Justice, Conflict, and Dialogue: Facilitating Student Conversations about Current Events, designed by educators from Riverdale, Spence, and St. Ann's Schools in New York and hosted by the Klingenstein Center, is an online professional learning opportunity for teacher-leaders who are preparing students to participate in constructive dialogue with one another about community issues in our schools and current events in the United States.
This working group will include 12-16 teacher-leaders from independent schools across the U.S. We'll be a supportive community that collaborates to implement programming related to discourse and dialogue in our individual schools. The sessions will be tailored for educators who are currently designing and implementing programming that promotes open discourse. You might be a good match if, for example, you organize discussions of current events or you are responsible for facilitating dialogue about issues in your school community.
The group will meet virtually for 90 minutes via Zoom in September, October, November, and January. Participants will be selected using a brief application process and must be able to attend all four meetings. Details on the schedule and application process are below.
Riverdale Country School's recent Statement on Campus Discourse captures the spirit of our approach:
At Riverdale, we prize the right to speak freely as much as the ability to foster genuine conversation.
By virtue of the education they receive here, Riverdale graduates should be able to investigate and understand beliefs that they do not hold, to critique and construct their own points of view, and to participate humanely and constructively in dialogue with others.
We believe that the intellectual growth of our students is tightly linked to their growth as ethical human beings. We ask of them—and ourselves—more than rigorous argumentation and independent thinking. We ask that we care for one another and that we collaborate in the service of learning.
Please review the details below regarding the workshop schedule, session agendas, and application process.
Each meeting of the four-session sequence will be dedicated to a specific theme or concern. Some sessions will feature a guest facilitator. At the start of each meeting, 1-2 group members will present work that they are implementing in their schools and ask the group for feedback on a specific aspect of their work. After we pose questions and offer feedback to the presenters, we’ll transition to a broader discussion of challenges related to that session’s theme and we’ll share concerns, strategies, and resources.
- September (Thursday 9/24, 2020, 4:00-5:30 pm EDT)
How can we support students seeking to engage in dialogue with one another about current events, e.g., testimonials on social media about racism at independent schools, the Black Lives Matter protests against police violence, and the upcoming presidential election? How can we design opportunities for student discourse in ways that support our on-going efforts to promote equity and inclusion? How can we help students become better listeners of themselves and others?
Guest Facilitator: Prof. Nicole Brittingham Furlonge, Director of the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University
- October (Thursday 10/15, 2020, 4:00-5:30 pm EDT)
With the school year well under way, what are the current flashpoint issues in our schools and how do we prepare students to discuss them?
Guest Facilitator: Dr. Leila Brammer, Director of the Parrhesia Program for Public Discourse, University of Chicago
- November (Thursday 11/12, 2020 4:00-5:30 pm EST)
In the weeks after the presidential election, what should we prioritize in our programming for students? What programming might we offer for parents and staff to support our work with students?
- January (Thursday 1/28, 2021 4:00-5:30 pm EST)
Based on what we’ve observed in the past several months, what long-term programming for students and adults seems most needed? What will we implement for the second half of the school year?
Planning Committee Members:
Blair Parker, Assistant Head of Upper School & Director of Financial Aid (Riverdale Country School, NY)
- Darius Weil, PhD Candidate in Political Theory (Princeton University), Former History Teacher (Riverdale Country School, NY)
Rebecca Hong, Director of Institutional Equity (The Spence School, NY)
- Felicia Kang, History Teacher (Saint Ann’s School, NY)
- Yuval Ortiz-Quiroga, Director of Diversity and Institutional Equity (Saint Ann’s School, NY)
Participants will be selected using a short application process. The application deadline is Monday, August 17, 2020, at 8:00 a.m. EDT.
The online application includes:
- a short form with demographic information,
- the contact information of a senior administrator at your school who supports your participation (and can facilitate your availability for the four synchronous meetings if these occur at times you would usually have school duties),
- an uploaded resume (PDF or Microsoft Word format only), and
- two short essay questions
- Please describe a specific project related to discourse (classroom activity, school initiative, extracurricular program, etc.) that you have been involved in and that you would like to receive feedback on from the group. (250 words)
- What do you hope to learn or accomplish through participating in this professional development experience? (250 words)
When you have these materials prepared, you can complete the online application here (link to be added).
For questions, please contact email@example.com.