January 13, 2023
During our first day back from break, Janet Gelcich led a 2 hour workshop about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Justice (DEIBJ) with our entire staff. Janet has been a Primary teacher in Children’s House for over twelve years, and is our acting DEIBJ educator this year. She attended a 2 day AISNE DEIBJ workshop in Waltham this past fall, and experienced a particularly powerful session led by Liza Talusan (Riverbend’s DEIBJ Consultant). Largely inspired by Liza’s words, and her book, The Identity-Conscious Educator, Janet focused on the topics of Identity and Belonging. The topics of race, gender, and sexual orientation are often the first facets we think of with identity, but what about mental health, immigration status, family structure, body size and shape, etc.? All of these categories (and more!) form your identity. Through reflective exercises and meaningful discussion we learned more about our own identities – who we are, and how our individual life experiences impact our relationships with others. We were able to think about biases – whether conscious, unconscious, or attentional, and how that impacts our teaching.
Teaching is not identity neutral, no matter how hard we try to make it so! We also talked about these many facets of Identity in terms of feeling a sense of belonging at school and at work. We want all families, students, and staff to feel safe, respected, and understood at Riverbend. We discussed ways to nurture a sense of belonging within our physical spaces, including visible signs of support, common language, and meaningful curriculum. In our classrooms, you will see books featuring diverse families and notable figures of social justice, images and symbols of pride and acceptance, and teachers facilitating thoughtful, developmentally appropriate conversations. While everyone is at a different point in their DEIBJ journey, we are all working towards making Riverbend a more inclusive, anti-racist, and supportive community.