Equity In Action

This academic year, a Shorewood School District priority is to highlight the importance of the District’s equity work from the perspectives of teachers and staff.
To that end, says Director for Equity Shari Tucker, the District has created this monthly series called Equity in Action. “The series gives us a way to showcase the work various staff members are doing across the District in an authentic, organic and meaningful way,” Tucker says.
Equity in Action features one staff member each month and gives families, students and community members a deeper look into the equity work happening across the District, specifically regarding the effects of equity work in classroom instruction and equitable student outcomes. 
Learn more about the Shorewood School District's important equity work as staff members across the District answer equity-related questions.
Alejandra1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?
I think that our ICS work has had a tremendous impact on all of us. To have everyone with a collective vision around what learners deserve is incredible. I know that in our district every single person is committed to ensuring that every child receives an equitable education. The work that we have had the opportunity to engage in allows us to better understand ourselves, and that directly impacts how we serve others. Being somewhere where we all have the same goal for learners is incredibly powerful. We have a common vision and are consistently taking active steps to make that vision a reality.
2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?
Our equity work is what led me to this district. I know the value and importance of this work. Everything that I do on a daily basis is in service to all of the learners in my care. It is incredibly important to me that their educational experience is one where we are maximizing every opportunity for them to not only succeed, but also excel. To have the privilege to serve a school where every single member of the staff has that same collective vision and is doing the challenging work to ensure that happens, is inspiring. Every day, every interaction, every act of service, is aligned to ensuring that learners in our care have the ability to succeed academically and social-emotionally.

3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems? 
How have you tried to address these?It is incredibly important and humbling to look at data to see what it is telling us about impact on learners. Our data looks very similar to the data across the state, and that can feel heavy. With that being said, I am fortunate to work with inspiring and exceptional educators at the building and district level. As we begin our work in collaborative teams, I can't help but feel a sense of optimism and hope. We have incredibly talented educators who individually have such an impact on learners. Now, as we begin to work collectively to address these inequities, it's going to be amazing what we will be able to achieve for our learners.4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?
This year, with the start of our collaborative teams, we are going to have a tremendous opportunity to look at how to best serve learners. There has been a tremendous amount of collaboration and thought that has gone into this process. Collaboration has taken place at the district level and building level. We worked hard last spring to gather feedback from staff members, and truly feel that engaging in this collaborative work will have a meaningful impact on learners. This is not easy work, but it is important work, and we know that our Lake Bluff learning community is up to the task. As the great John Lewis once said, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” We have an incredibly talented staff, we have incredible learners, and we are ready to collaboratively do incredible things for our learning community.

Shana Lucas, Instructional Coach


1) ​​From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?

I have met people who are new to the district and those interested in joining our learning community talk about how much they admire our commitment to equity. I have seen educators intentionally challenge themselves and each other about deficit based language and thinking. I have heard educators question inequities in the outcomes to become deeply reflective and action oriented. I truly believe students are benefiting from our practices that embrace fairness and inclusion. 

2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?

My work as an educator is grounded in principles of equity. As an instructional coach, I strive to support teachers with the work they do to cultivate the artistry in teaching. Creating more equitable systems and working toward academic excellence are not separate causes. 

3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems? How have you tried to address these?

For me, disrupting inequities is not solely a professional endeavor. I have been shaped by my own experiences as a student and as an educator in systems that continue to marginalize certain groups of people. I continuously work to learn and explore ways to effect change through authentic problem-solving and by challenging my own views, beliefs and assumptions. 

4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?

Shorewood School District partners with the Dane County New Teacher Project to support teachers who are new to the profession and to the district. As the district’s mentorship program has worked to align more closely with our collaborative commitments for equity, It’s been an incredible opportunity to be able to learn and apply equity based principles within the coaching model that is also used by school-based mentors. Deepening our understanding of a shared vision for equity for all staff and aligning efforts to sustain this vision will lead us to better outcomes. 

6th grade teachers1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?

The ICS Planning and work has forced our staff, and our 6th grade team, to look at everything we do from a new perspective. We have had to look outside of ourselves to identify and name what parts of our current system are not working for ALL of our students. We have also had to navigate how to have courageous conversations with each other and with our students when issues of equity arise, which is an uncomfortable space to be in at times. We have grown in our ability to put equity at the center and focus our decision-making around what is right for our students, instead of what makes us comfortable. By having these conversations and implementing these practices more regularly we have made this work feel like a natural part of our daily lives.

2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?

As a team we have made an effort to be more mindful and present in our planning and teaching. We have put our equity work at the forefront of everything we do from Crew Meetings every morning to our decisions about class make-ups and groupings and the materials we choose to use within our teaching. Our connections with families have grown stronger and we have seen the benefits of engaging families in new ways who have traditionally not felt welcomed by our system. We have also worked more closely to problem-solve with our school counselor and school psychologist to meet the holistic needs of all students. 

3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?

