JEDI in our Day Programs in Seattle

SCHOOL RECRUITMENT & COSTS

  • The programs, including buses, are free for schools via IslandWood partnerships with King County and Seattle Public Utilities.
  • Our priority registration process gives availability first to schools with higher free and reduced lunch rates and higher percentages of students of color.

PROGRAM CONTENT & APPROACH

We take an anti-racist teaching stance in our program delivery and development. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Centering understanding of local phenomena and developing solutions to problems that are in, or directly impact, students’ immediate community.
  • Connecting to student prior knowledge, identity, and experiences and incorporation of diverse knowledge systems and ways of understanding beyond a solely western science-based approach.
  • Helping students recognize their own capacity as change-makers and identify where they already engage in science and engineering in their lives.
  • Broaden the idea of who counts as “experts” when doing science by involving cultural perspectives and experiences from students’ families through take-home interviews.
  • Engage students through structured, hands-on teamwork both in the field and in the lab. Use protocols when necessary (e.g., a 2 stay, 2 stray method for sharing solutions to engineering problems) to ensure that student voices are heard and valued equitably within groups.
  • Integrate chaperones/elders into the learning experience.

EDUCATOR RECRUITMENT

  • We intentionally work to recruit and hire BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) educators and build an educator team that reflects the racial demographics of the students we serve. This is important for many reasons, but a critical one is that it can help students of color reach better outcomes and prepare all young people to live and work in our multiracial society.
  • We did a significant revision of our educator job requirements, prioritizing lived experiences and teaching experiences over requirement of specific educational degrees. For example, we removed a prior requirement of a background in environmental education (EE) because the field of EE, to date, has not been diverse or inclusive.
[Image description: a photo of Celina Steiger and a group of students on the deck of the Argosy boat during the Duwamish River Program. They are looking towards the shore of the river.]

PILOTING NEW PROGRAMS

In 2020, we piloted a new program – the Duwamish River Program – that may not have happened, if not for our increased prioritization of a JEDI approach.

  • The program used social studies as the focus, with an integration of science, and centered the environmental justice issues and solutions at play along the Duwamish River.
  • The program asked students to consider the perspectives of various stakeholders and then imagine “what should the river be like in the future?”
  • We focused program outreach to schools that were within the Duwamish River Valley and may have connections to the river, which kept the program very local to students, a justice-oriented pedagogical practice.
  • The pilot program was successful, and although it didn’t immediately expand due to Covid-19, we are interested in bringing the program back in the future.
  • In response to this pilot, we’ve been thinking how to continue to incorporate social studies, in addition to science, in student field trips to help teachers deliver on multiple learning objectives in one experience.

PARTNERS

In our work with partners, such as Seattle Public Utilities, Tacoma Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Tilth Alliance, racial equity is a central part of the conversations we have about who for/why/how we do our work. All our stakeholders have racial equity as a high priority.

ASSESSMENT

  • Beginning in 2020, we revisited our assessment plan to incorporate questions that would help us learn from teachers how our JEDI approach is and isn’t showing up in our teaching. We also paid particular attention to student engagement and the ways in which students were connecting the lessons to their own experiences to help us identify whether our efforts were engaging for all students.
  • We know that assessment itself can be biased and perpetuate stereotypes if not done well and are looking at a number of different approaches to assessment to reduce bias.

STAFF JEDI DEVELOPMENT

In addition to organization-wide JEDI trainings and external workshops, members of our team have been participating in internal racial equity meetings aimed at growing their capacities as anti-racist educators. During the school year, our education team comes together for Building Antiracist White Educators sessions alternating weeks with a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) affinity group and a white caucus group.

A child kneels beside a pond at Brightwater, and uses a net to get a sample of the plant life in the pond.

GROWTH AREAS

We’d like to continue to grow and evolve in our JEDI approach by partnering with BIPOC-led community groups to help shape the direction of these programs. We also want to better highlight examples of community-led, especially BIPOC-led, action projects, demonstrating how people are able to make positive change in their communities.