“Teachers’ Institute.” That’s what it was called at John Beck Elementary School in the 1960’s when we had a day off that wasn’t a holiday. Never gave it much thought when I was seven, except that we didn’t have school.
At LMS we call it Professional Day or Teacher’s In-service. Over the years, and in addition to ongoing curriculum work in all subject areas annually, professional work for teachers and staff at LMS has included workshops on:
- Building executive functioning
- Boys and School
- Vision (eyes) and Learning
- Sustainability and systems thinking
Last Saturday everyone who works at LMS attended a full day workshop with Peggy McIntosh. Those of us who had worked with her before or were familiar with her approach to anti-bias education were anticipating an engaging session. Those who had not attended any of her workshops, wanted to be excited, but it was a Saturday, after all.
Peggy does not disappoint. Her voice and presence are gentle, but her mind and intellect are powerful.
From teachers and staff about last Saturday:
“Peggy helped remind us that we are each the product of our upbringing, our personal experiences, and, as she discussed, of strong cultural myths that white people are raised on and - however consciously or unconsciously - perpetuate. I really like the imagery she used that this constitutes my active hard drive perceptions, and that I need to continually and consciously work to ‘install the alternative software.’”
“Saturday was such a comforting, validating day for me. Having someone with the intellect, clarity of mind and kindness of Peggy Mcintosh talk to us and put in such an organized way the thoughts that ramble and jump constantly in my head was such a great experience. She is an amazing woman.”
“I found the content informative and the exercises enlightening.”
“What I appreciated about Peggy MacIntosh's presentation was twofold. First her message about acknowledging inequalities due to race, gender, or sexual orientation is an important step in actively addressing these challenging issues. Additionally, her use of serial discussions to allow the participants to call on their own life experiences was interesting and will be a technique I use in my own classroom.”
As someone new to the school, the In-Service meeting on Saturday was very interesting from a couple of perspectives. First, I was able to interact and get to know my co-workers better. Second, it made me think about my life experiences from a different perspective. I never really thought about the privileges that I have just because of the color of my skin, where I live and how I was raised. It was a very thought provoking and worthwhile day.
So, many of us left on Saturday saying, “a good professional workshop --
Is applicable to the classroom – check.
Causes me to think about my work with children in a new way – check.
Teaches me something new about myself – check.
Gives me new perspective on my colleagues – check.
And on a Saturday no less.