When we looked at our Winter FastBridge data, we realized that not all students were making the growth we expected in reading. After more analysis, we noticed that one particular ELA class group had a disproportionate amount of students making less growth than the other two class groups.  In sixth grade at Atwater, students do not move to academic classes in homeroom groups but have the chance to learn with other students from across sixth grade.  While we didn’t want to disrupt the bonds students had developed in their homerooms, we decided that it would be worth it for us to change just a few student schedules for academic classes in order to create more heterogeneous groups.  This new grouping allowed for more students to get the help they needed within each ELA class but also had benefits for math and social studies/science classes as well.  Additionally, after that data dive, we took a look at our approach to Guided Study, which is when we are able to facilitate some targeted interventions, and just did an overhaul of the types of activities we offered.  

In general, we have also begun to be able to take a new perspective on gauging whether or not students feel a sense of belonging in our classrooms and at school.  ICS training has helped us understand that the communication styles we were brought up with as white female educators are not the only communication styles present in our classrooms or with families.  After three years of ICS, we have begun to see and respond differently.  One quote from a poster called How to Build Community comes to mind: “No one is silent though many are not heard. Work to change this.”  We have been listening, observing, and responding in a different way.

4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?

We have moved our collaboration outside of our team to have important and impactful conversations with students, caregivers, and colleagues about issues. Our conversations as a sixth grade team have forced us to slow down and look at how to problem-solve in a way that is thoughtful and considers how possible solutions will either potentially hold up systemic racism or help dismantle it. This is a new view we have taken in our problem-solving efforts with students and families. We are slowly starting to include others in these conversations and decisions, such as support staff, grade band teams, and caregivers. It is a constant work in progress! 

stu sup1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?

As members of the student support team, we are often able to see the full picture of the high school, including the impacts that ICS has on both students and teaching practices.  In particular, we have witnessed departments working hard to ensure all students are exposed to challenging, rigorous curriculum, curriculum that can help them achieve their goals.  We’ve advocated for departments to eliminate less rigorous courses, in order to accelerate achievement for all students.  In addition, we advocated to eliminate prerequisite requirements for Advanced Placement courses, requirements that did not make sense for the content.  We also encourage grading practices that do not penalize students disproportionately for not turning in assignments, recognizing that essential learning targets are a more important showcase of learning; these are only a few ways in which we advocate for equitable support for all students.  All of these actions have helped level the playing field, providing more opportunities to students who may have experienced barriers to accessing curriculum.  Student voice has also been prioritized, with more students seeing themselves in the curriculum, along with more opportunities to speak up.  As student support professionals, we continue to advocate for tier one training that can help teachers differentiate instruction for all learners, including those with individualized education plans and 504 plans.  

2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?

As student support professionals, our role is to advocate for students.  ICS has helped all of us focus our attention on educational barriers that impact the whole child, finding ways in which we can provide flexibility and support for all.  In other words, this means we encourage individual solutions to problems, solutions that vary for each child.  ICS has helped focus our vision, recognizing that some students have experienced systemic and institutional discrimination, and as such, need more support.  By advocating for students with other stakeholders, we are able to support students’ mental and physical health, as well as help them pursue their unique goals.  We recognize that trauma and mental health disorders impact different populations in disproportionate ways, which helps us determine who might need further support. Destigmatizing mental health through classroom lessons, club meetings, and individual and group counseling sessions is also an important part of our work.  Psychoeducation, through our comprehensive 504 and IEP process, along with parent seminars coordinated with our partners at Children’s WI, and classroom lessons focused on stress and mental health, reach more students and families, ensuring that access to knowledge about mental health is widespread and available to all.

3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?

A really important step our department has taken in examining inequities is to focus on data–primarily failures and attendance.  We utilize a team approach in our weekly problem solving team meetings, wherein the counselors, the school psychologist, and our associate principal look at trends in grades, attendance, and behavior, attempting to choose appropriate interventions.  We often try to work with families to help mitigate barriers, including bussing, transportation issues, and other impediments to student success.  Interventions include referral to outside resources (therapy, funding, etc.), in-house individual counseling, and group counseling focused on academic success and attendance as well as collaborating through the EMLSS process to provide students with the necessary tools to access classroom curriculum.  We utilize research based curricula, like School Connect and Student Success Skills, to guide these interventions.  We also meet as a district student support team to address issues that arise across schools, often focusing on ways we can be more equitable in our practices. This has included looking at disproportionality in special education, examining which students take different courses, ensuring wording in the Curriculum Handbook is equitable, and so on.  Some of our team work to promote mental health resources for all through a local REDgen chapter, a group focused on destigmatizing mental health disorders.  We also create our school’s weekly advisory slides, which focus on positive messages, coping skills, and adult check-ins.  We also help develop department specific and whole group professional development.  All of these activities assist in helping students feel a sense of belonging at school.  We provide comprehensive postsecondary planning conferences to all juniors, focused on an individualized plan for the future.  Finally, we continually work to learn more about our own biases and blind spots, through training, collaboration and professional development.
4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?

As student support professionals, we work with virtually everyone at the high school–teachers, administrators, pupil services staff, special education teachers, administrative assistants, and others.  We also work with parents, students, and community partners, like Children’s WI.  The way in which we influence change is largely through advocacy.  We often advocate, on behalf of our students, for changes–changes in grading practices, flexibility for students struggling with trauma or mental health, and changes in policies.  For instance, we have advocated for grade changes during COVID, to acknowledge that our kids were struggling with isolation, recognizing that mental and physical health were more important than academic grades.  We also advocated for an advisory period, a place where students can get valuable information and also have time to decompress from their daily stressors.  We advocated to remove barriers of entry to certain classes, ensuring that more students were able to take advantage of our many offerings.  Ultimately, our goal is to help students, to provide them with opportunities in an equitable way.  

mike joynt1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?

