Creating Safety

Jonathan: All right.

Jodi: We know many of you have more than three people in your group, so if you want to either let the next couple of folks go or begin a conversation, we’re going to give you about five minutes just to continue your conversation and start to pass out those index cards … oh you have your index cards already.

You can also start to think about the questions or prompts that you have. We’ll call you back in one or two questions or prompts per group. Thanks Natalia.

Natalia: Yes, we know that many of you have more than three people in your group, we also know that you want to probably continue the conversation for a few more minutes. We’re going to give you about five more minutes and then collect the index cards.

Natalia: Yes, all of you with index cards those are for you to write a question or a provocation for the coffee talkers. If you need an index card, I will bring them around.

Jonathan: I am walking around with index cards, if you don’t have them please raise your hands so that I can give you one. Anyone need an index card? Again if you need an index card please raise your hand so we can get it to you. Last call for index cards, if you don’t have one, we have them at each of the end of the aisles.

Jodi: All right.

Jonathan: All right.

Jodi: All right. We’re going to ask you all to stop your conversation which is very difficult, I know. If you could please take a moment to jot something down on your index card. There are some index cards ready over here. Index cards, thank you Javarius.

Jonathan: Okay, if everyone would go ahead and start wrapping everything up and placing questions on the index cards that would be great. We can go ahead and start our open forum. If you have an index card and you want your question to be asked, please pass them to the end of the aisle. We have Jayeesha on this side picking them up; we have Noel in the back picking up index cards at the end of the aisle. We have Angelique on this side, so please pass them down once you have created your question.


Now that we have gotten our index cards to the center aisles, I’m going to go ahead and start introducing our coffee talkers. Coffee talkers please stand up, raise your hands, whatever you need to do to identify yourself.

Jodi: Jonathan is going to introduce all the folks in the middle.

Jonathan: I’m going to begin with the youth for equity today we have Alejandro, MK, Stephanie, Niqua. Educator we have Sabrina, Ann, Ayla, Jodi, Jonathan, Carla, Albert, Ziad, Joecephus, Lisa, Zac and Ana. The question for today is how.

Jodi: It went off the screen; we’re just going to look at it again.

Jonathan: Why and how should we focus on equity and social justice in creating democratic learning environments? We’re going to start with the 16 coffee talkers to go ahead and answer this question. Again we have microphones at the end of each aisle where people can begin to line up and ask questions. We also have the index card questions. Whichever ones the coffee talkers want to start first, feel free and you’ll get a microphone.

Why and how focus on equity and social justice and true democratic learning environments.

Niqua: Niqua again from Atlanta with Project South and I feel like why and how we should focus on equity and social justice is basically because we’re in the 21st century and a lot of the ways that the education system was built in the 20th century is different now. How we live in our communities is different than how we lived in the 20th century.

Also how people identify themselves in their community is different. There’s many different struggles across the nation, across the south, across the world and specifically in the united states and in the south, it’s a lot of queer liberation, a lot of undocumented youth, a lot of black males being targeted in our communities, so understanding what’s taking place in our communities is really important and to add to democratic learning environments and one of those environments is the People Movement Assembly, the Southern Movement Assembly. This type of space I feel where we all can learn in, engage in and grow with each other.

I don’t want to go too long but that’s why I feel like why we need social justice and equity because there’s a lot of people that’s not getting these things and their community does not have access to these things. They’re really disenfranchised and underprivileged so that’s why I say you need to focus on it.

Jonathan: Thank you.

Jodi 4: Good morning, how’s everybody doing? I have a question, how many people here look at equity and justice as part of your core being? Raise your hand high. Looking at it from a position of existing almost like a pillar or maybe a way that you look at the world or things that impact you in your community and so when we look at the questions, sometimes we tend to put equity out there as a thing to go after or a thing to teach; like it’s one of those things in those boxes that you put in your curriculum.

Today we’re going to look at social justice, tomorrow we’re going to look at equity; I think it’s a good thing but I also think that we need to or I need to look at equity and social justice. How it exists for me as a metric, so in any discussion I go into or any space that I enter, I look at equity and justice as a guiding value and a lens and a framework to look at any issue and any impact. All of us are called to something in terms of this work and sometimes we get caught up in a lie of the discussion of issues and equity and justice, that framework gets lost some time.

For me it is a foundational principle and value that no matter what the issue is, no matter what space it is; it could be in the kitchen talk, it could be in the bathroom with myself, looking at an article or a magazine, it could be anywhere, any space that you hold dear to you in terms of engagement of issues; equity and justice is the lens and the principle and the pillar that I live my life on even in discussions with my partner and my kids. Thank you.

Jonathan: Thank you.

Sabrina: Hello, I’m going to my best to not zip through. I’m going to warn everybody that I talk quickly. I’m Sabrina and when I think about why and how, especially the how, focusing on equity and social justice in democratic learning environments, I often think about how it’s not automatic that any given space is going to be a democratic one. It’s not automatic that you’re going to just be free to exercise the rights that democracy requires. It’s not automatic that you’ll have the time and space to do that and those are things that you constantly need to fight and organize for.

I come from a union sort of lens of this because especially as teachers, I personally have the experience of being retaliated against for running a democratic classroom not far from here in Denver, literally was basically banned from teaching in the school. There’s definite pressures to fit students into a very undemocratic system and so it takes conscious effort to not only work against that in your own personal practice and in your own habits as learners as teachers, but also to organize among colleagues, among community to create the safety that you need in order to do that effectively. That’s what I think about it in terms of the how because we need to think about, “how do we make space for this to happen” and “how do we make sure that this is something that goes on in all classrooms not just private schools, not just ones in particular communities” but how does this become the norm across schools.