We’re on a mission to spark a global conversation about educational equity + unconscious bias--two very complex topics.
We don't need to remind you that these times are unprecedented. Conversations about unconscious bias are happening in new and different ways, and the education system is being shaken up with movements and marches for our lives. During times of such uncertainty and change, we believe we must think and reflect in new ways about how to move forward.
We also believe:
- Every child deserves access to a quality education.
- Every teacher deserves access to quality support and development.
- We're all doing the best that we can with the tools and resources we have.
- We all have blindspots and biases that impact how people experience us, AND stress impacts how we show up in the world.
So, the S.P.A.R.K. APP is a supportive, empowering tool for educators that provides daily intentional questions /prompts to help teachers reground in their WHY/their spark, stay emotionally grounded during times of stress, better understand their blindspots and biases, ultimately supporting them to show up with more self-awareness and cultural consciousness.
Our big goal is to decrease teacher burnout, interrupt patterns of students disproportionately being referred to the office and suspended, and increase teacher retention. In order to meet our goals and address the root cause of the challenges, we believe we must talk about how unconscious bias drives our behaviors on individual, systemic, and institutional levels--AND how stress impacts our behavior.
We believe cultural consciousness and emotional intelligence is the currency needed to level the playing field during these times, and reach and teach ALL students (interrupt patterns that are perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline). African-American students, for instance, are 3.5 times more likely than their white classmates to be suspended or expelled, according to a nationwide study by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
And, the truth is, equity work can’t be divorced from emotional health. We understand how full teachers' plates are; that’s why we created an app, which is like a coach in your pocket, to help educators navigate these complexities with a system of individualized support.
About Rachel: After learning about the history of education and opportunity gaps at Stanford (after teaching four years), a lightbulb went off. Then, seven years ago, as a school leader, Rachel had the opportunity to work with a leadership coach from the National Equity Project, an organization that had a profound impact on her leadership. Ever since then, her commitment to supporting educators and equity has been unwavering. Two years ago she created the Kickstarter-Backed product, S.P.A.R.K., which facilitates an inclusive team-building experience for diverse teams (embedded in the game is also a strategy for counteracting unconscious bias), and she has been facilitating SPARK Leadership courses and workshops for over a year. .
The S.P.A.R.K. APP will partner with and empower educators, equipping them with tools to thrive.
The S.P.A.R.K. APP will:
- Support educators to reach and teach ALL kids with even more self-awareness.
- Equip them with tools and reminders to be mindful of cultural differences and blindspots.
- Help educators to track and improve habits of the heart and mind to stay emotionally grounded during times of uncertainty and change.
- Remind them of their goals and their WHY in order to stay inspired and motivated.
The S.P.A.R.K. App will support educators’ emotional health, which will support the overall health of the school. And that, is priceless.
Here are the three phases (stepping stones) of our roll-out process:
- Phase 1 ($35k)
- Partner with individual teachers / schools
- Support individual teachers use the app to develop habits of critical reflection + equity practices to lead/teach from the inside out
|IGNITING infrastructures for inclusion
- Phase 2 ($30k)
- Learning modules for equity
- Raising-awareness-about unconscious bias
- Helping communities create an infrastructure for inclusion with intentional practices of self reflection and community engagement
|BUILDING THE MOVEMENT for equity
- Phase 3 ($30k)
- Partner with districts and organizations committed to diversity and equity
- Build and sustain practices of critical self-reflection and intentional action
The sooner we can get to phase two, the better, because that's when educators will gain access to our S.P.A.R.K. coaching curriculum learning modules that correspond with each goal, group coaching sessions, and the S.P.A.R.K. Community at large so they have responsive, relevant tools/resources that meet their individual needs and support them where they’re at.
We cannot do this work alone, and we need your support.
- When you contribute financially to this movement, the first year you’ll impact thousands of teachers, which therefore impact thousands of students in transformative ways.
- When you contribute financially to this movement, the second year you'll impact millions of educators and school leaders, which will therefore impact millions of students in transformative ways.