In my former role as SIS principal and current role as Director of Teaching and Learning, the equity work that our district has engaged in has guided conversations around how we as educators impact outcomes for all learners.  We have been more intentional about looking at data across multiple learner categories to determine if our vision of “equity, growth, and excellence for all” is working for all learners.  The ICS work provides a framework through which we can self-reflect and examine our systems to identify where we are making progress and where we need to improve to better serve our learners.  The framework also allows staff to collaborate with one another to share ideas and perspectives in order to create a system that ultimately produces more equitable outcomes for all learners.

2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?

A big focus for this school year has been to improve our Equitable Multi-Level System of Supports (EMLSS) process to be more proactive and responsive to student and teacher needs.  This work is supported by our state’s Department of Public Instruction and is focused on creating equitable outcomes for learners by focusing on high-quality instruction, using data strategically, and providing opportunities for staff to collaborate around this work.  The EMLSS process starts with teams meeting three times a year to look at the FastBridge screening data in Reading and Math in grades K-8.  This data tells us how learners are making progress toward grade-level academic standards.  The team that looks at the data includes teachers, principals, the school psychologist, along with math and reading specialists to identify specific skills with which students may need extra support.  Each member of the team shares their expertise in how best to meet learners’ needs and the team develops strategies to support learners using high-quality instructional strategies.  For learners, this means that their needs can be supported in the classroom instead of having to leave the classroom to work on these skills in a space that is segregated from their classmates.  The time, commitment, and expertise that our staff put into this process has benefited many learners this year.

3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?

Part of my role is to share data that we collect as a district with the School Board.  This data includes state test results, progress monitoring data, and student engagement data.  It is important for me to be able to communicate to our community what is working and where we need to grow in order to better meet learner needs.  When reporting out on this data, we look for inequities across race, gender, disability, and socioeconomic status when possible.  We address these inequities by creating a District Strategic Plan that communicates where we are working to grow.  At the building level, we create Growth Goals that are aligned with the goals of the Strategic Plan and use the same data to measure progress.  Finally, at the classroom level, teachers create student growth goals and professional practice goals based on the data they collect on a daily basis.  Aligning our work in this way allows us to look at data and inequities from a district to classroom level and support one another in making progress toward our goals.

4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?

Last month, our School Board adopted Shorewood’s Collaborative Commitments for Equity (CCE) at the March 14th Board Meeting.  This is an important milestone for our district as the CCE will drive our work moving forward.  The process included Leadership Teams at all schools working with staff to communicate their CCE.  Our district administrative team then collaborated to write the Shorewood School District’s CCE using the feedback from staff.  Our CCE will also serve as District standards for operationalizing our work ensuring that our equity goals become realities for everyone in our learning communities.

alexis m.1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?
From my perspective, the ICS work is making strides to have a significant positive impact on students, particularly by placing students at the center and promoting equity within our work. By designing curricula that are integrated and relevant to students' lives and interests, the ICS approach helps to engage all students in their learning. One of the key principles of ICS is its student-centeredness. Everything that we do, and are hoping to do in the future, keeps what is best for students at the center; which means that the curriculum is designed to meet the needs and interests of students. This approach acknowledges that students are not passive recipients of knowledge, but active agents in their own learning. Our work aims to make learning more meaningful and relevant to our students continuing to foster their lifelong learning, in and out of the classroom.
Another important aspect of the ICS work is its emphasis on equity. By recognizing that students come from diverse backgrounds and have different needs, we work towards ensuring that all students have access to high quality, culturally responsive instruction. It helps level the playing field and ensures that all students have equal opportunities to succeed. By keeping students and equity at the center of our work, its impact on our students shows a love of learning and academic/social success. 
2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?
Within my role at SIS, I wear many hats but two stand out in relation to our equity work. As Dean of Students at SIS, I work to ensure that all students have access to resources and support services that address their academic, social, and emotional needs. I also work with other staff members and educators to create a more collaborative and inclusive learning environment that fosters positive relationships and supports our diverse learners at all grade levels. As one of the Equity Leads, I collaborate with amazing minds across the district to deepen and broaden our ICS work amongst all staff. By aligning my specific work with our equity goals, I am able to contribute to creating an equitable and inclusive community that supports the success of all students. This involves implementing and maintaining new initiatives, conducting data analysis to make informed decisions, and working closely with stakeholders to ensure that the needs of our students are met. 

3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?
To address inequities within systems, it is important for me to first conduct thorough assessments of our current situation to identify areas of need and disparities. I've taken time to collect and analyze data on student schedules, students' perceptions surveys, access to opportunities during the school day, and leadership opportunities from community members. Being a part of the discussions and decisions for the next academic year's schedule has been nothing short of fruitful. Through collaboration, adjustments have been made to ensure that all students have consistency and access to opportunities that the current color rotation schedule has not allowed. Efforts have also been made to recruit community members for leadership and support opportunities; to ensure that a diverse range of perspectives and experiences are represented. For the first time in years diverse leaders have been honored to meet and speak with our eighth grade class regarding various interests, postsecondary choices, and share their wealth of knowledge beyond the classroom. By taking these few mentioned steps, I am hoping to ensure all students feel valued and respected within the learning environment. 

