Training and Experience
My Early Beginnings
When I began my career, 11 years ago, I was trained at Tufts University by the mothers of anti-bias education itself: Debbie LeeKeenan and Louise Derman-Sparks (authors of Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, 2009). Debbie, the former Director of Tufts' Eliot Pearson Children's Lab School, was my advisor and mentored me during the early years of my teaching career. She was working with Louise Derman-Sparks on their next book, at the time, and using our lab school as part of their research. I was fortunate to be able to learn from the source how to address biases and prejudices, what anti-bias education looks like for both children as well as adults, and how to teach others the steps necessary to do this important work.
My Developed Skills
It is because of this strong working knowledge of anti-bias education in combination with my work experiences in a myriad of different settings, that I possess a well-rounded skill set that helps create safe spaces for unpacking your identity journeys. I have built almost immediate trust within each environment I've helped by first sharing my own vulnerability and then:
Using different conversation scaffolds and protocols to facilitate conversations, reflections and scenario work.
Modeling ways to protect the conversation and its participants, such as making group agreements or norms before we begin and staying in tune with how everyone is responding to the direction and nature of the conversations we have.
"Holding each other in the light," which means lifting others up if they're down.
Teaching how to create a safe space where they assume goodwill until proven otherwise and allow space for others to make mistakes, fail forward and grow in the right direction with support.
Utilizing advocacy, checking in, and sitting with silence for the purpose of reflecting, or waiting until someone feels "moved" rather than forced to participate.
Interspersing overall social justice in action with examples from my previous experiences and work in numerous communities.
Teaching how to transition from safe to "brave" spaces where we feel called to allyism and action when needed.
Building on my knowledge base by continually keeping up with the latest information, authors and philosophies on anti-bias education.
My Elementary School Experience
I became inspired to use change-makers in history and current society, highlighting them as real superheroes for children. This effort to empower children to see the wide scope of activism possibilities with diverse representation is when I began to build my People of Inspiration cross-curriculum. I integrated anti-bias work and universal virtues, such as peace, stewardship, and equality, that almost everyone hopes the next generation will emulate. Discovery Charter School 2 (now known as Discovery Falcon School) was where I truly blossomed in this sense with the freedom to blend my Reggio-inspired teaching with my passion for social justice and anti-bias awareness.
My Collegiate Level Experience
However, it was during my time teaching at Foothill College that I really began to highlight the idea of "intent vs. impact" in the classroom and in life, because so many of my students experienced or bore witness to prejudices that went unchecked because they weren't sure how to address them. Most of these instances were microaggressions, but the problem is they built up and contributed to a culture of disparity dictated by an imbalance of social power based solely on targeting the minority groups as "less than." This was ultimately leading to a drop in self-confidence among kids who were viewed as different than the norm, and ultimately it was affecting their performance at school, as well. The microaggressions adults and kids experience every day are often laced with good intent - i.e. "You're so well-spoken for a black woman!" or "You're really hot for a trans man." But the reality is that those people feel the impact over the intent. That's the sting of prejudice.
My Adult Education & Organization Experience
My passion grew to a macro level of wanting to reach beyond the walls of classrooms and schools to teach adults in professional settings and communities. I've served hospital staff and doctors, companies of various sizes, and smaller community groups, too. I wanted to provide concrete action plans for how people could participate in and eventually facilitate courageous conversations that work to tear down biases and create inclusive environments where everyone feels a sense of belonging and understanding as they're accepted for who they are and not how they compare to our biases or blind spots. I have honed my talents in leadership, communication, innovative presentation styles, and tailored training styles which all come together to shape a dynamic method of connecting with others on a deep and impactful level. Instilling in others the confidence to find their "brave space" and try to act with equity is one of my greatest joys and achievements! .