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SLowDrip Professional Development For Educators

Special Introductory Edition,  2021

 Come To The Table

Discussions on Diversity, Civility & Dignity  

 

History has shown that social issues have profoundly impacted our capabilities to prepare students for success.  The coronavirus has become symbolic of more than a pandemic of disease as it has run parallel to the viral spread of social unrest & discord.

 

Our nation's current climate calls us to examine how we can best guide and support our students.  We must meet our students where they are in order to help them process, learn, and persevere towards a future of hope and possibility. 

 

We can no longer assume that our students will develop the necessary tools to navigate the complexities of our world. In fact, it is most likely true that even ourselves as educational leaders & instructors need to update and fortify our resilience and perception GPS. 

 Our Free Gift To You

Acknowledgment and celebration of diversity matter. It is necessary to examine and address the root issues of inequities that inhibit goals to empower & support every student towards self-realization, success and happiness in life. 

 

Therefore, we offer you this professional development module Come To The Table: Discussions on Diversity, Civility & Dignity as our complimentary gift to help you set a positive tone in which to explore matters of essential awareness.

 

Individually and collectively, we can increase awareness as we facilitate respectful conversations to build a culture of civility, safety & kindness for all. As veteran classroom educators, we empathize with you and commend you for your dedication to this important and honorable profession.  It is  our hope that these discussions will uniquely resonate in each of you. You're invited to utilize them as you teach... whether in your intentions, words, expectations, or actions.  

 

With Best Wishes, 

 

Lynn Kellogg & Mary Ellen Shevalier

SLowDrip, LLC   

SLowDrip Professional Development For Educators

Special Introductory Edition,  2021

 

Come To The Table

Discussions on Diversity, Civility & Dignity
 

Preface:

  • A Note From The Authors

  • This Will Be An imperfect Invitation...

 

Five Discussions on Diversity, Civility & Dignity:

  1. Come To The Table

  2. Set The Table 

  3. Lenses Of Perception

  4. Humanize Or Otherize

  5. Above All Else: Dignity 

 

Appendix:

  • RUBRIC

  • GLOSSARY           

  • CITATIONS & RESOURCES       

  • IDEAS & APPROACHES   

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Dear Reader, 

 

This will be an imperfect invitation…

                                                                                    ...since meaningful conversation is imperfect.

Frankly, the beauty of human diversity is in the fact that we are unique and "imperfect".  It stands to reason that conversations about diversity will understandably be as imperfect as each one of us. Honoring all forms of diversity is the celebration of difference and encourages us to embrace imperfection.

 

There's great value to be discovered and healing to take place through expanding our views about diversity. Through the practice of civility, we can participate in reasonable, meaningful conversations to learn, share, and embrace 

                                         diversity, civility & dignity.

 

You're invited to contribute to this imperfect conversation.

 

In this world that has experienced far too much division, intolerance, and civil discourse, we invite you to come to the table to talk.

 

Let's simply try to share our thoughts.

 

Let's listen and talk.

Listen and talk.

Listen and talk, some more. 

 

We may not have the words.

But we can try - and hope others try.

We may err and speak awkwardly; unintentionally offending without malice.

But we can offer our best and hope others offer their best.

We may tremble with fear in anticipation of making things worse.

But we can trust - and hope that others trust.

We can forgive - and hope others forgive.

 

Let's come to the table to listen.

Let's come to the table to talk.

And after we get there, let's stay at the table.

Stay at the table to talk.

 

It is through transparency, gentle honesty, and patient intention that we raise awareness, break through walls, and learn ways to see and talk about our differences as building blocks to achieve a better future for all.

 

Discussion 1

Come To The Table

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Ponder This:Give yourself permission to start where you are. Keep evolving!

Simmering Thoughts: When you know better, do better.

Discussion 1 Audio

Welcome!

Come to the table.

There's much to discuss; we hope you'll join in the conversation!

 

All around us, humanity is in a state of flux. New ideas challenging old norms. Fresh insights. Trust and distrust abound. Individuals and groups everywhere are challenging commonly-accepted ways of doing things, talking about them, and living. In this evolving world, folks are raising their personal awareness of how their experiences surrounding diversity - the differences that exist between humans and make each of us unique - shape our thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions. Change is taking root. 

 

How do you feel about the current atmosphere of change as it relates to diversity, civility, & dignity? Are the recent shifts in history relevant and necessary, or much-ado about nothing? Is there great need for change in some areas of the world or is everything fine by you? Does change, as it relates to diversity and civility, seem overdue or feel like unnecessary noise? 

 

How have your personal experiences shaped your points of view? Since even our experiences are as diverse as we all are, it'll be helpful to keep in mind that we will all be starting from a different point. That's ok! Start from where you are. Awareness is the goal!

 

Humans share countless similarities and differences - too many to name or list.  And yet, throughout history, any single aspect of one's individuality has been used as justification to criticize, isolate and ostracize.  Our feelings about uniqueness influence our thoughts, words, and behavior. 

 

Our perceptions - what we observe in the world and take in through our senses and experiences - impact our perspectives - our points of view. We draw conclusions from our perceptions, whether they're informed, relevant, and accurate or not. And what if we're blind to the perceptions that are shaping our ideals, beliefs, and actions? Could it be helpful to raise our personal awareness so that we might mindfully decide what influences our actions? Do we really have a choice in the matter?

