CTI Podcast - Episode 31: Inclusion & Diversity with Brianne Kramer and Daneka Souberbielle

Tony Pellegrini: Friends across the campus, I'm Tony Pellegrini with teaching and learning at Southern Utah University. We're tickled this morning to have two guests with us to incur engage in conversation, Bri Kramer and associate or assistant professor, assistant Assistant Professor in our education department, and a Provost Award winner last year for Outstanding Educator in Inclusion and Diversity. And additionally, we have Daneka Souberbielle. How bad was that Souberbielle, Souberbielle, I apologize would put name like Pellegrini. I should get all of these right. Is our Associate Provost of equity and inclusion and our chief diversity officer on campus and would just like to honor them today for their accomplishments and have a conversation about what's coming up in their personal or their professional lives. Bri, would you be willing to give just a short introduction? Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your experience here at SUU?

Bri Kramer: Yeah, I'm Bri Kramer and this is my sixth year at SUU. I'm an assistant professor of Social Foundations of Education. And I teach currently in the graduate program teaching the core classes and then for the educational foundations and policy major in the graduate program as well. I've taught for almost 20 years and a lot of different spaces. And I just really like teaching students and I don't think I could imagine myself doing anything different.

Tony Pellegrini: They are fun. The students are absolutely why we're here to Daneka would you be willing to take a moment or two tell us a little about yourself and about your your activities? Here at SUU

Daneka Souberbielle: Absolutely I've been here at SUU for 18 months. And my background is in psychology and sociology and I have been in the world of equity diversity, diversity and inclusion for about 20 years as well. Especially coming to you tie started at in student affairs as an advisor and quickly found myself into Multicultural Student Services and international LGBTQ veterans and I also love teaching students I miss it I haven't taught in quite a while but I get to teach in sociology this next upcoming semester, which I'm excited about. But I have just really enjoyed finding using my time to be able to support those who have been traditionally underserved in higher ed, it's been really rewarding.

Tony Pellegrini: Thank you so much, and we're grateful for the contributions that you offer here at SUU as well. I'd like to press you just a little further. Talk to us a little about the Summit on Belonging as I invited you to participate, I was really I'm really fascinated with the creative process. Can you talk for a moment maybe just how that process started in your mind or, or what led you to say that hey, this is would be an exciting endeavor to make?

Daneka Souberbielle: Yeah, absolutely. So this is not my brainchild. This is actually collaborative work with the Equity and Inclusion Committee that we formed about six or seven months ago on campus, which breathe a part of. And we've sat and thought about what would be most pertinent for our campus right now where we are and we wanted to make sure that people had enough tools, enough knowledge and the skills to be able to feel like they could walk into EDI work and feel comfortable. And so we thought why not start with a summit that we can give people that information and give those tools and so we I think derived idea for quite a while and why it's called the Summit on Belonging is because we wanted to really be able to make the relationship between diversity which is a condition of a group inclusion which are our collective behaviors and equity, which is a lens through which we look. And when all those things work together. The outcome is belonging and we really wanted to focus on helping people get through and avoiding barriers that they may have thinking about. Well, is diversity actually for me? So I think that's a common and valid question that lots of people have. We want to make sure that we could focus on the outcome really being belonging and people feeling accepted and valued wherever they're coming from and wherever they are. So that's how we kind of formulated the summit. 

Tony Pellegrini: is very exciting. As our listeners, whether their faculty or students engage and want to participate, what are some of their what would be some of their hopes or dreams that they would be able to take away from participating in the Summit?

Daneka Souberbielle: Yeah, that's a great question. So we hope to have the summit every year and this year we chose the theme of everyday equity. And our goal is to be able to give two or three takeaways in each session that people can easily implement into their everyday work. And so folks who will participate should expect that every session that they go to, they'll be able to have two simple techniques or skills that they'll be able to utilize. And we have sessions that range from anything from how to create a caring and inclusive classroom to the legalities of Equity Diversity and Inclusion. To simple things like say this not that just language and how you how do you utilize language in a way that helps folks feel included to how to use an equity lens. And so it really depends on what people are looking for. But we tried to design so that no matter where you were sitting on campus and what your role was, there's something for you that you could participate in and hopefully take away.

