Dr. Eakins:

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 schools. Today, I've got a special guest with me, Principal Deidre Hannible. She's here with me today. She's also a podcaster, so without further ado, Deidre, thank you so much for joining us.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Thank you for having me on, Dr. Eakins. I'm excited to be here today on the talk show.

Dr. Eakins:

Let's do it. So before we get into our conversation today which is going to be centered around how to have conversations about race and some solutions that we can create in education about race, and of course our show was about equity, so we'll have all of that tied in to one piece there, so before we start, share a little bit about yourself and what you do in your podcast. I'd love for our fellow advocates to get in touch with you as well.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Again, I'm Deidre Hannible. I am a secondary middle school principal in Texas. I have been in educational leadership for almost 10 years. I have been in education for nearly 20 years and this is my passion work. This is not regular work for me. I started Unapologetically Educated just because I wanted school leaders to have a unapologetic real voice about like what happens in education. Leadership is so vast and a lot of times as educational leaders, we tend to want to, because we don't want people to know that we're struggling, and sometimes we don't want people to know that we're succeeding, we fit ourselves into these very tight boxes and then that's when the stress happens, and we know that school leader turnover is even more prevalent than teacher turnover. So I wanted to create a space where leaders could talk freely, and sometimes we get too free, but it is a very honest podcast for school leaders.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

It is another passion project of mine because I believe if you're not tired, [inaudible 00:02:08] says if the school principal or even the school or district leader catches the cold, everyone else catches the flu, so we got to invest in leadership.

Dr. Eakins:

And that's such an important and valuable topic, and I'm glad you're providing a voice not only as a person of color but also as a woman of color. We need more podcasters out there, and especially in our educational space, so anything I can do to support you, and I'm just so happy that you're on today.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

All right. I'd love to have you back on Unapologetically Educated.

Dr. Eakins:

We'll make it happen, we'll make it happen definitely. So let's get into race. To you, why is it so important to have conversations about race in school?

Principal Deidre Hannible:

I think we keep making the mistake of thinking that race, diversity, and inclusion as a whole is professional development type work, but this is really life development, and so I think when we exclude or we shy away from having these conversations, our goal as educators is to not only make sure our kids are academically sound but socially and emotionally sound. So when we don't dive into these spaces, we create packets and gaps for our kids that have way more to do with achievement than core content to me.

Dr. Eakins:

I love that you said this is not professional development, this is life development. Could you dig a little deeper into that? So if I'm thinking as an individual, if I'm an educator, why is that life development? I mean if we went beyond the school walls, why do you think that that is important as well?

Principal Deidre Hannible:

I think the premise of education, the word education is to, if you really look at the root, it means to lead into, and so in order for us to be educators, we have to be constantly growing and changing, and that means not only how we operate in "Educational spaces," but in life space. And so if we're not changing and growing as educators in our lives, we can't actually implement I guess the educational work, and I want us to stop thinking about this type of work is just in the space of school. I think as leaders start actually having these conversations really and truly, they're going to see that there are some things that we need to fix within our own personal selves, in our life in order to be effective teachers, custodians, principals, counselors, all of that, and notice I said custodians. I don't want this work to just be isolated with just the teachers in this space, the counselors in the space.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

These conversations need to be had with anyone that comes in front of kids because we're trying to make our students better humans, better citizens, and so this work is going to go a little bit beyond what you got in a teacher prep program, and so if we're not like really promoting, life learning really means life learning now, and not just "I'm going to work on some continuing education unit."

Dr. Eakins:

I would also add, because I love what you're saying about the life learning, and that's something that we don't always talk about. Sometimes when we talk about diversity, equity, inclusion, we talk about it from a professional space. So whether that's a business, even if it's not a school but just some sort of organization, we see the diversity training and cultural competency training, and it's always... Normally, it pertains to just that setting, that environment, but it doesn't extend beyond that and I'm glad that you're harnessing that information because that I think is important.

Dr. Eakins:

The other piece that I would add is a lot of us have kids ourselves, and again, when we think about at home and the conversation, I mean we talk about a lot of times, where did the kids learn these words or where did they learn about race and all these, and they're coming from home, and so being able to ourselves, having that responsibility and instilling that information to our kids, our community, our neighborhoods, things like that I think are important. As we start considering the future generations of educators or leaders or politicians and lawyers and those who make an impact in whatever field that they are in, I think that's so important.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

I would like to add to that, if we are thinking about, and I'm going to keep going back to the coin, the phrase life development, if we as leaders like change the perception of you only do this in school, I want this word to extend outside of what you do at school. This should be trickled down to your, like you said, your kids at home, to your community, to your church members. Our role in education is not to be confined in four walls. We are educators. We should be able to go out and educate people no matter in what capacity we're in.

