Are you familiar with situations where people think Equity work is an extra task, even if it’s essential to the group’s mission and can address systemic and interpersonal issues? In this story, a school’s Equity Plan had largely sat on a shelf for a few years, in which time there was staff turnover and growing concerns from staff about a number of school issues.
Through this activity – just two hours long – the group not only grasped the 6 initiatives of their Plan but also gained a deeper understanding of its importance, explored applications for its strategies and how it could address their concerns, and sparked enthusiasm for integrating it into their day-to-day work.
I learned a fun name — Jigsaw — for the framework I used for this activity — thank you folks at the Cottonwood School for Civics and Science. Below I will explain the basic activity and then show how I adapted it with strategic questions that would integrate the Equity Plan with the themes of the retreat.
The “Jigsaw” Framework
Round 1 – I divided the 22 participants into six groups, each group assigned to immerse in a deep dive of one of the six “initiatives” of the Equity Plan. They took notes on a large sheet of paper, and at this end of this 45-minute session I asked them to designated each person as either A, B, C, or D, planting the seed for Round 2.
Round 2 – In this phase, they now separated into groups of A, B, C, or D – each new group comprising a representative from the initial six groups. They walked around with their new group to each of the 6 big sheets of note paper from Round 1. In front of each sheet (i.e. one initiative of the Equity Plan) the respective representative from the first round shared the stories and insights from that team.
In essence, each person assumed the role of a teacher for their assigned part–which ensured that each person deeply understood one aspect while gaining a glimpse into the other five. This whole activity helped create a sense of ownership and understanding, promoting inquiry, storytelling, and questions rather than directives. New ideas, excitement and patterns emerged.
The Content and Rationale
The questions I posed during this activity were thoughtfully crafted:
In the world of equity work, where understanding and engagement are pivotal, this activity proved to be a catalyst. It began to shift the perception of equity from being “extra” to an intrinsic part of their roles, sparking a sense of purpose, innovation, and collective enthusiasm.
And it was fun and energizing!! I would totally do this again!