Our clients ask us how to send a message to a learning community that inclusion is a part of the fabric of the institution. It’s a loaded question and it requires an intentional approach to every day actions. You really can’t overlook the power of subtle messaging and how it creates a theme that diversity is embraced and equity is a mainstay of the learning environment.
Begin by doing a physical audit of your facilities.
1. What kinds of pictures and art are hanging in your buildings?
2. What are your educational values and are they posted for all to see?
3. Do you have various languages that represent your student composition posted – bilingual signage?
4. Are rules of behavior posted in the school?
5. What kind of food do you serve at parent meetings?
6. What is on the menu for children at lunch?
7. What kinds of pictures are on your website?
8. What kinds of pictures are in print materials?
9. Do you post a welcome sign in various languages in the main office? In the main entryway?
10. Are all of your facilities accessible?
Create an “Equity Team”.
Ask for volunteers from your school to engage in a physical equity walk. If you have a representative team that looks at these questions (teachers, maintenance staff, clerical, administration, students), you will create a group of ambassadors that can make change and bring things to your attention.
Make a To Do List
Once you uncover change items, make a list. Some of the issues may be more challenging to fix, in terms of time and funding. Others may be quick fix items that you can take care of immediately.
Here are Some Things that You Can Do Right Away!
1. Send out a cultural education email to your staff each week to help them to become more culturally competent. Do the same for students. Watch for our new resource: “Inclusion in an Instant” that is coming out soon. This toolkit will be a difference maker for school leaders.
2. Post passive education posters around your school. Involve your students in making inclusion posters with a contest or use our White Board Passive Education Series to provide a poster for each classroom.
3. Create a backside for your name badges so that your team is a walking testimony to your commitment to inclusion, as a school. Try out our Equity Badge Cards as a way to hit the ground running.