On Monday, February 25, Faculty and Staff spent their day of inservice working with Visions, Inc., a firm specializing in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion where trained facilitators from across the country work with corporations and a variety of organizations, including independent schools, where they are especially well-known. Over the course of the morning, we participated in small, randomized groups, thoughtfully walking through several aspects of personal identity.
In one activity, Visions challenged the faculty to assess Brentwood's "monoculture," that is, the traits and aspects essential to the identity of the school. Are there any aspects of the monoculture that might exclude members of our community? Are there ways we might rethink our practices as a school that would make everyone feel seen and heard?
Another activity required us to evaluate the various "isms"—racism, ageism, sexism, etc.—to look at which groups are historically included and which are excluded or seen as "other." Each person was challenged to consider where they fell on the spectrum of inclusion to exclusion. Then, to look through the list again and consider which identities they hold most dear. For instance, if I am included in many of the categories, but excluded in an area like gender identity, does that aspect of my identity weigh most heavily on my perception of self as a whole? Do I spend more time thinking about myself in the context of exclusion or in the myriad ways I am included?
These types of experiences allow time for the adults in our school community to self-reflect and gain an understanding of our colleagues so that we can all support our students in more meaningful ways. Brentwood will continue to work with Visions and other organizations to further this very important work.