"Getting Centered—Adapting to Diversity Through Supportive and Shared Conditions" Chapter Eight (Lindsey et al, 2009)
—Ladson-Billings, 2005, p.19
The above quote by Ladson-Billings holds true in many school environments. Given this if educators create a school climate and culture that embraces diversity, this may become the new normal rather than something those who are different must conform to. Yet, how do schools adapt to the needs of students and family rather than the other way around? At my own school site I find it more and more the case that the school is adapting to the needs of the students rather than students adapting to school needs. If schools cannot adapt, they lose students. This was our experience. For example, for budgetary reasons, we eliminated many of our advanced placement courses. As a result, some of our students chose to attend another school.
Currently, schools adapt to student needs in many ways such as providing course offerings, support and services for students with special needs, for English Language Learners, and for students from a poor socio-economic background. In terms of staff, professional learning communities provide support structures such as common prep or planning time for schools to better meet student needs. Finding creative ways for professional learning communities to come together can however be challenging with budgetary issues.
1) Before schools can adapt to diversity, they need to first recognize that school communities are composed of many groups and what groups are included.
2) Groups are becoming more visible than in the past because of accountability requirements like the LCAP (It is not the case that we’ve had an increase of new groups only greater recognition of existing groups).
3) The growing importance of data collection to drive change in schools.
1) “Learning about new cultural groups of students should be the core of what we do as educators” (p.100).
2) “The perceived, ‘new groups’ of students that have emerged because of accountability processes are not so new after all” (p.100)
3) “Structural factors that provide time, facility, resources, and policies to support collaboration” (103).
1) In what ways do I teach appropriate communication skills to all for multiple perspectives and experiences?
2) How do we as part of a learning community learn about the cultures and histories of the groups of students we have?
3) To what extent and in what ways does the learning community advocate for equity of resources and support services?
Overall, once educators recognize the different groups of students we are serving, we can then come together as a learning community to develop the support services and conditions to better meet the needs of these groups.