White Privilege: Getting in on the Conversations

These are my notes for the morning workshop on Weds., July 24 at the Guided Pathways: Designing for Equity – Rendezvous 2018 conference with Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. and Nicole Rios-Gunn.

White Privilege 101: Getting in on the Conversations
From the schedule: Participants will engage in activities, large and small group discussions and goal setting activities to enhance their understanding of white privilege and how they can work to dismantle it in their institution. 

This is the catalyst – why he keeps reiterating that there has to be some kind of written plan. We would have a plan for debt, why can’t we have a plan for the equality deficit.  Everyone has work to do. Do your “doggone work.” Good people do jacked up stuff all the time. It is not enough to be a good person – we have to address the structure of our institutions. Our institutions are designed to reproduce inequality. The first 50 years of our institutions shaped how those institutions worked. You can’t change a structure if you do not understand its design.

We The People Exercise
We are looking at the community college as if it were America. We start with a mission/vision. All organizations have a starting point. We then measure it over time – is it doing what it said it would do? He then polled the room about how much we have met the goals of the constitution. Sometimes we have to conceal how we really feel in our institutions. He asked us to give a percentage about how we are doing with the mission.

Skills: Understanding, respecting, connecting

Can we constructively be in disagreement?

I thought we were at 50%, I used the fact that we no longer hang Quakers, but most in the room had the perspective that if there is one person in America being oppressed that we are at 0%. Dr. Moore said that we should not be rewarded for doing the things we should do. My question is “Where did your expectations of what we SHOULD be doing come from?”

We could put some of this online as workshops.

White supremacy dominates the culture and perpetuates inequality.
We are talking about diversity but we are producing white supremacy gaps. Our behaviors produce white supremacy even if we do not identify ourselves as white supremacists.

We saw the video “The way you see the world.”  When white people saw a white teen stealing a bike they did not call the police. When they saw a black teen taking the bike, they confronted the teen and called the police.

How does white supremacy and white male cultural dominance impact our:

  • Behavior and attitudes
  • Social Spaces/Places
  • Learning/Teaching/Parenting/ Coaching Style
  • Leadership Style
  • Decision Making
  • Emotional Responses
  • Relationships/Friendships
  • Awareness & Access
  • Providing Services/Overall Care

If we are stuck in traffic, we can: change our route, stop and think, go somewhere else.

This is not knowledge for the sake of knowledge but knowledge for the sake of action.

Action Planning…

White Supremacy/Whiteness in our Orgs, Univ, and or/Communities:


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Promoting Equity and Inclusion through Community Building

These are my notes for the 3:30 PM workshop on Tuesday, July 24 at the Guided Pathways: Designing for Equity – Rendezvous 2018 conference.

Promoting Equity and Inclusion through Community Building
Shaunie Decker & Heidi Shenenberger, Green River College

From the description: Often the most challenging part of a new quarter is creating classroom community among a group of diverse students. How can we ensure students feel safe and included? How can we embrace this awesome diversity and leverage it so students reach their full potential? Heidi and Shaunie will share ideas and best practices with you so your class can develop into a welcoming learning community. We will demonstrate our  Reading Apprenticeship-inspired methods, and give you time to share your current approaches and develop new ideas resulting from this workshop.

