4 Daily Practices for a More Equitable Classroom
Equity in education means that each student receives the specific resources they need to succeed. Educators are essential to making equity a reality, and they need support and resources to deliver equitable literacy education for all students.
New Jersey has been making strides in delivering equity by supporting struggling readers with recent legislation designed to identify early readers with reading difficulties and to provide evidence-based interventions. A proposed bill would establish and fund the New Jersey Equity in Education Initiative (NJ A5601). You can learn more about the bill here.
New Jersey school administrators and teachers don’t have to wait on legislation to address equity in their classrooms. Lexia recommends these four daily practices:
Practice 1: Don’t assume
One important element of equity is meeting the needs of the individual. It’s all too easy to make assumptions about students based on perceived socioeconomic status or behavior. There is tremendous diversity among struggling readers, and even among students from a similar background.
That’s why it is so important to check your assumptions about any student at the door. Nonprofit Learning for Justice writes, “it is impossible to predict anybody’s preferred learning style based on a single dimension of her identity and … nobody, regardless of identity, learns the same way regardless of what he is learning.”
Practice 2: Check the data
Once you’ve left assumptions behind, hard data can be your guide to understanding a student’s needs and formulating an instructional strategy. Real-time insights from a literacy tool can give you answers to questions like: Where are my students in their learning? What is the evidence? How will I use this information?
Data used in this way is empowering for both the teacher and the student. Teachers can design personalized learning for students, and students are able to understand where they stand in their own progress and take ownership in their learning
If your literacy tool doesn’t allow for this option (although it should), focus on any evidence you do have and what actions you will take to meet those goals. Data is agnostic and can inform your approach without bias.
Practice 3: Scaffold your response
Make sure you are providing explicit instruction for students who need intervention. The scaffold term is apt because students perform better when they have a reliable structure to follow to get to the next level of proficiency.
Your literacy tool may not be equipped to provide an explicit and targeted instruction. Whatever lessons you use, review the content to be sure it focuses on the instructional area where the student is struggling.
Practice 4: Engage your colleagues
Google “educational equity” and you’ll get more than 300 million results; this is clearly a hot topic from classrooms to kitchen tables to legislatures. Taking equity in education from discussion to reality is everyone’s responsibility, but it is educators who are on the front line.
Teachers shouldn’t feel they need to tackle such a major effort alone. Talk with colleagues. Share what you learn and ask your peers how they are supporting equity in their classrooms. Find out how they intervene and what techniques or tools have proven effective. Are they taking a data-driven approach? Are students working at their own pace? Teachers want to know what works.
This white paper is one place to start: Educational Equity: The Transformative Impact of Effective Instruction & Professional Learning. This research-packed resource is a helpful starting place for an educator in New Jersey or any state who is diving into the task of ensuring equity in education.
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