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Importance of Perspective

I spent today in a train-the-trainer training hosted by my state’s licensing board for teachers. This training was not at all what I expected based on the new state standards for relicensure. It was better. One of the things that I took away from today was that getting teachers to see themselves as active agents in the world who respond to the world through their own biases is the first step. While I subconsciously already knew this, the way the information was being presented offered examples of just how this can be accomplished in meaningful ways. 

As a white, male functioning within my own comfort zone of cultural interaction, I can easily walk into a room without considering the lives of those around me. In fact, I do this every day. I think we all do. But the important first step of recognizing how that lens affects everything else we do as a human allows me to think about other perspectives and notice differences. It’s like when you learn another language. It’s not until you understand your own language that you truly start to see the differences and take them into consideration when you are learning and interacting in the other language. While we have provided opportunities in the past for teachers to reflect on their own biases, we never explicitly showed them how these biases impact our students and their families. 

Another important idea that continuously reappeared for me was that most of what we are applying to the idea of culturally responsive teaching should also be how we apply our professional development. We talked extensively about making your teaching relevant to your students. What is often missed, I believe, when professional development is given is that same treatment of relevancy. At face value it may exist in having groups separate out by subject or by academy. However, this still misses the target and teachers still feel that our sessions are a waste of time. I would liken this idea to grouping all of one nationality of students and saying, “Here is your differentiation.” Both assume a one size fits all and provide no understanding of the individual experiences. I would like to find a way that within my district, we could provide more opportunities for teachers to feel a part of those lessons and not just sit there and work on other things. This would be a great way of learning by doing. Showing teachers how to be more responsive at a foundational level and not just making assumptions. 

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