First Week Activities for Community Building

  1. Icebreakers: we did an example ice breaker activity using the card set from http://www.weand.me
  2. Rights and Responsibilities activity: have the students create a poster at the beginning of the quarter to list their rights and responsibilities in separate columns (e.g. be heard/listen, timely feedback/ do homework, etc.).
    1. This is a way to discuss class expectations
    2. Sets a new tone for students
    3. Gives students a voice
    4. This can be applied to civics and career readiness
    5. Leading by example
  3. Use Quotes on the Syllabus
    1. Used as discussion questions
    2. She used Einstein and Teddy Roosevelt
    3. She then demonstrated a Reading Apprenticeship technique (she interrogates the class on the meaning(s) of the details of the text
    4. A point was made that quotes from Teddy Roosevelt are coming from a person who hated Native Americans
  4. Syllabus should be visually interesting and “interactive”
  5. Icebreaker suggestions from the audience:
    1. Make your own multiple choice question version of “two truths and a lie”
    2. Have students do something together every single day
    3. Scavenger hunts for resources on campus
    4. Food – bringing people together
    5. Asking what do we bring to the classroom to help you learn “Gracious Space”
    6. Tour the campus
    7. Scavenger hunt for people (Who owns a cat?)
    8. Students interview one another
      1. What is surprising about you?
      2. What is interesting about you?
    9. Talk about names and how they got their names and what they mean
    10. Question of the day
      1. First day is “What is your name?”
      2. ESL questions
    11. Name Juggle – the students say their name and toss the ball. The second round there is another ball added until there are 12 balls in the air (you can throw them off by including a stuffed animal)
    12. Pairs make up questions and then surveys the class and present their results
      1. Reading strategies for adult students
      2. Not decoding but problem solving
      3. One reads different texts with different strategies
      4. Students do a book clubWhat is Reading Apprenticeship?
  6. What do you do in your classes to promote equity?
    1. Not being shocked
    2. Native language space
    3. Talking stick
    4. Listening partnerships
    5. Change pronouns
    6. Journal options
  7. More signs on the walls of visual interest with inspiring quotes
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Inclusive Pedagogy at Skagit Valley College

These are my notes from today’s presentation. This meeting included a brief overview of the history of equity initiatives at SVC in general and in their faculty learning groups in specific. This is my first workshop on Tuesday, July 24 at the Guided Pathways: Designing for Equity – Rendezvous 2018 conference.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Creating an Inclusive and Culturally Responsive Classroom
Gretchen Robertson & Kip Zwolenski
Skagit Valley College

We logged into a Canvas course: https://canvas.instructure.com/courses/1367908l to review their materials, as well as materials on Google: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1JwFlGWI_gFgyXxSXFQ0jENcCTd3khCvT

Are you ready for students? This is the driving focus around the learning communities. We are interested in not giving us a plan but asking us to be catalysts for a plan on our campus.

Opening Discussion
What is BEdA’s role in pathways on your campus?
How is it going?
What are you learning?

We have advising modules that help instructors understand what students need for each pathway. Pathways (GED, HS21+, Vocational, etc.). I am learning that after talking to others at the table, that I need to take a closer look at what we are doing on my campus. I think we are on track but I need to research more into what we are doing. Gretchen called this a huge and dynamic process.

Clearing the Path at SVC
The presentation will cover:

  • Student Achievement Strategy
  • Inclusive Pedagogy faculty Learning Group
  • Building intentional, contextualized pathways that begin in BEdA
  • Program review

We are going to use pathways to transform the college and make it more equitable.

Discussion: What kind of ideologies and beliefs that get in the way of student success?

  • “My job is to weed out the students who are not ready.”
  • “These students are not ready for college.”
  • Gatekeeping
  • Institutionally, ABE students and instructors are not looked on as “real” students and teachers.

We cannot do the work alone – how do we get the nay-sayers on board. Our ideologies do not get replaced – we have to show how the goals connect with other faculty ideologies (e.g. we are centered on student success).
How do you confront or overcome the roadblocks to inclusiveness? Different stakeholders in the success of the students fall somewhere within this quadrant:

Example of upper-right hand quadrant work: Instead of giving a list of rules in the syllabus, ask the students what would be effective behaviors in the classroom. The lower-left: purposefully enculturating students into college with a first year orientation. Mentoring new students. Upper-left: an example of professional knowledge that needs to be passed on by an individual. Each person on campus fits into one or more of these quadrants and we can all work together.

Where am I on this quadrant? At different times in the quarter I am in different places: I am a gate-keeper as the “authority” on science topics, grammar rules, etc.; I negotiate my syllabus and assessment; I am an enculturator in that I design first year classes to give students skills to succeed. I do not do a lot of advocating as an adjunct because of the political consequences to myself – you will loose jobs. I need to work through that.

