Equity and inclusivity in STEM
Friday was epic for so many reasons. It was Day 1 for the Virginia Association of Science Teachers Annual Professional Development Institute and I had the privilege of hearing about great topics in science education, and even presented three times, myself.The last session of the day was where the magic happened and I am incredibly grateful to have attended a session on equity and inclusivity in STEM. The focus was on African American culture, providing insight into struggles, realities, and ways to actively engage this underserved population. The presenter was a beautiful human being whose knowledge, positivity and passion radiated from her soul to the audience. It was a beautiful fifty minutes filled with understanding, compassion, and shared motivation to reach all students, especially African Americans, through purposeful changes in instruction and relationship building.
Over and over, Dr. Angerina Jones reiterated that the strategies shared are for ALL students but important for all educators to understand that these are what are best for underserved populations.
We spent a lot of time talking about the “much love” section and creating windows and mirrors for students. We should and must have high expectations for all students; in working with and supporting African American students, it is equally important to provide that love. Dr. Jones reiterated again, that is true for all students, but this population of African Americans — it’s an imperative part of the puzzle that we cannot deny. One participant added that school is often the only place where African American students might have the opportunity to be heard and listened to. This does not mean they are not loved and supported at home, but often do not feel or have time to be heard, to share, and spend time in conversation.
With this graphic, a lot of attention was spent on how to engage African American learners — they are movers, shakers, often music driven. Dr. Jones even gave the example of “hips and lips” lines in the hallway (the expectation that you are perfectly still and quiet and you walk through a hallway) is completely unreasonable for students, especially African American boys who are “beat bopping” around with rhythm in their souls. She questioned why it matters whether a student (especially African American male) sits or stands to complete tasks…again — true for any student. We need to question why we have an enforce certain rules if they are not conducive to learners.
The graphic (below) was incredibly important in thinking about the mirrors and windows we have for students, especially underserved populations. What mirrors (reflections of themselves, or those who look like them) do we have in the building, in literature, in positions of importance?
This graphic speaks volumes about mirrors in literature…
How can we as educators do a better job providing opportunities, windows, and mirrors for students of all races, cultures, genders, backgrounds
How do we best support these students?
How are we doing with that kind of support for students and families?
Are we filling their buckets or leaving them empty-handed and hearted?
There are so many questions, so many things upon which I need to reflect and I am incredibly grateful for this session — I have some work to do…what about you?
This article is available and can be accessed in Spanish here.