4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?
Working in partnership with my equity co-lead and the Director of Equity, Shari Tucker, has been nothing short of amazing to create different outcomes for the District. The wisdom and encouragement that Mrs. Tucker invests in me allows me to not only think critically about the equity work we do, but also about the knowledge and values the staff at SIS provides that can be utilized to move our work forward. All of our equity PD is great, but the ones that receive the most positive feedback involve the creation of time and space to include the experiences and voices that our staff has; allowing us to learn from one another and push each other forward to do better and make personal and professional growth for all students. There's always room for improvement, so I am grateful for the open mindedness and critical, solutions-based feedback that is received from our school community. 
emily berry1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?

I think maybe the most powerful impact has been the consistency of taking a systemic approach rather than trying to resolve inequities and improve outcomes one at a time. Even if there's still trepidation and questions about specific implementation steps, I think we've moved past the idea that we can just take a one-and-done training and be done talking about educational equity. Inequities aren't weeds in an otherwise perfect garden - they are planted there and thrive because we continue to re-seed and fertilize them. That's the system we have to re-engineer if we want to see different results.
2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?
I know that equitable outcomes will manifest in the classroom, and the attention is rightfully focused there. But I do think the board's work matters. We have deliberately reframed our policies and consciously make other decisions based on asset-based language and our shared understanding that there is no excellence without equity. We also set expectations for how the district operates based on those values.
3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?

That's a long list, from talking about the ways we engage with community members (i.e. do we make it easy for everyone to reach us), to what I mentioned above about revising our policies and operating expectations. We never stop that self-examination around how we are moving the needle forward equity. In fact, we added that to our usual debrief questions, so if you're still awake at the end of our meetings, you can hear us talk about how we spent our meeting time and whether we missed any opportunities to promote equity and eliminate barriers to excellence and growth for all students.

4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?

Our board is very collaborative with each other and with our Superintendent, along with her cabinet. All of our work begins with asking how we are using our resources - our money, our people, our expertise and our time - to support  high-quality teaching and learning for all students, and to what extent we're seeing the outcomes we expect. I think back to pre-pandemic times for one of the most powerful examples: In 2019/early 2020, we recalibrated our strategic plan to embed equity rather than making it a standalone element. We were lucky to have many staff and faculty join us along with community members and students, and we were able to set goals that still anchor our work today.
Along with all of the board members I've been privileged to work with, I've used my platform to be an advocate for students, to champion and even demand equity. I have tried to recognize and call out where we are falling short of our goals, and taken responsibility for how as a board member I have upheld or helped dismantle harmful systems. I hope that has made it easier for other stakeholders to do the same, because that vulnerability is really important to the work. Then, of course, we get up and keep going, striving to avoid repeating mistakes.
I'm so proud to be a small part of this change across our schools, and credit all of the people who have shed blood, sweat and tears to get us this far. There is still much to do, but I am really grateful that our community, our students, our teachers and caregivers are so committed to staying with this work. That isn't the case everywhere -- I can't imagine serving on a board anywhere else.
sarah kopplin1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?
I think that the ICS planning and work that we have started in the SSD has made impacts in how we approach decision making and even in simple, more informal interactions. Just the simple focus on assets-based language has helped to improve our entire school community culture.
The willingness to dive into learning about our own identity and how that affects others in a system and in a community is not something that has historically been done, so we have experienced mistakes and missteps so far. I personally think this is part of how we grow and learn. I also think that these mistakes and missteps are how we get to a better system to serve all our students. Learning about the historical impacts of systemic inequities as well as intentional and unintentional decisions that have had such negative impacts on students and people within our community is a vital step to improving our society. As a social studies educator and someone who deeply values the role that schools play in preserving and improving our democracy, I think this equity work is the definition of civic engagement and is necessary to the survival of our nation's public schools. As we continue in our ICS work and we make decisions in our schools that will create systemic changes to benefit our students, I believe it will positively impact our society at large.