We are tasked with going to our campuses and starting a faculty learning community. We can use the materials and models from SVC. The pathways work does not allow us to teach the same way that we have always taught. This is a way to prepare teachers for the students that are coming into their classrooms. At SVC, it has changed the level of engagement and communication.

Inclusive Pedagogy Faculty Learning Group

  • Starting the conversation
  • Examining practices
  • Creating “Student Ready” courses and classrooms
  • 67 faculty members have participated to date
  • 3 cohorts
  • 5 action research projects completed
  • March 2nd full-day curriculum workshop for all cohort participants
  • Now mandatory for all new faculty
  • Title III Survey Results will inform curriculum for future cohorts

It is not just the strategies but the objectives and outcomes for diverse students. We need to change how we think and the institution as well as the teaching strategies. For our students, they do not have the choice to go to a HBC, for many of them, this is their ONLY choice.

Part-timers were able to go through it but they are not paid for it. I think that this is part of the institutional problem: no respect for adjunct faculty – how is not making sure that the teachers who teach most of the classes get this kind of training?? Also, adjuncts who bring up social issues are often branded “difficult adjuncts” and risk losing their jobs. It makes me wonder if these institutions are the right institutions or if they have outlived their privilege and power.

Inclusive Pedagogy Is Not Just…

  • Creating an environment in which everyone feels good at all times
  • Simply adding minority authors and perspectives to course curriculum
  • Implementing teaching strategies that address multiple learning styles

Inclusive pedagogy is an on-going process that involves critical awareness.

  • Call attention to inequities
  • Assume responsibility for the elimination of inequities
  • Focus on practitioners, rather than the shortcomings of students

They reviewed the contextualized college and workforce academy curriculum.

English full day outcomes workshop: outcomes redesign was meant to overcome faculty resistance which included the entire English dept. in equity discussions, outcome review, and “Backward Design.”

Their next steps include contextualizing English 101 and I-Best, training faculty, Math outcomes redesign, and Backward Redesign curriculum training.

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Diversity, Privilege, and Multicultural Education: Are Teachers Ready? Part II

The afternoon continued…and these are my notes from the continuing presentation:  This was the first break-out session after the key note with Dr. Eddie Moore for the Guided Pathways: Designing for Equity – Rendezvous 2018 conference on Monday, July 23, 2018. He led this session as well. According to the program: Participants will engage in activites and large and small group discussions grounded in exploring what teachers need to implement quality multicultural education into their classrooms. Participants will also engage in short and long-term goal setting for the classrooms and institutions. 

Plug for his book “The Guide for White Women who Teach with Black Boys.”

The stats for kids of color have not been good.

He showed an image that had a “secret coded message.” The picture was a square of famous black men (and some kids) and a circle of famous black women. Each section had a blank circle. Do you have the skills to produce students of this level of success. There is a diversity of possibilities. What are we bringing to the classroom that encourages black students to be successful?

Black History month – do a quiz on every February 1st.

How can the black community rely on “white folks” to bring black children to their highest level possible. We are all trained with-in the system that has failed the black community. What evidence do we have that white teachers can teach black children? Why should black families not send their children to segregated schools.

You can educate black children to be gifted but teachers need competence and confidence. Do you believe in yourself as an educator? The success of kids of color is going to fall on us.

White fragility – Robin Di Angelo’s book – it is not weak, but the fragile state you develop because you have not had the conversations about difficult questions around race. He said that if a white woman at work does something heinous that they can cry and get “hugs not consequences.” He also said that we have to have more conversations about white women in society.

Comment – A teacher in the audience said that we can learn a lot from historically black colleges who do things like meet the students at the door and know the students names.

He asked black male students what worked when they where in a classroom with a white female teacher.
Understanding the student, learning about their culture, and where they are coming from.
Code Switching – the way that people present themselves to the dominant culture. The motivation to change what we do is that children are being pushed into children. His experience is that there is no motivation or inspiration.

The practice of good teaching being expanded to be the most inclusive. The research shows that white teachers are unprepared to teach black students and that they are afraid of them.

