Laurel School’s Commitment to Anti-Bias and Antiracist Practices: A Vision for Dismantling and Rebuilding Systems to Support All Students
At Laurel, we are a diverse community from a multitude of backgrounds including BIPOC, AAPI, LGBTQIA+, multilingual, Tinsley Voluntary Transfer Program, a broad spectrum of socioeconomic levels, a span of physical and developmental abilities, differing religions, and more. We value each and every member of our Laurel community, including teachers, staff, students, and families. Each background and individual perspective is respected, valued, and appreciated. We strive to ensure that EVERY member of our school community feels a sense of belonging and connectedness.
We are committed to:
- identifying racist systems and practices and working together to eliminate inequitable practices
- recognizing our own biases and working together to break down these biases
- understanding the implications of power and privilege both historically and currently
- dismantling aspects of white supremacy culture
- ongoing recommitment and reflection of this work while creating a work environment where staff can remind each other to check their bias when the need arises
- expanding our knowledge and appreciation of individual identities - within ourselves, our school community, and our larger community
- supporting all aspects of our students’ intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development
- affirming and engaging all perspectives within our community
- ensuring each and every individual within the Laurel community is seen, heard, and valued
Laurel School programs that support our efforts
- Restorative Practices
- The aim of Restorative Practices is to build and develop community - both within a classroom and across the school. Restorative practices work aims to manage conflict and tension by focusing on building relationships and repairing harm.
- Life Skills
- Each month a different trait is highlighted across the campus and reinforced by all staff members. In particular, our work around the Life Skills of compassion, cooperation, integrity, courage, self-awareness, and personal best help engage students in working together to do the right thing, standing up for others, and identifying wrongdoing in order to make Laurel a better place for everyone.
- Second Step Social Emotional Learning Curriculum
- Through this curriculum, Laurel students are taught how to identify their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. They are taught a variety of coping strategies, problem solving skills, and to understand others’ perspectives that may differ from their own.
- Spanish Immersion
- Our Spanish Immersion program approaches second language instruction in which students acquire Spanish by using the Spanish Language for instruction. The goals of our immersion program are high levels of oral language proficiency and literacy in both English and Spanish, and development of cross-cultural understanding. This program teaches students with a positive and culturally authentic Latino mindset.
- Equitable Grading Practices
- We acknowledge that grading and scoring assessments are often biased in education. We value using rubrics and other evidence based teaching and learning methods so that teachers and students understand where a child is on their individual learning trajectory and where to go from there.
- PTO Funding for “Mirrors and Windows” Classroom Libraries
- Teachers and staff use their PTO Classroom Library funds to select books that reflect a variety of cultures, ethnicities, abilities, gender identities, families, and more so that students are reading high quality texts that are mirrors of themselves and texts that provide windows into other cultures, languages, experiences.
- Project Based Learning
- Our Project Based Learning ensures an integrated academic experience where students have voice and choice in their learning while developing their agency skills to make this world a better place.
- Fifth grade’s Voting Rights unit focuses on how marginalized populations have overcome and continue to have to overcome barriers to voting in America
- Instead of students completing the traditional/antiquated California 4th grade “Build a Mission” project, Laurel fourth graders learn about multiple perspectives during the Mission period. They begin to understand the pain and suffering imposed on the native people during Spanish expansion, and students take action to teach others about the aspects of the mission period that are downplayed or left out of their textbooks. Students learn to recognize, question and debunk stereotypes about Native Americans and other groups/cultures who have stereotypes surrounding them. They also determine how to be thoughtful and respectfully responsive when faced with situations involving stereotyping of a group of people or culture.
- California Dreamers PBL unit helps third graders understand how different family pathways, journeys, and timelines brought Laurel families to settle in California.
- Recess Rockstars in first grade is a PBL unit that focuses on developmentally appropriate work students can do to create and actively include all students in activities of differing interests at recess time.
- The Community Helpers unit in kindergarten highlights various members of the Laurel community and the importance of each of their roles and contributions to create a sense of community at a school we are all proud to be a part of.
- Caring and Sharing Program
- The goal of this confidential program funded by the Laurel PTO is to give all students the opportunity to participate in the same experiences (spirit wear, yearbooks, book fair, after school programs, field trips, summer camps) as their peers if they wish to do so. Also, the programs allows the school to provide additional support and resources as various situations and needs arise.
We have been on a learning and action journey for many years, and we are committed to the statement made by the great Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Image Credit: The Quotable Coach
The following is a sample of the Professional Development Experiences the Laurel staff benefits from:
- PD with BayCES (now National Equity Project) on staff inside out work (2009-2013)
- Equity-centered PLC work with equity coaching from NEP (2012-2013)
- Restorative Practices Trainings (2015-2018)
- Antiracism Book Clubs (Summer 2020)
- Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards training for staff (2021)
- Dismantling White Supremacy in Schools Conference (2021)
Some of the people and publications that influence and inform our work:
- Books and Publications
- Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.
- Start Where You Are But Don't Stay There Richard Milner
- Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain Zaretta Hammond
- All American Boys Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
- So You Want to Talk about Race? Ijeoma Oluo
- Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School Carla Shalaby
- How to Be an Antiracist Ibram X. Kendi
- The Hate U Give Angie Thomas
- We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom Bettina L. Love
- We Got This. Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be Cornelius Minor
- Me & White Supremacy Layla Saad
- White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okum
- Professional Development Organizations
- Truss Leadership
- National Equity Project
- People that inspire us via Instagram and Twitter
- Liz Kleinrock @teachandtransform
- Nicole Cardoza @nicolecardoza
- Naomi Simone O’Brien @readlikearockstarteaching
- Francoise @thewokespanishteacher
- Dr Shaun Woodly @teachhustleinspire
- Dena Simmons @denasimmons
This statement was crafted by A. Guilliot, M. Stone, S. Warren, C. Lucas, T. Girsky, E. Kraska, and L. Creighton. As seven white women, we recognize the privilege we carry and we will actively engage our broader, more diverse staff and community to iterate and evolve our statement. This statement and the webpage is a work in progress. Our next steps include involving the full Laurel staff and our parent community to add more depth and insights as we strive to dismantle traditionally racist systems, practices and biases to co-create a liberating space for the most marginalized members of our community. (June 2021)