Equity in Education: Building Belonging in Classrooms 

Equity Definition

Equity is a dynamic and deeply intentional practice rooted in justice, creativity,  inclusivity, and belonging. It is about dismantling existing barriers and cultivating spaces where every individual has the support and opportunity to thrive, irrespective of their starting point, position in society, or lived experience. This involves recognizing the unique histories, obstacles , and strengths that each person brings to the table, and actively adjusting resources and opportunities to address these disparities. Equity, in this context, is not just a goal but an ongoing process of engagement and reflection, ensuring that all voices are heard, valued, and have agency in the creation of a more just and balanced society. It demands a societal and individual commitment to continuous learning and unlearning, pushing beyond traditional norms to reimagine systems that genuinely serve everyone.

What is Equity in Education?

Equity in education refers to ensuring that every student has access to the resources, opportunities, and educational support they need to succeed, regardless of their background, identity, or socioeconomic status. This concept moves beyond the premise of equality—where all students are given the same resources—to acknowledge that different students have different needs and barriers to success. Equity in education strives to identify and remove these barriers, aiming for an educational landscape where all students can achieve their full potential.

Equity vs Equality in Education

In striving for equality in education, we recognize that everyone deserves equal opportunities. However, achieving true equality necessitates a commitment to equity. This means acknowledging the disparities in earned and unearned advantages different people receive based on their cultural contexts. By focusing on equity, we aim to provide the necessary resources and support that learners require to access the opportunities often reserved for those within society's dominant culture. This approach helps bridge the gap, ensuring all community members thrive equally.

Leadership for Educational Equity

Leading for educational equity is an active stance that requires courage, empathy, and a commitment to systemic change. It means stepping into roles with a vision that transcends conventional educational frameworks to foster environments where every student, regardless of their background, can access high-quality learning experiences. This form of leadership involves cultivating a deep understanding of the historical and structural inequities that influence educational outcomes and working collaboratively within and beyond one’s sphere of influence to dismantle those barriers. It demands a readiness to challenge the status quo, to innovate pedagogically, and to prioritize relationships and community wisdom. Leaders for equity are facilitators and advocates who not only address immediate disparities but also nurture inclusive cultures that celebrate diversity and promote sustained growth and healing.

Core Ideas to Build Equity in Education

Reflective and Inclusive Practices

Equity in education requires reflective practice. We advocate for all educators to constantly question biases and assumptions that are an established mechanic or function of the brain.  These biases are formed within all humans through conscious and unconscious cultural norms and expectations. Frameworks for equity, such as The Core Four can help educators navigate foundational concepts that are necessary for building an equity stance.  Our methodology underlines the necessity of inclusive language and structures that recognize and meet the diverse needs of students in terms of gender, culture, ethnicity, ability, race, age, and socio-economics.

Embracing Complexity and Cultural Relevance

The use of a culturally responsive pedagogical stance centers humanity in its wide range of expressions. This approach aligns with the idea that education should reflect the diverse realities and histories of all students, not just the dominant narrative. It's about making learning relevant and affirming  students' identities and experiences. It is also deeply rooted in how the human mind works and centers what is culturally experienced across the globe.  Humans learn best through story, movement, games/patterns, music, and repetition. These modes of artistry activate a higher potentiality for knowledge acquisition. 

Democratizing Learning Through the Arts

As educators we can esteem to emphasize the power of the arts to democratize learning and promote equity. By making learning visible and engaging students in the creative process, educators can facilitate deeper connections to the material and offer diverse paths to understanding​.  Learn more about how to center the arts.

Building More Equitable Learning Experiences

Start with Self-reflection

Educators should begin by examining their own biases and understanding how these might affect their interactions with and expectations of students. This ongoing process of self-reflection is crucial for creating a learning environment that supports all students equitably.

Create Culturally Responsive Curriculum

Incorporate a curriculum that uses the science of learning centered on the mechanics of how our brains build and encode new information.  With the knowledge that our brains are built on culture, we can tend to  the diverse range of learners in our classrooms by focusing on the acquisition of knowledge through the arts (a  primary way we engage and retain information as human beings). Incorporating the arts  involves selecting materials and designing lessons that recognize and value students' backgrounds and  developing a keen intersectional understanding of individuals.  Embodying an orientation designed to foster a sense of belonging and respect in the classroom is done through ongoing reflective development of the teacher-self. 

Nurture an Inclusive Environment

By integrating culturally relevant pedagogies and ensuring accessibility, the learning environment acts as a teacher that respects and values the lived experiences of all students​. This means adapting spaces to cater to various learning styles and needs, making learning accessible to everyone, and enriching the curriculum with materials that celebrate students beyond dominant narratives held in education. 

Creating a reflective and inclusive learning environment involves more than just physical arrangements—it's about fostering a space that reflects and respects the diverse cultural backgrounds and identities of every student​​. This includes the careful selection of materials and resources that mirror the diverse world students navigate daily, ensuring that every child sees themselves represented in the classroom.

Engage in Community and Family Collaboration

Work closely with communities and families to understand the specific needs, cultural orientations and lineages of students. This collaboration can enrich the curriculum and ensure that educational practices are supportive and relevant to students’ lives outside of school.

Practice Equity in Assessment

Adopt assessment methods that fairly evaluate the progress and abilities of all students, recognizing the diverse ways in which students demonstrate understanding and mastery of content. 

In conclusion, equity in education is not just an ideal, but a necessary practice that requires constant reflection, action, and collaboration among educators, students, and communities. By embracing and evolving new insights and approaches,  educators can begin to dismantle the barriers to success that many students face, fostering a more just and equitable educational landscape.

Develop Equity Practices