More Effective DEI Trainings Through the Lens of the ABCs

Pascal Losambe (October 2022)

Amid the racial unrest in our nation, many organizations have invested heavily in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training to educate their stakeholders on how to cultivate environments of belonging. In fact, since 2020, public schools have spent $20 million on DEI programming[1]. As many educational institutions grapple with staffing shortages, a global pandemic, and other realities, they may be asking: has the investment in DEI been worth it? My initial answer is yes because of the students I encounter every day who need a champion and advocate. With that said, educators have expressed that while DEI trainings have increased their foundational knowledge, they often lack practical applications and strategies for sustained change[2]. As many institutions grapple with how to make DEI trainings more effective, a few solutions come to mind.

Self-reflection: There is a journey of self-discovery with this DEI work. People need space and the ability to self-assess and inspect their thoughts and emotions. They need to constantly examine their cultural frames of reference so they better recognize differences in their colleagues and students and identify assumptions and biases they may be harboring.

Another important aspect of self-reflection is goal setting. Setting goals provides teachers with the ability to measure progress and remain action oriented as they strive to create more inclusive and equitable environments for their students, colleagues, and those they serve.

Professional learning communities: People need to be connected to other individuals who are dedicated to cultivating environments of belonging. These communities can offer support, guidance, and wisdom throughout an individual’s journey. These learning communities can help educators who work in different areas of school life navigate nuanced situations that may be specific to their fields. For example, there may be situations specific to administrators, grade levels, and subject areas that allow individuals to provide their expertise.

Data driven decision making: At times, standalone professional development sessions provide useful information to stakeholders, but may not specifically address situations that are happening in a particular school. Therefore, professional development that takes the school’s context into consideration and sessions where data is inspected and analyzed to address areas of concern can be effective in moving an organization forward.

The strategies that are detailed above increase participants’ sense of autonomy by increasing their agency through self-reflection and self-assessment.  The strategies enhance their need for belonging by enabling them to connect with individuals that work within their fields, and increases their competence by providing them with practical solutions that address issues that their institutions have identified as areas of concern.

[1] Mayberry, C. (2022). Public Schools Have Spent 21M on Diversity Inclusion Programs Since George Floyd’s Death. Newsweek.

[2] Sparks, Sarah D. “Training bias out of teachers: Research shows little promise so far.” Education Week, November 17 (2020): 2020.

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