John Krownapple and Floyd Cobb have a lot to say about dignity in education. For the past few years, they have worked together to help illuminate for educators how looking at their practice through a lens of dignity can create more educational equity. Their work has culminated in the book Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity: The Keys to Successful Equity Implementation. Last year we spoke with John, and we wanted to share some of our takeaways from that discussion as we look forward to the session that he and Floyd will present at this year’s TLC 2020. 

Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple have dedicated their work towards creating and defining what they have termed a dignity framework. The framework allows for a way forward for educators aiming at creating a more equitable environment in all schools and for all students. This is how John introduced the idea to us last year:

“My thought partner and co-author, Floyd Cobb, and I have been busy developing a dignity framework for educational equity.  Through dignity, we think we can provide a frame that helps make educational equity initiatives for schools and districts more successful.”


“We need to learn how to honor our own dignity if we’re going to be extending it to others. Basically, you can’t give what you don’t have, so we need to do some internal work.  It’s an inside-out type of approach.”

—John Krownapple

One of the first steps educators can take towards incorporating a dignity framework in their practice is by doing some internal work. John and Floyd have said the way to best utilize dignity in one’s work is to recognize and acknowledge one’s own dignity. By treating oneself with appropriate dignity, this enables educators to place that dignity in their work with others. 



John and Floyd talk about their dignity framework as specifically working with and for dignity. Including dignity with educators’ work meshes well with the partnership stance that is so important in coaching. John has descibed this connection of successful coaching to dignity in this way:

“Partnership Principles fit well here, because if we’re teaching with dignity, we’re doing things like amplifying student voice and partnering with students and families; in other words, we are recognizing the ways that we violate dignity unintentionally and then correcting those violations.  When applying that to coaching, we are asking: How do we coach with and for dignity?”


So what does teaching or coaching with dignity, and a dignity framework mean? For a description of what a dignity framework looks like John and Floyd have divided the work that individuals and organizations have to accomplish into four capacities, and four indicators that the work is succeeding. The four capacities include:

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Openness
  • Patience

In order to measure whether these capacities are succeeding, there are four indicators that are felt by those experiencing the initiatives which are:

  • Fairness
  • Acceptance
  • Validation
  • Appreciation

Finally, to round out the framework, John and Floyd have four standards of dignity for which the work is founded upon which are:

  • Building partnerships and community
  • Repairing harm and restoring relationships
  • Affirming differences and uniqueness
  • Presuming competence and positive intent

Understanding this framework can help coaches gain a better awareness of the environment in which they work, as well as how best they can insert their practice in that environment.

“Once coaches are fluent in the language of dignity, they can better recognize how they can effectively engage with their colleagues. They’ll also have better clarity in regard to what’s going on in the classroom.”

—John Krownapple


We’re happy to announce that John Krownapple and Floyd Cobb are breakout presenters at this year’s Teaching Learning Coaching conference! Learn more about their session below and register today to attend the biggest virtual conference designed for instructional coaches.

The Keys to Equity Implementation: Belonging and Dignity

Too often, equity implementation reinforces a vicious cycle of failure because the keys to success are missing and the purpose of the effort is muddled. This session will bring clarity to what equity is all about so we can address it through specific actions in our teaching, leading, or coaching practices. To that end, participants will acquire a pragmatic framework of dignity and belonging that they can use to guide successful equity implementation. Walk away knowing exactly what it takes to coach, teach, lead, and generally interact with and for dignity.

John and Floyd are also this week’s Coaching Conversation featured speakers. Submit your questions for them via this Google form. Watch the live interview with Jim Knight on the ICG Facebook page this Thursday 8/27 at 2pm PT / 5pm ET. You don’t need a personal account to watch.