reCommitting to our deeper whys

To kick off a semester like no other–amid a pandemic, insurrection and impeachment in the US, and multiple other crises the world over–I asked future educators to take a moment to consider why they want to teach, who they will be teaching, and what it means to teach with attentiveness to literacies and technologies in the current moment by watching a video from Dr. Ernest Morrell where he discusses his approach.

We then shared a commitment we’d make for our future teaching. I present, Our Commitments…


I am so glad we began this way. It reminded me of my own deeper whys and to keep those centered in this incredibly difficult time.

This also made me realize that it is time to check in on the commitments I made for Fall 2020 after working with teachers who, like these future educators, had inspired me by their actions to address the inequities “remote learning in the middle of a global pandemic brought to light for them,” and commitment to take actionable “steps in combating systemic racism in the structures and practices of schooling.”

So, here were my commitments and what I’ve done, along with the honest check on what I’ve not done…yet.

  1. I will coordinate an EdTech & Equity Virtual conference for local teachers to share & learn from each other about their remote teaching experiences across school sites.
    • Thanks to over 50 teachers, ISU faculty, administrators, and parents, and my co-pilot, Dr. Robyn Seglem, we pulled off Connecting the DOTS, which was not just a conference, but a 10-part webinar and website. More than 900 teachers, administrators, and parents participated in the fall. More content is being posted this spring and the project moves forward.
    • Check out Connecting the DOTS: http://bit.ly/connectinglearning
  2. I will pursue the opportunity to host a 2021 Transformative Teacher-Educator Fellowship Summer Institute at ISU where teacher educators can grapple with the new forms of social technologies, media, and activism that have shifted everyday life, but not so much teacher education.
    • Yes, in the works! We have developed a four-prong approach to our next steps as the College of Education, with summer institutes for young people, teachers, and teacher educators as one of the prongs.
  3. I will conduct an audit of my courses’ scope & sequences in effort to more explicitly name racism, xenophobia, sexism, etc. within edtech rather lumping them under the banner of “equity” where more focus ends up going to issues of access.
    • This one has begun and will be an ongoing commitment. As I teach each course, I have and will foreground discussions of educational justice that explicitly name systemic biases, and I have and will push us (me included) to look beyond equity in a system that perpetuates harm toward one that is more just.
  4. I will take this opportunity to reimagine schools & education writ large rather than trying to get us back to a “normal” that was not healthy to begin with.
    • Not there yet. I don’t think I’ve looked up yet. But I need to. “Return” plans are being made everywhere.
  5. And perhaps, most importantly, I will find a way to meaningfully connect with #AltAction teens I haven’t seen since shutdown.
    • Sadly, this hasn’t happened either. I will.

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