The moral imperative behind our work at TIIE has always been equity. It is also the basis of the middle school movement that we hold dear, which originated as a challenge to the status quo of junior high schools. As progressive educators, we promote shifts in education to bring more equitable outcomes, more humane learning spaces, and expanded opportunities for students to analyze and act to bring greater justice to our society.
We promote equity through practices represented in our toolkits such as positive Community and Culture and Identity work for inclusiveness and belonging; Proficiency-Based Education to focus on growth and cross-curricular skills like the Essential Skills and Dispositions; Personalized Learning Plans and Student Led Conferences that enhance student ownership; and engaging pedagogies like Project Based Learning and Service Learning.
And an important shift in the middle school movement over the last decade is the recognition that equity needs to be explicitly centered in order to be effectively pursued. While it may be a driver behind the work, and there are important practices that promote it, equity itself demands to be named, analyzed, researched, learned, taught, and applied. Please see below for some of our favorite blog posts that address equity head-on.
On equity in education and middle school
- On Equity in the Middle School Movement by Life LeGeros
- Traces the expansion of the middle school movement from developmental responsiveness to cultural responsiveness.
- #vted Reads about Equity and Cultural Responsiveness in the Middle School by Jeanie Phillips
- A podcast (and transcript) with Kathleen Brinegar, one of the editors of this research compilation.
- Vermont Education Secretary speaks about equity by Audrey Holmann
- Shares a 2016 speech from former Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe where she connects equity and personalized learning.
- #vted Reads with Alex Shevrin-Venet by Jeanie Phillips
- Podcast (and transcript) of an interview with the author of Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education.
- A Vermont-centric look at personalized learning for social justice by Life LeGeros
- Summarizes several research articles from the Middle Grades Review.
- Unpacking equity in Passion Projects and Genius Hours by Katie Farber
- Examines challenges and strategies for equity within these approaches.
- Rethinking assessment to rebalance education by Life LeGeros
- Considers ways to de-center quantifiable data and focus more on qualitative data and human experience. Draw heavily on ideas from the book Street Data: A Next Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and Transformation.
- Student intervention for anti-racist education by Life LeGeros
- Argues for a tiered system of support for students when learning about antiracism and equity.
Supporting professional learning about equity
- 3 ways to ensure equity is at the heart of your work by Scott Thompson
- Suggestions include equity audits, the Equity Literacy Framework, and examining your own practice.
- Using protocols for equity by Jeanie Phillips
- Rationale and tips for using protocols to strengthen adult learning about equity.
- Getting personal about systemic equity by Life LeGeros
- Describes professional learning in South Burlington School District that asks educators to reflect on their personal relationship to equity and systems.
Culturally Responsive Practices series
- Culturally responsive practices for equity in education by Jeanie Phillips and Life LeGeros
- The culturally responsive learning environment by Jeanie Phillips and Life LeGeros
- Culturally responsive curriculum by design by Jeanie Phillips and Life LeGeros
- Culturally responsive instruction and assessment by Jeanie Phillips and Life LeGeros
Examples of projects with students that center equity
- Equity, identity, and art by Life LeGeros
- Christie Nold’s 6th grade social studies unit. Includes some of Christie’s curriculum materials, interviews with students, and a poetry reading by a student.
- Challenging simplified notions of health equity in the middle grades by Lindsay McQueen
- Lindsay McQueen’s presentation at the 2021 Middle Grades Conference. Includes video and slides from the presentation, slides used with students during the unit, and an example of a student project.
- Flood Brook’s classroom library audit by Flood Brook Middle School
- Middle school students created “bar graphs” by stacking books in different categories. They analyzed the data and developed insightful takeaways.
- Bright spots and belly flops by Sam Nelson
- Sam Nelson reflects on his inquiry question “How can students use social justice as a lens for designing curriculum?” He provides examples of how he and his student planning committee integrated social justice throughout the school year.
- Art for action at Rutland Middle School by Rachel Mark
- Middle schoolers used the UN Global Goals and a tour of social justice art projects in their town to inspire their own creations.
- On fostering brave spaces by Grace Gilmour
- Grace Gilmour’s presentation at the 2021 Middle Grades Conference about a grade 7-8 Humanities unit. Includes video, transcript, description of activities, and student reflections.
- The #everydaycourage of talking about race in Vermont schools by Jeanie Phillips
- Provides resources and tips for talking about race by tracing Christie Nold’s 6th grade student’s learning and actions related to hate speech at their school.