 

As we've developed SLowDrip, we've both evolved. And still, we have blindspots.  Learning is an ongoing process. Understanding is fluid and ever-changing. Our views have expanded and we've had to come to grips with our own ignorance surrounding diversity, civility & dignity. It's a hard pill to swallow, and yet, we're still at the table. There's always more to learn. Through personal reflection, introspection, and frank, honest dialogue, we've recognized issues that inadvertently and unknowingly escaped our own awareness for years. We've lived highly-empathetic, compassionate, personal and professional lives. But still, without malice or intent, we may have also missed the mark to fully support diversity. Thankfully, Maya Angelou reminds us that it's recoverable:

"Do the best you can until you know better. 

Then when you know better, do better."

These discussions on diversity, civility & dignity offer a chance to do better now that we know better. We're all learning.* The challenge is simple: Keep evolving. 

 

We're happy you're here!

 

Are there ways you can know better, so you can do better?

*For You ~ Try some of these simple suggestions as you open a discussion or two with colleagues on the broad topics of diversity and civility ~  Go to appendix: "IDEAS & APPROACHES",  Discussion 1

Discussion 2

 

 Set The Table 

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Ponder This: Engaging in difficult conversation requires trust.

Simmering Thoughts:Talking about how to engage in hard conversations makes them easier.

Discussion 2 Audio

There should be no surprise that when the topic of conversation surrounds diversity issues, people often feel awkward, defensive, or tense. Our uniquenesses are at the core of our personal identity, so the possibility for offending, miscommunicating, or creating division is high. If we choose simply to avoid dialogue due to the possibility of discomfort, then misunderstanding increases and the distance between each of us widens - not a suitable option for responsible, conscientious educators. 

 

We strive to open up communication, encourage the evolution of ideas, and shed light on old misconceptions. So how can we effectively talk about things that are hard to talk about?

 

How can educators set the table for successful dialogue?

 

Setting the table means that we intentionally create a safe space in which we participate in vulnerable conversations about inherently difficult discussions. Setting the table means we’re brave and bold enough to share our awkwardness, lack of understanding or experience, pain, and fears in order to actually talk about potentially divisive issues and topics. It also intentionally assumes that we're willing to trust the process: that we are each coming to the table to contribute our best intentions, ideas, questions, and abilities in order to listen to and, in turn, be heard by one another. Approaching through vulnerability can set the table  for better conversation. Honesty, frankness, and the simple, straightforward acknowledgement that it's uncomfortable to talk about diversity, civility & dignity might be our ticket into the conversation.*  (See conversation starters in the "For You" appendix.)

 

By acknowledging the elephant in the room, we can shed light upon the unspoken and, thus, shrink its power to sabotage our genuine efforts. Acknowledging the inherent limitations placed by only having our own experiences to draw from to help us, we can dismiss the assumption that somebody has all the answers, when, in fact, nobody does. Maybe, through respectful conversation, we can seek some answers together.

 

We each have the power to chip away at our individual and collective misunderstandings and biases that hold us hostage from fully understanding, embracing, and celebrating diversity.

 

Let's set the table through small, yet powerful shifts. 

  • Above all else, ALWAYS honor dignity for all. 

  • Start wherever you are; grow from there. 

  • Rather than thinking we know (or should know), lead with "I don't know." 

  • Talk less, listen more. 

  • Start inquiring, stop answering. 

  • Assume rarely, wonder often. 

  • Avoid judgement.

  • Take the topic seriously, but don't get stuck in heavy seriousness (Humor goes a long way if it's gentle and appropriate).

  • Practice humility, civility, and maturity.

These shifts enhance our chances of having fruitful conversations.

 

Maybe this notion of 'talking about how to talk' sounds ridiculous or hokey to you; even a waste of time, perhaps. If so, I'd encourage you to look back on any conversation you've had that went poorly. Was there crying, yelling, screaming, insults, or slamming doors? Did somebody end up feeling unheard, misunderstood, betrayed, or hurt in some way? Is there any possibility that setting the table might have changed those results for the better? Probably. 

 

Maybe you doubt the power of starting such conversations with an assumption of mutual respect and good intentions towards one another. Let's face it, we've all been burned before, so starting with such a premise is unrealistic or foolish. To this, we respond: Yes, we've all crossed paths with people who aren't trustworthy or don't bring their best intentions to the table. That's true. Frankly, our country is even experiencing a high degree of division and mistrust, so it's a big stretch for some people to trust anyone right now. While we acknowledge this reality, assuming the worst of someone can have long lasting effects on progress. If someone doesn't start somewhere fresh - simply try - we'll remain stuck in misunderstanding, divisiveness, pain, disrespect, and distrust. That's unacceptable to us. Instead, we're boldly suggesting we all give trust a new try. If we're wrong, we won't be any worse off than we are already. If we're right, we all stand the chance for better days ahead! In setting the table, we trust that participants are bringing their best intentions, are honestly trying to better understand the issues, are open minded, and want to listen, contribute, and ultimately learn. It’s a tall order, and some could argue it’s a bit naive. Frankly, we think it's just an expectation for maturity and civility to rise to the top - something we believe all people are capable of practicing.

 

Setting the table encourages everyone who's already there to stay.

How might you set the table in personal and professional situations as a means to encourage mature discussions about diversity, civility and dignity? 

* For You -See our list of conversation starters to get started on practicing how to talk about talking."        Go to appendix: "IDEAS & APPROACHES", Discussion 2

 

Discussion 3

Lenses Of Perception

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Ponder This: Without clear lenses, our perceptions can deceive us.

Simmering Thoughts: Choose your lenses mindfully. 

