Cultivating a Climate of Equity for Impactful Learning Practice
“The way we feel about ourselves is shaped by the interactions we have with others- and the interactions we have with others shape how we feel about ourselves.”
~ Laurie Olhoffs
Research continues to present that brain development, identity development, and social emotional growth and resilience in children and adolescents are tied to the quality of their experiences and healthy relationships. To foster these experiences of acceptance, equity and inclusion within educational settings, the Living Strong Consulting team facilitates a paradigm shift for school, program, and ministry cultures to examine the concept that “Diversity is a valuable and worthwhile goal in itself, but research in areas like welfare, juvenile justice, and education shows that it does not guarantee equitable outcomes, so we want to be cautious about imagining that it is a magic bullet solution. It is surly necessary, but it may still not be sufficient.”~ Richard Lewis
As we make a commitment to this work, our focus must be on producing practices that promote equity in diverse experiences. We guide our clients through a process that focuses on equity instead of just diversity, and structural issues rather than just individuals.
Achieving cultural competence and equitable practices within an organization requires systematic approaches, impacting the framework for professional development, leadership development, curriculum development, and climate and community engagement.
By utilizing a relational approach of conversation, rich content, and a safe exploration of perspectives, organizational teams move through the Steps of Growth. They engage in activities that provoke deep reflection and sharing of personal perspectives, in order to develop empathy for differing racial, ethnic, gender, abilities, and socio-economic groups.
Equity conversations create a platform for brave dialog. With the use of equity conversations, the LSC team will support organizations in developing a systems based Diversity and Inclusion team to prioritize work around equity, diversity, anti-racism, and inclusion. Each equity conversation models the skills that must be replicated within building environments to implement brave spaces for change, new knowledge and courageous growth when systems based Diversity and Inclusion members work with groups throughout the organization. Through each conversation, participants will explore a deep dive into how embedded inequity derived from bias and social injustice has and is currently impacting children, youth, families and communities through historical trauma, adverse childhood experiences, and social, emotional, physical, and educational disparities. But, the conversations will not stop at just awareness and understanding. Diversity and Inclusion team members will be given the tools and strategies to develop action steps for a building growth experience.
Topics for Equity Conversations:
Lens on Equity: Setting the Stage for a Discussion: This conversation takes a deeper dive into foundational understandings and practical implementation of equity across organizations and communities. It explores some of the dynamics of diversity, culture, and race. Group questions and dialog are used to highlight equitable and inequitable practices with the early childhood framework. Participants explore the impact that embedded inequity, social disparities, and systemic injustice has on childhood identity, trans-generational trauma, and core belief systems. This conversation allows program staff and partners to start equity conversations on the same page and ensure that the participants have a foundation upon which to build future knowledge.
Understanding the Impact of Poverty and Disparities on Families and the Community : This conversation allows participants to reflect on how their own experiences shape the lens they gaze at others through. In a safe space, participants discuss sensitive topics such as race, equity, poverty, inclusion and bias. Participants examine ways in which to plan supportive environments for diverse children and families impacted by the allostatic load of embedded social inequities. Emphasis is placed on the importance of enlisting and including families in the process. Engaging content identifies barriers and strategies to supporting family-teacher interactions/ communication and examines how the program climate does/ does not utilize impact sensitivity with children and families experiencing poverty and adversity.
Me… Bias?: Understanding racial bias and stereotypes : This conversation asks participants to turn the lens on themselves to explore attitudes, practices, and behaviors when encountering families and children of different races, cultures, or backgrounds. Participants will be asked to examine bias through past professional and personal experiences that may contribute to present core beliefs. Through respectful transparency, participants explore how bias impacts trust and creates invisible walls when building relationships. Participants are guided through inclusive practices to create a safe and nurturing environment for all families and children and for a safe, valued, and heard program environment.
Raising the Conversation About Race in America: Participants delve into a conversation about the relationship of race and trauma in the early childhood educational system. Examine the birth to prison pipeline concept and explore the impact of systemic implicit bias. Participants leave with an understanding of generational trauma and how it impacts their current classroom climate, family engagement, and community connection. Participants learn to handle current events with sensitivity towards families and staff who may be impacted by racial tensions.
Building Our Message for Community : This conversation examines the impact that bias, race, inclusion and cultural humility have on identity development and on the success of developmental outcomes for children. Participants examine ways to plan for a center based supportive environment for children and families, utilizing anti-bias tools for addressing bias, creating systemic approaches embracing conversations about color, culture and acceptance within the classroom, and fostering center wide awareness to enhance inclusive approaches for healthy learning and healing practices.
Be Color Bold, not Color Blind: Participants polish their equity lens and move from F.E.A.R. to intentional action. How can we do our P.A.R.T.? This conversation allows participants to move up the Steps of Growth and embrace diversity and examine equity with the intentionality of sparking change that celebrates the beauty of difference and creates room for divergent perspectives. Participants end the conversation series with practical tools for leading equity conversations and facilitation skills that promote safe, valued and heard dialog.