You Belong Here Toolkit

(link to print/download)

Facilitated by Dr. Nicole Evans and Sara Cotner and Produced Collaboratively with 


Table of Contents

Overview

Our schools are a microcosm of the broader world, and they must be places where all people—regardless of difference—feel like they belong. A sense of belonging supports academic achievement, social and emotional growth, psychological well-being, and—ultimately—world peace.  

Yet building welcoming and inclusive schools is no easy task. The You Belong Here Toolkit was intentionally designed to be a streamlined and sustainable resource by educators, for educators because we know what it’s like working in schools. We are all juggling a million things, such as worrying about attendance and tardies, coaching our teachers, responding to families’ needs, and making sure the buses run on time—just to name a few things.

And yet we must make time to systematically work toward building welcoming and inclusive communities for all children, all families, and all staff members. The You Belong Here Toolkit was designed to minimize the “input” required from busy educators but to maximize the “impact.”

This work is deep, repetitive, cyclical, ongoing, and extensive. It never ends, and yet we must all start. Regardless of where you are on your journey, the You Belong Here Toolkit is for you.


Step-by-Step Implementation Process

Step 1

Form a Leadership Team & Build a Strong Working Relationship

Step 2

Complete the Self-Evaluation

Step 3 

Set Goals for the Upcoming Year

Step 4

Meet Monthly to Reflect on Progress and Generate Next Steps

Step 5

Start the Cycle Over Again

As your school develops tools, resources, and processes that help you build a more welcoming and inclusive community for all, please share them back with us! This toolkit is a work in progress, and we would love to share your work with others. You can email hello@montessoriforall.org to get something added to this toolkit.


The Self-Evaluation

1 = Strongly Disagree; 2 = Disagree; 3 = Neutral/Undecided; 4 = Agree; 5 = Strongly Agree

Indicator

How do you know?

Score

1) Clear Equity Data

A) STUDENT DATA: Our school regularly collects, analyzes, and generates next steps around academic, behavioral, social/emotional/cultural data that is broken down by sub-group.

B) STAFF DATA: Our school regularly collects, analyzes, and generates next steps around staff data focused on satisfaction, retention, and performance that is broken down by sub-group.

C) FAMILY DATA: Our school regularly collects, analyzes, and generates next steps around family data focused on satisfaction, engagement, and retention that is broken down by sub-group.

D) ULTIMATE OUTCOMES: All children achieve our intended outcomes academically, socially, and emotionally—regardless of which sub-groups they belong to.

2) Diverse Leadership & Staffing

E) DISTRICT/CMO/BOARD LEADERSHIP: The leadership at the highest level of our school represents our intended breakdown of various [SCHOOL DETERMINED] sub-groups.

F) SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: The administrative leadership at our school represents our intended breakdown of various [SCHOOL DETERMINED] sub-groups.

G) STAFF: Our staff represents our intended breakdown of various [SCHOOL DETERMINED] sub-groups, and there are no disparities across who is in which role.

3) Welcoming, Inclusive, and Liberating Culture

H) PUBLIC COMMITMENT: We have made a clear, public commitment detailing how our community seeks to welcome and include all staff, children, families, and community members, and we have visible messaging and imagery around the school that reiterate that all belong here.

I) ADULT CULTURE: All staff, families, and community members believe our school is welcoming, inclusive, caring, restorative, and liberating.

J) STUDENT CULTURE: All children believe our school is welcoming, inclusive, caring, restorative, and liberating.

K) COLLECTIVISM: When important decisions are made, there are diverse and various stakeholders around the table (e.g., teachers, parents/guardians, students, etc.).

4) Diverse Children & Families

L) DEMOGRAPHICS: Our children and families represent our intended breakdown of various [SCHOOL DETERMINED] sub-groups.

5) Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Teaching & Learning

M) ABAR CURRICULUM*: Our school has a documented anti-bias and anti-racist curriculum for all grade levels that has been vetted by a diverse group of folx representing groups that are traditionally marginalized (people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, women, etc.). *materials are produced by women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folx and people with disabilities as part of the curriculum

N) ABAR LENS*: Our school embeds ABAR content into all curricular units and focuses on examining the perspectives and contributions of those who are traditionally marginalized. *materials are produced by women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folx and people with disabilities as part of the curriculum

O) ABAR PEDAGOGY: Our school uses instructional structures and methods that support building a welcoming, inclusive, caring, restorative, and liberating learning environment.

6) Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Ongoing Professional Development

P) ONBOARDING: Our school has distinct ABAR professional development to onboard new staff members.

Q) SELF-WORK: Our school has frequent ABAR professional development focused on self-work (i.e., helping each person continue on their ABAR journey).

R) Our school has frequent professional development focused on ABAR curriculum development and culturally responsive teaching practices.

S) ABAR LENS: We use an ABAR lens when talking about anything and everything in professional development.

T) How we deliver professional development reflects the transformational teaching and learning practices we strive to build in our classrooms.

7) Families as Partners

U) ENROLLMENT: Our school discusses our ABAR commitment with families, including their responsibility in helping us reach our ABAR commitment, as a crucial part of our enrollment process.

V) FAMILY LEARNING: Our school offers meaningful, varied, and consistent opportunities for families to engage in learning more about our ABAR commitment.

W) INTENTIONAL PARTNERSHIP: Our school offers opportunities for families to bring their culture, community and unique perspectives into the school.


Sample Resources: Clear Equity Data

CASE STUDY FROM MONTESSORI FOR ALL

As a school, we are constantly making spreadsheets! We have spreadsheets to track how many families attend a Families as Partners Night. We have a different spreadsheet to track our children’s reading scores on the beginning, middle, and end of year assessments. We have a different spreadsheet to track how our children do on interim math assessments every six weeks. The list goes on and on!

Every time, we make a new spreadsheet to track data, we export information out of our Student Information System first. For example, we extract:

By starting our spreadsheets with this information in place, we always have everything we need to analyze the data through an equity lens. Especially at diverse by design schools, it can be easy for equity issues to hide in the averages. We constantly push ourselves to disaggregate the data and to set goals specifically around making sure that things like socioeconomic status are not predictive of the outcomes.


Sample Resources: Diverse Leadership & Staffing

CORE VALUES, VISION, COMMITMENTS & CULTURE SURVEY FROM COMPASS CHARTER SCHOOL

Compass Charter School opened in the fall of 2014 with the goal of being a progressive, inquiry-based elementary school that provides access to children who historically have not had access to progressive education (children of color, children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, children with special needs, and English Language Learners). The Compass Co-Founders created a set of Habits for Living and Learning at Compass that was inspired by our collective progressive and inclusive philosophy and evidence of effective practices learned while researching schools during our year-long research project, The Odyssey Initiative. Starting a school is a whirlwind and we found that the Habits for Living and Learning that were created before our school was a living, breathing organization were relevant, but they did not fully capture the depth of our vision, values, and collective commitments that have continued to grow along with our school.

During the summer of 2019, the Compass Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) embarked on a learning process to bring the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) process alive within our school. We started by examining our mission statement, and then crafting a vision statement with a set of collective commitments. The ILT completed several drafts of this document and then presented it to the entire Compass staff during our Summer Professional Development. Staff members read the document closely, worked with the commitments, and offered feedback. The ILT also asked for consensus on adopting this as our vision and collective commitments moving forward. The first time we presented the vision and commitments, we did not get consensus from the staff, so we went back to work, and we adjusted the commitments using feedback from staff, We presented the next revision at a later staff meeting, and this time our staff agreed that the commitments represent our collective community. We all agreed to uphold these commitments in our work with each other, our students, their families, and the greater community.

The vision and commitments are posted prominently in all spaces within our school building and referred to when making decisions and planning for the future. Around the middle of each school year, we administer a Mid-Year Staff Survey to collect information about how the school year is progressing in relation to our goals, school culture, professional development, etc. This year, we adjusted this survey to capture data on how our vision and collective commitments are living in our school culture and what we may need to focus on moving forward. This survey was anonymous and the responses helped us shape decisions for the remainder of the school year and future years, including a commitment to hiring more staff members of color.

Link to Vision/Commitments: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dMiEA9MsCo_6MGfOMJUXsdfjbTp4L1y-jnFKSOgf2M4/edit

Link to Survey:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/13Ui2pDJGP-dkONR8nrB7KdNPBIhHGISryqz7UyjFDnY/edit

Hiring/Interview Questions/Process

We spent a lot of time working on our staff culture over the past school years and this has had an impact on our hiring. We are committed to hiring a diverse staff of folx who are committed to our values of inquiry-based learning, anti-racist teaching and learning, inclusivity, and progressive education.

