• Jim Mercer

SamTastic Weekly Tip: 6/22/20 - Fairness Requires Introspection

This week’s tip: Fairness Requires Introspection

SAM teams do a lot of reflection. Using TimeTrack to examine work completed, next steps and the impact on teaching and learning takes place in the SAM Daily Meeting.

The most effective SAM teams practice introspection, too. Introspection, the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes, can lead to surprising and important discoveries that can make a significant difference for their school community.

Considering feedback from staff, students and parents, even when it is not something you think is accurate, allows you to be better at serving as a leader. Examining your own feelings can lead to positive change.

Read how one school leader used introspection effectively:

As I was doing my morning hallway supervision, a teacher called me over to where she was berating a black male student about his pants. She ordered me to take him to the discipline office, where I could “fix him.” Those were her actual words, and I flinched, but still I had to follow through. I cocked my head at him and offered a sheepish smile that said, “Sorry, Marcus. I gotta take you. You broke a rule.” The smile must have done the trick, because he took a deep breath, straightened the books in his arms, and followed me. As we walked down the hallway, he began pointing out other boys with sagging pants.

All of the other boys were white. They were walking around, free to go about as they wished. “Are you gonna get him, too, or is it just me?” he asked. “What about him? He’s sagging. I don’t see anybody asking him to pick up his pants.” The hallway was the longest one we had in the building, and by the time we reached the discipline office he had pointed out four other boys, all white, wearing their pants in the same way. No teacher had stopped them.

As hard as it was for me to admit, Marcus was right. Here was a policy that was written into our handbook, but the consequences for breaking it were not equitable for all students. I looked around and realized that the other teachers in the hallway were either ignoring the white boys who were sagging or were engaged in conversations with them. Not one of them stopped me the way the first one did to tell me to take those boys to the discipline office.

The author, Kelly Wickham Hurst, was an assistant principal. To read the entire article, click the title: “Biased Discipline at My School” Edutopia, December 7, 2016. Kelly is now the Executive Director of a non-profit advocacy group, Being Black at School.

Introspection is hard work. Listening, feeling and seeking to understand leads to improved schools and better lives for students, staff and school communities.

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