Equity and Access Newsletter

Elementary Edition- August 2017

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Courageous Dialogue about Race - How to Talk to Students

The violence this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, shocked the country with the display of actions by the groups present. As a nation, we struggle to balance our founding father’s belief in freedom of speech for all Americans with civil discourse. Across the country, citizens acknowledged that acts of violence are intolerable. The video footage we witnessed provided a powerful reminder that there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done when it comes to issues of race. Have we come as far as we thought we have? Are racial tensions on the rise and with whom? Why does race continue to matter today? Is it relevant to our students today?

Discussions regarding race can feel difficult to navigate. When incidents like Charlottesville happen, how do we discuss them in a meaningful and safe way with students? It begins on the first day of class, and it is reinforced every day by our actions.

Teachers generally feel the greatest success and create safe havens by:

  • Setting ground rules for civility WITH their students. Take time to set the stage on how you and students will listen to and speak to/about with civility.

Example: The Four Agreements when having courageous conversations

    • Stay Engaged. Even when the topic is difficult, it’s important to continue the conversation.

    • It’s okay to experience discomfort. Conversations about race can be difficult. Recognize that discomfort but don’t let it dictate your level of engagement.

    • Speak your truth. Your experiences are your own and they matter; so it’s important not to minimize where you come from..

    • Expect/Accept non-closure. We all have different viewpoints and experiences and we will not always agree and some discussions won’t come to a finality. As you have conversations, look for understanding as opposed to figuring who is right.

  • Providing students the opportunity to journal to reflect on their feelings about various topics. Free writing can be a great outlet for some students; especially if they’re not concerned about punctuation, grammar, syntax, and spelling.

  • Teaching students to use “I” or “My” statements as they share their viewpoints or beliefs. Model this yourself, and hold students accountable for their own experiences so they have the opportunity to tell their truth.

  • Creating and maintaining safe spaces for your students. Students (and adults) need reminders of the ground rules and to be held accountable for following them to build spaces where students feel emotionally safe to learn.

  • Acknowledging that complex issues can’t be solved in 5, 10 or 30 minutes, but that as we dialogue with civility, we begin to understand each other.

Want to know more strategies to facilitate difficult conversations?

Let's Talk! Discussing Race and Racism with Students

Welcome Back

The 2017-2018 school year is officially here. We hope you have enjoyed your summer vacation and had the opportunity to do some of the things you enjoy. The Office of Equity and Access would like to welcome you back for another year of excitement and learning. We appreciate your dedication, professionalism, and love for your students.

We realize what exceptional teachers we have working for Springfield Public Schools and want to take the time to say thank you. We are looking forward to sharing resources with you that will be “Engaging- Relevant and Personal.” Information that will help transform your classroom experiences and engage every learner every day. We will share information from Annie Brock’s book The Growth Mindset, stress relief using breathing techniques, strategies for cultivating an inclusive classroom and much more...

Equity and Access Canvas Page

Embracing Our Differences

"Hate is an open attack on tolerance and decency." As a nation, we are experiencing an increase in violent crimes of hatred and intolerance. But the good news is that our students were not born with these attitudes; they had to be carefully taught. Educators, families, communities, and law enforcement have an obligation to work together to prevent the development of such prejudice and violent behavior.

During the 2017-2018 school year, the Office of Equity and Access is committed to sharing methods that could instill in our student's an appreciation and respect for each other and help them to develop critical thinking skills, conflict resolution, and empathy. By teaching these attributes, we are paying it forward and providing an equitable, supportive environment for every learner every day.

Embracing Our Differences Poster Teaching Tolerance


Helen Keller once said, “The Highest result of education is tolerance.” It is the start of a new school year, and we want to remember to model the importance of respect for the differences of others. It is essential to the academic and social success of every student that they feel accepted by their peers and comfortable in their classroom. Everyone is Unique provides a lesson plan to assist you in helping your students develop this mindset.

Lesson Plan K-8th Grade:

Everyone is Unique

What's In Your Tool Box?

The Growth Mindset by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley

What is The Growth Mindset? A person with a growth mindset has an understanding that they have talents and abilities that are expandable by effort, teaching, and continued persistence. They do not believe that everyone is the same, but they do believe that everyone can be smarter if they work on it. However, a person with a fixed mindset believes that their abilities and intelligence are fixed. In the Growth Mindset Coaching Chart, you will find questions and comments to help develop this mindset.

Each month we will share information that will be valuable for implementing a Growth Mindset with students. As students develop a growth mindset, they can take on challenges, learn from them and increase their ability to achieve.

Growth Mindset Coaching Chart

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Book of The Month

Jacqueline Woodson's book, Each Kindness provides some practical ideas for students regarding kindness towards others. Chloe and her friends will not play with the new girl at school because she plays with old-fashioned toys and is not neatly dressed. Maya is friendly but is not received by her peers and has to play alone at recess. Finally, Ms. Albert shares with her students what kindness does, “Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.” Chloe understands the meaning of the analogy and has a change of heart. Sadly, it occurs too late for her to apologize. Maya has moved away.

Each Kindness is available in Springfield Public Schools Libraries.

Each Kindness Lesson Plan K-5th Grade


Did You Know?

The Fear of Deportation impacts learning. There is a growing body of research that indicates children who experience the threat of detention or the actual detention and deportation of a parent could suffer long-term and short-term health effects. Many students that live under the shadow of deportation experience a feeling of fear and the lack of safety even at school. However, their relationship with teachers, counselors and school personnel could help these students and families receive the help they need to deal with their concerns. Lisa M. Edwards, Ph.D. Department of Counselor Education & Counseling, Psychology Marquette University, has compiled a brief guide to provide information on immigration status, their related effects on students and helpful suggestions for educators.

Stress-Related to Immigration Status in Students:

Equity Champions At Each Site

Coming soon, Equity Champions! This year, each school will have a "Champion" that supports each site with equity and access issues specific to their building.

We are excited about this new endeavor and will share more information at a later date about the champion's responsibilities, goals, and professional development opportunities to support students, families and, staff.

If you are interested in more details about becoming a "Champion" at your site, please contact your principal.

Coming Events

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Solar Eclipse

On Aug. 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will cross the continental U.S. In Springfield, Missouri there will be 96 percent coverage, with the maximum time being at 1:13 p.m. local time.

Learning Support is providing solar eclipse glasses for each student and teacher. They have been delivered to your building principal.

If you choose to have your students and yourself view the eclipse, you will need to review safety prior to Monday, August 21. Looking directly at the sun during an eclipse can cause eye injury or blindness.