Before excelling in math. Before reading, science, history, or anything else, Students deserve a sense of belonging when they are at school. They deserve to feel like valued members of their school environment.
The question becomes how to nurture that sense of belonging.
Students need spaces where they can freely express themselves. However, society teaches us which identities are prioritized and valued. Schools are supposed to serve ALL students, yet when their experiences are not valued or treated equally, they either adapt or ostracize themselves due to feelings of mistreatment. These are issues that need to be addressed by teachers, administrators, and stakeholders within the building.
Let's Talk About You for a Moment...
- Are you passionate about ensuring every student in your care has a strong sense of belonging?
- Have you reflected on conversations with your students about some of their challenges and wondered if there’s more that you can do?
- Would you like the opportunity to learn how to create and facilitate student affinity groups at your school?
- Are you unsure where to start and need foundational lessons for running student affinity groups?
What's inside the Amplifying Student Voices Playbook?
Need lesson plans and slides for your student groups? We got you covered. Purchase the Amplifying Students Voices Curriculum (includes 5 lesson plans and slide presentations) and teach these topics:
- Who Am I? (Implicit Bias)
- Where and How Do We Learn Who We Are 'Suppose' to Be? (Stereotypes)
- Is Race Really a Thing?
- What is My Privilege?
- Bonus Lesson: Putting it all Together
Student Affinity Groups Foster a Sense of Belonging
Our students often look to us for support in their interactions with classmates, teachers, and other stakeholders during the school day. One of the most frequent questions I receive has to do with recommendations for creating student affinity groups within their specific school environment. Educators need a student-centered curriculum and instructional practices that foster a sense of belonging. They’re looking for ways to amplify student voices.
The Leading Equity Center is responding with this program. We’ve been working with student affinity groups since 2019, within middle school and high school districts throughout the U.S. This three-session program is designed to share our process and help you run your own student groups in your schools.
Some of Our Partnerships
We Created This Content For you!
Sheldon L. Eakins, Ph.D.
Sheldon L. Eakins, Ph.D., is the Founder of the Leading Equity Center. Dr. Eakins is also the host of The Art of Advocacy Livestream and the Leading Equity Podcast. Furthermore, Dr. Eakins is the author of Leading Equity: Becoming an Advocate for All Students. With over 15 years in education, he has served as a teacher, school principal, adjunct professor, and Director of Special Education.
Sheldon Eakins is passionate about helping educators accomplish equitable practices in their schools. He has earned a B.S. degree in Social Science Education, an M.S. degree in Educational Leadership, and a Ph.D. in K-12 Education.
Darlene Reyes is a first-generation Salvadoran-American and graduate of Northwestern University. After college, Darlene became an AmeriCorps member for City Year, Washington, D.C. (CYDC), which motivated her to pursue a career in education.
She is a 2019 Fulbright U.S. Student Program Fellowship alumna, who was selected to conduct research on the Imposter Syndrome in Brazil within Higher Education. Her first language is Spanish, and she has a high proficiency in Portuguese.
Darlene is an advocate for educational equity. She remains passionate about holistic solutions for students of all backgrounds, especially students of color, first-generation immigrants, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
What Students and Staff are Saying
"The approach & interaction with our students are extraordinary. The students were not only engaged but felt empowered with your affirmation that adults do listen and respond accordingly. The students are always eager for future sessions."
- Brian Jones, School Social Worker, Murray Middle School
“I think these workshops were beneficial and helped me learn more about how I can be a better person in society, and how I can help others be better too. With that, we can make society a better place for those who are being affected by inequality.”
- Isaac, 11th grader
"I believe that these workshops were beneficial for me. The order of workshops really showed me how I could improve myself as an ally and as an advocate. The first workshops about implicit bias and privilege made me look within myself. Knowing who I am, and what I think, helped me understand what changes I need to make in my life. Then learning about microaggressions showed me how my attitudes have to change. And finally, talking about being an ally summarized how I should use these new skills and realizations to make a bigger difference. "
- Minta, 12th grader
“I do believe that I now have a better understanding of others as a result of these workshops. I think that once we feel educated enough, we begin to get comfortable. But these workshops showed me that I still have so much more to learn, and so many more areas of improvement. I feel like my understanding of people has grown as I have learned about more ways that they are affected along with more areas needing improvement on the social justice spectrum via these workshops.”
- Carmen, 12th grader
"I think these workshops were a way to provide easy retainable knowledge on such important topics that get easily looked over, while still engaging the audience and creating an enjoyable experience for not only yourself but your peers.”
- Darren, 8th grader
“I definitely would recommend this to my peers to learn or to improve on their knowledge.”
- Rosalinda, 12th grader
“I think every student and teacher in our school should do these workshops. It just helps a lot with perspective and helps to see why it matters to listen to the voices of others.”
- Kacy, 10th grader
“I would recommend these workshops to the rest of my peers to help them realize things like how I did. Hopefully, they'll want to be a better person, and one by one, we can help our society.”
- Angel, 9th grader
“These workshops were beneficial to me. I feel like I can better understand myself and others around me, and I know how to be a better ally, and how to support others in different communities than mine.”
- Tyson, 9th grader
“As a student of color, it made me aware of exclusivity of other minority groups and how minorities can come together to fight discrimination and help one another.”
- Jermaine, 9th grader