Cultivating a Culture of Belonging, Connection, Healing, and Efficacy

We are on a mission to strengthen learner-centered communities to be more grounded, connected, focused, and authentic. Cultivating a culture of belonging, relational trust, and efficacy is necessary to strengthen learner agency. Learner agency is grounded in the core belief that all members of a learning community have the ability and the will to positively impact their own lives and the world around them.

Our Included Equity pathway is a community-driven, evidence based, systemic learning framework for learning organizations. The Included customizable pathway integrates the building blocks of: inclusion, belonging, restorative practices.

Included Schools and Systems

  • Cultivating a Culture of Belonging, Trust, and Efficacy 

  • Enacting Culturally and Responsive Sustaining Education.  

  • Embracing Cultural Identity  

  • Understanding Cultural Competence 

  • Managing the Dynamics of Cultural Differences

  • Engaging Student Voice 

  • Supporting Family Engagement 

  • Coaching for Equity

Restored and Connected

  • Strategic Planning: Building the Foundation for Connection 

  • Grounded and Connected: Leveraging Relational Capacity

  • Building Cultural Responsiveness 

  • Strengthening Social and Emotional Learning

  • Exploring the Mindset and Heartset of Restorative Practices

Who should be included?
Cultivating a culture of trust, belonging, and efficacy transcends any diversity and equity initiative and is at the root of human connectedness. This transformation requires ALL stakeholders to be seen, heard, and valued. The most effective partnerships include board of education members, community leaders, site and district leaders, educators, support staff, and most importantly, parents and students.

 Foundational Learning

"No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship."
-Dr. John O’Connor

The Included Foundational pathway is an inquiry-based inside-out process (personal, professional, community, world) that advances learning from awareness to sustainable action. Your system's foundational learning will be designed in response to data we collect and analyze using the Core Connections climate inventory. Our team triangulates Core Connections data with relevant, extent climate and achievement data your organization has collected.

Core Connections is an evidence-based instrument used to monitor core learning and climate areas connected to a district’s strategic learning plan. Core Connections supports systems in making meaningful advances in student outcomes by giving your organization quality data connected to the research and practices focused on belonging, relational trust, and efficacy.

Your organization's foundational learning pathway will be co-designed with stakeholders to develop and implement a community-driven, sustainable learning experience.

The IncludED Continuous Improvement Cycle 

Phase 1: Evidence  
Execute Core Connections Climate Inventory that will be customized based on your needs. Triangulate with your organization’s existing climate and achievement data. 

Phase 2: Analysis 
Data will be analyzed and delivered to your organization's stakeholders from our research partners. Develop a problem(s) of practice and co-design a theory of action in response to the evidence.

Phase 3: Awareness
Build awareness of the research-based Included building blocks: appreciative inquiry, belonging-inclusion, relational trust, and efficacy. Explore core practices that anchor our collective model. 

Phase 4: Action
Co-design a responsive sustainable implementation plan. Practices and revised policies are implemented through guided practice, deliberate practice, coaching, and reflection. Formative evidence is collected and analyzed to make midcourse corrections and ensure sustainability. Core Connections data is collected and analyzed annually to ensure study progress in reaching your organization's goals. 

Included Equity Inquiry Offerings
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Enacting Culturally and Responsive Sustaining Education

We partner with school communities to build a shared understanding of culturally responsive-sustaining education by examining and elevating current beliefs, practices, and policies so that all students receive an equitable education, have a voice, and are empowered as social agents of change. By exploring the role of cultural identity, authentic partnerships with students and families, validation of cultural assets, culturally responsive classrooms, and culturally responsive instruction and assessment, we create welcoming and affirming environments that honor the diverse lived experiences of our students with dignity and humanity.

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Embracing Cultural Identity

We all have our own cultural and learner identities and subscribe to a certain set of beliefs, but when in the classroom, our beliefs are not always explicitly demonstrated in our practice. In order to create equitable learning environments that minimize implicit biases we may have, we must closely examine our own cultural and learner identities from the inside out. This process helps us identify how understanding ourselves influences our perception of the relationship between culture, ideology, learning, and assessment.

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Understanding Cultural Competence

We use a Cultural Coherence framework to adapt the philosophies behind Cultural Competence and provide a comprehensive structure for schools and systems to seek alignment with the various cultural experiences present in a system and community. This alignment requires an exploration of the cultural identity experience and an analysis of how we recognize and respond to the barriers and actions that either hinder us from or move us towards cultural competence.

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Managing the Dynamics of Cultural Differences

Conflict is natural when there are different lived experiences sharing the same space. Here we explore and understand that conflict, helping people connect around our inherent differences and lived cultural experiences we can learn how to process healthy disagreement. We will use experiential learning, facilitated dialogue, and shared experience to lean into the complexity of our own humanity so that we have ways to tangibly model and honor the collective humanity of those around us and the learning community we serve.

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Engaging Student Voice

We believe in giving learners the space and time to explore complex cultural subject matter with the intention of refining school culture for the better; this exploration advances learner agency The engaging student voice experience includes teaching students facilitation skills on how to continually maintain and engage their voice.

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Supporting Family Engagement

Strong family partnerships with the school is one that just doesn’t make demands of parents, but acknowledges and values their experiences, actively requests their involvement, and thoughtfully responds to their concerns. Family engagement can happen in a variety of ways. We support schools in exploring practical strategies that provide a welcoming environment for parents. This must include understanding the diverse ways in which families are formed and how those lived experiences impact their relationship and trust with the school system.

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Coaching for Equity

School leaders carry the weight of responsibility for the safety and well-being of students, staff, parents, and academic outcomes. This commitment can be difficult with the ever evolving landscape and demands of schools. Through individualized coaching, we ​​partner with school leaders to help understand their complex issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We support school leaders by applying an appreciative lens, seeking clarity in context, and providing frames for difficult conversations. Coaches will help position school leaders to effectively navigate and create a culture of improvement, rooted in rich data, with a focus on the future to address the organization’s most critical areas of need.

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Beyond the Surface of Restorative Practices

Marisol Quevedo Rerucha

Both empowering and urgently necessary, this book can help you to build an organization-wide culture of healing and well-being from the ground up.

Ready to start your journey?