Main Points

  • Difference Between Anti-Racist and Performative Wokeness
  • Kindness is Already Practiced
  • Risking Your Job for Anti-Racism
  • Leading Anti-Racist Work
  • Providing Representation of Everyone
  • Reconstructing the School System

Dr. Sheldon Eakins: (00:00)

Welcome, Advocates, to another episode of the Leading Equity Podcast, a podcast that focuses on supporting educators with the tools and resources necessary to ensure equity at their school. Today I have a special guest with me, Dr. Terri Watson, and I got to share a little bit of the story of how I found out about Dr. Watson. So if you follow me on Twitter, I try to be active, and someone tagged me on a Twitter feed that Dr. Watson posted, and [it] got me so excited. And actually, the person who tagged me was like, Hey, I think you need to have this individual on your show. So I'll just read quickly what her initial pulse was, and then we'll bring on Dr. Watson and allow her an opportunity to share a little bit about herself. But her posts said, "If we are going to do anti-racist work, then our tools must be anti-racist as well. Mindfulness, kindness, and grit frameworks are not anti-racist." So the suggestion was like, Sheldon, you got to have her on your show. So I'm so happy Dr. Watson's here with us. So without further ado, thank you, Dr. Watson, for joining us today.

Dr. Terri Watson: (01:10)

Well, thank you. Show them that. I appreciate you following up on the suggestion and corresponding with me, and it's a pleasure to be here.

Eakins: (01:17)

Well, the pleasure's always mine, I can't wait to learn from you. So before we get into the topic of today, I would love for you to share a little bit about who you are and what you're currently focused on as far as your research.

Watson: (01:30)

Okay. So I am an associate professor at the City College of New York, and primarily I work with teachers who aspire to become building and school leaders. They all have master's degrees. So with me, they're getting a second master's degree, and they are kind of defining who they are as leaders and teacher leaders. And more importantly, we are working towards creating equitable and socially just schools, primarily in New York City as the City College of New York is in Harlem. Many of my students are teachers and school leaders in New York City's public schools. So primarily, we're really looking at urban education in a deep and meaningful way. And in a way that speaks life to children charged to our care and improved our communities.

Eakins: (02:21)

All right, well, you know, it sounds like you're doing some amazing work, and I'm glad that you're doing what you're doing. So thank you again for joining us. So let's get into it because well, back to your initial tweet, and this by the way, has well over 400 retweets. There are a couple thousand likes. And then, of course, there are comments that follow. So I'm going to read it again.

Watson: (02:43)

Yes, lots of comments.

Eakins: (02:45)

Lots of comments, different perspectives, definitely. So here's the thing you said, "If we are going to do anti-racist work, then our tools must be anti-racist as well. Mindfulness, kindness, and grit frameworks are not anti-racist." So could you break that down for us?

Watson: (03:04)

Sure. So what I said, I was talking with my colleagues who are also professors of education and schools throughout the US is that many of them say that they are socially just and that they're anti-racist. They're reading books, they were tweeting black history month last month. So they are tweeting these pro-black "woke" posts and all celebrating blackness and black people. Yet the things that they do do not speak life to and for black people. And what I found is that many of them, when I read their pages, they talk about being mindful practitioners and practicing kindness. And not too many speak about grit, but I know that grit, particularly Angela Duckworth, that her work is in a lot of their programs in their schools of education. So I just wanted to, and this is after our conversation with a colleague, and he was really championing kindness and schools, you know, really buying into this concept of why students should be kind.

Watson: (04:02)

And you know, I said, you know, "How will kindness help inequitable learning spaces? How does kindness influence our curriculum? How does kindness really help people work with their bias?" Because we all have biases, and that's fine, but how are we working to combat that and to make sure that we are who we say we are. So if we're socially just how is that reflected in our practice and how is that reflected in our curriculum? And if we're just doing black history or working with black scholars just in the month of February, what does that speak to? Particularly when our students are primarily black and brown. So if we're not using a diverse curriculum and looking at diverse authors and finding ways to celebrate and lift students in their communities, who are we, and how often do we say one thing, but then get into these learning spaces and co-op the master's tools.

