Athens, Ga. – A day-long workshop that will provide K-12 teachers with strategies to better interact with students in diverse school settings will be hosted by the University of Georgia College of Education on May 18 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the UGA Hotel and Conference Center at the Georgia Center.
Research studies show that opportunity and achievement gaps exist between black and white students and that those gaps persist between students born into impoverished families and those who are born of privilege. While these gaps exist before students enter school, teachers can play a significant role in students’ academic paths, researchers say.
The workshop, titled “Making Connections: Closing Opportunity Gaps in Diverse School Settings,” will feature professional development sessions in which teachers will scrutinize their overlooked classroom practices and how they influence the ways in which they interrelate with students.
The first half of the workshop will include a session in which teachers will identify and consider the inherent biases and stereotypes they may hold. In the afternoon, participants will practice developing strategies to overcome those biases and stereotypes, thus finding ways to better engage and educate students.
Sheneka M. Williams, an assistant professor in the department of lifelong education, administration and policy and an affiliate faculty member with UGA’s Institute for African-American Studies, will be the main speaker for the workshop.
Williams offers expertise in teaching school personnel how to interact and engage with the broader school community, regardless of racial and social class barriers. She was one of three chapter authors featured in a recent National Press Club panel discussion highlighting a new book edited by Richard D. Kahlenberg of The Century Foundation in Washington, D.C., titled The Future of School Integration: Socioeconomic Diversity as an Education Reform Strategy. The book looks at how socioeconomic school integration has been pursued as a strategy to reduce the proportion of high-poverty schools and therefore improve the performance of students overall. It examines whether students learn more in socioeconomically integrated schools and pre-K programs than in high-poverty institutions and explores the costs and benefits of integration programs.
Williams taught high school in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for six years before returning to school to earn her Ed.D. in educational leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University in 2007.
The cost of the conference is $150 per participant, which also includes a copy of the book, Start Where You Are but Don’t Stay There, by Richard Milner. For more information or to register, see www.coe.uga.edu/events/.