The First PLC of 2020

This year’s Winter PLC was recently held January 23, 2020, steering committee representatives from our seven SEL Dallas sites, along with SEL central office staff from Dallas ISD, Big Thought, and Dallas Afterschool, all convened at Cowart Elementary for the SEL Dallas Winter PLC meeting. Juany Valdespino-Gaytan, Executive Director of Engagement Services at Dallas ISD kicked off the afternoon’s session noting that in this year of “Deepening Adult Practice”, this winter PLC would focus on trust and vulnerability.  Jane Santa Cruz, SEL Project Manager at Dallas ISD, led the group in a warm welcome activity, where attendees teamed up with a colleague from another campus and shared with each other a specific SEL practice they have seen be successful at their school and that they would raise up as an exemplar.

Participants were given a choice to select one of the two topics, trust or vulnerability, that they wanted to learn more about and discuss.  Based on their choice, participants watched short videos (The Anatomy of Trust or The Power of Vulnerability) from Brené Brown, a nationally-renowned social worker who has focused her research and writing on vulnerability, shame, and the power of connection. After participants heard Brené Brown’s presentation on either trust or vulnerability, each group discussed key takeaways and participated in activities that fostered deep conversation about the role each topic plays in our current SEL implementation. 

  • On the topic of vulnerability, the group discussed how one’s vulnerability with colleagues is often commensurate with the level of relational trust you have developed with that individual.  It is also meaningful when adults show students that adults can be vulnerable, help students feel safe in being vulnerable as well, and build overall trust among both students and adults in a classroom environment.  Participants likewise explored the connection between vulnerability and one’s sense of belonging, with an interesting discussion on the House System at Silberstein Elementary School.
  • On the topic of trust, the group discussed Brené Brown’s concept of a “marble jar” and how trust is built over time with small acts (or “marbles”) such as when friends call or text just to say hi or when a colleague asks about a family member’s health during a challenging health scare, etc. Participants reflected on what trust looks like for both adults and students using Brown’s acronym, BRAVING, which defines key elements of trust such as Boundaries and Integrity, and how adults should slow down to listen to each other and their students more often because those small moments really count towards developing trusting relationships and welcoming campuses.



At the conclusion of the PLC meeting, the two discussion groups came back together to debrief on their respective conversations. Our SEL Dallas leadership team shared a resource sheet with participants so that they could explore more Brené Brown content and share back with their campus teams.  

Thank you to all PLC meeting participants who took time out of their evenings to learn with us and engage in thoughtful discussions and thank you to the Cowart team for hosting us on their campus!  Our next scheduled PLC meeting is Thursday, April 23rd from 4-5:30PM (final location still pending) and we look forward to seeing everyone then!