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CRT-related links provided by Peter Brown, head of Oklahoma City Public Schools Social Studies Department

Creating Supportive Learning Environments
As young people continue to experience and hear news of ongoing racism and violence against Black, Brown, Asian American, and Indigenous communities, supportive learning environments that center on SEL and equity can help young people and adults to process, heal, and work together to promote collective well-being.

As educators, family members and caregivers, and community partners, we can support young people in working through big questions, processing their emotions, understanding their viewpoints and their relation to broader sociocultural and historical contexts, and taking collective action. We offer guidance and curated resources to help cultivate a supportive environment by: 1) preparing the space for SEL, 2) opening space for sharing and listening, and 3) expanding the space to promote collective well-being.

Preparing the space for SEL
Ensure the learning environment is one where all people feel safe, connected, and accepted

Reflect on how your own identities and experiences shape your perspectives. Before engaging others in conversation, reflect on your own emotions and how you’ve been impacted. Consider how your identities and experiences shape the way you view people and events and the way you’re seen by others. Also consider how others’ identities and experiences influence their perspectives and emotions.

Ensure all young people feel emotionally safe and a sense of belonging. Engage in individual check-ins ahead of time, review any previous data on the classroom climate, and/or reflect on whether interactions in your learning space have promoted inclusion and antiracism. If anyone feels uncomfortable or disconnected, focus on addressing root causes before diving into discussions. Give space for those most affected – Black students and young people who’ve been harmed by discriminatory policies and practices — to direct when and how they want to discuss issues of racism and police violence.

Co-create shared agreements or ground rules about how all members of the learning community will interact with empathy and care for one another. Establish that it is good to share different perspectives, but views that are hateful, dehumanizing, or disrespectful to others’ history, identity, or experience are not acceptable.

Recognize the role of race and racism. Discussing police violence and systemic racism can be deeply painful, particularly for Black students and those who have personal experiences around these issues. Create a supportive space for group members to choose to discuss their emotions and experiences with racism, and model listening and empathy. Do not allow others to minimize or debate someone’s feelings or experiences, and intervene immediately if there are expressions or acts of racism and bias.

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Submitted: Apr 23, 2021