Dr. Eakins:

All right. So I think we've established the importance that we've created a sense of urgency, so let's talk about some strategies. What kind of suggestions and strategies do you have when we're trying to engage in these conversations?

Principal Deidre Hannible:

I have been thinking really hard about this, and I have a couple of things, but the number one thing I feel like for this term up is do your homework and when I say do your homework, that means figure out who you are as a person. I would hate for someone to go into a training or into a year or into an implementation plan and you haven't checked your own biases, you haven't checked who you are as a human, right? So I think the first thing is to do your homework and then with that, also knowing your campus culture. If you have a poor campus culture, and I just have to be honest, you can't walk in back to school day one, day two, even day three, and start talking about race and equity. The people don't like you, and so I think you're going to have to figure out faces and ways, because this is a hard conversation to have anyway, but if your campus culture is just not in the right space, this is something that definitely needs to be had but cannot happen day one.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Another piece to that is setting the stage. I think about I as a leader would set the stage with sending some pre-work to my staff to sort of prime the pump, so to speak, and then with setting the stage, making sure that we don't use scapegoat video, and I'm going to say that again. A lot times I see in training, especially about race, inclusion, diversity, anything like that, gender, we want to use a lot of videos because we're afraid to have the conversation. Yeah, and so we want to just, "Let's just show a lot of videos, let's just show this next clip. Turn and talk to your partner" but then we never have the dialog, the actual... The deepness, the richness of this comes through conversation, so I would just recommend, if you're going to show a video, make it no more than two or three minutes and really dive into the conversation.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Capture those moments as a school leader of what's happening in professional development. Capture those moments, and then as a leader, reflect back out to the leaders, even through an email or through a shout out or however you do your communication so it's prominent. And then lastly, whatever you do in training has to be applicable and appliable for them to train for is the key, and I say that to say, as I sit down as a leader, I'm always still working on like my implementation plan of what this looks like. So what do I want teachers to grasp from this and then what do I want them to take from it and actually work with kids on. Our teachers are going to be new with this and so you should have an implementation plan. You can't do one training and forget about it.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Those are my very concrete nuggets that I have for it, but I'm a very big proponent of planning out what implementation looks like, and to our principals and any leader out there, please don't think that they should just happen at back to school and never again. You're mistaken.

Dr. Eakins:

Okay. So I got do your homework, setting the stage, and make sure that the training is or whatever you're doing is applicable and transferable. I have some questions in regards to each one of those three points and I want you to see if we can break them down a little bit more. So do your homework. What does that mean? Does that mean go read a book, does that mean go talk to somebody? I mean how would you define doing your homework to learn more?

Principal Deidre Hannible:

I think number one, it's a plethora of things. You can't just read books by Dr. Bettina Love and say that you're an expert. You can't just go to teaching tolerance and pull off a couple of activities and say that you're ready. I think we need to... Again, if this is life's work, we have to be well versed in this, and I'm not saying that you're going to be ready to lead this work on day one continuously, this is a constant growth for the leader. I know I read on someone's Instagram the other day, teach to transform. She was from something like... She gained like 200 followers in two days and she's an influencer in the work of equity, and so she said like being mindful, like "Yes, follow me," but then what is the work that you're going to do after all of this happened?

Principal Deidre Hannible:

So I think as a leader, doing the homework means exposing yourself to attending webinars, doing some training yourself. Like right now, we are primed because we are kind of sitting at home with COVID, there are so many webinars being offered. Please do not make this one dimensional learning. Don't just land on your Facebook friends. Actually go do the work of learning life work, not just schoolwork.

Dr. Eakins:

There's a lot that are free too. Not only are webinars available, a lot of them are free, and I think that's important to also highlight, now is the time. People are recognizing that COVID-19 has definitely made some changes in the way that we approach our students and how we're approaching our students, and so not only is it important that we get that PD, but a lot of it is free.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Yes, it is. I've been hitting it up, and when I tell you, I probably watch about two or three webinars a day, these are free. Principal Kafele was free yesterday. Literally just go and get that nugget without anything else, and ASCD put out some very good articles, and back to that, please stop waiting on your district to pay for you to get membership. Like that's great if they pay for leaders to get membership, but like sometimes, investing in yourself is really important.