Discussion 3 Audio

Imagine you're at a sandy beach. It's sunny, so you reach for your polarizing sunglasses. Suddenly, the water is a darker blue. You can even see through the water's surface, spotting fish and seaweed that were already there, but invisible to you before. Clouds drift in as the day progresses. As you head home, you switch your sunglasses to a pair with yellow lenses; a great aid in cutting through the late day haze. Later that evening, you relax with a good book before bed. Bifocals allow you to see up-close words and distant spaces around the room. In each of these examples, you saw the world through a different lens - literally. In each case, the different lens didn't change what was actually there, it only affected the way you perceived it.

 

Now consider this literal example of life's lenses as an analogy of the lenses that influence your opinions & understandings - specifically with regard to diversity. Consider the many factors that have contributed to your views of the world and how they - like these different types of eyeglass lenses- are ever present in everything you do. You're aware of some. But there are probably many hidden lenses that influence how you draw conclusions, make decisions, and choose your words and actions, too. It's likely that you're at least partially - and possibly completely - unaware of them, where they originated, and whether or not you actually believe them to be accurate or not. 

Does it make sense to give this some thought?

 

Case in point:

This happened to my friend. Whenever she got ready to bake a ham roast, she cut off the tip of it before placing it in the pan, because, she said, "Mom always did it that way". At 50+ years old, her elderly mother came over to enjoy a ham dinner one Sunday afternoon. As my friend chopped the end of the ham off,  placed it in the pan, and slid it into the oven, her mother asked, "Why'd you cut off the end of that ham roast?" My friend replied, "Because that's how you always did it. I learned it from you." Her mother laughed… "I only did that because at the time, I didn't have a pan big enough to cook the whole thing!" 

 

Let that sink in.

 

While it's just a silly ham story, it perfectly illustrates the importance of awareness. Experiences, words, and actions hold great power to shape our lifelong beliefs and actions;  often without merit, intention, or purpose. 

Raise your awareness!  What lenses are you wearing?

 

Instead of mindlessly letting ourselves act (like my friend in the ham story), what if we decided to raise our personal awareness of how these hidden forces have shaped our views on topics that truly matter? It's time to start intentionally thinking about these things. Like how we value and relate to issues around race, sexual orientation, or other relevant ways by which humans are diverse and unique. 

Consider the impact of bias and stereotyping.

 

  • Awareness can lead us to mindful thought and consideration. 

  • Awareness can lead us to empathy, understanding, and clarity.

  • Awareness can lead us to civility and dignity.

 

We invite you to try it out. Ask yourself which lenses you're wearing. Consider how they shape your perspective of our diverse world. Can you connect the dots between your background and current views? How does this affect communication?

* For You ~ As we engage in challenging conversations, our adherence to a few debate basics might offer a simple framework for success.  To check out our list of suggestions, go to:  Go to appendix: "IDEAS & APPROACHES", Discussion 3

Discussion 4 

Humanize

Or

Otherize?

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Ponder This:   It's all about relationships!  If you see me, we can build rapport. (4)

Simmering Thoughts: If we are not being intentional, then we unintentionally subverting progress. (5)

Discussion 4 Audio

" I always try to relate to the person on the basic human level.  On that level, I know that, just like me, he or she wishes to find happiness, have fewer problems and less difficulties in life."                                                           Dalai Lama, (6)

I was in my 40's, sitting in an administrative prep class on a hot summer day.  I don't remember the topic of discussion, but I can conjure up the visual memory of sitting in our "U" shaped arrangement of desks with our professor pacing back and forth between lecture and questions.  As a people pleaser, I'm always attentive and engaged. As an empath,  I was feeling awkward for the prof. because there was very little participation when she posed a question to us.  Postured to please, I shot my arm up to contribute.  I remember being confident and enthusiastic, that is, until Mrs. S. retorted; "Thank you for your opinion, but I don't know who would even be able to listen to what you have to say with your hair styled like that all over the top of your head."  I blurted loudly, "HAAAAAA!" I laugh when I'm nervous.  I don't remember the rest of the class  or the rest of the course, for that matter. I'll never forget how demeaned, disrespected, judged and sized-up I felt. 

She took my dignity.  

 

It takes  a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger. We automatically gather - store - decide. Just like that!

 

The part of our brain called the amygdala gathers information through the senses. (7)  Another part stores the knowledge (based on your experience) and then the prefrontal cortex anticipates outcomes and becomes the decision maker. (8)  

 

So how can we train our brains to challenge the outcome of our first impressions? (Or at least pause for a second before we recklessly blurt out a hurtful comment or decision?) How? By intentionally choosing to focus on one another's common human qualities.*   If we do not intentionally choose to humanize one another, we often unintentionally offend others - or even worse- we fall into the practice of otherizing.  

 

Otherized(8) perceptions, whether subconscious or not, focus on the differences between us.  If you recall from our earlier discussions, differences usually cause first impression feelings of fear, discomfort, insecurities and the like.  When we lack intentionality to humanize might be inclined to make generalizations to label and group, stripping individuals of the dignity of personal identity while mentally dehumanized. This can lead to creating an "US vs. THEM" mentality. *  Perhaps the worst part of Othering is its impetus to psychologically excuse disrespectful, unjust or inhumane treatment of those who are deemed to be "others". (9)

 

In schools, stereotyping would be the term most commonly used that is akin to otherizing. Stereotyping and the use of labels are never complementary, but rather used to demean and criticize.  Think about the damage it does to one's self-esteem. Oppression of confidence impedes a person's ability to  freely and safely practice individual forms of expression and communication.  

 

There can be quite a gap in how we treat others based on that tenth of a second first impression.  If left unchallenged, that first impression grows and morphs over time.  Anyone of us can eb & flow along the continuum: from persecuting to  oppression to disavowing to tolerance to acceptance to embracing to celebrating. The goal is to evolve towards the latter.

