The Power of #Listening to #Feedback for #Transformation in Schools and Organizations with Sharif El-Mekki, Black Educator Development

Have you ever asked your child, your student, your employee, your organization, your customer….

How do you experience our leadership?

How do you experience this policy?

How do you experience me as a parent?

And what would you like to experience?

In this episode, Sharif shares examples and stories as to how to shift dynamics in communication in teacher-student, parent-child, leader-employee or any type of relationship through the exchange of feedback around what has been experienced. Listening in this way can lead to a deeper understanding of the situation, more impactful decisions and an overall shift in mindset allowing for all voices to be heard.

He also talks about how to ask powerful questions that not only connect the dots and dig deep, but also help move us into action, paving the way for creative problem-solving for a better, more just and fulfilling future.

Sharif El-Mekki is the Founder and CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development. The Center exists to ensure equity in the recruiting, training, hiring, and retention of quality educators that reflect the cultural backgrounds and share common socio-political interests of the students they serve. 

The Center is developing a nationally relevant model to measurably increase teacher diversity and support Black educators through four pillars: Professional Learning, Pipeline, Policies, and Pedagogy. So far, the Center has developed ongoing and direct professional learning, mentoring, and coaching opportunities for Black teachers and other educators serving students of color.

Whether you are a teacher, a parent or a leader, this episode is full of practical examples that can support all of us in shaping an inclusive and just world where all voices are listened to and acted upon.

“If we listen to hear, listen to understand, and listen to learn, that’s a different way to lead. And ultimately, that is a mindset that can help us march towards a path that’s far more just.” – Sharif El-Mekki

Listen IN Notes:

02:32 – What we should pay attention to Thinking time, reflection time.

03:11 – The kinds of questions we need to ask children to allow them to build their own paradigms

08:52 – Helping human beings develop empathy: ‘Managing themselves’ is also understanding others, as well.

10:20 – A story of impacting the community, organization, and school by listening to student voices.

13:24 – Crucial to establish the organization, continue to grow, and improve: working in the community with each other, sharing thoughts, sharing ideas, and giving collective feedback.

14:11 – Being seen, heard, and listened to as your authentic self: They interviewed 100 black teachers, and collaborated around a report based on the feedback. The report, “Who We Are”, helped with retention efforts of black educators in the United States. They’re more likely to stay if they have a culture that’s affirming, with leadership that is committed to racial justice.

23:35 – Reflecting back: As we develop educators, cultural competence is important but even more important is cultural proficiency.

28:48 – Communicating by listening through feedback

37:04 – A moment of significant change: Being invited into the profession [teaching] and really seeing the connection between educational justice, racial justice, and social justice.

41:57 – Listening to justice: If we’re really seeking justice, then we are going to make sure that we’re listening, we’re hearing, we’re seeing folks who are aggrieved by our leadership, from our policies, from our procedures, from the culture that’s been established.

43:33 – Mustering and practicing the courage to listen: It can start small, asking people for feedback. A lot of things can actually be practiced with your inner circle, spaces you feel safe and brave.

55:58 – Having a just system for trust and listening to thrive and brave spaces created: It’s around setting goals, being transparent, and acknowledging their experience. 

56:16 – What a ‘lift and climb concept’ looks like

01:02:51 – Looking at human beings, regardless if they’re immigrants or refugees as owners of their destiny, not as change agents.

Key Takeaways:

“I sometimes think out of frustration; we just want to solve the problem. We want to address whatever the child was experiencing and how it manifested, like an inappropriate response. And that’s very likely true at that moment. But we also have to be curious about what are the other things that occurred.” – Sharif El-Mekki

“When we’re talking about building communities, and classrooms, and schools, and neighborhoods and recreation centers – it’s about community. How do we work together? How do we spend time together? How do we interact with each other? All of those can inform our values…and can help us improve ourselves as well as our general interactions with others.” – Sharif El-Mekki

“What they (human beings) want from their leadership is a commitment to improving transparency, support, and receptivity to feedback.” – Sharif El-Mekki

“One of the tenets of our work is, we’re not just pushing into schools, and teaching a course, teaching one on one look but we’re also engaging high school youth to be part of the solution.” – Sharif El-Mekki

“My mother is my first teacher, and I love to quote about what she said, “Something precedes peace. And it’s justice. If you want peace, fight for justice, because justice will surely give birth to peace.”” – Sharif El-Mekki

“Listening, with actual hearing, can support justice, because the people, the aggrieved, can share how they’re experiencing things.” – Sharif El-Mekki


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