How GLISI made diversity and inclusion training accessible and digestible.
GLISI is on the cutting-edge of leadership and professional development
The Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI) exists to uplift leaders > transform mindsets and action > create vibrant cultures of innovation > build excellent and equitable schools. Their dynamic team of management, education and leadership experts help thousands of educators in Georgia and beyond to advance their leadership and school improvement goals.
Building inclusive, equitable schools is central to GLISI’s mission. In the summer of 2020, the GLISI team noticed a greater demand from their partnership base to advance diversity, equity and inclusion goals within the school communities they serve, as Georgia communities and the world processed the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
Despite the growing interest, the GLISI team understood that holding up a mirror and seeing one’s self and community in a different light can be overwhelming for those who have never reflected in that way. The challenge for the team was to be responsive to district demand for an impactful diversity, equity, and inclusion training experience for educators that would be accessible and attractive to participants.
When we first discovered Arist, we were definitely intrigued. We knew people couldn’t dedicate 30 minutes, but they could dedicate 10. They really wanted something digestible.
Meet Letishia and Kasey
As Senior Program Director Letishia Seabrook Jones set out to create impactful equity and inclusion training, she collaborated with GLISI colleague Kasey Wood, who noticed adoption and engagement rates for past web-based courses were stagnating. Determined to be more creative in course delivery, GLISI turned to Arist. Although doubtful upfront about how much meaningful content could fit into a series of texts, they knew Arist’s course structure could make the training easier for people to engage with in the flow of their regular workday.
The idea of a new medium was daunting at first, but Arist’s course on building [text message] courses was helpful and the frameworks from the [Arist] team made it easy.
The first course
As the team began creating their first Arist course, they faced a daunting challenge: delivering their very first course to not just a handful of people, but a large school district with thousands of employees.
The team co-constructed course content with input from their district partner and also designed a discussion guide for principals to facilitate conversation as a complement to the text-based course. The course invited learners to self-reflect and introspect as they explored their own identity, biases, and the relationship between identity and their interactions with others. Examples of specific topics included in the ten-day course include Understanding Bias and Microaggressions.
The advantage for me as a learning designer was the constraint, because each day I felt like I said the most important thing. Crafting something like this from the ground up gave us a new energy, and I think that was because of the delivery mechanism. It felt brand new.
"[Learners] loved how convenient it was and how they could dig in at their own time"
The course was offered to several thousand employees, many of whom immediately sent positive feedback. Even more exciting for the team was how well the medium broke down daunting, critical issues into something digestible, through a medium that opened doors for dialogue. The anonymity offered through text-based processing also allowed participants to be honest with themselves in ways they may not have been if the course was delivered through a traditional in-person training model. Learners reported that it felt more familiar, easier to engage with, and led to far higher participation than previous, similar initiatives had produced.
Thanks to Arist, the team was able to build effective content quickly, deploy it to thousands of learners, and drive up participation and engagement—all while opening doors for meaningful organizational change. Most importantly, GLISI was able to meet learners where they were, making the learning experience truly accessible.