Doctoral candidates in multicultural women and gender studies Esther Ajayi-Lowo (graduate teaching assistant) and Carla Wilson recently conducted an anti-racist pedagogy workshop for instructors in the First-Year Composition (FYC) Program. Jacquelyn Hoermann-Elliott, FYC director and faculty in the English, speech and foreign languages (ESFL) department, said the idea for a workshop came from a discussion with Genevieve West, chair of ESFL and multicultural women and gender studies.
“The Black Lives Matter movement that garnered much-needed attention to issues of race in our society and in our education system this summer called our attention to many concerns that we as educators and administrators wanted to address,” Hoermann-Elliott said. “We also recognized, however, that we had much to learn, especially from our multicultural women and gender studies colleagues in regard to race in the classroom.”
They chose an ongoing professional development event as an opportunity to “really focus in on how FYC instructors might make their classrooms — both online and hybrid — a safer space for students of color,” she said. Ajayi-Lowo and Wilson were chosen to develop the two-hour-long training, which covered topics such as creating a welcoming space for all students and becoming more comfortable discussing race, privilege, oppression, white supremacy, and intersectionality.
The workshop even offered example materials and assignments to give instructors ideas for their own teaching practices, Hoermann-Elliott said, adding “Their (Ajayi-Lowo’s and Wilson’s) commitment to liberatory pedagogy challenged and inspired us, and I hope we can invite them or other MWGS instructors back in the spring so that we might continue having these important conversations.”