Watson: (04:57)

And we use those tools instead of liberating students with them, we use them to further subjugate by not looking at literature that does not have characters who look like them or experiences that they can relate to or reflect on a deeper, more meaningful level. So I really just wanted to kind of, not push some buttons per se, but to make us aware of, you know, we are -- a lot of this work, in many ways, we call it, you know, "performative wokeness" -- like we say one thing, but we do another. So if you really bother revolution, tell me, what are you teaching young people? How are you helping them be critical consumers of their reality? And more importantly, how are you giving them tools to be successful so they can understand these systems and then find ways to deconstruct really schools and materials and kind of challenge the things that we are full time forcing down your throat. How do we help them push back in ways that help us all to be better to move us all forward?

Eakins: (05:53)

Okay. So thank you for breaking this down for us. Because you know, with Twitter, you only get what, 240 characters or something like that, right? And I appreciate you taking the time to explain it even further. And it's funny because you mentioned about kindness and I know that was a big thing, you know, month of kindness or week of kindness. And, we were actually talking about that in my Voxer group, my Leading Equity private Voxer group. And we had a whole conversation about it because I think one of the educators in the group was discussing how they were upset because rather than focusing on, like you said, the anti-racism and being more proactive and actively working against dismantling these racist policies and systems, we're focused on, "Okay, let's be kind to each other. Let's be nice." And I'm so glad that you brought that up because I think we do have to go further than that. Now, Terri, you said something that I had not heard before, and I wonder if you could maybe share a little bit more -- unpack it a little bit more -- is "performative wokeness," so tell me, that's a new one for me. You know, I never claim to know everything, so please share a little bit more about that.

Watson: (07:05)

So performative wokeness is, you know, it cuts across all races. And it's really when people say things for the good of the cause like you're in the, you know -- as teachers and teacher leaders and professors and such, we all say that we're not racist, you know, "Of course I'm not racist," but yes. But what are you doing to combat racism and how do you reflect on your own biases? How do you improve your practice to make sure that we are treating all students not the same because they're different -- they need different things. But how are we making sure that we're meeting the needs of the students, all students charged to our care. So this performative wokeness, well that's that talk. That's that, you know, we say the right thing. You have your black friends, and, you know, you love black people and black culture, whatever is reflected in your school community.

Watson: (07:56)

However, your practices are those of the master, meaning you fall back on patriarchy, and you fall back on matriarchy, and you do things that simply reinforce the school's policies. And if you really look at the policies, they are unjust, and how do I know? Well, look at the data, look at your suspension rates, look at your attendance rates, look at who we're leaving behind. If we're not doing the most for those who are the least involved, then we're doing the entire system an injustice. And so this performative wokeness is when we say one thing like we're all righteous and we are all for the cause, but our practices don't say that. We're still marking students late, and instead of asking, "Are you okay?" We ask them – "You're late," or "Minus 10" -- we find these punitive measures instead of really checking in on their wellbeing and kindness, in particular, you know, I know that focuses on social and emotional skills, but many students, particularly those in urban communities, they are kind, they have siblings, they have parents, they're respectful, they work with their elders.

Watson: (09:05)

I mean, they are practicing acts of kindness every day. So we assume that they are not being kind. And in terms of emotional skills that you know any person of color living in America, you have already developed coping skills based on your reality, based on particularly New York City, we have to stop and frisk based on the deficit mindsets, and you go into certain rooms and spaces, people feel the unease, or you go places where everyone assumes your name is pronounced or spelled one way when it's really another and you don't correct them. So we've already learned how to be kind. The fact that we are here. However, I think particularly with kindness, we assume that young people don't have these skills and so we look at it from a deficit perspective, and then we want to teach them how to be kind instead of even building on what they're already doing instead of asking them.

