Solicits Voice and Perspective as an Anti-Racist
The following blog is the seventh of 11 dedicated to providing an overview of the No-Nonsense Nurturer leader behaviors in anticipation of CT3’s summer leadership workshops. We hope to support all leaders with behaviors essential for every organization.
The No-Nonsense Nurturer® Leader:
- Models humility
- Sets high expectations
- Creates a culture of coaching
- Builds collective efficacy
- Recognizes and develops growth mindsets, always striving to be asset based
- Solicits voice and perspective
- Generates culture (and systems) of accountability
- Builds trusting relationships
- Commits to being an anti-racist
In this series, several CT3 associates share personal stories or examples about how you can commit to each of these behaviors. In this blog, I explore why soliciting voice and perspective is so critical to student and educator success.
What does it mean to solicit voice and perspective? No-Nonsense Nurturer leaders don’t make assumptions about how their anti-racist intent translates. Instead, they gather feedback and self-examine — skills central to soliciting voice and perspective. They also communicate empowered beliefs that align to and directly address anti-racism and ask the right questions to support staff members regarding misaligned actions to make crucial changes on behalf of all students.
I’ve been fortunate to work alongside and support countless leaders who are highly committed to this. The pivotal ideas below represent their aligned anti-racist beliefs and actions as they relate to soliciting voice.
- Gather staff feedback as it specifically relates to anti-racist practice. Anti-racist intention does not always translate to anti-racist action, and as leaders, we must go first. Dr. Ibram X. Kendi states, “the heartbeat of racism is denial, and the heartbeat of antiracism is confession” (Kendi, 2020). Anti-racist leaders can and should ask for feedback from staff as they share individual and collective commitment to anti-racism. They ask: When have I operated as an anti-racist? When have I operated as a racist? Providing purpose and space for staff’s transparent answers offers No Nonsense Nurturer leaders an opportunity to “go to confession” thereafter, model their learning and take aligned action — all while honoring staff voice and perspective.
- Probe intentionally and tell — at the right time and in balance —when seeking to unpack a disempowered staff mindset that may reflect racist beliefs and practices. No Nonsense Nurturer leaders leverage data and reflective questioning to access staff thinking. From there, they can support an unpacking of racist mindset and its impact on students to immediately coach and inform critical change. An example of this balance is below:
- Tell: I noticed that … you did not call on student X despite him raising his hand several times. I also noticed you called on student Y several times.
- Probe: Tell me more about that.
- Follow-up probe: What impact will that continued action have on student X?
- Follow-up probe: What message does that send to student X?
- Follow-up probe: Why does that matter?
- Tell: Here at Z school, we are committed to … actively changing systems and policies that oppress some groups of our society while privileging others. This requires a commitment to examine and evolve our own teaching practices that may be contributing to that oppression.
- Probe: What are your commitments and next steps to ensure you fulfill this promise to our students? What is your commitment to anti-racism?
- Probe: How can I support you in getting there?
It’s important to note that “tells” are a space to stamp an empowering mindset and aligned action. It’s also a space to use direct language and name when racist actions are occuring, before leading the staff member to making a commitment to impact change.
These represent just two of the countless ways in which anti-racist leaders solicit voice and perspective. They are grounded in listening and learning to support anti-racist leadership and ensuring a coaching culture in which staff members are pushed to engage in data-based and reflective conversation and commitment rooted in accountability.
By Meaghan Loftus, Partnership Manager, Associate
CT3 transforms the quality and culture of education for youth, especially those in traditionally disenfranchised communities.