This post is part of a series highlighting the diversity and inclusion work for employees, teachers and students at VIPKid. This content is a start at being more transparent around conversations about equity and inclusion at VIPKid and we will continue to showcase the ongoing work in future blogs.
The first half of 2020 has been turbulent and these last several months have tested the VIPKid teacher community’s resilience. Amidst a global pandemic and the ongoing global civil rights movement, the past months have shed light on the systemic injustices that exist for many in the community. The teacher community response to these global events has pushed us internally to reflect and discuss how we can build a sustainable community that is truly inclusive, diverse, and compassionate. We recognize that the road to creating this is a long and difficult one, and is overdue.
We believe that a diverse and inclusive community of educators will provide the perspectives and insights to shape our students into global citizens. Our teacher community is a place to lift each other up, connect, and share best practices for the classroom. We have consistently asked ourselves: How can we support the next generation of global teacher-leaders and ground them in a community that is loving, knowledgeable, and innovative?
As such, we are committed to redesigning our practices, policies, and community to advance diversity and inclusion. To plan for the future of VIPKid, we recently sent an anonymous survey on diversity and inclusion to all teachers on the platform in order to gain further insight into the experience of educators on the platform. After reviewing the results of this survey, follow up support tickets and feedback from teachers, and continued discussions with protected classes1 of educators, we are in the process of making changes to ensure that our teacher community is diverse, inclusive, and welcoming.
We recognize that change can be an adjustment, but changes are essential.
We know our biggest hurdle is to ensure these changes are sustainable and make a difference. To remain accountable, we will provide transparent updates on an ongoing basis through consistent blog posts, measurable surveys and continued conversations. We know that making mistakes is an inevitable part of the process, but we are excited about the work ahead of us and we will continue to learn and reflect. These initiatives will become long-term practices that are inherent in how we operate as a platform.
To provide insight into our strategy, below are some of the initial projects we have started.
- Diversity and inclusion feedback
We want to create a dialogue about diversity in our community and within the Teacher Portal. When sending in a support ticket, teachers will now find the “Diversity and Inclusion” dropdown to leave qualitative feedback on matters of diversity and inclusion directly to our Community Team. We will use trends we see in these support tickets for our agenda in our monthly diversity and inclusion teacher advisory council meetings, which is part of the Builders Program. We will continue to regularly send an anonymous climate survey to quantify the results of our initiatives.
- A zero-tolerance policy on racism, discrimination, and harrasment
In order to create spaces that are safe and inclusive, as part of our Non-Discrimination Policy, there will be no discrimination or harassment based on any personal identity factors. This extends to our platform, events, Builders Program, and our online communities. This policy will be reinforced in a message to the community and in materials for new teachers.
- Revamping online moderation practices to ensure diversity and inclusion
Based on feedback, we are revamping our community guidelines2, online moderation practices, and growing our moderation team to include a diverse array of voices. After getting feedback from our community ambassadors and the diversity and inclusion teacher advisory council on this detailed plan, we will be able to share it broadly. Our focus has been on adjusting our community guidelines and moderation practices to ensure that our online communities are a welcoming place for all teachers to connect, learn, and support one another. Our community guidelines and moderation strategy will adhere to our Non-Discrimination Policy.
- Diversity workshops for our community moderators and VIPKid Community Team
We recently held our first voluntary workshop on “Behaviors of Inclusion” with professional consultants for a small group of online coaches, meetup hosts, and community ambassadors. This foundational workshop led us to a deeper understanding of our unconscious bias. The feedback from this session helps us plan for improved workshops in the future. We will provide the option of these workshops on unconscious bias, designing brave spaces, and creating inclusive communities for our community teacher leaders. We hope to make these types of workshops available to all teachers on the platform and will keep teachers posted on this timeline. More inclusive spaces will allow for a diverse set of voices to become leaders in the community.
- Diversity tools for teachers
Our content and curriculum teams are currently working on creating a diversity toolkit, reading materials and certifications for teachers focused on teacher and student identity and how to address diversity in the classroom. These tools will draw from teacher experiences in the classroom. The toolkit is designed to be a full course with reading and reflections that will be made available to all teachers and applicants on the platform.
- Promoting affinity groups for community and learning
We recognize that we all benefit from reflection and growing together as a community. We will highlight and support shared spaces where VIPKid teachers who have similar experiences, or parts of their identity can connect. By supporting brave spaces where educators can learn and grow together, it shows that diversity and free expression can co-exist.
We will launch these initiatives in the teacher community as soon as possible. While this work is urgent, we want all projects to be completed with integrity and deep reflection. As such, some of the outlined projects may take longer to reach completion. Please stay tuned for additional updates through the Weekly Teacher Update, Blog posts and/or Teacher Portal Announcements as the projects are released.
We fully recognize this list is only a start and not a full solution, but these are our initial commitments to advancing diversity and inclusion for teachers on the VIPKid Platform.
We are excited about the work ahead of us and look forward to our continued improvement as global educators, a community, and a platform.
This was written in partnership with the VIPKid Community team who serve as global teacher advocates to ensure teacher success on our platform. Our multipart series also explores our student and employee commitments to VIPKid’s journey in building a more diverse and inclusive community.
1Protected characteristics under this policy include race, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex (including pregnancy), genetic information, marital or family status, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, disability, age, military or veteran status, political affiliation, and any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law.
2The updated community guidelines were published on August 5, 2020. We’ve linked them here, following the original posting of this blog for reference.