This past week, I was privileged to attend the 4th Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) Conference held at The Conference Center at the Maritime Institute (MITAGS) in Linthicum Heights. See full details of conference program by clicking here.
Hundreds of teachers, educators, and students gathered for this annual conference that evolved out of the Culturally Responsive Teaching and Training Program at CCBC. I took a lot of pictures to give you a sense of how large and amazing the conference was.
CCBC states that the CRT Conference “gives students, advocates and educators an opportunity to gain a valuable, high-impact learning experience through engagement in thought-provoking topics on inter-culturalism and global diversity in education.”
As part of the conference, I also briefly spoke at a student panel at the conclusion of the conference mostly profusely thanking teachers for (a) taking the time to stay at the end to hear a “lecture” from their students lol, and (b) for their tireless work and efforts at self-improvement — what I referred to as teachers working hard to ensure that we — the students — work hard.
I have always held the greatest esteem and admiration for our educators — specifically tutors, teachers and professors. I have benefited first-hand from under the tutelage of my beloved teachers and I have gone through my harshest adversities being encouraged by my teachers to move on forward and carry on.
To everyone who attended this fascinating conference: thank you for making the world inside and outside the classroom a much better place. We love you.
All conference activities, transportation, meals and hotel accommodations were pre-paid and provided at no cost to the students. A heavy dose of THANK YOU goes to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for sponsoring us students and helping train us (and through us — our beloved teachers) in culturally relevant pedagogy, which was an integral part of the CRT mission. Because of the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities for All initiative, we were able to join in the conversation as advocates and participants of our own educational journeys. Because of Mellon Foundation, we attended breakout sessions and presentations. Because of Mellon Foundation, we also received complimentary hotel stay and meals.
Coming from a die-hard Mellon scholar to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: Thank you, thank you, thank you!
CCBC recognized us as part of the Education Town Hall, gave us a platform on stage to address our conference attendees, and partake in one-on-one sessions with keynote speakers. In doing so, CCBC definitely had us involved in the culture of culturally responsive teaching at the highest level.
I teased my fellow student ambassadors that they missed out on so much. And I will tease my readers in this blog post as well. Yes, you missed out. This was a quite impressive conference and we participated in a Thursday night open mic and had such a high level of participation. I particularly enjoyed the overnight stay at the hotel where I (for the first time in years) flipped on the television and wondered how much of an idiot I am. Get it? TV = idiot box, lol. (But some really smart people watch TVs too!)
But on a serious note, this is what we did:
- Met and interacted with other like-minded — and dare I say, — highly-motivated and passionate, students
- Participated in 2 days of stimulating discussions, lectures and activities
- Learned from prominent scholars and thinkers in the field of education, including personal discussions with keynote speakers (Dr. Kimberly R. Moffitt and Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings)
- Stayed in overnight guestrooms with other CCBC students
- Discovered ideas that will shape our insight and intellectual growth
- Toured the Maritime Museum (see pics above)
I do have one suggestion for future CRT conferences. At times I felt that the conference was too narrowly focused on immediate local issues of race and culture. To be sure, we are all Americans (or aspiring Americans) wishing to make our country’s educational system more responsive to the diverse needs of students in our communities. But I do wish that the conference also had a more global approach, i.e. we had more time to explore the global aspects of education and how culture weaves in and out of it. Several students agreed that the conference could be more “inclusive” of international issues and speak more about students who don’t neatly fit the strict distinctions of issues of race here in the United States.
I very much regret failing to take notes at the conference (just as much as I regret not knowing that there was an indoor swimming pool right underneath us!). I usually take notes in classes, but I somehow thought I could pack all the information in the recesses of my mind. I was wrong. The whole flow of discussions and talks was too much for me to absorb. There was so much to learn. By the time I settled down in the bus back to CCBC Catonsville on Friday evening, I felt lethargic but also happy. Happy that important issues were being discussed and that both students and teachers wanted to know more and understand each other. I especially recalled the keynote speeches and was moved by the renewed focus on students in pedagogy. That we are not commodities to be treated in an educational setting, but actual human beings who are willing to and capable of learning.
Some breakout sessions that I attended included Addressing Equity in Math Courses (where I discussed classroom issues with CCBC Math Professor Amanda Gassman) and Discovering Self-Identity (where a focus was on recognizing sub-cultures within cultures).
If I get a chance, I will certainly attend the 5th Annual CRT Conference in the future! We are very grateful to the CRT Conference Committee as well as the CCBC President, Senior Staff, Employees and Board of Trustees for sustaining this conference in its 4th year.
Learning is a process we will partake in for the remainder of our lives, no matter how learned we may imagine ourselves to become.