Bard IWT Annual Conference

Bard IWT Annual Conference
"I really appreciated the combination of the focused workshop sessions with the wonderfully rich plenary session."
--11th and 12th grade History teacher


April 20, 2018

8:30 A.M. - 4:30 P.M.

April Conference

Tolerance in the Classroom: Microaggressions, Trigger Warnings, and Safe Spaces

In a 2016 survey on school climate, Teaching Tolerance found that “verbal harassment, the use of slurs and derogatory language, and disturbing incidents” are on the rise in schools across America (“After Election Day”). Unsurprisingly, there has also been an increase in articles with headlines like “4 Tips to Teach Kindness,” “Creating Equitable and Just Classrooms” and “Talking About Tolerance.” 

By definition, a classroom is a space where “students gather collectively”—a place where many different individuals come together to form a learning community. As teachers, how this learning community works is largely based on the culture we create in our own classrooms. As the world outside the classroom becomes increasingly complex, how do we create genuinely safe learning environments where all student experience is valued and respected?
This year’s annual conference provides an opportunity for us to think and write together to investigate and grapple with issues around difference and equity in the classroom. More specifically, we’ll focus on how writing-based teaching strategies can help foster the kinds of safe and creative spaces that students thrive in. How might informal writing and active listening help to create an atmosphere of inclusion? Given the evolving terminologies associated with identity, how can we make sure to be attentive to the language we use and promote?
Through experiential workshop sessions and a plenary, this conference will highlight IWT’s writing-based teaching practices and how they might help us foster a more solid classroom community in which open dialogue and culturally responsive curricula embody the definition of a safe space for learning. 

Plenary Speakers

Michael Sadowski

Michael Sadowski

Michael Sadowski is the executive director of Bard Early College Hudson and an associate professor in the Bard MAT program. As an author and researcher, his interview-based work highlights the voices of youth who have traditionally been silenced in schools, communities, and society. His latest book, Safe Is Not Enough (2016), was cited by GLSEN founder Kevin Jennings as "the most important book written on LGBTQ issues in education in my lifetime."

His other books include Portraits of Promise: Voices of Successful Immigrant Students (2013); Adolescents at School (2008), used as a text in teacher education programs in the U.S. and abroad; and In a Queer Voice: Journeys of Resilience from Adolescence to Adulthood, based on a 7-year longitudinal interview study.

His work has been profiled in such media outlets as Education WeekThe Advocate, and National Public Radio. Michael is currently editor of the Youth Development and Education book series for Harvard Education Press and has been a faculty member at Harvard and Stanford universities, editor of the Harvard Education Letter, vice-chair of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, a high school teacher, and a teaching coach in the New York City public schools.
William Webb

William Webb

William Webb is the Director of Maybeck High School in Berkeley, California. He is currently the West Coast Director of the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College.  During his 24 years in education he has worked as a school chaplain, a humanities teacher, a middle school and high school director and as the Director of Classroom Practice for Bard’s MAT program in Delano, California.

In his work for IWT he has taught at Al Quds University in Palestine, St John’s College in Santa Fe, University of Texas in Houston, The Sacramento Public School District, and was co-creator and co-leader of an NEH-sponsored series on teaching sacred texts in the classroom.  He earned his BA from Sarah Lawrence College and his Master’s in Theology from Loyola Marymount College.  He has published essays in Field Notes, La Voz, and Anthem.