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Collaborating for Change

Image by Stuart Hampton from Pixabay

This week’s content and resources brought me back to my college days, specifically my undergraduate coursework as a sociology major. Several of the classes I took throughout those years allowed me the opportunity to dig deep into ideas about inequalities, socialization and gender studies, and eventually led me to my first career in victim advocacy. That work was so impactful on my life and thinking that it shaped the kind of teacher I became later on, especially when I moved overseas to work in international schools with students from diverse backgrounds. Some of my favorite lessons are centered around identity and the roles we play in specific settings. While this can be a complex topic for younger students, there are a lot of opportunities to revisit and dig deeper when studying text, history, current events, and culture. I find it’s in these conversations that seeds of change are planted, both with students and with teachers. 

My Groups & Roles

As uncomfortable as it can be to identify and acknowledge the parts of your identity that benefit from unearned privilege, it’s a necessary step in our evolution as a society and species. This is explained so well in Harro’s writings The Cycle of Socialization and The Cycle of Liberation when she notes that people must reach a critical level of understanding about oppression and their roles in it before a social change can happen. For me, that discomfort is in knowing that I occupy many dominant groups and that it has positioned me to reap benefits that I didn’t necessarily earn or work for and that others may have been denied. Some of the social identities I benefit from happened by default when I was born, but others happened later through institutional and cultural socialization. Some of these include:

  1. Being white

  2. Able-bodied

  3. Heterosexual

  4. Middle-aged

  5. Middle class

  6. American

  7. Native English speaker

  8. Educated

  9. Fair-skinned

  10. Expatriate

With the exception of being a woman, I have a lot of social power. This is why it’s important that I use this power and influence to advocate for justice, equity and social change. Does it mean that I have to march in the streets or demonstrate at the capitol building? No, I don’t think so. For me. It comes in smaller, more nuanced forms. Sometimes it’s situational and prompts action or discussion. Sometimes, it’s pre-planned and intentional. It really just depends.

The thing that’s most important for me when discussing these things is that I continue to seek different perspectives, learn more about other’s experiences and find opportunities to positively contribute, often through dialogue and collaboration. This is especially true for my work in education. Here are a few people and resources that stand out to me as influencers:

A Diverse PLN

I enjoy connecting with people from diverse backgrounds, especially when they work in education. Many educators within my Twitter PLN share ideas about equity and advocating for social changes, and this is a great place to be part of the conversation, get helpful resources and learn from people who are different from me. People like Gary Gray, Tricia Friedman and Micheal Bycraft are great resources who share openly and extend my thinking about identity and advocacy.

Action Comes in Many Forms

Changing the World

The video above was part of a Ted Radio Hour podcast episode on Changing the World and stood out to me as a creative way to involve people in activism. Podcasts and blogs are a great way to push your thinking about these topics.

Connecting Across Time and Space

This week, we connected and shared with other educators in our cohort about these topics using one of my very favorite digital video platforms, Flipgrid. What I like about Flipgrid, as opposed to Skype or Google Hangouts, is that it’s not bound by time zones and that the developers have placed education at the center of their product. This means they see the potential for global sharing and collaboration and work to continually improve their product with feedback from educators. Another great thing about this platform is that it can be re-watched or re-corded and that’s a great feature for teaching and learning. Also, it can be used across grade levels and content areas, which always makes it more powerful.

I gave a PD session on Flipgrid at the Vietnam Tech Conference last year and shared about the ways I was using it with students and teachers at my school, but since then it’s become even more powerful for sharing and collaboration. While it’s true that we still need to consider equitable access to technology, it’s become easier than ever for cross-cultural dialogue to happen. Consider this assignment for example; a cohort of educators spread out geographically are able to share their ideas and thoughts about the weekly reading and then respond, build on and deepen the conversations all from a mobile device while walking around a neighborhood (David!)- how incredible is that?! That’s what gives me the hope and optimism that technology will be the thing that helps real change happen.

Want to be part of the conversation or have a go using Flipgrid? Have a look through the articles by Bobbie Harro linked above and share your thoughts by scanning the QR code below or following this link.

Cycle of Socialization Flipgrid Code

Until next time, go out and change the world.

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