On February 8, 2024 school teams from four Early School Success (ESS) districts convened for a collaborative winter cross-network meeting. This marked the first time the meeting was held virtually. The gathering provided an opportunity for intentional pause and thoughtful reflection on the equity gaps within school systems, the impact of the school district’s change ideas, and support for students.
Partner districts in attendance included Beaverton, Forest Grove, Lincoln County, and St. Helens school districts. Teams comprised of preschool through second-grade educators, instructional coaches, elementary principals, and district early learning leaders.
Talisa Timms, a continuous improvement specialist at Children’s Institute, said that the winter-cross network meeting was a testament to CI’s commitment to innovation.
“We introduced a new tool to capture the reflective equity work our Early School Success partner schools are doing to understand their systems through data, deeply,” Timms said.
Teams collaborated with other districts on activities, focusing on understanding the impact of identity in their work, reflecting on continuous improvement, addressing equity gaps, and measuring progress for accountability and improvement in school systems.
“My experience with equity work is the more you know your local context and are intentional about reflecting with your practice, you create pathways for more opportunities, more collaboration, and creative ways to address the needs showing up in the classroom,” said Julio Bautista, continuous improvement specialist at Children’s Institute.
“It was evident our educators were thinking critically of their systems and brainstorming ways to improve the experience for students,” he said.
Discussions during breakout room sessions revolved around the experiences of students and families and identified areas for improvement and success. Participants valued the opportunity to connect with and learn from each other.
They also appreciated the framework to support their conversations and hear how other schools are approaching the equity gaps in their systems. One participant shared, “If we could mobilize and harness our strength, we could be pretty powerful in each of our districts and our state.”
The school-based team at Children’s Institute looks forward to supporting educators and finding interactive and meaningful ways to engage them in the work.
“I learned so much from our partners, as I always do,” said Timms. “I found joy in our process and inspiration in conversations about what’s happening in real-time in our Early School Success schools. Shoutout to our partners for their willingness to lean in and embrace all that comes with change work!”
Interested in bringing Early Learning Academy to your district? Contact Director of School-Based Initiatives – Erin Lolich at firstname.lastname@example.org.