May 13, 2019
Tuesday, May 14
- Gr. 2 Field Trip to Museum of Science
- 11:00 am Gr. 4 Performance by New England Brass Quintet
Wednesday, May 15
- 9:00 am Gr. 3 Concert
Friday, May 17
- Gr. 3 Carlozzi/Lombardo Field trip to Lexington Center
Sunday, May 19
- 9:30 am Estabrook Run of the Mill
- Kindergarten Screening (Incoming K)
Wednesday, May 22
- Gr. 3 LaTronica/Sternfeld Field trip to Lexington Center
Thursday, May 23
- 6:30 pm Maker Night
Monday, May 27 - NO SCHOOL (Memorial Day)
Thursday, May 30
- 9:00 am & 7:00 pm Spring Concert (Gr. 5 Chorus, Gr. 4-5 Strings & Gr. 5 Band)
School Council Elections
Vote closes Sunday, May 19.
The Work of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
As part of my entry to Estabook last summer, I asked staff members what work they most wanted to see continue to move forward in the coming year. Overwhelmingly, staff cited professional development work aimed at reducing bias and promoting equity. Led by a voluntary Equity Team, that work has indeed been a focus of building-based professional development this year. Here’s a brief summary of what some of that work has included along with some links for those who would like to learn more.
- Implicit Bias and the Brain: Our Equity Team planned and led a workshop to help staff better understand the neuroscience behind trust and implicit bias. As part of this work, we learned about the Yale Child Study Center Preschool Study. In the study, experienced preschool teachers were shown a video of four children (black boy, black girl, white boy, white girl) playing. They were told to watch for misbehavior. There was no misbehavior in the video, but the teachers’ eye movements were tracked. The teachers tended to watch the black boys (42% of the time) more closely. This session helped raise awareness of the role implicit bias may be playing in how we interact with students of color.
- Discipline Data: There has been much discussion both locally and nationally about the disproportionality of suspension rates for students of color. Because suspension rates are so low in Lexington elementary schools, elementary administrators worked together to develop a new system for tracking office referrals – including the demographics of students who are being referred and the reasons for referral. This data has been shared with and discussed by staff twice this year (January and May). As is the case nationally, we found that Black/African-American boys are disproportionally referred to the office. In January, we noticed that morning arrival was a challenging time for some students and we worked to make some changes in procedures to allow more movement at this time of day. As a result, our referrals at this time of day have decreased dramatically enabling students to have a more positive start to the school day. In addition, we have seen a drop in referrals for reasons that can be subject to interpretation or bias (e.g. disrespect). We still have a long way to go in this area, but by tracking and then analyzing data, we are able to make changes in practice.
- Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC): The Equity Team decided it was time to bring in an outside perspective. Using our Lexington Education Foundation School Community grant, we contracted with COSEBOC. Pat Kelly, a retired principal and former METCO parent, came and led a workshop that focused on the forms of modern racism, such as blame, denial, and rescuing. She asked us to identify challenges in our school in each area and then to prioritize those we could act on. Pat came back in February and spent a Thursday morning conducting an informal audit - observing public areas and visiting classrooms from arrival to dismissal. She then met with our Equity Team to share her impressions and offer suggestions to improve the climate for our Black/African-American students.
- Restorative Practices: As we think about how we can strengthen our community, as well as respond to disciplinary situations differently, we wanted to begin to explore restorative practices. Again with funding from our Lexington Education Foundation School Community grant, we brought in a group called Pathways to Restorative Communities. The group introduced us to using restorative circles as a community building structure, noting: “Community building is the foundation of this work and an important aspect of a restorative approach. It helps students (and adults) gain practice in talking with one another in a respectful and honest way.” This work is a precursor to using restorative conversations to resolve conflicts. The group also provided teachers with a guide book to use (on their website if you’d like to read more). We just scratched the surface of this work, but there is room to learn more should the Equity Team determine it would be beneficial.
- Shared Reading: To close out the year, our staff read and discussed a post about Culturally Responsive Teaching: 4 Misconceptions. The post provided an introduction to the leading edge work of Zaretta Hammond, author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain. Hammond says: “Culturally responsive teaching is about building the learning capacity of the individual student. There is a focus on leveraging the affective and the cognitive scaffolding that students bring with them.” This book will be a shared summer reading text for the entire faculty. You are invited to join us in reading this book.
The work to address racism and bias and promote equity is an on-going journey. To date, our faculty has been focused on doing what Parker Palmer, author of “The Courage to Teach,” refers to as inner work – or the “work before the work.” We recognize the importance of doing the “work before the work” AND we are mindful of the need to take action. We invite your thoughts and suggestions as the school continues on this journey together.
P.S. I would like to thank and commend the leadership of Katie O’Hare Gibson in chairing the school’s Equity Team the past few years. She has been a strong voice and active leader of anti-bias and equity work at Estabook. And she has helped to build a strong team which will carry on the work as she moves on to her new position as Assistant Principal at Hastings School. Assistant Principal Christina Gavin who has played a key role in the work on implicit bias and the brain and in analyzing discipline data will lead the team next year.