For several years at Brooklyn Collaborative, we have been partnering with our staff, students, and extended community on developing our strength as allies. Allyship is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with individuals and/or groups of people.
Here are some select examples of our allyship work.
For the past five years (since 2011-12 school year), Brooklyn Collaborative has had a deep partnership with the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. We have worked with Morningside to develop our crew advisory curriculum. Students meet in crews daily for 30 min; crews loop from Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12 to become a core unit of the student experience at Brooklyn Collaborative. Crew is a central component of all EL Education schools. Through support from Morningside, students learn to self-advocate, manage teamwork, resolve conflicts, stop bullying, handle anger, embrace diversity, and take leadership to improve their communities.
Staff members also have a crew with their colleagues, led by a member of the admin/support team. Staff crews meet once a month, covering topics including race relations in America, our core values, transgender awareness, facets of identity, privilege and allyship, and more. Last year, all staff crews participated in a book group about Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Through support from Morningside, teachers receive professional development to help them teach students important life skills, increase their effectiveness in the classroom, and be self-reflective. Morningside Center is a national leader in the field of social and emotional learning in service of academic performance.
In Feb 2015, we hosted Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner who died in police custody, who spoke with our middle school students about her activism work for fair treatment by law enforcement. Students participated in a circle with Erica and decorated candles to replace the ones vandalized at a memorial to Eric Garner. In Mar 2015, Erica Garner came back to support our 10th grade expedition on Race and Policing.
On 9/29/16, we hosted a professional development staff workshop on “Affirming Diversity Within Islam and Interrupting Islamophobia.” The session was a curriculum and resource share facilitated by laura marie Thompson and Nassim Zerriffi (affiliated with Teachers College). One of the activities we did was a Myth Busting Quiz about Islam that a Muslim student created. Another activity was to make commitments to learn more about Islam so that we could be more supportive in our allyship (one resource given out was an Islam 101 fact sheet). We also received lesson plans for skits about how to best respond to Islamophobic comments. During the workshop, all of the staff participants made commitments for how to be better allies. We plan to have a reunion workshop in the spring with the facilitators to continue our allyship work in this area.
On 10/25/16, BCS students and staff participated in a fun day of collaborative activities with the NYPD (our local 76th precinct) as part of “Team Up! Tuesday,” the first citywide effort to bring together public school students and their local police officers to foster an important community relationship through interactive enrichment. A full summary of the day is here: http://www.bcs448.org/2016/10/26/1025-bcs-teams-up-with-nypd/
On 11/7/16, transgender activist Tiq Milan was our guest speaker for Staff Professional Development Day. He inspired our staff with an incredible presentation about the history of transgender allyship and our responsibilities to be allies to our students.
In Nov 2016, our allyship work extended to symbols of solidarity when our staff donned safety pins. The safety pin has long been a symbol of allyship. It represents solidarity with people who have suffered racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and other forms of marginalization and discrimination. When you are wearing one, without a word, people will know you’re an ally, that they are “safe” with you.
In Dec 2016, Brooklyn Collaborative welcomed Councilmember Brad Lander who spoke with our community about allyship and district initiatives on integration. Councilmember Lander spoke about privilege, activism, and the role educators can play to continue to speak up for vulnerable communities.
In Feb 2017, an article in New York Teacher featured Brooklyn Collaborative teachers Milo and Devon speaking up for our allyship work, the importance of inclusion, and our school core values: http://www.uft.org/feature-
EL Core Practice 35: Cultivating a Positive School Culture
All staff members model the school’s code of character (core values) in their words and actions. All staff members believe in all kids, appreciate diversity, and apply a problem-solving orientation. School leaders cultivate shared ownership of successes, challenges, and change initiatives.