Consider these facts:
Two-thirds of American fourth graders–roughly six million children–cannot read at grade level.
95% of children are born with the ability to learn how to read.
We have the power to fix this.
Helping a child develop their innate gifts is up to the adults with whom they interact, including parents, tutors, teachers, and early childhood caregivers. Starting from birth, creating sensitive and encouraging relationships, educating with data-proven strategies, and allowing time to develop through doing will ensure children learn to read while cultivating a healthy self-image.
Just imagine what our world will look like when all children, everywhere, are supported to reach their full potential. When every adult in a child’s life is equipped with this essential knowledge, it will be possible!
This is why FluentSeeds, with strong support from First 5 Santa Clara County and the expertise of Aviellah Curriculum and Consulting’s Rebecca Nathan, created an eLearning platform to give everyone access to ©SEEDS of Learning through an online, self-paced course.
We’ve combined SEEDS instruction from our Family Child Care, 3-5 (preschool/TK), and Parenting frameworks, resulting in a comprehensive learning tool to equip all adults with the essential tools and strategies to nurture children’s social-emotional and early literacy development.
We sat down the other day for a conversation with Rebecca about her equity work and her involvement with FluentSeeds and the eLearning design.
Would you mind starting by saying your name and and what it is you do now?
My name is Rebecca Nathan, and I am the owner of Aviella Curriculum and Consulting. I walk alongside different organizations that are looking to solidify their equitable outcomes. Basically, I am a learning strategist. I focus a lot on equity-focused learning, but sometimes I’m doing work outside of that, including all the things that are involved in helping people effectively take in information. That’s kind of what I get excited about. I’m usually in the lane of thinking about marginalized learners in some way or another; thinking about learning for folks who are often discounted, underestimated, marginalized, or written off.
What would you say that inclusive looks like? Does that include children who may have dyslexia, or might have different learning abilities? Or Is it more along the lines of communities or incomes? Could you speak to that a little bit?
Sure. It typically has included children in areas of a community that are considered to be of little value, or it could be economic position – certainly race and ethnicity. So, lots of ways that children and their families are seen and thought about—-they’re often marginalized.
I’ve done programming design for families in North Minneapolis, for example, sharing evidence-based practice that’s culturally relevant.
I’ll attend different seminars or learning opportunities where they discuss communities that they think they have all the solutions for, whereas I’m really focused on hearing what makes sense for those communities; talking with them and exchanging information.
The spectrum of age is pretty broad. Sometimes it’s about helping the adults who are supporting the children. Sometimes it’s direct instruction and content for children. Sometimes it’s programming for their families or the communities that they live in. But I think the thread throughout it all is that I’m really interested in how people take in information and integrate it into practice. And, like I said, I find myself in spaces with communities that I think are deserving of that information, but often aren’t provided the opportunity to exchange and engage with that information.
So it’s having the information and making sure that it’s disseminated to the community, but there’s an exchange of ideas. It’s listening to the community as well, and saying, “This is, you know, what the school of thought is, how would that work? What do you think about that?” And really working through it together; like you say, walking alongside.
Yeah, for instance, I have a contract with the state where I developed some child development content for unlicensed caregivers. And when I did that, I listened not only to what they were saying, but what they were doing. For instance, were they not participating in a certain portion? And that feedback is what I respond to and then shift and build in a way that is really aligned with who those learners are…if that makes sense.
It sounds like design.
Yeah, exactly. I would call myself an instructional designer, and that includes all parts of the learning process. Being involved, really shaping it around who people are.
What is your role within FluentSeeds and your experience with SEEDS? How did you get involved? Can speak to that? Are you SEEDS certified? Have you trained and coached and all those kinds of things?
Yeah. SEEDS is so integrated into the professional endeavors that I’ve had, it’s hard to pull out all the threads and remember how it all started. I think (it started) just as a practitioner. I’ve taught in early childhood classrooms that utilize SEEDS, and then worked with programs that were utilizing SEEDS. And so, having experience as a practitioner, I think, was the earliest interaction I had with SEEDS, and then over the last probably fifteen years I’ve had lots of different roles with FluentSeeds, which does include Train-the-Trainer, and then more recently involvement in the eLearning effort.
Can you talk about the eLearning then? What specifically, did you do on it?
I was involved in thought partnership, and in some of the early stages as it was being determined how the project might unfold or what direction it might take. And then, later on in the project, I had a more concrete specific role where I was taking the knowledge that I had about SEEDS, because at that point I was very fluent in SEEDS and what it means, not just what it looks like on paper but also in practice. For instance, keeping in mind all the places that people get stuck or the common misunderstandings, and thinking about what would be the best way to translate that learning on a eLearning platform. So, I played a role in basically translating the content in a way that would make sense in eLearning. I was a concept person, storyboarding, as some might call it. That was my role.
Okay, as far as the equity portion…diversity, equity, inclusion. You know those are buzzwords right now. But were you able to bring your lens and your background and experience to this eLearning, and did it shape it in a way that the SEEDS programming prior to that had not been shaped?
I have an equity lens as a part of who I am. I think any project that I come to I bring it. It doesn’t turn off, so certainly in the eLearning, it was a part of how I made sense of things. For example, I remember conversations with some of the other team members about rules and expectations, and we brought in how implicit bias about certain students informs expectations. SEEDS is a really meaningful curriculum that’s available to people, and people bring themselves to SEEDS…so in the eLearning we were able to address some of those things, to make sure that SEEDS could be all that it can be and not hindered by any inequitable lenses that people might bring to the content. And not to say that it’s a perfect science and it always happens, but that certainly was the intention with choices within the eLearning content. You’ll see it there.
Is there anything else about the eLearning that you would share in terms of its effectiveness or convenience, or do you want to brag on it a little bit?
Well, there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I guess, involved in it. Those of us who worked hard on it had intimate experience and understanding of SEEDS and leveraged that nuanced knowledge in the eLearning. So, although eLearning might not be the format that works for everyone, I think of it as not just a different format, but also updated in a lot of ways, building on the strength of SEEDS and putting it into the eLearning. And so, even if you’re doing in-person learning, maybe your organization wants to invest in having the eLearning resources because they are updated around equity concepts and how to break down the information and digest it in little bits. Some of my clients are using SEEDS eLearning and I’ve been hearing pretty positive feedback about it.
I mentioned this earlier, but I think one of the powerful things from my perspective is we’ve got a lot of different people and different types of voices embedded within the content. And then also, there’s an awareness about what usually trips people up and we’ve responded to that. So, we’ve tried to think about that in advance and then share the learning in a way that hopefully overcomes that. I’m excited about that aspect of it.
We really appreciate your time, thank you so much.
The eLearning course is self-directed with a license for one year. The cost is $500.00 for the 8 sessions, which includes a custom eLearning manual along with additional resources.