9:15 am to 10 am
Leading and facilitating difficult conversations in the classroom: Intersectional and Queer Perspectives
Dr. Kevin Nadal
ABSTRACT: This workshop aims to provide participants with the skills needed to critically engage in difficult, yet essential, conversations in the classroom. Participants will learn strategies for building trust with students and encouraging different perspectives. Participants will also be equipped with tools to help manage classroom conflicts and further create safe/brave environments for dialogue.
Dr. Kevin Nadal modeled how we might begin to facilitate difficult conversations in our classrooms by being open with our students about our multiple identities have shaped our world views and by centering social justice issues. Dr. Nadal shared how his parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in pursuit of the American Dream for their future children, but were greeted with racism. In his school, students were predominately BIPOC but teachers were White, and they only learned about US and World history from a Eurocentric standpoint. Dr. Nadal also talked about the different courses he taught and how the community organizations that he belonged helped to contribute to his own cultural competence and cultural humility (e.g., using pronouns in introductions, and greater awareness of legislation and policies that affect marginalized groups). His pedagogy is also shaped by queer theory, critical race theory, womanism, microaggression theory, minority stress theory and intersectionality, none of which he was formally taught about in his training as a counseling psychologist, thus highlighting that instructors need to do a lot of work get a basic level of comfort needed to help students feel supported, validated, safe, and included in our classes. Conversations about systems of oppression are typically emotional, and people have difficulty expressing themselves, and so instructors need to be ready for this. He advocated that developing cultural competence and humility is a life-long practice, where we must continually seek new knowledge (about ourselves and the history and cultures of other groups), and constantly reflect on and critique how we think and behave. Exploring our identities and interrogating our biases (explicit and implicit) and prejudices, helps to develop the knowledge and awareness for skills we need in our teaching practice. Dr. Nadal’s pre-conference video on cultural competence and cultural humility underscored that we should be aware of how our perceived identities might influence our students and their expectations of us. Instructors should overtly state or demonstrate their empathy and care for students, in order to build a community of trust.
Dr. Nadal acknowledged that talking about systems of oppression in the classroom is difficult and often draining, but if we do not do it, then academia will never change. He acknowledged that BIPOC instructors often shoulder a heavy burden, in terms of being expected to be experts on race, and experiencing microaggressions from students and others. Dr. Nadal charged us to “queer” our curricula to liberate oppressed groups by moving away from binary assumptions, not just about sex, gender, and sexual orientation, but also others around grading, research methodologies, and other disciplinary knowledge. To create inclusive classrooms, our readings should reflect the scholarship of diverse people, and social justice issues should be introduced in all courses (even statistics!) from the outset. Dr. Nadal also emphasized the importance of process – the intellectual and emotional journey of learning, that is often overlooked in academia, which often prioritizes content knowledge. He underscored the importance of legitimizing discussions about race and other marginalized identities by introducing these topics, and by validating students (thanking them and acknowledging their bravery for sharing). Dr. Nadal cautioned that we should not microaggress against our students or gaslight them, but instead be prepared to accept that others have different realities to our own. He also advocated that instructors should directly manage conversations rather than sitting and watching, as this was more likely to prevent escalation. He suggested setting time limits, and making sure interactions are respectful. Building time into classes for conversations to take place is paramount. Having cultural humility acknowledges that these conversations might not end neatly, we will make mistakes and we need to recognize our limitations and accept accountability, apologizing when things go awry. Dr. Nadal also acknowledged the importance of finding academic support groups, who can validate, check and support each other, and where we can be open and vulnerable. Finally, to continue to have these conversations with our students, we need to be able to process, move on, and heal. CHECK OUT OUR RESOURCES PAGE. DR. NADAL’s PRE-WORKSHOP AND WORKSHOP VIDEOS ARE AVAILABLE TO CONFERENCE REGISTRANTS WITH THE PASSWORD
10:15 to 11 am
ABSTRACT: This workshop aims to increase awareness and critical consciousness to be able to identify microaggressions when they happen and to teach active coping response strategies that can be used to disarm, dismantle, and effectively defend against daily experiences of microaggressions. The workshop emphasizes healing and self-worth through process oriented discussions and reflection prompts. The workshop is built on the principles of the Microintervention taxonomy and framework that was published by Sue, Alsaidi et al., 2019 in the American Psychologist. The training was developed by Sarah Alsaidi for her dissertation research, in which she implemented the training at three different participating sites, and evaluated its efficacy through a pre and post longitudinal design.
