How We’re Striving to be an Anti-Racist Organization: Reflections from the 2020-2021 School Year

In June 2020, Hendy Avenue Consulting, like many other organizations, responded to the murder of George Floyd with a statement supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and condeming acts of racism. We felt it was important to make a statement, but knew that alone was not enough, so we also made a series of commitments:

“We commit to continuing our own growth and learning as individuals and as a team. We commit to elevating the voices of our colleagues of color. We commit to loudly speaking out against racism. We commit to deepening our understanding of how the human capital systems we help to design and implement can either support or hurt both staff and students of color. We commit to creating spaces for education leaders where they can bring their full selves and safely speak their truth. 

As educators, we have a responsibility not just for reading, writing, and arithmetic. We have a responsibility to help shape a better tomorrow. Breaking down racism and white supremacy culture is not parallel to the work of education, it is the work.”

A year later, we reflect on the progress we’ve made and how far we still have to go to be an anti-racist organization, and to use our influence to create anti-racist spaces and tools and to develop leaders who promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. We share our reflections both to hold ourselves accountable as well as to share how even a small organization such as ours can make strides toward equity. Over the past year, our team has made improvements in: what we measure, who we work with, what we do, and how we grow. 

  1. What we measure:
  2. Who we work with:
  • What we do:
    • Observation Rubric Workshops: We recognized that one of our most direct influences on diversity, equity, and inclusion is in teacher observation and feedback rubrics and invested in our own learning in this area. Looking ahead, we are committed to providing support to others around revising their rubric language. More information on that opportunity coming soon!
    • Observation Rubric Development: The team, in partnership with our clients, has been responsible for writing observation and feedback rubrics for the Delaware Department of Education and for KIPP Texas Public Schools. Both of these rubrics take a strong equity and inclusion stance and will advance equity in their classrooms.
    • Academics: Our team has an increasing focus on academics and is bringing an anti-racist lens to our academic work, particularly in mathematics where student expectations, opportunities, and instructional methods too often hold back kids of color.
    • Strategic Planning: We are partnering with one charter network to create DEI strategic plans for each of their schools following unfavorable survey feedback from teachers.
    • Talent: We continued to have an equity focus in our examination of and revision to teacher compensation systems. We also focused on equity throughout our development of a Talent Toolkit for Chicago Public School administrators. For example, one PD session within the CPS Talent Toolkit focused on how to effectively lead their evaluation system and included IRRPP research to train principals on how to build trust across lines of difference.
    • Cohort Content: Our cohort facilitators prioritized a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion as an on-going theme in our Chief Talent Officer Cohort and Addressing Learning Gaps Cohorts.
  • How we grow:
    • Individual Professional Learning Goals: Each member of our team now includes explicit goals related to DEI knowledge-building and influence in our individual professional learning goals. 
    • Accountability and Reflection: To ensure that our individual growth doesn’t get pushed aside, our team discusses progress toward our individual DEI goals every 6-8 weeks.
    • Consultancy: We regularly problem-solve together as a team when we face equity challenges in our work and, when needed, we reach out to experts in the field to get specialized guidance on how to support or challenge our clients. 

Looking Ahead

As the founder of Hendy, I’m proud of how much we’ve done over the past year to become a more anti-racist organization. I have no illusions that our equity work is done or ever will be, however, I do believe we’ve set a foundation for our future work that will serve our team and our partners well. I also believe we’ve built momentum that will propel us forward, each year getting smarter and having a greater influence. A few specific goals for the 2021-2022 school year include: 

  1. Reviewing and refining our language in our performance rubric and partner survey.
  2. Continuing to grow our partnerships with BIPOC educators – not just with other consultants, but also with the clients with whom we choose to work.
  3. Leading strong observation and feedback reviews such that observation rubrics are driving teachers and administrators toward behaviors that enhance equity and inclusion in classrooms and schools.
  4. Centering our CAO Cohort around equity to ensure that all students are getting the educational opportunities they need to be successful.
  5. Revising our consulting contract language and our launch meetings to make clear our anti-racist stance and what that means for our partnerships.
  6. Reflecting on the ways in which our internal practices are based in a white supremacy culture and may not be serving our team or clients well and making necessary changes.
  7. Continuing our individual equity goals, regular team reflections, and team problem-solving so that we can provide better support to our partners and can support/push their thinking and decisions. 

If you have any feedback on our work so far, or our goals for the upcoming year, please let me know. We’d love to learn from and with you!