Berkeley’s Leadership Programs shine at AERA in Chicago

Leaders do not lead alone.
Professor Travis Bristol, Berkeley School of Education
No matter what, never be discouraged. Don’t be surprised by evil or paralyzed by despair. They can’t stop all of us.
Cornel West
April 21, 2023

Our Leadership Programs and 21CSLA researchers presented their work at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in Chicago this month, exploring the recruitment and retention of leaders of color, Social Emotional Learning, hands-on, arts-based curriculum for leaders, equity leadership, and much more.

More than a dozen faculty, staff, and graduate students associated with our Leadership Programs and 21CSLA joined the expansive AERA Annual Meeting, which offers thousands of sessions and attracts more than ten thousand people annually.

Rebecca Cheung, Assistant Dean for Leadership Development Programs at the Berkeley School of Education, and Berkeley School of Education Associate Professor Travis J. Bristol joined a panel of Bay Area leaders in discussing working conditions of leaders of color and delving into recruitment, retention, and turnover.

“Hiring a diverse workforce is insufficient if educators of color simply burn out or leave. How do we support leaders of color in their work context?” asked Cheung as she discussed specific strategies for retaining leaders of color.

Responding to a question about leaders being politically vulnerable, Bristol said, “Leaders do not lead alone. Superintendents need cover [from school boards] to do their most radical work.”

Among the other Leadership Programs sessions:

  • 21CSLA Research Coordinator Aki Murata and doctoral students Quennie Dong and Xueqin Lin shared research on “Critical Reflection, Professional Community, and Transformative Leadership.”
  • Soraya Sablo Sutton, Jessica Evans, and nives wetzel de cediel engaged participants in an interactive session on “Stories of Arts, Embodiment, and Praxis in P–20 Leader Preparation.”
  • Doctoral students Meg Stomski, Quennie Dong, and Aukeem Ballard discussed, “Understanding and Supporting the Wellbeing of Under-represented Educators: Perspectives Across Identity Locations.”
  • BSE Visiting Professor Özge Hacifazlioglu highlighted research on “Learning Together, Leading Together: Interprofessional Preparation as Practice for Interdisciplinary Collaboration,” which explored the experience of leaders collaborating with school psychologists in preparation programs.

Bristol—who spoke in multiple sessions and hosted a reception for contributors to The Handbook of Research on Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers (co-edited with Conra Gist) — brought eight Berkeley undergraduate students to the national meeting and supported one of those students in presenting a research paper. This travel was supported by University-Community Links.

A 21CSLA reception brought at AERA gave colleagues an opportunity to socialize, celebrate, and network about the work ahead.

The conference theme, “interrogating consequential research in pursuit of truth,” was underscored by the renowned intellectual and leader Dr. Cornel West, the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary.

West kicked off the annual meeting with an uplifting and provocative talk, affirming the importance of joy in struggle while urging the packed audience of more than 1,300 education researchers not to minimize or sanitize the harms visited upon people of color. “Don’t deodorize the funk of catastrophe,” he said.

At the same time, he urged hope: “No matter what, never be discouraged. Don’t be surprised by evil or paralyzed by despair. They can’t stop all of us.”