Rowland Foundation

Annual Teacher's Conference

Morning Only Workshops

SPECIAL WORKSHOP: Changing the Default Settings: Getting to Know What We Do Not Know

W.E.B. Du Bois insisted that, "We have no right to sit silently by while the inevitable seeds are sown for a harvest of disaster to our child, black and white." But how do we who have been raised in an orchard of inequity and injustice, plant healthy seeds for the next generation? In this workshop, participants will take stock of the biases and assumptions that shape curricula, school culture, and institutional policies, identifying practical and aspirational tools for rigorous self-reflection, accountability, and transformation.

Presenter:  Ruha Benjamin, Professor, Princeton University

Microaggressions: Intent vs. Impact

"I didn't know what to say!" This is an all too common response among educators when caught off guard by biased comments or actions at school. As our nation becomes more racially and culturally diverse, educators need to be able to recognize bias and inequity in our classrooms, respond in the moment, and work to establish and sustain actively anti-bias learning environments for all students. This work is particularly pressing given the current context of divisive political rhetoric and policies that seek to dehumanize and discount the experiences of people of color and members of other historically marginalized groups. In this interactive session, participants will explore specific microaggressions collected from schools across Vermont, analyze the relationship between intent and impact, and practice using calling in and calling out language to interrupt bias when it occurs.

Presenter:  Rebecca Eunmi Haslam, Founder, Seed the Way, LLC

Talking about Race and Racism: Lessons Learned from Two Schools

As our primarily white state becomes more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and language background, our primarily white faculties require new and different skills to talk about race, racism, diversity and equity with our students, colleagues, families and communities. During the 2017-2018 school year, two schools in the Montpelier district undertook grant-funded initiatives to build the capacity of our faculty to talk about race and racism with our PreK-8 learners. This workshop will review the training content and lessons learned. We will also share our next steps and discuss how we are building a structural foundation to sustain this work. In this workshop, participants will engage in some of the identity exploration work that our faculties did and have the opportunity to explore how they might apply this work in their own school. (This work was funded by a Rowland Foundation Honoring Diversity grant, and a NEA Learning and Leadership grant.)

Presenters: Sylvia Fagin & Hannah Barden, English Learner Teachers, Montpelier Roxbury Public Schools

Getting Off To A Great Start: PBL Basics

Do you want to learn one way to transform equity ideas into effective action? Try using project- or problem-based learning! If you are new to project-based learning and want some tools to help get you started, this is the session for you. In this workshop you will learn the basics of designing and assessing relevant, rigorous standards-focused projects. Using the model of project-based learning, presenters will give participants some direct instruction, some modeling and plenty of time to dive deep into planning their first project-based unit. Participants in this workshop will leave with the skeleton plan of a project-based unit, a foundation for addressing equity through project-based learning and a wealth of resources for where to get more examples of project-based materials.

Presenters: Sandra Mings-LaMar, Director International Programs, Lyndon Institute, 2016 Rowland Fellow | Terha Steen, English Department Head, Lyndon Institute

Creating Inclusive Environments for Queer, Trans, and Gender Non-Binary Students

Computers, The Matrix, ladies in space, and I Am Not Your Negro-LGBTQ+ folks have had a significant impact on the world, but they aren't often visible in the curriculum and sometimes don't feel safe to be visible at school. To change that, we need to practice how to interrupt harmful messages about LGBTQ+ folks and amplify helpful ones. In this workshop we will discover what gender and sexual orientation are, how they have historically played out, and how we could make changes at school so students of all genders and sexualities are supported and equipped to thrive.

Presenter:  Mara Iverson, Director of Education, Outright Vermont

Morning & Afternoon Workshops:

SPECIAL STUDENT WORKSHOP: Engaging Students as Partners in Learning!

We suggest that students from schools A-M attend the morning session and from schools N-Z the afternoon session.

When educators collaborate with students in deciding how they are going to reach or obtain a learning expectation, skill, or disposition, they immediately engage their students in the learning process. All too often in education, teaching is like the Wizard of Oz and too much remains behind the curtain. This workshop will focus on the importance of the process of learning and how students work with their teachers to reach desired learning expectations (those transferable skills). Through these real life examples of teachers and students working together, they will share both the success and challenges that they have encountered in this practice. You will hear from students and teachers about their experiences of learning how to collaborate so that they can take greater responsibility over their own education. Participants will make meaning about how this work resonates with the message of our keynote speaker and generate ideas and proposals for what they can bring back to their classrooms, schools, or any future learning environment that nurtures student agency.

