The ECLC Team
Check out our new ECLC Fall Community Convenings flyer below for details on our drop-in meetings over the next few months, on the third Tuesday of every month from 3:00-4:30pm. All ECLC members across Cohorts 1 and 2 are welcome and no pre-registration is required!
The ECLC Team
Last week, ECLC was profiled in The Gloucester Times by guest columnists Stratton Lloyd and Michelle Xiarhos Curran as an effective approach for addressing the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic upon learning in Essex County. Check out an excerpt here:
For both youth and adult learners, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into a system already burdened by deeply rooted challenges and inequities. The virus didn’t just blow through, damaging the walls of a structure that could easily be rebuilt. Rather, it stormed in like a tornado and exposed the faulty lines of our educational foundation. The pivot to virtual learning has exposed a deep digital divide between those with and without access. Educators, already tapped before the pandemic, are burning out trying to meet the evolving needs of their students while caring for their own health and families. There is the annual “summer slide,” which disproportionately affects economically disadvantaged and minority students. And now there’s “COVID slide,” which some experts predict will be defined by as much as six to 12 months of learning loss, and the “COVID career slide,” which hinders adult learners from pursuing advanced education – and, subsequently, higher wage jobs – because of heightened anxieties about cost.
The good news is that pre-pandemic systems work to start dismantling foundational challenges and inequities across Essex County – work proudly supported by ECCF – continues today. And at its core, this work aims to solve our region’s most pressing issues at their roots, which COVID has so starkly reminded us is crucial if our systems are to be resilient in the future.
Strengthening K-12 by creating a network of support.
When COVID-19 forced the physical closure of public schools, 11 of Essex County’s districts – serving more than 35,000 students – had immediate access to critical resources as members of the first two cohorts of the Essex County Learning Community (ECLC), an intensive, two-year professional development experience funded in large part by the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation. It is aimed at helping local educators better meet the diverse needs of students with learning disabilities, learning and attention issues and exposure to trauma – as well as those who experience systemic bias related to race, ethnicity, language, income and gender.
In the midst of a global pandemic, this work has become more important than ever before. “Our mission has met its moment,” said Jane Feinberg, director of the ECLC.
You can read the full article here, and please share widely with your networks!
Join Our Partner Essex County Community Foundation for Webinar on the Digital Divide in Essex County...
The ECLC Team
STRIVING FOR DIGITAL EQUITY
A report on the challenges and opportunities the Digital Divide presents to Essex County
The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the Digital Divide in Essex County as residents have been forced to transition their lives online. Suddenly, education, healthcare, employment and other critical services are unreachable for those without the means or ability to shift to a fully digital world.
To better understand these challenges and explore real opportunities for equity, ECCF partnered with the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tisch College, Tufts University to produce a baseline analysis of how the Digital Divide impacts each of Essex County’s 34 cities and towns.
YOU ARE INVITED to join ECCF and other local community leaders for a Zoom presentation of the Digital Divide data and learnings.
Together, we will...
YOU ARE A CRITICAL VOICE IN THIS CONVERSATION.
Join us for this special event.
Tuesday, October 20
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
RSVP by October 16
Special thanks to our Corporate Partners for making this event possible.
The ECLC Team
This fall, ECLC's second cohort will embark upon a professional journey around universal design for learning (UDL), an evidence-based framework for inclusive practice. The upcoming UDL Professional Development (PD) Series will be open to ECLC Cohort 2 district participants from Andover, Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School, Hamilton-Wenham, Manchester-Essex, and Saugus Public Schools. The Series is titled "Universal Design for Learning: Managing Change for the Pandemic and Beyond," and will begin on Tuesday, November 10th.
Last year's UDL PD Series for Cohort 1 received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Led by Dr. Gabbie Rapolt-Schlichtmann, Cohort 1 districts worked on reflection around universal design and accessibility for every learner, along with empathy mapping. You can read more about this UDL training experience that our first cohort of districts completed here on the blog.
It seemed ironic to us that legislators and architects were working very hard to ensure that educational buildings were universally acceptable, but no such movement pursued universal accessibility for the methods and materials used inside the buildings--the curriculum.
--David Rose, Founder of Universal Design for Learning
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that is focused on proactive, goal-driven design to support learner variability. UDL recognizes that many learners’ difficulties in the classroom can be attributed to the learning environment, not the learner. When educators design more accessible environments, a much greater number of learners can be successful in the general classroom—whether in a live, hybrid or distance format. With UDL, educators can work smarter, not harder, especially during such a demanding time.
About Our Series
Gabrielle Rapolt-Schlichtmann and Laura Vanderberg, two seasoned learning scientists who specialize in UDL, bring a unique equity lens to the framework. This series will be tailored around the current context, the unique needs of our Cohort 2 schools, and the SEL focus that your districts have chosen as an ECLC theme.
The series will consist of four virtual 2.5-hour sessions over several months, with customized coaching and asynchronous pilot work between sessions. Each district is asked to select a team of 15 participants who will become equipped to help lead the adoption of UDL in the district. Administrators and teachers are encouraged to participate.