Tony Pellegrini: What wonderful tools I love the metaphor of you know, a lens and vocabulary, understanding from our senses, how we can connect with others in a positive and a proactive way, by by putting on a set of glasses that help us see things a little more broadly.

Daneka Souberbielle: Absolutely. It's a really great analogy. Thanks for explaining that lens. That was a really good visualization of that things.

Tony Pellegrini: No, you're very welcome Bri with your social foundations learners. And I know you participated in the creation of this. What are some of the suggestions or invitations that you're making to your learners to to participate and engage and and learn from summit activities to help and support them in class?

Bri Kramer: I definitely think creating caring classroom would be a great session for either pre service or in service teachers to either catch later or go live to because they they need more support in how to do this, we all do as teachers we all can learn something from that session. Even if we've been teaching for a really long time. So I also think, for undergrads, the session on how to talk about issues of diversity and inclusion with families would be a great one. They come to college, they learn a lot of new things. They're there kind of sorting through maybe what they've brought with them from home and trying to integrate these new ideas into that and sometimes that can cause a little tension when they go back for the holidays or go back for the semester break. And so I think a session like that would perhaps give them maybe some techniques and tools on how to have conversations appropriately and not really, you know, get into divisiveness in the family but learn that to handle these issues with a sense of knowledge and tact, I think.

Tony Pellegrini: Thank you. Thank you so much. I was very impressed with and pleased with the perspective of that 20 years teaching experience that you have. Schools are a little bit different than 20 years ago, aren't they? Students and families are a little bit different than they were 20 years ago. Do you see this, both this summit and also your instruction, your coursework as supportive and helpful and nurturing to your learners to be able to identify what's happening in homes and schools and communities today?

Bri Kramer: Absolutely. All of my graduate students in the past year have really talked about the weight that's kind of been put on them in school districts. Teachers are being you know, accused of teaching critical race theory and we have the book banning that's going on and you know, they're just trying to teach their students every day and do what's best for students in the classroom. And they're kind of getting sucked into some of these issues. When you know, maybe they don't even understand what they're completely about. So, I think that you know, this type of Summit is a great way to, you know, pull out more information and tie in some things that you already know, with some things that you want to learn. So I think that's, you know, another great piece that the summit offers everyone is everyone comes in with a different form of knowledge and everyone will walk out with something different as well.

Tony Pellegrini: Exciting. It's kind of kind of like the McDonald's we've got something for everyone here and for you today. Daneka as your, as a component of the equity inclusion and diversity work that you do as you work with faculty and students across campus, what are some of the skills that you're hoping that your learners in faculty and and students will take away from your association, your collaboration, your connection with those with whom you come in contact?

Daneka Souberbielle: Right. It's a great question. I hope that we learn how to make mistakes with each other. And I think one of the things that we don't necessarily talk about is that as we figure out how to be more inclusive as we figure out what behaviors are helpful and what are not we are going to make mistakes with each other. We have to be able to find a space where we can quickly identify those and apologize for those and then move on. And so I hope that some of the work that I get to do with faculty helps people know like all of us who had to make the mistakes, we should have some confidence to know that as we're trying, those will come and that we can get over those and work with them and learn from them. And I hope also that my work helps our faculty and our administrators as well. Please think strategically. and plan ahead. I think sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we're like, Ooh, I know I could have done that better. I don't know exactly what I could have done better. But I hope that my office and my work can help folks think a little bit ahead of the curve and start planning for the knees as students have and the different kinds of perspective that our students are bringing. And so I think it just makes all the difference when you're intentionally inviting people in to say, hey, we know our students are different than they were 20 years ago. We have listened to what students need. We're responding and we're planning ahead. It's hard to to do a lot of work when we feel like we're playing catch up sell so things that I hope that I can offer.

Tony Pellegrini: And I think it's great evidence, the collaboration, the connection that you made in putting together the summit through listening to many to be able to say these are some things that we do need and can move forward with. Maybe make a mistake or two along the way, but like you say, ask for forgiveness and move forward and learn, learn from those approaches and mistakes that we've made.

Daneka Souberbielle: Aabsolutely. I think that's the whole process of learning no matter where we are in the process, that we're not going to get it correct the first time but it's important for us to be intentional about about stretching.