 

In the SLowDrip way, take a moment to examine any generalizations you may hold that inadvertently result in otherizing* for the purpose of separating and judging.

At the same time appraise positive human commonalities that help us build bonds.  It is then that we stand the chance to become more open to listening and learning, sharing and building rapport.  


 

* For You ~See our easy to modify chart that compares & contrasts " humanized & otherized".   Go to appendix: " IDEAS & APPROACHES", Discussion 4 . It's a great way to initiate and engage in discussions on Humanize & Otherize.

Discussion 5

 Above All Else... Dignity 

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Ponder This: Stealing dignity stifles security and potential.

Simmering Thoughts: Honor dignity and it will provide room to evolve and achieve. 

Discussion 5 Audio

The first four Discussions in Diversity, Civility & Dignity invited you to contemplate in the SLowDrip way; providing one sip of information at a time.  We hope they gradually satisfied your taste to explore these discussions comfortably and safely for yourself and with others.  

 

Our theme, Come To The Table was intended to set a comfortable tone. The centerpiece is always dignity!  We acknowledge the fragility and intensity that accompanies discussing diversity; with civility.  Setting the table that created an atmosphere to provide the security of familiarity and acceptance was important. Actually, every decision was deliberate, modeling ideas to help you move forward. To promote engagement, we employed flexible options within the conversations, implying the power of giving voice and choice to encourage participation. Presenting each conversation in a particular order guided sequential building of knowledge and concept consideration at a personalized pace.  Variable  subtopics opened the doors of communication and possibility.  

 

To tolerate diversity implies hierarchal judgement and results in division.  Embracing diversity is our true goal, since it embodies the value that every uniqueness contributes to enrich all people. (10)  Here is our transparent list of goals to offer you as you continue your discussions with one another and among your students and communities.*

  • To introduce ideas that encourage people to approach the topics of diversity and civility with an open mind of possibility.

  • To provide a safe mindset and place to start processing and engaging in difficult conversations.

  • To practice building a common and respectful language that encourages sensitivity towards equality and dignity for all.

  • To explore one's views and attitudes sanctioning empathy and compassion for others and self.

  • To promote personal mental and physical health. To encourage non-judgement as the beginning point of all civil communication. 

  • To ensure that dignity is at the core of all interactions.

  • To encourage civility through mindful intentions, words, and actions.

  • To share positive contributions toward building and fortifying equity in opportunity for student success. 

 

In your own way, please continue small, daily conversations to build your culture of civility that embraces diversity for a safe & kind learning climate. 

 

It has been our privilege to contribute to your educational efforts during this pivotal time in history. It has been our experience that when learning is life  embedded, it becomes so relevant and meaningful that a new energy of engagement, connection and pride is created. We know that what you invest is priceless, because with each student's success we heal our society and world. 


 

*For You ~  Considerations to remember and strategies to assist in moving forward.  Go to appendix: " IDEAS & APPROACHES"., Discussion 5.

Rubric ~ Earning PD credits? Help yourself.  Use our rubric design, modify it or create your own.

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Clarifications and Examples:​ (Remember to ask yourself what will best meet your needs while comfortably matching your learning style and professional interests.)

There are five "Discussions" (five lessons) in this module.  You may ​choose​ to journal, take notes or jot down reflections, observations and actions daily. To receive PD credit hours, upload your observations, reflections and/or actions taken in response to the five lessons. The format you choose (whether paragraph form, letter format, bulleted lists, audio, video or a combination) are up to you and what best meets the needs of your learning style.

**Indicate your level of achievement and where to find your documentation. Whatever platform has been agreed upon by your district is where you can upload your documentations. Some districts may choose Google classroom, a blog or have flexible options that may include hard copy journaling. Simply indicate a ​link​,​ email​ o​ r ​hardcopy workbook,​ document, journal etc.” in the middle row of the rubric.

***Signatures: The goal of acquiring signatures is to encourage professional collegiality practices and reward participation. Therefore, by acquiring the signature of a colleague or administrator, it indicates an acknowledgement of an additional level of professional engagement. ( a score of 4) By seeking further professional engagement ; more signatures and a critique, you can earn 5 hours of PD credit.

Think creatively to meet the needs most relevant to your schedule, learning style and professional relevance. Perhaps an online exchange that enables leaving comments such as a group email, blog or Google docs will work best for some, while others may best benefit by sharing their documentations as an ice-breaker to team meetings where critiques and signatures are recorded at that time.

Glossary ~ words in this document that are annotated with *

Civility:  Courtesy in behavior or speech. Whether in interaction, conversation, or as an audience or passerby using actions and speech with consideration of others.

Compassion (SLowDrip PD For Educators , Course 1, lesson 21) - Not to be confused with sappy emotionalism, the SLow Drip use of compassion refers to being aware of one’s needs and personal situations in order to meet their personal, academic, social and mental needs. 

 

Culture and Climate (SLowDrip PD For Educators, Course 2, lesson 70) - Each of us is a co-owner of school culture and climate. Each day, through our words, actions, attitudes, and practices we have the opportunity to support - with every person we encounter in our physical and mental spaces - the atmosphere we want to create. The SLowDrip philosophy encourages the gradual nurturing of a positive culture and climate where all can thrive.

The Difference between Culture & Climate: “a pattern of shared basic assumption that have been invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration.."Edgar Schein, https://www.oxford-review.com/blog-research-difference-culture-climate/

 

Dignity:  Being worthy of honor or respect.  

