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Roots ConnectED addresses systems of oppression at the root. Their Anti-Bias Education model uses curriculum, classroom practices, and deep Community Building with all stakeholders to identify and dismantle the thinking and ideology that contributes to bias and discrimination before it gives way to harmful acts of oppression. The Anti-Bias Education model is centered on identity and inclusion, and acts as a means for transforming communities to be more just, equitable, and connected. The framework and its tools are holistic and intended for longterm integration throughout the curriculum and environment.

While it is too early to measure outcomes from Roots ConnectED’s 22 coaching partnerships, satisfaction data is promising. They offer one-on-one coaching and consulting, professional development, cohort learning communities, and school visits to schools interested in implementing the model.

  • Integrated Identity
  • Civic & Social Engagement
  • Relationship Skills
  • Adult Capacity & Well-being
  • Culturally Relevant Practices
  • Self-Exploration
  • 1:1 Coaching & Consulting
  • Cohort Learning Communities
  • Professional Development
  • Resource Toolkit
  • School Visits

What Makes this Model Innovative?

Affirmation of Self & Others
Anti-Bias Education helps all students, families, and faculties to deeply understand their identities and to honor everyone else in the school community.
High Expectations with Unlimited Opportunities for All
The Anti-Bias Education model supports educators in reflecting on their biases and working consistently to address them so that all students are met with high expectations and have equitable access to various learning opportunities. Similarly, educators encourage students to reflect on their own identity and biases, creating space for children to ultimately see the humanity in one another.
Social Consciousness & Action
Anti-Bias Education allows students and educators to develop the knowledge, skills, and mindsets to take anti-oppressive actions that disrupt and dismantle racism and other inequities in classroom and school practices.

Goals

The Anti-Bias Education model drives toward dual transformation—personal and collective— for both students and adults through components of the framework described below.

Personal Transformation

The ongoing work of understanding one’s own biases, power, and positionality. Leaning into revolutionary love and commitment to ongoing personal transformation.

Collective Transformation

Commitment to creating impact within one’s own sphere of influence and working collaboratively toward collective social transformation.

Experience

Roots ConnectED has deepened the work of Anti-Bias Education and created a framework (on right) that shows what Anti-Bias Education looks like in schools. The Anti-Bias Education model is centered in Identity & Inclusion. Individuals in school communities must have a deep understanding of their intersecting identifiers and recognize their biases, prejudices, power, and positionality. They emphasize the intersectionality of identity and design for diversity across identifiers from racial diversity to neurodiversity, with the foundational recognition that each individual’s actions impact others and that they are all integral parts of a community. Centering identity work connects students to the curriculum in deep and meaningful ways. It is through the tools of Community Building, Representation, Critical Literacy, Social Action, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) that they work toward the desired outcomes of personal and collective transformation for students and adults.

Community Building is closely tied to the ongoing identity work being carried out by adults and children in school. Community Building involves creating brave spaces where children can take part in story-telling and forge connections across lines of difference. Community Building Overview

In a class where meaningful Community Building is taking place:

  • Students demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.
  • Students recognize the value of honoring others’ stories and perspectives. 
  • Teachers are intentional about setting class norms that create a safe and brave environment for open conversations. Community Building Elements

As part of the Community Building process, students explore the tension in how they view themselves and how others view them, and how that tension impacts their experiences. Through genuine sharing and introspection, their Community Building work allows them to tap into experiences other than their own and practice honoring others’ stories.

Anti-Bias Education involves actively creating opportunities to learn from those who identify in a variety of ways. Students listen to others’ experiences and perspectives with the aim of building understanding and connection, as well as informing and widening their own perspectives. They are mindful that they don’t rest any group’s experience or perspective on a single person. Instead, they seek to understand an experience from multiple perspectives. Representation Overview

Through Representation, teachers aim to build empathy in their students, who when exposed to multiple perspectives and stories, will:

  • Express comfort and joy with human diversity 
  • Use accurate language for human differences
  • Form deep, caring connections across all dimensions of human diversity 

Children build empathy for the people around them when they are given an opportunity to understand their story and experiences. Children feel empowered to bring their full authentic selves to class when they see themselves represented in the curriculum.

