SOCIAL EMOTIONAL/ANTI-BIAS, DIVERSITY and EQUITY LEARNING AT WILBUR MCMAHON SCHOOL
The faculty and staff at Wilbur McMahon School are committed to being your partners in your child's education, and whole-community participation is crucial when it comes to the social, emotional, academic, and intercultural development of all children. It really does take a village to support all children in becoming their best and highest selves.
Regarding the work around anti-bias, diversity and equity, all members of the Little Compton School Department work together to educate our PreK through grade 8 students on topics related to cultural sensitivity, cultural appropriation and the roots of racism endemic to towns and cities throughout the United States and beyond. The Little Compton School Department recognizes that a commitment to diversity and equity means being actively anti-racist, actively anti-homophobic, actively anti-misogynistic. To that end, we are working with long-time counselor/consultant Terrance Caldwell – who joined the school’s Social Emotional Learning Committee in January. The school already has rich and impactful programming in place (see below) and will be introducing additional diversity programming for the 2020/21 school year. The work is never done, and we all need to continue to support each other and challenge each other.
For example, at Wilbur McMahon School (WMS), healthy relationships, celebrating one's uniqueness and that of others, and bullying prevention are a priority year-round with a variety of programs. This starts in the classroom with This starts in the classroom with Open Circle, a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum for grades kindergarten through 5. Open Circle is incorporated into the curriculum during weekly extended homerooms. WMS' specialists, special educators, co-curricular teachers, and Teaching Assistants have also completed training and are paired with homeroom teachers to support and be a part of Open Circle -- making it truly school wide in grades K-5. In grades 6, 7 and 8, WMS has implemented Choose Love, which teaches students to manage their emotions, set goals, show empathy and make responsible decisions. Choose Love is part of the curriculum two times per week and is run by WMS' Counselor/Social Worker.
In addition to this year-round programming, in December 2019 Pushed Learning and Media presented a program to our 7th & 8th Grade Students, and the teaching-artists will be on campus again throughout the 2020/21 school year. The organization’s diverse and experienced teaching artists offer presentations and performances on a variety of topics related to racial inequality, segregation, mass incarceration, cultural appropriation, racial identity, gender/sexual identity, and intersectionality. Here are some video clips, produced in Rhode Island, from Pushed Learning and Media: Segregation and Its Impacts; Cultural Appropriation and Internalized Racism.
As a complement to the 2019/20 school year's whole-staff shared read, Culturize, we integrated content from ASCD/ACTIVATE's Embracing Diversity: Effective Teaching course into our on-campus Professional Learning Communities. Purchased for them the summer of 2019, all WMS teachers and specialists have an annual subscription to ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), which is rich in resources on a variety of topics and content areas.
During the spring, all middle school teachers and specialists completed and/or began Tier I training in implementing the International Baccalaureate' Middle Years Program (IB MYP), which turns our curriculum upside down -- in a good way. From Ibo.org: "IB MYP aims to develop active learners and internationally minded young people who can empathize with others and pursue lives of purpose and meaning. The program empowers students to inquire into a wide range of issues and ideas of significance locally, nationally and globally. The result is young people who are creative, critical and reflective thinkers."
Last fall, Restorative Practices Training (part of the 2019/2020 school year Professional-Development Plan) began for all Wilbur McMahon School Staff. All staff (Certified Staff and Teacher Assistants) completed a minimum of 10 hours of PD leading to earn a Basic Restorative Tools Certificate, which includes content focused on cultural sensitivity. (https://yrpofri.org/). That training continues throughout the 2020/21 school year.
None of us can do this work alone. Accordingly, the Little Compton School Department is partnering with the local public library on an Intercultural Development Community Book Club. Ta-Nehisi Coates' book Between the World and Me (LCSD purchased multiple loaner copies) is the group's first read. Other intercultural works being considered for future book discussions are Waist-High in the World, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, and The End of Gender. They are deep reads and spark thoughtful discussions around issues of identity, race, religion, and being differently-abled.
The Little Compton School Department is committed to being partners in all facets of a child's education. The critical work around empathy, diversity, and cultural sensitivity is ongoing and integrated across content areas and grades for whole-school progression. The Little Compton School Department is committed to a safe and healthy learning environment and a dynamic, responsive, impactful curriculum.