Since my first year as a teacher in 1998, the month of June has presented a natural point of reflection and iterative design. In June, details of the recently completed academic year are fresh and tactile. Inspiration for what could be in the fall is intrepid and energized by the prospects of a rejuvenating summer.
For reasons that are altogether obvious, I found this June to be very different than any of the last twenty-two.
In Quaker Meetings, Friends seek to unfold ‘truths that are continually revealed’. More than ever before, I’ve felt the complexity of that wisdom in my own discernment. This written reflection is the result of a worthwhile and necessary struggle that isn’t at all complete. I earnestly desire to apply my personal energy as well as our platform and network toward purposeful actions that unify and uplift us.
A solitary design principle applies: more than ever before, words must translate directly to actions. Actions are all that matter this year, amplified in partnership by people who are poised to build unapologetically and audaciously.
Professionally, I am the Founder and President of Advanced Learning Partnerships. But that title only means something on the contracts I sign. I am one person in a team of talented and committed educators who humbly earn the privilege to serve diverse communities across the United States and Canada.
For over a decade, our team’s mission has been clear and unwavering: we strive to empower every learner to be the change their community needs. Our values inform the imperfect but earnest culture that enables us to aspire to this pledge.
These ALP values shape the following actions I am committed to realizing with people of all backgrounds and perspectives in 2020-21. How can we build together?
Perpetuate Trust: Beginning in August, educators will welcome learners with substantial gaps in their learning to an academic year that will look and feel wildly different. Many students, educators and families will carry psychological trauma that will keep them from ‘jumping back’ into school. I understand that all ALP efforts must help educators and students heal and acclimatize before and while they attempt to learn. I will work to apply this understanding in the following ways:
- Expand the number of highly qualified professionals on our team who are experts in addressing social-emotional learning needs.
- Promote organizations and resources that raise awareness for and promote honest, positive conversations on mental health.
- Ensure that the voices of teachers, students, and parents are captured and applied in all strategic and tactical planning efforts.
Cherish the Inherent Value of People: Schools are crucial community and democratic hubs. They have the potential to unite people if they feel safe and valued. As families and children begin to reconnect with their local schools, they will do so in uncertain and disparate ways. I understand that truly listening to the needs of individuals and groups is more important than ever. Here is how I will realize this understanding:
- Expand the number of highly qualified professionals on our team who are experts in framing cultures that define and enrich diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Read diverse and important authors. Read history and poetry. Reflect.
- Leverage the talent and resources of my organization to help communities define and measure progress toward institutional gains in equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Realize Opportunity: The spring’s shift to remote learning provoked historic levels of innovation and risk-taking. Many educators and learners struggled mightily, while others thrived in ways that we should unpack and equitably apply. As schools leverage technology to realize virtual, blended and hybrid learning models this fall, it will be critical to prepare educators with aligned resources and pedagogies. I abide by the mantra ‘let’s go back to school, not back to normal’. I pledge to apply my energy, platform and network to realize these outcomes:
- Work with the @ALPlearn team this summer and throughout the year to scale innovations in video learning across our full portfolio of coaching services.
- Collaborate with our trusted districts, boards and partners to energize an increasing number of state- and province-wide engagements that focus on equitable and purposeful learner access.
- Promote our successes and shortcomings regularly to assist communities in rapidly iterating much-needed innovations.
Serve with Gratitude: It is a true privilege to serve communities across North America during this time. My team’s experience and skill are applicable to many challenges that schools currently face. The range and depth of our partnerships allow for daily opportunities to inspire, design, empower and amplify. I understand that this privilege is valuable and delicate. With this in mind, I will collaborate with others to accomplish these outcomes:
- Reserve my limited consulting and leadership bandwidth to best support efforts that clearly enhance equitable learner access and purposeful achievement.
- Learn from and contribute to my organization’s commitment to appreciative inquiry and servant leadership through everyday actions and communications.
- Amplify my existing support through resources and advocacy for the Third Strike Campaign, Urban Durham Ministries, and the SECU Family House.