Dates: Tuesday 11/10/20, Tuesday 11/24/20, Thursday 12/10/20, and Thursday 1/7/21
Please contact Diana or Emily for more information about registration for Cohort 2 members, at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Month's Summer Institute 2020 a Resounding Success: Visit Conference Site and District Hub for Resources!
On August 4th through 6th, ECLC held its annual Summer Institute virtually for the first time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Also for the first time, we brought together ECLC Cohorts 1 and 2, along with special guests from other districts and partner organizations. Participants were invited to engage around this year’s theme, "Cultivating Belonging and Resilience in Uncertain Times,” which was developed with the challenging pandemic conditions before us and a new virtual world in mind. We want to thank our partners, guest expert faculty, participants, and the ECLC project team for an amazing professional development event full of learning and growth across all three days of Summer Institute. Your contributions allowed us to foster community in new ways on a virtual platform, and this collaboration would not otherwise have been possible without you. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from your evaluations, and we look forward to following up and incorporating your insights from the virtual Summer Institute into our fall lineup of professional development offerings!
If you have not done so already, please visit ECLC’s Summer Institute Conference Website and our District Hub for all Summer Institute resources. Conference-related readings, including recent articles by our guest expert faculty on teaching/learning topics are available through the Conference Website. Slide decks, handouts, and foundational workshop session recordings/transcripts can be found on the District Hub, which is password protected. We ask that you do not share slides outside of ECLC districts without permission from presenters, in order to protect the intellectual property of our guest expert faculty. If you need a password to access the District Hub, please reach out to Emily Wilson, at email@example.com. Last but not least, we invite you to visit the Virtual Goody Bag section of the Summer Institute Conference Website for some curated fun we hope you will enjoy!
Summer greetings ECLC member districts and friends of ECLC! As many of you know, ECLC's newsletter Learning in Community transitioned from a regular monthly format to a weekly digest back in March, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and our efforts to keep in close touch with our member districts.
This summer, we will be transitioning back to a monthly format, and have archived all past weekly and monthly Learning in Community editions from 2019-2020 on ECLC's website so that ECLC members and friends of ECLC can access them!
Please visit this link to view all past editions in PDF format. The next issue of Learning in Community will be published and shared electronically in late July 2020. If you would like to receive our monthly newsletter to your inbox, please contact Emily Wilson, at ewilson [at] fullframecommunications.com to sign up.
Wishing you a safe and healthy summer from ECLC!
The ECLC Team
Please find below a message from Jane Feinberg, Founder/Principal of Full Frame Communications that was recently shared at the ECLC Race, Identity, Systems Exploration (RISE) Series virtual meeting on June 2nd. Jane opened the meeting in response to a Connections Question, ("who are you/where are you?") with the following remarks on the killing of George Floyd:
How are you? Where are you?
At the May 19 session (of Race, Identity, Systems Exploration), my response to the Connections question “how are you, where are you?” was focused on Covid-19, my gratitude for the fact of my privilege—plentiful food, a home, time with my family, and good health—and the keen awareness that People of Color were disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus. Today, it is a virus of a different sort that is commanding my every waking hour: the virus of racism in America that has once again been exposed by the death of George Floyd.
Who are we as a nation that, 400 years after the institution of slavery began in this country, we persist in maintaining the fiction that a Black human being is viewed as less valuable than a White one? Who made these rules and why? Deep down, I think we all know that, at its core, White America’s racial problem is about power and control. Power to call the shots, control over the destiny of others.
The time is long past due for White people to reckon with America’s original sin. Most of us want to do the right thing. Most of us are not “bad racists.”. But all of us breathe the air and drink the water of racism. It is bred in the bone from the time we are born—the invisible assumptions that White is normative and Black and Brown are deviant, the presence of “the other” as a way of securing our own superior position in the social hierarchy. Racism is a social construct created for the purpose of maintaining power and control. Our entire society is structured around this convenient fiction; it denies People of Color their full humanity through policies and practices that are so endemic to the fabric of society that we can’t even see them for what they are: human-created structures that reify and reinforce superiority. And when those very structures choke off opportunity for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, society blames them, the victims, for the predicament White people have created and sustained.
Under these circumstances, the protests that glue us to the television should not surprise us, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said so eloquently: “In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?”
I am usually more measured with my words with White educators because I believe strongly that blame and shame leads no one to learn and grow. But on the heels of the last week in particular, and because I am immersed in studying how race and education intersect, I feel the need to use stronger language today. I am not blaming or shaming any individual for what hangs thickly in the ether; what I am doing is asking you to join me on a journey of righting these wrongs. I have committed to be on this path for the rest of my life, and I invite you to do so as well.
As you know, I was born and reared in Minneapolis, and last Thursday night, I sat glued to CNN, watching my city—and then many other cities—erupt in flames, a long-repressed expression of the pain of not being seen or heard as fully human.
