2. Teachers must own the work—and the outcomes

Oftentimes, district-wide initiatives are rolled out from the top-down. However, when we began last year’s equity training, we partnered with the Broward County Teachers Union to develop and implement the plan. We wanted to empower our teachers to participate in the initiative and to take ownership of their process. The bottom-up approach ultimately led to more passionate educators that wanted to share their excitement with their principals. After completing Courageous Conversations about Race, the equity liaisons are implementing the second stage of their equity plans, training their principals, administrators, and other teachers in this important work.

3. Incentivize the efforts

Through the grant we were awarded, we were able to offer a small stipend to the equity liaisons who participated in the PCG course, which can be used to extend their training into their own schools.

In addition to a stipend, districts can incentivize trainings by using an accredited content provider to allow teachers to receive professional learning credits. That said, many of our equity liaisons reflected that they would have participated even without the stipend. In this case, teachers recognized the importance of the learning opportunity to bridge the equity divide not only for themselves, but for our students and the community. Furthermore, after taking the online course, we had numerous teachers re-enroll in school in a masters or doctorate program. Nearly 98 percent of participants found this course to have a major or moderate effect on their professional learning. This initiative inspired them to extend their own understanding of equity and want to dig even deeper.

3 steps for bridging the equity divide in classrooms #k12

We’ve reached our short-term goals but there’s more work to be done. The good news is that, after taking the Courageous Conversations about Race course, 93 percent of the teachers felt extremely comfortable having difficult conversations about race on a daily basis, an increase of nearly 20 percent. We are making small strides that have long-term positive impact our students and community by making schools a safer place for our diverse student population.

About the Author:

David Watkins is director of equity and diversity for Broward County (FL) Public Schools.