As a teacher, instructional coach, and site based leader in public education for nearly 20 years I am committed to improving the lived experiences of our youth in schools. Early in my career I was deeply focused on developing skills to help support teachers to improve the outcomes in their classrooms. The CLEAR Model helped me better understand my own identity and the impact it has on others.
Much of the success I witnessed and experienced was largely due to breaking down barriers, creating high expectations, and providing specific strategies that interrupted the implicit bias of our educators. All of this success over the years still fell short for much of our youth. Youth who had both seen and unseen identities.
When Dr. Rev Hillstrom introduced me to the tools around the CLEAR Model, it gave me new understanding and foundational language that not only helped me better understand my own identity and the impact it has on others, but a language to help communicate new ways of being for staff, students, and families. Dr. Hillstrom helped me see identities in myself that I had yet to fully see and explore.
Over time I became better with the relationship of each of the tools related to the CLEAR model. The more knowledge and skills I gained around each of the tools, the more impactful became the work I was doing as a coach in the district, and now as a building administrator.
The greatest shift came when while working to understand the relationship between The CLEAR Model, the CLEAR Solutions Framework, and the 3 Cs of change. I developed a graphic organizer originally as a method of my own understanding. Through that process I recognized some of the gaps and areas needing attention to fully realizing the usefulness of the tools. For example, while I had Conciousness (C1) around religion, what it means to be Muslim, in our schools I had never developed new Convictions (C2), or created new Commitments (C3). The CLEAR Solutions Framework led me to examine my own beliefs. For the next year I recognized I needed to develop deeper understanding through an equity consciousness examination, specifically by engaging with various perspectives. I began attending Jumah on Friday afternoons for prayer, which I continued to do so for the better part of the year. This led to an array of new perspectives and conversations with various members of the community who identify as Muslim. This changed my structure of beliefs. I recognized that the accommodations I had been providing to Muslim students was not the same as providing a new way of being at school that truly centers their identity. I have made a new commitment (C3) to redefine what the school day looks like so students can fully participate in their identity on Friday afternoons without it being an excused absence. This is then something that is just a part of their normal learning environment.
The CLEAR tools will help you unpack various identities in your spaces. This is both at a site level and a district level to understand the ways in which white dominant cultural identities are upheld, and ways in which you can center the identities of the community you are in service to.