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Equity Masterminds: Why Thinking Together is Key
By Rev. Aliah K. MaJon, Ph.D.
Gone are the days when your role as an educator was straightforward and relatively simple. Your job is now multifaceted and has literally become an occupation that could feel like it involves everything from soup to nuts, as the old saying goes. Along with the ever-expanding task of being responsible for preparing curriculum and maintaining a 21st century learning environment – one that is engaging, tech-savvy and up to date — something else has been added to your plate: Educational Equity. And, if you happen to be an advocate of those two little words like myself, or you’re merely choosing to experiment with the promises of equity, I might guess that you are feeling overwhelmed. That is understandable because of the constant rethinking and retooling that is necessary to navigate the myriad elements to achieve your goals.
Equity demands that you recognize that some students are at a larger disadvantage than others, which means that you have been invited to become an educational specialist – someone who has much more to do to stay on top of your game. And, unlike your professional duties before the current emphasis on equity, you must now analyze each educational offering through a scrutinizing equity lens. This entails a lot of extra work, work that requires you to: Relate to students in brand new ways; Explore innovative and more engaging platforms for teaching; Utilize differentiation, or individual lesson plans as a strategy; Search for just the right tools to create equity outcomes; Evaluate the various elements of a lesson to determine the impact they may have; Practice being a “Warm Demander” so that students can rise to their potential, and; Commit to repeatedly assessing your students’ individual needs… In other words, your workload has grown by leaps and bounds!
As someone might jokingly say, “Are you tired yet?”
This level of engagement warrants every support at your disposal… Period! But, to become fully aware of just why you deserve such support, let me empower you by laying out some key details. Here is list of what equity requires of you:
- To build a relationship of mutual respect and grow trust with all of your students, no matter whom they may be.
- To employ “differentiation”, to support students based on their abilities, interests, gifts and personal dispositions.
- To conduct yourself as a “warm demander”, someone who lifts up your students while demanding excellence.
- To use “storientation”; masterfully incorporate students’ ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds into their learning.
- To learn about — and successfully implement — all the many tools and approaches for arriving at equity outcomes.
- To adopt and/or adapt a growing number of elements which reflect both the science and art of equity in education.
- To access and assess the equity-inspired approaches that you’re using as well as improve upon them if need be.
- …AND MORE!
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