Anika O. Walker-Johnson — Real Talk: Using Literature to Redefine Conversations with Students about Race

Session Information:
Real Talk: Using Literature to Redefine Conversations with Students about Race

In the last year, the confluence of events related to the pandemic, social unrest, and a contentious election season have highlighted now, more than ever, the necessity for developing and maintaining healthy classroom cultures in which conversations about challenging subjects (e.g. race, gender, class, etc.) can thrive.  Presenting students with a complex glimpse into the challenges of the human experience across varied identities can foster empathy and open a door to true dialogue about these subjects. So, how do we build the necessary conversational structures that empower our students to be co-creators in their classroom experiences in both anticipated and unanticipated dialogues about identity? What role can positive education play in fostering resiliency and empathy in students while providing a safe space for them to embrace taking risks?
In this interactive workshop, I will share the challenges and successes that I have experienced in my classroom and provide opportunities for teachers to develop and practice strategies that can be adapted to their own classrooms.  This workshop is designed for teachers of any discipline.

Presented by: Anika O. Walker-Johnson

About the Presenter:
Anika Walker-Johnson is entering her fourth year as Germantown Academy’s Director of Equity and Inclusion.  She has spent the last 20 years as an educator and administrator.  Prior to GA, Anika spent a number of years at Tabor Academy, a co-educational, day, and boarding high school in Marion, MA, where she served as an English instructor and the Dean of Multicultural Education & Community Life. During that time, she co-authored Tabor's Statement of Diversity and Inclusion, served as a faculty and student mentor, co-led a recruitment strategy geared towards hiring new faculty of color, promoted cross-cultural competency for students, faculty, and administrators, and planned campus multicultural education events. In her role as a senior administrator, she also served on several administrative committees, including the Professional Development and Hiring Committee, Dean's Office Committee, and as a co-chair of the Diversity Leadership Council. During her last three years at Tabor, Anika also served as an Associate Director of Admission – Multicultural Recruitment where she assisted the admissions team with developing and implementing strategies for strengthening the school's commitment to a diverse community.  At GA, Anika continues to build upon her teaching and administrative achievements.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.