Darnell Thigpen Williams at Best Practices 2021
By Julia Dickman | Wednesday, November 3, 2021
By Julia Dickman
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Darnell Thigpen Williams is the Associate Director of Professional Development at the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services and the Collaborative for Educational Services. Darnell has worked in education for over twenty-five years, and his work centers on policies and practices that consider cultural context in pursuit of equity, justice, and transformation in learning environments. This year, it was our pleasure to have Darnell as our guest speaker at the 2021 Best Practices in the Teaching of Writing conference.
Darnell began by addressing the decline in students' mental health upon the switch to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how although our nation's standing in achievement may be good, we have not adequately accounted for disparities in equity. "Education is a microcosm of larger inequities," Darnell said. He went on to describe how justice and hope go hand in hand, and how it is crucial to build on connections with students in order to yield "radical empathy." White, wealthy men have long-been the default face in the classroom, and there has been a collective failure to validate the students who don't fit into that mold. High-quality professional development and a diverse educator workforce are necessary in order to enact lasting and meaningful change.
"Teaching is a small part of it, but foundational is the relationships," Darnell stated.