Challenge and Opportunity
Now more than ever before it’s clear that our current educational system was not designed to provide pathways to life success for ALL of our young people nor to envision school as a place of universal belonging, exuberant learning and joy. Too often, being identified as “student worthy” of the school’s attention has been conditional on student attributes, behaviors, and outcomes narrowly defined.
At the same time there have been great advances in the science of learning, development and understanding that learning is social and emotional. Before we can learn we need to feel that we belong. If students attend schools which build belonging, purpose, agency, hope and provide equitable opportunities and supports to learn, create, participate and shape their educational experience they will thrive.
A Way Forward
High school redesign afford educators the opportunity to co-create a school where all want to be – adults and students alike.
John A. Powell, director of the Othering and Belonging Institute exhorts educators “to move past inclusion to belonging—the difference being that in belonging you have the power to co-create the thing to which you belong.”
Elevating the insights of teachers, students and families will allow us to manifest educational experiences that are truly new and designed to be of service for all.
To bring this forth, we engage in an evidence-based, participatory design process which offers space and time to explore, reflect, and come to a common understanding of our shared opportunities and challenges. This participatory process invites everyone to the table as equal voices with inherent wisdom about how to manifest our vision for the high school and the community.
“Understanding the sources of variation in outcomes, and responding effectively to them, lies at the heart of quality improvement.” (Bryk, Gomez, Grunow & LeMahieu, 2016) To that end, responses to local challenges must lie within the highly interconnected and interdependent school community. Elevating the insights of students and families while engaging with liberatory design methods will allow us to manifest educational experiences that are truly new and designed to be of service for all.
Wellbeing for all requires an end to what has traumatized us, conditional belonging – the misshapen premise that joy, health, safety, and love must be earned through conformity to external measures. Instead, our renewed purpose is toward honoring the dignity, love, and abundance inherent in all.
Relationships are the primary vessels for allowing all to be seen, heard, and validated on the journey of redesign, fostering a sense of belonging and opening space for co-creation. We center relationships in bridging the gap between our current system and our hopes for the future. Read more.