IDEAS Seminars

Anti-Racism: An Indigenous Perspective

In this anti-racist series of two-hour seminars with pre-meeting assignments, participants will begin to unlearn, and then relearn, the First Nations (Native American) Indigenous story. We will use a critical lens to transform (decolonize) our thinking about teaching practices and curriculum content. Strategies are applicable to all grade levels and subjects, as well as being applicable beyond the Indigenous perspective. The Teaching Tolerance standards of identity, diversity, justice, and action will be incorporated.

Part 1 (Identity, Decolonizing Curriculum)

In Part I, participants will explore racial identity development as it applies to Indigenous people and the multicultural curriculum transformation model developed by James Banks as it applies to the “Thanksgiving.” Participants will practice how to “challenge and change the narrative” to include more multicultural/ multilingual perspectives. Basic vocabulary around anti-racism, decolonization, settler privilege/fragility, and the cycle of oppression/ advantage will be reviewed. The Teaching Tolerance standards of identity and diversity will be applied.

Part 2 (Implicit Bias and Indigenous Contributions)

In Part 2, participants will explore strategies to confront “invisibility” and implicit bias. Participants will practice validating identity through cultural contributions and applying the Community Cultural Wealth model developed by Tara Yasso. Strategies for how to adapt teaching pedagogy to be more culturally responsive and challenge systemic racism and inequities will be presented. The Teaching Tolerance standards of identity and justice will be applied.

Part 3 (Cultural Appropriation and Being an “Ally” to Indigenous Nations)

In Part 3, participants will explore culture, cultural racism, and cultural appropriation referring to the work of Susan Scafidi (Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity) and Zaretta Hammond (Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain). Strategies for how to begin to be a social change agent (ally, co-conspirator, accomplice) and challenge systemic racism, microaggressions, and inequities will be presented. The difference between assimilation, acculturation, and appreciation will be reviewed. The Teaching Tolerance standards of justice and action will be applied.


Anti-Racist Decision Making Strategies for School Leaders

School leaders are faced with important decisions every day and how these decisions either perpetuate or interrupt systemic racism can often be missed by leaders at key decision points. This leads to interpersonal and organizational conflict, erosion of trust, and importantly, missed opportunities to advance anti-racism goals and objectives. Through case studies of school leaders wrestling with complex decisions and utilizing the latest frameworks in decision making research and practice, participants will leave with insights and practical tools to help them make better, anti-racist, decisions in their leadership roles. We’ll also discuss how other key factors such as communication tactics, stakeholder engagement, crisis management, and opportunity windows influence a leader’s decision making capabilities and possibilities.


Becoming a Culturally Responsive Teacher

This seminar seeks to increase understanding for what it means to be a culturally responsive educator. Over the course of three sessions, we will explore aspects of culturally responsive education and culturally responsive pedagogy; thus, laying the foundation for examining and understanding what it means to become a culturally responsive teacher. Independently, and in small groups, pparticipants will explore the personal, institutional, and instructional distinctions of culturally responsiveness, which enhances the ability to access the necessary knowledge to incorporate the desired skill(s) for culturally responsive teaching.


Black/Indigenous Intersectionality: Building Solidarity to Move Forward

Black Americans and First Nations Indigenous People are often Invisible in U.S. history, current events, and cultural contributions and ingenuity. There are many “Black Indians” who played a part in the diversity that defines this country's legacy and there are also ways in which the two groups supported (and did not support) each other. In this seminar, we will discuss how these two groups faced similar issues of discrimination, invisibility (lack of representation), enslavement, educational inequity, resistance, incarceration, and police violence. We will address missed opportunities for solidarity and why we need to stand together now.


Bootcamp for White People: Strategies and Actions

This 6 hour seminar will provide an opportunity for white people who are working to be anti-racists to take a deep dive into our racial identity and examine how we are impacted by white supremacy. We will develop strategies and actions that we can implement to become stronger allies and accomplices so that we can work effectively with BIPOC to dismantle racist systems, policies and practices.


