At NSO, we realize that students come to us for many reasons. We strive to meet the needs of all learners and support those who are in special circumstances. We commit to facilitating student success. Equity is a driving principle to the work of Intermediate District 287.
Our mission and strategic plan highlight the importance of racial and cultural equity. We strive to support the needs of each learner through our curriculum development, platform customizations, and professional development initiatives.
Learn more about how NSO supports our learners…
Many students choose online learning because other options are not serving their needs. We work hard to create a welcoming environment that supports learners and demonstrates a commitment to finding solutions for students in unique situations.
Through the use of curriculum materials that provide counter/absent narratives; review processes that look for bias; instructor feedback that acknowledges student effort and contributions; development of anti-racist curriculum we are able to demonstrate to our students that their voices are valued and that they can see themselves represented in their learning activities. We use Social Emotional Learning strategies; CLEAR Model principles; Classroom Instruction that Works (CITW); and Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) to meet our goals as we strive for racial and cultural equity.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
SEL is a process through which people build awareness and skills in managing emotions, setting goals, establishing relationships, and making responsible decisions that supports success in school and in life.
SEL develops cognitive social competencies, such as:
- social awareness
Developing such skills fosters positive social skills, reduces conduct problems, diminishes emotional stress, and improves academic performance.
Furthermore, when we develop social and emotional skills, our ability to form relationships and build social awareness increases, enhancing our ability to connect with individuals of diverse perspectives, cultures, languages, histories, identities, and abilities. By implementing SEL on a macro-level, we create more equitable, better performing schools and communities. This type of cultural change creates environments in which all students learn the skills needed to be prepared for career, college, and life.
As an educational approach, SEL recognizes students are complex human beings whose learning and behavior are just as impacted by their emotions—and their control over those emotions—as they are by the quality of instruction and discipline.
- Cultural – emphasize purpose, and its relationship to students’ own culture.
- Learning – encourages choice based on experiences; values; needs; and strengths.
- Equitable – racial/ethnic diversity is valued; contributes to successful academic outcomes.
- Achievement – multiple ways to represent knowledge/skills; allow for attainment of outcomes at different points in time.
- Responsive- through positive relationships, rigorous learning experiences involve higher order thinking and critical analysis to address relevant, real(ness) world issues in an action-oriented manner.
LGBTQ students don’t need to be “tolerated”; they deserve acceptance, support, true equity. We proactively serve those who have experienced trauma and neglect from traditional systems and peers. When we serve our marginalized populations we send a powerful message and allow all students to thrive.
Research shows that communicating and engaging with parents, members of the school community and throughout the school is important to ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming students are safe and supported in school. (From: A Toolkit for Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students )
LGBTQ students report elevated levels of bullying and harassment and there are increased risks related to suicide attempts for this population. Online programs are often sought out by LGBTQ youth as safe spaces to complete academic requirements while avoiding bullying and anti-LGBTQ attitudes. We continually look for ways to be more welcoming and supportive of our students who are looking for a safe space in which to meet their academic requirements. LGBTQ students have legal protections from the MN Human Rights Act; and the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act.
NSO supports student needs around Gender identity; Gender expression; Gender nonconforming; Sexual orientation; Transgender. Students are encouraged to express themselves through their coursework and in the relationships they form with their peers, instructors, and NSO support staff.
- We respect student gender identity and allow for the use of preferred gender pronouns and name changes.
- We monitor student forums for any sign of bullying while encouraging students to express themselves and share their experiences and their connections to the curriculum.
- We have counseling staff that is ready to support students. Students may reach out, but we also use activity data to identify when students are at risk for not completing a course. Where we can, we proactively reach out to our learners.
Resources – for LGBTQ students and allies
- List of MN resources specific to LGBTQ support and related mental health support.
- The Trevor Project – The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people under 25.
- It Gets Better Project – Nonprofit with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ youth around the globe.
- OutFront MN – Educational Equity Program works with students, educators, youth service providers, advocates, pre-service teachers, educational leaders, community groups, and policymakers to support and create school environments that help humans to feel safe, respected, and valued.
- LGBTQ Health Resources – The goal of this project to create provider directory for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people seeking health-related resources in Minnesota.
We continually make updates to our platform and course design to make our materials and communications as accessible as possible. We adhere to the POUR Principles.
- Perceivable – See/hear what is there
- Operable – Interact with what is there
- Understandable – Language is clear and easy to follow
- Robust – Works with all devices
Our goal is to provide students with disabilities the opportunity to acquire the same information; engage in the same interactions; and enjoy the same services as students without disabilities with substantially equivalent ease of use.
For a more comprehensive list of accommodations that we suggest for students please visit our page on Accessibility Tools/Suggestions. You may also be interested in our Accessibility Statement that outlines specific changes we make by default to our Learning Management System (LMS).