whats the problem of
Elmhurst United was entering the spring of their first year as a newly merged school. Responding to a growing conversation about how they practice transformational education, they began to investigate how characteristics of white supremacy culture showed up in certain school structures and systems- and they wanted to do different. This was early March, and little did everyone know the Covid-19 pandemic was right around the corner.
The unprecedented challenges would push the leadership team to have to redesign school AGAIN. While this work was exciting, leadership teams began to wonder how the hours of planning could remain sustainable as they figured out how to do all of the operational work of distance learning, serve the deepening needs of their community, all while staff themselves went through the mental health challenges of living in a global pandemic.
Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy has been the instructional pillar of this year’s professional learning. In addition, the whole staff engaged in discussions to explore anti-blackness and how it can show up in personal and school communities. These conversations were all happening simultaneously as Elmhurst leaders once again stepped back to realize that they may have fallen into patterns of decision-making, process checking, and holding norms that perpetuated WSC. Together, they agreed that Elmurst would make an intentional pivot to prioritize this conversation and decide on implications for moving the work forward.
How can the team practice transformational education by embodying the core values of the community in the middle of this moment of global pandemic and the fight for racial justice?
personal leadership:key questions and realizations
How do you position your leadership in this context? In Viet-Ly’s leadership, she is always thinking of others and the good of the group. The embracing of conflict in new ways was challenging. The value of relationships is so important to her identity as a mother and Asian American woman, she found herself carrying the burden of the emotional labor of the work and it was throwing her off her own instincts of how to lead. She began to set boundaries around the responsibility- she committed to gathering the feedback, reflecting, adjusting and then letting go of the rest.
How did this work impact your life?
Engaging in this transformational leadership work with my whole-self made me a better citizen of this world. The work reflecting on my leadership, my noticings of how I care for relationships, my work learning alongside these amazing leaders for social justice have all impacted how I move about the world. It’s really inspirational!