Watson: (09:59)

Because again, particularly in our communities, many of our homes are communal, meaning we live with cousins and aunties or your Nana's or such or even how you function with your siblings or even with younger people in your school community. Like, maybe there's a kindergarten student you speak to or walk to school with or folks you go home [with] in a group like there's already loving bonds established. And so when we come at young people with this kindness or lack thereof mindset, we assume that they're not kind and we attempt to give them skills too much like the word -- don't like the word "resilience," but we try to make them kind like, why do you assume they're mean? Like, well, why do you assume that they haven't been treated kindly, so they don't know kindness, they don't recognize kindness? And instead, [inaudible] in many ways,

Watson: (10:50)

because if you think about these frameworks, these frameworks have outcomes. So frameworks are simply a set of standard standards or practices that we do, and we have an expected outcome. So how do students show proficiency and kindness when someone's stepping on your neck? You just say, "Excuse me, you're on my neck." Like some things you should be outraged about. Like we should be using our voices to speak out, and protest, and kindness. It's like, "Oh, okay. It's okay, I'm fine." So we're teaching them to be kind when they're even being indignant at a certain point, is justifiable. If someone, but it's 20 [inaudible], we say, you know, people will kill you and say that you enjoyed it. You know, if you don't say anything like you have to speak truth to power. And so by muting yourself, by turning yourself down, we're not helping people grow into being who they are and even how to recognize and speak out against injustice. We're telling them to, you know, be kind about it. To finally compartmentalize it and shift your energies to something else without really -- sometimes you have to, it has to happen right there. You know if this is where the incident occurred, then we have to be on top of it. We have to say when something hurts you say when you're offended, say when something is not being fair or in your best interest and kindness kind of mutes that.

Eakins: (12:11)

There are so many directions. I want to take this, so let me try to see.

Watson: (12:15)

Yes, I'm sorry, I'm long-winded, but I'm passionate about this.

Eakins: (12:17)

Hey, I want you fired up. That's why you're here. So it's all good. So, okay, one of the things that you mentioned earlier and it reminds me of the -- I don't know if you've seen the racism, like your level of anti-racism spectrum, probably butchering the name of it, but it's like, "Okay if you're at this level, you're willing to do this. If you're at that level, you're willing to do that." And you can kind of gauge yourself when it comes to how anti-racist you are. Now there's a part in there that's basically "Would you put your job on the line? Would you risk your position, your professional position, to speak up against racism?" And that's further down on the spectrum. And you really got me thinking about it with the performative wokeness where it's like you said, you know, I know what to say, I know how to navigate our education system, and we hear it in equity a lot.

Eakins: (13:15)

We hear social justice a lot and the oppression, those words come up a lot. And so I know how to navigate those conversations. But would you put your job on the line in the name of anti-racism? No. And that's a piece that I think is what you're kind of touching on because I think that especially if you're a white person, as a person of color, I like you said, I'm used to, I grew up -- I mean I live in Idaho, so I deal with a lot of things on a daily basis, right? But would you be willing to put your job on the line when it comes to anti-racism and, I think that's something that we need to think about when it comes to saying "how woke we are" when it comes to our education, to our advocacy out there for performative wokeness.

Watson: (14:04)

Right. I can only speak for myself and I can, interestingly, my -- the president of my college follows me as does the college itself and many of my colleagues and they know who I am. When I say that [inaudible], I love black people. And I have to say that unapologetically. And I have to say that in every space that I am. So when I see you saying or doing something that doesn't speak life, it doesn't lift us. It doesn't build us. It doesn't make us better than I'm going to stop you and say, "Well, wait a minute. What about the black girls? Or what about the black boys? Or what about our students of color, or why not our students of color?" So they know that I am always going to be that voice. And I interestingly, even when I'm not there, colleagues will say, "If Dr. Watson was here, she would say…" so they put my agenda out there.

Watson: (14:54)

But for me, I have to stand in my truth. And as a black woman, as a, as a mother, I have to speak, not for, but with, in unison, in love with black people. And I have to see the beauty of us, even in the worst of us. I think Brian Stevenson said, "We are not the worst that we've ever done." So I'm not saying that all black folks wear halos. But I'm saying is that I'm willing to get down for black people. You know, I'm willing to lay my life on the line for black people. And the beauty of it is that I'm not alone in this. We have looked at our history that this is who we are as a people. And I think that not everyone is raved. So I don't expect everyone to say what I say or do what I do, but I've done it. You know, I've earned tenure and promotion. I haven't changed the beat. I make it clear who I am. If you looked at my bio, even that I've shared with you, I think the second line says, "I'm from Harlem." And that's important to me because when I say that, I want to understand that the people, this is all Harlem before Starbucks came."

