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GSE conference explores solutions to attacks on race and diversity in education

Attendees at the ninth annual RILE conference collaborate during a Saturday workshop. (Photo: Rod Searcey)
Attendees at the ninth annual RILE conference collaborate during a Saturday workshop. (Photo: Rod Searcey)

GSE conference explores solutions to attacks on race and diversity in education

The annual conference on Race, Inequality, and Language in Education (RILE) brings together scholars to share research and discuss its applications.

How will educators, policymakers, and scholars work together to move forward despite changing perspectives on race and diversity in education? That question was one of a few core topics at the ninth annual Race, Inequality, and Language in Education (RILE) fall conference on Oct. 12-14. 

Hosted by Stanford Graduate School of Education’s (GSE) RILE program, the three-day conference included discussions on affirmative action, helping students manage racialized stress, preparing teachers to teach multilingual students, and responding to negative media coverage of education.

“As a PhD student you can often find yourself isolated and doing some of the work alone, and focusing on your singular projects,” said Derric Heck, a doctoral candidate in the RILE program who studies race and identity with regard to teacher development. “But conferences like this remind you that there is a bigger community of people doing this work as well, so figure out how to tap into their intellect, energy, and experiences.”

New to the conference this year was the addition of a design workshop that trains teachers and departments for diversity, led by Kathryn Ribay, PhD ’22, an assistant professor at San Jose State University; Kathy Sun, PhD '15, an associate professor at Santa Clara University; Maricela Montoy-Wilson, MA ‘09, assistant director of elementary education at the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP); and Jeff Camarillo, assistant director of secondary education at STEP.

“Part of why we did the design workshop is to help people come up with translatable, actionable solutions to the ideas and research being presented to them,” said Bryan Brown, a GSE professor chair of the RILE program. “It was an opportunity to model design thinking and at the same time help them build solutions for equity.”

More than 1,200 attendees participated in the conference online and in-person this year, including 373 registrants that attended the design workshop.

“One of the best parts of going to conferences is just the conversations you can have in between presentations, but I like that they incorporated collaboration into this particular session,” said Kyalamboka Brown, a RILE PhD candidate studying students’ identities around mathematics.

“They took us through the design thinking process so we got the chance to stop, reflect, and work together rather than just ingesting information,” she said. 

In addition to being equipped with new tools for tackling issues of equity and inclusion in education, 2020 STEP alum and 6th grade science teacher Jésus Rojas said that one of his biggest takeaways was a sense of critical optimism.

“Just hearing from the professionals here, and learning that the resources I need are not as difficult to access as I thought, motivates me to keep going,” said Rojas, who teaches in Menlo Park and says he’s currently navigating how to promote equity through group work in his class. 

“There’s progress being made with these issues, and I don’t feel as isolated knowing that there are people farther ahead than I am, feeling the same things I feel.”

Faculty mentioned in this article: Bryan Brown

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