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Reflections from Head of School: February 2018

Reflections from Head of School: February 2018
Posted on 03/01/2018

February 2018
Reflections from Head of School

WaitAt our most recent School Council meeting, we shared with families the work that we have been engaged in this year in regards to cultural proficiency as well as how families can support and reinforce our efforts (slides from the meeting can be found here. Specifically, our entire staff has been engaged in a year-long exploration of Glenn Singleton's second edition of Courageous Conversations about Race as a means of examining and confronting our unconscious, implicit biases.

We have been committed to this work for the following reasons:

  • It directly connects to and supports the district initiative -- “Expand rigorous, joyful, culturally responsive learning experiences”

  • In critically reviewing our data--not just last year’s, but all of it--we have discovered that, similar to trends across the district and country, our students of color, our students on individual education plans, and our economically disadvantaged students are performing at lower levels and slower rates than their peers.

  • The Brain“Culturally responsive teaching is a powerful tool to help dependent learners develop the cognitive skills for higher order thinking… [and] processes that help them become independent learners. Culturally responsive teaching uses the brain principles from neuroscience to mediate learning effectively” (Hammond, 2015, p. 20).

  • “We cannot downplay students’ need to feel safe and valued in the classroom. The brain will not seek to connect with others if it perceives them to be threatening to its social or psychological well-being based on what they say and do” (Hammond, 2015, p. 47). [Full citation: Hammond, Z. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically diverse students. Corwin: Thousand Oaks, CA.]

Some of the resources that were shared and discussed include the following material:

  1. A TEDx by Jay Smooth entitled: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race.

  2. Excerpts from Singleton’s Courageous Conversations about Race around the ideas of racism, prejudice and institutional racism.

  3. Kiri Davis: A Girl Like Me [black doll / white doll experiment]

How can you help and support this work?

  • Attend Community Conversations: Identity and Diversity (March 7, 2018 from 5:30 - 8PM)

  • Talk with your child about race

  • Create an environment at home that allows for free expression

  • Learn more by reading or watching:
    • Courageous Conversations about Race by Glenn Singleton (2015);
    • Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain by Zaretta Hammond (2015)
    • Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum (1997; 2017)
    • Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit (1995; 2006)
    • For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin (2016)
    • The Biology of Skin Color (video)
    • Race: The Power of an Illusion (video)