#ReopenStrong Equity Spotlight: Bruce-Monroe ES @ Park View (BMPV)Spotlights
Written by Tamyka S. Morant, Ph.D., Assistant Principal
What expectations or policies have you advocated for/set for your students and school to keep equity front and center during virtual learning?
We made the commitment to “equity by design” rather than equity being something we check for or add on after the fact. We were vocal with all our stakeholders about our commitment to equity by design and this commitment has been our guiding light. We understand the journey towards becoming an anti-racist, equitable school is not only organizational but also personal.
We spend a lot of time with our staff and families aligning on terms, clarifying what we mean when we say “equity,” engaging in critical conversations about racial justice and equity, and working together as we learn by doing the work. We work systemically and coordinate all our teams to ensure we are all rowing the boat in the same direction. Equity is our priority and expectation and it’s apparent in how we choose to structure our time, our decisions, and how we engage with one another.
What keeps you going during these difficult times?
Freedom, justice, and equity are the values that drive everything I do. I believe it is possible to abolish an educational system that creates and upholds inequity and related systems of oppression. Therefore, every move we make as educators either supports that abolishment or undermines it. That understanding refuels me when I begin to get tired or feel overwhelmed.
What best practices have you leveraged in your role to ensure equity for your students in the virtual space?
One best practice is amplifying and listening to the voices of our historically marginalized communities. We have engaged in numerous rounds of administrative office hours, focus groups, phone calls, surveys, conversations during our various distributions (technology, food, school supplies, clothes), etc., with students and their families listening and seeking to learn and understand their perspectives, desires, and their needs.
Collaborating with our families is another best practice, especially during virtual school. Equity by design recognizes every family as a family capable of partnering with us and informing our plans and actions. We respect the knowledge and experience that they bring to the table and they continue to give us feedback about how their children are responding to the measures we put in place. Finally, an unrelenting focus on multiple sources of data and engaging multiple perspectives in analyzing the data. The data help us formulate questions, identify possible blind spots, and reflect on our outcomes and revise next steps.
How have you continued to create an inclusive and educational culture in the virtual space?
Roderick Rush, our Dean, always talks about the power of relationships. Relationships matter. We wanted to ensure that we were constructing tight nets around every child so that they felt these relationships and so we could support their engagement in the virtual BMPV community. Principal Bustillo supported us in aligning multiple teams including our mental health team, academic leadership team, teachers, educational aides, PTU, etc., to create supportive, loving, and safe environments for students.
We constructed our homerooms to ensure low teacher-student ratios, leveraged our Responsive Classroom structures to continue building community and leaning into the social curriculum, continued our all-school community meetings, devoted LEAP time to supporting the increase of culturally responsive teaching practices, and continued with our school-wide “celebration of learning”, which showcased the achievements from our school-wide six week Teach Central America unit and previewed our roll out of Native American Heritage Learning and Black Lives Matter at School. We want to ensure that the cultural learning experiences transcends the performative and instead supports our students’ development as global citizens and change agents.
Additionally, in partnership with families, our teams specifically track students’ social and emotional well-being and implement effective interventions to ensure all students feel a sense of belonging and experience the BMPV vision for virtual school we co-constructed in March 2020.