As districts look forward to pursuing the next round of Perkins funding, they are naturally turning to the first step in the process, a comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA). The CLNA calls on district leadership teams to collaborate with stakeholder groups particularly those that have historically been left out of the process. Yet, a new tool from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)—Equity Mindset Cards—holds out promise for meaningful collaboration.
Reauthorized in 2018, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education in the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) provides specific supports for historically underserved populations, including students with IEPs, English language learners, and students experiencing poverty, for example. While educators may want and need to engage in conversations aimed at ensuring all students have access to resources and educational rigor, educators unaccustomed to talking about equity may not know how to start.
The Mindset Cards attempt to bridge the gap between understanding equity concepts and applying them to everyday tasks. Rather than providing a checklist, the cards focus on a shift in mindset, knowing we must change the way we think about what we do—personally, interpersonally, organizationally, and structurally—to do things in a way that leads to productive change.
As district leadership teams have conversations around the CLNA, discussing equity is central to its development and the Perkins V grant goals. The Mindset Cards can help. They focus on nine key mindsets that distinguish real educational equity work from general continuous improvement:
- Dialogue: Communication is a two-way street
- Belonging: Voice, choice, and power
- Co-creation: Authentic collaboration
- Humility: Willingness to learn
- People over systems: Prioritizing the human
- Asset mindset: Seeking and recognizing strengths
- Institutional responsibility: Changing systems and practices
- Supporting adaptive change: Expecting the unexpected
- Alignment/realignment: Walking the walk
Alongside each mindset, the authors have identified resources, sample practices, and coaching questions intended to enable changes in day-to-day decisions and work, along with common pitfalls to be aware of that can unintentionally get in the way of each mindset.
For those diving into the CLNA for Perkins V funding, the Co-Creation Mindset Card may be a good place to start. Focusing on just one card will allow grounding more deeply in one mindset rather than introducing all of them at once.
Though this article suggests team members use the cards to complete the CLNA, the cards can be applied to all kinds of conversations and situations. Focusing on a “Mindset of the Month”—intentionally integrating the guiding questions, sample practices and resources from one selected Mindset Card each month into a team’s practice—and providing spaces to reflect on this mindset both personally and professionally—will allow the processing time needed to absorb and anchor the topic.
Photo by Serghei Trofimov on Unsplash.