Link Lines – September 2021 Issue

buildingequityinclusiveclassrooms

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By Daria Lorio-Barsten, M.Ed., Christine Peterson, M.Ed., and LaShauna Britt, M.Ed.

edequitycompass


Administrator's Corner 3

Centering Equity

By Cathy Buyrn

equityhearts

In the spring of 2021, the Link Lines Administrator’s Corner focused on courageous leadership, one of Virginia’s EdEquity 5Cs (i.e., courageous leadership, continuous reflection, curriculum reframing, compassionate student & family engagement, and culturally responsive practices). In this edition’s Educators’ Lesson, Building Inclusive Classrooms With EdEquity 5Cs Framework provides a broad overview of the 5Cs at the classroom level. In order to ensure that students and families experience inclusive classroom learning environments, school leaders must engage in practices that center equity and build capacity among staff.

An important practice for courageous leaders is using data to “make inequities visible” (VDOE, 2020a, p. 24). Every layer of the school community should be vigorously examined in order to identify any potential biases or inequities. To do so, school leaders should review mission statements, symbols, traditions, academic programs, extracurricular programs, code of conduct policies, dress codes, assessment results, and other resources with a critical lens focused on:

  • Race/ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Native language
  • Ability/disability
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Socioeconomic status

(VDOE, 2020b, p. 2)

School leaders can use the Navigating EdEquity: Equity Audit Tool developed by the Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Equity & Community Engagement (VDOE, 2020b) to engage in a robust examination of their school communities.

Once they have used data to “make inequities visible” (VDOE, 2020a, p. 24), they must carefully consider how to “normalize conversations about race, racism, and inequity” (p. 24). While these topics can be uncomfortable for some stakeholders, establishing an equity baseline is an important part of creating conditions that enable meaningful and continuous reflection.

The EdEquityVA webinar series episode Continuous Reflection for Equity (VDOE, 2021, April 29) introduces school leaders to a continuous reflection cycle that helps them engage in practices that “eliminate the predictability of student outcomes based on race, gender, zip code, ability, socioeconomic status, or language spoken at home” (slide 5).

EdEquityVA Webinar Series:  Continuous Reflection for Equity


EdEquityWebinarClick image to access webinar episode.

Courageous school leaders should first use school data to engage in reflection individually and with other school leaders before facilitating discussions with staff and other stakeholders. Such discussions will be more productive if the data is clear, shared responsibility is future-focused rather than blame-based, and if norms are established for safe reflection and respect for all stakeholders. While school leaders need to “disrupt discourse, practices, and policies that perpetuate inequities” (VDOE, 2020a, p. 24), they should select activities that move beyond political or ideological divisions and encourage solution-focused problem solving. The expectation that Virginia school leaders center equity in their schools is a non-negotiable and should not be discussed as a debatable goal.

Compassionate engagement with students and families is a critical practice for educators at all levels. Compassionate practices go far beyond compliance-centered activities (e.g., language translations, multicultural activities focused on food, notices about disability rights, tracking event attendance). Courageous school leaders are prepared to make sure that compassionate engagement efforts are “culturally and economically competent, asset based, and trauma informed” (VDOE, 2020b, p. 9). Educators at all levels also need to be prepared to receive emotionally charged feedback from students and families who may be experiencing trauma outside of the school community and potentially trauma caused by school-based inequities and biases. It is important to remember that “anger is a mask for fear” (Constantino, 2019, 43min 32sec). School leaders will need to help staff practice skills that reduce defensive responses and increase de-escalation that results in compassionate engagement and informs continuous reflection.

The EdEquityVA webinar series episode focused on family engagement (Communication Is Not Engagement) outlines practices that makes clear the distinction between communication and meaningful engagement (Constantino, 2019). Constantino’s (2019) high-impact-engagement practices (e.g., family academic socialization, efficacy-based activities, interactive homework design, home learning supports, home visits) may be used to establish compassionate engagement practices and shift resources from low-impact practices to practices that are more likely to improve student outcomes for historically marginalized groups of students.

EdEquityVA Webinar Series:  Communication Is Not Engagement


steveconstantinoClick image to access webinar episode.

Courageous school leaders must engage in centering equity as individuals and facilitate the process for stakeholders, considering every layer of the school community. Some of those conversations will be challenging, but the issues need to be addressed directly to establish shared goals, a focus on the data, and effective equity strategies. Establishing equitable practices is an urgent and worthwhile priority. The Link Lines Administrator’s Corner will continue to connect school leaders to resources and tools focused on EdEquityVA during the 2021-2022 school year. Please feel free to share your progress on the EdEquityVA 5Cs as a courageous school leader by responding in the Comments section or contacting me directly (cabuyrn@wm.edu). Check out the classroom-level resources in this edition’s Educators’ Lesson Building Inclusive Classrooms With EdEquity 5Cs Framework and also direct your teachers to these powerful resources.

