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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Reflections from a Morning Faculty Meeting Focused on Cultural Proficiency

We invited consultants from IDEAS to come and lead our discussion.

The morning began with powerful quotes:
  • "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela
  • "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." - Harriet Tubman
  • "Reach up your hand and take a star." - Langston Hughes
  • "So it is with teaching; neither to mourn what we have not done nor rest on our victories, but to look at all the reasons we have to show up again tomorrow at the classroom door, ready to join our students-all our students in learning. -Lewis Thomas
  • "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - Francis of Assisi
  • "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." -Vince Lombardi
  • "Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world."  -Malala Yousafzai
We took a few minutes to discuss the quotes. It was interesting to me to hear about our histories related to these quotes including when we heard them, what they meant to us, and how they affected our lives. 

We discussed academic access and engagement rather than the gap.

We discussed changes that might make a difference for us. For example we touched upon the idea of changing our orientation system in order to build on the benchmark related to "getting to learn who are students and families are." 

We discussed positive changes that have occurred such as offering kindergarten to all of our students, providing late busses, and summer programs--all initiatives which have positively impacted our students. It was mentioned that these positive changes took time.

The idea that grew out of David John's work that was presented at the Teaching and Learning Conference related to strategic comprehensive child study to enable our ability to teach all students better was discussed.

The way we use time was mentioned. How do we use time well to meet our prioritized areas of work and study? Do we spend enough time on learning about our students and developing those essential relationships for teaching well?

When inequities occur, investigate. Once you know the facts, challenge if needed. Also, it's best to challenge with allies. 

It's good to question and revisit issues on a regular basis or as needed. What may have been positive once, may not be worthy or positive now. 

We separated into groups to re-look at issues that were part of our fall survey related to this topic. In those groups, we discussed how our survey can translate into actionable items. 

I was in the group that discussed building relationships. Many ideas were discussed including the use of the strategic child study process, new orientation efforts, the use of professional Wednesdays, and prioritization. 

At the end, we shared out our thoughts. Use of time and financial support were big factors that came up. There were clearly different and same concerns dependent on role in the school. There was an urgency with regard to time to build relationships. 

It was a great conversation, just simply a too short a conversation for such a vital topic--one I'll bet we revisit in days to come.