on conferences, on sabbaticals, on taking action

last week I attended the American Educational Research Association (AERA)’s annual meeting in Chicago. Chicago is one of my favorite cities and conferences are one of my favorite things to do. While understandably overwhelming, conferences are places where I connect with friends, make new friends, and develop new ideas. My own participation might spark some ideas and thoughts in others–it remains an important part of my professional development.

(I want to acknowledge that the in-person conference model has many challenges–accessibility, cost, gatekeeping, among others. Finding ways to meet the needs of both in-person and virtual gatherings should remain a priority for our professional organizations.)

when I was catching up with folks, the conversation often moved to my sabbatical, which while technically ending in August, is really ending now. there is too much necessary planning for the fall semester taking place now and it’s not really appropriate for me to hold that up because I’m on sabbatical. plus I’m teaching a maymester class and therefore need to be present. so AERA was in many ways my return to the daily grind of research factory life. a more pleasant, social one, for sure. but a return nonetheless.

and in thinking about that return, my sabbatical and recent AERA attendance highlighted something incredibly important for me. my overall research agenda needs an overhaul. I ‘m still focused on Brown and Black folks’ experiences in education and still focused on institutional critique and still focused on the role of curriculum in both those things. but rather than write inward to my academic community, I’m increasing my writing outward. I’m increasing my collaboration. I’m increasing my local organizing and activism.

we are socialized to the norms of academia and those norms no longer (and really, never) serve us well. public education is under attack at all levels–and stopping that attack will underlie all of my actions moving forward.

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