During the 2018-2019 school year, our Hiring Committee met biweekly to examine our hiring process for areas of strength as well as problem areas that could be adding bias into our hiring process. Throughout this work, a cross-section of Compass staff members worked to refine our hiring process and update our interview questions. Since the update of this process and set of questions, Compass has hired more staff members of colors than before this work was done.

Compass Hiring Process

Link to an overview of the hiring process: https://www.brooklyncompass.org/careers

Sample Interview Questions


Sample Resources: Diverse Children & Families

CASE STUDY FROM MONTESSORI FOR ALL

As an intentionally diverse school that opened in 2014, we have watched privilege play out over the years, particularly when it comes to applying to our school. For example, we watched a white, affluent family try to rent an apartment within our geographical boundaries (with no intention of living there) just so they could technically apply to our school.

As gentrification occurs in our cities, it can be even more difficult to keep racial and socioeconomic diversity balanced. As a school becomes even more established and gets an even stronger reputation, it can get flooded with more privileged families.

At our lab school in Austin, Texas, we intentionally try to spend the vast majority of our time and energy on our most under-represented families. We always try to meet under-represented families where they are instead of requiring them to come to us. Here are some of our strategies:

  1. Plan parties in the park: We will rent a pavilion at a local park during peak weekend hours. We will set up a bounce house and cook hot dogs. The children and families are so excited when they realize they can participate in everything for free! Then we talk with them about what we offer as a school and have applications on hand.
  2. Go door to door: We will devote 1-2 hours on a Friday afternoon to ask our entire staff to walk around the surrounding neighborhoods to hang door hangers on doors to raise awareness about our school.
  3. Present to local community groups: We ask local groups—like neighborhood associations—if we can come and talk to their members about our school.
  4. Distribute information widely: We share flyers and brochures with local YMCAs, local childcare centers, churches, hair and nail salons, etc.

It takes time, energy, resources, and commitment to keep applications balanced if you are unable to run a weighted lottery at your school. We have found over the years that our strategies of “meeting families where they are instead of expecting them to come to us” has helped us maintain racial, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity in our applicants.


Sample Resources: Welcoming, Inclusive, and Liberating Culture

FAMILY SURVEY FROM MONTESSORI FOR ALL

My child’s lead teacher is: _______________________

 

Please fill out this short survey to give feedback about your child’s classroom and the school. If you have multiple children, please submit one for each different classroom. This survey is anonymous, so do not put your name on it. Seal the envelope and return it to the main office or to your child’s teacher. Circle your answers.

 

1. I feel comfortable talking to my child’s guide about my questions or concerns.

 

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

 

2. My child’s guide knows and cares about my child.

 

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

 

3. I receive regular communication from my child’s guide.

 

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

 

4. My child’s guide respects my family’s culture, language, goals, and preferences and treats all children fairly.

 

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

 

5. I feel as connected to other families in my child’s class as I would like to be.

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

 

6. I know how my child is doing in class, and I know how to support my child at home.

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

7. My child is getting prepared for the next grade level.

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

8. My child feels a strong sense of connection and belonging in their class.

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

MORE QUESTIONS ON BACK  →

(Optional) Race & Ethnicity

We include this question because we want to make sure that we are serving our diverse families equitably. Please check all that apply:

School Questions: If you have multiple children, only fill out this section on ONE of their forms. You may leave this section blank on the others.

9. There is strong and clear communication from the school about what is going on and how to be involved.

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree                        

10. The school administrators are welcoming, responsive, reliable, and capable.

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

11. I feel like Magnolia is getting better and better every year.

1        2        3        4        5        6        7

                        Strongly disagree                Neutral                        Strongly agree

(Optional) What is one thing you appreciate about your child’s class?

(Optional) What is one thing you appreciate about your child’s school?

(Optional) Do you have any questions/comments for the school or your child’s guide?


COMMITMENT TO RADICAL HOSPITALITY FROM CITY GARDEN MONTESSORI SCHOOL

City Garden Montessori School was founded in 1995 as a small, neighborhood Montessori early childhood program. City Garden’s mission from the beginning was to make Montessori education accessible to families of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, and to incorporate social justice education into the curriculum and culture of the school.

 

In 2006, parents at the preschool approached City Garden’s founder, Trish Curtis, to ask if she would consider expanding the program into the elementary years. Parents, teachers, and Trish worked over the next two years to develop City Garden’s charter school, which began in a church basement with 52 children, grades K-3. City Garden now serves 268 students ages 3 to 14 (preschool through eighth grade) and is an intentionally racially and socioeconomically diverse and integrated school. City Garden is a neighborhood school, serving five neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis.

