For the first time in DVC history, an anti-racism listening session will be held via Zoom on January 5 in order for students and families to share their stories and experiences of identity with DVC staff.
A listening session is similar to a focus group where any number of participants, big or small, get together and share their stories and experiences on a certain topic to then discuss the topic. The participants are asked to talk about their knowledge, experiences, and beliefs on the topic, sometimes answering questions if inclined to do so.
DVC’s first time hosting a listening session will be a good opportunity that allows the school to hear students’ and families’ input on what the school can work on to provide a safe environment.
Stories and experiences surrounding identity, and whether students and families feel that their full identity is embraced by DVC can be a sensitive topic, especially in today’s age, so it’s best that students and family feel comfortable while participating in hopes that they’ll be able to open up more. Steven Covelman, the 11th grade U.S. History teacher, talks about different obstacles that can be faced while talking about this serious topic.
“We want to make sure that we’re really being supportive but we also understand that sometimes, things that people might want to share feel really sensitive and personal and they might not want to necessarily do that or not feel comfortable doing that,” said Covelman. “And so, we’re hopeful that we set things up in a way where we really get, like, make people feel like they can be honest, and share them true to their true selves.”
While the listening session is being held virtual, it could potentially be more successful than in person. Amber Keyes, alumni, says that a virtual listening session serves as more of a pro than a con.
“I think something in person would be an obstacle, but I’ve said this before, that virtual learning has pros and cons and I think a pro of it, everything being virtual, is that people are in the comfort of their own home,” said Keyes. “Therefore being more comfortable, I think the virtual professional aspect of the listening sessions is a pro, not a con.”
This is a great opportunity for the school and staff, to make the environment safer and more comfortable for students and families after hearing different stories and experiences. Kristina Becht, Math and Intro to Computer Science teacher, spoke about the benefits she hopes will come from the listening session.
“[I hope this allows] staff to be more connected with students in understanding where students are coming from, what their experiences are, what their challenges have been, what they’re, like, the complexity of parts of their identity,” said Becht. “And, so I’m hoping that brings us more together as a community because we will understand each other even more than we did before.”
It’s important to hear about how students and families are being treated by DVC staff, in order to make those big changes that will affect how comfortable and equal everyone feels in such a diverse environment and not make people feel as if they have to hide their true self.
“The more voices that we have at the table participating, the better because we value everyone’s voice, and we can’t make, like, really good choices without hearing from a lot of people,” said Covelman.