Diversity: Our working definition: Diversity is more than a single word or idea; it's an expansive concept that embraces acceptance and respect. The concept centers around the understanding that individuals are unique and that by recognizing our human differences we can move beyond tolerance to embrace and celebrate the richness offered by such individual differences. These differences can be along the dimensions of socio-economic status, ideologies, race, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity,  gender, physical or mental abilities, or beliefs related to religion or politics.   

“diversity” refers to both an obvious fact of human life—namely, that there are many different kinds of people—and the idea that this diversity drives cultural, economic, and social vitality and innovation. Indeed, decades of research suggest that intolerance hurts our well-being—and that individuals thrive when they are able to tolerate and embrace the diversity of the world.   For the Greater Good Science Center, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/diversity/definition#what-is-diversity      " Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, diligent, and hard-working." BY KATHERINE W. PHILLIPS | SEPTEMBER 18, 2017, https://www.oxford-review.com/blog-research-difference-culture-climate/

Diversity categories:       (Source: American Psychological Association,  apa.org)

  • Gender

  • Sexual orientation

  • Ethnic

  • Race

  • Culture

  • National origin

  • Religion

  • Physical abilities

  • Mental abilities 

  • Age

  • Economic status/demographics

  • ideologies


 

Discriminate (behavior) /Discrimination is the behavior or actions, usually negative, towards an individual or group of people, especially on the basis of sex/race/social class, etc. https://www.simplypsychology.org/prejudice.html

Disrespect: Rude and discourteous

Ground Rules:  A set of behaviors that are acknowledged to establish civil and fair treatment.  Usually for the purposes of promoting orderly, respectful and productive teamwork.  Achieving desired atmospheres, and increased productivity.

Humanize :  The process of showing that someone has the qualities, weaknesses, etc. that are typical of a human, in a way that makes you more likely to understand, sympathize, empathize, or feel compassion for them.

Ostracize: Exclude (someone) from a society or group.A group of people who have been ridiculed, and persecuted

 

Othering: Othering is a phenomenon in which some individuals or groups are defined and labeled as not fitting in within the norms of a social group. 

Othering also involves attributing negative characteristics to people or groups that differentiate them from the perceived normative social group.  It is an “us vs. them” way of thinking about human connections and relationships.  https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-othering-5084425 , By Kendra Cherry ,  Medically reviewed by Akeem Marsh, MD on December 13, 2020

Otherize: To make or regard (a person, social group, etc.) as alien or different. https://www.yourdictionary.com/otherize 

 

Prejudice:  (attitude) Prejudice is an unjustified or incorrect attitude (usually negative) towards an individual based solely on the individual’s membership of a social group.

https://www.simplypsychology.org/prejudice.html 

 

Privilege: Privilege operates on personal. interpersonal, cultural, and institutional levels and gives advantages, favors, and benefits to members of dominant groups at the expense of members of target groups. Privilege is characteristically invisible to people who have it. People in dominant groups often believe that they have earned the privileges that they enjoy or that everyone could have access to these privileges if only they worked to earn them. In fact, privileges are unearned and they are granted to people in the dominant groups whether they want those privileges or not, and regardless of their stated intent. (Definition abridged from Visions, Inc. & the MSU Extension Multicultural Awareness Workshop.)

Self-Realization (SLowDrip PD For Educators , Course 3, lesson 101) - an awareness, acceptance, and empowerment to be who one is born to be; discovering one’s best version of themself.

 

Transparency (SLowDrip PD For Educators , Course 1, lesson 19) - Related to accountability, transparency invites trust, since it reveals one has nothing to hide. Transparency involves a certain level of openness and vulnerability to others since it allows others to “see” the relevant ideas and information behind-the-scenes that are relevant to action or inaction. “Showing your cards”

 

Voice & Choice (SLowDrip PD For Educators , Course 3, lesson 102) - A strategy that encourages students to speak their thoughts and ideas (voice) and then make decisions about them (choice).

CITATIONS & RESOURCES  

 

Discussion 1 

  1.  American Psychological Association, diversity.  “Diversity education is not simply about infusing relevant topics across the curriculum but also requires teachers to examine themselves, their classrooms, and their school communities.”...defines diversity broadly to include differences along racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, ability, socioeconomic, language, and gender lines.” 


 

Discussion 2

  2.  Conflict resolution strategy #1: Recognize that all of us have biased fairness perceptions.

Both parties to a conflict typically think they’re right (and the other side is wrong) because they quite literally can’t get out of our own heads. Our sense of what would constitute a fair conflict resolution is biased by egocentrism, or the tendency to have difficulty seeing a situation from another person’s perspective, research by Carnegie Mellon University professors Linda Babcock and George Loewenstein and their colleagues’ shows. 

and  Conflict resolution strategy #3: Overcome an “us versus them” mentality. 

https://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/conflict-resolution/conflict-resolution-strategies/

 

Discussion 3

  3.  Definitions of the difference between prejudice & discrimination from Psychology perspective https://www.simplypsychology.org/prejudice.html

 

Discussion 4

  4.Seven Tips For Building Rapport, Palena Neale, Ph.D, Forbes Councils Member, Forbes Coaches Council, COUNCIL POST, Aug 24, 2020,

1. Check Your Mindset, 2. Value The Person, 3. Research The Person, 4. Be Curious And Ask Questions, 5. Listen,  6. Dive In,  7. Remember That We Are All Humans

  5.  ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE, Front. Psychol., 05 November 2015, Investigating conceptions of intentional action by analyzing participant generated scenarios, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01630/full

Conclusion: " People associate unintentional actions predominantly with bad outcomes for all persons involved and link intentional actions more strongly to positive outcomes, especially concerning the agent." and "Lastly, we showed that people’s conception of unintentional action is not just an inversion of their conception of intentional action. In addition to lack of intention and lack of desire, unintentional behavior is strongly linked to inattention, lack of control, and accidents."

