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Equity in Education Takes Center Stage at ILA and DSU Event

ILA Staff
 | May 19, 2023

meta-DSUEducators and school leaders from across the United States and from as far away as Trinidad and Tobago came together for “Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Through Literacy,” held at Delaware State University (DSU) in Dover, DE. The event, developed by the International Literacy Association (ILA) in partnership with DSU, focused on literacy teaching and learning practices that create inclusive sites of belonging and yield more equitable student outcomes.

The face-to-face event, ILA’s first since COVID-19, featured an impressive slate of Delaware educators and administrators in addition to literacy leaders from across the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond. Among them: DSU alumnus Jahsha Tabron, Delaware’s 2022 Teacher of the Year.

Tabron, like fellow keynote speakers Michele Myers, an author and Wake Forest University professor, and Stephen Peters, education consultant and past president of the ILA Board of Directors, delivered the message that what students need more than anything is to be seen.

“We tend to notice everything we think [students] are missing instead of the wonderful things they are coming with,” Tabron said. “We don’t need to change our students to see their assets and visualize their success. We don’t need to change students to teach them. We don’t need them to fit into our boxes. We need to get them to see themselves and be proud of themselves and live and grow beyond their boxes so they don’t continue to fit into small expectations.”

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“It’s good to know pedagogy and curriculum, but it’s better to know your students,” Peters noted, while Myers encouraged educators to reflect on why they had chosen the profession in the first place: “It’s not just what we do; it’s not just a job. It is our purpose.”

Topics covered during the all-day event included planning lessons that centers today’s diverse student population; building foundational literacy skills through diverse, authentic children’s literature that honors backgrounds, identities, and cultures; using think-alouds to better understand students and promote comprehension growth; and coaching as a means of supporting equitable outcomes for students.

Kenneth Kunz, president of the ILA Board of Directors and a session presenter, was thrilled to see the room filled with attendees who share in ILA’s mission of equitable access to literacy around the world.

“When literacy changemakers intentionally enhance teaching to prioritize equity through access, [affirm] students’ identities, and [design] inclusive lessons, it is not at the expense of others,” he said. “In fact, we all become better together in this beautiful, diverse and globally connected world.”

For more information about the event, visit literacyworldwide.org.

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