As schools scramble to establish a stable and balanced posture in the face of COVID-19, the need to do so with equity at the forefront is greater than ever before. The student–teacher relationship is being transformed daily as educators scramble to teach virtually and parents — especially the most marginalized — step into the role of managing instruction (often in addition to many other responsibilities). This universal experience has forever changed our relationship with school.
In times of crisis, tumult, and despair, finding the spaces of quiet, the stillness of calm, and the resolve of peace can be difficult. This is one of those times. Our lives have been upended by COVID-19. Our schools, stadiums, churches, temples, and mosques are empty. And leaders and teachers are trying to figure out how children’s bodies and brains remain nourished in the pause.
We can actively design for courage, integration, and repair. Why not plan a response to that, including the discomfort we know will come with it, from the beginning?
Each year, we get another chance to start over. The new year welcomes us to engage in instants of reflection. We collectively pause, reconsider, recollect, and remember. These rituals may manifest in commitments to our bodies — to drink less or lose weight — or they may be slower, otherworldly journeys that challenge the beliefs about the body, its purpose, and its home. For the latter, each step is a pilgrimage of sorts: a journey intentionally crafted to remember and to put the self back together again.
Sharing power requires making the invisible visible and allowing everyone — not only those with privilege — to connect, engage, and learn. How can we see our power and privilege with new eyes and cede it in our relationships?
The notion that we must eliminate bias has paved every path that we walk as educators. As a community, we have spent significant emotional and financial resources attending to and trying to rid ourselves of bias. The anti-bias movement isn’t wrong. But it isn’t entirely right, either. Equity work needs bias — it just needs a different kind.
How do we move past our conditioned responses as we design for equity? We offer three mantras for equity-centered improvement, innovation, and design.