Race impacts student achievement and parent involvement. Schools teachers do not know how to build relationships and/or teach African American and Latino students. Many staff and school leaders do not have the skills, strategies and confidence on how to talk about race with their staff. Leadership doesn’t have the trust necessary to have conversations on the impact of race, ethnicity, and culture at the school. Leadership teams do not collectively have the skills, strategies, and confidence to support teachers who have demonstrated the need for help teaching African American and Latino students.
To create a Professional Learning Community that will have the trust, skills, and confidence to address the persistent racial achievement gap that adversely impacts Latino and African American students academically at Parkland Middle School. 11 LONG-TERM GOAL
Study Circles provide a structure to help leadership teams: Develop the trust, skills, and confidence needed to have an honest dialogue about race. Challenge each other through on- going conversations and exploration. Create a shared understanding of the problem.
The process is divided into three steps: Develop trust and begin to understand each others experience. Step 1 Learn how to talk about race with colleagues Explore different racial experiences and viewpoints Step 2 Practice analyzing a problem through a racial lens Step 3
Develop trust and begin to understand each others experience. Step 1
15 Here is what Leadership Team members have said after Stage One Openness to tell our stories and show our vulnerability and empathy Its about moving the entire school forward and we can’t do that unless we bond, compromise and learn about each other. Learned peoples’ perceptions, beliefs, what defines who you are, where they are coming from. This activity opened up a window I understand how slowly you have to go with this because you have to be able to trust each other at another level to be able to talk about race Feel like a wall was knocked down… Not feeling judged by others feeling more connected and safe We need to know each other to trust each other It was important to work on our relationships and trust before having the hard conversations
Develop trust and begin to understand each others experience. Step 1 Learn how to talk about race with colleagues Explore different racial experiences and viewpoints Step 2
Even though some is hard to hear, it’s good to know we are getting somewhere…finally. I feel that we have been able to have an open and honest dialogue about race and how it affects our work Not done, unfinished business, painful, honest, courageous, tense Everyone’s stories and coming from different backgrounds and walks of life and how that impacts our life Sense of commitment and openness A shared vocabulary, open hearts and minds, vulnerability There is much that I don’t know and would like to know Hopeful. We came together to discuss a difficult issue and we were productive I am feeling excited about the trust we showed by speaking about our experiences. I feel like being part of the solution! Here is what Leadership Team members have said after Stage Two
Develop trust and begin to understand each others experience. Step 1 Learn how to talk about race with colleagues Explore different racial experiences and viewpoints Step 2 Practice analyzing a problem through a racial lens Step 3
Begun to develop mutual trust and respect Heard and discussed different perspectives and experiences Been given the opportunity to challenge perceptions Started to create a shared understanding of the problem Created mutual accountability By the end of the 3 steps, Leadership Teams will have:
OUTCOMES FROM LEADERSHIP STUDY CIRCLES The school moved the staffing positions to create an ESOL Support Teacher to support ESOL students in the classroom. All staff and team meetings start and end with the question, “How do our decisions impact African American and Latino students?” The Staff Development Teacher created a professional development plan for the staff on how middle school students develop their racial identity and academic identify. Perceptual data from stakeholder study circles are included in the school improvement plan. The Leadership Team is speaking in one voice on the need to address teacher beliefs and practices. Leadership teams now use SMART-R goals (R is for Race Conscious)
I feel equipped to look at situations from a lens of race and equity and feel compelled to ask myself the questions, "Am I walking against the moving sidewalk in the decisions that I make as a leader?" I feel more comfortable having conversations about race with my staff due to the work we have done as a team facilitated by study circles. - Ms. Monifa McKnight, Principal Ridgeview Middle School Providing us with the framework needed to keep the importance of equity at the forefront of our decision-making will offer each of the ILT members a tool to use when having those same discussions or making the same decisions with others in the building. - Ms. Sheila Harrison, Assistant Principal Kingsview Middle School It has helped me to be honest about my feelings about race to the ILT and the influence it has on academic achievement. - Ms. Traci Townsend, Principal Earle B. Wood Middle School What Principals Say…
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