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LOCS staff members learn, discuss in Diversity Book Club

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Lake Orion Community Schools staff members are using the summer months to continue their own education.

The LOCS Diversity Book Club is part of the district's Diversity, Inclusion and Equity program and held its first meeting on July 15 to discuss the book "“Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain.”

Led by DEI coordinator Michelle Cureton and committee members Michelle Russell, Jennifer Nicks and Jennifer Carpas, more than 20 staff members participated in the conversation in person at Scripps Middle School and online via Zoom.

The goal from Cureton: "To think about how we’re showing up for kids and what we’re doing in the classroom."

Coming to the program from different district schools and roles, the group began by finding their links, discovering something in common.

The book discussion centered on four chapters:

  • Climbing out of the (achievement) gap
  • What's culture got to do with it?
  • This is your brain on culture
  • Preparing to be a culturally responsive teacher 

A few conversation points from each discussion:

Achievement gap

-- The need to consider culturally and linguistically diverse students

-- Considering cognitive theory instead of beginning with implicit bias, which allows for each individual student to be considered and starting the focus with a positive mindset

 

Culture

-- Understanding there are three levels of culture (surface, shallow, deep) and two cultural archetypes (collectivism and individualism.)

-- Processing where each student fits within the different levels and archetypes and understanding that informs their learning process. That allows the staff member to be mindful of the instruction for the various students.

 

Brain

-- There are three layers to the brain and the third (neocortex) is where learning takes place.

-- A lesson: Teachers cannot know a student is ready to learn just by looking at them. They need to understand the factors that prepare them to learn.

-- The process involves teaching kids the skills to self regulate by understanding how their brain works (e.g. middle school facial expressions don't always reflect the student's thought process) and the impact of mindfulness preparing to learn.

 

Culturally Responsive Teaching

-- It's not an engagement strategy, it's a way of looking at the world.

-- The inside work: developing right mindset, engaging in self reflection, checking implicit biases, practicing social emotional awareness 

-- Making sure a student is feeling seen and heard, cared for as a learner 

-- Recognizing implicit bias

-- Know who you are before interact with others and avoid the negativity bias to prevent spreading toxic emotions

-- Practicing social emotional self management 

-- Being reflective instead of reactionary

 

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