Radically Inclusive Relationships

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About this Strand

Educators learn the importance of building relationships with students and families very early in their professional journeys. In fact, many educators are drawn to the profession because of a meaningful relationship with a teacher from their past. When we teach to develop the whole child, these relationships are foundational.

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Social emotional learning offers the possibility of acknowledging, addressing, and healing from the ways we have all been impacted by racism and systemic oppression and to create inclusive, liberatory learning environments in which students of color and students living in poverty experience a sense of belonging, agency to shape the content and process of their learning, and thrive.
National Equity Project
How might you use this?

There are many ways to make these resources fit your needs (and probably plenty more ideas you could add!). Here are some suggested ways to think about your entry point.

To set intentions for the relationships you foster with students, families, peers, and community.

To coach or assist classroom educators in building the beliefs and skills that lead to strong relationships.

To define a vision and supports for strong relationships with students, families, staff, and community.

To articulate your students’ needs and your expectations for relationships with school personnel.

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What this Strand Covers

Every student should feel welcomed, valued, and heard by their educators in their classrooms. Through caring dialogue, positive interactions, predictable routines, restorative management, and culturally- and linguistically- responsive instruction, educators and students are able to create an inclusive community of belonging in classrooms. 

Beliefs and success

Guiding Questions:

  • What does brilliance look like? What is valued and celebrated? What is minimized, dismissed, or rejected?
  • How often are student, family, guardian, and community voices included and valued in conversations about what students are learning?
  • How does my identity play a factor in the environment/feel of the classroom (school) and in how I view my role in the classroom?
  • Where do my students see themselves in the classroom?
Explore the Framework
Potential Pitfalls

Even with good intentions, there is the potential to harm students. Our full framework identifies common risks to avoid in your planning. Here are a few examples:

Low Expectations

If teachers have not explored their own identity and how it shapes their perceptions of students’ identities, there’s a risk of seeing some students with a deficit or having low expectations.

Oversimplifying
  • Identities are complex. Oversimplifying students’ identities or ignoring how multiple facets of identity intersect can lead teachers to make false assumptions.
"Behavior Policing"
  • In classes where belonging flourishes, students can safely express who they are.  Don’t use social emotional learning as a behavior management strategy to reinforce white supremacy culture traits. 
Under-resourced Intentions
  • Creating space for authentic conversations in the classroom and not providing adequate supports for supporting students in processing their authentic experiences, navigating triggers, and healing from oppression can quickly derail relationships.
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Take Action

Ready to make changes in your practice? Head over to our action center!

Over the next year, we’ll be listening and learning with the goal of lifting up stories that make this vision more actionable. Using these practices in your context will help educators across the country learn more of what works for equity.

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