 

St. Louis is one of the most segregated cities in the United States, with stark disparities in life outcomes between White people and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and this segregation and inequity is reflected in our city’s schools. There are relatively few St. Louis institutions in which people engage meaningfully across racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. City Garden Montessori charter school founders were striving to interrupt this pattern, and to build community among families from different racial, socioeconomic, religious and other backgrounds, hoping that, in relationship, we could work to dismantle racism and other forms of oppression.

In order to build a strong sense of community, it has been essential to build a school culture in which all students and families, as well as visitors, feel a deep sense of welcome and belonging. City Garden has borrowed the concept of “Radical Hospitality”—to receive all community members and visitors with a presence that is not just polite, but that exudes revolutionary generosity—from 1930’s activists Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. Many faith traditions also adopt a commitment to Radical Hospitality.

Sample Statement of Commitment to Radical Hospitality:

To create a truly, deep, intentional welcoming and inclusive culture, we commit to extending Radical Hospitality to all; visitors, guests, and members of our community. It is our work to ensure that you leave our school changed for the better.

Examples of Radical Hospitality:


SAMPLE PUBLIC COMMITMENT TO A WELCOMING, INCLUSIVE, AND LIBERATING CULTURE

Montessori For All seeks to build a more just and peaceful world for all. To build a more just and peaceful world, we must start with our children, for our children are the leaders of the future.

At Montessori For All, we value:

  1. IDENTITY: children have pride, confidence, and healthy self-esteem related to their own personal and social identity while respecting the value and dignity of other people.
  2. DIVERSITY: children feel comfortable with people who are both similar to and different from them and engage respectfully with all people.
  3. JUSTICE: children analyze the harmful impact of bias and injustice on the world, historically and today.
  4. ACTION: children make principled decisions about when and how to take a stand against bias and injustice in their everyday lives and do so despite negative peer or group pressure.

At Montessori For All, we believe that each person has a right to be who they are and that each person is valuable:

We welcome and affirm people from all: races, religions, ethnicities, nationalities, ability statuses, gender identities, family structures, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses. We believe in equity, social justice, and peace. We believe that we are better together. 

We believe that we all have a responsibility to our neighbors and community members to protect each person’s right to be who they are. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”


LEADING A COLLABORATIVE CAMPUS IMPROVEMENT PLANNING & BUDGETING PROCESS FROM MONTESSORI FOR ALL

Campus Improvement Planning Process Overview

At Magnolia Montessori For All, we are committed to a continuous process of growth and improvement. We are also committed to including diverse voices in the process so that our school represents all of us. Every Spring, we conduct a Campus Improvement Planning Process and Budgeting Process with all of our stakeholders to:

  1. Share with our community where we currently are against our ultimate vision
  2. Understand the root causes wherever we aren’t yet meeting our ultimate vision
  3. Make any adjustments to our specific goals for the upcoming school year
  4. Brainstorm strategies to help us achieve our goals for next year
  5. Align our financial resources with our stated goals and priorities

Overarching Timeline


Stakeholder Group

Overview of Campus Improvement Planning Process & Timeline

Progress to Goals for Previous Priorities,  Adjustments to Goals for Next Year, and Root Cause Analysis

Strategy Sessions for New Priorities (Aligned to Goals & Root Causes)

Provide Feedback on Draft

Share-Out of Final Draft

RSJC/FOM/Cafecito + School + District Leaders

February

March

April

May

Via email

Racial & Social Justice Family Group

March 24

April 28

April 28

The chair will discuss at the April 28 meeting, then gather feedback through the google group

Via email

Families of Magnolia

March 27

March 27

March 27

May 22

Via email

Cafecito

April 13

April 13

April 13

One-on-one

One-on-one

General Family

Preview process and timeline at Quarter 3 Family Meeting on 2/4 and share feedback form to start to collect ideas (feedback will be collated on a centralized Google doc that everyone can view)

Post on LivingTree on 2/5

Chat with the Principal 4/3 to share progress to goals and continue to collect ideas

Quarter 4 Family Meeting

4/21 to share progress to goals and continue to collect ideas

Post survey on LivingTree on 4/3 to collect additional feedback from families

Send home in folders 4/6

Share draft on LivingTree on Monday, May 18; feedback due by Friday, May 22

Share final draft on LivingTree on June 1

Instructional Team Leaders & Teacher Deans

CIP Kick-off on March 6

With Whole Staff at 3/27 PD session

(as part of committees)

Thursday, April 23

With Whole Staff

Board

February 24 meeting

March 30 meeting

March 30 meeting

April 27 meeting (just draft ideas)

May 25 meeting

Whole Staff (incorporating ideas they hear from children; district staff bring ideas from Chats with the District w/children)

Teacher Deans and ITLs lead mini-kick offs in their Team Huddles

Kick-Off!

