Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning


The concept behind turning mirrors into windows is about reflecting on one’s experiences and exposing oneself to new possibilities. In this professional development, participants will explore what turning mirrors into windows is and how it is reflected in current practices. Panelists will provide tips for GEAR UP facilitators to work alongside teachers, administrators, faculty, and staff to foster an environment where all students feel seen, heard, included, respected, and valued for their uniqueness. In this session, we will reflect on how GEAR UP can impact equity, inclusion, & access across schools by addressing environmental factors, classroom culture, and educational policy. Let’s turn mirrors into windows for your students today!

Essential Questions

How can I turn mirrors into windows in my classroom/school environment?

Learning Goals

  • Participants will reflect on what turning mirrors into windows is and how it is reflected in their current practices.

  • Participants will engage in a dialogue with panelists to discuss ways of integrating and/or improving opportunities for students to develop a group understanding of a concept or idea through multiple perspectives.

Materials List

  • Session Slides - Turning Mirrors into Windows (attached)

  • Note Catcher - Turning Mirrors into Windows (attached; one per participant)

  • Mirrors and Windows - Turning Mirrors into Windows (attached; one per participant)

  • Mirrors Research Brief - Turning Mirrors into Windows (attached; one per participant)

  • Windows Research Brief - Turning Mirrors into Windows (attached; one per participant)

  • Pens and pencils

  • Speakers

  • Projector

  • Laptop

  • Chart paper (for optional activity)

  • Markers (for optional activity)


5 Minute(s)

As your participants are arriving, welcome them and provide them with complements as you direct them to find a seat. Using the attached Session Slides display slide 2, welcome your participants to your session, Turning Mirrors into Windows, and introduce yourself.

Pass out the attached Note Catcher.

Display slide 3 and share the session objectives with your participants:

  1. Reflect on what turning mirrors into windows is and how it is reflected in current practices.

  2. Engage in dialogue with panelists to discuss integrating opportunities for students to explore concepts or ideas through multiple perspectives.

Move to slide 5 and ask your participants, “what words or phrases come to mind when you hear the words, “mirror,” and “window?”  Instruct your participants to take a minute or two to discuss this question with their table groups.  After a few minutes, ask for a spokesperson who would be willing to share-out.

Display slide 6 and share the meaning of Mirrors and Windows, as used in the instructional strategy, with your participants.  Share the image with them of the little girl looking at herself in the mirror and explain that this is how she views herself.  Next, point to the little girl in the window who is viewing inside, seeing someone else with an identity that is different from her own. 


15 Minute(s)

Display slide 7 and pass out the attached Mirrors and Windows handout. Instruct your participants to review the questions and respond to the column labeled, “Mirrors: What was your perception initially to these questions as a student?” and the column labeled “Windows: Who/What impacted or changed your initial perspective towards the question and how.” Give participants 3 minutes to respond to the questions on their handout based on their memory of their experience as a student. A timer is provided on slide 8. If you would like an alternate amount of time, you can find more timers on the K20 YouTube Channel.

After three minutes, move to slide 9 and invite participants to participate in Roundabout Conversations. Create an inner and outer circle and provide a number for participants to rotate. Have the inner circle move clockwise and the outer circle counterclockwise. Once stopped, inform participants what question to share with their partners. Provide 30 seconds for each partner to share out. Once each partner has finished sharing, provide the next number of rotations for the inner and outer circle for the next question.

Move to slide 11 and allow a few participants to share out their thoughts to the prompt:

  • How did your/others windows change the trajectory of your mirrors?

Participants learn the importance of broadening their understanding of a concept while learning how different cultures may share.


15 Minute(s)

Display slide 12 and share the essential question that will be focused on for the remainder of the session:

  • How can I turn mirrors into windows in my classroom/school environment?

Bring back up compliments given as participants came into the room and how it made them feel. Inform participants that complimenting something unique that you like about someone can be used as a strategy to make someone feel welcomed, seen, invited into an environment. When someone is more comfortable they are more likely to open up and share their opinions.

Move to slide 13 and pass out the attached Mirrors and Windows research briefs. Provide a brief summary of the research’s positive correlation of student success when intentionally providing learning environments and experiences of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Move to slide 14 to complete the Stand Up, Sit Down strategy. Place participants into groups and provide an index card. In their groups, have participants share ways in which your program/school is helping to implement DEI or come up with ideas in which they can implement DEI on the classroom/school/district level. Have groups select their top 3 to record on their index card to share. Have one group member to stand to share their groups points. Participants will cross out any share outs that are the same as their teams points on their index card. Record all responses on slide 15 or on to a board. Once all three of their points have been shared, have them to take a seat.

Move to slide 17 and share the “Making Sure Each Child is Known” video.

After the video, pose the following reflection questions:

  • What methods did the teachers use to make students feel seen and valued?

  • How difficult would these be to implement in your classroom/building?

  • What are your major takeaways from this video and the research behind it?


20 Minute(s)

Display slide 18 with your list of panelist. Begin by having each panelist give a short description of who they are, what they do, and one way in which they implement DEI. Next, open the floor to the participants and lead a Q and A session for the panelist to respond to whatever questions the participants may have.


5 Minute(s)

Display slide 20 and ask participants to just reflect on the quote by Principal Baruti Kafele:

  • Are my students at an advantage because I am their [educator]?

No need for participants to share out. Move to slide 21 and provide a QR Code for participants to respond to the following prompt:

  • What’s one way in your role, do you plan to provide more windows for your students within the next week?

Research Rationale