Last week was the Montessori for Social Justice Conference in St. Paul, MN. Three of our staff members attended and have contributed reflections. The resources they've brought back will continue to inform our community work.
The last week of June was rich in emotions for me, as Woodland gave me the opportunity to attend the 4th annual Montessori for Social Justice conference in St Paul. It was my first time there, and what a first time!
On Thursday, I took part in an all-day decentering whiteness program with our photographer and mama, Kelly. My favorite part was to share in small groups about our earliest memory around/about a person of color and what it meant to us at that time. On Friday, Lisa, our Diversity Specialist, was with us when we had Sam Simmons' amazing lecture, presenting Historical Trauma in Native American and African-American populations (http://unclebig.wixsite.com/simmonsconsulting). The afternoon lectures were more interactive, giving us concrete tools to put in place in our communities.
This retreat empowered me: I used to think I was not qualified to start a reflection and work regarding anti-racism. I now know being uncomfortable is the first step and should be welcomed! It is my work to do, and to speak up, as silence is violence. Besides, I will find lots of resources and persons to help me along the way, but I need to initiate and tailor this work to support our classroom, students and communities in building a more kind and fair world, a better future. I'm so glad and excited! If you want to hear more on this topic and share about your first step with our community, feel free to stop by and chat with me!
I experienced my first Montessori Social Justice Conference on the beautiful campus of St.
Catherine University, the resources I gained from my trip I'll find useful to apply in my own life
and has given me knowledge to share with others.
One of the breakout session that I attended was called "Road to Racial Justice"
this also was the name of the a board game we played created by Kesa Kivel for teens
and adults. http://www.roadtoracialjustice.org
We played with a group of people at individual tables.One person would throw the dice and
move the chocolate kiss to the designated spot. Then you would draw a card, on the card it would
state a situation and you would have several options to chose and discuss.
Each situation brought each player attention to how race exists in everyday settings both interpersonally and institutionally.I loved how it promoted empathy and thought provoking conversations.
We closed by reflecting on what each of us could do to help bring change to our communities!
I attended the Montessori for Social Justice conference in a dual capacity this year, both as a photographer for the event and a participant. It was inspiring, connecting and beautiful to see the ways in which Montessorians from around the world have committed to the work of social justice and specifically racial justice within the classroom. I loved traveling with Adeline and spending time with Lisa.
One of the breakout sessions I attended was on bringing gender diversity into the Montessori classroom. We used The Gender Unicorn handout from transstudent.org (http://www.transstudent.org/gender/) to look at the ways in which our gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, physical attraction, and emotional attractions all exist on individual spectrums. In addition, asking and respecting another's pronouns, including children, is a really important first step.
Another piece of our experience that I so enjoyed was a presentation/meal done by an organization called The Sioux Chef and their commitment to indigenous and sustainable food
culture. Frank Haney, the chef, discussed the ways in which the parts of our meal are cultivated. The three sisters - the particular varieties of beans, squash, and corn, are planted together because of their unique symbiotic relationship in growth. I could really go on, but Lisa and Adeline have already touched on so much. It was wonderful to be a part of.