Our Foundational Beliefs for Supporting Student Learning
In Seattle Public Schools, we understand that a shared vision of practice is essential to fostering the learning communities that each of our students and adults needs to thrive. This shared vision enables educators to work in concert to build their practice with a focus on student learning.
As such, we believe that…
1) Teaching is intellectually complex, difficult and demanding work, and the development of skillful teaching requires deep collaboration and non-defensive self-examination of practice in relation to student results.
This requires collaborative inquiry – educators working together to examine practice through a cycle of planning, teaching, reflecting and applying.
The total environment of a school has a powerful effect on students’ learning, which reinforces that need for collaborative inquiry.
2) By collaborating with families in authentic partnerships, we create a path for students to reach their highest potential, engaging with families as the first and lifelong teachers of students. We believe:
- All families have dreams for their children and want the best for them.
- All families have the capacity to support their children’s learning.
- Families and school staff are equal partners.
- The responsibility for cultivating and sustaining partnerships rests primarily with school staff.
3) “Intelligence” is not a fixed, inborn trait. All children come to school with cultural capital and intelligence, and all have the raw material to learn rigorous academic material at high standards. Therefore, our work is to build students’ academic mindset so that they each believe:
- I belong to this academic community.
- I can succeed at this.
- My ability and competence grow with my effort.
- The work has value for me.
Student Gifts and Strengths
4) By recognizing and cultivating the gifts and strengths of every student, we will remove barriers and implicit biases that impede student self-actualization, fostering learning environments where students transcend racial stereotypes and thrive.
We accomplish this work by building dynamic and meaningful relationships with our students, taking the stance of a warm demander – high demand with deep care.
Through these relationships we accomplish the work of moving students from dependent to independent and interdependent learners, focusing our work around building students’ intellectual capacity.
5) Racism in our society exerts a downward force on the experiences and achievement of students of color that must be met with active countermeasures.
In order to ensure that race is not a predictor of success and to reach our goal of Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial, we need to become culturally responsive and actively anti-racist practitioners.
This means we engage in our own racial identity work, explore and interrupt our implicit biases, build our understanding of how culture operates in our classrooms, and build actively anti-racist practices.
Our commitment to these beliefs is the route to institutionalizing Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial and fostering a context where each child receives what they need to develop to their full academic and social potential, and we make educational equity and justice the cornerstone of our system.
This page incorporates language of “The Skillful Teacher,” “Culturally responsive teaching requires an active and on-going process of developing awareness, and the Brain,”the National Equity Project, “Powerful Partnerships: A Teachers’ Guide to Engaging Families for Student Success” and the Seattle Public Schools African American Male Advisory Committee.