Critical Literacy in the classroom begins with teachers interrogating their own implicit biases and considering power, positionality, and perspective in reading the world around them. Teachers foster the capacity to critically identify bias in classroom texts and other resources by giving students the tools to question what they read, see, and hear. Critical Literacy Overview

Through Critical Literacy:

  • Students have language to describe what injustice looks like and how it impacts people.
  • Students recognize power, positionality, and perspective in texts they read.
  • Students push back on generalizations they see being made about groups of people.
  • Students deconstruct unjust ideas and reconstruct the world they want to see.

When children are given the tools to think critically about their surroundings, they can dispute systems of power that are oppressive. Critical Literacy encourages reflection, transformation, and action in children as they work to promote a more just and equitable world.

A core goal of Anti-Bias Education is to empower children to become active agents of change—to realize that their actions, big or small, have the power to transform interactions as well as systems and structures. Social Action Overview

Children have an innate desire to create positive change in their communities and the world at large. They have a keen sense of justice and want things around them to be just and fair. Educators must nurture that inclination in children by allowing them to take part in actions, small or large, that lead to transformation. Teaching Social Action

In a class where Social Action is nurtured and encouraged:

  • Teachers expose students to various forms of action. 
  • Teachers cultivate students’ ability to stand up for themselves and others in the face of bias and injustice.
  • Students understand that they can stand up against discriminatory words or actions in a variety of ways to make a change.

Through the lens of UDL, educators cultivate all students’ understanding of themselves as learners. This is done by creating choice and access throughout the curriculum and physical space. Through UDL, students understand that each person learns in different ways and can make informed choices for their learning and social-emotional development. UDL Overview

In a class where UDL is being implemented:

  • Students can make a plan for their learning because the goal of their work is clear and they have the means to achieve that goal. 
  • Students see themselves as members of an interdependent community.
  • Students see their success and liberation as tied to their peers, not in competition with them.

If children cannot access the curriculum, it does not matter how well thought out the curriculum is—it will not serve them. Implementing UDL informs how students are grouped, options for learning, and the development of empathy for others. It helps to ensure classrooms are safe spaces for kids to take risks, academically and socially, when we subscribe to the belief that there is no average. Access to learning ceases to be a barrier to understanding, growth, and building community. The Myth of the Average Learner

Supporting Structures

This model can be integrated into a school’s existing overall design but will require shifts in curriculum and instruction, as well as shifts in adult mindsets, school culture, and family engagement.

Anti-Bias Education is not an addition to curricula, but it is an underpinning lens that permeates all aspects of a school. 

The Anti-Bias Education model helps schools integrate notions of justice and power, as well as the examination of history from multiple perspectives, throughout the school day and within the curriculum, as opposed to these things being isolated to one month or one class during one hour of a day. It helps schools develop curricula that are culturally relevant and that provide routine opportunities for students to examine their biases. They created a curricular scope and sequence that achieve these goals for the model’s learning site, Community Roots. Social Justice Scope & Sequence

Anti-Bias Education requires a shift in both culture and mindsets, and this takes both individual and collective work.

In addition to the shift in curriculum, instruction, and professional development, Anti-Bias Education requires a shift in culture and mindsets. Such a shift requires ongoing work to understand one’s own biases, power, and positionality. Culture shift requires committing to working collaboratively toward collective transformation.

Because mindset and culture shifts require deep, ongoing work, schools and educators who wish to work with Roots ConnectED must believe in and commit to the long process and deeper work rather than quick fixes to create transformational, systemic change. In addition, they must see the role of deep personal transformation as critical to the work of collective transformation.

Adults must have meaningful learning experiences that connect to practice in order to shift pedagogy and culture. 

Across all their offerings, Roots ConnectED focuses on the parallel experiences of all stakeholders in a school community while also recognizing that adults are a key lever in shifting schools. This means that, during professional learning offerings, teachers and other adults have the same experiences they aspire for students to have—Community Building, Representation, Critical Literacy, Social Action, and UDL—and engage in similar activities. These activities include exploring their own identities and biases, as well as how systems of oppression can appear within schools, and then moving into strategies for building an Anti-Bias curriculum and school culture. These activities enable adults to transform personally and collectively.

Roots ConnectED facilitators model practices like co-teaching and utilize UDL to create learning opportunities for adults. All of these elements bring the school community together to collaboratively imagine, design, and implement practices and curricula that honor and center students’ personal, cultural, and community experiences. All trainings include connection to research and theory, community building and deep human connection, seeing theory in practice, and reflection and application to individual classrooms and school sites.