Examining Image and Impact of Difficult Literature (using “The Bluest Eye”)

Participants will examine how perceptions of race, beauty and intelligence can result in trauma for students of color in this narrative of the marginalized self, while also gaining strategies on how to approach racially sensitive literature.

We will explore and try to answer the following questions:

  • Who or what might impact a student’s self-worth (specifically students of color in an educational environment where they are in the minority)?
  • How do we approach teaching racially sensitive literature (especially addressing the “N” word and its significance within the objective of the literature)?
  • How racist encounters can be traumatic for historically marginalized students.

The seminar meets for 6 hours and offers PDPs.


Examining White Privilege: Moving Towards Racial Justice Activism

This seminar is designed for educators who want to explore what it means to be “white” in the United States. We will look at the history that has created advantages for people identified as white and how those advantages continue into our present day. We will discuss racial identity development with a focus on moving towards being active anti-racists. We will focus on using our awareness to develop action plans for both our personal and professional lives. By the end of this seminar, participants will be able to:

  • Analyze white privilege, white identity and white fragility
  • Define terms including: race, racism, racial identity, discrimination, prejudice, implicit bias
  • Create action plans for addressing racism in our lives and work places.

The N-Word

We find that more and more in our school communities, we are having to talk about and grapple with the use of this word and how to handle it when we hear it being used in our schools. This seminar will seek to open the conversation for educators and frame it as an open dialogue to address the issue that if heard or said in our schools, all educators should be able to address it. The seminar will include the history of the word in our society and look at several generations and how some have tried to “reclaim” it. We will also read some articles and view some videos by respected academic scholars who have written and spoken about this dilemma. It is our hope that educators who attend will have a clearer understanding of why they do not want this word used in their school communities by anyone and some strategies on how to address it.


Race, Racism and the Arts

The arts have a long history and unique position of addressing injustice in society. Still, like all organizations and disciplines, art, artists, and teaching-artists are not immune from perpetuating systemic racism. This seminar will look at examples of how racism operates in theatre, music, and visual arts–both the mediums as well as the industries or academic departments in which they operate. We’ll look at historic as well as contemporary examples of art interrupting as well as perpetuating racism in the U.S. through recordings, critiques, artifacts, and art itself. The seminar will also address the language we use around the arts and how it has been used to include or exclude and create hierarchies of worth or belonging. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of how race and racism operate in the arts, specific examples of racism in theatre, music, and visual art that they can use in their teaching practice with different age groups/grade levels, practice speaking up and having discussions about race and racism in music, theatre, and art classrooms, and deepen their own consciousness about race and racism in their teaching and art-making practice.

This seminar will include a guest co-facilitator who holds faculty appointments in music at Berklee College of Music and in theatre at Emerson College.


Speaking Up about Racism in the Arts

The arts have a long history and unique position of addressing injustice in society. Still, like all organizations and disciplines, art, artists, and teaching-artists are not immune from perpetuating systemic racism. This seminar will look at examples of how racism operates in theatre, music, and visual arts–both the mediums as well as the industries or academic departments in which they operate. We’ll look at historic as well as contemporary examples of art interrupting as well as perpetuating racism in the U.S. through recordings, critiques, artifacts, and art itself. The seminar will also address the language we use around the arts and how it has been used to include or exclude and create hierarchies of worth or belonging. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of how race and racism operate in the arts, specific examples of racism in theatre, music, and visual art that they can use in their teaching practice with different age groups/grade levels, practice speaking up and having discussions about race and racism in music, theatre, and art classrooms, and deepen their own consciousness about race and racism in their teaching and art-making practice.

This seminar will include a guest co-facilitator who holds faculty appointments in music at Berklee College of Music and in theatre at Emerson College.


Teaching About Native Americans

What does it mean to be sensitive and respectful of First Nations Native Americans? What we have learned about Native Americans and what we think we know is often inaccurate or even offensive. But how do we know? Terms such as Indian, totem pole, tribe, pioneer, and costume may seem benign, when, in fact, there is a larger context of deculturalization and cultural appropriation that needs to be acknowledged and integrated into discussions. Begin to unlearn, and then relearn, the First Nations story through a critical analysis of images, history, and words used in the English language

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