PD Mar 27 Progress to Goals and Root Cause Analysis and

sign up for committees

March 28 through April 24 CIP committees (over lunch, in leftover PD time, etc.)

Committee time during PD on April 17

PD May 15 (near-final share-out)

PD May 29 (during ABAR closeout session)

Budget Committee

Launch meeting - overview of budget

Understanding strategies that have cost implications and ideas for potential cuts

Final budget recommendation


Sample Resources: Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Teaching & Learning

LIST OF ANTI-BIAS, ANTI-RACIST TEACHING PEDAGOGIES FROM MONTESSORI FOR ALL

Adapted from Teaching Tolerance

Montessori For All uses the following strategies—many of which have been adapted from the Critical Practices in Anti-Bias Education framework from Teaching Tolerance—to help children understand their own identities, build an appreciation of diversity, and equip children with the skills they need to address injustice:

Montessori Educational Practice

  1. Our teachers are “guides on the side” who honor the strengths and expertise children bring to school, versus “sages on the stage” who merely dispense knowledge for passive consumption.
  2. Guides provide instruction one-on-one or in small groups so that all children work on the appropriate material at the appropriate time.
  3. Guides provide ample opportunities for collaborative and cooperative learning to promote interdependence and build children’s skills to navigate across lines of difference, including communication, decision making, trust-building, facilitation, conflict management, compromise, and other collaborative and cross-cultural skills.
  4. Our children do research, plan Self-Directed Field Studies, and attend field trips that allow them to connect with the community and build their agency as members within the community.
  5. Our progress report cards measure skills such as children’s ability to express who they are and how they are different and the same as others and whether they speak up when something is unfair.

Discipline through Freedom

  1. Our guides make the classroom feel like a genuine family by intentionally building a relationship with each child, leading songs and games that bring children together, solving problems together, and sharing the responsibility of taking care of the classroom.
  2. Our approach to discipline seeks to respond to negative or unproductive behavior as “unmet needs or undeveloped skills” and respond accordingly, such that children build self-discipline and intrinsic motivation for life. We put our energy into controlling the prepared environment and our responses as guides, not into controlling our children’s bodies. We incorporate practices from Conscious Discipline (such as proactively teaching self-regulation and using logical consequences) and Restorative Justice (such as restorative circles and guiding children to identify ways to fix their mistakes).

Identity & Inclusion in Action

  1. We help children develop pride, confidence, and healthy self-esteem related to their own identity while preserving the value and dignity of other people through proactive strategies and lessons, as well as how we respond to situations and the conversations we have with our children on a daily basis.
  2. We seek to include community and family wisdom into our learning communities by inviting community and family guests as speakers, readers, activity-leaders, etc.
  3. Our guides read books that include characters and address issues along many lines of difference including but not limited to sexual orientation, gender, race, and socio-economic status. (see sample list below) We also make sure that our book choices include not only books that explore the challenges of different identities but also include books that affirm those different identities books-for-pleasure that feature diverse characters whose identities aren’t the main plot point.
  4. Our staff uses inclusive language, such as ‘families or parents and guardians,’ ‘friends’, or ‘leaders’ instead of ‘boys and girls,’ ‘humankind’ instead of ‘mankind,’ etc. We strive to be inclusive in our math problems, our casual conversations with children, the sentences we use during spelling tests, the current events or pop culture we talk about during downtime, and the family and friend photos we have in our environments.
  5. At Montessori For All, we seek to include art, artifacts, books, etc. that represent the diversity within our world.
  6. Our guides discuss current events in a developmentally-appropriate way and help children connect their learning to the real world. They discuss events from multiple perspectives so that children develop the ability to think critically for themselves.