 2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?
The work I am doing in my 7th grade social studies classes has been informed and improved over time from a lot of professional development I have sought outside of the school district and the ICS work has truly augmented this PD and pushed me to grow individually and as part of our system. The way that I plan and approach lessons, units, assessments, and the way I think about how my students learn best has changed over time due to the combination of this PD. 
The ICS work has also explicitly shown the importance of eliminating pull outs in an educational environment and prioritized the need for adult professional collaboration time to best serve all students. It has always been a goal of mine to be given time to plan with my department colleagues, co-teachers, and experts in our support staff so we can ensure that all students have lessons and classroom experiences designed before they arrive, rather than making decisions after a class to meet the needs of students a lesson did not work for. I am really excited about the ICS model to include C3 teams which will ensure that all lessons and learning and assessment is planned in teams and is built into our work day/week while we are all together. I just know this is going to make school so much better for our kids. We are already seeing that work play out due to the prioritization and trial of collaboration teams during school hours this year. 
I have also made changes to my curriculum to help my students engage in identity work that aligns with our state curriculum standards in social studies. They have done things like investigate the truth behind stereotypes and learn ways to combat those stereotypes by becoming upstanders and educators themselves. Having our district embrace this ICS Equity work and hire leaders who embrace it has allowed me to let students learn about important topics and engage in civil discourse during class time. This was not always the case so it feels good to be able to see my own growth as a teacher and how wonderful it is for students to be allowed to learn about things that are important to them and our world. We hold pop up discussions, socratic seminars, and consensus building conversations that allow for deep inquiry and thinking. I have friends in other communities and districts who are not even allowed to teach about elections or current events, so it feels wonderful to have a community and school leadership that allows students to do so. 
I have also worked with department colleagues to ensure that student voice and choice are at the root of all learning so that students have agency and develop independence in their learning process. Right now students are learning about a country of their choice and they developed their own inquiry questions about the surface and deep cultures there after reflecting on their own cultural identities. My students also vote on decisions they make as a community or even the topic they want to discuss for our monthly current events discussions. These simple changes to the learning environment facilitate opportunities for kids to see themselves in their learning experiences and to have a learning experience that fits their needs.
Something I have changed over the past few years in my approach to grading and reporting. When using equitable grading practices, one of the most successful approaches is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to develop their skills at the highest level so accepting late work and allowing and requiring revisions is holding all students to achieve at their highest levels. Something as simple as not offering students a holistic rubric that allows them to "shoot for the C or B", but replacing that with a Single Point Rubric which just shows the expectations for how to achieve high quality grade level work, or the revisions needed to get to that.
I am currently working with the Department of Public Instruction as a Facilitator of a Civics Task force to construct and implement a new K-12 Civics Scope & Sequencing for Wisconsin. It is very important to me that the way we approach social studies and civics education in Shorewood is aligned to Wisconsin's Social Studies Standards from 2018. These standards guide learning experiences in classrooms to cultivate student agency, develop strong inquiry skills, and require student voice and choice. Our Civics scope & sequencing is also aligned to the work of Dr. Gholdy Muhammad to ensure that a framework for equitable and culturally and historically responsive learning is used to structure all learning for students in Wisconsin social studies classrooms. The Middle School Workgroup portion of the Taskforce I am facilitating has recommended three new courses for grades 6-8 for Wisconsin! These courses are going to better serve our students. They will be:
  • 6th Grade: World Geography & Cultures "Then & Now": Drawing connections between ancient and modern worlds
  • 7th Grade: Civics & Contemporary Issues
  • 8th Grade: US & Wisconsin Studies/Civics 1924-1981
All courses will be inclusive of learning that is focused on students developing civic skills and knowledge, but most importantly, civic dispositions and the ability to be civically engaged through proven practices that require student agency and voice.
This is such exciting work to be a part of! It is also so wonderful because the goals of this work align perfectly with the goals of the ICS work we are doing here in Shorewood. I hope to continue to be a bridge to our schools and community to see systemic changes and growth in how and what students are learning in their social studies classes. Ultimately, this is going to help them to be the future change makers and be equipped with the knowledge and skills to showcase their voices and passions to preserve and improve our country.

3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?
I am a part of our Building Leadership Team at SIS and I have been able to learn alongside amazing and deeply committed educators and administrators to identify inequities in our system here in Shorewood. We work as a team to find ways to reduce pull outs, identify ways our system can promote heterogeneous grouping, foster student voice and choice, and identify needs we have to be able to have the capacity to develop culturally responsive learning environments and best practices. Our team has tried to find ways to improve our current school schedule which has placed limitations on our ability to eliminate inequities. It has also placed huge roadblocks in our way when trying to find collaborative time that is built in to house our C3 Teams. I also have a deep interest in research based practices and data collection in my own practices that has lent to my contributions to this team to recommend books, training, and resources to support teachers in our next steps of ICS as we get into C3 team planning. I am really excited about the schedule work to see how this impacts our building next year. I think it is going to really serve our kids well because it will be inclusive of time for cross-curricular planning and will get us in a better position to remove homogeneous groupings and pull outs. 
On a personal level I have worked with my department at SIS over the past 6 years to track data about student engagement, belonging, and metacognition. This data has really helped me, my department, and our 7th grade team to track the same types of data and analyze how different identity groups of students feel about these things. It has helped to inform our decisions and pay closer attention to ways we can better serve populations of students who may fly under the radar because they are in an underrepresented identity group. 

4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?
The spaces I have worked to collaborate in to see different outcomes for the district are in my classroom, with my department colleagues, with my 7th grade team, with my school leadership team, and with our Interim Director of Teaching & Learning. Shorewood is a place that thrives when collaboration happens! I feel fortunate to be accepted in these spheres. My goal is to help my students to see me as the person in the classroom who is helping them to develop their own independence and confidence as learners. With my department and 7th grade team I hope to be the person to learn along with them, but also share my expertise with planning and backward design and research based practices that are culturally responsive for students. With our building leadership team I hope to help support our school in building a schedule and an environment that is not just a "space" kids come to each day, but is a "place" where they can grow and become independent and confident. At the district level it has been wonderful to work with Mike Joynt to support a vision for a K-12 Social Studies scope & sequencing and alignment shift. I truly think that this alignment is vital for our students to develop strong inquiry and literacy and civic engagement skills.
I would love to see shifts in our assessment practices and also how we view and value social studies education in our district and community. I am hopeful for those changes someday!
I love living and working in Shorewood. It is wonderful to see our schools and community embracing the difficult and active work of improving our school system for our future generation of leaders.

emma z1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?

