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What is Social Justice Leadership?

This post is the first of a two-part series by Jennifer Burris, a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland and Summer Professional Development Specialist at TLI.

Social justice leadership is not just for administrators. All stakeholders who strive for educational equity must be committed to continuously evaluating themselves and the systems they work in through a lens of justice for all students. It requires reflection and action from teachers, instructional coaches, administrators, the central office, and preparation programs.

Educators may enact social justice leadership in several different ways. I like to think of social justice leadership as an encapsulation of several of different methods aimed at educational equity like trauma-informed education, anti-racist education, multicultural education, culturally responsive pedagogy, and culturally sustaining pedagogy.

I often rely on Gail Furman’s conceptualization to social justice leadership as praxis model which centers on three concepts: 1) leadership involves both reflection and action, 2) social justice leadership spans several dimensions, and  3) we must develop the capacities of social justice leadership for reflection and action across all dimensions.

Resources to Develop Social Justice Leadership Reflection and Action

Good Starting Points

Criteria for an Equitable School – Equity Audit this equity audit from the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium provides a good starting point for those wondering what social justice inside of a school could look like. There can and never will be a perfect checklist for your school. The needs and resources for your students and community are constantly changing. Use when you are ready to assess equitable access, processes, treatment, and outcomes for all students.

Equity Literacy for Educators Equity literacy is not equity inside of an English Language Arts classroom. Equity literacy provides a framework all stakeholders in your school to be literate in concepts of educational equity. This handout and the other resources from EdChange explain the basic principles that will help educators commit to social justice for all of their students.  

Websites

The following websites also offer some great resources for teachers, instructional coaches, principals, and superintendents when developing the capacities for social justice leadership in your school.

You can find out what is on my social justice leadership bookshelf in the second part of this series here.

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