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My Equity Walk Experience

By: Michelle Anderson

Minnesota State University, Mankato

EdLd 698: Internship in Administration


Equity Walk Assignment

Use the protocol to organize an equity walk:
o Use student data: 4th/5th grade students in Mr. Peines Summer Academy class at Hilltop Elementary
o Select a team to participate: Michelle Anderson, Dave Guenzel, Jillian Konsor, Annie Platek and Mindy Tavernier
o Create observation tools: Our team decided to use the equity walk template that our Mankato State cohort created
with Melissa Krull to make our observations focused on specific look fors.
o Structure your pre and post observation meetings: The observation was about 30 - 45 minutes in length with a 30
minute post observation meeting with the teacher. Due to scheduling, there was not a post meeting for this particular
o Conduct your walk: Thursday, July 9th, 2015 at 10:15 am during reading block
o Analyze your findings: Below you will be able to see my analysis of the observation and a reflection stating my
choices, results and recommendations.


On Thursday, July 9th at 10:15 am, a team of four teachers observed Mr. Ben Peines 4th/5th grade Summer Academy
classroom at Hilltop Elementary. During this time of the school day, it was reading block. Mr. Peine began his reading class by
explaining that they will be using a bubble map using text evidence from the story. The story that was read aloud to the students was
The Big, Brown Pot by Margaret Mahy, which is a DRA level J scholastic text. The day of the equity walk, there were 15 - 4th/5th
grade students present. Of those 15 students, there were 8 girls and 7 boys, while 9 were students or color and 6 students were white.
Therefore 60% of the class were students of color.
The best part of this experience was getting to learn from the other team members perspectives after the observation and
hearing what data they had collected. I also found it interesting to observe an engaging lesson, where on the surface or technical level
the instructional techniques, opportunities for student choice, use of technology, small group work that were all innovative, yet when
you isolate race there is a whole new focus that is often untouched or undiscussed. When completing a classroom observation through
a racial equity lens, the data collected and analyzed gave a much different perspective than a traditional teaching observation. In order
to make courageous change, equity needs be the center of what we do. Future observations that I do as a leader, will have race and
equity data collected and brought to the forefront of the self-directed coaching conversation with educators.


My Equity Observation Tool

Look Fors

Eye contact from teacher-student was
strong with white students and lacked
with students of color.
Teacher proximity - A black student sat
behind the teacher during whole group.
Another black student kept raising hand
continuously, but didnt get called for
quite some time.

t of
Students of

White girls blurted answers and were

well received by the teacher.
4 white students were called on had
were given correct answer, while 2
students of color participated, however
told/applied that their answer was
wrong. Only one brown student was told
his answer was correct.
Hispanic boy was only given eye
contact once during small group (15
minutes) - white students continuous.
Praise and compliments were given out
to white students frequently.

First small group: 2 white girls
and black boy. The white girls
dominated the conversation, yet
there was engagement.

Students are writing their own
stories in the app storehouse and
illustrating their own pictures of
their story in Adobe ideas. The use
of creative and independent project
based activities using technology
are truly innovative in this
classroom. Students are also
allowed choice in what they write
about. For example, in talking to a
black male student he shared he
loves minecraft and sharks. His
storehouse story is designed around
his interests, therefore he is
committed and excited about his
work in reading.
Targeted writing standards &
intentional outcomes: To write an
Argument, Summary, Story &


ability to
reach or
children of

behaviors by
white students
and their in
to students of

Daily 5 is set up for the teacher

to be able to meet with students to
increase the individualized and
targeted rigorous instruction.
Groups are fluid and allow for
students to have a voice in their
learning and collaborate with
other peers.
The pacing of the lesson flowed
smoothly, allowing for a variety
of activities for students to
participate in and also move
Students were willing to help
each other.
There is not a seating chart,
therefore students are allowed
choice in where they sit. For the
most part, students sat next to
students who shared their same
skin tone.


used by the
teacher to
engage all
students with
attention to
students of

The instructional techniques

were intentional and strong,
however when looking with
specific attention to students of
color, this was not necessarily a
conscious focus.

Mr. Peines lesson followed the

model of I do, We do and You
do. First, Mr. Peine modeled how
to create a bubble map. A Bubble
Map is a Thinking Maps, which is a
great way to increase students
engagement, independence and
critical thinking skills. After he
modeled, the class added to the
map using text evidence in the
frame of reference around the
adjectives of the character Mr.
Winkle. For the You do, students
took their read to self time and
created their own bubble map using
their choice of an ipad app
(Example: app Popplet) or paper


and visuals in
general are
inclusive and
conscious in

A unique aspect to the environment in

this class was the arrangement of
students. Students were able to sit in or
on a desk or the floor or also stand.
Students surrounded the teacher during
the read aloud showing engagement by
participating in the discussion of the text
and having their eyes on the text. This
choice atmosphere is established, yet
allowed for the opening for students of
color to get missed.

The texts used today had only white

A teachers response: What...yes any
app, to a student of color when he
asked a question was given in tone was
Language and harsh. While white students were given
disposition a positive energetic answer.
used by the
teacher that A black female student went to ask her
promotes a teacher a question, but the teacher said
she needed to use problem solving skills.
classroom Some students were able to blurt out,
environment however others were not. By the equity
team observing, it seemed unclear to
what the rules to sharing were and to
who they applied to.

The teacher is personable in

calling students by their name.
Knowing this teacher, he analyzes
his teaching and is intentional about
students learning. When asked a
question the teacher showed he has
a strong desire to be racial
conscious and focused on our
achievement gap and equity in
students to better the experiences
for each student.


Post Discussion
In the post discussion, the teacher stated that the data collected such as eye contact with students of color versus white students
was not surprising, but doesnt make me (the teacher) feel good. When asked about small grouping, the teacher reported that The
higher the letter (DRA reading level), the whiter the kids. This doesnt sit well with me! In conversations around race, I feel that in
order to make a change for our students of color it is vital to experience discomfort. One of my favorite parts of this observation was
the window of opportunity. During the school year, I hold the position as the Elementary Enrichment and Equity Coach in the Inver
Grove Heights Community School District. Walk throughs and coaching in our district, especially in the areas of equity tend to be
uncharted territory. Mr. Peine thought this equity walk experience was beneficial and has agreed to continue equity walks, data
collection and coaching conversations with me during the school year and with his PLC 5th grade team at one of our elementary
schools. What a break through this assignment had for our students in Inver Grove Heights! I am hopeful knowing this is the right
work that needs to be happening in our schools and I feel excited that I am in the position to help make this happen.
Keeping the Four Agreements during conversations are important to keep as our norms to move the conversations forward.
One final take away was the observation made around a particular student. A black 5th grade girl sat in class at a table alone and
showed she struggled with the reading activities. The teacher asked her to problem solve when she came up to ask for help. In hearing
more from the teacher when prompted questions about this child, he feels that he has interacted more with her than any other student
all summer a long. He feels the summers interactions have been positive. He processed the fact she may feel lonely or isolated,


however she does typically sit by a student who looks like her. The teacher responded that he feels it was great to bring this data
forward, as if this was a pattern it would be detrimental.