What makes a community ideal for learning and growing?

Yes, you are going to hear me ask this question over and over again ‒ answering this question successfully will make a positive difference for our students, and in Lower School, it is guiding our decision making and planning.

One of the most critical factors in establishing an ideal learning community is the ability to have open, honest, and respectful conversations.  People need to have the confidence that they belong to a community where their thoughts and opinions matter, and where they have the opportunity to discuss their joys and concerns with other members of the community.

I have joys and concerns related to the topics of diversity and inclusivity, and I would like to invite you to join me in the conversation ‒ this post is a just a start to that conversation.

I strongly believe that in order to “nurture individual potential and prepare students to thrive in a complex and interdependent world,”  the Ravenscroft community will not only need to represent a diverse student, faculty, and staff population, but it will also need to be inclusive for all its members.

What’s the difference between a diverse community and an inclusive community?

Diversity relates to a group of people that represent a variety of differences in experiences.  Those experiences can include but are not limited to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, disabilities, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.

Becoming a diverse community isn’t enough when you are striving to create an ideal learning community.

Inclusivity relates to how the group of diverse people live and work together. An inclusive community is one where all members interact positively with each other regardless of the differences that exist. The differences are celebrated and valued, and the different perspectives are what makes the community united and strong.

My joy is that Ravenscroft is becoming more and more diverse each year. My concern is that I am not sure everyone is talking openly about the increased diversity, and I am not sure everyone feels comfortable with the thought or desire to talk at all. And that’s okay, which is why I am speaking first and asking can we talk, think, and share together on what we all need to be doing to ensure we remain an inclusive community that has a true understanding and appreciation of the different experiences?

In Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book Can We Talk About Race?, she discusses what she calls the ABC’s of creating inclusive learning environments:

A ‒ Affirming Identity (students need to see themselves in the environment, curriculum, among faculty and staff, and in the faces of their classmates)

B ‒ Building Community (creating a school community in which everyone has a sense of belonging and where there are shared norms and values as well as a sense of common purpose)

C ‒ Cultivating Leadership (the role of education in preparing citizens for active participation in a democracy and the assumption that leadership must come from all parts of the community)

The book focuses specifically on race and ethnicity when referencing the ABC’s, but I see the value in all three aspects when thinking about all types of diversity. I encourage you to read Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book, and I hope you will continue this conversation with me and other members of the Lower School on Tuesday, November 13, 8:00-9:00 a.m. in the Lower School Seminar Room for what I hope will be the first of many Community Conversations.

The first question I want us to consider together is:

Can we talk about race and ethnicity and the impact it has on a person’s experience here at Ravenscroft?

 Image fromhttp://vannw.org/professional-gatherings/join-us-for-the-may-professional-gathering/attachment/conversations-2/

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