Active Math

    Of Note: Making Numbers Sing

    What Does Active Learning Mean for Mathematicians? by Braun, Bremser, Duval, Lockwood, and White
    Notices of the AMS, February 1, 2017

    In this immensely practical article, four college mathematics professors answer a call from the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences to bring effective active learning into post-secondary math classrooms. Though many independent school math instructors are already running student-centered classrooms and might be familiar with active learning, this article provides a comprehensive compilation of strategies as well as an explanation of the pedagogy of active learning, including the math emporium model and inquiry-based learning. Additionally the authors discuss the kinds of excellent outcomes that teachers can expect to see when they move to this type of instruction. They also anticipate concerns that teachers might have as they contemplate moving away from the lecture/homework cycle. While acknowledging the associated worries, the authors provide a reframing of what it means for students to understand content at a deep level and build skills not just in problem-solving, but also in metacognition, independence, creativity, and other important habits of mind. If this piece piques interest, the professors also have a six-part series on active learning on the American Mathematical Society blog On Teaching and Learning Mathematics.

    Submitted By Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM


    Multiple Selves

    What Biracial People Know by Moises Valassquez-Manoff 
    New York Times, March 4, 2017

    Intended as a commentary on the shortcomings of a homogeneous cabinet in the White House, this short, well researched article provides a data rich source on the benefits of diversity. Using biracialism as an example, the author, himself biracial, points to the benefit of having to transcend racial stereotypes to construct a more inclusive worldview. Having multiple selves appears to enhance mental flexibility.  At a group level, social scientists have documented that diverse groups in business, art, and scientific studies are likely to be more creative and insightful in solving problems and more likely to question faulty assumptions. Additionally, better decisions emerge from more diverse mindsets. The good news for educators is that this kind of mental flexibility can be cultivated through interaction with others with different life experiences. With opportunities to set up intentional communities, independent schools may be well positioned to attract and recruit students and teachers from various cultural and socioeconomic groups who bring world views that can enrich the school experience. Often more diverse than their neighborhood public schools, independent schools are at an advantage in preparing students to function effectively in a country that is fast becoming a “majority of minorities.”

    Submitted By Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY


    Get Together Better

    How to Get People to Collaborate When You Don’t Control Their Salary by Heidi Gardner
    Harvard Business Review, January 23, 2017

    Heidi Gardner’s recent study of collaboration challenges, approaches, and successes at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has compelling implications for educators. As people across diverse industries face the challenge of fostering collaboration in meaningful and lasting ways, Gardner chose a constrained setting for her study wherein “collaboration doesn’t come naturally to many of the highest performers and the system seems almost geared against teamwork.” Gardner was particularly interested in how, without changing the pay or benefits structure, collaboration could be promoted and rewarded in the early stages before collaborators had the chance to experience the longer-term pay off for themselves. Her conclusions offer administrators and department chairs some useful advice: 1) start with a “coalition of the willing” and pick your battles carefully, initiating collaborations where they are most needed; 2) share the persuasive quantitative evidence of collaboration’s effectiveness; 3) help make collaborations easier for people through simple technology such as file-sharing platforms; 4) create opportunities for people to celebrate and reward one another. Certainly not all findings in other fields have relevance for education, but the desire to maximize collaboration transcends most individual workplaces and has applications for teachers and students alike.

    Submitted By Meghan Tally, Windward School, Los Angeles, CA


    Rhetoric and Reality

    Language of Appeasement by Dafina-Lazarus Stewart
    Inside Higher Ed, March 30, 2017

    In her recent article, Dafina-Lazarus Stewart uses our post-election political climate as a starting point to discuss how marginalized groups are treated and represented on college campuses in the United States. Stewart argues that for historically white institutions (HWI), the politics of appeasement have replaced the work of creating true systemic changes that would lead to equity and social justice.  Using historical context, she outlines how students in the 1960s and 1980s pushed for change that would result in greater diversity on campus. Efforts to recruit underrepresented students and faculty and to build programs to support students from marginalized groups failed to result in the desired changes. Stewart shines light on the fact that the demands of current students are surprisingly (or unsurprisingly to many) the same as in previous generations. She argues that schools use “diversity and inclusion rhetoric” as a diversion from actually creating and implementing “transformative efforts to promote equity and justice.” The implications of this challenge are critically important for independent schools. It is not enough to hire a Dean of Diversity and Inclusion or to recruit more faculty and students of color. Stewart gives the reader many examples of the clear differences between “diversity and inclusion rhetoric” and equity and justice. One question that all school leaders should begin with is this: “Diversity asks, ‘How many more of [pick any minoritized identity] group do we have this year than last?’ Equity responds, ‘What conditions have we created that maintain certain groups as the perpetual majority here?’”