Eakins: (16:00)

Before the gentrification.

Watson: (16:02)

Yes, yes. Long before that, in the 70s, you know, I remember what crack did to us. So when I said that I saw us fall and I saw us rising, I saw a struggle and I'm a part of that. And so my work, my contribution is, this status is to and for and with my people, wherever I go, I will rep Harlem, and I'm gonna speak about black people and black girls in particular. I think there's lots of great things being done in our community. But I'm really looking at black women and girls, and that's important. So in terms of who I am, I'm a black woman that loves black people, and my work celebrates that. Even in my studies telling me if I can't speak, like if I can't say something positive, then I'm not going to talk about a deficit framework -- what we don't do. I want to talk about what we do and what we do well and how we can get better at some things.

Watson: (16:52)

But there's something beautiful in us that we have to always bring to light because people will forget that. And that's where we have this deficit mindset that comes in. So I'm always saying, "Well, wait a minute, why do you assume that we don't have that kind of wealth in our community? That kind of capital that we are not kind or we are not loving, that we are not resilient and we don't need grit. That's the last thing we need. How do you think we got here?" So when they come with these tools to help us, you know, get better, I'm like, "Listen, we come from greatness. What do you mean 'improve us?' No, get your foot off our neck. How about that? Find teachers who love us, like we love ourselves."

Eakins: (17:32)

You tell it now, Terri, so, okay. Sometimes you have me ready to go to church and pass the collection plate. So here's the thing. You talked about kindness, right, and resilience and grit. And I think -- and mindfulness. Yeah. Okay, go ahead. I'll let you go for it.

Watson: (17:55)

Well, mindfulness is again, another coping mechanism. It assumes that, when it says, "focusing attention," it's being aware of your emotions. And again, it builds on this notion of resilience that I don't think that people of color, black folks in particular, we need any help with resilience. We are a resilient people. I think what we need to do is look at these structures and policies and curricula that do not reflect us. That's stimming our progress that we happen to get these systems that were never created with us in mind. And that's where our problems lie. It's nothing wrong with black people. I think there's something very much wrong with schools. And so any kind of [inaudible] that I'm going to look at, I'm looking at the school. There's a problem in our schools, there's nothing wrong with black people.

Eakins: (18:45)

I love that. And I agree. And the other thing that I would add is if we go to the whole microaggressions, right? And we're talking about kindness, I mean how many of us face little subtle jabs at us on a daily basis and we're kind -- we're kind in our approach. Personally, if I have another person that thinks that I'm a football player for the local university here, just because they can't figure out why I'm here in Idaho, then I have a choice. I could be kind and respond in a certain way. But we're doing these things all the time, right? We live this life where we are essentially kind in a lot of these instances. And do we really need to promote or highlight a day, a month, a week that says, okay, we're going to all focus on this? We've been doing this, we've been being kind, so I'm with you on that. So let's shift gears a little bit if that's okay with you.

Watson: (19:47)


Eakins: (19:47)

Okay. So I want to know what are some of your suggestions? Okay, so you said we're going to do this work -- grit, kindness, mindfulness, they're not anti-racist approaches. So what are some of your suggestions for school leaders with leading anti-racist work?

Watson: (20:04)

Because schools are microcosms of society, you know, and different communities need different things, like different people need different things, different families need different support systems. And I think if schools are if we are to form this beloved community that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about, the first thing we have to do is be in dialogue with one another. And that involves speaking, but more importantly, it involves listening. So I think that school leaders need to listen to the community. They need to actually come together and find out what's affecting them. Like which need it, how can it be an extension of the community or a beautiful compliment to the community? Because there's a lot of good things happening in communities that schools don't know about. And that's unfortunate because schools could make it that. And vice versa. We could, there has to be a deep and meaningful connection between schools and communities.

