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Leading Edge Blog

Prioritizing Teaching and Learning

“I feel like our definition of equity continues to evolve, and I'm not sure that you ever arrive at the perfect definition,” shares Julie Weyandt, Consultant from State Support Team (SST) Region 9 in the most recent Leading Edge podcast episode, Prioritizing Teaching and Learning.

In Ohio’s strategic plan, Each Child, Our Future, there is a common definition of equity and education— that each child has access to relevant and challenging academic experiences and educational resources necessary for success across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, and income. When thinking about the difference between equity and equality, equity is getting to the point of ensuring that each child has what they need. And we know some students need more and some students need less. But, it doesn't mean ‘watering down’ or having lower expectations. It means being able to raise the achievement of every student, because we don't want to continue to have students who are marginalized or continue to struggle.

When looking at Ohio’s leadership module for education, there are four components:

  1. Promoting system wide learning,
  2. Prioritizing teaching and learning,
  3. Building capacity through support and accountability, and
  4. Sustaining an open and collaborative culture.

This model of leadership helps educators link the Ohio Improvement Process (OIP) with ways to achieve excellence and equity among students, and there is a direct connection between prioritizing teaching and learning and equity in education.

How Prioritizing Teaching and Learning Connects to Equity

“When we step back, it really is about looking at what does each child need to be his or her best in our educational systems, and how do we provide those supports in those systems to make sure that each child is getting what he or she needs,” explains Dr. Mona Burts-Beatty, Consultant from SST 13. “And by prioritizing teaching and learning, it helps educators keep end goals in mind by focusing work on ways to improve instruction and its results. This domain emphasizes theories of action and evidence-based practices to bring coherence to instruction and deliver improvement for all students.”

When talking about equity, education leaders must look at their systems. What is the way students can access those existing systems to have full academic and social potential? It's important not to just look at academic structures, but also the social structures so that each student has access to relevant and challenging academic experiences, and the educational resources necessary for success across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, and income.

“We are working to help our teachers understand that every student is capable,” shares Dr. Reva Cosby, Superintendent, Trotwood Madison City Schools. “We need teachers to know that every student does not get the same thing, but they get what they need. That's where the equity piece comes in. Teachers have to understand how to differentiate. They have to understand that if they have a classroom of 30 students, they could have three different groups going on because they are addressing the needs of these individual students. You're not going to have 100% student success if you don't have equity. But to get that, we have to prepare our teachers to provide it for our students.”

To learn more about how equity is defined and how the prioritization of teaching and learning impacts equity, listen to the full podcast episode.