On the one hand, I am relieved that some of the pressure has been released, that what lurked for so long under the surface is out in the open, that “Minnesota Nice” was exposed for its superficiality. Without exposure, racial healing cannot happen. There is no treatment without diagnosis. The infection is ours to heal.
I pray that we use this painful moment in our nation’s history to pause and reflect—and then to act. Let those of us who care deeply about children and families, begin to disrupt the racism that is rampant around us. Let us reach out to our Black, Brown, and Indigenous brothers and sisters—to hold space for them, to listen intently.
I ask that White Americans come to terms with America’s original sin and help other White folks do the same. Neither shame nor blame is needed, but it does mean we must take responsibility for the present and the future. Our job is to expose the social fiction that has been propagated on our and our forefathers’ and foremothers’ watch. Let us correct that narrative together by opening our hearts and minds, by understanding that our own vulnerability and our humility are our greatest assets in righting a 400-year wrong.
The ECLC Team
Please find below a statement from the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE), Full Frame Communications' implementation partner on ECLC.
Dear friends and colleagues,
On behalf of our staff and board of directors, we are deeply saddened, angered and heartbroken by the recent incidents in Minneapolis and throughout the country that exhibit racism and disregard for Black lives.
For the last twenty-five years, the Center for Collaborative Education’s mission has and will continue to be to increase equity and justice in schools and communities. We are fully aware that our anger and sadness is not enough. We denounce these unacceptable acts of racism and stand in solidarity with the countless protesters throughout the country that are practicing civil disobedience against these acts of systemic racism and oppression.
These protests highlight what so many of us know and want: the immediate need for transformative reform in policing, education and community development. Thanks to your support, CCE will continue to work with schools, districts and partners to create more inclusive and caring communities. We will continue to produce and publish research that highlight best practices and models of excellence that increase equity and justice. We will also continue to research and put forth publications that highlight the disparities and adverse impacts of systemic racism. Most important, we will remain resolute in working for positive change with students, parents, teachers, administrators and community partners to make our communities more equitable and just.
CCE Board of Trustees
In response to the demands that the COVID-19 crisis is placing upon educators, students, and families, ECLC transitioned its regular monthly newsletter, Learning in Community, to a weekly digest in order to share resources more rapidly within and among our member districts. This digest includes local happenings, resources related to COVID-19 and supporting ourselves/our loved ones, as well as resources for equity and serving students across learning differences. Our goal is to support ECLC districts with these weekly communications while teaching and learning continues remotely for the rest of the academic year.
Here is a round-up of educator-recommended resources that were shared by teacher leaders within our ECLC membership and the ECLC leadership team during the months of April and May:
Thanks to all of our friends and colleagues who have contributed their favorite resources: we love hearing from teachers, administrators, school professionals, and other ECLC stakeholders. If you have a resource to share out with our learning community, please email Emily Wilson at ewilson[at]fullframecommunications.com.
Sharing resources makes our learning community stronger. Thank you for your continued partnership and investment in these unprecedented times!
Dear ECLC Colleagues,
It seems like years ago since we gathered Cohorts 1 and 2 in Salem for the ECLC Showcase of Learning, though it was only the beginning of February. Since then, our world has changed, our daily lives have changed, and our collective future is uncertain. The ECLC Executive Team recognizes the challenges that each and every one of you faces in these times--juggling work and family in a way that requires the executive function skills of an air traffic controller, perhaps managing illness or layoffs among your loved ones, and more.
In such times, the only way to navigate our way through is by turning to one another. The ECLC was conceived before the global pandemic, but it has always been designed as a relational learning community--a "place" (literal and metaphoric) for coming together to share ideas, to build connections within and across districts, to plan and reflect, to experiment in a zone of psychological safety, and to lighten the load that is always heavy for committed educators. These values guided our team before the pandemic, and they guide us now as we aspire to help you meet what is directly in front of you, as well as what's to come in the weeks and months ahead.
With that in mind, we have been planning a schedule of online events that we hope will provide a virtual oasis and a space for sense-making that is so desperately needed right now. Here is what's on tap so far:
For a host of reasons, we have decided to hold the Summer Institute virtually this year. And because it's virtual, we have added a day. While the primary rationale for the shift is the pandemic, we also believe that an online environment, designed well, can offer a personalized experience for a greater number of people. Typically, we limit the number of folks who can participate, but this year we want to open it up because we believe the need will be great. More on the details of registration to come.
The theme of this year’s Summer Institute is "Cultivating Belonging and Resilience in Uncertain Times." The areas of focus will be mental health, trauma, and equity, and we have invited a star-studded cast of experts to join us. Both Cohorts 1 and 2 are invited, with some sessions designed specifically for Cohort 2. There will be job-alike spaces, district team spaces, MainStage presentations and workshops, consulting time with experts, music, and more. Stay tuned for details, and do mark your calendars!
We hope that the ECLC will be a source of strength, comfort, connection, and deep learning for you as we collectively put one foot in front of the other.
As always, please feel free to reach out with questions, concerns, and suggestions.
With deep appreciation,