I have been agonizing over the Course 1 final project since day one. I kept thinking about how my role outside of the classroom makes it a challenge to plan a lesson that I can actually put into action because as a coach I plan conversations and questions instead of learning engagements. I am often a part of planning for learning, but in the role of facilitator and question-asker. I relish the opportunities to co-teach with teachers, and those experiences give a little more freedom to have a heavier role in planning, and I thought about finding a way to plan a tech-rich lesson that could be used in one of those coaching cycles, but I worried about co-opting the cycle to meet my needs instead of the needs of the learners in the room the goals their teacher has for them. It has been a conundrum.
I read Megan’s post, “I Read About Learning Theories and Now My Brain Hurts! Also, #FemEdTech is Cool!” and the direction her reflection pushed my thinking, opened up an idea for this final project. It’s an idea that has a lot of risk in being wrong, in being vulnerable, in feeling uncomfortable and figuring out how to work through that. It is an idea that is going to go through many, many iterations because I think it is something that I am going to have to learn, unlearn, relearn, and give another go. I’m telling myself that I am ready for this learning, but I’m really pretty terrified of getting it all wrong, but it is in our failures that our greatest learning happens, so here we go.
I’ve developed the first in a series of possible professional development learning engagements around implicit bias and how it impacts our teaching and learning.
Why did I choose this topic?
I chose to focus my engagement around implicit bias because I feel we have a responsibility to question, confront, and dig into why education is still so heavily fueled by one dominating perspective. As Megan pointed out in her post, so many of the voices in educational research, leadership, and learning come from, “older white men from western nations.” Why is that? Especially when, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 76% of teachers are female.
Why are 79% of America’s public school teachers white? That doesn’t represent the diversity of our classrooms, and yet it is an accepted reality of education. Why? Does our implicit biases impact our educational environments? More importantly, do they impact our engagement with learners? Do they impact our instruction and learning?
Why did I choose these standards?
I selected ISTE standards for Educators under the areas of Learner, Leader, and Citizen because they seemed to best capture the purpose of the learning I hope engages our staff. Through our exploration of implicit bias and its possible implications, we will be able to set professional learning goals that shift and refine our pedagogical approaches, especially in regards to our use of technology. Throughout the series, we will be asking ourselves: How can technology help us reduce the impact of implicit bias? How can we develop learning networks that will help us explore, learn, and engage with different perspectives?
The structure and platforms used throughout the engagement will help us identify, explore, evaluate, curate, and adopt new digital resources and tools for learning. How can we adapt the exploration of implicit learning for our students? How can we use our collaborative exploration to inform our instruction and learning moving forward?
And, the use of various media sources and experiences, including the Implicit Bias Association Tests, will push us to, “establish a culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources.”
How is this learning experience different/similar to other learning experiences you have designed?
A huge difference for this professional development engagement from others I have designed and presented is that it has been designed to meet the needs of a remote environment. I am used to developing PD that is face to face, often with a strong community building element woven throughout. Remote learning makes the element of relationship building and maintaining more difficult, yet an environment of safety and trust is vital for this topic. So, I had to really consider how the platform I use for the experience can support building relationships, trust, and safety. I used the platform of Gather.Town, which helps you create a space that replicates a face-to-face environment. Participants, through an avatar and an open space, are able to mingle, bump into, and have water cooler conversations with colleagues in much the same way we can when in our physical environments. It feels more natural than the grid style of zoom, where we all just awkwardly stare at one another. I felt that the platform, with its ability to have private spaces, casual conversations, and mingling would help establish the familiar, and relational, environment.
The aspects that are similar to previous PDs I have planned and facilitated is the structure: provocation, reflection/response, small group discussion, new learning, exploring and experiencing the topic independently, small group discussion of reflection/response, and feedback. I have found this structure to be one that allows for collaboration, processing, reflection, and responsiveness.
How does this learning experience relate to what I have learned in Course 1? And, what outcomes do I hope will be a result?
The learning experience relates to various aspects of what we have all been exploring throughout this course. Again, my thinking is that this is the first in a series of engagements around implicit biases. The focus is on building a collective understanding and definition of implicit bias, and beginning to explore the implicit biases we hold ourselves and how that might impact our teaching and learning. By building a foundational understanding of the topic, we can then make the move as a community to develop learning communities around deeper learning and iterations of our instructional practices. This may take the form of book study groups, involvement in social media networks around implicit biases and education, development of learning networks that will look into curriculum and equitable instructional practices. The engagement itself has us researching and inquiring into the role of implicit biases and how they potentially shape our world view, as well as constructing our understanding by experiencing assessments into our own implicit biases.
What has influenced me the most in Course One and how is that reflected in my learning experience plan?
The biggest influence has been the writing and reading of our cohorts blog posts. Each week, I have found that processing my thinking through writing has helped me reach a deeper understanding of my own views (a bit of that, “I didn’t know I thought that until I said it out loud” situation). But even more, reading the reflections, ideas, and experiences of others has helped me to step-back and reframe my viewpoints on the importance of developing diverse learning communities, of being open to try and fail, of being vulnerable. I have grown because you have all opened a window into your own learning, giving me a piece of it as well. As I mentioned at the top, my entire focus and passion for my learning engagement would not have even crossed my mind if not for Megan’s Musings on the representation in our reading material.
I am learning (and unlearning, and relearning) the most from this community we are all forming and nurturing. In just six short weeks, this has proven to be a community where questions are championed, vulnerability is supported, collaboration is offered, and ideas are openly shared.