MCRC@ADVIS DEI Conference: 10/11/19
Affinity Groups in the Middle School
Introductory: New to topic / subject matter
Equity & Inclusion Exemplars: Programs, Models, Best Practices, Promising Next Practices
Round 1 only
Gabmara Ãlvarez-Spychalski, MS Spanish Teacher, Grade 7 Dean, MS Diversity and Equity Co-Chair, The Baldwin School
Affinity groups are very common amongst upper school divisions. But are middle school students too young for them? In this workshop we will discuss why affinity groups are critical to the racial identity development of adolescents based on William Cross's Black American Racial Identity Development Model (other iterations of this model exist for different groups and are applicable as such). We will explore different activities and events that can occur in Middle School affinity groups and attendees will participate in one of these activities. Walk away ready to implement concrete materials for your own MS affinity group. By creating these important spaces for our middle schoolers, we can support our students while they grapple with and grow into their racial identities.
When thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion work, specifically dealing with race identity and affinity spaces, it's often very Upper School heavy, where Middle School tends to be left out of the conversation. While there are workshops that discuss the "how" in regards to steps for starting affinity groups and how their groups are run, I'm often left not knowing how to explain the need for this space and without the opportunity to discuss ideas for how to best support students during this affinity time.
We will discuss 1) Why it is important to begin affinity groups in middle school. 2) What activities have been effective in best supporting our students during this affinity space time. 3) What events can be planned in order to support our students inside and outside of their school community.
is the Middle School Spanish Teacher, Grade 7 Dean and Diversity and Equity Co-chair at The Baldwin School. She has presented her workshop "Cultural Competency: Theory into Action" which focusses on addressing microaggressions in the classroom, at the PAIS and Latinx Youth Conferences. Additionally, she co-presented a workshop at the NAIS People of Color Conference entitled "Colorism in the Latinx Community." She officially piloted and has advised Baldwin’s Middle School Black Student Union for the past five years.
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