In February of 2022, the Director of Student Life and Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging for a private high school in Illinois came across Race to Be Human (RTBH). The school, wanting to talk more broadly about equity and inclusion, knewhaving access to the RTBH Creative Coping Toolkit year-round would set them up for success.
With 140 high school students, school leaders were hoping to “use Race to Be Human to talk about race and identity AND have students think about how you use your words, serve as an ally, and interact with people from different backgrounds or cultures,” relayed the school’s Assistant to the Head of School.
In other words, the school was looking to use RTBH as a way for their high schoolers to hone their empathy skills and become more thoughtful.
They also saw the film program as a way to trulyget students into a place where people aren’t being attacked whilediscussing race, racism, and identity.The bite-sized content within the Creative Coping Toolkit provided students the time and space to sit with the essential conversations and content RTBH spurs.
All 10th graders at the high school were shown segments of the film followed by discussion questions within the toolkit over the course of 6 classroom periods, once a week. Discussion questions took place in smaller groups to promote deeper conversation. Before diving into the programming, the school emailed parents with information on the topics covered and an opportunity to opt their students out of the programming. No families opted out.
Each session began with a reminder for students of the norms as to how this space is conducted. An additional reminder was given: “We will not solve all of the world’s problems in this session — these conversations serve as a primer for exploration.” The bite-sized videos that center student experiences allow the information to better resonate.
School leaders expressed that the Creative Coping Toolkit interface is intuitive, making it easy to navigate the different resources our film programs offer. The discussion questions serve as a great starting point while allowing facilitators the opportunity to tailor the questions if needed. The school also found that providing students with worksheets containing the vocabulary covered that day was beneficial; students were able to take notes and further develop the language needed when discussing race, identity, and racism.
The sessions intentionally left space at the end — this time was used for breathing exercises, reflection, or for asking any final questions.
When asked how to effectively discuss race and racism in the classroom, it “relies on building trust with and among students over more than one session, rather than just one day. As the facilitator, making yourself vulnerable to students invites their own vulnerability into the conversation,” noted the lead facilitator.
Having year-round access to the Race to Be Human film program developed their 10th graders' muscles of curiosity for other cultures and a mindset of lifelong learning about themselves and others. There is now a baseline of knowledge that all 10th-grade students have as they continue their school journey. The school is excited to continue using RTBH for future 10th-grade students to come.
After successful implementation, there’s a desire to quantify the impact of the programming. The most recent updates to iMPACTFUl’s Creative Coping Toolkit (CCT) include an Engagement and Impact Reporting Tool, which will make this goal possible in the school’s next year of use. The conversations spurred serve as a launching pad to continue incorporating learning about race, whether in English or Social Studies curricula or larger conversations about the construct of race in America.