As we head back from Spring Break and “PLC’ing” gets up and running again, I encourage you to keep asking yourself: How do I ensure the best lessons for the learners in my room?
Reflect on your equity goal (on your IPDP) and consider ways to continue to strive for a culturally responsive classroom where you empower your students by capitalizing on their uniqueness and individualism, nurture a love of diversity, and encourage student voice and choice.
As shared in this article, “Teachers, See Learning as Students Do” here are some ways we can learn to see through our students' eyes:
Also keep close in mind that “culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is not about one day of celebrating a certain culture. It’s about daily practices that bring students’ cultures into instruction, valuing each student and what they bring, teaching them as people first in order to maximize their potential as students.” Take a minute to read this short article and the straight-forward ways to be mindful of CRT in your classroom: Culturally Responsive Teaching in Today's Classrooms
“Culturally responsive teaching is not a strategy. It’s more of mindset for teaching that embraces, values, and incorporates culture into daily instruction in order for learning to connect with students. Students feel valued, respected, and linked with instruction.”
I've yet to meet a teacher who doesn't convey that he/she believes all students can learn. In fact, I think it's fair to say that we all have high expectations for students, but do we have high expectations for ourselves? Do you feel there is a collected efficacy at our school for educators to understand the equity needs of our diverse population? Do you believe you are an 'agent of change'?
Like a broken record, you have likely heard and will continue to hear: equity is interconnected to all aspects of school, it is embedded in all the work we do in education.
There are many definitions of equity in education. but at the heart of them is the same outcome for students.
These past days the New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA) shared their definition with DMPS leaders: “Children and adults should receive what they each need to achieve their potential, and their race, culture, and other characteristics of their identity should not prevent access to opportunities and resources.”
The National School Climate Council defines an “equitable school climate” as “The quality and character of school life that fosters children’s, youth, and families’ full access to:
(1) Appropriately supported, high expectations for learning and achievement (2) Emotionally and physically safe, healthy learning environments (3) Caring relationships with peers and adults (4) Participation that meaningfully enhances academic, social-emotional, civic, and moral development. An equitable school climate responds to the wide range of cultural norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, leadership
"All work on equity concerns begins with one’s own self-reflection. Most of us grow up within cultural 'bubbles' of race, ethnicity, class, ability, gender, sexual orientation, and first language. These 'bubbles' create worldviews. Sometimes the experiences of where we live, socialize, emigrate, go to work or school help us see that others may have very different worldviews from ours. For educators, unbroken 'bubbles' are particularly troublesome. Our worldview becomes a paradigm that too often typecasts different as deficient...We carry with us value systems, expectations, and unrecognized stereotypes of our worldview into our work with children and families, seeing their deficits rather than their strengths."
It's paramount to become aware of our 'bubbles' and to break out of them! A thought from a colleague in DMPS resonated with me yesterday when he stated we can't use ignorance as a crutch any longer, and went on to say "Ignorance is the luxury of privilege."
So how do we stop "being ignorant"? Where do we begin? Consider high quality "diversity trainings" and taking advantage of public speakers/presentations. (l try to keep the "Community Events" updated for you, but there are so many more opportunities that you can take advantage of that I'm surely missing and have not been sharing in that space.) Consider being a part of a social justice group like SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice) that meet reguarly and welcome all! (Again, info on this is under the "Community Events" tab) Another way to help become aware of the 'bubble' we've been living in is to read books to challenge our deepest assumptions (let me know if you need some suggestions) and simply being open to noticing subtle thoughts and behaviors rooted in unacknowledged stereotypes.
While many strategies support fostering equitable school climates, there are some broad categories that can help for the foundation for more equitable classrooms. Check out this article:
SCHOOL CLIMATE AND EQUITY for the specifics on these SIX promising strategies for creating more equitable classrooms: