Reflections from Katie: October 2019

As I have launched Friday Updates from Katie this year, it has taken a bit longer to get our first real newsletter, Cambridgeport Connections, out to you.  I hope you have been enjoying receiving the weekly peeks into the classroom and reminders about upcoming events and general “how things work at Cambridgeport” information.  I want to use the opportunity of the monthly Cambridgeport Connections newsletter to take a deeper look at certain topics through the “Reflections from Katie” section. In the coming months, I also hope to have other voices of Cambridgeport share their reflections in this column so that “Reflections from Katie” becomes “Reflections from the Cambridgeport Community.”  

In this particular reflection, I wanted to share with you some of what equity work looks like at Cambridgeport.  Last year we started an Equity Leadership Team and the first charge of the team was to really ask ourselves, “What does equity mean?  And what does racial equity mean?” This was not an easy first charge! By the end of the year, the team agreed on the following definition: Racial equity actively corrects the inequities that have resulted and continue to result from centuries of racist societal systems and structures in order to provide infrastructure for each member of the Cambridgeport School community to achieve excellence intellectually, socially, and emotionally.

The work in front of us now is to figure out what this really means on the ground, on a day to day basis in our school.  The Equity Leadership Team brought this statement to the full staff at the end of last year and began to analyze and interpret (one of our Habits of Mind) the statement.  In small groups with the staff, we considered the questions, “What does intellectual excellence look like? What does social excellence look like? What does emotional excellence look like?  And what do we need to do at Cambridgeport to get to this place? Some of the big ideas that emerged at that time were: More project based learning with authentic student voice, Restorative Justice approaches, and becoming clearer and more consistent with student behavior.

This year we now launch each of our professional learning sessions with staff with a reading of the racial equity statement so that we can ground ourselves in the very real purpose of working towards realizing this statement.    We are working as a staff this year to deepen our toolkit for responding to challenging behavior. Simultaneously, we are working to engage children in such a way that the challenging behaviors may not arise as frequently. We are working on developing a clearer articulation of rules for children so that they can be successful in meeting those expectations.  We believe that this is part of the process of “providing infrastructure for each member of the Cambridgeport School community to achieve excellence.”

As you have likely heard from your child’s teacher, parent-teacher-student conferences are right around the corner.  We are committed to having these conferences be part of the infrastructure that supports each member of the Cambridgeport Community.  Teachers are eager to connect to build a partnership for learning for your children. We structure the conferences to include children because we believe that children will be most successful when they understand that their teacher and their parent(s) have the same goals for them.  We also believe that children can articulate powerful goals for themselves, given the opportunity, and teacher-family partnerships can support them in meeting these goals.  

Teachers do spend a lot of extra hours preparing for these conferences-- scheduling them, gathering work together, assessing students, and more.  I request that you make sure that you do sign up for a time as soon as possible, and that you do everything you possibly can to keep that time so that teachers are not left scrambling to reschedule.

I truly appreciate everything you do to support your child and the community, as you, too, are part of the infrastructure that can support each and every member of the Cambridgeport community.
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