Through our ICS work, the staff has committed to creating more inclusive environments for all students. We have been working collectively to meet the needs of all students academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally through instruction in the general education setting. As part of this work, we have examined our personal identities and how these identities impact our interactions with others and the decisions we make as educators. We have also looked at the systems within the district that have contributed to inequities and looked for opportunities to proactively address and transform these systems to create more equitable outcomes for all students. As a staff, we have challenged each other to reflect on our practices within our classrooms and larger school community in an effort to provide individual students with opportunities for support within their classroom setting before seeking support outside of the classroom.

 2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?


The Equitable Multi-Level Systems of Support (EMLSS) process drives our work. At the center of the EMLSS framework are the strategic use of data, collaboration, and high quality instruction. In order to create equitable outcomes for all students, all layers of the support system framework must work in tandem. Using this framework has helped us make some impactful changes in our approach to literacy instruction in the primary grades. For example, as a result of our data team meetings, we noticed that many of the students identified for reading intervention support had gaps in their phonics skills and knowledge. We recognized the need for a universal approach for teaching these skills in a systematic and explicit way, so we implemented a phonics pilot for grades K-3 in the Fall of 2021. The pilot became the impetus for us to reexamine our literacy instruction as a whole; last summer, a group of teachers from Atwater, Lake Bluff, and SIS met to identify priority standards in English Language Arts and begin the process of developing common assessments for reading and writing units. By developing clear visions for teaching and learning, we are better prepared as a system to meet our goal of providing equitable outcomes for all students.

3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address cate s.these?

Several years ago, a district Response to Intervention team was gathered to address the disproportionality and overrepresentation of Black students within special education. This team looked at root causes and possible solutions to create a more equitable learning experience for all students.  In order to create a more objective process for identifying students in need of additional support, the team recognized the need for a data-driven approach through the EMLSS process.  One of the outcomes of this work was the implementation of a universal screening tool (FastBridge) for reading and math K-8, which is administered three times per year. The FastBridge data provides grade-level teams with information that can be used in connection with other data gathered to design instruction for all students in their classrooms. We were also able to use the data to look at overall trends in student achievement and identify opportunities for our district to shift instructional practices, such as the implementation of a phonics program to systematically address the development of foundational skills in the early grades.

4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?

One of the strengths of Shorewood’s staff is their willingness to collaborate on a range of topics to the benefit of all students. Collaboration occurs in formal and informal ways throughout the school year and over the summer. For the past two years, classroom teachers and support staff specialists have been meeting as grade level teams to analyze data from multiple sources at regular intervals throughout the school year. At these data meetings, staff identify strengths and areas for growth for students. Using asset-based language, grade level teams develop plans for whole group instruction as well as opportunities to support small groups or individual students working towards specific learning outcomes. In our supporting roles, we are in constant collaboration with teachers to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students. This can range from something as simple as identifying common language for introducing a phonics skill to spending weeks together in the summer to develop units of study for reading and writing that align with our vision for student learning outcomes at each grade level. 

kelly steiner1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?

Sometimes it's hard to see the incredible progress that we've made, but this year when SIS was doing our review and revisit of ICS work so far, we celebrated the growth that has come from each step.  We revisited our model of school that we created when we first embarked on ICS work, and saw all of the ways we have changed.  We still have a lot of work to do, but it's also important to celebrate our growth.  I am proud of us as a district for wrestling with the work that is so hard, but the right thing to do.  We have made a lot of mistakes, but those are also learning opportunities and we can't make mistakes if we're not trying to move forward.
I see us working on changing our system so that we shift from blaming a student that doesn't fit a narrow normative, to seeing how the system can better take responsibility for every student as a full and complex human.  We separate, segregate and label kids a lot less.  We have grown in our ability to take responsibility for growing our own capacity to serve.  We have shifted our language and thinking to be more assets-based, which has made us more hopeful, more responsible, and more responsive.  We have built in supports for students and staff to grow such as restorative practices and a community circle for students, and collaborative planning time for staff.
2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?