Dr. Eakins:

Yeah, and I had to personal plug, Leading Equity Center also has been doing a lot of webinars as well, so again, those resources are available and often, even if you can't make them, there's replays available if you just register so that way, the folks will know who to send that information out to as well. I want to get to the setting the stage because you mentioned something that I see a lot, especially... When I was working in higher education, every year we were required to do a, what do you call it? Like a diversity training but it was like modules and it was online. It was basically a bunch of videos and then you answer questions at the end, and honestly, I would click through the whole thing and just answer the questions. I wouldn't watch the videos, and I know I'm not the only person who has done that in the past.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Oh, no.

Dr. Eakins:

I'll be honest.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Let me tell you.

Dr. Eakins:

Go ahead.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

First of all, if you have a breadth of knowledge, you can click through and answer, or people pass out the answers, obviously. Okay, let's just be clear here. This is open space, and then at the same time, some people never do it because it's almost... I feel like sometimes as educators, we know how to test the system. So like I forgot to do it but no one ever said anything, so they know that it's not even important to the district campus or whoever. So I totally agree with professional development but that's why I mean it has to happen in the space with the people there. Whether you're doing some virtual PD through a Zoom space and you're doing some breakout rooms, because you want to make sure that dialogue is happening. And so it's that whole virtual module deal, it does not work. No one's paying attention.

Dr. Eakins:

Nope, no one's paying attention, and I love that you said people share answers because I've seen that, and it's the same training, so what we would do is the same training every year. So I would remember little stuff, like some of the videos to me were just like common sense, like you don't even have to know diversity for real for real. A lot of it was just comments, "No, you don't put your hand on someone without their permission." It was just like little stuff. Like are you kidding me? Who does that?

Dr. Eakins:

But again, how effective is that if you do early on in your conversation, you said, it's got to be ongoing, so you do that first week or everybody's trying to rush through it because it was a requirement and it's last minute, it's due today kind of thing and then we just run through it and click, click, click, done. Got my certification, I'm good for another year. It's not effective, not effective, and I love that you're stressing the importance of setting that stage to where we're having like deep conversation and really breaking it into small group sessions and larger group sessions, and again, maybe that could be a beginning of the year, but then it needs to be ongoing, there needs to be more checks and more to that process.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

It should be systematic, and I can tell anyone, anything that we do, my favorite thing is we inspect what we expect, and so anything that we're doing with intentionality, we have to have a system for. And I don't want this to say like, "Oh, this is the fad right now. Race is the fad. We're doing race right now. We're never going to talk about race again but this is the fad." No. This is work that I'm being honest, like as a district, if I went into a district, I would want to know who is the main person for your district in charge of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and don't tell me human resources. Like I want someone because this needs to also trickle down not on just teachers, to our students, to our parents. If I walk into someone's building, and I'm being honest, even if you walked into mine now, is my building rich with promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion? No. So like what is the system district wide to make sure this is happening and then how are we inspecting the work?

Principal Deidre Hannible:

If I'm a teacher, is it happening during advisory time, morning meetings? Because now everybody's going to... I'm telling you. Every black author is about to sell out of every book they ever wrote, because they're going to try to bring all of this into the school but like what does that really look like? Because if our teachers are not ready to have the conversation about the hate you give, that's going to be a nightmare. So my thing is creating an implementation plan. I'm big on year one, this is where we want to be with our staff and students. Year two, this is where we want to be with our staff and students, and then so forth, but then an ultimate goal that goes with that.

Dr. Eakins:

I'm glad you said that. One of my concerns right now, we're recording this in June and on the cusp of George Floyd and just everything that's happening with Black Lives Matter and protests and looting and just the back and forth between like two sides, basically. People that agree and some that don't agree and it's just all this going on, and like you said, like all these books are white fragility and how to be anti-racist and all these books, Dr. Bettina Love's book, We Need To Do More Than Survive, all of these things are trendy, but I worry about three months from now, six months from now, a year from now when CNN isn't covering Black Lives Matter and they've moved on to another issue or challenge or whatever they have going on at that time, breaking news is going on somewhere else six months from now, is that same intensity going to be there or is this going to die down, like it normally does, until something else happen, and I don't want that to be the case.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

You're so right. I go back to continue with implementation, and so if we are not intentional at school districts, school systems, and not just in K-12, but I mean like all the way through. If we're not intentional with these system, if we're not partnering with our community base, this does not expand outside of those four walls. Like what does it look like when we train parents about race equity and diversity? This is not just for kids and teachers, and I think when we change the lens of how we're thinking about this from professional development to life development, we start to see outside the walls of our school.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

I think the other piece of legislation, I'm just going to be honest, I... In Texas we have now African American studies at the high school. I'm sorry, I've been African-American since birth, why are we talking about it once I get to high school?

