Asset Mapping in the Classroom Opens the Heart
By George Perry and Tiffiny Shockley Jackson
The last two years have put stress on the systems and structures designed to advance racial equity. Healing from this stress requires us to strengthen our vision, systems and strategies. As we prepare for the opening of this school year, an essential first step in establishing necessary classroom systems and structures is to focus on the ways we know and celebrate students individually as they return to our classrooms.
As a sixth-grade teacher, Tiffiny welcomes students into a new school year and transitions them to middle school. It has always been important for students to understand their strengths and to develop their identity. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that students also need to understand how to articulate their strengths and to use this understanding as a way to advocate for themselves and others. When classroom experiences lead to active learning rich with opportunities to share and listen, students build their voices and self-efficacy and believe that they can and will learn.
When classroom experiences lead to active learning rich with opportunities to share and listen, students build their voices and self-efficacy and believe that they can and will learn.
Tiffiny works with students to understand the assets they bring to school. She seeks to learn who her students are, their curiosities, abilities, areas of understanding, and the issues they care about. By gathering this information, she can build learning experiences to engage students in courageous conversations about who they are. They learn what they, and other students, bring to the classroom. They learn about her as a teacher, and that she is interested in knowing each of them and building a classroom community so that all students will reach their maximum potential.
Heart mapping and asset mapping are two approaches Tiffiny uses to learn about students and support their self-identification of strengths. It is a joy to watch students as they draw hearts on paper and fill them with their interests or curiosities, or perhaps their self-acknowledged strengths and capabilities. Their heart maps reveal experiences, hopes, and wonders that they carry within their hearts. Similarly, asset mapping uses stick figures or body outlines upon which students identify and explain their personal strengths. Perhaps they identify as being someone who listens well or observes details. Tiffiny uses these maps to identify topics she can draw upon to determine the issues to study.
Heart mapping is a way for students to be safe and vulnerable, and to build self-efficacy as they articulate what they can do to be active learners. Coupled with asset-mapping, these tools help us realize our equity vision: that all students know their learning is important and will be supported during this school year.
Explore the Tools of Cultural Proficiency
By Jaime Welborn
The start of the school year gives educators an opportunity to prepare themselves as a learning community to receive each and every student back into the school environment. Now is the time for educators to deeply consider race and social class in responding to the needs of all students and to ask yourself: To what degree do you do what you say you do for all students?
Educators can plan together to transform pre-pandemic systems into post-pandemic systems of success for all students using culturally proficient educational practice. To do so, educators must work together to implement an equitable approach using race and social class as a proactive, asset-based, mindset of Cultural Proficiency. This proactive approach allows educators to:
- reflect on their own practices and behaviors
- dialogue with others to gain diverse perspectives within their learning community
- recognize those who are similar and different culturally
- focus on action for equity
The Tools of Cultural Proficiency advance racial equity. First, educators begin by identifying and overcoming Barriers to Cultural Proficiency such as racism and other forms of oppression, privilege and entitlement, unawareness of the need to adapt, and resistance to change. Working together, educators identify policies, practices, and behaviors that are negative, unproductive, or inequitable. Secondly, educators rely on the Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency to identify policies, practices, and behaviors that are positive, productive, and equitable. Once educators locate policies, practices, and behaviors as being informed by the Barriers, they can apply the Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency. Educational teams use the lens of equity to:
- assess cultural knowledge
- value diversity
- manage the dynamics of difference
- adapt to diversity
- institutionalize cultural knowledge
These Essential Elements are critical to change policies and practices, as well as individual educator’s behaviors each year. Are you ready?