Annual Conference: Equitable Learning for Our Children and Youth

This free and fully onlineconference features a wide array of educators, students, and community stakeholders who gather to share classroom, team and school level practices that advance equity and responsiveness in education. This year's conference is focused on Equitable Learning for Our Children and Youth. 


Saturday, January 23, 2021, 9:00am-4:30pm EST


9:00am-10:00am EST

"Selfcare, Healing, and Equity Responsive Practices For Educators When the World Feels Heavy"

Dr. Dena Simmons, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

Keynote sponsored by the University of Vermont's Middle Level Teacher Education Program.

Dena Simmons, Ed.D., is the Assistant Director of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, where she supports schools to use the power of emotions to create a more compassionate and just society. Prior to her work at the Center, Dena served as an educator, teacher educator, diversity facilitator, and curriculum developer. She has been a leading voice on teacher education and has written and spoken across the country about social justice pedagogy, diversity, emotional intelligence, and bullying in K-12 school settings, including the White House, the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, the United Nations, two TEDx talks, and a TED talk on Broadway. Dena has been profiled in Education Week, the Huffington Post, NPR, the AOL/PBS project, MAKERS: Women Who Make America, and a Beacon Press Book, Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists. Dena is a recipient of a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a J. William Fulbright Fellowship, an Education Pioneers Fellowship, a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, a Phillips Exeter Academy Dissertation Fellowship, a Hedgebrook Writing Residency, and an Arthur Vining Davis Aspen Fellowship among others. She earned her doctorate degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she recently served as faculty in the Summer Principals Academy. Dena’s research interests include teacher preparedness to address bullying in the K-12 school setting, culturally responsive pedagogy, and the intersection of equity and social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions—all in an effort to ensure and foster justice and safe spaces for all. She is the author of the forthcoming book, White Rules for Black People (St. Martin’s Press, 2021).

Latest Additions to Concurrent Sessions

10:30am-4:30pm EST

The list of concurrent sessions is still in progress and will be finalized in mid-December. Selected sessions include:

Restorative Practices that Focus on Celebrating Students’ Assets

Nancy Ruppert, University of North Carolina, Asheville

Motivating, engaging, and challenging young people starts with a deep commitment to and belief in every child’s potential. By examining our community through an assets-based focus, we turn classrooms, teams, and schools into communities of care. Everyday in my class begins with restorative practices.

Integrating Social Justice and Equity into Humanities

Breana Desjardin & Rob Labate, Rutland Middle School

This unit is designed to more fluidly incorporate Spanish into the eighth grade humanities team as issues of identity, equity, and social justice are explored in an effort to increase student engagement. The novel Tangerine by Edward Bloor will be used as students explore social (in)justices and (in)equities that have occurred throughout history to the present day, including cases of immigration and Latinos in the United States.

Using Student Reflection on IEP Goals to Develop Reflective Mindsets

Amy Hamblett, Two Rivers Supervisory Union

This project is designed to help special educators think about how to harness the power of the individualized connections special education teachers have with their students on IEPs, in order to help students develop the routine practice of, and stamina for, reflection.

Providing Equitable Learning Opportunities for Students in Person and Through Distance Learning

Jennifer Severance, Mill River Union High School

ELA Curriculum in schools has historically been one-sided, not integrating the aspects of equity prevalent to our youth. Instead of basing the curriculum on mainly white American authors that utilize the white privilege power that was “given” to them, why not integrate more equitable material that the students can connect with?

Confronting Stereotypes and Misconceptions in the Spanish Classroom

Lucia Johnson, Lyndon Town School

This year I have been focusing on confronting stereotypes and misconceptions about Spanish and the people who speak it.

Exploring Identity with 4th and 5th Graders

Margaret Dunne, Mount Holly School

This exploration focused on supporting students in their own growing personal awareness of their identity and their connections with each other and our world. It brought opportunities to discuss topics like race, gender, ability, and more. This work strengthened my relationship with students, contributed to meaningful personalization, and strengthened our class community.

Narrative and its Relation to Student Identity

Robert Ruley, Mount Holly School

To study and measure if and how the use of narrative can be used to increase students’ sense of their identity. Through reading and writing narratives, students will be exposed to and asked to consider how the characters’ identities might be similar or different to their own.

Advisory Impact

Erica Caetano, Yvonne Panarello, Danielle Pinson, Rutland Middle School

We implemented a school wide advisory this year at our school. We have had advisory in the past, but this is the first time we are following a united curriculum and have set expectations across all teachers. We wanted to check in with students to see their levels of connection with this advisory structure.

Exploring Identity in Science Class

Lawrence Montague, University of Vermont

How can building student identity and voice into learning increase engagement in science? This action research challenged middle grade students at The Schoolhouse Learning Center in South Burlington to connect their culture and interests to meaningful and relevant work in science class.

Resources for All

Jody Chamberlin & Meg Frye, Williamstown Middle High School

We will share ways that Google, FlipGrid, and other sources can be used to make your classroom content accessible to all students in the classroom and virtually. There will be time for attendees to share resources as well. You will walk away with things you can try the next day.

Using Feedback to Promote Student Growth

Brett Mastrangelo, Green Mountain Union High School

Do different feedback methods promote varying outcomes for individualized student growth? Feedback is a critical component for learning as well as for revision, but is not one size fits all. Providing feedback through the same method, even on similar student work, may not produce similar outcomes. Additionally, feedback can be provided by others besides the classroom teacher.

The Role of Advisory Groups in Creating Community in Middle Schools

Melissa Holzman, Saint Michael's College/Hunt Middle School

This project investigates the degree to which middle-school advisory groups offer a cross-section of seventh- and eighth-grade students opportunities to develop close connections with peers and trusted adults. Attention will be paid to how young adolescents in an alternative education program for students with behavioral issues respond to advisory groups.

Take a peek at our last conference at Advancing Equity in the Middle Grades - 2020!

Please email Middle Grades Collaborative with any questions.