- When you contribute financially to this movement, the third year you'll impact tens of millions of leaders, educators, and institutions in transformative ways.
- If you want to give us the gift of your energy, time, and talents, you're helping us expand our movement and make progress on our goals at a faster rate.
- When you use your voice to help our cause and spread the word, you’re helping us reach more educators and ultimately have a positive impact on more students' lives.
- Lastly, you’ll be a part of a movement with a purpose dedicated to supporting teachers, leaders, and communities committed to serving the next generation.
Together we can spark the conversation that will make the world a better place.
“This is a great tool for creating greater self-awareness, which is often missing in our conversations about equity. The app is non-threatening, and good starting place because it’s about teachers' emotional health and normalizes that equity work requires emotional health” Justin Mori, Middle School Principal
"Can’t wait to share this App with all my colleagues and friends!! Rachel has helped me grow and develop as a teacher in transformative ways. We all need to be reminded of our WHY everyday, and this app will do all that and more." Aimee DuQuette, 7th Grade Math & Science Teacher
“I think if all teachers were using this App at my school it would be hugely beneficial for the culture of our school. Love that we’ll get a weekly recap at the end of the week celebrating our progress and reminding us of our goals. The truth is, we’re our worst self when we’re not successful. When we’re deeply unhappy somewhere in our lives, it impacts kids. That’s why we need a moment to reflect on how we’re showing up. This will change the game for teachers’ emotional health and well being” Jessica Newburn, Elementary School Principal
"So excited to use this App. It helps teachers reflect on the students who push our buttons in a safe way, AND get a picture of all the things we’re experiencing so we can be the best version of ourselves. I can also see how this could be a helpful tool for HR teams working on having more equitable hiring practices and checking blindspots there” Laura Espino, ESOL Teacher
"I’m excited to use this with my teams and teachers. It’s going to change the equity conversation in a big way." Lia Shepherd, Middle School Dean
"I can’t think of a wellness App that feels more relevant. Teachers are expected to be super-heros. It’s very challenging and vulnerable to say "I’m not reaching all these kids or taking care of myself." We talk ALL the time about teaching the whole child. This is the first PD-tool that actually supports the whole teacher. I don’t know of anyone else who’s even talking about that." Nakachi Clark-Kasimu, 3rd Grade Teacher
“This app will be groundbreaking for our work. It would be a way for teachers/coaches/admin to spend a few minutes every morning reflecting on their own unconscious bias and equity lens. This data could then eventually be compiled so that a whole staff could come together to work collaboratively with the data. I’m so ready to pilot it that I already told all my colleagues about it." Nova Katz, Math Training Specialist + Teacher Coach
“Sometimes in schools we treat reflection as though it’s a luxury. With all the demands placed on us, we don’t have time to do important reflection--especially about how we’re showing up as equity educators. I also like that this App addresses how stress + health + wellness + sleep impact how we show up. That’s innovative, because typically in the conversation about EI stays on the surface. I’m ready to pilot the App already!” Jillian Roth, Education Facilitator & Data Researcher
"This is so needed. We as educators have to be able to hold a conversation and demonstrate self-awareness--in order to connect with our diverse colleagues--if you want to succeed as a leader. This app can really succeed in being personalized for each person’s unique situation" Nora Gardner, Spanish Literature Professor
“This is going to be a powerful tool for learning about my blind-spots, addressing my biases, helping me be more aware of how I’m showing up.” Justin De Leon, Associate Partner at Education Elements
“I love that this App holds space for daily reflection and for educators too reground in their spark. It’s so necessary for us to think daily about our commitment to education, and how we are committed to education. AND how we protect time for self care in the face of struggle. It’s critical that we reflect on how we’re showing up as educators” Maureen Benson, Founder & Ed. of Education Is A Vital Sign
"Self-awareness work needs to be ongoing, and while many educators and leaders have conversations about their goals with colleagues, this is a great way to keep the self-reflection going in between those spaces." Yanira Canizales, K-8 Principal