Name that teachers cannot and do not teach what they don’t know or have never experienced themselves. This is why adult learning should be designed and experienced using the same components of excellent teaching that we aspire to give to all students.
Explore, identify, locate, and amplify what is most important to the individuals, the community, and the system.
Acknowledge that racism and systems of oppression are baked into public education in this country, and we have the chance/responsibility to redesign that. This asks for explicit and unabashed anti-racist and equity practices.
Begin with, and move forward through deep listening - starting with curiosity, centering the voices of those most impacted by inequity...who are often found at the margins, and listening in order to understand.
Attend to the human element of education first and foremost. This means slowing down, resisting urgency, and taking the time to connect and heal on the personal level.
Abby Benedetto has taken on designing and changing systems for the last two decades from a wide variety of roles and perspectives - honing her skills around deep listening, collaborative innovation, and equity-centered learning design, and driven by the purpose of working to ensure that ALL young people (and adults) have access to the type of deeper learning they deserve so that they feel seen and valued, and develop the skills that they need to go out into the world and thrive. As 2020 unfolded and the world was newly turned upside down because of Covid, the persistent and inexcusable murders of unarmed Black men and women, forest fires raging around us, and clear threats to our democracy, Abby found herself heavy with so many questions of "what am I doing? what can I do?" Those questions led her to some new lenses of purpose and focus, specifically around supporting other white-identified folks to build an anti-racist practice, and develop tools to reduce the hold that white supremacy culture has on our system of public education..
As an educational consultant and founder of Core Shifts, Abby works to support individuals, schools, and districts across the country to identify important shifts that push on the current status quo.
Abby has had the opportunity to partner with schools & districts to provide coaching, design work, high quality adult learning, and systems transformation nationally and around the globe. She is able to draw upon her lived experience of the decade she spent as a classroom teacher and leader, seven years of working shoulder to shoulder with educators in this country and abroad, as well as a unique ability to help folks make connections between what they know and their aspirational vision for where they want to go.
More recently, Abby has been working to apply her expertise as an educator and facilitator of systems change to an ever-deepening understanding of her own racial identity as a white woman... and to supporting other white folks who are interested in doing the same. This strand of work feels like the newest version of her life's purpose. And Abby is committed to her personal learning so that she can continue to walk alongside others on their journeys as well.
I have had the gift of seeing Chris Emdin speak at several conferences over the past few years, and reading his book is just as electrifying as listening to him in person..which is saying a lot. This book has so much to offer about how we must nurture the identities of ALL of our students and the artistry it takes to do this.
Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success by Christopher Emdin
Shane & Jamila (who I am honored to call colleagues and personal friends) present an inspiring and compelling vision for how we can redefine what data is and how it is used in education. Centering street data and the voices of students has become an integral part of how I work with clients.
Street Data - A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation by Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan
Bettina Love’s voice rings in my ears each time I design a workshop for teachers when she writes, “When you understand how hard it is to fight for educational justice, you know that there are no shortcuts and no gimmicks…” (9) This is the work we need to do, and it is hard. But it is the work.
We Want to Do More Than Survive - Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina Love
Finding Mastery- What it really means to be Purpose Driven EPISODE
This episode has really pushed my thinking around how schools/districts spend so much time on things like mission/vision/strategic planning, and how that might be different than helping students find “deep purpose”.
Code Switch - School Colors Series - NPR
This series has taught me more about the history of education and race in this country by telling a multi-layered, multi-perspective, and exhaustively-researched set of stories about schooling in New York City.
Hidden Brain - Do Less Episode - NPR
This episode spoke so deeply to what feels like a universal challenge in education of always feeling like we need (or are being asked) to do more. What would it take to push on that and actually subtract so that we could do better?