One of my roles in the district is a co-program lead for the induction program.  We work with new teaching staff to support their growth as educators.  Equity is a centerpiece of this work.  Since working with Dr. Capper and Fratura, we have worked to improve our job postings to make sure that we're making it very clear that we're seeking people who are serious about doing the work of unpacking our systems and building a more equitable world.  Our interview questions have changed to challenge potential hires to reflect on inequities and wrestle with the difficult work we're engaging in.  As a result, our new hires have been absolutely amazing.  
After hiring, it is our job to help them both understand the progress of our work and also to use their new perspectives and experiences to help us grow.  We begin with a training during new teacher week in which we set the stage for our ICS work and review the first few modules so that when whole staffs meet, the new hires are ready to engage with their building in reviewing the work and moving it forward.  
Second, every building team begins every year with a review of the ICS work so far, revisiting the content of every module we have completed.  This is an important feature because it means that our work survives any person or people changing roles.  Part of the power of ICS is that it is both top down and bottom up.  Beginning every year this way allows us to make sure that every staff member is a part of the solution every year.  
This year, a brilliant team met over the summer and planned a Courageous Conversations about Race professional development that every building experienced during the in-service week for all staff.  This encouraged deep and meaningful conversations and connections between staff, and helped to incorporate new staff into their building teams where they can both build connections and share their perspective and wisdom.  Once the school year gets going, we match new hires with trained mentors to help them continue to reflect on their practice and grow in their ability to serve all children.  This mutually beneficial relationship helps us to establish a culture of support, continual growth, and unflinching movement on the work of building a more equitable and just school system.
3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?
As each of us has grown in our analysis of our systems and ability to do the hard work of accepting our failures and learning new ways of doing things, we have challenged and supported each other to grow.  We now have structures that regularly help us to meet with each other, challenge each others' thinking, and teach each other new strategies to better serve all kids.  The Induction Program has evaluated our feedback data and used interviews to analyze our ability to serve new staff, especially new staff of the global majority, and leverage their willingness to work with us to help our system improve.  We work with the Dane County New Teacher Project consortium and their Partners for Racial Inclusion to improve our program.  Again, we're far from done with this work but I'm proud that we keep working to be better.
4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?

At SIS, we have been moving toward having collaborative planning time to co-plan to co-serve to co-learn.  The Induction program works with the building lead mentor, the trained mentors, and district leaders to continually reflect on our program and improve it.  Equity has become a centerpiece of all conversations at all levels, which is an incredible step and will help us to continue to move toward our vision.
sam pietenpol1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?
I believe that the work we’ve been doing through ICS is helping us educators work towards an environment that makes every single child feel smart, capable and valued. A large component of ICS is building knowledge and perspective of structural and personal inequities in education. It illuminates the common structures and practices that historically and persistently marginalize our students, it leads us to engage in our own personal identity development, and it prompts us to re-examine the deficit language and thinking that harm and hold back our students. This work has given teachers the opportunity to make changes in both their practices and their beliefs to better serve students. As a result, our students are learning in more equitable environments where their teachers believe in them and hold them to high standards.
2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?
A major component of our equity work is calling others into the conversation. It’s not enough just to recognize inequities. It’s not enough to take on dismantling those inequities on your own. To make change, you have to be able to call others into the work to collaborate. Through the Lake Bluff Student Market for Ukraine, I was able to support my sixth graders in this work. They recognized that there were people in need of support and were determined to raise funds to give that support, but most importantly, they called in every other student at Lake Bluff to make the change they wanted to see. These sixth graders crafted videos to educate and empower their peers from kindergarten through sixth grade to join in on the effort. They gathered all students’ crafts and combined them with their own to sell hundreds of crafts at the fair. It’s because of their leadership and collaboration that our market was so successful. As an educator, I believe the foundation of excellent and equitable education is to empower our students to become leaders for change. My work wasn’t to create this market, but to support my students as creators and leaders. They brought together a community to make change, and I believe that is at the core our equity work.

3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?
Through conversations I’ve had in ICS, I’ve been told to ask myself, “Is what I’m doing making every child feel smart?” and “Am I holding every child to a high standard?” These questions have guided and changed the structures I put in place in my classroom. I have dismantled ability grouping in my room, and am rebuilding collaborative group work that engages a diverse group of students. This allows powerful minds with contrasting perspectives to learn from and grow with each other. All of my students are held to the same high standard and engage in their work with the support of their peers. As a result, I hope to make every child feel smart, capable and valued. 

4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?
Collaboration has been at the heart of successful outcomes in my educational sphere. I have been able to collaborate with our district and school equity teams to analyze the inequalities in schools and discuss what approaches, conversations or supports we can put in place to begin to dismantle them. I am lucky to work with my co-teacher everyday while leading instruction. She both challenges me and inspires me to make changes within our classroom to provide our learners with better, more meaningful education. Most importantly, I am consistently collaborating with my students. In our classroom Crew, we engage in critical conversations about current events and the world we live in. Students share their experiences and beliefs around the issue to co-construct greater insights and personal connection. Through this collaboration, we are able to empower each other to engage in conversations and ultimately make change in our District and community.
jody1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?

The ICS work is in year three of implementation, so we are working on how we continue to inform the public about the work our staff is doing.  The work continues to build our capacity to support students moving forward.  The Rec Department sees how our equity work can give more accessibility to our students, our families, our community members, and our staff.  
2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?
Our department does our best to equip participants, community members, and instructors with the necessary support to provide opportunities for everyone interested in participating in our programs. Whether that be additional staff, room accommodations, or other needed support.  The various ways that community members, staff, students, alumni, and families can use our facilities provides opportunities to keep people active and engaged.  These connections allow for more equitable access and opportunities for many.
We also provide employment opportunities for several students. Justin Calvert and Perry Perkins, two of our Recreation Supervisors, have made it a priority to include multiple current and former Shorewood High School students on our program staff year-round. Perry served as an assistant coach for the track team with a goal of building relationships with students. Justin also reaches out to students and coaches when recruiting staff. Justin has worked with the high school coaches to provide camps and clinics for young players. These efforts have resulted in building relationships with students that have led to adding them to our staff and providing opportunities to build a resume that will help them attain opportunities later in life. 
3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?

