September 12, 2021
The country’s collective consciousness and conscience are waking up to inequity. Institutions are eager to address this societal albatross, and there are many very different ideas on how to do it. Resources such as Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation by Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan ask educators to shift thinking from deficit-mindedness to asset-mindedness. “Street data is the qualitative and experiential data that emerges at eye level and on lower frequencies when we train our brains to discern it. Street data is asset based, building on the tenets of culturally responsive education by helping educators look for what’s right in our students, schools, and communities instead of seeking out what’s wrong.” While your 21st CCLC program will continue to require evidence-based intervention methods, how can you begin to shape the culture and implementation in your program around student strengths rather than perceived deficits?
Authors Safir and Dugan, who were featured at the 2021 Summer Symposium, offer guiding principles and core stances for each chapter of their groundbreaking book. These are crosswalked below to Y4Y resources that can help your program shift its framework to an asset-minded approach that promotes equity.
Why Street Data, Why Now?
Guiding Principle 1: Reimagine our ways of knowing and learning. Core Stance: Holism.
How can your program give value to learning that’s emotional, spiritual, and physical as well as that which is cognitive?
- Know the five skill domains of social and emotional learning.
- Principles of inclusion reach beyond disabilities. Gather a full team and build an inclusive team by roles so your program can see every student for their strengths, like leadership, teamwork and clear communication.
- Tools available in Y4Y’s Career Pathways for Students course already put you in the mindset of focusing on each individual’s strengths. Asset-based thinking takes this principle a step further and recognizes that different subcultures in your community might practice different and exciting ways of knowing and learning.
Guiding Principle 2: See the barriers; imagine what’s possible. Core Stance: Awareness.
Is equity just one more new initiative, or is your program committed to a culture shift?
- Your culture and climate language must reflect your commitment. Consult the implementation strategies section of Y4Y’s course on creating a positive learning environment.
- Only with strong community champions that share your values can you make progress toward equity.
- Team building is one more way to stress that your program is a community that values all its members.
Choose the Margins
Guiding Principle 3: Center voices from the margins. Core Stance: Antiracism.
Are the loudest voices that are front and center the only ones that are heard in your program?
- Engage in Y4Y’s course on student voice and choice to appreciate all that goes into creating a safe space in front for those voices in the margins.
- Train staff on all aspects of empowering those marginalized voices with tools like Y4Y’s Creating a Safe Learning Environment for English Learners Training to Go.
- Your team for promoting social and emotional learning is the same team you need on board for student empowerment. Be sure to assign roles and responsibilities for the most effective team.
Guiding Principle 4: Seek root causes over quick fixes. Core Stance: Deep Listening.
How is your program working to fully understand its students?
- Recognize that a lifetime of experiencing racism carries its own trauma. Listen to podcasts in Y4Y’s Trauma-Informed Care Click & Go.
- Train staff on building relationships and creating an environment that amplifies student voice.
- As one subject matter expert, Stacey-Owens Howard, advises, keep it REAL.
Deepen the Learning
Guiding Principle 5: Equity work is first and foremost pedagogical. Core Stance: Agency.
Does your program place resilience at the center of perceived success?
- A sense of purpose in their community gives every student agency. Give them opportunities to make an impact through purpose.
- Review the introduction to Y4Y’s course on social and emotional learning to reflect on the best strategies to help your students develop agency and a sense of self-worth.
- Partner with the school-day using Y4Y tools from the related Click & Go on student health and wellness, especially the tool for using best practices for mindfulness, to help students pursue the kind of inner peace that can support healthy self-esteem.
Guiding Principle 6: Less is more; focus is everything. Core Stance: Coherence.
Progress cannot be made in the silo of your program. How can you reach to partners to bring them along on this journey?
- Review the introduction section of Y4Y’s course on continuous education to develop strategies for approaching your school-day partners. Aligning your efforts to foster asset-based thinking with hopes of affecting pedagogy is key.
- Adapt the Y4Y tool to establish professional learning communities and bring all your stakeholders together from around the community to reflect on your different views of data collection.
- Families are your strongest partner in advocating for equity. Understanding and overcoming challenges to family engagement are important first steps.
Guiding Principle 7: Mobilize a pedagogy of voice for educators. Core Stance: Symmetry.
Have you empowered your staff, many of whom were perhaps chosen for their familiarity with the community, to act on their best impulses for supporting equity?
- A Y4Y Voices From the Field guest, Johanna Friedel, empowers employees by showing appreciation for program staff.
- Strong training in identifying and addressing program strengths and weaknesses will make your staff conversations around equity more intentional.
- Remember: Staff may bring their own traumatic experiences of racism to the table. The Staff Health and Wellness Self-Assessment tool can help to ensure your program team is starting off on the right foot.
Transform the Culture
Guiding Principle 8: Break the cycle of shame. Cores Stance: Vulnerability.
Do you strive so relentlessly for perfection in the delivery of your programming that you don’t take the risks that can lead to imperfect progress?
- A theme we can borrow from STEAM/design thinking is undoing right-answer thinking; it’s better to try and falter, learn from that experience and try again.
- Another Y4Y Voices From the Field guest, Marcy Richards, focuses on the “can-do’s” and not the “can’t-do’s” in her approach to equity, diversity and English learners.
- Virtual learning in 2020 and 2021 was a stark lesson in just how quickly and effectively 21st CCLC programming can pivot. Nobody said “effortlessly.” Nobody said “easily.” And certainly, nobody said “perfectly.” But take those lessons, just as California practitioners featured in Y4Y’s March webinar series, Literacy Done Virtually, did, and consider what kind of shifts toward equity can be put into place immediately and program-wide. There may be bumps in the road, and it’s OK to be OK with that.
Guiding Principle 9: Every moment is an equity moment. Cores Stance: Warm Demander.
As the authors note, “Rather than call people out, warm demanders call folks in and up to the work of equity.” Is your program committed to a universal approach to challenging your full staff, partners and community to embrace equity?
- By definition, 21st CCLC programs are a place where diversity is understood. You already fight for the students in the margins. Consult the Diagram of Philosophy and Practices Within 21st CCLC to guide everything you do.
- Use the Knowing Families and Cultures tool to develop strategies for familiarizing staff and partners with the unique qualities and strengths of the families you serve.
- Become a warm demander by creating a program elevator speech. Craft your language not around calling people out, but around calling partners in and up to the work of equity. Most important, get comfortable talking about equity with a tone of gentle insistence.
As you balance your formal and informal data collection activities with an eye toward equity and improvement, consider the book’s closing message:
“Listen deeply. Trust the people. Act on what you learn. With that invocation, I invite you to walk forward on your street data journey with clear eyes and a full heart, knowing that the biggest mistake we can make is to cling to the status quo. Be brave, be bold, be visionary. We’ve got this.”