Watson: (21:00)

And as I studied leadership, I found that school leaders are the best people to do this work because they can lead this charge where they actually fit and find out what's happening. Could it be air quality? Could it be something happening like what's needed, be it access to fresh fruit, access to better markets, or transportation. There are ways that we can empower the community and even teach our young people to be change agents right into politicians. So like let's say you're teaching an English lesson, imagine if you had it framed around a lesson public to the politicians about things that you need or getting ready for voting, who your candidate is, and why. Understanding those platforms, understanding what they're advocating for and how that affects you in a real and meaningful way. And I don't just mean in a presidential election like we have now, and we're gearing up for, but with the local, at a local level, looking at your mayor, looking at your people in city hall, like really being involved in our governance and on a local level so we can have a better handle on what's happening to us.

Watson: (22:04)

Because a lot of us simply don't know kind of who's behind the curtain, so to speak. But knowing your politicians, knowing the mayor, the governor, what they're advocating for and how that affects us, I think that empowers us. And if we can frame learning, that reflects our, not only civic engagement but our reality, I think that'd be better. So the first thing schools can do is talk to parents, find out what's needed and find ways schools can complement that and then make sure that the curriculum is culturally relevant, that they're reading about authors, not just authors of color, but authors of color who may have even lived in their community. I know when I taught English in Harlem, we studied lengths in queues, we studied the Harlem Renaissance. There are things that I know would speak life to them because it happened on Saint Nicholas Avenue, and our school was located right off the Saint Nicholas.

Watson: (22:53)

So when I spoke, I knew who they were and what they were going home to, and they made connections between the work we did in class and their outside lives. And that was just with poetry. But we could do that with math, with the sciences. So we have to find ways to make meaningful connections. And I think that school leaders can make sure a curriculum with cultural relevance. They can make sure that teachers kind of know who their students are outside of the classroom, what the family life is like, what are their particular conditions of that community. Because oftentimes I find that teachers, you go to school and you go to your home, which is often outside of the school's community, you don't really understand who your children are outside of those four walls. So it was just establishing meaningful relationships, listening to the needs of the community, working with parents, lobbying with parents, standing with parents. You don't have to empower parents. Parents are already empowered. But just directing that forming of a team effort so to speak and the school should be a major player in that because that's where children spend most of their lives if you think about it.

Eakins: (23:58)

Yeah. And I want to add to it because you talked about the importance of our school leaders getting to know our local politicians or local government. And I would even add the advocacy piece of encouraging our community members to get involved as candidates to run for these positions for school board positions for mayor and council representatives and supporting them in that sense as well. Sometimes I know as school leaders we tend to try to stay away in some sense when it comes to political matters and "I don't want people to know if I'm Democrat or if I'm Republican and those kinds of things." But I've seen instances, for example, where I work on a reservation, and not too long ago, our local governor's race, we had a Native American representative. She would have been the first if she was to win, she would've been the first Native American for the woman and governor of the State of Idaho.

Eakins: (25:04)

And I mean she came to our school multiple times, and I remember a student telling me how he really appreciated the principal because the principal, the kid was just walking down the hallway and the principal was talking to the candidate, and he called him over and introduced the student to the woman, and they had a conversation, and he just said, "Man, it just warmed my heart because here I am, this 'bad kid.' At least in my mind, I feel like I'm this bad student. And yet the principal took the time and called me over and introduced me to this woman," and that moment will last. You know, he's going to always remember that experience, and I just appreciate that the principal was one of those people that was inviting the candidate in because, number one, at a tribal school and seeing someone that looks like them running for governor was very valuable.

Watson: (25:57)

Yeah, that's important. And I think schools must provide both mirrors and windows for young people. You have to be able to see yourself, not just in the curriculum, but in the people that come in are very doors. And that can be anyone from the mailman to, you know, whomever, I think we focus too much on this capitalist mindset where we need to have, you know, dignitaries or know "important people." But everyone's important. And I think we have to celebrate ourselves in our community. It's like, imagine, you know, the butcher coming in, or the mechanic coming in or a local doctor. Like all those people are vital to our community, and those are all vital occupations that we need to sustain us. So why can't we celebrate them and bring them into the schools and form relationships that get involved? Imagine having a butcher teach a math lesson about the metrics, like the important, like why does schooling matter?

