26 Oct Whisper, Shout to Change the World
Advent hosted its annual Collaborative on Saturday, October 15. The Collaborative brings educators from across the country to the SMART Lab on Beacon Hill for a day of learning, collaboration, and discussion. This year’s theme was “Change the World: Teaching for Social Justice through Reggio-Inspired Practices.” The goal of the event was to talk about ways teachers can use the Reggio Emilia approach to talk about issues of equity and inclusion.
The day featured presentations by Advent faculty, breakout sessions, and a keynote address. Lecia Brooks, Outreach Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center and Teaching Tolerance, was this year’s keynote speaker.
Lecia’s presentation, titled “Whisper, Shout,” addressed shifting demographics in education. The racial and socioeconomic backgrounds of American families are shifting, which is having an impact in classrooms across the country. This shift was put into a historical context relating to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the current Black Lives Matter protests. Lecia urged everyone in attendance to share their own stories, which adds their own highly personal experiences to the national conversation. Attendees shared what they are seeing in their own classrooms and workplaces, and discussed strategies to answer tough questions from students. Many students want to discuss the upcoming 2016 presidential election. Teaching Tolerance offers resources for how to do that on their website.
Advent faculty from Second Grade, Kindergarten, and the Yoga and Meditation program presented as well. Second Grade faculty Caitlin Bennett and Katie Knox discussed how a splash in the Charles River started a long term investigation into perspective taking. Gender roles in fairy tales was the focus of Kindergarten Brimmer co-teachers’ presentation. Paula Hinchliffe and Amber Lowe outlined how an overheard classroom discussion launched an exploration of stereotypes. Finally, Yoga and Meditation teacher Michelle Bissanti spoke about how she created Advent’s yoga program. Michelle discussed why a mindfulness practice is important for everyone, but especially for elementary school aged children.
The day ended with several breakout sessions at 15 Brimmer Street. The goal of the sessions was to provide hands-on experience with the topics discussed during the morning sessions, and to give space for deep discussion into social justice topics.