.Professional learning takes place for me in conferences, but also in the many interactions I have in meetings with peers and colleagues.
My most valuable conference learning was an opportunity I had to attend the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education.(NCORE). I've now attended it a number of times, but my first conference was several years ago when I held a different role at another community college.
I immediately felt at this conference like I was the other. And frankly, that was one of the reasons why I decided to attend. As a person of privilege, I am almost always in that position-privileged. At this conference of thousands, I experienced for a very short period of time the opportunity to feel like I was an outsider, that I didn't belong, and that what I thought I knew about diversity and inclusion was incomplete. I attended spoken word sessions, real talk on race sessions, movie previews and more. I was a sponge, and an uncomfortable one at that.
I returned in the following years(still at a former campus), trying to bring more people with me each time. It is an expensive conference, so in most years it was 2-3 of us. As our coalition expanded, we were able to return to campus and share our learning. It was small, but we did make an impact.
What resulted for me was a return to school to earn my Ed.D. This experience compelled me to reach much deeper into the work, and my dissertation focused on student equity practices in community colleges. (before we got the newest of resources)
I'm pleased to say that we now have a practice of sending a team from Mesa each year to the conference, and we make it our tradition to do at least one presentation. One of the requirements of attendance is to present a workshop upon your return. We have had several workshops over the past few years, and I look forward to more.