7 ways to build understanding with an equity dictionary

In a field laden with buzzwords, jargon can be an enemy of change, advocates say
By: | March 16, 2021
(AdobeStock/Vasyl)(AdobeStock/Vasyl)

Leading an equity-focused school requires that educators speak a common language with each other and community members.

But in a field laden with buzzwords, jargon can be an enemy of change, say experts at The Leadership Academy, which has published a K-12-focused dictionary called The ABCs of Equity

The dictionary, which is based of years of work with school and district leaders, can be used as education leaders work with their teams and communities to tweak the definitions to fit their needs and contexts, The Leadership Academy says.

Some of the definitions have been provided by the educators and other equity experts such as Zaretta Hammond, Ibram X. Kendi and Glenn Singleton.


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For example, Kendi, a professor and author of How to Be an Antiracist, defines “colorblindness” as “Failing to see race and in turn failing to see racism.”

And Learning for Justice defines “white privilege” as: “A transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society. It provides white people with advantages that people of color do not enjoy. It shapes the world in which we live, the way that we navigate and interact with one another and with the world.”

Educators can also use the equity dictionary to:

  1. Generate a set of norms encourages conversation.
  2. Provide examples of what a term look likes in practice from multiple perspectives.
  3. Ask participants to give their own examples, and discuss how these examples do or don’t align with the definitions.
  4. Give people multiple opportunities to ask questions about the terms and provide additional examples
  5. Give scenarios where people have to identify examples of terms within the scenario.
  6. Integrate terms into learning and conversation.