Addressing Injustice

  1. Our guides seek to lead elementary-aged children in an analysis of the harmful impact of bias, injustice, and white privilege and supremacy on the world, historically and today.
  2. At Montessori For All, we seek to undergo ongoing self-development as adults (staff and families) in order to continue to increase our capacity and skills to create a more just and peaceful world for all.

Our work to build an inclusive and culturally sustaining community is separate from our Human Development curriculum. Our Human Development curriculum is shared with families in applicable grade levels in detail at the start of every year, and families can opt-out of all or part of that curriculum.

The strategies and perspectives represented in this document are reviewed and updated on an annual basis because the work of undoing bias and racism in the world is an ongoing process. We commit to sharing updated versions of this document prior to the start of each school year.

We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to partner with your family to help all of our children build a better world.

In partnership,

The Montessori For All Team & Family


Sample Resources: Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Ongoing Professional Development

WHOLENESS ACTIVITIES: RATIONALE & EXAMPLE

Adapted from Embracing Equity

Wholeness is the practice of being connected to all aspects of ourselves and the process of staying actively engaged and becoming deeply aware and connected to others around these difficult and necessary topics.  Wholeness is seen as a necessary process for the preparation of self necessary to engage in work that requires focus, requires dedication, and connects others as they work together. Wholeness practices are an element of ant-bias, anti-racism work because of the physical and emotional toll racism takes on the body. Wholeness is a way of healing and engaging fully with ourselves. By fully engaging with ourselves, we are more able to radically and lovingly engage with one another.

Wholeness Practice:

So let’s begin now. Sit up straight and relax your shoulders away from your ears...plant your feet firmly on the ground and find a comfortable place for your arms and hands. When you are ready and feel safe to do so, close your eyes and begin by taking a deep breath in, filling your lungs and slowly release. Let’s do another one because that felt so good. Inhale....exhale.

Continue to breathe into your nose and out through your mouth as you begin to pay attention to your body. Start with your heart. Take a moment to feel all of the amazingly powerful love that your body holds. Let’s extend awareness out from the heart and do a search for the parts of you that are feeling tight or constricted.

Send love and energy to those places to work out the kinks. Inhale deep... exhale. Maybe move your body a little to shake out that built-up tension. Inhale deep... exhale. With every exhale, release a little more of that tension.

Come back to your heart and move up to your mind. Let’s call into focus all of the things that may distract you during this day. Perhaps it’s a long “to-do” list, a busy family schedule, or hunger. Let’s inhale the recognition of those things and then exhale and send calming energy their way. Inhale, exhale. Now that we have released our potential distractions, knowing that right here, together is just where we need to be, let’s inhale once more the wonderful energy of this group and exhale. Let’s inhale once more and then exhale. Open your eyes, and let’s dive in.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT RITUAL

http://usdac.us/nativeland

www.osagenation-nsn.gov

Native-land.ca

Some indigenous groups are calling on individuals and organizations to open public events, meetings, classes, and gatherings with acknowledgment of the traditional Native inhabitants of the land. In countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and among tribal nations in the U.S. it is commonplace, even policy to do so. Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth. Imagine this practice widely adopted: imagine cultural venues, classrooms, conference settings, places of worship, sports stadiums, and town halls, acknowledging traditional lands.

WHY INTRODUCE THE PRACTICE OF LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT?

Offer recognition and respect.

Counter the “doctrine of discovery” with the true story of the people who were already here.

Create a broader public awareness of the history that has led to this moment.

Begin to repair relationships with Native communities and with the land.

Support larger truth-telling and reconciliation efforts.

Remind people that colonization is an ongoing process, with Native lands still occupied due to deceptive and broken treaties.

Take a cue from Indigenous protocol, opening up space with reverence and respect.

Inspire ongoing action and relationships.

Sample:

"We respectfully acknowledge that we are on the traditional, ancestral lands of the Osage Nation. The process of knowing and acknowledging the land we stand on is a way of honoring and expressing gratitude for the ancestral Osage people who were on this land before us. Please join us in a moment of silence. ”

Sample:

“We at_______ acknowledge that we live and learn on the ancestral lands of the _______Tribe, the People of the_____. We honor with gratitude the land itself and the ________ People.”

Sample:

“We want to acknowledge that we gather as ________ on the traditional land of the _______ and _______Peoples past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit as well.”


