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As the year comes to a close and in the spirit of ongoing transparency and awareness, we wanted to provide another update on the latest diversity and inclusion (D&I) work on the VIPKid platform. You can read our previous D&I update email here, and check out the blogs and landing page here.
To start, we want to address shortcomings that have persisted, even after we acknowledged that D&I is important to VIPKid. We recognize that there’s more work to be done in representing teachers of color on our platform. Representation is a key part of creating equitable opportunities and we remain committed to improving representation of teachers of color on the platform and improving diversity and inclusion in all areas of our business.
Please see the following updates on the latest work and opportunities in this area:
This past year, VIPKid revisited curriculum and content to ensure historical events, characters, images, and language in the lessons are inclusive for all who experience them. In parallel to lesson-specific updates, the VIPKid Research Institute (VRI) has worked hard during the past six months to develop a set of Diversity and Inclusion Curriculum Guidelines. The guidelines were presented during a seminar provided to the curriculum development team in China to ensure that our teams are able to more successfully develop diverse and inclusive materials.
VIPKid is grateful to the proactive community of teachers on the platform and the Teacher Advisory Council who have flagged suggestive content and shared feedback about experiences teaching on the platform.
VIPKid wants to ensure that future classroom content is designed with deep consideration for diversity and inclusion included as part of the creation process. The VRI developed these guidelines following the principles of representation and sensitivity, looking at both “how we teach” and “what we teach.” When designing curriculum, curriculum developers consider diverse modalities and include a variety of presentation methods and practice opportunities. When looking at what’s being taught, these developers are encouraged to include diverse and interesting facts and consider new perspectives. When including characters in the lesson content, designers consider representative characteristics in all lessons, not just when learning about certain abilities, cultures, age groups, etc.
Journey Conference Highlights
We are committed to enhancing the diversity, equity and inclusion in all areas of the VIPKid platform, including events. At our 7th Journey conference, we heard from an incredible lineup of thought leaders and teachers and are thankful for our Community for challenging us to have even greater diversity in the voices we convened for this event.
The day’s agenda included breakout sessions—which covered a range of topics, including, communicating with empathy across borders, authentic communication in online teaching and best practices for cultural exchange and engaging with students—where attendees had the chance to learn from, and network with, external experts, VIPKid staff and other platform teachers.
One of our keynote speakers, Sonia Manzano, actor, screenwriter and author best known for her role as “Maria” on Sesame Street, discussed the importance of representation and her personal journey of building connections through a screen during her 40-year career on Sesame Street. It was a reminder that teachers on the VIPKid platform are helping students on the other side of the world understand the diversity of English speakers. Check out part of Sonia Manzano’s keynote here.
Following the event, teachers continued the conversation virtually through Community Social Directory group meetups such as “Hispanic & Latino VIPKid Teachers,” “40+ and Fine, Fine, Fine,” “VIPKid Teachers in Ecuador,” and “VIPKID Mental Health & Wellness Group.” You can continue to connect with these groups through the Community Social Directory!
Teacher Advisory Council- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Cohort Updates
Thank you to all of you who applied and for those of you who provided feedback on the Teacher Advisory Council. In case you are not already aware, VIPKid meets regularly with a team of teachers focused on evaluating feedback and exploring ways to create an equitable and inclusive teacher experience.
It was brought to our attention that the cohort could be even more inclusive without the requirements of the Builders Program. Based on this feedback, our team has decided to make changes to the requirements for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion cohort.
When applications open up again in 2021, the requirements for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion cohort will be adjusted to allow all teachers on the platform to apply for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Cohort.
We believe that regardless of time and experience on the platform, everyone should have the opportunity to authentically share their experiences on matters of Diversity and Inclusion.
Please stay tuned for more information through the Weekly Update when applications open up once again. We thank you in advance for your interest and for helping us ensure VIPKid is the best it can be! As always, even if you are not part of the council, teachers can reach this team though sending in a ticket to the Teacher Voice team and selecting the “Diversity and Inclusion.”
Support from Diversity and Inclusion Coaches
VIPKid has been working with facilitators, who are working to support our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Our diversity and inclusion coaches have been helping our team internally and assisting our company in strategic visioning, short-term and long-term planning, community building and storytelling. Together we are working to create a more inclusive environment for the VIPKid community.
We Encourage Your Feedback As We Plan for 2021
These highlights are a small piece of our ongoing commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive community. Looking to the New Year, we are excited to elevate new teacher voices, celebrate Black History Month, bring in new resources and speakers, and continue to examine ways we can improve the experience of our community.
To share your ideas, send in a ticket to the Teacher Voice team and select the “Diversity and Inclusion” dropdown. We’re grateful for your feedback in this topic that is a priority for our community.