Alexander Skulmowski E-Learning and New Media, Institute for Media Research, Technische Universität Chemnitz, Chemnitz, Germany

Andreas Bunge Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Bret R. Cohen Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany

Barbara A. K. Kreilkamp Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology, Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

Nicole Troxler Institute of Psychology, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany

  6.  The Book of Joy , Dalai lama Trust, Desmond TUtu, & Douglas Abrams © 2016 Penguin Random House LLC, 375 Hudson St. NY,NY, 10014  

*note: Dalai Lama's use of (he or she) is respectfully left intact as is proper for a direct quote. For the purpose of using inclusive language we expand  (he or she) to include gender identity and pronoun use of (they).

Boston Children's Hospital, "Gender identity and pronoun use" https://notes.childrenshospital.org/clinicians-guide-gender-identity-pronoun-use/#Pronoun “Using a person’s correct pronouns is an important sign of respect,” says Sabra L. Katz-Wise, PhD, a Boston Children’s Hospital faculty researcher with pediatric expertise in sexual orientation and gender diversity.

  7.  How Many Seconds to a First Impression? by Eric Wargo, 2006: "A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger. .." “First Impressions,” in the July issue of Psychological Science. 2006

https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/how-many-seconds-to-a-first-impression

  8.  An Algorithmic Model of Decision Making in the Human Brain    Sohrab Saberi Moghadam,1,2,* Farid Samsami Khodadad,1 and  Vahid Khazaeinezhad.  Science Direct, S1053811910009584 Face value: Amygdala response reflects the validity of first impressions. research by Nicholas O.RuleaJoseph M.MoranbJonathan B.FreemancSusanWhitfield-GabrielibJohn D.E.GabrielibNaliniAmbadyc

  1. A neural mechanism of first impressions    Daniela Schiller 1, Jonathan B Freeman, Jason P Mitchell, James S Uleman, Elizabeth A Phelps
  2. "While the amygdala processes the data from your senses to respond to social signals, the PCC works with emotion and memory, linking your life experiences to emotions – basically, it’s the decision maker."

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/heres-what-your-brain-is-doing-to-make-a-first-impression-2015-5 

  9.  What Is Othering?what-is-othering-5084425 , By Kendra Cherry  Medically reviewed by Akeem Marsh, MD on December 13, 2020

 

Discussion #5

  10.  Defining Diversity and distinguishing the difference between tolerance and embracing it:  " It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual."  Diversity is a reality created by individuals and groups from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences. It is extremely important to support and protect diversity because by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice and by fostering a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic, we will create a success-oriented, cooperative, and caring community that draws intellectual strength and produces innovative solutions from the synergy of its people.    https://www.qcc.cuny.edu/diversity/definition.html

 
 

For You ~ IDEAS & APPROACHES  

For You ~ IDEAS & APPROACHES 

 

Discussion 1 Come To the Table

Try some of these simple suggestions as you open a discussion or two with colleagues on the broad topics of diversity and civility:

1- Show up. Get to the table. Be present & engaged. Participate!

Show your vulnerability and willingness to be present and eager to learn what's escaped you in the past. Share what you understand with others to help them learn, too.

2- Look inward. Commit to raising your awareness of your personal biases, prejudices, stereotypes, and generalizations about diversity and how these influence your beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions.

3- Evolve without judgement. Don't guilt or punish yourself or others for misjudgements you've made in the past. Evolve  & learn from errors.

4- Connect the dots. Observe how your own and others' physical location, education, opportunities, and exposure to diverse experiences mutually shapes comfort or discomfort.

5- Seek authentic information. Learn from valid, reliable, trustworthy sources related to the issue or topic. Consider reading, discussion, contemplation, non-fiction first-person accounts, and exposing yourself to related information.

6- Pay attention. Be aware that it's often easier (for yourself and others) to relate to people with whom we identify. Bring to a conscious level why it may feel less comfortable to identify with those who are only seen as "different" from yourself. In other words, identify ways in which people are people; with commonalities. It's a great starting point. 

7- Remove barriers & expand your horizons. Challenge yourself to acknowledge and then lean into the reality of number 6 as a way to push across those comfort lines and expand your ability to identify with more-diverse people.

8- Appeal to your truth. Question your motives. We don't know what we don't know; seek the truth within that you may have never realized before. Challenge your beliefs with regard to diversity. Identify and acknowledge unintended judgment or any discomfort that you feel. Acknowledgement of something we never before realized, is empowering and allows for growth!

9- Start from where you are and accept that others will do the same.

10- Accept and honor your background.  How have your personal experiences, exposures, and surroundings lead you to this place where you are today? What can you do to allow the whole of your being to move forward with knowledge and positive intent?

 

Discussion 2: Set The Table

Sometimes our greatest challenge in talking about HOW to talk about diversity is in choosing our words we want to use. Here's a list one might try to have frank, honest conversation about diversity that's both genuine and sensitive to the nature and importance of it:

 

"This might be awkward, because it really matters… but let's try together."

 

"Why not acknowledge our fears, discomfort, and lack of having the 'right words' to adequately and respectfully express what we intend to say?" 

 

"I haven't personally experienced that, but I'm interested to hear about your experience and perspective surrounding it…"

 

"Let's explore this on our own and come together to share what we've learned to expand our collective experience and knowledge."

 

"Through sharing our individual stories, we can gain a clearer picture of the overall issue…"

 

“I’m curious and interested, but unsure how to open a conversation about _____.”