Sarah Alsaidi’s pre-workshop video brought clarity to the differentiation between microaggressions and macroaggressions; the former reflecting biased comments and behaviors at the individual level, while the latter describe systemic oppression at the institutional level. There are three main types of microaggressions, 1) microassaults–overt expressions of blatant bias, and more subtle 2) microinsults (insensitive comments) and 3) micoinvalidations (where people’s lived experiences are invalidated). However, Sarah stressed that the impact of microaggressions is by no way small. Sarah opened her workshop with a reminder that microaggressions can be perpetuated in relation to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability-status, and other non-dominant statuses. Sarah gave a long list of microaggressions that frequently occur in the classroom, including the following:
*Failing to learn how to pronounce names properly
*Scheduling exams on cultural/religious holidays
*Asking students to speak on behalf of group they belong to, e.g., Latinx students asked talk about the Latinx experience
*Using inappropriate terms to describe people
*Having low expectations of students from particular groups
*Assuming gender of students
*Assigning projects that penalize students with less resources
*Using metaphors/examples in class that are heteronormative
*Assuming all students have access to computers and Internet
*Complimenting students who are BIPOC on “good English”
*Assigning readings where the protagonist is always White
*Assuming that students’ only responsibilities are school work
Students who are frequent targets of microaggresions are more likely to begin to feel inferior, unwelcome, and invalidated. They may experience imposter syndrome and may stop participating in class. The MicroIntervention framework can be used to empower students, so that they can counter these experiences. The MicroIntervention framework consists of four main strategies: 1) Make the invisible visible, 2) Disarm, 3) Educate, and 4) Seek external support. Sarah underscored that both targets and allies can use these strategies, bearing in mind that different strategies work for different folx, and in different contexts. Importantly, Sarah told us that targets of microaggressions should take time to process what had happened and how the microaggression impacted them, so that they were less likely to engage in harmful rumination about whether it really happened. Sarah suggested that having a reliable support system was key for working through emotions triggered by microaggressions.
Participants worked through examples in breakout rooms, using the strategies that felt most comfortable to them. We learned that it was also important to first identify the underlying message (metacommunication) of the microaggression.. We practiced how to make the “invisible visible” by repeating the meta-communication. Sarah suggested that you might want to use the disarming strategy to stop an inappropriate joke at a party, and to save the more burdensome educate strategy for people you care about. Sarah emphasized that people should pick their battles when responding to microaggressions taking into account power dynamics, and personal safety. She also suggested that allies can be supportive by checking in with targets, and backing them up. CHECK OUT OUR RESOURCES PAGE
11:15 am to 12 pm
Teaching at CUNY during pandemics and uprisings: Decentering whiteness and building for care
Dr. Michelle Fine, Loren Cahill, Richard Clark, Chris Hoffman, Roderick Hurley, and Emese Ilyes
ABSTRACT: This workshop will feature reflections from six critical psychologists/teachers and will explore the tensions and opportunities for teaching CUNY undergraduates when we believe education is a route to freedom; that we are obligated to honor intersectionalities and decenter whiteness and seek to design spaces for creativity, hard dialogues and surprising solidarities.
Dr. Michelle Fine opened the panel discussion by pointing out academia’s (especially Psychology’s) long history of white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, ableism, social class elitism, adding that critical psychologists think of universities as “borderlands” (Gloria Anzaldúa) – places for liberation where we can critique what they are and imagine what they can be. Classes can be holding spaces (Winnicott) to bring radical honesty (Bianca C Williams) and uphold racial justice, abolitionist values and disruption.
Rod Hurley brings music into his classes to empower students, and to shift the vibe of the class to one of a shared space, which respects and acknowledges students, instead of being dominated by the instructor’s authority. Rod shared how he spends the first day of class having students talk about their music preferences, he then builds a playlist (instrumental versions) and plays it on low volume in the background of his classes (on Zoom). This ice-breaking activity then sets the class up as a warm welcoming place. Before playing his version of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, Rod reminded us of Ignacio Martin-Baro’s work as the father of liberation psychology, and the idea that until all of us are free, none of us are free.
Loren Cahill emphasized that she also conceptualizes education as practice of pedagogy of freedom, and told how she brings community building into each classroom session using icebreakers and energizers (from Simon says to talking about first jobs). Students became stake-holders in the class, because everyone has a role to play (chat keepers, helping to decide flow of the class, leading an icebreaker). She also talked about leaving space for art in classes, where students can paint, write poetry or develop zines.
Richard Clark spoke about how she tries to hold complexity in the classroom, especially on Zoom, where students are inhabiting the most complex versions of themselves, because they are both in class and at home. She encourages students to bring their full selves into the space by using the work of Biana C Williams and other Black feminist/Black queer feminists to help students interrogate complexity. She also talked about decentering whiteness by interrogating colonial legacies of violence using work from Pedagogy of Fear and Critical Race Pedagogy, and other Black feminist readings, thus students learn to critique “traditional” theories. Richard’s classes provide private and public spaces for students to integrate parts of themselves, through check in questions and journal entries, and opportunities for students to work with one another to challenge systems of oppression.
