BROOKLYN, N.Y., Aug. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools (LAB) announced the launch of its "Back to School Learner Identity and Agency Guidebook," which unpacks how educators can help students build agency to navigate a challenging school year and advocate for their needs. By building student identity and agency, LAB and its partners—including the Center for Black Educator Development, Character Lab, eXi, The National Center for Learning Disabilities, Q.E.D. Foundation, The Seton Montessori Institute, and Dr. Anindya Kundu—believe schools will be able to create more equitable and inclusive learning environments for all students.
"To thrive, students will need to authentically know who they are, what they value, and where they want to go," said Greg Rodriguez, High School Director, Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools.
The Guidebook outlines leading research, resources, and strategies schools can use to create a learning environment that affirms student identity, centers student needs and interests, provides culturally competent instruction, and focuses on equity. It includes critical insights for schools to help students align their talents and identity with their social and academic roles so they may find their place in the world. It gives educators concrete ways to help students investigate their interests and foster self-motivation, curiosity, and the ability to overcome challenges to excel in college, career, and life.
The 2020-21 school year will be the most challenging many students ever face, with uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic, a spotlight on systemic racism, and an economic downturn. To succeed, students will need to draw from a strong sense of self and agency. "This moment is a chance to reimagine the power dynamics of education and to intentionally design schools that affirm and develop students' authentic identities, personalize learning, and cultivate agency," said Aaron Daly, Chief Operating Officer, Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools.
Dr. Temple Lovelace of eXi, who contributed to the Guidebook, called on schools to use this unique point in time to do things differently: "As we embark on a new year, we must uphold and reflect the diverse identities that each of our students and families inhabit, using their experiences as the foundation for truly culturally relevant teaching that sparks agency and supports their intellectual, social, and emotional well-being," she said.
LAB and its partners anchored their work with one question: What would it look like if students were able to shift the locus of control to successfully navigate complex life and learning transitions, including shifts in learning environments, COVID-19 stress or health concerns, and challenges outside of school?
LAB is applying insights from the Guidebook at its schools and is sharing it widely in the hope that other schools can use the identity and agency resources to provide more equitable and inclusive learning environments.
"The pandemic has taught us that adaptability, resourcefulness, and ingenuity are non-negotiable traits," said Dr. Anindya Kundu, one of the Guidebook contributors. "We can cultivate these in our children by looking to first foster their agency so they can determine their own future."
The Guidebook is a complementary resource to the Back-to-School Facilities Tool Kit, the Instructional Program Scheduling Map, and the Success Coaching Playbook housed under Brooklyn LAB's Equity by Design project. As a laboratory school, Brooklyn LAB has been working through EquitybyDesign.org to engage students, families, teachers, and administrators to generate bold solutions and tools to the challenges presented by the pandemic.
As a founding partner of the Educating All Learners Alliance—a new coalition of disability, civil rights, and education focused organizations dedicated to educating all learners during the COVID-19 humanitarian disaster—LAB will be distributing the Guidebook through this network and beyond.
Those interested in learning more about student identity and agency are encouraged to register for the upcoming webinar (details forthcoming), which will feature members of the design teams and LAB educators. Learn more at the Equity by Design website.
About Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools
Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools (LAB), founded in 2013, is a network of public charter schools that will serve 6-12th grade students this fall. LAB was designed to educate high-need urban students, particularly those who are least well-served by their current educational options. Named a "Center of Excellence" for its work with Students with Disabilities by the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, LAB aims to meet the individual needs of each student and to leverage innovative technologies and learning practices to eradicate the achievement gap. LAB was selected as an XQ school and is actively involved in work to upgrade and rethink high school to better meet the needs of students and of the future. For more information, please visit BrooklynLaboratorySchool.org.
LAB partnered with the following design teams in preparing the Learner Identity and Agency Guidebook:
About the Center for Black Educator Development: The Center addresses educational inequities to improve academic and social outcomes for all students through increased teacher diversity. It is led by Founder and CEO Sharif El-Mekki.
About Character Lab (CLAB): CLAB is a nonprofit that connects researchers with educators to create greater knowledge about the conditions that lead to social, emotional, academic, and physical well-being for young people. Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, is the founder and CEO of CLAB.
About eXi: eXi is a research lab that believes that the education system must be redesigned for all students, which can only be done at the intersection of equity and innovation. Its chief disruptor is Dr. Temple Lovelace, an associate professor of special education at Duquesne University.
About the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD): NCLD works to ensure students with disabilities fully benefit from initiatives aiming to personalize learning for all students. It is led by President and CEO Lindsay E. Jones, Esq.
About Q.E.D. Foundation: The foundation is an organization of adults and youth working together to create and sustain student-centered learning communities. It is led by Executive Director Kim Carter.
About The Seton Montessori Institute: The institute is a teacher preparation institute that has graduated thousands of qualified and caring educators in the Montessori teaching method. The Institute is led by Anna Perry, EdM.
About Dr. Anindya Kundu: Dr. Kundu has a Ph.D. in sociology of education from NYU and currently serves as a senior fellow at The City University of New York (CUNY). He has written the book The Power of Student Agency: Looking Beyond Grit to Close the Opportunity Gap." He's also given a popular Ted Talk on "The Opportunity Gap in Public Education—and How to Close It."
About Dezudio: Dezudio is an interaction and information design consultancy that creates communications, products, and services that inform decision-making, inspire action, and drive positive behaviors.
About World Class Education (WorldClassEdu): World Class Education collaborates with others to spread the joy of learning around the world. It is led by Founder and Partner Chris Liang-Vergara, who previously led personalized learning initiatives in New Orleans and Chicago.
SOURCE Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools