Lately, public conversation around education and educators is focused on struggle. We follow and join in the walkouts, the marches, the protests, and the strikes. We take sides, carry signs, and point fingers, shouting, “You’re with us or you’re not!” Some blame students or teachers, others fault communities or policies, greed or complacency.
Our Nuestras Escuelas, Nuestros Poderes Collaborative joins in the movement to support our public schools with a positive approach. To ward off infection of the viral vendettas that divide, we seek strength. Because, underneath a narrative of failure and strife, we know strengths exist. And, it isn’t until we have named those strengths that we can share them and build on them, joining together in solidarity for our students, our futures.
Randy Bomer, in his book Building Adolescent Literacy in Today’s English Classrooms, writes about this mission of adopting an appreciative lens.
“Rather than entering a community and looking for its problems, in this approach, organizers work with community members to identify a community’s assets of all kinds and to build shared projects upon that wealth. Contrast this to an organizer who names a community’s challenges–say, drugs, unemployment–and then seeks to combat those problems. An asset-based approach is more celebratory and aims to produce more energy, openness, and strength for mutuality and collaboration among the people being served. It finds the resources available in the community–specific forms of knowledge and skill the adults possess, the ways they care for elders, a system of barter and exchange, energy and passion among the youth, a connection to place. Using a discipline of positive eyes and respectful regard, the organizer helps create hope and motivation among the community members.” (page 24).
It is with an asset-based approach that we come together to connect and collaborate. On April 27th, we will present the Travis Vertical Team principals, Parent Support Specialists, and PTA representatives with our mission and ideas for how to reach our goals. We hope for support to continue to connect classes across campuses in work that supports the curriculum and to share teachers’ and students’ strengths more publicly with the help of community organizations, businesses, and spaces.
Here’s a slideshow with a little about our ideas and our work that we plan to share with Travis Vertical Team leaders. Our next meeting is May 8th in the Travis High School Library from 5:30-7:30pm. We hope you’ll join us!