Nurture Democratic Systems and Structures

Nurture Democratic Systems and Structures

The powerful practices are how we build student engagement in community and in learning, through research-based culturally responsive practices in classrooms and schools.


All school stakeholders (administrators, teachers, students, parents, and partners):

  1. strive to build shared purpose and bonds of trust as a foundation for collective action
  2. create opportunities that show varied perspectives are valued, and that cultivate voice and influence from those most impacted by a decision
  3. share power by being open to critique, being responsive to the voices of others, and finding opportunities for shared leadership in decision-making
  4. practice working within and living with disagreement, and strive to build consensus on decisions and issues of public concern.

Classroom Indicators

Students say/show/feel:

  • they are an important member of a community of learners that support and encourage one another
  • they collaborate with their teachers and peers to shape the direction of the class, and have consistent opportunities to inform and influence decisions on classroom rules, content, and learning activities
  • their teacher is responsive to the needs, concerns, and ideas that are voiced, and communicates effectively about how and why decisions were made
  • they can trust their teacher and their classmates to listen thoughtfully, intentionally, and without judgement
  • they can effectively participate in or lead real or simulated democratic practices such as community hearings, town hall meetings, or elections
  • everyone in the class participates, and feels invited and encouraged to participate
  • everyone is responsive and accountable to needs, concerns, and agreements that impact the common good

Teachers say/show/feel that:

  • they have effective systems that cultivate student voice: ideas, designs, criticisms, expertise, and solutions
  • they build a sense of community and belonging for all students
  • Students are open and forthright with them about topics related to the classroom culture, curriculum, and instruction
  • students have routine space to lead, collaborate, and co-create

Schoolwide Culture and Leadership Indicators

School leaders and School leadership teams Departments ILT’s, LSC’s, SVC’s, etc (Youth, Adult, Intergenerational)

  • work to ensure there is mutual understanding, trust, value, and purpose in the school vision
  • Ensure real and simulated democratic practices such as town hall meetings, committee hearings, and electoral process are abundant and accessible
  • Have solid systems and structures in place that empower (students, teachers, parents) to share new ideas and concerns and hold everyone accountable
  • Ensure there are multiple ways for others to contribute to or participate in decisions and actions
  • Develop targeted strategies to listen to, learn from, strategize with students and/or staff that are marginalized and/or most impacted by a decision.
  • creates transparency and trust by communicating how and why decisions were made
  • makes data transparent and public, and makes space for students/staff to discuss data and use it to inform our learning and improvement
  • establish working groups or committees to inform and shape projects and initiatives

Nurture Democratic Systems and Structures in Action