Sample Resources: Families as Partners

FAMILIES AS PARTNERS RESOURCES FROM CITY GARDEN MONTESSORI SCHOOL

Families are a critical part of the learning and growing process. As we all struggle with racism and all of the other isms, we still believe that the first teachers a child has are their parents. When parents begin to unpack racism and other topics, we understand that it is not easy, so we go to get assistance from others that allows both children and adults to learn with others. An expert that we like to utilize is Dr. Kira Banks. She has a podcast that features interviews with her own sons on topics such as what are your experiences in middle school around words such as “fag” and homophobia and how to deal with it. She gives practical and research-based ways to look at today’s issues in today’s schools and gives recommendations on how to talk to your school-aged children about these heavy topics. Dr. Banks also has podcasts on how to talk with children during a pandemic, and the equity issues the pandemic has raised. She also has a specific series that cater to schools around how to raise children with an equity mindset, hence the name of her work, Raising Equity. Dr. Banks facilitates informational sessions specifically designed to reach and support parents on these topics.

You can find examples of her podcasts here:

YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3jRE_9078II2vzxIYSqAeFb98E9IQCqy

Apple Podcasts - https://bit.ly/REApplePodcast

Raising Equity Podcast Page - http://bit.ly/repodcast

If you want to book her, currently people can call or text Aaron Banks at (314) 715-4293 or email aaron@raisingequity.org.

COLORBRAVE CONVERSATION SERIES

After Michael Brown was murdered by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, young people took to the streets to demand an end to the killing of state-sanctioned killing of Black and Brown people. Six weeks later, another young man, Von Derritt Myers, was killed by an off-duty police officer, just three blocks from City Garden Montessori School. Parents and neighbors expressed the need to come together to process the trauma of these events and to talk together about how to support one another and to work collectively towards justice. Two days after Von Derritt was killed, City Garden convened such a gathering for parents, guardians and other community members. Many of the protests and events that were happening were difficult for families with young children to attend, so we provided childcare and dinner, to make it feasible for parents to have time and space to get the support they needed.

After this initial gathering, parents, guardians and community members expressed the desire to have more gatherings like this. City Garden’s Parent Anti-Bias, Antiracism (ABAR) Committee decided to host an ongoing series, and named it ColorBrave, based upon a 2014 TEDTalk given by Mellody Hobson, asking folx not to be Color Blind, but Color Brave.

https://www.ted.com/talks/mellody_hobson_color_blind_or_color_brave?language=en

The ColorBrave Series is a conversation with community stakeholders both within and without the school. As the series was facilitated, the school invited area and regional folx that might be interested in how race impacts the community at large. The series inevitably had more community members than parents. The conversation would last about an hour and a half, be held in the evening and both dinner and childcare were provided for participants to reduce barriers for folx with young children to be able to attend.

The conversation is based upon the 4 community agreements adapted by Glenn Singleton’s work around Courageous Conversations. Following the review and explanation of the agreements, a call is given to see if any additional ones needed to be added.

Four Agreements

  1. Stay engaged: Staying engaged means “remaining morally, emotionally, intellectually, and socially involved in the dialogue”
  2. Experience discomfort: This norm acknowledges that discomfort is inevitable, especially, in dialogue about race, and that participants make a commitment to bring issues into the open. It is not talking about these issues that create divisiveness. The divisiveness already exists in society and in our schools. It is through dialogue, even when uncomfortable, the healing and change begin.
  3. Speak your truth: This means being open about thoughts and feelings and not just saying what you think others want to hear.
  4. Expect and accept non­closure: This agreement asks participants to “hang out in uncertainty” and not rush to quick solutions, especially in relation to racial understanding, which requires ongoing dialogue.

The ColorBrave Conversation Series includes topics such as, What is the common language we need to know around Anti-Bias and Anti-Racism?, Barbeque Becky—What this means for people of color?, Thanksgiving: Changing the Narrative.

After reviewing the agreements, facilitators are introduced to the larger group. Following the introductions, there is a video shown to spark conversation at various round tables. One Facilitator sits at each round table and debriefs the video and then there is a whole group sharing out of the ideas and thoughts from the video. In addition to a video, it might also be a piece of writing, an article, etc. Most often, when the topics are selected, there is information researched and decided upon prior to the meeting. Quite often, there are current events to debrief as well.

After the conversation, there is a small call to action for audience members. An example would be: Talk to your family members at the upcoming holiday and tell them a different narrative for Thanksgiving. Talk to your sphere of influence and tell them you are being Color Brave. Try out some of the ABAR vocabulary and see if you deepen your understanding of the words.