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Blog

DEIJ at EB

Christopher Colebourn
This school year, EB launched its four-year Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Strategic Plan.
This school year, EB launched its four-year Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Strategic Plan. The goal of the plan is to ensure that our policies and practices are geared towards guaranteeing a welcoming, inclusive and just school environment for all our community members, but especially for our students. Daily, we strive to live up to our mission and core values. 

One important piece in aligning our strategic goals with the needs of our community, is to engage in a school-wide self-assessment using the National Association of Independent Schools’ (NAIS) Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM). This process will happen in two parts and will involve students, parents, faculty, staff, administration, trustees and alumni. 

On February 18, six different Discovery Committees (focus groups) will be meeting for the first time to answer questions regarding specific topics: Policy and Administration; Admissions, including Tuition Assistance; Faculty/Teacher; Teaching and Learning; Student Life; and Parent/Guardian/Caregiver Involvement. These committees are composed of representatives from each of EB’s constituencies. Each Discovery Committee will produce a report where they identify key strengths and areas for growth and development and recommendations. The results from these Discovery Groups will be compiled by the AIM Steering Committee and shared with the EB community. 

The second component to this self-assessment will be an online Climate Survey. Starting March 1 until March 21, 2022, all of our EB constituents (including students grades 4 and up) will be invited to answer a series of questions that will help us gather information on EB’s climate. The results assist us in assessing and planning DEIJ initiatives, as well as continuing to build and sustain a welcoming and inclusive school community. Together with the findings from the Discovery Committees, we’ll be able to identify our strengths from which we will continue to build on, as well as areas of growth on which we need to focus. 

We will be hosting a virtual informational meeting regarding the Climate Survey on Thursday, March 3, 2022 at 4 pm

Black History Month at EB in SEL
 
February is Black History Month and our SEL Coach Christopher Colebourn has used the opportunity to share information, introduce concepts, and discuss many themes with our students.

For Grades 3-5:
In order to open up the dialogue to talk about black history, joy, and culture, Christopher started a four-part lesson with the introduction of the book and video Let The Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson. This is a real account of a child who marched (with many other children) against the Jim Crow laws that kept Black and white people separated in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Students discussed what brave Black people and children could accomplish by letting their voices be heard and they also spoke about the importance of coming from a place of love, not hatred when protesting. Everyone can learn so much from the eloquence, bravery, and clarity of these children who marched for justice so long ago. (You can watch the video too!)
 
The lesson continued with learning about the Civil Rights Movement and how laws were passed to help move America in the direction of equality. However, it’s important for students to understand that not everything has changed, hence the start and continuation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Christopher shared the principles of Black Lives Matter (posted in the hall across from the library) and described how many of its tenets align with EB’s SEL program and school philosophies like: empathy, globalism, loving engagement, Restorative Justice, LGBT+ affirming, etc. 

For the next two weeks, the focus will be on black joy, black culture, and black talent. Christopher plans to emphasize the importance of black diversity and that Black people are not a monolith. The focus this week will be on Black musical artists—students will watch child-appropriate sections of the following videos and then discuss the artists, the music, and the feelings the music and visuals evoke and the time in history from which they came. Discussions will be touched on through the lens of SEL. The artists that will be discussed are:

  • Miles Davis Jazz 1959
  • Grace Jones Electronic Dance/Pop/Disco 1981
  • Erykah Badu ft Common Hip Hop 2002
  • Kelsey Lu Classical/R&B/Folk 2017
Next week will be Black poets like Amanda Gorman (watch a video), writers and athletes. To open up a discussion about race and racism, Christopher touched on the experience of mistreatment, what we can do to be allies, and what we can improve here at EB.

For Grades K-2:
Whenever Christopher speaks to our K-G2 students about the subject of Black History or Black Lives Matter, it’s always in regards to how we treat one another, the importance of self-worth and pride, and having empathy for others who may have been treated unfairly based on their appearance or personality. This enables the subject matter to be fully understood and then applied to classroom and playground time. 

Christopher first presented Let The Children March and the themes of the book touching on the need for change and the importance of “people power.” He connected the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter and the need to continue the legacy of equality for all. The next lesson focused on bias, race and racism, identity, and self-esteem. The book Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o was used to illustrate these very important topics and how they affect our entire community. (Watch the video here)

Students had a lengthy discussion afterwards, opening up deeply about their personal experiences. They spoke about the idea of beauty and self-worth coming from the mind and heart, not from physical appearance; creating a safe and comfortable space for sharing is a key part of our SEL classes. Students also talked about the importance of using I statements and using their voice confidently when others treat us poorly. If this method doesn't work, we tell the children to go to an adult to help with the matter. Students also talked about what it means to be an ally or an upstander and if we see a classmate getting teased, to help them right away. The children are able to grasp some of these more complex themes through the format of storytelling with a discussion afterwards. 

At EB, we want to talk about themes around the Civil Rights movement and Black Lives Matter at a young age because it allows them to understand the truth about our collective American history, and gives them the language to discuss it. We believe that this process empowers them to act when they see something wrong, and helps bring about positive change. It’s very important to talk about race and racism early, not only to help children articulate what they might be feeling and experiencing, but also to prevent the mistreatment of others, ensuring the practice of  anti-racism.
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Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley does not exclude from participation in, deny the benefits of, or subject any individual to discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin. This policy applies to all programs, services, and facilities, including applications, admissions, and employment.