YOR School took place from July 13th - July 30th, 2020. This was a 3-week professional development course that our teaching artists went through. They also had an opportunity to elevate their lesson plans and get creative while preparing for a virtual school year.
Below is a recap from my perspective.
It was hot on the first day of YOR school, the country was twisting in the night terrors of a fever dream, and the idea of wearing a face mask for seven hours straight was not helping anyone’s disposition. It was too early, too hot, and too many people. For most of us, it was the first time we had been indoors with humans we didn’t live with since quarantine started. It was an adjustment. It was a discomfort that was shouldered with grace by the staff in the face of the massive adjustments our students would be facing in the coming school year. At the end of every summer, our students find themselves placed on a precipice by adult incompetence, and the summer of 2020 was different only in how much further we had pushed their toes over the edge. For that reason, we had to double down on our strategies of intervention and how to demonstrate care in this emergent context. Before COVID we had planned on a pedagogical bootcamp (YOR School) that would help our team get to the next level of hyphenated educating: trauma-informed-liberatory-engaged-abolitionist-social-emotional-learning. As COVID changed the context for everyone, we took the opportunity to change our training so that all of those hyphens could translate through Zoom and Google Meet.
Over the course of three weeks, from 10 am to 4 pm we leveraged the deep experience of our staff and community resources to prepare ourselves for an unprecedented school year. Topics ranged from lesson planning to tackling our own internalized white supremacy. In any instance where the material needed augmentation, we would call in national experts. For stories of resistance, we called in Carlos Saavedra one of the architects of the dreamer movement, for best remote learning practices we had Simone Brackett a k-12 teaching coach and head of school.
In times of turmoil and large scale challenge, students at the margins are in positions of heightened vulnerability. With every iteration of mounting inequity, we have to be ready, responsive, and sometimes prophetic strategies. YOR school allows us to recalibrate and innovate as a team. The first year was wildly successful insofar as how impossible this coming year would have been without it.
There look to be many hot days to come, and many cresting challenges, YOR School helps us know that we will be here and we will be ready.