course »Teachable Moments in the Child Welfare System: Leaning in and Learning from Youths’ and Colleagues’ Oops (Microaggression) Moments

Date: 2/7/2019, 9:15 am—4:45 pm
County: Alameda County
CEUs: 6
Location: Berkeley
Sponsor: A Better Way, Inc.
Phone: 510-601-0203
Teachable moments happen when you least expect them. A teachable moment is an unplanned opportunity that arises our interactions, in this case with youth in care, which provides a chance to offer insight or reflection. While many of us are skilled in engaging these moments in subjects of academic study, or areas of emotional and therapeutic work, we have difficulty in seizing these moments as they relate to racism, sexism, and other oppressions. Because it is not something that you can plan for, it will require a digression that may sidetrack the original lesson plan or program. And when there is no lesson plan or program, it still involves interrupting someone when a statement has been made.

Taking this tangent is worthwhile because it is organically timed to maximize impact on the youth or colleague who has the oops moment. Teachable (microaggression) moments occur spontaneously and they happen all the time. Here are a few examples:
  1. You are with a group of youth in the community and two men walk by holding hands. One young person says “eeeew gross” and the others laugh.
  2. You are in an intake meeting with a young person and their elder caregiver. You notice that your colleague speaks more slowly, deliberately, and at an increased volume, when speaking to the elder caregiver.
  3. You part of an IEP team meeting with the youth in care, their foster family, school social worker, teacher(s), and wrap services. The school social worker starts the meeting out by stating “Thanks to everyone for making time to attend this meeting for Devin. Since we don’t have much time, let’s jump right in to discussing how Devin did at meeting last quarter’s IEP goals.” The school social worker never makes eye contact with Devin or acknowledges their presence.
  4. You are a teacher in a classroom for youth with behavioral support needs. During group work, you notice students teasing a boy in their group. They are laughing and pointing at a girl in a second group across the room. Then one of the boys in the first group thrusts his hips several times in a sexual fashion. The students who notice fall out laughing.
  5. You are on the selection committee for a middle management opening. Your colleague Denae, who is a black woman, is one of the applicants. During her interview, a white colleague comments on how eloquently worded Denae’s career objective. It’s apparent that Denae is off-put by the comment but nothing is said.
Through experiential activities, group process, and practice, this session aims to: a) prepare you to identify teachable (microaggression) moments like these and more, b) help you learn to maintain a calm and collected presence when you do, and c) help you find the best ways to lean into and learn from teachable moments to educate those involved.