Hello Lower Devo Families and Friends,
We have missed you all SO much this past week!
Tuesday through Friday we joined our principal colleagues, Superintendent Bott, and other members of the leadership team in the Public Schools of Brookline for the Race, Equity, and Leadership (REaL) institute at Harvard University. It was only possible to engage in the rigorous academic conversations and nurture our love of learning because we work within a district that is committed to supporting schools in anti-bias education and practices. We are so grateful to the whole staff at Lower Devo for supporting the building in our absence and allowing us to open ourselves up to four full days of learning in service of each of our students and families. Each day delivered a full schedule of dynamic and powerful presenters that engaged us deeply in our pursuit of educational equity and excellence for every individual that makes up the beautiful tapestry that is our learning community.
The incomparable Dr. Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot opened our learning with a call to commit ourselves to "pivot towards the light" as we engage in our work to ensure that each individual is feeling seen and acknowledged as worthy in our connected school community. Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot set the stage for the next 3 days of intense engagement with varied perspectives and work on actively anti-racist education and leadership. Dr. Danielle Allen and Dr. Karen Mapp each challenged our definitions and practices of engagement and involvement of both our students and families. Dr. Allen prompted us to think critically about what we know and how we know about each of our students' aspirations. She called on us to develop deep and meaningful relationships each individual student and foster a connected society that confronts stereotypes and works together against bias and prejudice. Dr. Mapp, former advisor to President Obama, shared with us the critical importance of family engagement in the health and success of our community. She encouraged us to operate from a strengths based perspective when working with each family and assess our current models and systems of family engagement.
Each of the other individual speakers and panels brought their own powerful perspective on working towards educational equity and excellence and left us with many ideas and further resources to read and evaluate. Our hands are cramped from furious note taking, our minds are full of ideas and questions, and our hearts are overflowing with inspiration and hope. We look forward to sharing it all with you! We also thank you each for your support in our collaborative work on confronting inequity and fulfilling the educational promise for each of our students.
Jen and Dave
Mon-Thurs: 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM - 2:10 PM
Phone: (617) 879 - 4930
Address: 194 Boylston St., Brookline, MA 02445
Dear Upper Devotion Families,
I wanted to share a glimpse of our learning experience from the last four days at the Race, Equity and Leadership Institute from March 21 to March 24th at HGSE. I have highlighted the inspirational and highly regarded leaders in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and beyond, and some of the ideas, research and beliefs they shared over the course of our week together.
I feel so fortunate to have been able to attend the Race, Equity and Leadership Institute with Superintendent, Andrew Bott, Deputy Superintendents, Nicole Gittens and Sam Zimmerman, Gabe McCormick, Director of Professional Development and all Brookline principals. Our time together and with educators from across the country and around the world was invigorating, powerful and has inspired many ideas that I am eager to share, discuss and think about with staff and site council.
Learning is nourishment for the soul and I have been well fed this past week. I have been strengthened in my charge to continue advocating for every student by providing the best education for each and every one of them!
Day 1: Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Frame for learning using View, Voices, and Visibility
Acknowledging our work as “Containing challenges and opportunities. That we can be busy and excited.” Also how we need to, “Find individual measures of success in addition to measures we cannot control.”
Beverly Daniel Tatum
Reiterated many of the themes and messages from our district PD Day last November, including the ABC of Affirming Identity, Building Community, and Cultivating Leadership
Day 2: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Shared about US economic history of the last 60 years and its impact on the polarization of low and high skilled jobs. He emphasized that the explicit teaching of social skills (critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration) are necessary to prepare our students for the future. Specifically stating that students only talk and write for 10% of teaching and learning time each day and that is not enough time to master social skills.
We need to start by learning the aspirations of our students. Then focus on “academic and social integration, knowledge and skill development, support ad motivation, and monitoring and advising.” Finally, foster both “bonding and bridging” relationships.
“Immunity to Change”
Change is hard and, therefore, change needs to matter. We need to understand the difference between “Technical and Adaptive Changes.”
Day 3: Thursday, March 23, 2017
Karen Mapp is a serious powerhouse on “Family Engagement” who advised President Obama. She described new ways to engage our families that develop a true partnership for learning.
“A Critical Race Theory Analysis of Educational Inequity in America”
A look a key legal cases and how their decisions have impacted racial injustice. Understanding Convergence Theory: When the interests of the majority align with the interests of minorities, change can occur.
Irvin Scott (Brookline parent)
The Power of Story Telling
It is important for schools to create safe spaces for people to talk, even if they disagree, because talk is powerful.
Day 4: March 24, 2017
Mary Grassa O’Neil and Deborah Jewell-Sherman
Ensuring safe spaces to have courageous conversations. Understanding privilege and its’ impact on equity.
Roland Barth (Founder of the Principal’s Center-35th Anniversary)
Reflecting on the four central elements of school as he experienced them 25 years ago and how we experience them today.