Diversity is not about who fills the space but who controls the space. – Debby Irving
How many racists have our own class rooms produced?


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Diversity, Privilege, and Multicultural Education: Are Teachers Ready?

These are my notes from the presentation:  This was the first break-out session after the key note with Dr. Eddie Moore for the Guided Pathways: Designing for Equity – Rendezvous 2018 conference on Monday, July 23, 2018. He led this session as well. According to the program: Participants will engage in activites and large and small group discussions grounded in exploring what teachers need to implement quality multicultural education into their classrooms. Participants will also engage in short and long-term goal setting for the classrooms and institutions. 

How do we remember what we are going to do?

The Formula (Troy Cicero)

  1. Do your work. Everyone has work to do.  What we learned from 0-5 is the foundation of our thinking and we have to overcome that. Some conditioning is good, some is bad.  Implicit bias website test was mentioned.
  2. It is not that 2+3 does not equal 4 but we can look at 4 in a different way (2 squared, 3+1, four dots, etc). Educators are conditioned to not think of those students as “ready for school.” What are you doing in your life that allows you to be flexible about how we see 4. We are trying to accomplish goals that are against the institutional systemic design.

He had us listen to the song  Michelle Kwan is an American and asked us to reflect on where we are today.

Is it possible to have a 100% inclusive institution. Are we prepared for the levels of diversity we are facing now? He gave us the scattered numbers image.

Model for learning – Skills Learning: update, unlearn, reconsider, and redefine. In our society – we can do nothing and be “just good people,” but we need to do more to change society. If we are already doing things, we need to help our colleagues. We need someone or something to help us.

He mentioned more than once the idea of a portfolio or a way to demonstrate diversity competencies. We need young people with global intercultural competencies.

He discussed various multicultural worksheets such as “Diversity Bingo” that he uses to start conversations with students about diversity.

A definition of racist – the person who benefits from from the “-ism.”

We reviewed what definitions we use for diversity and how out-dated they are. One of the things we can do is be inclusive in our language in general. We can evolve our language and how we communicate with our students. Is your language inclusive?

Integration without preparation doesn’t work.

He played Gil-Scott Heron’s Whitey on the Moon and asked us how the artist would be perceived assessment-wise. Kendrick LaMar’s I is the black national anthem today.

He suggested that we have a song day. Another attendee uses music at the beginning of classes.

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America is Changing: Are you ready?

Picture of Dr. Eddie MooreThis was the keynote to the Guided Pathways: Designing for Equity – Rendezvous 2018 conference which was led by Dr. Eddie Moore on Monday, July 23, 2018. According to the program: This session challenges participants to examine their own biases, behaviors, and belief systems. Additionally, they learn how to take action against hatred, bigotry, privilege, and oppression. We need more leaders for social justice and equity across America. Do you have the skills and ability to lead?

These are my notes and not a complete representation of his presentation. He asked for a level of engagement on the issues of diversity that matches the level of the times. He said “it must be pretty fricken’ awesome to be a white person right now.” He started by talking about how white supremacists were marching in the street and are now in the White House. What should the work look like? We may have diversity on campuses, but how is the power shared? How are decisions made?

He wants to give us an over-view of 20 years of his work and experience. He asks us if we really care or “give a shit.” The shifts we are seeing in the supreme court and politics are going to effect us 20 years out. Does your portfolio match the time we are in? When he talks about “the times” he is thinking about and trying to process the kind of culture where black people are getting the cops called on them for every day actions.

He discussed the changes in his life after being raised in a black community in Florida and being sent to Mt. Vernon, Iowa by his mother and basketball coach to get out of trouble (his older brothers all went to prison).

Commitments to diversity requires proof. He needs evidence – he wants to know the work we are doing. The work is about skills. What changes will we make in the next two years. After 20 years, he said that everyone needs to do more work. How are we gauging whether people are committed to diversity? Diversity is the only subject we are fine with leaving people at the “101” level.

