Virtual School Meanderings

November 14, 2020

From Sphere of Concern to Sphere of Control

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:08 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

A regular item from a US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

Learn about the first session of our Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Pedagogy training

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • Shifting from sphere of concern to sphere of control in the first session of our Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Pedagogy training series
  • Register for the Great Teachers in Action sessions coming up on Monday, 11/16
  • RI Substitute Teacher Training Program featured in Providence Journal article
  • Center for Youth and Community Leadership in Education (CYCLE) is now hiring
  • Parabola Project releases new resources

A Closer Look at our Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Pedagogy Framework

Last Wednesday, Director of Pedagogy Malika Ali led the first session of Highlander Institute’s Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Pedagogy (CRSP) training for Norwood Public Schools’ administrative council. Fresh off a long night of election uncertainty, the session encouraged leaders to consider how to shift from their sphere of concern to their sphere of control.

“Racism and systemic inequity are deeply ingrained in our society and can feel overwhelming to disrupt,” Ali shared. “So, first, we must commit to learning so we can understand context and implications and inform our spheres of concern.” Once we explicitly name all the things within our spheres of concern we can begin to determine what we can control, identify what learning will help us understand our responsibilities and potential for impact, and focus our energy there. Next, we consider what elements from our spheres of influence we can impact through our relationships and networks. What strategic levers of change can we employ and how can we broaden our impact through these connections?

“This is the process I go through to maintain hope,” said Ali. “It’s a choice to stay in a place of hope, to keep pushing forward, to do what we can, and to inspire others. I learned that from the leaders in my life and it’s a value for me no matter how challenging things get.”

As Norwood admin council members considered the Awareness Domain of our CRSP framework, they shared one thing within their spheres of control that they want to commit to this year. Responses included:

  • “Continue to engage and have conversations with others that may not agree with me which hopefully engages others in the importance of these topics.”
  • “Supply more inclusive materials/resources to the teachers in my department to include in their lessons”
  • “Create a safe space for all to struggle with this topic”
  • “Continue the work in this area with staff and not make assumptions about teachers, students and/or families responses”

Highlander Institute is working with Norwood Public Schools through a partnership with The Education Cooperative as an extension of the Fuse MA program.

Monday, November 16 is a professional development day on the statewide calendar for Rhode Island schools. Join us, in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Education, for our next round of the Great Teachers in Action series, a yearlong project highlighting the best practices of RI District Teachers of the Year and Fuse RI Fellows. A few spots are still remaining for the FREE sessions:

Images courtesy of The Providence Journal / David DelPoio & Kris Craig

A new group of RI substitute teachers hopes to make a difference

School was Chrystal Wheeler’s salvation. “School was an escape for me,” she said. “It was a place I felt safe. I didn’t have to pull my father out of a drug house.” Wheeler, 46, a childhood educator, is one of the first cohorts of substitute teachers to graduate from the Highlander Institute’s fast-track training program. Fifty teachers graduated on Wednesday.

Last month, Gov. Gina Raimondo put out an urgent plea for more substitutes. The need, she said, was enormous. Public schools are looking for 950 substitute teachers, 300 in Providence alone. The applicants take part in a 10-hour training run by the Highlander Institute of Providence, which has a national reputation for its work in distance learning. Highlander is partnering with Freedom Dreams, founded by Simona Simpson Thomas, and the state Department of Education.

Substitute teachers have been in short supply for years, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the shortage as more teachers retired or decided to work remotely. After Raimondo’s call, the Highlander Institute expected to get 200 applicants. More than 1,270 responded. They came from all walks of life and all age groups. More than a third are people of color. Many are looking for work. Others are looking to make a difference.

From Other Organizations

Now Hiring: Program Associate 

CYCLE is hiring! We are excited to announce that CYCLE is hiring for a new research associate who will join our team to support the implementation and documentation of research projects in partnership with a range of youth, parent, school, and community partners. The position will contribute to CYCLE’s research activities including original studies as well as well as resources and tools to advance educational equity. This is a great opportunity for someone looking to join a dynamic team and growing organization. Read more about the position here.

CYCLE believes that high-quality public schools and equitable educational systems are the cornerstone of an authentic democracy and a just society. By centering and prioritizing the experiences and expertise of people most negatively impacted by racial, cultural, and class-based hierarchies, public education can be a means to achieving collective liberation through dismantling systems of oppression. Learn more about what we do to build capacity, alliances, and power through learning, relationships, and organizing at our website! Research associate applications received by November 30, 2020 will be reviewed with priority.

Are You Ready? Real-World Support for Reopening

The Parabola Project is a unique, cross-sector initiative that brings together education expertise from The Learning Accelerator and public health expertise from Ariadne Labs. The project rapidly identifies, develops, and shares strategies to help school system leaders make decisions and implement practices that support the mitigation of COVID-19-related risks while maximizing student learning and community wellbeing. The project has created reopening readiness resources and is showcasing strategies from schools that have reopened.

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

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