We are back in DC and reunited with our 3rd graders, a little wiped, but feeling very grateful. We just returned from the NWTSJ Conference (Northwest Teaching for Social Justice) in Seattle! We were graciously asked to return and do another presentation, and we couldn't pass it up. As we met participants along the way, we frequently got the question, "Wow, DC!? Why did you come all the way here?"
The answer is simple. We love this conference. The energy is infectious, and we love checking out the hard work of largely West Coast public school educators. The conversations are dynamic and the passion seems neverending.
A few highlights beyond the Seattle fresh air and rain were:
A workshop about how to teach about the not so distant, painful history of Japanese-American Incarceration. We have been looking for resources for how to make this history more visible and this definitely fueled our thinking.
A workshop on how to keep Teachers of Color in the profession. Gabby especially enjoyed this workshop and it truly felt like a space to be vulnerable and heal. Longoria (one of the leaders of this workshop) is both brilliant and hilarious. There was a thoughtful conversation about what 'teacher of color' even means and the problems the label perpetuates. There was also a conversation about what 'teacher' means, who we sees as people of knowledge or 'valid' to share and educate our children (many of us receive our first education in our homes/communities/ within our own cultures that are not the dominant one).
We ran into Bill Bigelow of Rethinking Schools. He was kind and personable and it was exciting to put a face to a name!
Lunch was also fantastic-- this is just a sidenote, but the two of us really do love food. We were so impressed with how the food line (and entire conference) was run!
As always, we are grateful to the wonderful humans who joined us for a session as well. Participants in our session had many thoughts on their personal reactions to being placed in different groups (representing different amounts of wealth) in our beloved pom pom simulation. After our drawing activity that highlights Participants also shared about internalized oppressions and where to take a conversation once we've made these stereotypes more tangible. We enjoyed all of the personalities in our group, and want to say another thank you to everyone for rallying with us at the end of a long, but productive day.
We left the conference feeling inspired. We are thinking about how to create this space and energy in DC as we know teachers doing great work here, but we don't have the organization quite yet. We are looking forward to pushing something like this forward with DC Area Educators for Social Justice with Teaching for Change, and potentially other avenues as well. Our brains are also rattling around with questions of what it looks like to organize private school teachers, and in what ways it would be most effective.
If we met you at some point on this quick trip to the West Coast -- thank you and keep on keeping on!