Our educational system has been designed primarily to sort students based on race, class, and language, and to replicate historical inequities, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We believe that teachers and administrators can work hand-in-hand to create schools and classrooms that overcome this historical inertia and that prepare every student for success. Driven by this moral imperative, in every aspect of our work with education professionals we recognize how our students’ disparate outcomes are caused by a multitude of factors—our beliefs, experiences, and implicit biases, as well as our schools’ structures and systems—and know that the only way to address those factors is by explicitly describing them, re-envisioning them, and being courageous and loving enough to match our vision with our actions.
Drawing on Nell Noddings’ writings, we believe that meeting the needs of students and their teachers means to care deeply about them being successful. Students, and the professional educators who work with them, are “whole” people, with internal hopes, fears, and priorities, and external responsibilities, pressures, and passions. We believe that only by recognizing that our clients are wonderfully complex, and endeavoring to know them as people, and to be committed without reservation to their success, can we truly “hear” our clients, meet them where they are, and facilitate their learning to achieve the success we expect we know is possible.
Secondary schools are incredibly complex learning environments, and too often they create a fragmented set of experiences for their students. Students transition from one teacher to another throughout their day (like widgets on an assembly line), each teaching a separate subject with independent content, and each with different expectations, processes, and approaches to teaching and learning. Similarly, for education professionals, their schools and districts create fragmented professional experiences: various and often competing professional development trainings, a range of different administrative and bureaucratic demands, and a large student case load, with changes in those students every hour and often every semester. We believe that our work needs to create more coherence in those adult and student experiences. We work not to force new tools, techniques, and jargon on people, but to build upon and integrate with the context and current understanding of our clients. We help teachers and administrators to draw connections among the elements of their work so they can do the same for their students.