Klingbrief September 2015
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What You Think You See Is Not What You Get
The Mirage: Confronting the Hard Truth About Our Quest for Teacher Development, by Dina Hasiotis, Andy Jacob, Kate McGovern and a number of other TNTP researchers, leaders, designers, and editors.

Does professional development lead to teacher improvement? This central question was the subject of a study of teachers in three public school districts and a charter school network. With substantial financial investment, teachers in the district schools devoted approximately 150 hours a year to professional development activities including mentoring, evaluation and ongoing, job-embedded training. Using multiple measures of performance, researchers found what previous studies have documented. Beyond the first few years of teaching, most teachers did not improve. What's more, researchers were unable to link the growth of those who did improve (3:10) to any particular professional development strategy. In comparison, in the charter school network, teacher growth was fostered by a culture of high expectations mixed with ongoing feedback on individual teaching effectiveness. The charter school teachers spent two to three hours each week with other teachers, reviewing instructional practices and outcomes from the previous week, practicing new skills and reflecting on adjustments to be made. Throughout the year teachers learned and honed practices and analyzed student outcomes for improved instruction. Specifically, and for all schools, the report recommends evaluating current approaches to professional development and keeping only those that provide measurable progress toward ambitious standards for teaching and student learning. The vision of widespread teaching excellence is harder to achieve than anticipated, but helping teachers understand the effects of their teaching holds the promise for school improvement.

Pearl Rock Kane, The Klingenstein Center, NY
TNTP, August 4, 2015
Klingbrief is a free, monthly publication of recommended articles, books, research reports and media selected by and for independent school educators.  The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers. For information about submitting to Klingbrief, please click here.
September, 2015 VOL 55

Coordinating Editor, Assistant Head, Upper School, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

PK-12 Director of Studies, The Walker School, Marietta, GA

Klingenstein Center Director, New York, NY

Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY

Assistant Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

Visiting Scholar at the International Educational Research Centre at Kobe Shinwa Women's University, Kobe, Japan

English Department Chair, Windward School, Los Angeles, CA

Head of Lick-Wilmerding High School,
San Francisco, CA

Operations Manager, Klingenstein Center,
New York, NY

2.threemiles Worlds Apart Together
Episode 550: Three Miles, by Chicago Public Media and Ira Glass

Given that many of us are all too aware of the privilege associated with an independent school education, public-private partnerships are welcome trends in our industry. NPR's This American Life chronicles one such example - an exchange between Ethical Culture Fieldston School and University Heights High School in the Bronx. The episode follows three students from University Heights and the varying ways they were affected by their interaction with the advantages they saw in the independent school they visited. One talented student was angered by the disparities the exchange revealed and discouraged by coming close to earning a prestigious scholarship; another was motivated by seeing what an educational environment could look like. Even the most successful of the three struggled with having the confidence that she truly belonged in the new school to which she was given access. Fieldston's program seemed to avoid the common pitfalls of pity and condescension that plague some work with underprivileged students. Still, this narrative helps school leaders realize that the glimpse of advantages granted to low-income students in underfunded public schools, through joint programs or scholarship applications, can impact those students in complicated and unpredictable ways.

Michael Arjona, The Walker School, GA
Chicago Public Media, This American Life from WBEZ, March 13, 2015
15_09_3design Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test
Is 'Design Thinking' the New Liberal Arts? by Peter N. Miller

Most of us have heard about design thinking, some of us have contemplated its integration into our curricula and an even smaller subset have adopted it piecemeal or whole cloth. In a fascinating discussion about the impact design thinking is having at and on Stanford University, Miller, a history professor at Bard Graduate Center, describes the concept's effect on students, teachers, and most fascinatingly, on Stanford itself. Stanford's "d.school" is now serving as a consultant to the larger institution, pushing the university to recreate itself. Miller describes design thinking as a problem-solving approach buoyed by principles that aren't overly difficult: "'Show Don't Tell,' 'Focus on Human Values,' 'Embrace Experimentation,'" to name but a few. Further, these principles "reduce to five modes - empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test." As simple as the process may sound, Miller argues, design thinking must confront its own major weakness: its lack of "pastness," or its inability to see the complexity of human experience as an essential ingredient in today's creative maelstrom. Whether or not they buy-in to the design thinking hype, leaders of independent schools will find this article instructive; when universities deliberately begin to disrupt themselves, we in the PK-12 world should take note.

