Leadership for Equity

Hello again, Everyone!

I hope you were able to take some to care for yourselves and your communities over the long weekend. The Martin Luther King Jr. quote above is one of my favorites and it felt appropriate to share with you as it correlates so well with our work. Most people have heard the first line which is powerful in its own right, but I think that the next two are powerful because they challenge us to narrow the focus and think about the injustices that exist in our own lives, particularly the ones we commit.

I think most teachers have an awareness of the significance of their work. We know that the education we provide our students will be instrumental in helping them carve out their lives and that is what guides our big decisions about standards and lessons and the work we put in front of students. It is why we advocate for new textbooks, field learning experiences, and safe lab materials. We know what the major injustices are and we work together to combat them as best we can.

One of our ATC values is Leadership for Equity and we commit as a program to developing the skills necessary to do the work of educational equity. I think this quote challenges us, as we develop our leadership in this fight, to consider not just the major injustices that are deeply embedded and require huge structural change, but the injustices within our own locus of control. The ways in which we do or don’t create safe spaces for our students, the time we do or don’t take to partner with families, the steps we do or don’t take to make sure our English language learners can access the material. These injustices will be among the ones our students remember most.

Just like I remember with incredulity the teachers that accused me of cheating when I wasn’t or punished me for “dress code violations” that were truly problematic to begin with, I know the students I’ve worked with will remember whether I afforded them the patience, grace, time, and attention my role required of me or if I committed an injustice by allowing myself to forget in the humanity, the youth, and the vulnerability of the children in my care. 

I’m proud to say I think most of my students will remember me as fair and just, but it is a skill that took time to build and that I am still developing and navigating in my work with adults now. Like any other justice work, this level of self-reflection and accountability is hard but that is why we make spaces to reflect and problem solve together.

Spend some time this week thinking about the ways you could better serve your students, maybe even poll or quiz them to see what they have to say. Then use the resources you have, your ATC coach, your cohort members, the reading material you’ve been given, and your tools for DEI development at All Corps to come up with changes that excite and challenge you. The effect, as the quote reminds us, will be mutually beneficial for you,your students, and the larger school community. 

All the best this week,