There is a lot of confusion that stays around whenever we talk of implementing de&i professional development. Professional word is a term with a lot of responsibility, experience, and disciplined manners. Professional development offerings should be based on current research, educational experiences, and current events to ensure a welcoming and respectful environment for discussions about diversity, inclusion, and equity. In a more diversified nation like the United States, though, school leaders are remaining committed to creating inclusive learning environments in which all students and staff feel safe, included, valued, and accepted. Which is a great initiative! This work is difficult, especially in today’s politically charged environment, but the benefits of diversity in education are far-reaching, influencing students’ academic and social experiences as well as having a direct impact on their future.
Why Should You Concentrate on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Professional Development?
Individual diversity learning aims to bring about self-directed behavioural changes toward emotional connection and understanding between people from diverse backgrounds and cultures who may be unfamiliar, disempowered, underrepresented, or appear very different from one’s own.
Good DE&I PD initiatives
- Engage in behavioral, affective, and cognitive learning
- Provide learners with skills that they can apply, master, and confidently execute.
- Rather than modeling, familiarizing, and reinforcing stereotypes, challenge and debunk them.
- Decisions should be informed rather than directed.
- Opportunities for successful engagement with differences should be expanded, not limited.
- Amplify diverse and underrepresented voices and points of view;
- Respect how deeply individual learners’ experiences of racism, homophobia, sexism or other exclusions may resonate.
Questions to ask yourself to kickstart the DE&I program
Here are some questions to think about as you start a DE&I program at your school:
Why are we putting this in place? What is the relationship between diversity professional development and our school’s stated values? Making this clear will assist you in obtaining buy-in from all parties and preventing the program from becoming siloed.
Who will be on the list? Is the program only for teachers, or will you also invite staff and administrators to participate? How will you adjust your messaging to communicate the value of DE&I to various audiences?
What topics will we cover? Where does this fit into our current initiatives? It’s critical to think of diversity professional development as a long-term project. It’s not a one-time event, but rather a fundamental shift in how your school operates. Integrate your DE&I program into the culture of your school by connecting it to existing programs.
When you are into the program
- Allow space for all learners to participate and provide a variety of ways to participate.
- Avoid making the assumption that students will want to speak on behalf of their identity group.
- Be aware that members of the majority group may prioritize harmony over conflict and the personal over the political.
- Use anonymous surveys to ask everyone in your school community if they are treated fairly and if they feel like they belong.
- Learn more about online diversity and inclusion professional development options for your teachers and staff, including supplemental guides and follow-up learning resources, that will help you achieve your goal of creating an environment where staff and students feel cared for, safe, included, valued, embraced, and accepted.
The Characteristics of a Successful DE&I Professional Development Program
- Using Several Strategies
Many program organizations have implemented multiple strategies from these five options at the same time, with positive results. Workshops, seminars, and conferences are considered traditional activity types in the PDP structure, whereas reform types of a professional development program use study groups, networking, mentoring, coaching, and regular school day meetings that may occur during the process of classroom instruction or planning time.
- Increased Duration
It has also been proposed that the duration of professional development is related to the depth of teacher change (Shields et al., 1998), which includes the duration of the activity as well as the number of contact hours that participants spend in the activity. Longer activities are more likely to provide in-depth discussions of issues addressed in the professional development program, assisting teachers in understanding new strategies and allowing teachers to try out new practices in their own classrooms (Desimone et al., 2002; Garet et al., 2001; Speck, 2002).
- Establishing a Teacher Community
Professional development participants can be a group of teachers or individual teachers.
A PDP designed for groups of teachers from the same school, department, or grade level, on the other hand, is said to have several advantages. Teachers, for example, can discuss concepts, skills, and problems encountered during professional development. They can also apply what they’ve learned to other aspects of their instructional environments, such as common curriculum materials, course offerings, and assessment requirements.
To begin, it is recommended that teachers engage in the types of learning that they are expected to practice with their students in order to build teacher knowledge. Second, curriculum implementation and curriculum replacement units can be used as basic activities for teaching practice. Third, developing new instructional materials and strategies to meet students’ learning needs is a suggested activity for putting theory into practice. Finally, conducting action research, discussing case studies, examining student work (and thinking), and organizing study groups are considered exemplary strategies for a DE&I PD in order to promote reflection.