March 25, 2017, Diversity Talks piloted their first professional development to 35 educators from across Rhode Island at the Empowering Educators of Color Conference. The team submitted a one page proposal to conduct a Power & Privilege workshop, which focused on the many existing systems in our country and how power plays a huge role in dictating decisions.
In the education system, we found that the same principle holds true. The Power & Privilege workshop began by defining power and exploring how power exists within multiple identities. Educators were prompted to recall moments when they themselves or someone they've known had felt powerful and powerless. The conversation was intended to explore how power manifests in personal lives and the classroom, with intentions to create a space where all members of the school are equal.
The professional development was approximately 1.5 hours and received excellent survey responses from the participants. Pre-surveys and post-surveys were administered providing the following data from the post-survey:
35 out of 35 educators agreed that the topics addressed in the workshop helped them understand issues of diversity, are more willing to stand in a place of openness to understand people from diverse backgrounds, felt Diversity Talks was beneficial and would recommend the training to others.
Seeing that the professional development received 35 recommendations across 15 school districts in the state, there is a clear need for professional development grounded in the cultural competencies of diversity, equity and inclusion. In a response from the pre-survey, one educator felt that a previously attended diversity training “focused too much on white guilt.” Another educator responded that a previously attended diversity training “did not allow room for uncomfortable conversations and was formatted as a lecture as opposed to the interactive training given by Diversity Talks.”