A Powerful Day -- More than 1,200 PSB Educators Participate Address Inequity and Bias in Schools
On November 10th, more than 1,200 Brookline teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators Brookline High School auditorium on Friday, November 10 to participate in the district’s annual Professional Development Day. Spearheaded by Gabe McCormick, Director of Professional Development, the day brought educators from throughout the district together to learn about and engage in dialogue on implicit bias and racial equity.
The morning keynote from Jamie Almanzan of the Equity Collaborative addressed identity, the practice of listening, and what gets in the way of creating equitable outcomes for students. Almanzan connected with the audience through personal storytelling and by posing thought-provoking questions that laid the groundwork for breakout sessions to follow.
In addressing the opportunity gap versus the achievement gap, Almanzan spoke to how much easier it is to focus on students than it is to focus on ourselves as educators. “What gets in the way? How do well-intentioned people get in the way of creating equitable outcomes? It is not a question of whether or not your classroom is culturally responsive, but who it responds to.” Almanzan encouraged participants to not just consider what we are doing, but rather the why of what we are doing. He also challenged PSB staff to confront inequity rather than just being “down with equity” and asked, “What will it take for you to change what you do now?” One of his many suggestions was for teachers and administrators to video themselves to see how they speak and work with others.
Following Almanzan’s keynote address, educators participated in small group breakout sessions to reflect on themes and ideas. Using a facilitated activity, participants focused on aspects of listening that challenged the norms of traditional conversation. They also had an opportunity to share thoughts with their breakout group and get to know colleagues from across the district.
The afternoon keynote address from Professor Philip Lee, an associate professor of law at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law in Washington, D.C., focused on the historical road to educational inequity, providing a crash-course in educational law. Opening his keynote with the concept that, “law is social construction that has real world effects,” Lee brought the audience through various Supreme Court cases that have promised to challenged racism and inequity, but fell short of their intention.
The activities of Professional Development Day could not be more timely. The district’s work around issues of educational equity continues to be of the utmost importance and requires us to be resolute and persist in this work.
Many thanks to the Brookline Education Foundation for its generous support that made PSB's professional learning day possible.