Our Work In Our Schools
Sycamore's CRP Committee has worked to provide meaningful culturally responsive practices professional learning for our staff. Since 2018, our staff participated in professional learning on implicit bias, privilege, poverty, equity literacy, and Speak Up Strategies at School.
Over 400 Sycamore Community Schools teachers and administrators have undergone Culturally Responsive Practices (CRP) training to raise awareness and foster a welcoming environment for all learners and families.
Staff members participated in training and discussions during the first Professional Learning Day of the 2018-2019 school year. The theme for the day was, “Empowering our CommUNITY of Learners.”
Every staff member attended a keynote speech by Ryan Wynett, manager of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center “Open Your Mind: Understanding Implicit Bias” exhibit. All staff was also required to attend a session on privilege and implicit bias led by members of the district’s CRP Team.
Other breakout sessions included:
- Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind
- English Language Simulation & Workshop to Develop Dynamic Accommodations
- Self-Awareness of Biases
- Supporting African American Males in the Classroom
- Movement & Mindfulness for Students with Behavioral and/or Emotional Needs
- Education Systems Around the World
- Students Stressed by Conflicts Due to Culture
- Working with Parents of Students with Special Needs
- Unique Challenges with Students in Foster Care
- Zones of Regulation in the Mainstream Classroom,
- Understanding our LGBTQ+ Students
- Understanding the Religions Around Us
- Understanding the Needs of Gifted Children and Families
- Behavioral Challenges
- Braking Biases: Reducing Bias Through Disrupting Habits
Poverty and Equity Literacy
Following our first Professional Learning Day, the CRP Committee asked staff to identify which areas they felt that the needed additional training. The results showed poverty and equity literacy was an area of major interest for staff. The second Professional Learning Day of 2018-2019 focused on these topics.
Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE)
On April 22, staff members participated in the Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) led by facilitators from Think Tank Inc. The 2.5-hour simulation based on true stories of socio-economically disadvantaged families gave certified staff members a glimpse at some of the difficult decisions they often face. Also captured in the experience was the role that the broader community plays in their interactions with low-income families.
Staff members were given random roles in families with various low-income circumstances. During four 15-minute segments, they simulated a four-week period. Volunteers role played various community and business members, including minimum wage employers, social services, banking services, mortgage and rent, retailers, and the court system. Families had to navigate systems, with limited budgets, lack of transportation and child care.
The goal of the simulation was to build empathy and understanding for families struggling with economic fatigue.
Speak Up at School Stratgies
Sycamore Community Schools utilizes Teaching Tolerance's Speak Up at School strategies to train staff on how to respond when someone—a student, a colleague, even a parent—uses biased language or stereotypes in school.
This guide is has served as our Speak Up framework. It’s for educators who want to develop the skills to speak up themselves and who want to help their students ﬁnd the courage to speak up too.
This guide is for the adults in the school. It offers advice about how to respond to remarks made by students and by other adults and gives guidance for helping students learn to speak up as well. We believe that modeling the kind of behavior we want from students is one of the most effective ways of teaching it.