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Open Choice Professional Development



Open Choice Office
(860) 524-4010

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Professional Development

Hartford Region Open Choice provides professional development...

  • tailored to meet your needs
  • in your district
  • utilizing content area experts
  • for low, or in some cases, no cost
  • online or in person

See What Open Choice Can Do for You!

To inquire about any of our Professional Development services, contact the Open Choice Office at or (860) 524-4010

Cultural Proficiency

Cultural Proficiency

Storytelling as an Empathy-building Tool

(90 – 120 minutes)
This facilitated dialogue will help school staff experience the trust-building and increased understanding of the ‘other’ that occurs through storytelling. An overview of the complete dialogue process (of which storytelling is an early stage component) and how it is being used to increase parent engagement and strengthen staff/student relationships also will be discussed.

Implicit Bias in Education

(90 minutes)
Participants will learn more about implicit racial bias, the attitudes and stereotypes that affect our understanding, decisions and actions in an unconscious manner. The presentation, readings and discussion will focus on the origins of implicit bias, where and how it surfaces within education settings, the potential impact on student outcomes and strategies to counteract it.

Productively Address Hurtful, Biased Comments or Actions in Elementary/Middle School

(3 hours)
As teachers & school administrators, we need to teach children what to do/say when an incident takes place related to another person’s race, ethnicity, religion, ability or another ism. Participants will learn ways to address biased behavior from children within school, along with teaching children what to do or say (if and when appropriate) when they witness instances of prejudice among their peers.

Peeling Back the Layers: Structural Racism within Schools

(90 – 120 minutes)
Analyze racism and further one’s understanding of how to use a structural racism lens, shifting focus from individual beliefs to cultural practices and institutional policies that contribute to racial disparities within a school. Participants identify examples within school & create action ideas to address those challenges.

Addressing Increased Conflicts through Civil Discourse in the Classroom

(90 – 120 minutes)
Combative political dynamics has heightened incivility and stress within schools. According to a national teacher survey conducted during 2017 by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, this negativity has and continues to impact student learning. This session serves as an orientation to another professional development option - full day facilitator training - highlighting techniques to facilitate a civil discourse of differing student perspectives. Learn about facilitation strategies that include conversation guidelines, storytelling, journaling and active listening exercises, which help youth to respectfully reflect upon and discuss race, immigration, political and religious views, and other potentially polarizing topics. Join us to discuss facilitation techniques that help convert a confrontational exchange into a teachable moment.

Facilitating a Civil Discourse in the Classroom

(7½ hours)
Participants learn & practice various strategies that help ensure a civil discourse about race in the classroom. Following self-assessment of one’s own vulnerabilities and strengths, participants will identify the challenges associated with facilitating race dialogues, as well as effective ways to use dialogues as a tool to respond to a racial incident within the school. Ways to turn a classroom conversation that moves into race into a teachable moment also will be covered. For planned conversations, race dialogue prep work, along with strategies for opening the conversation and techniques to facilitate leaning into the discomfort during the dialogue and diffusing tensions will be discussed. Teachers who complete this session will feel better prepared to facilitate race dialogues in the classroom and address a host of other isms.

Race Dialogues

(Two full days, or five weekly 90 – 120 minute sessions)
The challenges confronting education — the gap in student achievement, racial, ethnic, religious tensions within schools, and more — continue to grow. Through dialogues, staff, students and families from diverse backgrounds in schools throughout the country have built a foundation of trust, increased their understanding of each other's experiences, reflected upon existing challenges and worked together on solutions. Ideally, several district staff will have completed full day facilitator training, then co-facilitate the dialogues with a CREC staff member.

School and District Level Book Club

Before addressing racial inequities within schools, educators need to better understand the African American experience from 1619 through today. During facilitated book discussions, staff will reflect on African American history, structural racism and its role within education, or a first-person account of the African American experience by a black father speaking to his son. The hope is for discussions to impact staff perspectives, influencing staff practices in classrooms and policies district-wide.

Among the materials available for facilitated book discussions this year:

  • White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo
  • The Case for Reparations by Ta-NeHisi Coates
  • Waking Up White by Debby Irving
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The 1619 Project a New York Times Sunday magazine focused on 400 years of American slavery
  • Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism and You by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi

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