Workshops for The 2017 Teach-In at GVSU

I’ll be co-facilitating 3 workshops this month as a part of the fourth annual Teach-In at Grand Valley State University within MLK Commemoration Week.

“The Teach-in is intended for the purpose of mutual education among students, faculty and staff of the GVSU community and intended to address topics related to inequality and systems of oppression, as well as social justice and liberation.  Recognizing the multi-faceted dimensions of these topics, this Teach-in will be a daylong event. The learning objectives of Power, Privilege, and Difficult Dialogues are to raise awareness, inform, create dialogue, and document suggestions for action.”  

My co-facilitated workshop descriptions are as follows:

Students’ Rights to Their Own Language: Implications for SWS and the FMCWAMA

“This session will ask hard questions about the dominance of “Standard Written English” on campus. Is it the “Language of Wider Communication” or, as Alim & Smitherman (2012) call it, the “Language of Whiter Communication”?

We will review statements by professional associations that affirm students’ rights to their own languages and that advise educators to recognize the rule-governed nature and cultural value of multiple dialects. We will take a look at the SWS and Writing Center strategic plans, both of which affirm the legitimacy of African American language systems and celebrate multilingualism.

We will together discuss how the university’s commitment to being inclusive can extend to the treatment of students’ home and community languages. Wrestling with the fact that Edited Academic Written English is the language of power in certain circles, we will brainstorm ways that all students can learn to wield this power, without neglecting to integrate their learning into the dialects that students may need to transform their lives, their professions, and the communities that matter to them.”

Dialogue, Social Identity, and Social Change

“This session will use dialogue methods to engage participants in small and large conversations about social identity, power, and privilege. The opening will teach briefly techniques for effective dialogue. There will be a brief discussion and paired dialogue about what social identities are, how we experience them, and their connection to social institutions and systems.

We will then break up the larger workshop into smaller stations at various points around the room to discuss “hot topics” related to social identities. The student, staff, and faculty facilitators will be at each station to promote effective dialogue, affirming inquiry, and reflective listening.

The objectives for this session will be to allow students to engage in practices related to intergroup dialogue, to be able to define and identify the concept of social identity and the intersections of social identities in their lives, and to participate in dialogues on the connections of social identity to power and social systems.”

Identity Impact: Sharing Stories About The Effect of Identity

“Every person holds multiple identities that impact and shape their experiences. Some of those identities include gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, and body type. While some identities may be more salient to oneself than others, all identities affect how we experience the world around us. Through an interactive activity, participants will reflect on how social identities have impacted them. This activity aims to create meaningful dialogue and self-reflection around lived experiences of oppression and privilege.”

There will be 64 workshops this year facilitated with the collaboration of students, faculty, staff, and community members. Visit the Teach-In webpage to find more information, including the descriptions of all of the remaining workshops.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW

Relando Thompkins-Jones

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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