The aim of this four-part workshop series was to jointly develop ideas, methods and activities to actively intervene in systems of oppression in schools.
We first used the first block of the workshop to get to know each other. We shared our experiences as teachers and personal visions regarding education. The second block was about reflecting on how identities such as race, class, gender, sexuality, and physical abilities shape us. We took the insights of this reflection further in the third block, looking more closely at the impact of our identity/-ies on learning and power dynamics in (class) spaces. The challenge in the final block was to synthesize our collected findings and joint knowledge together, to develop a toolkit that would enable us to be more active and equitable in our daily classroom practice.
Our first (online) workshop was designed for us to get to know each other, to build mutual trust for the shared learning and unlearning processes within our workshop series.
For example, to learn about the participants’ respective contexts, we invited them to sketch the classrooms in which they work. In another step, they drew a sketch of the power structures in their schools. All drawings were presented in the group and formed a basis for further joint discussions.
In the second workshop, we wanted to become aware of the complexity of identity and reflect on our own identity-related privileges and positions of power. Participants could approach this goal in different ways. The G.R.A.C.E.S. and Power Flower exercises offered methods to deal with one’s own identity and to make positioning in society visible. Based on a quotation from Stuart Hall, we also had the opportunity to discuss identity as a construct that is created through self-allocation and allocations by others.
The intent of the third workshop was to recognize power dynamics and their connection to identity and intersectionality. For this, we first explored Paulo Freire’s theoretical banker- and problem-oriented concept in more detail, to become more aware of our own teaching and learning patterns. After an “ideal world scenario,” in which we drew our ideal fantasies of school and effective relationships, each participant developed their own research question, to be tested as an intervention in their own work context before the next workshop. This research question was to involve a new, non-hierarchical teaching and learning method aimed at changing power dynamics and enabling (more) active interventions in oppressive situations in the work context.
The final workshop focused on sharing, reflecting, and setting intentions as educators. We first shared our research questions that participants had developed and tried out in the classroom. We also collectively reflected on the practical strategies and techniques observed in the overall workshop series and finally, participated in a mind map visioning process to develop a plan for further development in pedagogy and practice.