Tony Pellegrini: Let me change the topic just a little bit. Bri, I'd love to hear more. I know. I'm just so tickled and impressed with the book that you have written. Can you talk to us a little bit about the work and effort that went into that labor of love and what we might learning we might acquire through reading it.

Bri Kramer: Yeah, so the book that Jennifer Mckenzie, who's a colleague of mine in the College of Ed, we co edited the book, children and trauma critical perspectives for meeting the needs of diverse educational committees or communities. And it took a while to edit this books during COVID. We kind of came on the topic as a fluke. We had been doing a study in a couple elementary schools and pretty pretty Southern Utah, like Kanab and Washington County area. And our study got squash way through because of COVID. And so we wanted to do something with the knowledge that we gained. And we saw a call for like a textbook chapter I think it was and so we contacted the company, and they met with us on Zoom and they said, Well, you know, actually this sounds like could be a great book would you want to do a book and we just said, Sure. So it just kind of took flight pretty quickly. And you know, a lot of communities and school districts in Utah are utilizing trauma informed practices, and that's really the central idea of the text is how we think about trauma informed practices, how we use them in diverse settings, and especially because the initial framework of adverse childhood experiences was that study was completed with a dominant white population. And so the way that other communities are experiencing trauma is very different from that initial study. And that's something that we found in our research. That's something that we saw in action, as well. And so we really wanted to make sure that educators and practitioners were aware that there's more to this than just that initial study. So we have several, I think there's about 15 chapters in the texts. from all different authors. We look at early childhood, we look at urban and rural communities, we look at indigenous, black, Latina X communities. We have a lot of variety and the text it really would speak to any teacher, any practitioner, anybody who works with children, K through 12 children can learn something from that. And I think especially post pandemic, it's really necessary. We've all gone through a collective trauma. Teachers are really struggling in some ways to support students appropriately, teachers are struggling themselves. And so this this is a text that I think comes at a really timely moment that we can all take something out of.

Tony Pellegrini: Thank you so much, and you really make me think too, as as we review the text and and look into it, are there with your students in your so your masters learners and Daneka with the students and the faculty to that you engage with. Do you see these trauma experienced traumatic experiences these as impacting your learners lives?

Bri Kramer: Absolutely. We just had a conversation last night in my Master's class, in my social foundations class about for teachers, I think I would better define it as a moral injury. Teachers have been morally injured not just because of the pandemic but because of a lot of policies and procedures that, you know, they have to do as teachers as part of their job but may not really work to best serve students. And so we talked quite extensively about that last night. And that seems to be coupled with this trauma that teachers have. They've taken on vicarious trauma through their students, and what their experiences were. Teachers themselves experienced trauma during COVID in many different ways. And so, you know, we are seeing this every, a lot I mean, even administrators, level of trauma as they've, you know, tried to make decisions you know, in the midst of a global pandemic. So, I think everyone involved in schools has some level of trauma and we just may not be aware of exactly what those are yet.

Tony Pellegrini: Thank you so much. Daneka, please . . .

Daneka Souberbielle: Yeah, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think in my perspective, especially being in a position where we're trying to support minoritized students, but there's a lot of folks who are also minoritized supporting those students. And so you have this phenomenon of you, individually and personally experiencing the same kind of trauma that your students are and being both the caregiver and also the victim of the things that are happening in our country and across our our world. And so it's a really difficult situation to try to figure out how do you support someone when you're also experiencing those same things? And so we find and I worry, and what keeps me up at night is how do we support people enough that they can stay? No, not just that at our institution, but in our state? Sometimes in our country, when there seems to be so many things that continuously happen and there's a little recovery time which when you're dealing with the next emergency or the next, you know, trauma event, and so I absolutely see it as well. And I see it in that place where there's a pinch point where folks are trying to live through and support others at the same time. It's, it's difficult. 