 

"Can we talk about ____? It might be awkward because maybe we don't know the 'right' words to use, or we might say something that could  unintentionally offend. "

 

"Can we agree to (or that) it's possible that:

...someone might make unintentional mistakes; If so, can we forgive? Offer support?

...someone doesn't always know the 'right' words, but we're trying to be mindful and appreciate the help of others who might share a 'better' (more respectful) way of expressing a thought?

...someone might phrase something "wrongly" (offensively or disrespectfully), but it would be unintentional. Can we help each other learn more respectful ways of speaking/addressing the issue?”

 

“My experience with this topic is limited. I'm working to grow through my own ignorance ('not knowing' as opposed to 'stupidity'). My understanding is evolving through books, documentaries, podcasts, conversation, research, and observation. Is there a resource you would suggest I check out? I appreciate your contributions to my growth.”

 

"Mutual respect matters. If I say or do something offensive or insulting, please tell me because my intention is to respect you and myself. If I make a mistake, and you point it out to me respectfully, I can learn from it. I'll do the same for you."

 

"I intend to take this conversation seriously, but I will try not to be overly serious. Sometimes, I'll laugh and even joke because I believe there's great power in employing humor - so long as it's tasteful and respectful."

Discussion 3: Lenses Of Perception

 

What's happened to us?

We've allowed stress and distrust to intrude on our sense of reasonableness.

Our fears, pain, and frustration have invaded our ability or willingness to practice the skills of patience, acceptance, listening, and separating our pride and personal identity from the topics we discuss in order to participate in civil discourse.

As we engage in challenging conversations, our adherence to a few debate basics might offer a simple framework for success:

  • Consider all sides of the topic, issue, or question.

  • Give attention and thought to acknowledge your inherent biases, experiences, existing viewpoints, and blindspots.

  • Educate yourself using factual, varied, and reliable sources. Gain an understanding of the topic, based on logic, facts, and truth.

  • Practice maturity! Remain calm! One can be passionate about their position without being offensive, dismissive, or condescending. Keep your personal emotions out of it. Engage fully, but maintain your own dignity and SELF (personal identity and self-worth) from the discussion… it's not about you and it's not about the person who's adopted the opposing POV; The debate is about the issues of the topic, not about the specific humans who are talking. NO PERSONAL ATTACKS. Stick to the facts.

  • Debates encourage participants to argue their claims, but that doesn't mean one should scream, yell, insult, curse, or personally attack in any way. To argue in a debate follows the pattern:

  1. Person 1 states their claim (position/pov) while person 2 listens intently.

  2. Person 2 paraphrases what they heard and offers their counterpoint to it. Evidence is shared that refutes the original point and/or supports their own claim. 

  3. This repeats over and over, as the two parties engage (talk with and listen to) respectfully through acknowledgement of each other's contributions. Mutual dignity is always maintained.

  4. The goal? To expand understanding and open minds to the possibility of fresh thoughts and information through respectful, engaged conversation. 





 

Discussion 4 Humanize or Otherize

Consider the following table that compares and contrasts these different views.  Consider using this chart as an easily modifiable  guide to initiate and engage your collegial or student conversations.

 

Humanized (encourages unity & acceptance)                             Otherized (encourages division & rejection)

  • I see your human qualities                                                                                         I see your appearance (skin color, attire, age, gender weight,facial features, etc.)

  • I listen for your personal intention and meaning.                                                    I listen for your message and attach it to a generalized group.

  • I acknowledge our common humanity. (compassion & empathy)                          I ignore your  human condition  and only consider that which I perceive to impact me.(apathy)

  • My differences make me a valued contributor.                                                        Differences alienate and prevent participation and contribution.

  • Your differences provide what I cannot. Therefore, I see them as assets.             Your difference subtracts and stands in my way. 

  • Our differences unify our efforts for progress and completion. So,Thank you.     Our differences block efforts for progress and completion. So, I resent you.

  • I celebrate our differences.                                                                                         I criticize the difference in you.

  • I evolve by reflecting on our differences.                                                                   I do not consider our differences unless I feel it will impact my life.

  • I support and promote you to be the best individual you were born to be.          I mock and undermine you for who you were born to be.

  • I embrace our differences  because I see the value of collective collaboration     I reject our differences because I see them as a source of disunity and a threat to my ideals and that can  benefit my way of life while mutually respecting ideals.                           way of life.

                               

  • Humanizing enhances my mental, physical and social health and well being. It positively impacts my life.

  • Otherizing creates anxiety, fear, suspicion and drama.  It negatively impacts my mental, physical and social well being and the quality of my life. 

Did you identify with any of these contrasting approaches?  Have one conversation about any areas of similarity or  difference that you can identify with or have experienced.  

 

 


 

Discussion 5: Above All Else... Dignity

Considerations to remember and strategies to assist in moving forward:

Dignity List:  Want to Support the quest for dignity?

  1. Raise awareness of your personal biases.

  2. Read!

  3. Seek info from relevant, trustworthy sources.

  4. Open your mind to new ideas.

  5. Ask questions.

  6. "Do the work" - educate yourself about hot topics and then ask questions of those who have info that can help you.

  7. Use appropriate terms, phrases, pronouns (ex- gender identity).

  8. Ask yourself: "Am I helping or harming (through my thoughts, words, and/or actions) the chance that dignity will thrive in this moment?"

 

Let us leave you with some final thoughts and strategies to help you further help one another.  Remember to approach this in the SLowDrip way: take from it what feels right and comfortable for you as you mindfully promote "Discussions in Civility".

 

Thoughts:

  • Modify, bend and expand your perception to suit your needs here and now.

  • While remembering that building a climate of civility is a collective endeavor you can contribute by working solo, with a partner or team.  

