Of Note: Bounce Back

    Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators by Elena Aguilar
    Jossey-Bass, May 8, 2018

    Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has become a cornerstone of the independent school student’s experience. In classes, co-curriculars, and advisories across our schools, teachers, coaches, and support staff help students become more aware of who they are, what they feel, and how they interact with others. SEL helps schools striving to teach the whole child. Less attention, however, is given to the social and emotional growth and development of those adults who make such learning possible. In Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, Elena Aguilar addresses this gap. Building on her writing and experience as an instructional and leadership coach, Aguilar focuses on the resilience educators need to "bounce back" from the stressful and emotional work of "being in a helping profession and serving young people in complex organizations [like schools]." In addition to addressing the needs of teachers, her text also pays special attention to school leaders - those working to develop and maintain positive faculty cultures as well as to mentor and evaluate teachers. Ultimately, coupling healthy doses of research and anecdotal evidence with reflective questions and self-assessments, Aguilar presents clear and practical ways for administrators and faculty alike to develop the tools that they need to be their most effective and empowered selves.

    Submitted By Sarah Katherine Peeden, Pacific Ridge School, Carlsbad, CA


    Soft as Nails

    Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown
    Random House, October 9, 2018

    Brené Brown’s new book is prescriptive, in the best possible way. From beginning to end, it is committed to the direct yet challenging message of its title: Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.  Brown, well known for her humane and convincing work on courage and vulnerability, brings her new research focus to the world of work, specifically to the work of being a leader. This volume, of all her books, is closest to educators and schools. In it, Brown gives the reader language and specific tools, practices, and behaviors that are critical to brave leadership. In particular, she focuses on the capacity to approach tough conversations with vulnerability, the commitment to live our values, the willingness to risk trust in oppositional situations, and the ability to rise to effective leadership in the most challenging times. She boldly exposes why some familiar leadership styles will fail to meet the demands of our times, and why others will go the distance. She outlines how the skill-sets needed by humane, vulnerable, risk-taking, successful leaders are not "soft skills" but well-defined, evidence-based attributes that can be taught and learned. This book holds an important message for anyone with responsibility for inclusive environments, productive relationships, and cultures of trust in any aspect of life in schools.

    Submitted By Elizabeth Morley, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario


    Not Changing the World

    Winners Take All: the Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas
    Penguin Random House, August 18, 2018

    Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World is a sobering assessment of the mindset of the global elite. Stitched together as a mix of vignettes and incisive social commentary, the book tackles elite assumptions about social progress and the process of promoting social change. Although Giridharadas does not explicitly focus on private schools, they are certainly a part of the system he sees maintaining and inculcating the values of the global elite. Indeed, this book will undoubtedly lead to productive discomfort for those of us in independent schools that claim to want to prepare kids to change the world while really - according to Giridharadas - helping preserve and sustain systems of wealth and inequality that he argues inhibit true societal progress. Giridharadas is especially critical of the idea that elite institutions need to be at the forefront of social change. The book does strike "an empathic tone" which, according to Mark Kramer, reviewer at Stanford Social Innovation Review, "gives the book its persuasive power to touch the hearts of even those readers . . . who are the targets of its criticism." Independent school readers will find themselves challenged by this book, but they will also find themselves, perhaps, more equipped to understand the role of elite institutions in promoting societal progress.

    Submitted By Jonathan Gold, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI


    Coaching the Leadership Game

    Impact Coaching: Scaling Instructional Leadership by Raymond L. Smith and Julie R. Smith
    Corwin, January 1, 2018

    It would be hard to pinpoint the moment when coaching principles began to migrate from the athletic field into the arenas of leadership and education, but it’s clear that coaching frameworks are regularly enhancing teacher and administrator performance in schools today. With support from instructional coaching guru Jim Knight, Drs. Raymond and Julie Smith offer this new and comprehensive playbook for educators looking to intensify their leadership game. Based on John Hattie’s work on impact in his Visible Learning suite, Ray and Julie Smith argue that, just as student learning is greatly impacted by teachers' pedagogical practices, so too is teacher development greatly impacted by administrators' leadership practices. Thus, just as Hattie’s work helps teachers to prioritize high-impact pedagogies in their classrooms, Impact Coaching helps leaders to prioritize the "Big Five High-Impact Instructional Leadership Practices" - namely, establishing a shared vision, mission, goals and expectations; strategic resourcing; ensuring teacher and staff effectiveness; leading and participating in teacher/leader learning and development; and providing an orderly, safe, and supportive environment. Impact Coaching is full of clearly stated and cleanly organized figures, tables, checklists and rubrics, making it an unusually useful leadership development resource.

