This blog post was written by Jonathan Lancaster, a Social Studies Teacher at The Bergen County Academies. He will be leading a session at the 2023 Professional Conference on Monday, November 13 at 11 a.m. on the topic of Equity Maps: Ensuring Equity in Discussions.
In the dynamic landscape of education, the importance of fostering inclusive conversations cannot be overstated. Classrooms should be resonating with the collective voices of every student, administrative meetings should be thriving on inclusive viewpoints, and community dialogues should be valuing all opinions. However, reality often falls short of this ideal. Research consistently highlights that certain voices tend to overshadow others, limiting the full spectrum of insights and diminishing the value of diverse viewpoints.
The core of this challenge lies in accountability. Just as we meticulously track student growth and evaluate school initiatives, nurturing equitable conversations necessitates a deliberate approach. It involves weaving intentionality, ongoing evaluation, and regular measurement into the very fabric of our interactions.
Conversations are Rarely Equitable
Equitable conversations start with acknowledging an uncomfortable truth: discussions often suffer from disparities that hinder true inclusivity. Whether these disparities stem from gender, ethnicity, or other factors, they impede a well-rounded exchange of ideas. This results in a skewed distribution of perspectives, where certain voices emerge as the primary narrators, while others remain relegated to the background. The consequences are profound, ranging from unexplored perspectives to the stifling of diverse opinions.
The effects of inequitable conversations are far-reaching, from in-class perspectives and decision-making processes to community engagement. In educational settings, students from underrepresented backgrounds may feel unheard; in administrative meetings, crucial decisions might be influenced by a narrow range of perspectives, limiting the effectiveness and fairness of these outcomes; at the community level, the absence of diverse voices can hinder progress, leaving untapped potential and perpetuating a cycle of inequality.
Empowering Equitable Dialogues through Technology
While there are still enormous challenges of equity within our education system, one remarkably small and simple solution that any educator or administrator can implement is to track conversations using the Equity Maps application, which can ensure that discussions are equitable and all voices are being heard. Equity Maps is an iOS application in which users input participants to track conversations regarding the types of comments made (questions, source material references, synthesis, etc.) as well as the participants’ demographic background information (gender identity, race/ethnicity, or user-inputted demographic features). After the conversation, Equity Maps calculates the level of equity of airtime and the frequency of comments made as a percentage. This comprehensive analysis generates a visual representation of conversation dynamics, shedding light on the achieved level of equity and highlighting areas for improvement.
Join the Conversation: Learn, Grow, and Amplify
The upcoming professional development session, “Equity Maps: Ensuring Equity in Discussions,” is for anyone committed to fostering inclusivity through conversations. Don’t miss this opportunity to:
Learn: Gain insights into the underlying dynamics of equitable conversations and how they contribute to a more vibrant learning environment.
Grow: Acquire practical strategies for utilizing Equity Maps to enhance the inclusivity and diversity of your discussions.
Amplify: Be part of a movement that amplifies every voice, recognizing the significance of each contribution in shaping well-rounded dialogues.
Equity Maps isn’t just an application; it’s a catalyst for change. Let’s reshape the way we converse, ensuring that every voice is valued, every perspective is explored, and every individual is empowered to share their insights.