Editor’s Note: Bronwyn Beightol is the Manatee Area President of United Way Suncoast, a partner of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Janet Carter of Coaching Corps has one wish, “that every single adult will become aware of our ability to influence our children.” I like that wish, and I hope it comes true.
As the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading movement continues to show progress toward our collective goal of each child’s success, the way we interact with our children is critical. The need to break down barriers to communication and to truly “see” our children and engage with them in ways that are meaningful to them has the power to change not only their lives but also our economy — our future.
Recently, more than 700 community leaders came together for Grade-Level Reading Week (GLR Week) to share ideas, celebrate successes, learn from failures, and stand with one another in this movement for our children. It was truly inspiring.
The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has done a great job of identifying four takeaways for lifting and leading movements.
I’d like to talk about a common thread that began as a knowing in the small spaces of my mind when we first joined the Campaign four years ago and is now an awakening mandate to ensure thrivability: We must connect with all of our children and families in places, circumstances, and activities that are meaningful, accessible, and familiar.
This thread was evident throughout GLR Week. Here is what we learned:
- When building a collaborative, be careful not to perpetuate a power dynamic that will drive people away rather than pull them in.
- We can have amazing programs, but if we cannot get them in the hands of people, they are not useful. Look for programs that use technology to scale.
- Where possible, get on the same page. Philadelphia is close to centralizing all of the intake for home visiting, which can lead to finding children who are not being served.
- Governments must change their behavior and conversation to acknowledge and support communities and families as agents of change.
- Use authentic feedback from community to inform process in order to understand the impact of our interventions.
- Seek to understand the experiences of our children, such as Adverse Childhood Effects, and meet them there.
- Real relationships are the active ingredient for everything else. Begin with humility and form relationships through the lens of the child, their culture, and their goals.
- Create environments that enhance and support what is happening in the classroom.
- Use your business to reach families while they are doing what they do in their everyday life… watching television, doing the laundry, listening to music.
- Act through a lens of equity with empathy.
- Always show up.
It’s the last one that stays with me. Always show up. Our community has chosen to come together to change the trajectory for our children. This is not a moment in time. It is a process. A movement that takes time, and all of us, working together, showing up.
We will know we have accomplished our goal when systems, policies, and practice align to ensure that all children are reading on grade level by the time they leave third grade. What is your role?