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What do you see when you look in the mirror?

This is the question posed to future elementary school teachers in winter and spring 2016 Educational Foundations Equal Opportunity courses. For each of these, future teachers the answers have been represented through the lens of a public art project called On Being Seen.

Education Studies and UOTeachOUT instructors Julie Heffernan and Tina Gutierez-Schmich asked these future educators to think about how they elect to be seen, and how they are unavoidably seen, as they move around as important adults in the world of k-12 schools. 

Why do their answers matter? When children and young adults see educators, administrators, mentors and staff who look like them—who represent aspects of their identities—they are much more likely to thrive in school. Study after study of underserved and marginalized youth confirm that children need to see adults with whom they share key aspects of their identity. When teachers can also represent diverse identities, children are able to resist the corrosive power of homophobia, trans-phobia, racism, ableism, and other toxic ideologies we suffer from as a society.

Each child must know that they belong, they can learn and they are valued.

For UOTeachOUT 2016, future teacher candidates were asked explore the benefits and costs of how society sees them and to deeply considering their choices in how they each represent aspects of their identity in schools. The resulting ideas were expressed through art, creating a public presentation of selected aspects of each student’s personal identity as a compelling mirror frame.

The On Being Seen mirrors, along with each artist's statements reflecting on this process, are on exhibit in a public art display in the HEDCO Education Building, near rooms 144/146, from April through June 2016. The community is invited to celebrate this important work at a reception on Monday, June 6 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the HEDCO building.

The UOTeachOUT 2016 Event Series on gender identity and sexual orientation issues in education also includes the following events: 

  • Community Forum on Gender Inclusive Elementary Schools, Wednesday April 27 4:00-6:00 p.m., Lokey Education 119
  • UOTeachOUT BBQueer Fundraiser, Saturday May 7 3:00-6:00 p.m., Claim 52 Brewery
  • Culturally Responsive Teacher Education with Robin DiAngelo, author of Is Everyone Really Equal and What Does it Mean to be White, Tuesday May 10, 3:30-5:00 p.m., Willamette High School
  • Youth Leadership Summit/GSA Day, Thursday May 12 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Willamalane Conference Center
  • A Place in the Middle public screening and directors’ discussion with Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, Thursday May 12 6:00-7:50 p.m., UO campus, Campbell Hall PLC180
  • Teacher Education Leadership Summit, Friday May 13, UO campus HEDCO 220
  • Pink Prom, Saturday May 21, high school GSA 
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