindness. Now is the time for everyone to take a stand. We have serious work ahead, and it’s not going to be easy. Racism is an open wound, and no band aid fix will help it. Healing will take strong medicine and time. (Read the rest of the article.)


Talking about Race in Schools

Oman and I contributed a guest article entitled We talk about race everywhere but in the classroom. Why? to Maureen Downey’s column, Get Schooled, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. We know from experience that talking to students about race not only increases cultural competency, but also teaches important relationship skills that result in stronger relationships and greater engagement in school. (Read the rest of the article.)

White Educators: Come Together to End Racism

 One morning, I got a text from my friend and iChange co-founder, Oman Frame. The text said, “Martha, go get your people!” Oman was working in a local school that day, and, like many educators of color, he frequently feels exhausted by the demands of race education work. In terms moving our schools in the direction of racial justice, educators of color bear a “disproportionate burden.” They’re tasked not only with supporting students of color in a system that disadvantages them, but also supporting other educators of color in a system in which they’re drastically underrepresented. Add to that the demands of white educators who call on them for academic resources, moral support, and career guidance and you have a recipe for overwhelm. These white teachers love their students and want to do what’s best for them. They understand the need for race education. Yet they feel woefully underprepared to manage these tender conversations. (Read the rest of the article.)

If only the E in STEM stood for empathy

There’s no denying that STEM education advances opportunities for students of color and young women, but without a corresponding movement to cultivate empathy for diverse identity experience, we risk reproducing the very inequities we’re trying to correct. STEM subjects foster analytical thinking skills, and empathy fosters social emotional skills. Students need both to negotiate terrain of 21st century learning. (Read the rest of the article.)

Are you color blind or race conscious?

  Race is a social construct, an illusion, albeit a persistent one, and one that has profound psychological and material effects on people of color. False notions of white supremacy were institutionalized through Jim Crow laws, unfair housing practices, inequities in the justice system, lack of access to healthcare, voting rights, education and citizenship. These policies resulted in the wealth gap, a persistent reality that continues to plague our society. The consequences of race are as real as gravity. (Read the rest of the article.)

I am so inspired by the work Oman and Martha are doing. I know of no one else doing this kind of work with students at this formative age.

Vanessa Jackson
Consultant and Diversity Trainer
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