Building Inclusion

WITSTeachers

  • School: Brentano Math & Science Academy
  • Text: Everyday SEL in Elementary School by Carla Tantillo Philbert 
  • Group Members: Stephanie Arce, Hannah Dreher-Siefkes, Kelly Dugan, Daisy Lopez, Vy Nguyen, Study Group Leader; Nicole Sandoval, Katherine Schuler 
  • Goal: To build inclusion not only into our teaching practice, but also into our classroom libraries and curricula. 

Synopsis

Brentano is quickly becoming a very diverse school. Not only racially, but also by class, prevelance of LGBTQ families, and our diverse learning student body. We want to work as teachers to build inclusion not only into our teaching practice, but also into our classroom libraries and curriculums as well. We hope that all students will be able to see themselves (mirrors) in the literature and what they are learning. We also hope to use literature as windows for students to be exposed to other experiences outside of their own. It has been a two year journey reading about the importance of inclusive texts to validate our study group goal. We spent the first year compiling research and book lists that met our criteria of “inclusive texts” and the second year delving deeply into the texts, using them in our classrooms, and deciding what books to keep using within our curriculum and which ones to switch; this will remain an ongoing process for our teachers.

In addition to the inclusive texts, this school year we aimed to flush out conversations about these texts with SEL components. As a catalyst for this idea, we used the reference text Everyday SEL In Elementary School by Carla Tantillo Philbert. The text was used as a tool to explore, affirm, and align SEL practices across our various grade bands. Through using the text, we were able to identify where our school currently is in order to define the direction we want our school to head. With the current events of schools closing due to Covid-19, we’ve begun thinking about next steps for our school and that would be how we teach SEL practices in a natural and organic way where practices are taught directly to students and then become routine without cutting 40 minutes into an academic instructional block. Once these skills are learned, how do we support our students and families to transfer these skills from the school setting to the home setting. During this time of crisis, we hope that our students can utilize SEL practices from the classroom to self-soothe during moments of stress and high anxiety.

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