    Submitted By Louisa Polos, Ed.M. Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, New York, NY


    Reflecting for Growth

    Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even If You Hate Doing It) by Jennifer Porter
    Harvard Business Review, January 21, 2017

    In this brief article, executive coach Jennifer Porter reveals that the hardest leaders to coach are surprisingly not those who might first come to mind. The hardest leaders to coach, from her experience, are those who do not take the time or make the effort to reflect. Even more challenging are those who will not reflect on themselves. Meaningful reflection, she explains, is much more than simply spending time thinking carefully. Rather, it involves “conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning.” Porter makes clear throughout the remainder of her article that the key word in her description is purpose. Successful leaders are those who reflect with the intention of creating meaning. That meaning in turn inspires learning, and that learning ultimately informs effective actions in the future. Porter goes on to describe five reasons that many leaders do not reflect, even though they know it is helpful, as well as six simple steps to stop the excuses. For example: “Identify some important questions” such as “How are you helping your colleagues achieve their goals?” and “How are you not helping or even hindering their progress?”  

    Submitted By Caitlin O'Neill, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York, New York


    All Feedback is Local

    Radical Candor by Kim Scott
    St. Martin's Press, March 1, 2017

    As educators, we know that learning, growth, and maximization of potential often hinge on caring relationships and clear feedback. Too often, however, those of us in supervisory roles find ourselves seeking to preserve relationships at the expense of delivering direct feedback, or having failed to establish strong relationships, find that our feedback is ineffective. Based on her many years as a leader and manager in Silicon Valley, author Kim Scott provides all of us who supervise or manage others a guide for how to create authentic relationships that allow for candid feedback to flow in both directions.  In a writing style that is both captivatingly personal and refreshingly direct, Scott walks the reader through the establishment of a culture of open communication, the building of trusting relationships, and models of true collaboration in a team environment.  The second half of Radical Candor focuses on specific tools and techniques for building relationships, giving and receiving feedback, team building, and getting results.  This text is highly recommended for anyone who is or has a boss and anyone who gives or receives feedback.

    Submitted By Isaac Enloe, Catlin Gabel School, Portland, OR


    MBE Science for the Rest of Us

    Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education by Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher
    Rowman & Littlefield, June 20, 2016

    Glen Whitman and Ian Kelleher’s Neuroteach takes a comprehensive look at research in mind, brain and education (MBE) science applied to teaching. It was informed by St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL). Functioning as part primer, part workbook, and part action plan, it provides information, interactivity, and implementation for incorporating this MBE research into the classroom. It revisits familiar concepts such as Dweck’s growth mindset and Duckworth’s grit, as well as the principles of metacognition. Importantly, it also debunks a list of “neuromyths” – those ideas to which we often cling, despite their having been disproven through research. Each chapter ends with a series of questions, allowing for the reader’s guided reflection, a technique frequently advocated by the text. The final chapters are a call-to-action, along with an outlined plan, on how not only to embrace research, but also to become a teacher-researcher in order to make informed decisions about the craft of teaching. This highly accessible book has been written for readers with all levels of previous experience in MBE science and would make great summer reading for individuals or faculties.

    Submitted By Francis "Butch" Malec, Stevenson School, Pebble Beach, CA


    Screen Door

    Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter
    Penguin Press, March 07, 2017

    According to Adam Alter in Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, the compulsion to check and engage with technology is now classified as a behavioral addiction. As such, it is beyond any of us, especially our students for whom technology is the air they breathe, to ensure healthy digital habits without intention and support. To hone in on the unique aspects of addictive technology, including games such as World of Warcraft, Alter moves deftly through the wider field of historically addictive substances and behaviors. Businesses, he shows, work strategically to ensure that their games and apps leave nothing to chance when it comes to sustaining the interest of their users. But, says Alter, “we can’t abandon technology, nor should we.” Solutions are at our fingertips, including disabling email at midnight, adding stopping points like chapters to games, and “demetricating” social media sites. Given that Steve Jobs of Apple and Evan Williams of Twitter thought it was important to limit their own children’s exposure to the very devices and apps they created, it stands to reason that teachers and parents follow Alter’s expert advice about staving off and addressing what is insatiable about technology.

    Submitted By Jessica Flaxman, Charlotte Country Day School, Charlotte, NC

KlingensteinCenter Teachers College Columbia University

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