Equity: Embracing People, Passions, and Positives

Equity. It’s a BIG word. I’ve spent the past few weeks reflecting on it while engaged in a book study of Regie Routman’s Literacy Essentials.  Equity is one of those words like integrity — we know it’s a good thing, an important thing, a thing we all want to have. I remember reading in university about Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development and integrity was the sixth stage. Supposedly, this stage was usually achieved later in life.

So, I think equity is like that. It’s probably going to take time. Let’s not throw the word around lightly, and let’s start looking at it as the bigger END goal that going to require us to do some WORK.

Yup. WORK.

So much of what we do as teachers and what goes on in schools and in education as a whole is not really that equitable. Our system is set up for equality. Giving everyone the same textbooks, the same curriculum, the same resources in the classroom — these ideas are founded in equality. Equity? Not so much. Sure, we try to make things more equitable by providing supports, scaffolding, and differentiated  instruction, but are we really doing those things in the name of equity or are we just hoping that each group of students leaves us a little more equal than when they arrived?

In Literacy Essentials, Regie recommends many things that teachers can do in the “Take Action” sections. Some of these things I am already doing — like posting photos of children with their families and their names, using student’s names and personal stories to read and write for authentic purposes, and using the names as a word wall.  Some of the things she recommends like embracing our mistakes when things are not going well during a lesson, and making sure I am not teaching outside of a student’s zone of proximal development — these are things I’ve reflected upon in the last couple of months and my practice has improved as a result. Or, I should say, it has led to more EQUITY in our classroom.

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Inspired by our book publishing project, two children opened their office and collected orders for books that they wrote and published themselves.

 

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The names on the wall were used to write the appointments in the hair salon.

 

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A student’s wish to open a pancake restaurant for his class led to to increased engagement and improved communication.

I came up with the title for this week’s blog after asking myself this question: What am I doing every day in the classroom to create more equity? The three answers I came up with speak directly to my practice, my teaching philosophy, and my experience.

So, here it is. This is what I do, what I believe, and why I do it.

  1. I embrace people. Children AND their families. I smile. I listen. I support. I go the extra mile.  I believe children are incredible, unique human beings and each one is a GIFT to be cherished.  I embrace them because I know from years of experience that relationships form the foundation for learning.
  2. I embrace children’s passions. Whatever they’re into, whatever REALLY floats their boat. Singing, ballet, LEGO, superheroes, baking, trains. I believe that whatever you want to learn about, through, with, or around is where and when the most LEARNING happens. I know from experience that trying to teach someone about something they aren’t interested in is an exercise in futility. I also know that numbers can be learned in the kitchen, letters and sounds can be learned through music and songs, and you CAN perform a dance about a family of kittens and come to a deep understanding of repeating patterns at the same time.
  3. I embrace the positives. I look on the bright side. Always. I believe that no matter where you are on your learning journey, that is exactly where you are supposed to be.  Learning to be braver, stronger, better — we’re all on the same path. Some of us are lying down and some of us are standing up and some of us are walking. Over the years, I’ve learned that focusing on the negative only makes people feel like lying down. Also, it’s really hard to stand still when someone is walking beside you holding your hand and smiling.

Equity is all about figuring out how to educate everyone.

Actually, not everyone.

Every.  Single.  One.

 

Cathy 🙂

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Cathy Baker View All →

Dedicated teacher for the past 15 years. Lifelong learner. Newbie blogger. Follow me on Twitter @Baker1973Cathy

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