Tony Pellegrini: It is and I know we've already shared this, but it's even different than a couple of years ago. It changes so fast and so furiously. One, really one last topic I'd like to address I was fascinate, I was fascinated with the perspective that you identified, you know, with the challenges and the trauma that the pandemic brought to us. I think it also brought the opportunity to stay connected to interact via technology. How do you see technology or how do you use technology in your current assignments? Yes to you, we want to stay face to face and encourage and, and have those connections but we can't ignore those that maybe are at a distance or or, or even they're geographically close for some for one reason or another can't participate and go hand in hand with us. Do you use technologies in your day to day work and in your instruction and engagement with your learners?

Bri Kramer: Oh, definitely. There's such a wealth of resources online, especially for the courses that I teach. You know, they're looking at multimedia from different teachers. There's been so many different webinars and just, you know, conferences done online during COVID that are all surrounding issues of diversity and inclusion. So utilizing those is definitely something that I've been doing, you know, since I've started putting classes together, but absolutely more since they started putting more online during the pandemic. But all of my learners are online, which is really kind of interesting and also nice at the same time that we can connect and they get to tell their stories that they have from their different districts and their own personal background. And we all get to learn from each other in a space that technology provides which is really kind of interesting.

Daneka Souberbielle: Same. Absolutely for me now the coming up of zoom has been so important. I think it I work thing. There's a lot of opportunities to learn from there. The summit will be completely streamed. Almost all the sessions will be streamed live for that reason. We but we also had the opportunity to do focus groups to hear from students to have listening circles via technology, which has been really helpful. And I think that we have also reached a lot of folks that we wouldn't normally have reached the technology. I was looking through some data yesterday. And we have almost as many African American graduate students online as we do students here face to face, which was really was was really interesting and surprising and great. No, I think that there's a lot of other things that we've been thinking about how to reach a wider swath of students. And that will all happen through technology. So I think that we have a really important opportunity to make an impact in the communities who need the educational opportunities and those will all be technology so . . . exciting.

Tony Pellegrini: It is we I'm not one of those who wants to think about the old days. I think the days we got are exciting enough. Bri Daneka thank you so much for being here. Before we break, would you just give some last words of advice to teachers and students that that want to be able to teach better and learn better? If they could be here today, Daneka what would you share with them?

Daneka Souberbielle: I think I would say start small that's the those tiny, simple changes that we can make to curriculum to pedagogy, to classroom management, are the ones that are sustainable. If we can get to the point where we are sustaining those small changes. Those things make great differences over time, so don't be overwhelmed. With the grandiosity of the work. Start small, stay consistent, and we'll be able to find some really good changes that will benefit our students.

Tony Pellegrini: Thank you, Bri. Any ideas?

Bri Kramer: I would say find your people. There's a lot of people that want to do some of the same things that you have the courage to do in your classroom. And so find people to collaborate with find people to share ideas that may be colleagues that may be people in the community. It may be parents that may be students, but really collaborating to create those relationships. I think that'll help sustain those changes that Daneka has shared are really the that's the best advice that I would give is collaborate.

Tony Pellegrini: Thank you so much. And I keep promising one last question. One last question. I'm sorry. It's just come to me. I'm really here to honor both of you. Have I missed anything that ignored anything that you would really like to share with our listeners?

Daneka Souberbielle: I think I just consistently want to remind campus that my office is open for them. I am a resource for campus. I think sometimes we're kind of waiting to hear like what do you want us to do? I want you to think of those things for your for yourselves but work saving your space. And let me help be a catalyst for what you're thinking of doing. But I am my office is open. I'm here as a resource. Please utilize me

Tony Pellegrini: Thanks for that invitation. I didn't want to shut you down. Bri, please anything

Bri Kramer: I would tell students. You know there are a lot of faculty and staff who are working on these initiatives, all across campus. And so you may be surprised at how many of us are involved and really working. And we like to see the student perspective as well. And students are working in their own respective capacities on their own committees and in conjunction with some of the work that we've been doing as well. So just you know, thank you to all of those who have come together to help make the Summit and you know continue these efforts SUU because it we definitely need to continue to to create the change that needs to happen on campus.

Tony Pellegrini: Friends, thank you so very much. Friends and family out there across campus. Thank you for listening today. We appreciate you and if you get a chance please accept Daneka's invitation, accept Bri's invitation. You may have to sneak into her online class, come by and visit and get the password to get in but I think she'd love to have you listen and participate. Thank you one and all, and thank you so much for being here today with us. Have a great day.



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