Everywhere I turn, now, I see the topics of trauma, restorative practice, and liberatory pedagogy, like mushrooms springing up in the deadwood and the decay of the factory model of education. I also see fear – of culturally responsive teaching, critical race theory, and even social emotional learning. The most neutral way to describe it is as a conversation about values. At Sound Discipline, we are in that conversation, about values, and about how to go deeper and be braver, how to show up with a vision that is big and powerful enough to meet this moment and accelerate change.
Externally, we convened five We Belong & Matter Community Conversations, culminating in our “Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline” event. Hundreds of people from within and beyond education, and from around the world, showed up to connect, learn, and draw strength from shared reimagining of a future grounded in our shared humanity.
Internally, Sound Discipline is a year into a process of redefining our identity and our promise to the world. We expect to unveil a new name and brand that reflect that promise in the fall. Meanwhile, we’re moving forward to bring you the kind of professional development and learning experiences that allow you to ground in all you’ve experienced and are experiencing, to recenter on your purpose, and to connect with others who are on learning journeys as educators and caregivers in a time of great tumult, pain, exhaustion, and hope for something worthy of us.
Our newest workshop – Rooted Relationships: Growing Equitable Classroom Communities is one example of that.
Before the pandemic, everyone would of course agree that relationships are important for learning. During the pandemic, we got to experience relationships interrupted, disrupted, and thwarted by prolonged isolation and the challenges of remote learning. Post pandemic, we are getting to experience what it’s like to confront the fallout from that; when a child starting second grade never attended kindergarten or 1st grade in person, or when a student does not know who their teacher might be from day to day as staffing shortages play out. Of all the tools and approaches educators and schools might try, all of them come down to one thing. Relationships. As one school leader put it, “We are focused on safety. For kids to be safe, they need their basic needs to be met. Relationships are a basic need.”
What makes relationships rooted? And what does this have to do with equitable classroom communities? Relationships are rooted through meaning; that I matter to this other person, that the other person sees me and understands my story, that my identity is respected, and I have a voice, influence, and agency. Those kinds of relationships are not binary or hierarchical. They are collaborative and mutual. They are not a means to an end – like getting a student to behave so you can do your lesson – but intrinsically transformative. They change everything.
What is the science, what are the principles and values, and what are the tools and approaches that allow you to put your values into practice in your classroom, your school, your community? Check out Rooted Relationships on June 21 & 22 and get a jump on your planning for the next school year. Let’s have a conversation about what you’re yearning for in your school community.
Andrea John Smith is the Executive Director of Sound Discipline