Equity Office Memo: Vol. 4
Equity…..Access… Fairness…. Accessibility…..Opportunity. When I think about this work, I often reflect on how fragile our students are and why those five words mean so much to them… especially if we put the word “shared” before each powerful term. Our students are fragile right now and to watch their response to a pandemic inspires me, but I also know in the age of social media gaslighting and the daily search for their identity, one decision by any of us can positively or adversely affect the trajectory of our children. Their world outside of school is filled with detours that land them in spaces that no child should experience. I want us to be careful of our language and invest in asset based terminology that lifts our children higher than earth's longest arms. Discipline, consequence ideology and punishment all contribute to variables that contribute to the birth to jail pipeline experienced by so many students in our town.
Story telling time...
I once had a student, let’s call him Curtis. He started high school and wore a white button down and slacks to school every day, on some days he wore a blazer. This was a public school so there was no dress code. Students and sometimes teachers made many comments to Curtis that, in my opinion, stripped him of the values taught by his Haitian family. His family was not rich but saw great value in the presentation of their children in school. There was accountability at home; therefore, Curtis had to get good grades and never be a disciplinary issue in school. He never saw his family or himself as being poor. As a strong student, Curtis became accepted for who he was, “the kid who dressed up” or as some kids would say, “He's going somewhere in life.”
One afternoon, Curtis was on the train going home and using his cell phone to do his homework. He usually did his homework on the train so by the time he got home he could do his chores and possibly play some video games. In front of some of his classmates on the train, he was approached by some older teens who eventually robbed him of his phone and told him he looked a *insert B word here* because he had shiny shoes on and dress socks. Obviously, Curtis was visually heart broken and became depressed because he didn’t think this would happen to him. After all, he was a nice kid. Plus, his parents worked so hard for him to have a cell phone of his own. When Curtis and his parents came up to the school to report the incident, the school offered very little mental or social emotional support to them, other than suggesting they file a police report and a referral to counseling.
When he returned to school, Curtis was not himself; he appeared visibly angry and low on energy. About a week later, in the cafeteria, a student asked Curtis why he wore white socks with high waters and shoes (a normal jab at his attire). Instead of Curtis ignoring the comment as he typically did, he threw a punch at the student. They both had to be separated, and Curtis for the first time in his life was facing a suspension from school. After serving a three day suspension, Curtis came back to school. This time he had jeans on and a Red Sox hat with a hoodie hiding most of his face.
Students approached me asking, “What happened to Curtis?” As time went on, his pants became bigger and bigger, lower and lower, and he became more vocal in class but this time adopting the role of being a class clown. He was suspended two more times before the school year ended. In the first three months of his junior year, Curtis was suspended four times and sent to the counseling center as well. I maintain that it didn’t make him less smart, but we didn’t give him what he needed. We didn’t affirm that we valued his safety, his mental health, or his values because the message that once confirmed his identity was diluted with poor decision making. Now a kid who once stayed after school until he got the grade he wanted or understood the information he was taught was now very oppositional to school culture and often questioned the point of going to school. If you have read this far, I want you to know, for our young kids, it can happen that fast.
One brush with the streets turned Curtis into something that society disingenuously categorizes as….. the “street thug.” When Curtis was robbed of his phone, no one could give him an answer for why he was robbed. He told me he felt like he did everything right. He made a decision that it was socially more profitable for him to dress and act like local “poor decision makers” who were once clones of the same victimization he was now facing. In order to protect himself, he had to affiliate with other broken black boys of color who felt unsupported by their surroundings.
This happens all too frequently. Our children do not get to make one bad decision and many times, we aren’t prepared to help them with their response to the trauma. As educators, our work is on par with “rocket scientists.” This work is rocket science, and we must know what is at stake for our children. Curtis was shifted into the pipeline that his parents once taught him to avoid. From staying after to leaving early, from being polite and well mannered to being rude and disrespectful, from the promise of a four year college to an almost certain 4-7 year stint in jail. I share this story not to say that we do not care about student’s like Curtis; I am saying this because we have to commit to a shared consciousness that our students are dependent on us to positively impact their decisions. The decision to attend, the decision to succeed, the decision to improve, the decision to persevere and the decision to thrive in a safe and welcoming environment.
Rest In Peace Curtis.
Anti-Racism & Discrimination Tool
The EPS is working around the clock to provide a safe, respectful and welcoming environment for all. We want everyone in the EPS to exist harmoniously, free of harassment, microaggressions, bias, or discrimination in any form. If you are experiencing inappropriate or unwelcome comments or behavior from another student, staff member or adult, please reach out to our Office of Equity. Please see the image below that helps students, staff and families indentify their point of contact when experiencing any bias, discrimination or violation of their civil rights. Please email me with any questions.
