The COVID crisis stretches each of us as we seek to operate safely and stay focused on learning/equity. As I listen to colleagues – sitting superintendents across dozens of districts – I hear major concerns about the incredible detail of logistics and management. And for good reason.
At the same time, racial justice and equity demonstrations continue now into the second and third month. The issues of race and equity along with learning and safety also remain at the forefront as we reopen school.
Here are some equity hacks – short cuts, new ways of thinking – that may save time and bring better outcomes.
Hacks that keep teaching and learning hacks at the forefront
Relationships are number one.
You can’t keep students from staying away, to paraphrase Yogi Berra. Well, maybe you can with these hacks:
- Small Groups.
Do small group sessions of 4-5 students to reach each student each week. Meet with small groups of students 20-30 minutes at a time, asking questions that show we care, we understand, we want to know your strengths, interests, culture.
At the elementary level consider looping – keeping students with the same teachers they had last year. You could do that for the first two months of the year or for the entire year. Build on the relationships you already have.
- Student voice and choice
Give students some choice in regard to assignments. Engage their interests.
- Flipped classrooms.
Video your lessons. That allows students to download lessons via smart phone without having access to 24/7 streaming. Use classroom time for relationships.
- Figure out what matters most; save teachers time.
- Ask teachers to meet one grade level up and one grade level down. Ask higher grade teachers what is most essential for completing the grade before theirs.
Share the load. Rethink PLCs. Who will do …
- Lesson design: … for math … for reading?
- Flipped lessons?
- Teaching remotely … maybe to 100 students?
- Checking in regularly on relationships?
Ask Teachers and Racial Equity Teams for simple steps, hacks that every teacher should try.
- What are the top three they would recommend to colleagues?
More great resources:
- Reimagining September: https://edarxiv.org/ufr4q
Hacks for Leaders
Engage those most impacted by our decisions.
- Go directly to those most impacted to find out first-hand what is needed most. Before deciding we know best and wasting time on what won’t work. A group of Seattle students listened to public housing parents, designed PD on how to use technology and rolled it out to rave reviews. Now they are scaling it up.
Collect data on technology access.
- Who has access to technology? Who doesn’t?
- See Ed Trust: 10 questions for Equity Advocates:
Hacks/Tips for teachers.
- Use your teachable point of view to bring clarity and sanity to the teaching year. What three things do you want teachers to do most? a) knowing student strengths; b) core standards in reading / math; c) choice assignments that engage students.
Racial Equity Lens.
- Create a racial equity lens – simple, easy to remember – that you use for EVERY decision, not just when you need to or think of it. Make it a habit. Here is my first take on a draft that spells BRaVE:
- B enefits – who benefits?
- RA cial impact?
- V ulnerable – how does this impact our most vulnerable?
- E quity – how does this improve racial equity?
- You can see Multnomah County’s equity lens here:
- Annie Casey has great resources at:
Yes, COVID requires incredible work. Use these hacks to keep equity at the forefront.
Larry Nyland – Leadership Coach and Consultant.
Seattle Schools superintendent 2014-2018
To talk about growing extraordinary "high capacity" leadership for your team …
Contact: Larry@Larrynyland.com | 425-418-4398 | LarryNyland.com