P.A.C.T. Two Cents: On the page we posted titled “About The Equity Collaborative”, we made a comment “Think about waterboarding”. Below you can see for yourself how The Equity Collaborative’s “Unique and Effective” should make anyone scratch their head: CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT THAT IS CAPABLE OF HOLDING STAFF MEMBERS IN A PLACE WHERE THEY ARE UNCOMFORTABLE ENOUGH TO CHANGE. I think we can call this “Equityboarding”!

How We Do Equity Coaching

The Equity Collaborative specializes in equity coaching. We work with schools, school districts, and youth development nonprofits. Our goal is to help organizations develop their own capacity to create educational equity and social justice by addressing bias and oppression.

Tackling bias and oppression requires solutions beyond the technical approaches of implementing policies and “best” practices. This work requires what Ronald Heifetz calls adaptive leadership. That means creating an environment that is capable of holding staff members in a place where they are uncomfortable enough to change, but not so uncomfortable as to disengage or revolt. Leaders must have a clear vision. They must also have an ability to engage others in collaborative work. And that works has to be driven by a moral imperative to change adult behaviors in order to provide better support to the most vulnerable students or clients.

The core tenets of our work are oppression analysis, learning theory, and coaching for change. Creating equity requires an understanding of the creation of systemic oppression, as well as the way well-intentioned individuals perpetuate inequities through cultural schema and implicit bias. In order to interrupt biases and inequities, you must understand how human brains learn and grow over time. In this work, the brains of both children and adults must be understood and supported. To provide that support, we believe in using a coaching approach as our primary intervention for provoking change and sustaining new practices over time.

The Equity Collaborative has significant professional experience in leadership for educational equity and social justice. Our methodology allows leaders to bring multiple perspectives together toward a shared language and vision. We believe that culture drives performance, and that taking on the difficult challenge of addressing inequality requires a significant cultural transformation for any organization that is not yet openly discussing the intersections of systemic oppression and community political realities.

Working with Schools and School Districts

To improve student performance, schools and school districts must create a strong change management plan that builds teacher capacity around curriculum, assessment, and instructional design, as well as leader and coach capacity to support teachers in these areas. Unfortunately, most school systems are not well equipped for this transition. Departments are siloed and fragmented. Collaboration time is bounded and inadequate. And even when they’re together, teachers often lack the sense of a team identity and the habits of meaningful collaboration that lead to real improvement.

The Equity Collaborative brings particular expertise in fostering cultures of collaboration and inquiry while designing structures that promote these habits of mind and work. We move beyond a traditional, external professional-development-provider model. We work shoulder-to-shoulder with organizational leaders to design and lead sustainable structures for change. We support leaders to identify, incubate, and scale effective approaches to teaching and learning, including

  • the codification of an integrated approach to instructional methodology, Responsiveness to Instruction, and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports through an equity-based framework,
  • a culture of professional development that fosters educators’ intrinsic motivation to change and promotes collaboration and data-driven inquiry, and
  • a collaborative approach to engaging parent and community support that will complement changes within the district.

Working with Youth Development Organizations

Youth development organizations often share common goals of assisting marginalized youth and their families. Because of the demographics of staff and board members, most organizations must develop an approach for working effectively across racial, cultural, and class-based differences. Many organizations also often feel limited in their ability to help clients because of the inflexibility of larger systems (schools, child welfare, workforce development, etc.). The most effective organizations combine their direct service work with effective systemic advocacy. In other words, they help individuals while also changing the world. Here’s what we bring to the table:

  • a reflective approach to working across lines of difference,
  • helping marginalized people have access to mainstream power and resources,
  • re-centering organizational culture around the youth and families served rather than donors and volunteers, and
  • a collaborative approach to engaging youth and parent voices that will assist with efforts to advocate for systemic change.