Equity: A Practical Guide for Educators

Written by Dr. Gail L. Thompson on October 12, 2017

In recent years, “equity” has become a buzz word and popular topic in K-12 schools, higher education, businesses, and even in religious organizations. A common definition is that whereas “equality” results in giving everyone the same thing, “equity” equates to giving individuals what they need.

In schools, equity results in treating all children fairly and insuring that they receive equal access to an outstanding education, while keeping in mind that some children arrive at school needing more academic and socio-emotional support than others.

Although “equity” has become a popular term, many school leaders and teachers are uncertain about how to actually “walk the equity talk.” Some proposed strategies such as making schools and classrooms a welcome and safe place where all students can thrive academically; using positive behavior strategies that are based on relationship-building; making the curriculum interesting, relevant, and culturally responsive are well-received. Yet many educators still struggle in their efforts to “operationalize equity.”

For these reasons, I have created “An Equity Affirmation for Educators,” which I hope you will find useful.

Mindsets & Beliefs

I believe that:

  1. ___ all students can learn regardless of their background.
  2. ___ all students should have equal access to an outstanding education regardless of their race/ethnicity, parents/guardians, socioeconomic status, home life, gender, sexual orientation, or the community in which they live.
  3. ___ I have a professional obligation to provide all of my students, regardless of background, with equal access to an outstanding education.
  4. ___ all students deserve to be treated fairly regardless of their race/ethnicity, parents/guardians, socioeconomic status, home life, gender, sexual orientation, or the community in which they live.

Treatment of Students

I will:

  1. ___ treat all students fairly regardless of their race or ethnicity.
  2. ___ treat all students fairly regardless of their socioeconomic background.
  3. ___ treat all students fairly regardless of who their parents/guardians are.
  4. ___ treat all students fairly regardless of whether or not their parents/guardians attend school functions or behave as I want them to.
  5. ___ treat all students fairly regardless of what other educators have told me about them.
  6. ___ treat all students fairly regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
  7. ___ treat all students fairly regardless of whether they are high achievers, average achievers, or low-achievers.
  8. ___ treat all students fairly regardless of the community in which they live.
  9. ___ refuse to engage in racial profiling.
  10. ___ strive to build positive professional relationships with students.
  11. ___ make an effort to “catch students being good” and compliment each student at least one time per week.
  12. ___ provide parents/guardians with a balanced (positives and areas of improvement needed) perspective of students.
  13. ___ strengthen my assertiveness skills, if necessary.

Classroom Management

I will:

  1. ___ make sure that all students know and understand my class rules, starting on the first day of school.
  2. ___ make sure that all students know and understand my expectations for behavior and performance.
  3. ___ not abuse my power.
  4. ___ praise each student a minimum of one time each week.
  5. ___ make sure that all students feel safe in my classroom.
  6. ___ make sure that I treat all students respectfully and that students treat one another respectfully in my classroom.
  7. ___ make every effort to keep students in class and not send them to the office unless it is absolutely necessary.
  8. ___ treat all students as I would want to be treated if I were in their situation.
  9. ___ have a “Zero Tolerance” policy for negative name-calling and bullying in my classroom.
  10. ___ ask other teachers and school leaders for help and advice when needed.
  11. ___ apologize to students when I make a mistake.

Instruction & Assessment

I will:

  1. ___ provide extra assistance to struggling students through individualized instruction (i.e., by myself, peer tutoring), differentiated learning activities, and/or other methods.
  2. ___ make the curriculum interesting.
  3. ___ make the curriculum culturally relevant/responsive.
  4. ___ give students opportunities to collaborate on assignments with their classmates.
  5. ___ give students extra credit options.
  6. ___ permit students to make up assignments.
  7. ___ teach test-taking strategies.
  8. ___ encourage students to share their experiences and views during class discussions, presentations, and in writing assignments.
  9. ___ use multiple ways (e.g., tests, quizzes, individual projects, group projects, writing assignments, oral presentations, debates, mock trials) to assess student learning.
  10. ___ make every effort to spend the bulk of my time with students on instruction instead of on discipline.
  11. ___ find opportunities to display each student’s work in the classroom.
  12. ___ use storytelling, current events, and/or other teaching strategies to build resiliency in students, teach conflict resolution skills, teach critical thinking skills, and make the curriculum culturally relevant.

Treatment of Parents & Guardians

I will:

  1. ___ treat all parents/guardians respectfully regardless of their gender, race, primary language, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation.
  2. ___ provide parents/guardians with a balanced perspective of their child.
  3. ___ not wait until a situation has gotten out of control before contacting parents/guardians.
  4. ___ treat all parents/guardians as allies instead of as adversaries.
  5. ___ be receptive to feedback from parents/guardians.

Extended Professional Development

I will:

  1. ___ make every effort to identify my mindsets, beliefs, fears, biases, and behaviors that will impede my progress with students.
  2. ___ use “Cognitive Restructuring” to address my mindsets, beliefs, fears, behaviors, and biases that will impede my progress with students.
  3. ___ work on my personal and professional growth in order to become an outstanding educator of all students on a regular basis.
  4. ___ hold myself accountable for all of the above statements by doing the following (fill in your own statements):
    1. [Fill in]
    2. [Fill in]
    3. [Fill in]

Signature: ___________________    Date: _______________


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