Bettina Love keynotes April Professional Development Day
A few times each year, Lab faculty and staff have professional development days devoted to collaborative work around curriculum and other areas of focus for the schools. This April, more than 400 employees joined the morning Zoom keynote session with Bettina L. Love, whose latest book, We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, won the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award. Love is an associate professor of educational theory and practice at the University of Georgia. Her writing, research, teaching, and activism "meet at the intersection of race, education, abolition, and Black joy." Her research focuses on how teachers and schools, working with parents and communities, can build civically engaged, antiracist, antihomophobic, and antisexist educational, equitable classrooms. Love has provided commentary for news outlets including NPR, the Guardian, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Love's wide ranging talk raised many ideas that were. for some, very new.
"The N2 faculty appreciated the idea of centering 'Black Joy' in our practice," says N-2 Principal Kelly Grimmet. Love stressed the importance of celebrating the beauty of BIPOC lives and not just focusing on the challenges and injustice. "Teachers are excited to read picture books depicting Black and brown characters in everyday scenarios, illustrating the multitude of possibilities of what Black people can be, think, and feel. Librarian Elisa Gall supports this work and has created a book list Centering Black Joy in Picture Books as a starting point."
Another idea that generated conversation and inquiry was Love's suggestion that people needed to be more than "allies," which connotes a passive role, to become active "co-conspirators" to create a just world.
The rest of PD Day included experiential sessions that U-High's Students with Disabilities Association held to model what it's like for some students with disabilities and to answer questions about helping and supporting a student with a disability. Teachers and staff also had access to a Lab-curated set of on-demand webinars addressing student wellbeing and other topics.