Transparency Isn't Only for Plastic Wrap
"From the body’s viewpoint, safety and danger are neither situational nor based on cognitive feelings. Rather, they are physical, visceral sensations. The body either has a sense of safety or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, it will do almost anything to establish or recover that sense of safety." - Resmaa Menakem
About six months ago, I did an exercise from the workbook for Onward: Cultivating Resilience in Educators by Elena Aguilar to identify my core values. I came up with an initial list of nine values, to which I later added a tenth (life). I often imagine these values without having a particular "weight" to them and I tend to list them in no particular order. Over the last two weeks, one value in particular has dominated: transparency.
An often-said phrase in the field of education is "Parents are the child's first an most important teacher." I am personally guilty of times where my actions did not align with this belief, as are most educators at one time or another - we are human, after all.
For our actions to align with this belief as educators, we must commit to a high level of transparency with parents and guardians in regards to their child's education. This is more important than ever during the pandemic, ensuring that parents/guardians are fully informed with what they can expect if their child returns to school - and what to expect if they opt for their child to continue learning virtually.
If you are an educator or have a role communicating with families, please ensure you are being transparent with them. Perhaps most especially if your district or administration is not.
If you are a parent or guardian, know this: you are your child's first and most important teacher. You deserve to be in a position where you are able to make an informed decision in regards to your child's education. You have valuable perspective, and there is power in expressing that.
In Connections Over Compliance: Rewiring Our Perceptions of Discipline, Dr. Lori Desautels writes "When we feel felt, heard, and safe, our sense of purpose and agency improves and flourishes. A regulated and calm staff and school has a much better relational opportunity with students than a school that feels fragmented, censored, threatened, or filled with stress."
Children and educational staff have a right to safety at school.
To have a culture of trauma-informed and trauma-responsive practices, adults and children must first and foremost feel safe. In order for safety to be available and accessible, parents/guardians need to be on the receiving end of full transparency from us.
If transparency is not the reality at your school, now is never to late to begin.