• Briana Williamson, M.S

Letter to your Future Self : May 2029

If you had to write a letter to your future self, what would it say?

  • What would you be most proud of as an educator, administrator, faculty or staff during this time? Least proud of?

  • What is one training opportunity that you might have skipped in the past, that would have advanced your personal and professional learning to be better prepared for today?

  • What is one book that you could have, should have, or would have read to better prepare for powering through a pandemic?

This list of reflective questions can go on and on. What I really want to ask, is about the things others can't hear, or see. It's about the thoughts you have when you are alone with just you and your zoom screen.

  • Would you be proud of your thoughts of the everyday student trying to navigate this troubling situation? How about a student of color? A student with invisible ability needs?

  • Did you lead with care and compassion for students who expressed a hard time adjusting to online learning?

  • Did you think negative or stereotypical thoughts about the academic preparedness of some students more than others?

  • Did you blame a students lack of motivation on their personal ability rather than the national trauma of pandemic?

Across the nation, educators have taken to public forums to voice their frustrations about the many disparate issues happening across the nation. Some argue that students suing their school is heroic and shows the strength of advocacy and critical thinking. Others, feel it is a personal slap in the face to the very educators who are also trying their best.

Some, however, have voiced strong feelings about students, that are based on stereotypes regarding students of color and how the nation says they should or shouldn't perform.

Some however, have voiced strong feelings about students reading level in college courses, and the ways the systems of education have failed students long before they arrived in post-secondary learning communities.

Lastly, some have reverted to overt acts of bias and discrimination in the assignment of grades, the application of course rubrics and allegations of student misconduct and plagiarism.

If you are limited to one takeaway today, I want you to know ...

It's not our IQ that will save us during this time, but rather our EQ.

How you CONNECT with the CAVERS ( colleagues against virtually everything) within your organization will make a far greater difference than how you unite against one another.

How you SUPPORT students suffering from identify foreclosure, will make a far greater difference, than how you feel about their lack of motivation to get through this time.

As lay-offs and furloughs are announced daily, consider ways you can make yourself ESSENTIAL to your institution.

Emotional Intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), is your ability to identify, evaluate, control and express your emotions. It's also your ability to read and analyze the emotions of others. The IQ, that we are most commonly used to hearing about, determines our academic abilities and our ability to critically navigate mental challenges. It doesn't however, improve our ability to connect with others.

While both are important, possessing a higher EQ is the difference between being an emotional educator and an empathetic educator.

Emotional educators act based on how they feel. Empathetic educators act based on how they perceive others feel. It's the basic foundation of care and compassion. It's also the difference in between being a great team player and a great leader. Emotional intelligence is our very own, internal radar, that tell us to think about the emotions that are both felt and expressed in daily life, and use that as the litmus test in your daily interactions with others.

Now take a moment to think back to your individual responses to the questions at the beginning.

If the term you were looking for to describe your thoughts, feelings or emotions is...

pride- you will be apart of the problem, more than the solution.

privilege- you will be apart of the problem, more than the solution.

racism- you will be apart of the problem, more than the solution.

stereotype- you will be apart of the problem, more than the solution.

bias incident- you will be apart of the problem, more than the solution.

hate crime- you will be apart of the problem, more than the solution.

Universal Design asks the critical question of who might be marginalized a given space, and proactively addresses the needs regardless of enrollment realities.

How we prepare moving forward, must be reflective of universal design; thinking about the most marginalized student in any space, and working our way outward. The need for universal reform in our physical, but also virtual learning environment will only continue to increase.

While some facets of COVID-19 and their impact on education and more specifically, higher education, are as the result of a national pandemic, I argue, that most are as a result of many ignored attempts and placating the requirement to build learning environments that are inclusive.

The time is now!

Universal Design Planning Process

If you're interested in creating a diversity and equity plan for your institution, you can count on Kinect to make the process seamless.

It all starts with an equity review using our trademarked EquityRubric diagnostic assessment. We'll help you assess where you are and guide you in the planning process to be where you want to be. Writing a Universal Design Plan requires independent input from constituent groups that span across the organization and beyond. You want a plan that is attainable, but you need a plan that will meet the needs of your organization.

Here are also some free planning resources to get you started!

1) Diversity and Inclusion Planning- Nicety or Neccesity?
2) Request a copy of our Universal Design Observation Protocol.
Unraveling Bias in Education- Higher Ed
Unraveling Bias in Education - K12


© 2020 Kinect Education Group

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal:

It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

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