    Submitted By Jessica Flaxman, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA


    The A Beyond the A

    Grading for Equity by Joe Feldman
    Corwin, September 1, 2018

    Joe Feldman's Grading for Equity provides a technical guide and theoretical exploration of grading practices – based on research and successful implementation in schools – that improve learning in all students. Feldman begins with an overview of traditional grading practices originating in the first half of the twentieth century, all predicated on the goals of assimilation and productive employment. This system punishes mistakes, focuses on letter grades, and promotes the "fixed mindset" framework - ultimately disincentivizing learning, promoting students with privileges, and disproportionately punishing the historically underserved. Alternately, Feldman proposes a vision of equitable grading supported by three aspirational pillars: that grades be accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational. Accurate grading is easy to understand and mathematically sound. Bias-resistant grading is based on valid evidence of a student’s content knowledge and cannot be influenced by a teacher’s implicit bias or a student’s environment. Motivational grading is transparent, allows for retakes and redos, and supports a "growth mindset" through a community of feedback. Finally, Feldman rejects grading on "soft skills," subject to inequities and bias, in favor of self-regulation through goal-setting, reflection, and feedback. As educators grapple with achievement gaps in the classroom, Grading for Equity offers thoughtful solutions to close that gap, promote learning, and empower both students and teachers.

    Submitted By Chris Chun, Black Pine Circle School, Berkeley, CA


    The Purpose of Purpose

    Teaching for Purpose: Preparing Students for Lives of Meaning by Heather Malin
    Harvard Education Press, October 16, 2018 

    Heather Malin, TC '01, has spent the last ten years at the Stanford University Center on Adolescence. From this experience, and based on her research, she has reflected on how cultivating a sense of purpose is essential to reaching all students. Her book provides educators with concrete examples of how young people can develop purpose in different domains and the capacity for meaningful participation in the world around them. She balances out the real world stories of meaning making with a theoretical framework that underpins the need for creating a purpose for those we teach. All educators should be able to teach for transfer; a great way to do so is to give students a chance to contribute to something "larger than the self." Malin challenges her readers to think about how they can create self-directed learners that are both innovative and critical thinkers. In an educational world where the goals of learning and what we assess are often at odds, effective teachers can agree that students who feel like they belong, are motivated, and are participating in their own education are more likely to find a purpose in and out of the classroom.

    Submitted By William "Bee" Stribling, Ed.M Candidate, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY


    Baldwin 2.0

    The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward  (Ed.) 
    Scribner, June20, 2017

    What does it mean to be black in America? The Fire This Time offers us a contemporary glimpse into that reality and the ways the answers have both persisted and changed since James Baldwin’s galvanizing call. This anthology of powerful essays and poems offers a way to start conversations about race through the lens of human experience. Perhaps more simply, the writings are a way to learn more for ourselves about the painful realities of racial injustice in our country. Jesmyn Ward skillfully balances calls for urgent action, poignant lyricism, and even comedic commentary, all in an effort to express difficult truths. Some of the reflections read like modern primary source documents complete with photos, including one set of murals entitled "Know Your Rights!" offering advice on how to avoid and document harassment or misconduct by law enforcement. The very idea that this advice is still necessary helps the reader appreciate Ward’s goal: to give voice to the harsh human realities of a new generation still grappling with the dangers of a system plagued by racism. This work is rich reading for the seasoned social justice advocate as well as those educators struggling to know where to begin their learning.

    Submitted By Nidhi Pardue McVicar, The Overlake School, Redmond, WA

KlingensteinCenter Teachers College Columbia University

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