Summary: West Seattle Elementary creates practices that recognize and nurture the talents and interests of each student.
Honoring Gifts and Talents at West Seattle Elementary
West Seattle Elementary teachers and staff have worked hard to create a more equitable advanced learning environment that provides every student, especially those furthest from educational justice, with the support they need to develop their strengths and work at more complex levels.
“In addition to the fact that our students are beautiful and bright, I think everyone has a gift and a talent,” Principal Pamela McCowan-Conyers said. “They are just waiting to be fed.”
This includes using their STEAM program, which brings the outside world in, to make work relevant to students’ lives, based on their interests. Experts from technology companies such as Microsoft and Amazon are invited into classrooms to teach coding, and the school offers many extracurricular activities, such as Running Club, Chess Club, Robotics Club and Adventure Club – where students may participate in activities that they otherwise you may not have access to.
“These are the things that expand a child’s perception of themselves,” McCowan-Conyers said.
Creating practices that recognize and nurture each student’s talents and interests is another way the school is bringing equity into the classroom.
West Seattle Elementary has incorporated a to push on model designed to keep students in their classrooms while receiving individualized services. Teaching supports the whole child, meeting a student’s needs for academic support and providing advanced lessons where appropriate.
Their work supports Seattle Public Schools’ commitment to changing the way we provide advanced learning services to ensure that every student’s brilliance is honored and supported, especially those furthest from educational justice. . New types of instruction will consider the needs of the whole child, and the new model will ensure equitable access to advanced learning opportunities for every student from K-8. Each student currently enrolled in advanced learning will continue on their current path.
“I am eager to [SPS] disrupt systemic inequalities that limit black and brown students’ access to advanced learning opportunities,” said Rashid Noor, a second-grade teacher at the school.
The new advanced learning model aims to ensure access to services for every student, especially those who are Black, Brown, Indigenous, multilingual, or receiving special education services.
Noor, along with third-grade teacher Grace Deery-Schmitt, also runs an after-school program that will bring teachers and family members into the classroom so students are taught in their native language. The Somali after-school program was introduced in February and teachers hope to start classes in Amharic, Oromo, Spanish and Vietnamese soon.
The two teachers attended a workshop offered by SPS’s Advanced Learning Department that provided insight into the inequities within advanced learning models and suggested steps educators can take to promote each person’s unique ability. student.
The pair currently lead staff meetings on equity and professional development and work with teachers and staff to ensure that every student is supported.
“Rashid and I were so fascinated by this work that we found ways to share it with our administration and staff,” Deery-Schmitt said. “And we’re constantly looking for ways to create equitable collaborations and conversations with families.”