Competence Precedes Confidence – Thoughts on Equity from the IDEAS Conference 2019

I was fortunate to attend the second annual Initiatives For Developing Equity and Achievement For Students (IDEAS) Conference at Bentley College on Saturday. The title of this year’s conference was New IDEAS for Developing an Equity Mindset. After the opening keynote by Zaretta Hammond, my notebook and my mind were full. Hammond, the author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, gave those in attendance a great deal to think about.

While I could never do justice to Hammond’s Keynote, my biggest takeaway revolved around Hammond’s thoughts on the increased focus on social justice and equity in schools. She lamented the fact that conversations surrounding these topics have been going on for quite some time, yet the achievement gap for black students remains.

“Children leveling up needs to be the barometer,” Hammond noted. “All of the social justice talk we have been having and we still have the same data. Competence precedes confidence and social justice is focused on confidence when it should be focused on competence.”

While I could go on and share an endless number of inspirational words from Hammond, I want to dwell on the preceding quote in relation to myself. My own challenge is to become more competent in talking about matters of race from a position of knowledge and not settle for a sense of misguided confidence in the fact that having the best interest of all students in mind is sufficient.

“People are doing a lot of talk about equity, we need to have more doing.”

Zaretta Hammond

Published by Patrick Larkin

I feel blessed to be an educator. I have had the good fortune of working as an English teacher, an Assistant Principal, a Principal and an Assistant Superintendent. I currently serve as the Assistant Superintendent of Burlington Public Schools (MA).

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