Presenter:  Jean Berthiaume, Principal, Fayston Elementary School, Senior Rowland Associate and 2009 Rowland Fellow

"It's Like Riding a Bike." - Exploring Implicit Bias

The expression, "It's like riding a bicycle" is common slang for the idea that once something is learned, you can always recall how to do it. Implicit Bias is our attitudes or stereotypes that unconsciously affect our understanding, actions, and decisions. Come explore how implicit bias may be influencing us without our knowledge, and some things it has in common with riding a bike. Participants will leave the session with greater understanding of how unconscious biases are impacting educational environments, and strategies for how to recognize our own implicit biases.

Presenters:  Kathy Johnson and Brian Hsiang, Co-founders and Partners, CQ Strategies, LLC

Validating Culture

If students are not feeling safe to be who they are, then will they be at their best to learn and grow? If they are not feeling safe, then will they tell you that they are not feeling safe? Validating culture is confirming that who you are, how you think, and what you do are not good, bad, right or wrong...but rather something to be acknowledged. Let's co-create an experience to illuminate how validation creates safety to be authentic. Together we will clearly define what it means to validate, experience how it feels to be validated and then learn everyday nudges to start applying immediately.

Presenter:  Edward Kim, Founder and Coach, Measured Leadership, LLC

Whole School Restorative Approach

Implementation of Restorative Approaches in schools has been linked to reduced discipline referrals, reductions in violent and serious incidents, decreases in punitive and exclusionary discipline responses, increased student attendance and improved academic outcomes, and enhanced social emotional learning. Participants will actively grapple with the material and apply the major pieces of content in ways relevant to them. By the end of the introductory workshop participants will have:

  • identified personal values and compared them to restorative principles.
  • defined restorative approaches in their own words and in a way that is relevant for staff and students.

The workshop intends to expose participants to restorative principles and practices into the schools and consider application at the school in which they work.

Presenter:  Jon Kidde, Principal Consultant, Green Omega, L3C

Afternoon Only Workshops:

Cultivating Courageous Leadership
Special Workshop for Principals and Superintendents offered in Partnership with the Vermont Principals' Association.

James Baldwin cautioned that, "A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked, but only that they be spineless." In this workshop, participants will explore courage as a vital capacity of educational leaders. Together, we will take stock of our fears, reflect on areas of our work that require us to take risks, and discuss how to prepare and support one another to cultivate courage as a foundation for learning and growth.

Presenter:  Ruha Benjamin, Professor, Princeton University

Inclusion for All Learners: Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) & Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Too often, school is unfair. While we like to think that school remains the neutral arbiter of our meritocracy, its systems and structures often reinforce the advantages of students from certain family backgrounds. Drawing on the work of Ralabate & Nelson (2017), this workshop will apply the lens of UDL to examine the perspectives of culturally and linguistically diverse learners and provide teachers with concrete strategies for their instructional practice. Participants will leave with a better understanding of culturally responsive teaching and new ideas for making their classrooms more inclusive.

Presenter:  Mike Martin, Director of Learning, South Burlington School District, 2009 Rowland Fellow and Senior Rowland Associate

Montpelier High School: Raising a Black Lives Matter Flag

In February of 2018, Montpelier High School became the first high school in the nation to raise a Black Lives Matter flag. The story became international news with millions of viewers and readers across a spectrum of media outlets. This session will feature the opportunity to hear the story first hand. A team from Montpelier High School made up of students, faculty, and administration will share specific action steps taken by the school community to prepare, support, and continue the work in increasing empathy while reducing implicit bias, structural racism, and unchecked privilege in our learning community. The team will also facilitate discussion and reflection time for attendees to consider their own experiences and potential action steps for growth in their own learning communities.

Presenters:  Mike McGraith, Principal, Montpelier High School, 2013 Rowland Fellow | Sarah Squier and Racial Justice Alliance

Providing Equity Through a Culture of Learning

Some legacy or "traditional" classroom practices indirectly create inequity within and across schools. Cultures of compliance and incentives allow the "game of school" to be played, further widening achievement gaps. Grading practices in particular continue to accentuate social reproduction, while also decreasing student sense of agency. This workshop aims to expose inequitable classroom practices and to show how certain student-centered strategies can support a culture of learning.

Presenters:  Gabe Hamilton, PBL Coach/Coordinator, Mt. Abraham Union Middle/High School, 2015 Rowland Fellow | Andrew Jones, Director of Curriculum, Mill River Unified School District, 2015 Rowland Fellow

Ideas Into Action Through School-Driven Change

Paradoxically, personalized learning is not achieved one student and teacher at a time. Instead, powerful learning for all students can only arise from coherent, school-level collective action, grounded in whole-faculty learning, driven by teacher leadership, and sustained by an efficacious community or youth and adults alike. In dozens of schools around Vermont, and in projects around the country, this jumble of buzzwords is transformed into an elegant and rewarding approach to deep and sustainable school change. From the stories of these schools, you'll learn how we can finally move beyond Vermont's islands of innovation to meaningful change that reaches every teacher and every student.

Presenters:  John Downes, Penny Bishop and the Tarrant Institute Staff


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