In the opening ice breaker, faculty were asked to list their race, religion, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status on a page. Seeing just how little that really said about each of them gave pause and showed that how they look on paper just scratches the surface of their true identity. They are more than just these attributes – it is the experiences they’ve had, the interests they pursue, and environments they live in that truly make them who they are.
The training then kicked off with conversations focused on race. There were discussions around historical context and the current political climate, and the faculty talked about the difference in terms such as race versus ethnicity, and explicit versus implicit bias. Faculty also learned the way microaggressions present themselves – and can be managed – in a school setting. Finally, the faculty discussed the ways education can empower all of them to address issues concerning race, including through curriculum, rules, policies and enforcement.
The next topic was gender identity and sexual orientation. Faculty were educated on the appropriate use of terms such as cisgender/transgender and intersectionality. They were given a resource, GLSEN
, which provides user-friendly, developmentally appropriate and researched based tools to help educators be supportive of LGBTQ youth and inspire students to be kind and speak up when they see any type of bullying.
Following the group discussions, faculty delved into role playing exercises for Lower, Middle, and Upper School. They practiced handling unique scenarios and the most effective way to respond to students when dealing with issues of race, sexual orientation, and more. The day then closed with an opportunity for the divisions to break out into groups and share best practices and resources for their grade levels with the entire group.
After an informative and provocative day, faculty left the training with a clearer understanding of the importance of having spaces for students to discuss these topics and recognized the need to continue to work together to share best practices in creating them. The Upper School’s “Pizza with a Point,” where students can have these conversations and advocate for their beliefs, and the Middle School's iBelong, which holds monthly coffeehouses to discuss and work through selected topics are current programs providing these venues. In addition, faculty will continue to engage with members of CAUSE, the student-led leadership council in the Upper School that works to unify affinity groups through events and discussions. Through these and other programs, the school aims to instill the core values of honor, respect, compassion, and wisdom in every Miami Country Day School student.