Finding Joy in Equity Work: Five Ways to Create a More Inclusive Classroom

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of equity work in education. However, I would argue that since the murder of George Floyd, there has been pushback from folks who lack the understanding of what equity truly is. Equity work involves creating a learning environment that recognizes and addresses systemic barriers that may prevent certain students from succeeding, such as racism, poverty, or discrimination based on gender, sexuality, or ability.

While this work can be challenging, it is also enriching for educators and students. This post will explore five ways to find joy in equity work in education: celebrating small wins, connecting with others, embracing learning, creating meaningful connections with students, and remembering your "why." By incorporating these strategies into your daily practice, you can create a more inclusive and equitable classroom and help all students reach their full potential.

  1. Celebrate Small Wins: Equity...

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Unfortunately, addressing the absenteeism crisis is nothing new.

Hey Advocates, 

Happy Women’s History and Social Work Month! Thank you for all you do for your students and schools. We cannot do this work without building community, so again, thank you. 

A quick shout-out to the Ames and Arlington Heights School Districts as we worked together for my book study sessions. Have you ordered your copy? Need to purchase a bulk order? Let me know!


Continuing from last week, I wanted to take a closer look at the effects of the ongoing pandemic on our students. I came across this Associated Press article, “Thousands of kids are missing from school. Where did they go?” by Bianca Vázquez Toness and Sharon Lurye. They reported, “An analysis by The Associated Press (AP), Stanford University’s Big Local News project, and Stanford education professor Thomas Dee found an estimated 230,000 students in 21 states [and Washington, D.C.] whose absences could not be accounted for.”...

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8 Equity Strategies You Can Use Today

As educators, we strive to ensure that every student has the opportunity to succeed. However, achieving educational equity requires a holistic approach that addresses not only academic achievement but also students' cultural, social, and emotional needs.

In my conversation with Dr. Dionne McLaughlin, we discussed 8 Equity Strategies You Can Use Today. These strategies offer a comprehensive approach to promoting equity and excellence in education that can benefit students and schools.

  1. Personalizing Data: One of the essential steps to achieving educational equity is to personalize data by looking at the pictures of students and learning about individual student stories. This information can be used to generate personalized learning goals and to monitor progress toward those goals.
  2. Promoting Equity: Creating a fair and just learning environment for all students is crucial to achieving equity. Using equity audits and an equity lens can help identify and address...
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Who wants to teach a watered-down curriculum? Raise your hand.

Hey Advocates, 

What a week it has been! I stopped in Albany, OR, to wrap up an Equity Audit with the Linn County Juvenile Department of Justice. I facilitated a virtual book study session with the Bondurant-Farrant CSD, then hopped on a plane to New York for a keynote at the Farmingdale State College.

Check out what the Leading Equity Center has to offer! I'd love to speak at your next event/training. Let's chat if you are interested in working together. 

Last week I received a response to the newsletter, which included a link to this article, "Wellesley schools settle lawsuit over 'affinity groups' for students of color." As Philip Marcelo from reports, "Parents Defending Education has agreed to drop its suit while Wellesley Public Schools will make it clear that the groups are open to any and all students." Parents Defending Education stated in their federal civil rights complaint, "Because racial affinity groups divide children...

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Affinity spaces are spaces where you don't have to explain so many parts of yourself; people "get it"; they understand.

Hey Advocates, 

I want to give a huge shoutout and thank you to Dr. Aisha Hollands with the Portland Public Schools District in Oregon for purchasing 600 of the Leading Equity: Becoming an Advocate for All Students book. I'm humbled and thankful for the support. 

If you need a bulk order of books or want a signed copy for yourself, I'm here to help. Your support is what keeps the podcast and the Leading Equity Center going.

Talk about a busy week! Darlene ran a session with Burlington High School Students for the Advocacy Room, I facilitated a book study session with the Ottawa Area School District, and wrapped up my Equity Audit report with the Lansing School District. Here's some feedback that I received via email:

Dr. Eakins (Sheldon),

Thank you for the OUTSTANDING guidance, facilitation, leadership, and providing a comfortable and safe space for our Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee. Equally appreciated was your professionalism,...

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I'm more than disappointed with College Board, but I'm not surprised either.

Hey Advocates,

I'm at the airport, headed home from doing an Equity Audit with the Lansing School District in Illinois. I was honored to work with some dedicated educators seeking the best ways to serve their students and family. 

Let's chat if you need an equity audit for your school/district! I'm also available for instructional coaching, keynotes, training, and online coursesCheck out all of the Leading Equity Center's services.

I'm still wrestling with the murder of Tyree Nichols. Time and time again, we are shown the violence of Black and brown bodies at the hands of police, and it does not get any easier to see. The body cam footage may trigger you and stir up trauma. I cannot say this enough. Please take care of yourselves. Do something that brings you joy. Maybe catch the sunset like Tyre used to take photographs of. 

Last week we talked about how Florida's Governor was against the A.P. African American Studies course. Elijah Edwards, one of the...

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Lacks educational value!? Are you freaking kidding me!

Hey Advocates,

This week has been struck with much tragedy, especially in the Asian community surrounding Lunar New Year in California; I hope you are still finding ways to find hope and light as we process the violence. Take care of yourselves. 

This week my newsfeed was bombarded with Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis' policy decisions to remove conversations about race and gender from Floridian schools. This is not the first of DeSantis' ways of limiting race discussion. As Abené Clayton, a columnist from The Guardian, reports in "Ron DeSantis bans African American studies class from Florida high schools." Previously last April, "he signed the Stop Woke Act, which severely limits 'race-based' discussions at schools." He argues that "the [Advanced Placement African American Studies] course violates state law and 'lacks educational value." Lacks educational value!? Are you freaking kidding me!

The AP course was announced last summer by the College Board as...

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It's about time

Hey Advocates,

It's been a busy week. A special shoutout goes to EnCorps STEM Teachers Program, Ames School District, and North Beach Elementary School. Looking for a keynote, webinar, or training? Let's chat.

I was perusing the news like I always do and stumbled on this article by Adam Shaw of Fox News, "California bill would allow Mexican students near border to pay in-state community college tuition."

The legislation proposed by David Alvarez, San Diego Assemblymember, "would allow low-income students who live within 45 miles of the state's border with Mexico to be exempt from the nonresident tuition fee if they have 'demonstrated a financial need for the exemption.'"

Alvarez points out how living by the border; there is a "need to educate more students to fill the jobs required for growth." In a press release, Alvarez's office stated that to meet the 2030 demands of San Diego's economy, the number of people with post-secondary education needs to double.


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Sneakers are more than just shoes; they are a form of Black cultural expression.

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Practice what you preach

Hey Advocates,

I hope you all had a great ending to 2022 and are looking forward to what the new year has in store for us. Here’s to 2023 bringing us an abundance of blessings and joy! 

With that being said, I don’t know about you. But, I found myself being on social media a lot, distracting myself with TikToks and Instagram, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much my kids and other young teenagers get caught up in social media. 

A recent research article published by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina(UNC) - Chapel Hill, “Study shows habitual checking of social media may impact young adolescents’ brain development,” shows there are differences in how adolescents’ brains respond to what is happening around them. The study first asked participants (169 middle school students from rural North Carolina) how often they checked Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat and also had participants undergo brain...

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