By Ruthie Ristich, faculty, Ear Training and Voice Departments
In the Fall of 2016 Roberta Radley encouraged me to apply to become part of the ETUDE Faculty Scholars Program. I learned that ETUDE (Enhancing Teaching through an Understanding of Diversity and Equity), was a group of faculty organized by Robert Lageaux in Faculty Development with support from The Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The goal was to create a faculty group from both BoCo and Berklee to act as peers in creating workshops to be shared with other faculty. Topics range from understanding gender diversity (upcoming workshop: Supporting Trans* and Gender Diverse Students Facilitated by Chrissy Tignor, Ruthie Ristich, and Bradford Gleim. Thursday April 5: 1-2pm. Lunch provided. Sign-Up here by April 4th), how to handle microaggressions in the classroom, to enhance the overall inclusivity of our students’ classroom experience.The other goal was to develop and provide a short training for faculty and staff to become Equity Partners. What does this mean? We are trying to create Safe Allies for students—so they can feel safe reaching out for help and support. Equity partners volunteer to participate in a professional development training on equity in order to develop the knowledge and skills to ensure that all faculty, staff, and students feel welcome as full members of the Berklee community (details can be found here).
I helped co-facilitate a lunch gathering to discuss one of feminist writer, teacher, insurgent black intellectual bell hooks’ books: Teaching to Trangress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Books were provided to all 40 faculty who signed up for the group meeting. This spawned a screening of a documentary about bell hooks facilitated by Madelyn Washington and Bryn Austin in the Media Center several months later. I continue to digest and process the wisdom imparted by ms. hooks and how I can use some of her suggestions in my classroom. One thing I have changed is I do not address my class as “Hey guys!” Might seem like a silly thing to consider, but I want everyone to feel included, so now I say “Hello everyone”, or “Hello people” or “hello beautiful people” the greeting my father always used when he addressed a crowd for a lecture.
I have truly enjoyed getting to know this group of faculty from across the college and conservatory and have learned—and continue to learn—so much from them. I’m certain I have way more to absorb and also to share but the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, right? My experience in the classroom has been greatly enhanced and I look forward to the continued journey and also to meeting more of you through the workshops.
Faculty, Ear Training & Voice Departments
ETUDE Scholar/Equity Partner
Enhancing Teaching through an Understanding of Diversity and Equity