Jonathan M. Schoenwald, Gulliver Preparatory School, FL
The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 26, 2015
15_09_4reading Reading's Rainbow of Benefits
Reading for Pleasure, by Colleen Ricci

In this pithy article, Colleen Ricci parses a recent study by the Reading Agency, a charity designed to help people share their love of reading. According to Riccci, the agency's recent global study goes beyond a reminder of the power of reading for pleasure. Such reading also leads to predictably positive academic outcomes, yet the study emphasizes lesser known "non-literacy outcomes" as well. Particularly compelling are benefits in social and emotional wellbeing, like the enhancement of self-knowledge and identity, as well as empathy and emotional intelligence. Those who read often for pleasure enjoy mental and physical benefits, including increased self esteem, decreased stress and depression, greater resiliency and increased sleep. Essentially, reading for pleasure makes for happier, healthier individuals and a more empathic, intelligent, and responsive citizenry. Some reports following the study raise concerns about young people, especially boys, not reading enough for pleasure. Others "fear for children, often from poorer backgrounds, who never become readers at all." Still others call for student choice and voice in text selection - sound ideas for educators to keep in mind as we restart and revisit reading curricula this year.

Meghan Tally, Windward School, CA
Sydney Morning Herald, August 16, 2015
15_09_5coddling Scrub Warning
The Coddling of the American Mind, by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

In this provocative essay, two members of academia explore the strong tensions on college campuses between the need for professors to challenge students by exposing them to the messiness of the human condition and students' expressed need to be warned about and even sheltered from these scenarios. The authors believe that the "scrubbing" of the curriculum on college campuses is actually harming the mental health of young people by preventing them from gaining the skills to face and process disturbing content. As independent schools continue to address our legacies of privilege, this article reminds us to think through the ways we might balance the need to be sensitive to the experiences of our students with the responsibility to help them develop the resilience and persistence to meet future challenges. Put another way: how do we meld the cultural competencies required to teach and learn in our schools with our commitment to challenge our students' thinking and experiences as they are forging their own identifies? The complexities of these goals are acutely present on the college campuses to which we are sending our graduates and we should be grappling with ways to help them navigate such landscapes.

Eric Temple, Lick-Wilmerding High School, CA
The Atlantic, September 2015
  A Balm for College Mania's Real Harm
Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, by Frank Bruni

Amidst all the sturm und drang over the ways that college admissions has turned into an unreasonably stressful and insanely competitive process for high school seniors, Frank Bruni reframes the conversation in a calm, compassionate and data-driven manner. Useful to families and educators alike, Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be presents case studies and statistics illustrating that highly selective colleges and universities do not have a monopoly on excellence; in fact, many schools that don't appear at the top of U.S. News rankings produce more than their assumed share of students who earn PhDs in STEM or prestigious Fulbright or Guggenheim fellowships. Even more striking are the ways that the students Bruni interviews describe their experiences in some of these seemingly "lesser" public and private colleges. As teachers and parents who see students experience real harm as they try to navigate the college admission process, we have an ethical responsibility to educate ourselves much more fully about the varied rich and fulfilling educational paths our children can take. Bruni's book offers us an essential and humane reminder of the true purpose of a college education and an antidote to the current cultural mania around college admissions.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, NM
Grand Central Publishing, March 17, 2015
Renewing Dewey
What Kind of Citizen? Educating our Children for the Common Good, by Joel Westheimer

In What Kind of Citizen? Educating our Children for the Common Good, Joel Westheimer offers educators a compelling, concise and well-researched look at current practice and policy in educating for democracy. His new book navigates these questions: what is the role of schools in teaching citizenship and democracy today and what kind of approach best prepares students to serve the common good? Nearly 100 years after John Dewey's Democracy and Education (1916), Westheimer researches what schools are doing well in regards to what Dewey considered to be a main purpose of education. Westheimer finds that many school programs with intentions to deepen student understanding through service learning or civic education lack capacity for impact. Participatory and justice-oriented citizenry requires sharpened skills of analysis, ability to thoughtfully critique and the will and ways to enter dialogue respectfully from differing points of view. Westheimer writes for educators who hope to build students' capacity to ask probing questions and to analyze the social, economic, and political contexts of the society they live in and will help to create.

Elizabeth Morley, Kobe Shinwa Women's University, Kobe, Japan
Teachers College Press, 2015
15_09_8spiritual   Another Dimension
The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving, by Lisa Miller

That spirituality serves as a source of encouragement, support and protection has been known for centuries, but in this eloquent book, Lisa Miller, professor of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, argues that spirituality is ever, if not more, relevant today. Combining both scientific and anecdotal evidence, Miller posits that the innate, biological spirituality in children, once nurtured in the first two decades of their lives, can serve as a reliable protector from depression, substance abuse and other risky behaviors in adolescence. Moreover, spirituality provides a lifelong source of purpose, compassion, satisfaction, success, and happiness. In addition to one's relationship with God (manifested differently in different religions and cultures), according to Miller, spirituality can also grow from one's transcendent relationship with nature or another person who loves us unconditionally. This inclusive definition of spirituality - and Miller's practical recommendations about how to preserve and encourage it in children - not only gives parents and educators language to guide children's spiritual development, but also leads us to reflect on our own inner lives and spirituality. Challenged by the press and challenging for the parent or educator who would pick up its thread, Miller's angle on resiliency is not a bad place to begin another school year in light of all that schools ask of those who spend their days in them.

Meng Lusardi, Riverdale Country School, NY
St. Martin's Press, 2015

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