  1. This work is about the skills, not just for white people.
  2. The world is changing – we need white women in positions of power. Celebrating diversity while replicating white culture dominance.
  3. Integration without preparation does not work.
  4. Can you be a racist and not even know it? We are doing oppressive stuff and not even knowing it.
  5. You can’t say “diversity” without talking about diversity, power, and privilege.
  6. We need a plan. Our conference is not enough to solve the problem.

He mentioned a video on the SAT that shows how the SAT was created by a white supremacist. He then showed Childish Gambino’s “This is America.” After watching it, we were asked to: summarize it in one word, figure out where the artistic genius is in the video, and find the connection to the video/conference.  He then showed the women’s version of the film. It was interesting because the latinas in the room said things like “this is misappropriation” and “the white people have drugs to deal with your problems because many people of color do not have access to health care.” People in the audience seemed to not like the women’s version of that – one said that “the women’s edit steals another cultures work” and looses the message. Most of the comments were about misappropriation and against “what-about-me-ism.” Dr. Moore kept leading it back to the “Robin Hood” idea that good can come from stealing. He brought it back to the “dynamics of race” and stimulating future conversations.

At the end of the talk he used an image that discussed the difference between equality, equity, and justice. How is an institution started by white supremacy get to a place of justice? We are asking organizations designed to be unequal to now do equity. He asks if our vocabulary around diversity changed over the last 20 years. If we have to prove our commitment to diversity, what would we show? Vocabulary is a way to do that.

He discussed the rise of social media and the consequences using Rosanne Barr and other figures.

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Rendezvous 2018 Guided Pathways and Designing for Equity: a prelude…

I am at at conference this summer – Rendezvous 2018 – Guided Pathways: Designing for Equity. I have chosen the strand “Rendezvous 2018: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion / Creating an Inclusive and Culturally Responsive Classroom” because I feel we are at a critical point in education where inclusiveness is at a real risk due to political, cultural, and economic factors: never before has it been this important. This is not just hyperbole on my part – we have students who are coming to school genuinely afraid of the government (including educators) because, despite their status, anyone apparently can be sent back to a perceived country of origin, or lose jobs, financial aide, or even children. Also, I am now working with more students from widely diverse populations than ever. This has been a profound privilege, benefit, and a challenge. Different cultures can have different priorities and values from one another – how do we navigate that in the classroom?

According to the description “This interactive, informational, and challenging strand will examine and explore issues of diversity, privilege, leadership and multicultural education across America and challenges participants to examine their own biases, behaviors, and belief systems. This strand will include topics related to multicultural education, inclusive pedagogy and white privilege. Participants will leave with the skills and knowledge necessary to begin addressing issues of power, leadership, white supremacy, white privilege and oppression both individually and institutionally. This strand is intended for faculty and administrators.

Of course, what interests me the most is how do we practically apply this. What can we do in our classrooms to make a substantial change?

By the end of this strand participants will be able to reflect on their current practices, plan for curriculum re-designs, and facilitate learn groups to support this work.  Participants will:

  1. Understand Skagit Valley College’s holistic implementation of equity initiatives.
  2. Participate in sample assignments, discussions, and inquiry taken from the SVC’s Inclusive Pedagogy Faculty Learning Community.
  3. Gain a step-by-step guide for implementing faculty learning communities with a focus on inclusion.

I will be posting my applications and implementations here to this blog as I meet with other instructors to explore these topics.

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Concept Maps in the Trenches

While helping my students work through their essays and presentations, I find myself thinking over and over again, quarter after quarter, semester after semester, how import tools like free writing, drawing, and concept maps are to thinking. However, I find that not all tools are created equal – especially when used in the wild.

I have written a lot about concept maps in this blog in the past. Each year, I take a few moments to revisit digital tools and research into concept maps. I have consistently used a number of software tools: C-Map Tools (a hands-down favorite of mine), Inspiration (a k-12 favorite grand-daddy), Lucid Chart (which I have abused for years by using and re-using my free “three” maps), and, of course, paper and pencil. What is new (for me, anyway) is that I will be working with CMap Cloud – which is a free, online concept map creation and sharing tool. The research that CMap has done not just on the CMap Tools but on concept map applications is impressive and very useful. The research suggests many different ways to use CMap Tools. There are a number of other tools out there for creating concept maps but CMaps is very clear about being a “knowledge modeling kit” which is different than being “fast” or “easy.”

