We will ensure that all staff members can successfully meet the varied needs of diverse learners.
Meeting the needs of all students will require significant work by those who engage most with our learners – our teaching staff. Much has been said about the need for Kirkwood to hire and retain more diverse teachers. This is true, but that alone with not lead to success for our students. Intentional training, ongoing development, and unwavering support will be necessary for all staff if we are to meet the diverse academic, social-emotional, and physical needs of each student. Given the depth and breadth of this objective, each item below includes multiple action steps and indicators.
Item 1: We will develop and implement a comprehensive plan to hire, train, and retain high quality teachers of color, ensuring that staff diversity at least reflects the student population in each building.
- Maintain a commitment to the Minority Recruitment Fair, with regular reviews of practice and communication with the larger community about programmatic successes
- Develop a mentoring/networking program for minority staff within the building and across the district
- Hold regular meetings with and for minority teachers and staff members; seek feedback on how they are feeling, what they are noticing, and how we may improve our culture and practices
- Ensure diverse interview teams at every level, for every position; train interview committees what to ask and look for, as it pertains to equity
- Design, establish, and fund a Teach for Kirkwood program - a homegrown way for us to mentor students of color to return to the district and teach in our community.
Item 2: All staff will participate in ongoing professional development to promote shared understandings around bias, privilege, identity, equity, and cultural competency. Professional development must be differentiated and job-embedded as much as possible, but we must ensure that baseline learning experiences are guaranteed for all within our district.
- Identify and use district-wide required reading/videos with guiding questions
- Establish norms for talking about race in the district and our community
- Utilize outside facilitators who are trained in this work, putting teachers and administrators side-by-side as learners, when possible
- Provide regular, ongoing training about cultural “content” to ensure that white teachers are equipped to teach into race and cultural understandings within their discipline
- Use varied strategies and structures for working with others - including mixed-race and single-race caucus groups, to offer safe spaces for difficult conversations
- Establish and implement a training series for first and second year teachers and administrators and their mentors around culturally responsive teaching.
Item 3: We will ensure that teachers, administrators, and support staff possess the skills and confidence to develop positive, trusting relationships with diverse learners and their families.
- Support teacher and administrator understandings about the importance of ethnicity and racial identity
- Ensure that teachers have adequate training and ongoing support in engaging with families and/or supporting parental expectations of students of diverse backgrounds
- Identify universal expectations for building community in classrooms and fostering positive connections with individual learners.
Item 4: We will ensure that teachers, administrators, and support staff possess the skills and confidence to meet the academic needs of diverse learners.
- Provide ongoing training and support around high quality instructional practices, with specific emphasis on rigor, relevance, relationships, and student-centered engagement. Build upon “future-ready” skills, understandings, and habits for all students and district-level expectations around learner choice and ownership in the learning process.
- Facilitate common and differentiated training experiences in each building – including book/article/video studies, to ensure that all teachers demonstrate equity consciousness and teaching skills to meet the needs of diverse learners
- Provide content-specific training to all teachers around cultural relevancy and context, with specific emphasis on examining content through a diverse, historical perspective
- Ensure proactive and responsive work by school-based instructional teams, specifically guidance and educational support counselors, to intentionally build relationships with and support students of color and/or those who may be at-risk or disengaged
- Use evaluation processes to provide ongoing, substantive feedback to teachers and principals. Trusting feedback loops will be necessary if staff members are to be held accountable for the achievement of African-American students and changes to practice that will inevitably come about through the work.
Item 5: We will ensure that teachers, administrators, and support staff possess the skills and confidence to meet the social-emotional and behavioral needs of diverse learners.
- Ensure proactive and responsive work by guidance and educational support counselors, working intentionally with students to build relationships with and support students – specifically those of color and/or those who may be at-risk or disengaged
- Use screening tools to systematically identify and support individuals who may feel less connected to school and/or have social-emotional needs to be addressed
- Provide ongoing professional development around behavior management through a cultural lens, with a focus on keeping students in classrooms whenever possible
- Develop universal, focused efforts to teach into empathy, resilience, perseverance, respect, and understanding
- Provide differentiated training around meeting varied social-emotional needs of learners, specialized to address diverse student needs
- Provide de‐escalation training for all staff; hold staff accountable for using skills.