Equity in Teaching and Learning Webinar Series

Public education represents an important national investment in human capital, a mechanism through which individuals are developed into independent and productive citizens who can survive and thrive in our unique society and economy. To some, schools represent “the great equalizer” of society; institutions with the capability to disrupt inequities and build more just communities. 

Yet despite these noble aims, schools are among the most disparaged institutions in America. It is difficult to read a major newspaper without a daily article or column describing lagging test scores, relatively poor international comparisons, meager improvements, ballooning costs, corrupt local governance, or disturbingly low achievement gaps. Politicians and pundits regularly attack schools, promising policy agendas that will reverse these negative trends. All the while, parents consistently rate the specific schools of their children positively and social scientists point to evidence demonstrating that many of the inequities that are present in our schools originate elsewhere.

And now we are in a unique historical context. Over the last several weeks, the nation finds itself awoken from its complacency and ready to turn directly into our sorted history (and present) with race. Subsequently, educators from coast to coast are asking hard questions about schooling, racism and equity, and what more they can do to address it.

Disrupting culturally-embedded assumptions about how schooling should work (and for whom) will require hard conversations and brave action. This six-session series aims to embrace those conversations and actions, and is designed to assist educators to:

  1. Better understand the sources of inequity in schools and classrooms, and
  2. Adopt practices for promoting equity in learning.

The webinar series holds together as a coherent, sequenced program, but participation in all sessions is not necessary. Each session will include a mini-lesson, opportunities to interact with other educators relative to the topic, and access to tools and resources.

**This webinar series is available to all educators from any school at no cost**

Session Schedule and Registration

The series consists of six sessions total (one each month). Educators who want to be a part of the series are encouraged to join every session, but participants may also sign up for the single sessions that best fit their schedule. Additionally, even though sessions have identified target participants, any educator can join in any session they choose. The schedule for the entire series is below.

Session 1

Let’s talk Equity and Race: Essential Frameworks and Vocabulary to Get Started

Session 1 provides an overview of essential frameworks, vocabulary and research for being an equity-informed educator. Using research and products from prominent organizations and thought leaders, this seminar provides a foundation of information for those who want to engage in this work but who are tentative, afraid of making a mistake, or do not know where to begin. 

Date Held: September 15, 2020


Session 2

Accelerating Learning: An Asset-Based Approach to Moving Students Ahead

Public schools have long faced the challenge of working with students with a wide range of academic performance. COVID-19 made this even more challenging, widening the range of knowledge and skills. However, remediation has rarely worked as a strategy for catching students up.  Session 2 will look at a comprehensive strategy for accelerating learning of students the furthest behind.

Date Held: October 13, 2020

Session 3

Would I Know If I Saw It?: Indicators of Equitable Classrooms in Action

Improving teaching and learning across an entire organization requires a shared vocabulary and common vision for what constitutes high quality classrooms. This session looks at the research on equitable classrooms and presents a framework of practices more correlated with equitable experiences and learning.

Date Held: November 10, 2020


Session 4

Developing Background Knowledge and Vocabulary: Essential for Learning and Essential for Equity

Learning science shows us that background knowledge and vocabulary are predictors of future learning. Excellent teachers constantly assess, activate and leverage background knowledge of students as they teach new concepts and skills. This session will focus on how we can leverage student background knowledge as an asset and support the development of prerequisite knowledge and skills essential to getting all students on grade-level. 

Date Held:  December 8, 2020


Session 5

Developing an Equity Stance as an Educator: Showing Up and Leaning In

Horace Mann once referred to schools as “the great equalizer”—that public institution with the capability of disrupting old social classes and promoting a more just society. Evidence shows us this can be the case for certain students.  Additional evidence also shows that schools often replicate the broader inequities of society. If schools are to live up to their promise, educators must possess an equity stance and work together to actively disrupt such replication. This session will provide participants with practical suggestions on how to lead for equity at the classroom and school levels. 

Date Held: January 12, 2021

Session 6

Equity Audits: Tool for Surfacing Institutional Inequities

The equity audit is a structured process for looking deeply into organizational structures, programs and practices and identifying ways the school contributes to inequitable experiences or outcomes for students. Participants in this session will learn about equity audits and how to lead them in their respective schools

Target Participants: Teachers, administrators, staff, advocates

Date and Time: Tuesday, February 9, from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Register for Session 6

Facilitator Details

Richard Lemons providing instruction

Richard Lemons, Ph.D.

Introducing Richard Lemons, Ph.D.

The series will be facilitated by Dr. Richard Lemons, the Executive Director for the Connecticut Center for School Change. Dr. Lemons brings over 25 years of experience to the Center, formerly serving as a classroom teacher, literacy coach, change coach, researcher, policy advocate and university professor. Regardless of the role, Richard’s professional career is defined by a commitment to the large-scale improvement of instruction and leadership aimed at bringing about more equitable outcomes for young people. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Carolina State University, and master’s and doctorates in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard.  Richard co-authored Change Leadership:  A Practical Guide to Transforming our Schools with his colleagues at the Harvard Change Leadership Group. He has published numerous book chapters and articles in periodicals including KappanJournal of Staff DevelopmentASCD ExpressVoices in Urban Education (VUE), and Education Canada. Dr. Lemons also serves as a faculty member for Yale University’s Education Studies Program. In addition to working with the board to provide leadership for the Center, Richard helps facilitate the Superintendents’ Network, teaches in the annual Equity Institute and works closely with numerous district clients on strategic planning, central office transformation and capacity and coherence audits.

SCECH Availability

Up to 12 SCECHs can be earned during the series, two for each session you complete. Details about earning SCECHs will be available in the registration confirmation emails.


Please contact Jayme Lesperance (lesperja@gvsu.edu) if you have any questions about this series.