References

Constantino, S. (2019, November 8). Communication is not engagement:  Advancing equity through family efficacy [Webinar]. Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Office of Equity & Community Engagement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oB8-VVSUPQ&list=PLRTyI0-OTuVOKkOumXX2Sq8KdDUJyAsad&index=5Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Office of Equity & Community Engagement. (2020a). Navigating EdEquityVA:  Virginia’s road map to equity. http://www.virginiaisforlearners.virginia.gov/edequityva/

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Office of Equity & Community Engagement. (2020b). Navigating EdEquityVA: Equity audit tool. https://www.virginiaisforlearners.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Navigating-EdEquityVA-Equity-Audit-Tool.pdf

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Office of Equity & Community Engagement. (2021, April 29). EdEquityVA webinar series:  Continuous reflection for equity [Webinar]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S5fkvyt8D

Link Lines – May 2021 Issue

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Read Educator’s Lesson

By Shelley Littleton M.Ed., Kara McCulloch M.S., & Donni Perry M.Ed.


Administrator's Corner 3

Courageous School Leadership

By Cathy Buyrn, M.Ed.

The 2020-2021 school year has posed leadership challenges like no other school year. School leaders have had to courageously build multiple solutions to unique challenges and pivot quickly when circumstances changed. To support you in meeting these unprecedented challenges, Link Lines has published a number of relevant articles in the past year. For example, in the July and September issues, we addressed the importance of social emotional learning (SEL) and self-care heading into an unprecedented year.

Social and Emotional Learning Strategies for Administrators

Responsive School Restarting Considerations for Administrators

In the November and February editions of Link Lines, we pointed school leaders towards literacy and math practices for closing the skill gap that align with High Leverage Practices (HLPs). These academically focused practices will go a long way towards closing skill gaps that may have widened during the 2020-2021 school year.

Literacy Leadership at the IEP Meeting

Supervising High-Quality Math Instruction

In the spring edition of Link Lines, we wanted to hear from essential school workers who faced down this school year with amazing courage and creativity both in person and virtually. We asked them to share what they have learned this year and what ideas and strategies they are excited about keeping in their toolboxes for next year. View their inspiring Flip Grid videos in the educators’ lesson at the link above.

Moving into the summer and the 2021-2022 school year, school leaders will need to continue to keep SEL and self-care an important part of their weekly routines and set up structures for school staff members to do the same. The VDOE I’m Determined project offers a variety of tools that can be used by leaders, school staff, and students. The Good Day Plan and Goal Plan templates can help set the stage for SEL and self-care reflection and planning in order to ensure success at all levels.

Good Day Plan Template

Goal Plan Template

While SEL and self-care should stay at the top of the priority list heading into the new school year, school leaders also need to prepare themselves to engage in the courageous leadership behaviors defined by the Virginia Department of Education’s Ed Equity 5Cs (i.e., culturally responsive, courageous leadership, curriculum reframing, compassionate student and family engagement, continuous reflection) (VDOE, 2020).

Courageous Leadership Behaviors

  • Make inequities visible
  • Disrupt discourse, practices, and policies that perpetuate inequities
  • Encourage programs that support multi-lingual language and literacy development
  • Normalize conversations about race, racism, and inequity
  • Support people and building level administrators in efforts to address equity and racism
  • Promote diversity and cultivate responsibility for equity
  • Establish and communicate antiracism and equity policies to all stakeholders
  • Establish and communicate clear equity goals
  • Allocate resources to advance equity goals

(VDOE, 2020, p. 24)

In addition to the overall impacts of COVID-19 on society and schools, the past year has brought into focus issues of equity. Much of the discussion has been focused on race, culture, ethnicity, and economic disparities. Inequities across diverse groups of students can be compounded by disabilities and result in poor outcomes for too many students.

Courageous school leaders will have to help school staff let go of low expectations for these vulnerable students. They will also need to intentionally funnel resources into programs designed to compassionately engage marginalized groups of students (including students with disabilities) in order to close critical skill gaps and improve long-term outcomes for ALL students.

School leaders will be ahead of the game going into the 2021-2022 school year if they continue to make SEL and self-care a priority for all school community stakeholders and develop a plan for building the VDOE Ed Equity 5Cs into the fabric of their vision and mission to create inclusive and equitable school communities.

Additional Resources

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Navigating EdEquityVA:  Virginia’s Road Map to Equity

Considerations for COVID Recovery Services for Students with Disabilities

Back to School Considerations:  Options for Ensuring FAPE (PEATC.Org)

9 Recommendations for Inclusive Learning Recovery for Students with Disabilities

References

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Office of Equity & Community Engagement. (2020). Navigating EdEquityVA:  Virginia’s road map to equity. http://www.virginiaisforlearners.virginia.gov/edequityva/