  • Gently give yourself permission to remember that your uniqueness always offers an important contribution. 

  • Revisit these discussions and suggestions to empower others. (colleagues and/or students)

Strategies to grow your circle of civility:

  • Establish discussion ground rules to practice and model civility. (all of the following are considered valid ground rules)

  • Be well-intended about your thoughts & opinions. Sharing opinions is acceptable if it promotes improvements, growth, and learning. 

    • Defend your opinions/positions through examples or research. 

  • Ensure equal participation.

    • Employ round-table discussions so that everyone anticipates regular opportunity for input.

  • Always respectfully listen to others. (Do not interrupt, employ eye contact)

  • Always speak with respectful words and tone.

  • Encourage one another to equally engage in ways that are comfortable for them.

  • To break down the universally human walls of fear, anxiety, guilt & shame, transparently name  and define the following within the discussion : (For help, see glossary insert)

    • categories of bias 

    • types of descrimination

  • Agree to zero tolerance of disrespect or oppression in any form. (Including the  more subtle forms of mocking, facial expressions, body language, volume, tone of words and exclusion)

Strategies to promote civility:

  • Expand civility through opportunities to model and give "Voice & Choice".  (the more authentically job embedded, the more relevant, time saving and educationally engaging) 

    • Invite colleagues & students to research diversity/civility issues and present to others. (modify as needed for your role/situation/grade levels etc.) (Encourage working smarter not harder by inviting each participant to contribute in a way that matches their skill sets.)

    • Create ground rules to ensure outcome must prove positive intent that promotes civility and harmony.

    • Encourage choice of topic: (local, community, national or global)

    • Encourage choice of research methods: (interviews, data collection, gathering of information from trusted sources, experimentation) 

    • Give choice for presentation methods: (written, spoken, musical, artistic, participatory, film, multimedia etc ) Examples: podcast, theatrical performance, public service announcement, website, community event, letter writing campaign, volunteering, debate, songwriting and performance, art display etc. 

    • Audience considerations: Present to one or two trusted others. Present to a team, a class, a grade level, a school building, your community, or virtually  more. 

    • Audience members:   Peers, School leaders, B.O.E., Family &  community members, business & community leaders.  The more audience members, the wider the circle of civility spreads. *

          *This usually makes many people feel anxious...but not to worry, remember to work smarter-not harder and don't be afraid...take it one                step at a time...and increase the size of your audience gradually if that helps.  

            *This consideration also sets the students on fire! Giving an authentic  audience transforms the purpose of learning to life.  It also                        elevates the student's self-worth (no matter their role in it) as a contributor and  because they are a part of something positive and

           bigger than themselves.

  • Share a presentation topic or idea that would promote embracing diversity and civility.   Document and share in any way that is comfortable...a google doc, email, blog or write it on a display board for others to see.   Some of you may be inspired to take action,        others to be a part of the audience; no matter, you will have all participate in planting the seeds for your school and one another.  


Watch the increase of innovation, self-regulation & mutual accountability as your collegial work builds a less stressful, more authentically engaged culture & climate of civility.  

Diversity, Civility & Dignity Resources For Further Study, Conversation, Enjoyment

The following books, conversations, articles, podcasts, etc. may be of interest for further enjoyment and opportunity. They're listed in no particular order. They have provided interesting information for discussion, contemplation, and application while contributing to our evolution, which is always in a state of flux. Some are deep, others very light! Check out all, some or none of them; one way we encourage open dialogue with colleagues is through sharing resources. 

 

1- Charlie Mackesy (on Instagram; artist who creates inspirational messages)

 

2- "The Work" (Self-inquiry process that includes YouTube videos, books, talks) by Byron Katie

 

3- Hidden Brain Podcast - (Hundreds of fascinating episodes on topics pertaining to various aspect of the human brain: how it works, our misconceptions about it, ways to communicate more effectively, the impact of trauma dn hardship, the power of humor, stereotypes, issues related to sexual orientation & gender identification, conversation styles, values, & decision making, to name just a few. Check it out!)

 

4- An Unquiet Mind (A personal memoir written by neuroscientist Kay Redfield Jamison with insightful, first-hand account of manic depressive disorder.)

 

5- The Autisticats - (on Instagram; autism resource and support)

 

6- Blair Imani #smarterinseconds (on Instagram; educator whose 30 second "smarter in seconds" video clips aim to educate and clarify ideas, concepts, and use of terms related to cultural diversity topics such as race, gender, religion, sexual identity, ethnicity, and culture.)

 

7- Talking To Strangers (A book about how we interact with people we don't know - and how it often leads us to misunderstand one another, or worse.) written by Malcolm Gladwell 

 

8- Why We Sleep written by Matthew Walker, PhD (Scientific answers and information regarding the value of sleep and dreaming as it relates to our learning, practice logic, heal trauma, inspire creativity, and more.)

 

9- The Four Agreements (Author Miguel Ruiz mixes ancient wisdom with modern-day flair to help raise awareness of the self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create negativity in our lives.)

 

10- Who Moved My Cheese? (Author Spencer Johnson, M.D. uses parables to reveal truths about dealing with change, offering hope for less stress in work and life.)

 

11- White Fragility by Robin Diangelo (Author offers non-judgemental information and clear explanations of how our history has shaped current cultural concepts including privilege, prejudice, bias, race, ethnicity, racism, and other related topics.)

 

12 - Upworthy (on Instagram; feel-good humanity stories and photographs)

 

13- Perception V. Perspective: Why Knowing The Difference Makes A Difference 

article written by Pauline Roose Moore, The Maxwell Team