Teachers Receive Grant for Peer Coaching Project Focused on Social Justice

A team of UCLA Lab School teachers recently received a $30,000 grant from the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies to explore innovative ways to address concepts of social justice in the classroom and the community. The grant is part of the Teacher-Initiated Inquiry Project (TIIP), a statewide initiative that was developed to foster bottom-up school reform by encouraging teachers to design their own professional development programs in collaborative teams.

“We’re excited to work together on a project that reflects our belief that young children are capable of and should be involved in confronting social justice issues,” said team members Genevieve D’Arcy, Shernice Lazare, Cyrene St. Amant, Carla-Anne Thomas and Chris Wilson. “We believe it’s important to move our practice in this area beyond character building, conflict resolution and multicultural literature.”

“This is an excellent way to build on and enhance the Safe School system that we developed and have had in place for more than a decade,” said Principal Norma Silva. “There aren’t a lot of curricular resources for addressing social justice issues with young children. Our hope is that we can help fill that gap.”

Among the ideas for the project are engaging 6- to 8-year-olds in inquiry about the people and factors that create change in a community, using primary sources; addressing gender differences in the mathematical identity development of 8- to 10-year-olds; and empowering 10- to 11-year-olds to identify and confront inequities of social class and world resources.

Funds provided by the grant will give teachers opportunities to learn more about acting as peer coaches to plan, observe and give feedback on lessons in one another's classrooms, as well as attend conferences and collect and analyze data.