Watson: (26:51)

You know, oftentimes, kids don't come to school because they think it doesn't serve a bigger purpose. They don't see how the quadratic formula may help them or why certain scientific principles are important. But you know, understanding the weather, global warming that's happening now. The seasons change, time changes. Like we have to help students with the "why?" Students are mandated to come to school. I think it's our mandate as teachers and teacher leaders to give them a reason to come to school. Like, yes, we know they have to, but I think we have to make learning desirable to make the school the place to be so that it's not punitive. Like you're not just coming here because you have to, you're coming here because you want to. And when you're not here, we miss you. You know that you're a part of this community, and we're learning and growing together. I think that until we construct schools that meet and reflect the needs of our community, there will always be a lack of engagement, particularly with students of color, because schools were not designed with us in mind. So our job is to reconstruct -- to deconstruct and reconstruct that idea of schooling.

Eakins: (28:01)

Well, let's talk about that. How do we reconstruct our schools? How do we disrupt the ways in which our schools are? I mean, you're exactly right. Our schools were not built for anyone other than white men, right? Initially, when school education first started, right? Landowners, you're right. So how do we reconstruct our school systems?

Watson: (28:22)

I think you start with the curriculum. I think that's the first thing. I think that's the most feasible because we have this literature out there that speaks to certain demographics better than others may and people talking about the classics. And that's only the classic because that's what those before us said and those before us were not us.

Eakins: (28:40)

Oh, recognize. Yeah.

Watson: (28:43)

Right, exactly. We can redefine who the canon is, create our own canon and find practices that speak life. Like I know, this one particular school in the Bronx where they have a community meeting every one day a week like I think every Friday. And they come together and talk about kind of what's happening and imagine the whole school coming together and just talking to one another. Like it's not for grades, and it's the most well attended. Everything from dancing to this kid just speaking about what's happening. So I think that school leaders, and this is [inaudible] I think we have to, you know, nothing is impossible. It's just simply finding ways to make it work. I think that we have to look at the curriculum, we have to look at punitive policies. Like too often, when kids don't come to school, they're penalized when there could be good reasons.

Watson: (29:30)

You could be hungry, you could be home with a sibling, and they're not feeling well, so you can't go to school. You could have an issue at home like we have to figure out not only what's happening, but the "why?" I don't think, at schools, we ask "Why?" and I think if we can help with the "why," we can improve learning for everyone because teachers learn and grow too. And I think a part of that, again, the curriculum, looking at policies, particularly attendance policies and also discipline policies. I find that many of our policies are very biased, particularly for black girls. The norms in terms of behavior and the generic nature of infractions. They're very subjective and these blanket policies that have these "unintended policies" because we know what these policies do. We know who we are excluding, but we have to be honest as to why we are excluding these children.

Watson: (30:22)

And unfortunately the most, the ones we tend to exclude are the ones who should be there the most. I know you, and I spoke earlier about that school trip where you weren't going to take the "bad kids," but what a beautiful way to start again with the students by doing something that they like and inviting them, particularly when we know that it wasn't according to the standards. We always talk about, particularly with behavior, we want justice, you want restorative justice, and we want to make it right, but what about mercy? What about grace? What about forgiveness? And more importantly, we're dealing with children so we can't be talking about kindness and mindfulness and grit, but if we can't be loving and forgiving and merciful, then what are we really teaching young people that it really is a meritocracy that you check these boxes and do this performative wokeness yourself that you too can be successful.

Watson: (31:21)

Like if we want to create change agents, then we have to create conditions that are conducive to change, and that's looking at discipline, looking at attendance, looking at curriculum, and then looking at teachers because I think teachers do matter. We have to find teachers who are willing to learn and grow and understand that you can't just not be racist. You have to be anti-racist so that we have to work on that because we all have biases. We have to be honest with that. We have to talk in real and not just meaningful, but I think in loving ways like I don't want to teach kindness. I want to practice love. I don't think, I think we take that word, and that worked out of schools. When, if you think about teachers act in local [inaudible] and place of the parents, you know, parents are like, I know that no one will ever quite love me like my mother.

