These Pros Were Happy to Give Up Their Saturday. We would love to make you happy on your day off too!Monday 09 Jun 2014
By Debra Chasnoff, President/Senior Producer | Professional Development, Straightlaced
On a beautiful sunny Saturday, forty professionals showed up to watch Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up and learn strategies for how to open up conversations about gender and sexuality with their students. They came from 10 counties and wore many different hats: foster care program coordinator, health education specialist, teacher and director of curriculum and culture, nurse practitioner, director of diversity and inclusion, social emotional counselor. Some came to deepen their expertise; some had never had any professional development before about these topics and many had previously avoided addressing these sensitive issues with youth.
Immediately GroundSpark facilitators Serian Strauss and Eileen Glaser set the tone for the day. This was going to be a safe place to practice talking about tough issues. Everyone would leave with a concrete action plans. And, we were going to have fun!
For six hours the group examined the messages that young people receive about how to act, think, look, love, and learn—depending on their gender and culture. Using the stories of the real high school students in Straightlaced, they then learned and shared ways to support the youth they work with who are going through the same kinds of things. They practiced how to handle difficult scenarios on the fly—like hearing homophobic language in the hallways or talking with colleagues who are uncomfortable with a transgender student. Finally each person brought all the resources and learning together by sketching out personal action plans that made sense for their workplace…not to mention a great Thai food buffet for lunch!
I showed up at the end to say hello and was heartened to see so many glowing faces. As we handed out Straightlaced DVDs, curriculum guides, and movie posters to participants on their way out, they were effusive:
” I would love for any day of professional development to be even 50% as enriching as the conversations led today!”
” I so appreciated your care, inclusiveness and organization. You created a safe space that modeled a wonderful example for us as educators.”
“Now I have a structure for how I will start, as well as a deeper understanding of the race/gender expression issue.”
“Serian and Eileen did an amazing job facilitating a multi-layered, sometimes difficult topic.”
GroundSpark was able to provide this free training thanks to generous funding from the San Francisco Foundation. Now we are looking for opportunities to bring this kind of professional development program to other areas in the country. If you are connected to a funder or organization that could host this kind of professional development, please get in touch with our education program coordinator, Eileen Glaser, at email@example.com!
We would love to make you happy on your day off too!