For myself, I think that CMaps is the way to go for large, complex projects – everything from developing a workshop to plotting a novel. When I am sitting in front of a computer or a laptop, it just makes sense. Sometimes when I am out and about, I will begin a concept map in a notebook and wind up expanding it in CMap. I have yet to successfully use concept mapping tools on my phone. Is the screen to small? My fingers too big? I am still experimenting which is exciting because it means that I will be writing about this again at the end of the year or so.

Each one of my “essay” assignments in my Adult Basic Education classes begins with an assignment sheet (where the student develops the topic), a concept map, an outline, a rough draft, a paper, and a presentation. In other words, it is not a paper generating class. It is about teaching a process and exploring how we think and express ourselves. I was sitting down with a student last quarter who had no idea where her thesis statement was going: her topic was overly-broad, too much detail in the first paragraph, and no central focus. I asked her to show me the assignment sheet and the concept map. She said that she thought that concept maps were a waste of time. She wanted to get on with the writing. But we worked through the concept map together and she began to see what it was she wanted to say. The best tool for that job was a pencil and a piece of paper. It was not just a hoop to jump through to get on with the writing – it became a record of a conversation that we had about her topic. That record then becomes a jumping off point for deeper thinking and research later.

I had another student with physical and learning disabilities who could not sit down and use a pencil to make concept maps. He was able to proficiently use a computer and took to creating online concept maps using Lucid Chart. It made a huge difference in his writing and thinking. Or maybe just the ability for him to express his thinking. It was okay that he had attention deficit disorder because he could come back and work on the map at any time. This was the right tool for this student.

There is nothing earth-shattering about this idea – that different times, people, or circumstances require different tools to be successful. That is what is so valuable about instructional design – it can analyze the instructional moment and suggest tools for a particular case.

This is a presentation that I give on concept maps and visual thinking:

Do you use concept maps in the classroom? How do you teach students how to use them? Do you use concept maps personally or professionally? I would love to hear your thoughts on tools and processes. Comment down below or email me at consult@geoffcain.com

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AI Ain’t What It Used to Be

There is currently no consensus on how closely...

This is your brain on AI. (Wikipedia)

Stephen Downes posted a link to the Metafilter blog where a discussion that begins thus is taking place:

Uber’s Self-Driving Car Didn’t Malfunction, It Was Just Bad. There were no software glitches or sensor breakdowns that led to a fatal crash, merely poor object recognition, emergency planning, system design, testing methodology, and human operation.

This sentence is exactly what I mean when I say that Artificial Intelligence is not intelligence. All of the “glitches,” poor object recognition, planning, design, testing and operation are all human glitches. In other words, there is only one intelligence (ours) and we are attempting to off-load its work on to algorithms we do not, obviously, fully understand.

I am actually all for self-driving cars. It it can potentially take drunk drivers, exhausted truck drivers, and texters off the road. According to the CDC: “each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.” They define distracted as “driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving.” I think that should include a premature trust in AI.

Rodney Brooks wrote a great article last year on AI for the MIT Technology Review (“The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions“), where he discusses some of the problems of AI predictions, including the case where discusses the prediction by Market Watch that said that “we will go from one million grounds and maintenance workers in the U.S. to only 50,000 in 10 to 20 years, because robots will take over those jobs.” He then goes on to point out that there are currently no robots on those jobs, and no realistic demonstrations of robots currently operational in those jobs.

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The Problem with Privacy

Here is the problem with privacy right now. Micro$loth thinks they are doing us a favor by giving us two options but there should be a third: no, I don’t want to share any information with you. You have taken my money and that should be enough:

Share how you use office with no option to NOT share.

For real privacy, there should be an option to NOT share anything. All of the new privacy updates to all of the programs that are now offering more transparency are following the same model. It makes me want to be even a greater advocate for open source than I am now. Learn more or accept indeed!

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