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104. MINDSET: “DEI” and Curriculum Cannot Be Separate

by Lindsay Lyons
February 28th 2023
In today's solo episode, Lindsay is sharing a mindset shift involving DEI (Diversity Equity Inclusion) that's critical... More
Educational justice coach lindsey Lyons and here on the time for Teacher ship podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach. I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings. If you're a principal assistant superintendent, curriculum director instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nursing out about co creating curriculum students, I made this show for you. Here we go, welcome to episode 104 of the time for Teacher Ship podcast to D. We are talking about a mindset shift that is critical to doing this work and doing it well in a sustainable way. And that is that D. I or D. E. I. B or D. E. I. J. Whatever you're calling it diversity equity, inclusion, this kind of stuff and not be separate from your curriculum can be, we're going to dive into that right now.

Here we go, why can't this be separate D. I. And curriculum should not be separate. They should not be siloed, They are often siloed. They must be embedded together. Curriculum must be designed with justice at the core, with belonging at the core, with educational equity at the core. It cannot be separated if it wants to be sustainable and actually advance justice in a meaningful way. We have seen time and time again, initiative fatigue and this styling of D. E. I from the bread and butter of what we do, which is curriculum and instruction as educational institutions just not get anywhere not make actual changes. There is sometimes a fear in doing this. There is a hesitancy amongst well meaning teachers and leaders who are thinking, you know, we need to know more, We need to get this right, get this perfect before we roll out new curriculum. We don't want to further harm anyone.

Of course, of course, all of that is completely understandable. And at the same time, we are actively harming students who are not affirmed by the current curriculum, who do not see themselves, their experiences, their backgrounds, their multiple identities in the curriculum. They do not have compelling driving questions that frame units that invite them to grapple with with injustice and how to further justice in the world. They are detached, marginalized, de centered all sorts of things that make it so that educational inequity happens and is more likely to happen to groups who have been historically marginalized, so can't be separate, has to be connected. And why I say that it has to be at the core of all the curriculum we write is because my approach in my two cents here is that we can't just add diversity and stir right. We can't to to kind of go off of Sandra harding's from the nineties and saying add women and stir when she talked about this in the sense of bringing women into, you know, ceo positions and executives in boardrooms and companies, right?

We have to ultimately change the systems and processes with how companies are run if women are actually going to be successful in those places, right? That was her kind of thing. Same with D. I work, right? We can't just add diversity and we can't Sprinkle in a couple of texts from a few authors who are racialized as black and brown and call it a day, right? That doesn't advance justice. Sure. Maybe that's better than just a completely white male cis gendered, you know, authorship of all the texts were reading, but there is such a better way to do this and that is designing with justice at the core. So that requires us to think about what is at the core. What is the process of curriculum, writing and not having separate conversations about justice in one space and our D. I. Task force for example and curriculum in another. Right? These have to be co created and collaborative. So I'm going to share three ways on how to do this.

How do we actually bridge that gap that silo ng of D. I in curriculum first. I love the book street data. I feel like you've probably heard me talk about this a ton but dr jimmy Logan and dr Shane staff here are talking in the book street data about a ton of great stuff that they talk about, this idea of a pedagogy of student voice. This puts language to the stuff that I've been talking about for so long. And I love it. So this idea of a pedagogy of student voice is central to educational equity. And they say in the book on page four Equity work is first and foremost, pedagogical. Yes, we as educational institutions are all about pedagogy, right? Regular instruction. How we teach, what we teach. This idea of pedagogy, right? How we teach is central to equity. So if we Sprinkle in a few additional texts to a very whitewashed unit that is taught through a pedagogy that is very teacher centered and not student centered and doesn't invite students to talk and grapple with and lead inquiry around what we're doing.

It is not equitable, right? So this equity work, as they say, is first and foremost pedagogical. They talk a lot about student agency and feeling in control of their lives as being really critical to healing from and transforming oppression. So they actually cite research on this idea of student agency as being one of the most significant factors in restoring well being for marginalized groups. They talk about this idea of a pedagogy of student voice and they share six simple rules on how to do this well. So one is to talk less smile more. And so I love the quote from Hamilton and they talk about how and I love that they get really specific here, learners should be engaged in conversations with their peers, a minimum of 75% of the time as curricula. Leaders listening to this podcast right now? You can't go in and say this is our goal when I come in or when your coaches or your principles come in to your class, like our goal or you kind of just watching the video of your class as a teacher, right?

