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Pack for Your Journey

What you need before you get started

The Elephant in the (Class)room has three anchors for equity, and commitments that you can make to each anchor.

Anchors for Equity
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teaching and learning as a dynamic relational human exchange


Experience Journey

Commit to knowing yourself, your students, and your content

Experience Journey

Discover and leverage learners’ unique assets and ways of learning
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the concept of educator and community in schools


Experience Journey

Learn from your students about how and where they learn—and from whom

Experience Journey

Reexamine the ideas of who your stakeholders are in your ecosystem
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systems to sustain equity


Experience Journey

Create the time and space for building an equity practice

Experience Journey

Identify ways and places to sustain and grow change

We’ve included Experience Journeys for some of these commitments — steps you can take with colleagues, cohorts, and communities to explore how to deepen your equity practice.

Read on to learn about possible norms for your engagement with the Experience Journeys and how to take one!

Norms for Engagement

Set a Container

The Experience Journey is about the practice of centering humanity as part of living equity. We recommend that you deliberately employ a high degree of intentionality by setting a container for yourself (and others if you collaborate). A container is a set of conditions that support us in taking on challenging work. It is essential that everyone engage in this experience in a way that helps them feel supported, accountable, present, and brave.

Norms are one way we can set a supportive container. Remember to revisit norms at the beginning and end of any learning experience. You can do this by asking the group: What worked well? What didn’t? How can we better activate our norms to support one another?

Here is a set of norms that the Elephant team has found useful for this purpose. Please feel free to use similar norms from your context if helpful. The intention is simply to support you to co-create a human-centered container for this essential work.

These norms are adapted from Glenn Singelton’s Courageous Conversations about Race.


Staying engaged means committing to the reflective practices and to the moral, emotional, and intellectual implications of this work.

Experience Discomfort

This norm acknowledges that discomfort is natural and inevitable in honest reflection about identity and culture, power and privilege. Engaging in storytelling and reflective practice can uncover uncomfortable truths and help us see their complexity in both ourselves and others.

Speak Your Truth

In this context, this means being honest and open about thoughts and feelings and not just writing what you think is “right” or “good.”

Expect and Accept Nonclosure

This norm will require you to “hang out in uncertainty” and not rush to quick solutions or actions.

The Power of Storytelling

Using narrative to deepen learning

Experience Journeys leverage the power of storytelling. As inclusion consultants Selena Rezvani and Stacey A. Gordo state:

“Bringing our own stories to the table helps us create contrast with others and better see the nuance in ours and their perspectives…The best way to create a cascading inclusion effect in an organization is to offer safe spaces where stories can be heard without judgment.”1

Rezvani, S., & Gordon, S. A.

Thus, by telling your story as part of your reflection, you are entering into a foundational action that can be replicated to go deeper on your own and with others. In addition, by telling your own story first, you are starting the work to examine how your own heart and mindset connect with your work with students, your fellow educators, and your community. From this critical examination comes the kind of knowledge that supports necessary changes in how you operate in your setting.

In the words of Grace Lee Boggs: “Transform yourself to transform the world.”


How to Take an Experience Journey

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Plan your route

Ideally, you’ll complete all three journeys in a sequence, beginning with the first (Embrace teaching and learning as a dynamic relational human exchange) and ending with the third (Co-design systems to sustain equity). If you are new to equity work, we especially recommend beginning with the first journey, Embrace. If you have engaged in equity work before and are only interested or have the time to engage one anchor, we recommend Embrace or Expand, as they are more stand-alone. The third journey, Co-Design, should be taken only after you’ve completed the first two, because it builds on the foundations laid by Embrace and Expand.

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Reflect before you act

The most impactful action comes from periods of deep reflection. It’s important to mitigate against our tendencies to jump into action before doing the critical reflective work, which is a kind of travel inward — a journey of self-discovery. The self-reflections integrated throughout this experience are designed to build goals and action steps. Skipping these may be tempting, but it risks doing more potential harm to our most vulnerable students. Engaging in these self-reflections sets an important expectation if you want to eventually expand this experience to other adult peers in your setting.

Note that if you’re prompted to record your answers, you can record them or type them on your own device and save the files so you can come back to them later. If you see the option to take notes within the text boxes, you can print and/or email them to yourself at the end of the activity for your personal use. These are yours for your own learning purposes; New Teacher Center won’t be able to see or access them. We also provide digital download versions of each Experience Journey.

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Travel with a group

If you are having this experience in a group, we recommend starting with people with whom you have established rapport. There are many reflective exercises that may be more conducive in a trusting community. Examples of collaborative groups include grade-level teams, committees, affinity spaces, or a circle of colleagues who share a common interest or commitment to equity as a practice.

If you have this experience as an individual “solo traveler,” you can hold yourself accountable to the same practices and norms. You may find it beneficial to take these journeys on your own before joining a group so that you can experience first-hand the journeys’ required shifts and pushes.

The journeys include templates for capturing your reflections and next steps. You are free to use the online spaces for this or use the provided downloadable hard-copy versions of each Experience Journey for your offline use as needed.

Enjoy your Experience Journey!