Deep community building with all families is critical to fostering the trust required to engage in difficult conversations.

Roots ConnectED believes that deep Community Building with families is critical to fostering trust and enables school communities and families to engage in difficult conversations. Roots ConnectED uses their INTENT framework to provide a structure for creating and sustaining family programming that builds authentic community. INTENT Framework

Community Roots—Roots ConnectED’s learning site—has reimagined parent engagement and moves beyond a PTA and the large school events typically seen in parent programming. They intentionally create intimate spaces for families to connect, build community, and participate in the culture of the school in a very real way. Ways to Engage and Include All Families

The physical space must be accessible so students drive their own learning.

Roots ConnectED recognizes the power of space to foster and provide access to learning. They are intentional and strategic about how classrooms and physical spaces are set up for both independence and interdependence. The classroom layout allows students to access their own learning and support others to do the same.

Anti-Bias Education is not an addition to curricula, but it is an underpinning lens that permeates all aspects of a school. 

The Anti-Bias Education model helps schools integrate notions of justice and power, as well as the examination of history from multiple perspectives, throughout the school day and within the curriculum, as opposed to these things being isolated to one month or one class during one hour of a day. It helps schools develop curricula that are culturally relevant and that provide routine opportunities for students to examine their biases. They created a curricular scope and sequence that achieve these goals for the model’s learning site, Community Roots. Social Justice Scope & Sequence

Anti-Bias Education requires a shift in both culture and mindsets, and this takes both individual and collective work.

In addition to the shift in curriculum, instruction, and professional development, Anti-Bias Education requires a shift in culture and mindsets. Such a shift requires ongoing work to understand one’s own biases, power, and positionality. Culture shift requires committing to working collaboratively toward collective transformation.

Because mindset and culture shifts require deep, ongoing work, schools and educators who wish to work with Roots ConnectED must believe in and commit to the long process and deeper work rather than quick fixes to create transformational, systemic change. In addition, they must see the role of deep personal transformation as critical to the work of collective transformation.

Adults must have meaningful learning experiences that connect to practice in order to shift pedagogy and culture. 

Across all their offerings, Roots ConnectED focuses on the parallel experiences of all stakeholders in a school community while also recognizing that adults are a key lever in shifting schools. This means that, during professional learning offerings, teachers and other adults have the same experiences they aspire for students to have—Community Building, Representation, Critical Literacy, Social Action, and UDL—and engage in similar activities. These activities include exploring their own identities and biases, as well as how systems of oppression can appear within schools, and then moving into strategies for building an Anti-Bias curriculum and school culture. These activities enable adults to transform personally and collectively.

Roots ConnectED facilitators model practices like co-teaching and utilize UDL to create learning opportunities for adults. All of these elements bring the school community together to collaboratively imagine, design, and implement practices and curricula that honor and center students’ personal, cultural, and community experiences. All trainings include connection to research and theory, community building and deep human connection, seeing theory in practice, and reflection and application to individual classrooms and school sites.

Deep community building with all families is critical to fostering the trust required to engage in difficult conversations.

Roots ConnectED believes that deep Community Building with families is critical to fostering trust and enables school communities and families to engage in difficult conversations. Roots ConnectED uses their INTENT framework to provide a structure for creating and sustaining family programming that builds authentic community. INTENT Framework

Community Roots—Roots ConnectED’s learning site—has reimagined parent engagement and moves beyond a PTA and the large school events typically seen in parent programming. They intentionally create intimate spaces for families to connect, build community, and participate in the culture of the school in a very real way. Ways to Engage and Include All Families

The physical space must be accessible so students drive their own learning.

Roots ConnectED recognizes the power of space to foster and provide access to learning. They are intentional and strategic about how classrooms and physical spaces are set up for both independence and interdependence. The classroom layout allows students to access their own learning and support others to do the same.

Supports Offered

Roots ConnectED offers the following supports to help you implement their model.