Our goal as a community Is a minimum of 75% of the time. The learners are engaged in conversations with their peers, they are talking and grappling not the teacher talking. Right? So that teacher talk time has to be less than 25%. That's the goal. The 2nd rule they give for pedagogy of student voices, questions over answers. So as much as possible we are posing questions to students. We are inviting students to pose their own questions, right? We're constantly enquiring and seeking more and more questions and following that trail, creating space for students to actually do the research and follow up on the their questions that they have to get more answers and address those big questions. So really we have this inquiry feel of our classroom and the learner questions are guiding it. We as teachers often I do this so often I want to answer their questions right? What we, as teachers can be thinking about and us as coaches and curriculum leaders can be thinking about coaching teachers to ask more questions.

Right, so a student comes to us with a question. Well what do you think? Where might you find the answer to that question? How could we tackle that problem that you're having right now? Right. Getting the learner to kind of take on that skill of finding an answer, finding a solution to a problem. They have the third rule for a pedagogy of student voice they share is ritualized reflection and revision. So often the big shift from how I used to teach to how I how I teach now. After the shift right would be that I build in more time for reflection in each lesson. And then also when I look at a whole unit, I want a weekly moment of reflection at a minimum. I want one whole lesson at the very end of the unit, for example is always a reflection on the unit. Before we go into the next unit. What worked. What didn't, what do you want to learn about next? What do you want to bring forward into this next unit center? The student voice in an opportunity for us as educators to learn. Right. And so as coaches, we want to help teachers to do this. # four make learning public. This is huge.

And this actually goes into the second way I'm going to share from my own lens about how we design assessments and what we do in our classes, but we want to make the learning public. We don't want to keep it within the four walls of the classroom. It has to have meaning Right circle up. So they specifically referenced circle which I love as a protocol and activity for a class to be able to share and talk as a community. I love the idea of protocols and so having a student centered unit arc where you have consistent protocols or ways of students grappling with the material. This is critical to being able to sustainably create and consistently create new units that are connected to an ever changing environment in ever changing student interests and aspirations and current events and all the things have student centered protocols. If we do nothing else, right. For a pedagogy of student voice, let's try to have that marker of 75% student talk time. How do we do that? Best. We really think about our protocols and ideally we share protocols as a department or a grade team so that students don't have to do the cognitive switching of holding all the different protocols in their brain.

If there's 50 across all of the subjects that they go to all the teachers, they go to making sure that we have students brains grapple more with the content and the big inquiry questions. Unless on the logistics of how they go about answering that question or discussing with appear via protocol. Lastly there. Six rule is feedback over grades, highly agree. Let's give more formative feedback. Let's focus less on the grades, but more on the learning. Okay, so pedagogy of student voice is idea number one. Let's focus on the pedagogy. Let's make sure that's equitable. There's a bunch of ways to do that also get the book street data because it is fantastic, highly recommend. Let's go on to number two. It's the next way that we really merge and center justice in our curriculum conversations. We want to design driving questions. So those are questions that frame the unit and projects, those summited assessments that end or or kind of really exist in an ongoing way throughout a unit. And then we have kind of a culminating presentation or share out of that project.

We want those driving questions and projects to be designed in a way that connects to students lives what is immediately relevant to them. What are the topics that are relevant and actively invite them to creatively advanced justice. We need creativity. We need new ideas. What we have been trying has not working has not been working right. This is a consistent, persistent problem, inequity, racial injustice, gender injustice, right? We have so many issues. They have continued to be issues. So let's get students brains going before all the creativity is taken from them by our rigid educational institutions, right? Let's invite students to actively make a difference in their communities for the purpose of advancing justice. Let's leverage that creative spirit and let's design projects and driving questions that pull that out related lee to that point from fear. And dugan is to ensure that projects have a purpose beyond the grade, make learning public in that they should also have an audience beyond the teacher, not just the teacher and even not just the class itself sees the project, but other folks from our school community, other classes, other teachers, administrators, community folks, family members, business owners, local, local people in the community, Right?

Invite folks in published this work, in a sense, whatever that looks like. If it's actual writing, you can literally publish it. If it is a presentation to a school board, make that public, right? That's a public opportunity. If it's a product that students have designed, that's going to address an injustice, have that be available for people to purchase right? Or people to get their hands on. So so far, we've talked about the pedagogy, the pedagogy of student voice. We have talked about the curriculum design from the standpoint of driving questions and projects that invite students to advance justice, great things that are relevant to them. Let's pursue justice. Let's leverage that creative spirit and let's make that learning extend beyond the classroom. Finally tip three or idea three for centering justice and curriculum is that we want all of our resources and the contents that we frame our curriculum in what our students learning right? What are they engaging with? That affirms all 100% of students multiple intersecting identities experiences, aspirations, histories, Stories, all of that is affirmed.