Dr. Eakins:

Ninth grade.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Right, but thinking about like diversity and inclusion embedded throughout how we do school, because if we're just celebrating Black History Month in February, we're doing Hispanic Heritage in September, and then hello, what's in between? Every school doesn't even celebrate those two major ones, right? So what does it look like when we embed this into our curriculum?

Dr. Eakins:

You got me thinking because here's my concern. I appreciate ethnic studies courses, but I don't want to see ethnic studies courses being the ethnic study for the school. So for example, okay, so now, "Oh, I don't have to teach these things anymore because they have that class already." I don't need to, like you said, embed it into my curriculum because there's already an African American studies or an indigenous studies course, so I don't have to mention anything else as a teacher because I don't teach that class because someone else has taken care of that for me, and I've seen that before and it's just I was already uncomfortable with talking about it anyway so I don't have to worry about it, I can keep doing my thing, teaching the way I've always taught, and that's such a problem.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

I just really start, I'm a lesson plan person. Actually, I'm a lesson plan into action person. People hate it about me but I feel like if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and I could see, like I'm even thinking about in a band classroom. I started thinking about, "Okay, hey, how can you have a diversity component built into your lesson plan?:" So today, we're going to talk about a African American, but I don't want it to leave to just African-American. We might talk about someone in music, LGBT, we go through all of these things. We might talk about someone that has a disability. Like all of these things should be discussed embedded throughout our school. Now whether the teacher decides to take a race that day or they decide to do gender sexuality, any of those things, I think it should be embedded in the work.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

I think also even thinking about the literature that we put in front of kids, I don't want a teacher just to go read all black books right here. I want my kids, I have kids still in regular primary school. I want my kids exposed to all walks of life, not just the ones that are taboo or open right now, everybody's talking about it. So I think for us, it has to be emerged into regular lessons. It has to be required to be like how is diversity and equity like utilizing this lesson today if I'm having a coaching conversation with a teacher? Like yes, we're going to talk about how do the kids get to mastery, but how did you prime the pump for our kids to see like how does this act in real life and what does this look like in a diversity and inclusion situation, right? And having those talks.

Dr. Eakins:

Okay. It has truly been a pleasure speaking with you. I definitely consider you as providing a voice in leading equity. What is one final word of advice that you can provide to our listeners?

Principal Deidre Hannible:

We are all part of this, and I say it all the time, we are each other's harvest. And if we are thinking about this just in our system and education, we're already wrong and we're already going to fail. This is life work. In the field of education, how we solve for it is make it creating concrete like lanes and spaces for it to thrive in our educational world because our educational world impacts everybody else. I tell people, our kids are in front of us more waking hours than they are with their parents. So when you start thinking about the effects of race or inclusion or diversity or any of that, remember, they're awake more with us than they are with their parents. So we do have this wonderful life opportunity to spread, harvest growth in our kids, our teachers, and our community. So just being intentional with what we do with this is so important, and as a leader, we have to be intentional because this is not just about murder. This is about life moving forward, and we got to get it right.

Dr. Eakins:

Dei, if we have some folks that want to reach out to you, what's the best way to connect with you online, and remind us the name of your podcast again.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

The podcast is Unapologetically Educated and that is pretty much how you can find me on every social media platform. I am not a Facebook person, I'm more of a Twitter, Instagram chick, so I am Unapologetically Educated on Twitter and on Instagram. Also, you can reach out to me through email, [email protected]

Dr. Eakins:

There it is. Well Dei, it has truly been a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Principal Deidre Hannible:

Thank you, and continued blessings. I love what you're doing as well and we got to keep pushing each other, and it's not a black thing. That's an everybody thing, and it's okay to push and make each other better. I think that that's healthy for all of us. So thank you again for creating this space for all of us.

Dr. Eakins:

Thank you. Pleasure was mine.

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