Watson: (32:11)

Imagine a teacher who's going to care for me that deeply. So instead of building those relationships, we've put in these policies, penalize them for being late, like for what they do instead of why they did it. You penalize them for bad behavior. When you're 12 and you're having a bad day, I get it. Or you're 15 or 16 but the point is that they're children, but we're not being loving and kind and understanding. We're wanting exact justice. We're wanting to make them pay. We're wanting to make them suffer. I think we have to really look at the way we do. You know this thing called schooling and really ask ourselves, who are we schooling? I mean, what are we reinforcing? What are we recreating by penalizing kids, by pushing them out, by denigrating their culture, by dismissing them even when they're in, they show up every day, and we dismissed them by having literature that doesn't engage them by demanding certain things. Instead of asking why or even giving them -- we can't give them a voice but letting them use their voice, showing them how to exercise their voice so that they can articulate the things they want and need. We don't empower students enough. We don't show them how to become young adults. We teach them how to be almost factory workers with these standardized tests and standardized curriculum and these white norm skillsets, i.e., mindfulness, kindness, and grit.

Eakins: (33:38)

Whew, Terri.

Watson: (33:41)

Did I answer your question, sir?

Eakins: (33:48)

Oh, you got jokes? I liked that. That was good. That was good. Yes. Yes. You answered my question, so, okay. Okay, so Terri, I definitely could see you as providing a voice in leading equity. What is one final word of advice that you can provide to our listeners?

Watson: (34:03)

Listeners, particularly for teachers: love. It sounds kind of hokey, but I think that love matters. I think that if you care for young people, if you believe in young people, if you want young people to be successful and you have to love them and loving, it's not that performative love. You have to be loving. So that's when the forgiveness and the mercy and we're going to work to find ways to help them be the people that we know they can be. So we're going to find curriculum that speaks life. We're going to figure out ways to make connections with their homes and communities. We're gonna work with policymakers, school board members, parent groups to really involve the community in the school function. I think the schools can't operate in silos and that they have to be these loving spaces where we care for one another.

Watson: (35:02)

And I don't mean loving the hokey way. I mean, deep righteous care where you want the best, and you know that what's best for them may not have worked for you because they are not you. Many of them differ culturally in their values and norms. And that's fine. We have to be [inaudible] to ourselves and focus our love, and our agency on the young people charged to our care that's in local [inaudible], in place of the parents. Like I always ask as a parent, "What wouldn't I do for my child?" So as teachers, imagine if the teachers thought, "What wouldn't I do for my students?" Wow, so you're going to look at your grading policy. Gonna look at your attendance policy. You're gonna look at the ways that you celebrate excellence and be differentiated. But make sure that all children have an opportunity to be excellent instead of the sustained few names we see on the honor roll that we hang up and put stars and have ice cream parties for. What about those kids who are, they just made us a school that has to be celebrated. That's that love. That's that. You know, I'm happy you came.

Eakins: (36:07)

Yeah. And that's -- I love the whole premise behind this. This conversation is this -- it's about love. And I think you have definitely brought that out. Terri, if we got some folks that want to connect with you, how do we find you online? How do we reach out? What do you suggest?

Watson: (36:26)

Let's do the Twitter thing. I like Twitter. I'm adapting to Twitter. I'm getting -- responding. People are tagging me in things. They're reaching out to me. So if they'd like to speak to me, they should definitely check me out on Twitter. @terrinwatson, my name. So T-E-R-R-I-N-Watson and I hope they enjoyed the conversation. I'd love to talk more if they have a question, even a little push back. I'm trying to learn and grow too. We're all in many ways students, and I just want to get better.

Eakins: (37:04)

I love it. Yeah. And it has truly been a pleasure, and yes, if you're not following Dr. Watson, please do on Twitter. Are you on any other social media platform, or is that the kind of the best way to reach out?

Watson: (37:16)

Yes, Twitter is the best way. It comes right to my phone in real-time.

Eakins: (37:21)

Okay. Okay. Well, she's ready. She's ready for you. So, and she welcomes pushback as well. And, I appreciate that because you know, especially with what I do as well as, you know, I expect pushback, and I love to engage in those conversations as well to get different perspectives. So, Dr. Watson, it has definitely been a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us.

Watson: (37:44)

Oh, thank you for listening, sir. And I appreciate you as well as your listeners. Have an incredible night.

Eakins: (37:50)

All right, well, that was awesome! I enjoyed it!

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