Chris Hoffman also talked about bringing Bianca C William’s concept of radical honesty into the classroom, by talking about his Whiteness and how Whiteness has dominated the field of psychology. He also stressed that we need to be mindful about the accessibility of our courses during the current pandemic when students are learning at home and may not have a safe space to join discussions of sensitive topics. Chris also suggested that to bring in and value our students lived experiences, we must reimagine the tools we use in our classes, quoting Audre Lorde “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”.
Dr. Emese Ilyes thanked her co-panelists for showing how to hold space for genuine conversations. She suggested that in teaching we should leave room for mistakes, experiments, and play, to encourage growth. She acknowledged the grief that many people are experiencing associated with the current crises, and that for many of our students, just coming to class is a form of activism. Dr. Ilyes urged us to think about how we assess our students and still acknowledge their full complexity. Finally, she questioned what it means for White academics who want to reimagine decolonized spaces and yet at the same time continue to benefit, asking How do we decenter ourselves, while fighting against anti-Black racism?
When asked about recommendations for texts for classes, the panel urged us to consider our students’ economic struggles by using open educational resources, and finding or creating such materials that allow students to think critically about the topics, rather than simply maintaining the status quo. They suggested many resources throughout their discussion, including using the work of Crystal Fleming (including her Twitter @FlemingPhD) and Overcoming Racism by Mathew Kincaid. They reminded us that often traditional methods are used to “explain and understand” marginalized groups, but bringing in different voices and using those to create a framework, disrupts this narrative. Similarly, when asked about how to balance what is need to pass licensure exams with decolonizing efforts, the panel urged that students should first feel recognized and heard to be able to engage with (and critique) traditional materials, so that they can “learn” about the information without internalizing it. THE PANEL’S PRE-WORKSHOP AND WORKSHOP VIDEOS ARE AVAILABLE TO CONFERENCE REGISTRANTS WITH THE PASSWORD
1:00 pm to 1:15 pm
Dr. Peggilee Wupperman
1:15 pm to 2 pm
Dismantling Oppression within Course Syllabi
Dr. Yvette DeChavez
ABSTRACT: This workshop will outline the ways in which colonization and racism make their way into our syllabi, pedagogy, and course curriculum. After examining how we often unknowingly institute practices and policies that uphold white supremacy in our syllabi and classes, we will discuss strategies for implementing anti-racist and anti-colonial methodologies, including specific steps each of us should take to make our courses push against the dominant, white-centric models and methods in academia. Given the subject matter, this workshop requires respect for alternative possibilities and a willingness to imagine future possibilities outside of those in which have previously existed.
Dr. Yvette DeChavez spoke about how decolonizing the syllabus meant being compassionate towards our students, by putting them front and center, especially during the current Covid pandemic. So many are facing insurmountable insecurities and stressors, and she asked us to assume that students are like “walking bruises” and to treat them with kindness. Even at the best of times, we should not make assumptions about students’ financial situations, their access to resources (including the Internet), and the stressors in their lives. As such, Dr. DeChavez urged us to move away from the colonial conceptualization of our syllabi as contracts or opportunities to lay down the law, but charged us instead to slow down and thoughtfully co-construct our syllabi with our students, so they can see that we value their opinions and their lives. All too often we copy and paste policies that are punitive and dehumanize our students, without thinking about their impact. For example, having a “no screens policy in class” sends an ableist message, assuming that students are using technology as a distraction rather than considering that these provide essential accommodations for many students. Attendance policies (especially those requiring a doctors’ note for excused absences) are out of touch with the reality that todays’ students are battling with multiple stressors, making it hard to come to class. Furthermore, some do not have access to a doctor (lack of insurance, difficulties with travel, or too many other responsibilities). Instead, focus the syllabus on helping students understand how campus resources can support them. Dr. DeChavez suggested that we model our own vulnerability to lessen the stigma around help-seeking and mental illness. Dr. DeChavez also underscored the importance of being willing to change the syllabus as the semester progresses, based on the needs of the students.
