Adaptability as a Form of Equity
Implementing a social justice and equity framework when working with students is crucial for their empowerment and success. As a coordinator for Avenues for Success (AFS) at Hoover High School, I have served students that come from a diverse set of backgrounds and identities. In order to do the work with this population, our approaches must not resemble a one size fits all perspective. Part of rooting this work in social justice and equity is being malleable to unique student needs. It is acknowledging that each student has their own set of identities and experiences that will influence the type of support that they need.
Equity fills the gaps that have previously limited individuals. Providing students with the exact same resources and opportunities does not mean they will all benefit the same. Students need to be met where they currently are at. For instance, it is unrealistic to expect that all students will reach their academic goals from one presentation about how they can get started on the journey of attending a 4-year university. An equity framework would allow for the acknowledgement that not all students may qualify to apply to a 4-year university straight after high school. Going to a university may not be an option for some students for a variety of reasons. Each student is going through an individual experience that is unique to their own life. As professionals in the field of education, it is vital to acknowledge and honor all student experiences and identities. In meeting students right where they are at and providing them relevant resources, there becomes a possibility that the individual can begin fulfilling their potential.
At Avenues for Success, social justice and equity lies at the forefront on how we approach our work with students. The students that we serve include low-income, first generation, English learners, refugees and immigrants. Our goal is to ensure all students are receiving the necessary support in order to accomplish their goals. One of the many ways that we practice a social justice based framework is through accessibility. Many times students miss out on enriching opportunities due to lack of accessible resources. To prevent that barrier, there must first be awareness. Second, there must exist the effort to fully acknowledge and honor student experiences and identities so that we can best understand the ways to provide appropriate access to services. At AFS, we consistently host college and career workshops for our students. To ensure all students are able to receive the information we provide, we host our workshops multiple times throughout the school year. We also hold these workshops in a variety of formats, including the ability to request translation services if needed. By having various workshops, we are able to reach students who may have outside commitments. AFS also provides zoom options for our students, in order to remove transportation barriers. The purpose of providing these options revolve around our hope to ensure that all of our students hold the ability to take advantage of the opportunities that are made to support their academic journey.
Equity in education gives students the opportunity to become empowered. In order to reach equity, administrators and educational professionals must take on the responsibility of stepping back and being open to having honest conversations on the way current practices are limiting students. Become open to change and adapt to the diverse and unique needs of those that you serve. Ask questions, create dialogue, reflect, and implement change. This approach has the power to foster an environment that celebrates difference, thus authorizing prosperity for the entire community.