Diversity in a Complex World with Rafranz Davis

What’s required to build support for change in a diverse community? How do you tackle the big issues around change, when so many small ones are gathering momentum?

What does it take to ensure that the day-to-day distractions that every school leader has to address don’t distract you from maintaining a focus on long-term sustainable change?

In this episode of the Modern Learners Podcast, Will, talks with Rafranz Davis who is the Executive Director of Professional and Digital Learning for Lufkin ISD. She is also a highly regarded speaker at education and technology conferences across the U.S.

Rafranz’s passion for creativity and student centered learning has driven her work in supporting Lufkin’s transition to taking more innovative approaches to teaching and learning through integrated computational thinking, makerspaces and community driven personalized professional learning.

When Rafranz is not disrupting the status quo in East Texas, she can be found connecting with the global education community as an advocate for STEM education, teacher voice, digital equity and diversity in edtech.

Highlights from their conversation include:

  • The steps to a more student-centered and self-directed learning environment.
  • Just how much agency should students have? How can a leader find a balance between where they philosophically fall on that spectrum of possibilities, and where your school district realistically will fall. How might you resolve the gap?
  • The importance of leadership knowing that you don’t have to allow a state or a score to dictate who you are as a school, but rather you look at what learning can be, and that defines your identity.
  • How important is it to have a vision for what change will look like in the end?
  • What role should does passion and interest play?  In looking at teachers as learners, how does passion play a role in teachers as learners first of all?
  • How important is it to share work, and to make that work transparent?
  • What does it take to nurture a culture shift, so that’s about more transparency and more sharing?
  • Setting priorities around the right tools. If teachers are using tools in the classroom that were completely outdated, and you don’t have wifi coverage, what can you do about that?
  • What are some of the dispositions that leaders of change need to have?  What are the most important qualities that people who are devoted to or really passionate about change?  What do they need to have in their make up?
  • The importance of being connected, and how that should be a priority at every level and across all staff. Reading books, doing research, participating in action research; the value in having to extend beyond what your domain is.
  • How we keep diversity in the mix not just in terms of race and gender; to keep people that come from different point of views, different spaces at all times.
  • Why being uncomfortable is a good thing.
  • How do you think technology can amplify a change in practice?
  • The importance of connecting and learning with and from people from other places, other cultures.  Why we should do more to encourage our classrooms to connect and learn from and learn with and not just connect to fix.
  • Is technology for learning more of an opportunity or a challenge for schools?
  • The urgent need for our students to understand that the world is bigger than the zip code they live in.
  • Why it is so important that we see kids developing as learners as much if maybe not even more, as they’re developing being learned?

Links to Topics Mentioned in this Podcast



Google Hangout

Lukin ISD

Maker Spaces and Maker Culture




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