Dr. DeChavez emphasized that classrooms are powerful spaces in which to make change. Dismantling oppression within our classes means being explicit about the ways that academia and our disciplines have been shaped by colonization and white supremacy. We need to discuss this from the very first week of classes. Traditionally, readings disproportionately represent a small subset of privileged (White) voices. We should critique how our discipline benefits from, perpetuates, and reproduces colonization, and discuss biases in textbooks and studies. Highlighting the work of BIPOC also allows all students to see themselves in our curricula. Similarly, we should be mindful that expensive texts and latest editions are prohibitively expensive for some students, and we should be thinking about free/cheap alternatives. However, an anti-racist syllabus/curriculum is more than just including diverse readings. Dr. DeChavez urged us to make spaces for BIPOC students to thrive and succeed, by revolutionizing how we teach and the types of knowledge that we value. Including different types of assignments in our classes acknowledges that there are different ways of knowing. Nontraditional creative assignments should carry comparable weight as traditional assignments. Also, we should be mindful that many students are intimated by unfamiliar academic jargon that instructors often forget to explain. Students might not be internalizing our syllabi – because they do not understand them or are threatened by them. We need to provide more context and better explanations. Students often struggle in our classes, because we are making assumptions about prior educational experiences and are not adequately deconstructing complex skills (e.g., critical analysis). We should provide students with opportunities to learn from their mistakes, by allowing them to revise their work. The curriculum should encourage students to attend events that promote awareness and understanding of different cultures. Dr. DeChavez also suggested inviting guest speakers to present on unfamiliar cultural topics, bearing in mind the importance of compensation for their time and expertise. All too often, BIPOC in academia are over-burdened with such requests, and their service is frequently unacknowledged and unrewarded (another example of colonization). Dr. DeChavez urged that we ALL need to put in the work to decolonize our curricula. CHECK OUT OUR RESOURCES PAGE
2:15 pm to 3 pm
Bringing World Politics in the Classroom
Pearis Bellamy and Victoria McNeil-Young
This workshop focuses on the importance of bringing world politics into the classroom and tangible ways to do so. The facilitators will use a Black feminist and social justice frame during the workshop. Participants will leave with a better understanding of (a) the relevance of world politics to their teaching, (b) how to process and engage with world politics, and (c) ways to incorporate world politics into their teaching and engagement with students
Pearis Bellamy and Victoria McNeil-Young explained how their research with Dr. Della Mosley within the WELLS Research and Healing Collective at the University of Florida, informed how they brought world politics (current and past events relating to political, economic, cultural and geographic influences on society) into their classrooms. In particular, they talked about how the Critical Consciousness Anti-Black Racism model (CCABR; Mosely et al., 2020) can be used to mitigate racial trauma, and how this could be applied to classroom spaces. They opened their workshop with a discussion on the issues that many of our students face today, including national and international anti-Black racism (ABR), xenophobia, hate crimes against trans folx, anti-Asian prejudice, climate change and wild fires, and of course, Covid. They also asked participants to share their concerns about bringing these issues into the classroom, a first step in being intentional about future actions that we might take. They discussed the possibility that institutional push-back might create barriers to making change, but that passivity is harmful. They cautioned us to be aware of our blindspots, so that we do not re-traumatize our students by asking them to be the “experts” about the particular group to which they belong, or assuming that groups are monoliths. They acknowledged the challenge of bringing world politics into courses (like STEM) that are traditionally thought of as objective and acultural, but encouraged us to recognize and talk about how these disciplines have been shaped by a small group of privileged voices. They also recognized the challenges of teaching sensitive topics on Zoom, where comments might be recorded and taken out of context, and where students may not be in places that feel safe for discussions.
Pearis and Victoria highlighted how instructors might use the CCABR model to help students fight against ABR, highlighting that empowering students, particularly those from marginalized groups, leads to better academic success, and creates more inclusive environments. CCABR is a non-linear, three-stage model (Witnessing racial trauma, processing it, and acting critically against it). To use the model, first and foremost, we need to create safety in our classes. We must educate ourselves about the history of our field and the ways that we, and our institutions, contribute to oppression, we should be explicit about ABR and other forms of discrimination and why they are harmful, and to extend humane accommodations and grace to students. We also need to be aware and constantly reflecting on our identities and how these impact our world view. When using CCABR in our classes, we can help students to bear witness to ABR by highlighting how white supremacy and eugenic sentiments have shaped the foundations of psychology and impacted peoples’ lives, through discussion, journaling and other assignments. Students (and instructors) can learn about historical trauma of different groups, and how they have been harmed by psychologists, making sure that readings and assignments move away from a “deficit model” and acknowledge the strengths of historically oppressed people. Learning about systems of resistance can be empowering. We should help students to learn about their identities to better position themselves to take action. Similarly, Pearis and Victoria challenged us to think about how instructors can use their privileges to effect change outside of the classroom, and that we should model activism for our students. Classroom projects can help students to organize for change, including writing about policy change, and protests, through collective collaboration. Importantly, we should be helping our students learn about ways to cope with racial trauma, including providing access to resources in the college and in the community. Pearis and Victoria shared a host of amazing resources to help with this work, perhaps most importantly, they advocated that instructors use the Assessment, Action and Accountability for Black Lives Survival and Wellness plan (explained in their pre-workshop video) to ensure that this work is done intentionally, effectively, and without perpetuating further harm. PEARIS AND VICTORIA’s PRE-WORKSHOP AND WORKSHOP VIDEOS ARE AVAILABLE TO CONFERENCE REGISTRANTS WITH THE PASSWORD
3:00 pm to 3:30 pm Closing Remarks