Courageous Conversations

Courageous Conversations is our way of building our students' and staff's capacity to engage in conversations around race and equity. We use a modified Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) protocol. This protocol allows students to enter the conversation at their own developmental level and allows the teachers to facilitate in whichever direction the students take it without feel as though they are putting in their own opinion as educator/adult.
 
The teacher team choose a photograph or a piece of art, such as Rosa Parks on a segregated bus, the comparison of 2 classrooms in the south depicting segregation, children working in the mines in South America, students protesting with Malala, or Kamala Harris with the shadow of Ruby Bridges are a few we have used.
 
We ask the students, Pre K-5th grade, 4 questions:
  • What do you see?
  • What makes you think that? (requires them to use evidence--builds capacity for using text evidence and backing up thoughts with facts)
  • How does this make you feel?
  • What connections can you make to your life or what wonderings do you have?
 
We engage the students in this cycle 6 times per year.
 
We only provide the context to the photograph after the conversation is over as to not influence any of their thoughts with context.