There are 8 pillars that are critical for fostering an equitable and joyful learning environment

Reflecting on your district, how are you doing in these areas (systematically)?

Developing Self-Identity

Does our school help every kid develop self-identity?

Research shows when kids feel known, they are 30 times more engaged. Kids develop confidence and self-esteem when they become self-aware.

Developing Agency

Do we have the systems in place to measure how our kids are developing agency?

K-12 education is about helping kids become problem solvers, critical thinkers, collaborators, communicators, and global citizens. But, all we measure is content knowledge.


Are we creating a hopeful learning environment for our students?

Hope is a primary predictor of academic success. Hope develops resilience in students, reduces anxiety and stress, and helps them overcome problems.

Student Well-being

Do we have systems to monitor student well-being in real time?

Social-emotional learning is most effective when it is infused into the core curriculum instead of treated as a stand-alone subject. Most implementations are at best prescriptive and reactive. And, most SEL curricula don’t address a key component of the CASEL framework – self-awareness. We can address this critical issue of student well-being by being proactive and measuring it in real time

Learning Journey, Portrait of a Learner

Have we defined the Portrait of a Learner? If yes, have we operationalized it?

Are we looking at a holistic journey of a student? Students spend 12,000 to 14,000 hours of learning across their K-12 journey. Yet, we have mostly reduced them to a letter grade and an SAT/ACT score.

Equitable Learning Environment

Are we ready to take the next leap in creating an equitable learning environment?

We have been talking about equity for way too long now. Yes, we have made some progress, but a lot more needs to be done to close persistent gaps. A truly equitable learning environment requires recognizing that every student has core strengths and assets to contribute, and that their unique backgrounds contribute to the vitality of schools and communities.

Family Involvement

Are we equipping our parents with information about their kids’ strengths and assets and with resources to keep their kids enriched at home?

It takes a village to help kids thrive. Kids need a positive and stimulating learning environment at home to prevent opportunity gaps from widening.

Staff Hope and Well-being

Are we supporting our teachers to recognize the positive learning identities of their students and ensuring our teachers are hopeful?

Teachers with high hope are found to produce more successful kids. When students think their teachers know them, they are 30x more engaged. The ‘rockstar’ teachers are those who make a connection with their kids and make each kid feel they are special and that their teacher is invested in them.

Thrively is powering classrooms all across America.