Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness- April 2020
Click here for links to access food, diapers, medical, mental health, employment, utilities, technology, housing, senior needs, and childcare needs.
Click here to learn more: Austin ISD and Austin Ed Fund created the AISD Crisis Support Fund to support our school communities by supplementing access to food services, health programs and remote learning.
The Language of #AISDAtHome
The current reality in our city, country and the world does not dictate how we treat each other and care for our children. As our city cancelled SXSW we knew we were in for a very different spring break. As I listened to the news and learned of how school districts were responding across the country my equity lens went into high gear.
The language of a pandemic is not the everyday language of educating children.
My equity lens focused on the following, our city was the largest site in the nation for ICE raids, we have recently permanently closed schools and now the world is in time out. We have to be cognizant of the emotional weight of the last four years on the psyche of our students, their families and our city at large. The words Corona, Covid, Covid-19, Pandemic, Virus, lockdown, shutdown, shelter in place are the words of national leaders and decision makers, not the words of equity-centered educational leaders, teachers, and staff. Photos of the corona virus, charts and graphs depicting deaths, protective gear distribution do not invite children to learn and adults to practice social emotional and mindful strategies.
In this time of physical distancing we choose to use affective language which holds space for the power of words. Words can heal and hurt. We choose to use words that heal and encourage connection. Instead of the words of the business minded world lean into the words of nurturing educators. Instead of images that breed fear and anxiety like the image of the virus, we choose to use images that educate and remind students, families and staff that we are educators. Our images are of hand washing and ways to be in community without risking our personal or collective health.
How have you reflected on the power of words in your #AISDAtHome work?
~Dr. Angela M. Ward
#AISDAtHome AntiRacist Family Learning
My self-compassion mantra this past month has been, “This is hard. Nothing about what is happening right now is normal. We are all experiencing this in different ways. I’m doing my best and that’s all I can do.” As a white, middle-class family we recognize that we hold privileges and so the way that we are experiencing our time at home is very different than how others are experiencing it. Lisa James categorized those who are affected by this current reality into three groups: the inconvenienced, the disappointed, and the devastated. My family is lucky to fall into the "inconvenienced" and "disappointed" categories. I say luck, but really how we are experiencing this current reality is a result of the multiple privileges that we hold.
There is a lot that we are doing at home right now as a family, but none is more important than the AntiRacist learning that we are doing together to build our own racial consciousness. We are reading to understand why some populations, specifically BIPoC and those who struggle financially, are disproportionately affected by this current reality. These aren't conversations that my children have at school and so we've used every opportunity to talk about race, power, privilege, and oppression as it presents itself in our everyday lives; this extended time gives us an opportunity to dig into it even deeper. It is important to our family that our actions match our beliefs, so we're focusing much of our time right now on working to be AntiRacist.
If we want to come out of this better than when this all started, we have to be intentional about changing the way we walk through this world together. And for my family, we're learning together that it's not enough to be kind. As white people we benefit from, and unintentionally perpetuate, racism if we aren't aware and actively working to be AntiRacist.
Our current reality is in flux, while many people and organizations are naturally averse to change.
In my mind, even the choruses from the latest Disney animated smash -- "Into the Unknown", "Lost in the Woods", and "Show Yourself" -- are profound reflections of the times we are living in.
But songs from Frozen 2 do not frame my thinking about educational equity as well as Seth Godin's April 13, 2020, blog post:
"Some of the shift to digital is unwanted, fraught with risk and lonely.
But in some areas, organizations and leaders are realizing that it’s actually more powerful and efficient.
So why didn’t you do it before?
Because it’s easier to follow.
Because it’s more comfortable to stay where we are.
Waiting to do something because you’re forced to is rarely a positive approach to growth or leadership. Abrupt shifts against our will may cause change, but they’re inefficient and destabilizing.
Next time, take the lead. Not because you have to, but because you can."
Sure, we use 21st century tools. Ask:
How can we reframe and refresh our curriculum, instruction, and pedagogy today? How can we take the lead to improve education in this time? What are we learning now that can help us when we come out of this? What am I learning personally and professionally that I should put into practice when we come out of this?
#AISDATHOME Mindfulness Protocol
During this time of great uncertainty it is easy to feel fearful, anxious, and unmoored. Amber Watts, Restorative Practices Associate, shared a powerful question with us in virtual circle the other day: What’s the same in your life (after this transition to working at home and schooling at home)? This question brought laughter and tears and it connected us back to what we deeply care about in our lives: our families, nature, our talents/hobbies, our friends - after we all answered there was a sense of joy, peace and grounding at least for a time.
I’m thinking a lot about how to be of service during this time of uncertainty. I can’t say that I have many or any answers, but I do have a deep understanding that I cannot serve if I’m not ok. In that vein, I’d like to offer a tool I use to mindfully reflect, to check in with myself, to understand my unconscious biases, and take care of myself to make sure I’m centered and grounded before I move outward to try to serve or relate with others. The tool is the Compass from the Courageous Conversations About Race Protocol. The compass invites you to check in with yourself - What are my thoughts about this? What emotions are coming up for me? What are my beliefs around the topic I’m considering? And, What actions am I taking? It can also be used to consider what we need to be ok right now when we are uncertain, when we have little to no control over our circumstances.
Below are some guiding questions for personal reflection around the compass to consider:
Thinking: What can I do to promote my intellectual health? How am I taking care of my thoughts? Am I thinking too much about something and creating more fear and confusion for myself? Do I need to read another news article or watch more news?
Feeling: What are my feelings? How can I nurture my emotional health? How can I honor my feelings and make sure that I’m not acting out of fear or anxiety?
Believing: What are my beliefs? What are my values and morals? What can I do to connect to my values and beliefs so I can be sure and operate from them rather than from fear?
Acting: What actions am I taking? Are my actions aligned with my values? My morals and beliefs? How can I take care of myself physically right now? What nourishes me physically?
Click here for resources to understand social and emotional learning, SEL enrichment activities, family & caregiver resources, self-care & mindfulness practices, and SEL for virtual work environments.
Click here for a collection of mindfulness resources including special offerings from mindfulness organizations for this time as we are living in physical separation from our students, colleagues, neighbors, etc.
Past CP&I Newsletters
March 2020 https://www.smore.com/s5cnu
February 2020 https://www.smore.com/yvg51
January 2020 https://www.smore.com/3y6ex
December 2019 https://www.smore.com/5f2t9
November 2019 https://www.smore.com/n0x65
October 2019 https://www.smore.com/7te4p
September 2019 https://www.smore.com/7z9hk
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