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!
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.
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,
While it's tough for any of us to know how our daily lives will look in the coming weeks/months, at ECLC, we aspire to continue serving as a non-judgmental and supportive space for deep learning and connecting across our community. In other words, staying close to our vision during these times.
Here is how we are serving you in turbulent times:
These are just some of the ways we are supporting ECLC during these difficult times. As always, we remain grateful for your partnership and wish you and your families all the best.
As we head into this time of unprecedented threat posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, we want you to know first and foremost that we at Full Frame Communications and the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) are here as a resource to you. We invite you to call upon us in these difficult times—just to make a friendly connection, and/or to help problem-solve around the issues that may arise in the coming weeks. Caring for the caregivers is central to our vision.
This issue of Learning in Community is dedicated to sharing resources on COVID-19 response. As you well know, as ordered by Governor Charlie Baker, all Massachusetts schools are currently closed until April 6th, pending further updates. We want to thank Governor Baker for taking this action to slow the spread of coronavirus, as well as ECLC Cohort 1 and 2 districts and the North Shore Area Superintendents who showed early, decisive leadership on this issue.
We also want you to know that the ECLC has close ties to the Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF). They have asked us to take the pulse of the 11 ECLC districts and schools, to determine what resources and supports are needed by your students and their families. This, of course, extends to you and your families as well. ECCF is an exemplary broker in the community, so as the need for services becomes apparent, please let us know and we are happy to reach out to ECCF on your behalf. You can read more on the ECCF coronavirus response on its website.
While school is not in session, Learning in Community will move from a monthly to a weekly publication. In it, we will share a curated list of resources and other information we think might be useful to you. We have also created a shared Google doc of resources; we encourage you to co-develop this document with us, adding whatever nuggets you find on the internet and elsewhere.
We recognize that many of you have children underfoot and may be caring for loved ones and elderly relatives, so we are very conscious of not overwhelming you. For those who may wish to participate in virtual activities at some point, we are currently developing a menu of opportunities that we will share with you soon. If you have any ideas along these lines, please feel free to reach out.
In the meantime, take good care of yourselves and your loved ones. We will continue to hold this cherished community in our hearts as we respond to the greatest public health challenge our nation has faced in a century.
Founder/President, Full Frame Communications, LLC
ECLC is excited to share a new resource from the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE), Full Frame Communications' implementation partner at ECLC, called Building for Equity: A Guide for Inclusive School Redesign. CCE is encouraging folks to use #build4equity on social media and to visit the Building for Equity Website - cce.org/equityguide - in order to learn more and spread the word. Check it and join in the conversation!
About CCE's Equity Guide: The guide, generously funded by the Barr Foundation, aims to provide practical tools and an exploration of best practices at the nexus of equity and innovation. It walks teachers through the re-design process with helpful tools and real-life examples to help them create equitable learning experiences that fit their own context. The Building for Equity guide weaves together the personal learning and design principles that drive sustainable, equitable school change - along with a slate of useful tools that educators can use right away.
We are thrilled to announce the new Essex County school districts joining Cohort 2 of the ECLC! Recently, we issued a press release that you can read below, announcing ECLC's Second Cohort. Stay tuned for more updates later this month!
FOR RELEASE JANUARY 10, 2020
Five public school districts in Essex County have been selected to participate in the second cohort of the Essex County Learning Community (ECLC). These districts include Andover, Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School, Hamilton-Wenham, Manchester-Essex, and Saugus Public Schools.
As members of the ECLC, districts will engage in an intensive two-year professional development experience aimed at helping educators better meet the diverse learning assets and needs of students with learning disabilities, learning and attention issues, exposure to trauma—as well as those who experience systemic bias related to race, ethnicity, language, income, and gender. The ECLC is funded by the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation. Based in Buffalo, New York, its footprint includes Essex County and Cape Cod & The Islands. Additional funding is provided by the Essex County Community Foundation.
The five recently selected school districts join six other districts that participated in the ECLC’s first cohort: Beverly, Danvers, Gloucester, Haverhill, Rockport, and Swampscott. As one teacher described it: “The work with ECLC last year, and this summer, has been the best professional development of my career. ECLC’s mission is aligned with my own professional philosophy. It is empowering, energizing, and inspiring to join with like-minded individuals and so many experts in ‘doing the work’.”
The ECLC addresses several interrelated challenges that fall under one umbrella: too many
students in our public schools today do not receive the learning and skills they need in order to thrive as adults – while too many teachers in today’s public schools lack the support they need to help students succeed. “Most K-12 schools still use a 20th century teaching and learning framework, which under-prepares students for the 21st century economy, resulting in an enormous loss to our cities and towns in Essex County and beyond, as potential talent goes untapped—perhaps forever. This is especially true for youth with diverse learning needs, and for teachers who strive to meet these needs with little access to robust professional resources,” said Jane Feinberg, Founder and Principal of Full Frame Communications, who, along with the Tower Foundation, conceived the ECLC. The national non-profit, the Center for Collaborative Education, is the ECLC’s implementation partner.
Each participating district constitutes a team of approximately a dozen members, including
assistant superintendents, department directors, principals, data specialists, guidance counselors, and general and special education teachers. This cross-fertilization of interprofessional collaboration ensures that the cutting-edge inclusive practices are diffused across each district and across Essex County.
A recent national study revealed only 17% of educators feel “very prepared” to teach diverse learners. Some hold beliefs about learning differences that have been debunked. For example, 25% of teachers express that learning and attention issues can be outgrown; 33% view students’ learning and attention issues as laziness; and 25% believe conditions such as attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) results from bad parenting.
Many educators report deep interest in receiving support to better meet the needs of their
students. Sadly, the frenzy of everyday life in schools and tight school budgets prevent educators from having opportunities to grow as professionals. Small school districts such as those in Essex County are especially hard-pressed to innovate on their own, despite the fact that enduring change requires long-term investment. The ECLC acknowledges these harsh realities by opening up ample time and space for facilitated conversation and reflection, for state-of-the-art learning with national and regional experts, and for deep collaboration. Early evaluation results from Cohort 1 suggest that the ECLC increases both cross- and within-district collaboration; promotes positive mindset and changes in practice; and empowers participants to receive more support and resources to better balance the demands of their jobs.
An “ECLC Showcase of Learning” on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 in Salem will bring together both cohorts to celebrate Cohort 1 accomplishments and induct Cohort 2 into the community.
For more information about the ECLC, please visit the website or contact Emily Wilson at
[This post originally appeared in the ECLC's Newsletter, Learning in Community. as part of the November edition]
Check out at the ECLC in Action and see where our Executive Team has been in Fall 2019!