Resources and vetted information to help you better connect with your students
Like you, we try our best to make equity a seamless part of everything we do. In fact, it’s one of our five core values — one around which we center our work and ourselves on a daily basis. But what does equity mean to you, our fellow student supporters and education advocates? And how does it play out in the day-to-day work we all do with learners?
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to continue the conversations around the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging — conversations that help define the real impact we can make on our learners. In this capacity, we’d like to share some of the things we’ve been working on, along with key takeaways. By spotlighting the things we’ve been doing, the hope is that you will be able to connect this work to the ways you think about equity in your own work.
Illustrating the concept of equity, equality and justice
One way we think critically about the role of equity in our student support work is in the context of equality and justice. As we have thought about and explored the relationship of these concepts, we have come across graphic representations of the differences between equality, equity and justice — but we want to see a representation of these themes in the context of education and student support. So our team at InsideTrack created our own illustration, as shown below throughout the process, we concepted, collaborated, revised, reimagined, and committed ourselves to curiosity and respect for the mission, learners and partners we serve.
Though no graphic captures the full essence of this topic, the thoughtful conversations and considerations that went into the creation of this graphic are emblematic of the work we strive to do every day as student supporters and education leaders. The way we talk about equity and justice matters. The way we include voices from around our organizations and institutions matters. Being mindful of power dynamics in every conversation matters. Just having these conversations matters. Let’s keep those conversations going.
What does equity mean to you?
That’s a question we put out to our entire organization, asking for submissions from anyone willing to share their thoughts. And share they did. Not surprisingly, our staff had a diverse range of definitions and takes on the word — much like the students we support do. Different learners have different perspectives on what an equitable education looks like for them. Take a listen as a handful of InsideTrack staff members express what equity means to them, in their own words.
Equity resources at the ready
Knowing that our equity journey is an ever-evolving work in progress, we ask ourselves a couple of key questions when finding and sharing resources. Do these resources have a bias? If so, how do we address those biases? As a student support professional, you can consider doing the same by thinking about the students you serve. How do you go about selecting the resources you share, recognizing your own internal biases in the process? With that in mind, here is a brief list of resources we’ve found useful in helping us ask these questions of ourselves — and could serve as further exploration paths to help you navigate your journey to advance equity in education.
- The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change by Michelle MiJung Kim delves into the complexities so often left out of mainstream diversity and inclusion conversations.
- Use Your Difference to Make a Difference: How to Connect and Communicate in a Cross-Cultural World by Tayo Rockson offers a cultural competence guide of strategies for embracing differences in a way that fosters connection.
- The following articles are impactful in thinking about our word choices: The ABCs of L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ by Michael Gold, Offensive Words and Phrases To Stop Using And What To Say Instead by Thesaurus.com, and Stop Mindlessly Using the Word “Crazy” by Bridget Yu, to name a few.
- Getting Called Out: How to Apologize by Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh) offers guidance on how to apologize effectively when you misstep (which will inevitably happen as we are all human) in this 8-minute video.
- Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable by Luuvie Ajayi Jones encourages folks to lean into discomfort to disrupt harmful systems in this 10-minute video.
- The Upgrade Accessibility Instagram page amplifies communication about disability rights and equity.
Another crucial element in taking the steps to digest equity resources is to think about cultural competence and humility. Being aware of a student’s background is important, but so is having the humility to not assume that you know everything — or assume they’re experiencing challenges based on identities. The best course is to let students tell you about their lived experiences themselves.
Learning to check your biases in supporting students
Everyone has some kind of implicit bias. Rather than pretend to be “unbiased,” our coaches work to recognize, understand and check their biases when they’re working one-on-one with students. As a result, coaches can direct students to the resources that will ultimately help them work through their barriers and succeed. In a recent Equity In Coaching blog post, we shared three stories where a learner and a coach both came to the table with different lived and learned experiences.
How did an equity-first approach make a difference for these InsideTrack coaches — and their students? For Greig, it was a matter of understanding the real reason his student kept interrupting their sessions to speak with someone else. For Micah, it was trying a new communication channel to get his student to feel comfortable enough to share her story. And for Colleen, it was a moment of transparency to keep the focus on her student after he shared a vulnerable perspective. Their examples demonstrate how using an equity-first approach helped them stay learner-centered in response to a non-academic situation.
A long-term commitment to equity
Our work on the road to understanding the nuances of an equitable and just education landscape is and will always be ongoing. One thing we’ve learned is that tangible change in our lives as colleagues, learner supporters and education advocates happens when we have these conversations. Having these conversations allows us to delve into the details of how, why and where we talk about equity in education – and where we have room to grow.
As we continue these practices, we aim to weave diversity, equity and inclusion into the details of the work we do every day. Progress can be made in the way we think, words we speak and the processes we create. The journey is long, winding, necessary and rewarding. We invite you to join us.
Looking for tips to strengthen your student support through an equity lens? Our Senior Director of Learning & Development, Megan Breiseth, shares four practices to advance equity and take a holistic approach to updating DEI practices.LEARN MORE