Social Justice Training to Combat Inequities

Carrie Jackson, principal of Northwest High School in Justin, TX, shared the work of her school’s Diversity and Equity Committee and the push toward social justice in her community. Omékongo Dibinga stressed the importance of creating a “diversity dictionary” to combat misinformation in the current ideological culture war that school leaders are facing.

Reimagine Education

The COVID-19 pandemic, while revealing inequities of our educational system, also presents opportunities to reimagine and transform education. Leading systemic change will require:

  • Expanding and integrating technology, platforms, and digital tools
  • Retraining teachers to be facilitators of learning and educational coaches
  • Implementing engaging strategies aligned to the social-emotional needs of students
  • Using data to provide feedback and design new opportunities

Suspension Is Not the Answer

Keep students engaged in the academic process and be restorative in disciplinary practices by:

  • Allowing students to remain in school with an in-school
    suspension model
  • Ensuring students who do receive out-of-school suspension have access to learning
  • Providing students space outside of school—and their homes—to do schoolwork
  • Having after-school time slots for suspended students to meet with teachers
  • Having a reentry process that allows for reflection and reconciliation

Mind Shifts

In preparing teacher candidates (TCs), the co-teaching model has become a promising approach for enriching the teaching experience, but it does involve a mental shift to implement. To navigate these shifts, focus on three questions:

  • What is the purpose of co-teaching?
  • Why utilize co-teaching strategies?
  • What does working with a TC look like in the co-teaching model?

Westlake Wellness Center

Following tragedy in the school community, Westlake High School created a wellness center to meet the social-emotional needs of students. The center provides:

  • A welcoming environment with comfortable furniture and soft music
  • One-on-one conversations with a licensed wellness coordinator
  • Coping and decompression tools such as fidget toys, kinetic sand, noise-canceling headphones, and weighted blankets
  • Weekly group discussions on wellness topics such as mindfulness and managing stress