The plenaries were intensely thought-provoking! So very relevant to the current state of the world/country and applicable to our role as educators.
The energy, enthusiasm and resources referenced. I found that every speaker gave me new nuggets of information to chew on. In such a state of frenzy around our country at this time, I appreciated going to a place of hope as prescribed by the speakers. The daily programming focus (Equity, Race, Culture, Activism, SEL) is exactly what I was expecting to learn, study, explore, and add to my repertoire.
For me, it was not only the content and expertise but the passion that the speakers brought. Especially right now, we need to feel strong connections to our work and to our colleagues, and I felt very connected to everyone and their urgent messages.
I appreciated the practical examples of work that is being done in age levels younger than high school. I teach middle school and I feel like I am sometimes receive pushback from other teachers about bringing race discussions into the classroom -- that we might be introducing ideas of racism into our students lives -- causing more harm than good. I feel like seeing the anti-racist work being done in classrooms from K on up encourages me that my inclination to bring racial literacy into my classroom is not misplaced or premature.
The most memorable part of the institute was the student presentations with Dr. Emdin. This was a demonstration of student learning stimulated by their cultural and social interest in a nontraditional manner. This was most memorable because it helped us to re-imagine how students can be assessed and the power of student's voice which strongly contributes to their learning.
I absolutely loved the involvement of youth in the institute and I am encouraged by the level of advocacy and the maturity and presentation skills that the students possessed. I was also again encouraged to work to build relationships and connections with the students I teach.
The pool party was the most memorable. It gave me the opportunity to connect personally with other participants and to process the enormous amount of information I was receiving. The Octopus facilitators did an outstanding job of creating a safe climate where educators from many different races and regions could learn from one another. The only problem was that these sessions where never long enough!