Modern education systems are built upon the ideas that all students can learn at high levels and be successful. This is an easy idea to get behind, and lots of traditional schools have mission or vision statements that emphasize all students succeeding. But, these same traditional schools have systems and structures in place that make it nearly impossible for all students to succeed, like bell curve grading systems that assume some students will fail or tracking systems that automatically put some students in less challenging courses. When you actually start to think about a school designed for every student to succeed, you have to start thinking very differently about the ways in which schools are organized. And, you usually have to confront implicit biases about which students are smart and which are not. This can be hard to talk about, as nobody wants to admit that they hold biases. But think about it this way: you’re not alone. Our entire education system was built on the idea that some students are smarter than others, and we are all products of that system. So while investigating biases might be hard and uncomfortable, it’s a key part of the process. And, it’s a part of the process that we all have to take on.
Questions to Consider:
- Who is thriving in your school or district? Who is not? What patterns do data suggest?
- What systems or structures might be perpetuating these gaps?
- How can you lead and support people in your school or district to dismantle systems and structures that are perpetuating gaps?
- What biases might be contributing to these gaps?
- How can you lead and support people in your school or district to identify and address implicit biases? What structures and supports will you provide?