Coaching
Cost Associated

One-on-one coaching gives schools deeper support and strategic planning around practices of Anti-Bias Education and inclusion. Coaching is catered to the individual needs of the school. Roots ConnectED offers three models of short- and long-term coaching options across a wide range of topics and can include a train-the-trainer model. Coaching Testimonial

Institutes
Cost Associated

Educational Institutes are designed to share theory and practice with small working groups from school sites who are in a place to shift school practice in an intentional way. Strategic working teams of 3-5 individuals spend time together in 1- to 3-day intensive trainings designed to share school integration practices. Roots ConnectED offers the following institutes: 

  • Anti-Bias & Community Building Institute
  • Anti-Bias & Social Justice Institute
  • Inclusive Practices Institute
  • New Leader Training Institute
Workshops
Cost Associated

Educator Workshops are one-time immersion opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of Roots ConnectED’s work and approach. Workshops span a number of different topics and allow educators, school leaders, and/or school support staff to do a deep dive into one area of focus. Roots ConnectED also offers online workshops that you can access anytime asynchronously.

In addition, their donation-based Family Workshops empower families to engage in conversations about race, racism, power, privilege, and bias.

School Visit
Cost Associated

The Creation of Roots ConnectED was inspired by the work of Community Roots, an intentionally racially and economically integrated public charter school in Brooklyn, NY, which continues to serve as the first learning site for the model. Their relationship is cyclical as the work of each informs the other in practice.  School visits are often embedded into other programming offered at Roots ConnectED. 

Reach

22
Partnerships
49000
Students
4000
Educators
500
Families

Impact

Although it is too early to measure outcomes from Roots ConnectED’s multi-year coaching partnerships, satisfaction for professional development programming, as measured by participant surveys, is extremely high: 

  • 93.9% of Institute participants responded 5 (on a scale from 1 to 5) when asked, “How likely are you to recommend a Roots ConnectED Institute to an interested colleague or friend?” 
  • 89.6% of Educator Workshop participants responded 4 or 5 (on a scale from 1 to 5) when asked, “How likely are you to recommend a Roots ConnectED Workshop to an interested colleague or friend?”
  • Roots ConnectED Family Workshops have an NPS score of 82.

In addition, at the founding school, Community Roots Charter School, results are promising. NYC DOE, 2019

  • In 2018-2019, 98% of families said school staff works hard to build trusting relationships with families like them. 
  • In 2018-2019, 100% of teachers said that they trust each other (versus 83% citywide).
  • In 2018-2019, 97% of the school’s former eighth graders earned enough high school credit in ninth grade to be on track for graduation.
  • In 2018-2019, 89% of students said that CRCS offers a wide enough variety of programs, classes, and activities to keep them interested in school (versus 76% citywide)

Contact

Sahba Rohani
Executive Director
April 25, 2023 6:00 - 7:30 pm EDT
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: Raising Anti-Racist White Kids

An important conversation that must start at a very young age, is one around privilege and power. Systems are set up to inherently give more power to one group of folks over the other. So how do you talk about this with your child in a way that your child can understand? How do you do this in a way that separates humans from systems while not negating the responsibility of the humans in that system? In this workshop, our presenters will be facilitating space for white parents to be advocates of raising anti-racist children through explicit every day conversations and leading by example.

Register
April 17, 2023 12:00 - 2:00 pm EDT
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: It's Never Too Soon--Talking About Race, Power and Identity

So often we are asked, aren’t they too young to talk about their identities, particularly race, power, and gender in early elementary school? What we have found is that K-2nd grade students are not only open to these conversations, but that, when addressed at a young age, they are able to continue these conversations as they get older and have a deeper understanding of how their identities impact their experiences. In this workshop we will look at how an anti-bias lens allows for these conversations to be embedded into every day lessons and conversations. Participants will learn from sample lessons that address these issues and have an opportunity to think about the implication in their own lessons, units, and/or read alouds.

Register
April 11, 2023 6:00 - 8:00 pm EDT
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: Speaking Up in the Moment--Role Playing Against Microaggression

Speaking up in the moment against implicit biases, racist comments or actions, and microaggressions can be difficult. Gaining comfort to meaningfully respond and address these moments requires practice, empathy, and deep understanding. In this workshop, we will work together to name what is problematic, identify impact, and lay the groundwork for change. We will share an approach, internal reflections, and sentence starters to support speaking up when something doesn’t sit right, and create theatre to provide a structured way to practice speaking up in the moment, to reflect together, collaborate and try again. This is a learning community, an interactive workshop, designed to help participants gain practice and comfort in addressing those moments where we may feel or observe implicit biases, racist comments or actions, and microaggressions.

