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How Educators Can Advance Racial Equity

 

Recent events have heightened awareness of the acute need to advance racial equity in our society. The police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others have spurred mass movements for racial justice and criminal justice reform.

Unfortunately, these current iterations of racial injustice are not isolated phenomena. They are symptoms of the systemic racism that has plagued America and its institutions for hundreds of years. As schools provide some of our most formative experiences, the negative impact of institutionalized racism in education can be long-lasting and pervasive.

Educators can help advance racial equity in schools. Here are a few strategies worth considering:

Diversity Training

Professional development opportunities geared toward fostering racial equity are essential. Diversity training is an example. When faculty and staff members learn about the lives, experiences and backgrounds of students from different cultures, they gain insight into how students experience school and how they learn.

Diversity training helps teachers celebrate the differences, strengths and unique contributions each student brings to the classroom. Teaching to a student’s strengths also helps deconstruct harmful deficit-based thinking.

Implicit Bias Training

Implicit bias training is the complement to diversity training. It helps people uncover their own implicit biases and reflect on the impacts of those biases. Through this reflection, educators become more aware of how tendencies surface in their teaching, assessment practices and everyday interactions with students, other staff members and the community.

With this awareness, teachers can consciously deconstruct their own biases in thought and action, improving their equitable treatment of students and others.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Teaching

Instituting culturally responsive pedagogy and teaching are aspects of an overall effort to make education culturally competent. Culturally competent education respects, reflects and represents the diversity of all people in the educational community.

In culturally competent education, every student should see themselves and their culture in what they are learning and how they are learning. And they should be able to understand and demonstrate what they know in ways that feel natural and best suit their strengths.

These changes have implications for every facet of education, from pedagogy to curriculum design, material selection to instructional methodology. It is a culturally responsive restructuring of education in theory and practice, from the ground up.

Restorative Practices

Tim Walker of neaToday says, “Research shows that restorative justice programs have helped reduce exclusionary discipline and narrow the glaring racial disparities in how discipline is meted out in schools.”

As applied to discipline, restorative practices focus on assembling all parties in conflict to address conflict resolution inclusively instead of punitively. Restorative practices have a further beneficial impact when used preventatively. These techniques can be as simple as setting up the class in a circular orientation, fostering an inclusive and constructive classroom environment.

These are only a few of the many efforts advancing racial equity in education. Diversifying staff to represent the student body is a necessity. School districts are instituting equity initiatives and creating equity departments and leadership positions. In studying these and other strategies to foster real racial equity, educational leaders can prepare themselves to play a vital role in reshaping American schools’ future.

Lamar University’s Master of Education in Administration all-online degree program emphasizes training school leaders to build “diverse, inclusive learning communities.” The strategies and methods degree candidates will study can be pivotal in bringing real, enduring change to today’s schools.

Learn more about Lamar University’s Master of Education in Administration online program.


Sources:

Edutopia: Using Data to Advance Racial Equity

Education Week: Next Step in Diversity Training: Teachers Learn to Face Their Unconscious Biases

Education Pioneers: Five Strategies for Advancing Racial Equity in Public Education

Learning Policy Institute: Diversifying the Teaching Profession: How to Recruit and Retain Teachers of Color

National Education Association: Restorative Practices in Schools Work … But They Can Work Better

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