Regis College Partners with EPS
We are proud to announce our new partnership with Regis College. As partners, we are able to offer the following opportunities to our staff:
- Elementary Education
- Secondary Degree (with licensure)
- Child development
- Student Success
- Educational Leadership
- Special Education (with licensure)
We are hosting an Info-session in collaboration with Regis College on Monday, November 1st at 2:45 p.m. You can email me for the event information or check an email coming from your principal. My contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org
SEI Coaches & Instructional Cycles
Adrienne Supino Kaminsky
Office: Madeline English School, Room 1067
Phone: 617-394-5013 (or Ext. 6680)
Office: EHS floating or
Madeline English School, Room 1067
Google Voice: #617-545-5148
The SEI Instructional Coaches are non-evaluative ETA team members whose purpose is to advance student learning by providing teachers with personalized support in integrating culturally responsive and linguistic-minded practices, strategies, and resources into their lessons.
Our goal is to foster trusting relationships and open, collaborative partnerships with our fellow teachers. Think of us as an additional layer of peer support that you can utilize to help you achieve your instructional goals.
The coaches are available to support teachers in numerous ways, from procuring resources to co-lesson planning to modeling research-based strategies. The coaches also conduct regular, non-evaluative observation/feedback sessions or cycles. To see a full list of the services that coaches provide, please refer to the Coaching Menu.
November Cultural & Religious Reminders
November is National Native American Heritage Month
All Saints' Day: Novemberember 1
Dia de los Muertos: Novemberember 1-2
Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights): November 3-4
Twin Holy Days: November 5-7
Veterans Day: November 11
Transgender Day of Remembrance: November 20
Day of the Covenant: November 25
Thanksgiving Day: November 25
American Indian Heritage Day: November 26
Ascension of Abdu'l-Bahá Baha'i: November 28
Hanukkah: November 28-December 6
Advent: November 28 to December 24
Nativity Fast: November 28 to January 6, 2022
“TEACHERS ARE BARELY HANGING ON, HERE IS WHAT THEY NEED”
By JEN GONZALEZ
In this Cult of Pedagogy article, Jennifer Gonzalez says she’s been hearing from teachers around the U.S. that 2021-22 is the “worst school year ever.” If she were still in the classroom, says Gonzalez, she wouldn’t be able to handle it. “The problem is not you,” she says to teachers. “It’s not you.” So what’s making this year so challenging? Time, trust, and safety.
Professional Development Opportunity
Being a Critical Educator: Critical Pedagogy, Critical Literacy and Ideological Clarity
Dates: November 9th and 10th from 3:30 to 5:30 and November 16th and 17th from 3:30-5:30 with some Google Classroom assignments.
This professional development will focus on how teachers can learn to be more critical of their own teaching styles and pedagogy. Drawing from literature on critical pedagogy, critical literacy, and discourse analysis, this PD will help EPS educators discover and develop their own "political clarity," so that they can better assist students to become critical readers of the world. Evidence-based practices including the introduction and analysis of a case study performed in an ESL classroom with similar demographics to those in Everett will be reviewed. Teachers will leave equipped to be critical of the course materials they implement, the literature they select, and the textbooks that they use. By acknowledging that imbalances exist inside and outside the classroom, teachers can work to change these trajectories and create better learning environments that do not perpetuate racism or classism.
Here is a little more about how it relates to equity from Ms. Kukova: I would say it could be useful for any grade and definitely for content or EL teachers- especially middle and high school. The PD introduces critical pedagogy and ideological clarity with some important quotes and articles about the subject. Then there is a case study done on an EL classroom at the high school level. The case study focuses on the conversations that a teacher and his students had about a historical fiction book. Many of these conversations were problematic because they were one sided (the novel is about the Japanese invasion of Korea during WWII). We also talk about some of the other classroom discussions that did go well, where students were engaged, etc. Then we go on with discussions about how the teacher could have opened a better dialogue with the students to ensure that discussions were seen from both sides. There will also be a day where we analyze the literature that we are using in the classroom now to see if it is a good representation of the students we teach or how we can change the dialogue with our students using the literature we already have.
Please email Katherine Kukova if you have any questions about the course!
REMINDER: Equity in Education Virtual Workshops
Relationship Building as a Tool to Improve Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Practices
NEW DATE: Tuesday, November 16th from 4 to 6 p.m.
Relationship building is a critical component to student success. The use of relationship building as a skill is the ability to build positive relationships, especially with diverse students, individuals and groups using numerous strategies such as communication, conflict resolution, active listening, motivation and teaching pedagogy. This 2 hour session lead by Cory McCarthy explores:
- The qualities of a Culturally Responsive educator
- Recognizing Equity Detours
- Safe Spaces
- Self Assessment & Core Values
- How to measure and assess growth as an Culturally Responsive educator
- Improving Cultural Competence with Intentionality
- Developing Essential Questions in the Classroom that uses relationships and relevance to improve outcomes
Culturally Responsive Teaching recognizes inequitable distributions of power and resources in our society. It challenges Eurocentric values and prevailing systems of oppression that are often invisible but entrenched in our history (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002; 2000; McCoy & Rodricks, 2015).
Culturally Responsive Teaching & Learning: aware of the historic marginalization, employ a wide repertoire of Culturally Responsive Teaching strategies to honor, validate, support, and create a safe place for diverse students (Kozleski, 2000).