Register
April 6, 2023 6:00 - 8:00 pm EDT
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: Engaging Families in Schools--Innovative Approaches to Community Building

One of the most important stakeholders in a diverse school community are families. In this workshop, we’ll share a new approach to family programming that pushes us towards authentic relationship building. We will discuss the key elements needed for successful community programming and elements of careful program planning, particularly in diverse school environments. Participants will leave with an opportunity to think about how this presentation has a direct impact on their practice and will consider next steps in continuing to build their vibrant school communities. This workshop is for engaged parents, classroom teachers, school leaders, policy makers, learning specialists and other staff who would like to support applying the framework to building a connected and involved community for families.

Register
March 20, 2023 6:00 - 7:30 pm EDT
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: Preparing for the Unexpected--Addressing Racist and Bias Remarks

In addition to having planned conversations with your child, moments that provide an opportunity to discuss racism and bias arise when we aren’t expecting it, and we must say something. This workshop will focus on speaking up in the moment when racist and biased incidents occur. Through the use of scenarios, participants will have a chance to think through their responses and learn a number of sentence starters as options for support in speaking up in the moment. Thinking through and practicing what we might say in these moments can help build our confidence for when these opportunities do arise.

Register
March 6, 2023 6:00 - 7:30 pm EST
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: Understanding my Biases and Helping my Kids Understand Theirs

One of the most harmful things we can do is allow implicit biases to go unnoticed and unaddressed. Everyone holds implicit biases, they develop over time. But they can also be interrogated and addressed as we work towards creating more awareness and understanding. Implicit biases form as a result of stereotypes. How do we understand how biases form in ourselves and impact how we navigate this world? How do we talk to our children about these stereotypes? In this workshop, the facilitators will support conversations around stereotypes and ways in which this can be addressed with kids.

Register
February 22, 2023 6:00 - 8:00 pm EST
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: Trauma Informed Practice and Adult Wellness

As educators, we care for students and the varied needs that they each present. Our ability to care for others is affected by the ways we are able to care for ourselves. Especially at a time where there is collective trauma that may present and be experienced differently by members of a community, it is essential that we have the skills and language to understand and respond to these needs. Particiapnts will examine how our own trauma/impact of this time shapes how we are responding to or thinking about kids/families and how we think about the teachers/school leaders we serve with the support of tools and space for connection and reflection. All participants will leave with tools for continued reflection and application to practice.

Register
January 25, 2023 6:00 - 8:00 pm EST
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: The Power of Universal Design for Learning--Equity in the Classroom

Universal Design for Learning is a tool for creating more access and equity in the classroom space. Roots ConnectED believes UDL is an essential component of the Anti-Bias Framework and critical to engaging students to think about representation, critical literacy and social action in the curriculum. In this workshop, participants will see examples from the field in planning and curriculum design that is built off of a deep understanding of the UDL framework. Participants will see examples of what UDL based instruction looks like in classrooms and explore concrete practices that support it. Participants will leave having a deeper understanding of UDL and having thought about the implications of this work for their own classrooms.

Register
January 19, 2023 6:00 - 8:00 pm EST
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: Teaching Students How to Think Instead of What to Think

The need to teach children how to think instead of what to think is timely and critical, and is itself an act of social justice. Approaching curriculum with an anti-bias lens is necessary, but where do you start? What does social justice look like for each student, and how do we deepen our students’ understanding of social justice and their agency? Most applicable to elementary and middle school teachers, this introductory workshop will focus on explicit examples of anti-bias education in practice through the lens of critical literacy; to give participants a foundational understanding of anti-bias education and how critical literacy is a means by which classrooms can specifically address race, power, privilege, stereotypes, and bias. Participants will work in both small and large groups to understand what these frameworks can look like in practice and consider the implications for their own school sites and communities of practice.

Register
January 11, 2023 6:00 - 8:00 pm EST
Virtual

Roots ConnectED: It's Never Too Soon--Talking about Race, Power, and Identity

So often we are asked, aren’t they too young to talk about their identities, particularly race, power, and gender in early elementary school? What we have found is that K-2nd grade students are not only open to these conversations, but that, when addressed at a young age, they are able to continue these conversations as they get older and have a deeper understanding of how their identities impact their experiences. In this workshop we will look at how an anti-bias lens allows for these conversations to be embedded into every day lessons and conversations. Participants will learn from sample lessons that address these issues and have an opportunity to think about the implication in their own lessons, units, and/or read alouds.

Register