So, we want to be really intentional in our choice of resources. We want to be thinking about the lens of intersectionality and how students identities are not monolithic, right? Not every single person in this gender category have the same story. Not every person in this racial category have the same story. Not every person who has this immigration status has the same story, right? There are intersecting identities that we hold. We want to make sure that when we are representative and trying to be affirming of these different identities that we don't treat them as monolithic uh, jimmy Amanda negotiate talks about how, you know, we have a danger of a single story. You may have seen that ted talk that is exactly it. Right. We don't want to treat stories or identity groups as having one story. We want to make sure that they are varied. So one kind of check the box. We have this identity within this unit is not ideal, right? We want a varied sense of depth and multitude of experiences.

We can also invite. Very important that the invite word is used here. So, we're not putting this on students or families, but we can invite students and families who have particular experiences or expertise to be able to co create the curriculum with us to identify different resources that may center experiences or identities or backgrounds that we may not be familiar with, but our students are totally experts in or our students family members are experts in. They may themselves be wanting to do a presentation again. That invitation not expectation to put our work on students. Right? But we want that invitation to consistently be extended. Some last tips to just consider curriculum directors, Assistant Superintendent of curriculum. You can partner with the Superintendent of D. E. I. If you have one or your D. I. Team or task force in terms of creating professional development, in terms of sharing funding and budget lines to pay for or support this idea of designing curriculum for justice, ideally, you don't even want to separate your D.

I. Work and the meeting structure or the committee where the D. E. I task force should not be a separate committee, in my opinion from the curriculum committee. Right. Every committee we have should be infused and designed from the core of the Ei. Right? And so if that means that we have uh kind of D. E I task force in existence. Okay, well, let's make sure that we have someone from that task force on every single other committee and this is just kind of a clearinghouse to kind of come back together and be like, okay, let's continue this work, in a sense that we are truly embedded and infused into everything else that we're doing again, sustainable, embedded approaches to what we do, which is what we do as education institutions, our curriculum and instruction. That's why students come to us right, they will go so much further in advancing educational equity than one off initiatives. I think educators, as well as leaders are really overwhelmed and frustrated by the lack of success of one off initiatives.

We don't want to keep piling things on our plate, especially when they're not moving the needle forward in terms of equity and justice. We want a deep embedded sense of how to do this work. And so even more than designing the curriculum and leaving it, because I see a lot of really great work being done in terms of curriculum redesign and then it's like, oh, it's done, we're good, there's great work being done. So we wanna acknowledge that and at the same time, recognize that if we don't internalize the process of how, if we don't make that process easily repeatable and sustainable and not a massive lift every time we do it, then we're just going to leave that curriculum and call it a day and 10 years from now, we're gonna look back and say, wow, we are totally disconnected. That was maybe at one time a great curriculum, but we're totally disconnected to our current students and what's interesting to them and the current events that are happening today. So we want to design really flexibly and we want to internalize that justice centered curriculum design process. So the teachers can and departments collaboratively ideally can do this work on a consistent basis.

So we're consistently talking to the students we have in front of us in that semester in that year and the current events that are happening that are ever changing day to day, week to week, year to year. If you are interested in a free resource related to this episode, you can go to my website www dot lindsey beth Lyons dot com on the main page. We have redone it recently. So you will find an option to sign up with me for a free curriculum audit. You can pick a time on my calendar right there on the home page. If you scroll down a little further, you will also find an invitation to do this a synchronously. If you do not have 20 minutes to find on my calendar. Absolutely no worries. I got you. I will send you a series of four videos, one per day for the next few days where you can do in 20 minutes on your own, your own curriculum audit. I hope that helps you. I'm so excited to hear how it goes. Please let me know and I'll catch you next week if you're leaving this episode wanting more, you're going to love my live coaching intensive curriculum bootcamp.

I help one department or grade team create feminist anti racist curricula that challenges affirms and inspires all students. We leave current events into course content and amplify student voices, which skyrockets engagement and academic achievement. It energizes educators feeling burns out and it's just two days plus you can reuse the same process any time you create a new unit, which saves time and money. If you can't wait to bring this to your staff, I'm inviting you to sign up for a 20 minute call with me, grab a spot on my calendar at www dot lindsey beth Lyons dot com slash contact. Until next time leaders continue to think big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the Teach, Better podcast network, Better today, Better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better dot com slash podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode.

104. MINDSET: “DEI” and Curriculum Cannot Be Separate
104. MINDSET: “DEI” and Curriculum Cannot Be Separate
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