We pursue accommodations to make participation possible as much as possible. We do this on a case-by-case basis. Each situation is different based on the needs of the participant we are accommodating. We do our best to get everyone in the room, on the court, in the pool, etc. that would like to be there.
4) What lessons have you/your colleagues learned from engaging in this work? 
We appreciate the cooperation of the various school district departments when we are looking for support. Being able to accommodate the needs of participants takes the training and support of multiple district employees. Everyone is always willing to provide their services when they are able.  

katherine myszewski1) From your perspective, what impact has the ICS planning/work had on students and/or the community so far?


The ICS work that Shorewood School District has been engaging in has had an impact on staff, as they have started to examine their identities, privilege, and systems that they are a part of. Although this work has started, equity is a lifelong journey where school staff are continuously reflecting on their practices and systems. I have seen many courageous and uncomfortable conversations happen amongst staff through ICS. The ICS work has had an impact on students because conversations around social justice, related to race, ethnicity, and gender are being held and welcomed within the classroom. 


2) How has your specific work aligned with our equity work?


My work with Rainbow Crew has aligned with the ICS work because Rainbow Crew supports LGBTQ+ students. Members in the LGBTQ+ community are historically marginalized; thus examining systems and restructuring them to affirm LGBTQ+ identities is a necessary part of the ICS work. I chose to start Rainbow Crew because I saw a need for additional support for LGBTQ+ students at the elementary level. Shorewood High School and Shorewood Middle School both have student clubs that support LGBTQ+ students. When I started at Shorewood, this type of support did not exist at the elementary level. Through establishing Rainbow Crew, I wanted to create a safe place for students to feel comfortable talking about gender and sexual orientation. Rainbow Crew is an affinity group for LGBTQ+ students and allies at both Lake Bluff Elementary School and Atwater Elementary School. Rainbow Crew meets once a month to discuss various topics related to gender and sexual orientation. Students participated in activities, conversations, and even designed Pride Month posters which were sold at the Lake Bluff Student Market to raise funds for UNICEF. Between both schools, there are over 180 students involved in Rainbow Crew.


3) What steps have you taken to look at inequities within your systems?  How have you tried to address these?


In my role as the Shorewood Elementary School Band Teacher, I have noticed the lack of a culturally responsive curriculum written for elementary band. This past summer, I wrote out the Shorewood Elementary Band curriculum in the form of a guaranteed viable curriculum. Marzano (2003) says that “a guaranteed and viable curriculum (GVC) ensures that all students have an equal opportunity to learn (OTL). Each student will have access to an effective or highly effective teacher, and access to the same content, knowledge and skills in each section or class.” The Elementary Band GVC is standards based and will create opportunities for all students to show their mastery in the music standards. 


Part of having an equitable curriculum is having culturally responsive curriculum resources to support learning the standards. After reviewing past band method books used in Shorewood (a curriculum resource), I have also adopted a new curriculum resource for fourth grade band that is more culturally responsive. Many elementary band method books contain popular songs that are also minstrel songs (“Camptown Races” and “Jingle Bells” are a few examples). Minstrel songs were used in minstrel shows. Minstrel shows were composed of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music performances that characterized people of African descent in a racist way through the use of blackface. Although these tunes are well known and are easy for beginner band students to learn, I wanted to eliminate these songs from the elementary band resources because their roots are steeped in racism. Thus, I have adopted “Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician” as a resource where all songs are screened for cultural responsiveness. 


4) What collaboration has taken place within your sphere of influence to create different outcomes for the District?

Many staff members have collaborated with me to support Rainbow Crew at the monthly meetings. Additionally, with each lesson, I have created a caregiver guide that educates adults on the monthly Rainbow Crew topic. These documents were intentionally made to provide care and support to caregivers who in turn can provide care and support at home to the scholars in Rainbow Crew. The caregiver guides were designed by myself in relation to the monthly Rainbow Crew topic. The staff members that help with Rainbow Crew also review these guides and provide feedback. The Rainbow Crew caregiver guides highlight learning targets, new information learned, question prompts, and activities to extend learning. In the process of creating the caregiver guides, I learned the importance of supporting initiatives that are happening within the school building at home. In order for change to truly work, it needs to be a community effort. Thus, caregivers need to be educated about the initiative topics and how they support their scholars in the school’s work.


Outside of Rainbow Crew, I have collaborated with the previous Shorewood High School Band teacher, Bryan Kujawa, to discuss and review our band literature to work on programming more culturally responsive music. 


Links to Rainbow Crew Resources:

Rainbow Crew Caregiver Letter
Rainbow Crew Meeting #2

Rainbow Crew February Caregiver Information

Rainbow Crew Meeting #3

Rainbow Crew March Caregiver Information

Rainbow Crew Meeting #4

April Rainbow Crew Caregiver Information

Rainbow Crew Meeting #5

May Rainbow Crew Caregiver Information