The Greater Philadelphia Diversity Collaborative is an online community for cross-community educational work!
How This Collaborative Came Together
After three days of inspiring workshops at the People of Color Conference in December 2011, the Miquon staff in attendance (along with a few colleagues from Plymouth Meeting Friends and Haverford Friends) found themselves sitting at a round table, reflecting about what they had learned and what they hoped to take back to their classrooms. Independent elementary and middle schools face unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to creating developmentally appropriate diversity experiences for our students and fostering dialogue among parents and staff about diversity-related topics. The conference, so full of interesting and provocative ideas, skewed toward the developmental level of older students. Wouldn’t it be useful, we all wondered, to have a forum for teachers of younger students to share ideas and receive support for working through all of those unique challenges and opportunities?
Miquon’s Diversity Committee co-chairs Jeri Bond Whatley and Kate Fox decided to make the creation of that forum a priority and invited teachers and administrators from independent elementary and middle schools within our region to Miquon for an evening for sharing perspectives, stories, and knowledge about diversity.
At that first meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Diversity Collaborative on February 29, 2012 several members of the Miquon staff were joined by colleagues from Plymouth Meeting Friends, Frankford Friends, United Friends, Gladwyne Montessori, Community Partnership School, and the School in Rose Valley.
Many topics and concerns were raised during the first meeting of the collaborative and these will serve as focal points for future gatherings. We talked about the value of professional development for staff and considered questions about our practice:
- What is the difference between multicultural education and diversity education?
- How can we create multi-school sponsored events for children, parent education and families?
- What are the differences between teaching diversity and teaching children who are diverse?
- What are the milestones for an education that addresses issues of diversity?
- How best do we address these issues, some harsh, with our sensitive and impressionable young students?
The United Friends School in Quakertown hosted the second meeting of the collaborative in April. We shared our ideas about cultural competency in the classroom in addition to useful literature and anecdotal teaching experiences.
This is an online space where members (and guests!) from our new local diversity collaborative can share information, hold discussions and communicate around our shared work/passion for issues of diversity in education. The site is a work in progress and we’re looking forward to adding more as we learn and develop our practice together. We would love to have your input!