Despite the massive disruption we experienced when we had to shift our energies to adapting to learning remotely in March, Belmont Day ended the inaugural year of having a director of equity and inclusion with a list of inclusivity advancements worth reflecting on.
Noteworthy initiatives underway in five areas:
- faculty training
- policy and practice
- parent engagement
- student voice and belonging
You are welcome to explore it all at your leisure and to whatever depth suits you.
There will be no quiz! Instead, you may think of this as more of a quizlet, a way to learn about DEI at Belmont Day. This is not a comprehensive update. You might read this and wonder what else we did or will do related to this or that area of DEI work. You do not have to wonder silently. Instead, as you take in the information presented here, I invite you to think interactively.
Preparing Faculty Through DEI Professional Development
Designed and facilitated four required Friday afternoon professional development workshops on DEI and an all-day exploration of race.
Engaged in collaborative teaching with colleagues and their students. Topics covered:
- learning about social identity, social bias, and social justice
- exploring race and racialization
- individual and grade team consultation
- providing book reads
- problem-solving class group challenges that centered on social identity and honoring differences
Created a Google Classroom DEI resources site to share material on these topics:
- benefits of diversity
- teaching resources
- socioeconomic status
- sexual orientation
- physical appearance
- family and heritage
- social Identity, social bias, and social justice
In the fall, these resources will be shared with parents through the new Veracross Parent Portal.
How are we developing policy and practices that relate to DEI?
At the start of the school year, we created a clear policy on how to approach the presence of one of society’s most charged and complex terms, the n-word, in curricular material. The following lesson plan was used to introduce students to the policy. By adopting this approach we achieved a community practice that relieves teachers from having to determine on their own what might be the best practice vis-a-vis the n-word and that safeguards students from being offended or causing offense to others.
Honoring Differences in Hiring Processes
As a member of every hiring process this spring, I was grateful to be able to work with my colleagues to ensure that diversity was a quality seen as valuable as the knowledge, skills, and abilities sought in any role. Study upon study confirms the importance and power of exposure to both familiar and novel models and narratives of humanity. Children, especially, feel more welcome, secure, confident, and motivated, and are more able to empathize and get along with a global citizenry when they are surrounded by mirrors and windows. For these reasons, we are explicit and deliberate in our efforts to recruit and retain students and faculty who represent the widest possible range of human diversity.
Avoiding Social Bias in Team Meeting Discussions
Maintaining an awareness that all of us are susceptible to implicit bias enables us to create practices that resist inadvertently appraising, discussing, and treating children unfairly. This set of guidelines supports teachers in connecting actual disciplined preventive practice to awareness of implicit bias.
Engaging the whole community. This is BDS.
One small box plus another small box. One set of hands working with another set of hands. One voice added to another voice. Soon a few boxes becomes a crate full of boxes; a box that was blank is transformed into a beautiful gift; a statement about the importance of honoring the legacy of Dr. King and a song sung in tribute to him ring clear and strong. This is how a small thing can be done greatly. This is the power of community. This is BDS.
In January we held our first-ever MLK Jr. Oatmeal Drive for Pine Street Inn. This friendly competition between students and families on one team and all faculty on the other team resulted in a service project that every single member of Belmont Day community participated—and over 700 boxes of oatmeal donated for the guests of Pine Street Inn.
- Sixth graders tracked the donation progress and percentages on the Gallery bulletin board
- Cross-graded partner groups decorated the oatmeal boxes
- Students learned about nutrition inequity and what even young children can do to help from guest speaker Matt Ferrer, volunteer administrative coordinator for Pine Street Inn
The Honoring Differences Channel
We’ll establish a survey for students and parents to confidentially express appreciation (ways in which we’re THRIVING) or concerns (things that should compel us to keep STRIVING) related to experiences at BDS that either affirm or detract from a sense of equitable inclusion and belonging.
This survey will require identification of responders so that follow-up can occur. All input will go directly and exclusively to Dr. Hoyt, who will acknowledge every submission and contact any student and/or parent who expresses a concern to discuss it and determine what can and should be done to address the concern.