From the Editors

    As we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Klingbrief, we are also thinking about the next 10 years. Your input as a reader is essential. Please consider taking this six-minute survey to help shape the future of Klingbrief. At the end of the survey, you will also have a chance to enter a drawing for free books! The winner will receive a copy of each book selected as the "Of Note" feature during 2019. Thank you for your time and valuable feedback.  

    Submitted By The Klingbrief Editorial Board


    Of Note: Robbing Them of What Counts

    Turning the Tide II: How Parents and High Schools Can Cultivate Ethical Character and Reduce Distress in The College Admissions Process by Richard Weissbourd with Trisha Ross Anderson, Brennan Barnard, Alison Cashin, and Alexis Dikowsky
    March 1, 2019

    This report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education predates but seems to eerily predict the current "College Admissions Scandal." It focuses on the critical role of high schools and parents in supporting teens in developing core ethical capacities, including a sense of responsibility for others and their communities, and reducing achievement-related stress. An excerpt: "[Colleges], parents, and high schools powerfully shape the admissions process. But an intense focus on academic achievement has squeezed out serious attention to ethical character both in a large majority of high schools and a large number of families. Many parents -- particularly, middle- and upper-income parents -- seeking coveted spots for their children in elite colleges are failing to focus on what really matters in this process. In an effort to give their kids everything, these parents often end up robbing them of what counts." The report suggests a series of productive steps that colleges, high schools, and parents can take to reverse this trend. The admissions process can, in fact, provide an opportunity to promote ethical education and to help students focus on authentic contributions to society. Many independent schools focus on core values and character development already, but this report, coupled with recent events in the world of college admissions, give us much to think about and more to do.

    Submitted By Christopher Lauricella, The Albany Academies, Albany, NY


    Powerful Speakers Connect

    It was not 'Verbal Blackface'. AOC was codeswitching by John McWhorter
    The Atlantic, April 9, 2019

    In this powerful and clear article in The Atlantic, John McWhorter explicates the phenomenon of codeswitching in American culture by examining a recent incident involving Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's use of several phrases of Black English at a political event. Some of AOC's political opponents accused her of "verbal blackface," and McWhorter explains how her use of ebonics is both an authentic and appropriate means of connecting with her black audience. He goes further to talk about the shelves of linguistic research that reveal the sophistication of ebonics as a complex language rather than a degraded, error-filled set of linguistic norms used by uneducated people. He underscores that the charge against AOC of being inauthentic is erroneous. Further, he emphasizes that ebonics in urban America is no longer solely the language in African American communities; in fact, it has become part of the lingua franca in other communities, such as the Latinx community in which AOC grew up. This article is particularly important to educators who should be well-grounded in the complexities of what constitutes standard English as they educate students who codeswitch and students who might form negative or ill-informed judgements about others who are conversant in a variety of English dialects. In fact, this article would be a superb text to use with students to complicate their understanding of persuasive language and the ways that powerful speakers connect with a variety of audiences for a variety of purposes.

    Submitted By Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM


    A Path to Agency, Equity, and Transfer

    The Competency Based Learning Handbook by Global Online Academy
    April 1, 2019

    Before the age of seat time and the Carnegie Unit, people learned to do things, mainly, by doing them. Apprentices were made masters only after demonstrating skills and creating things -- shoes out of leather, farms from fields, paper from pulp -- to the satisfaction of their mentors and teachers. Now, in the age of technology, school choice, and blended learning, educators including those at Global Online Academy are using 21st century tools to resurface some of the old-world joy of learning and demonstrating well-honed skills. Competency-Based Learning, also called proficiency-based, skills-based, and mastery-based learning, is defined as "a system designed to ensure all students develop the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond." In their Competency Based Learning Handbook available via free PDF download, the team at Global Online Academy offers educators and schools a visually pleasing and clearly written primer on CBL -- what it is, why its time is now, and how it can be adopted in schools to ignite student engagement and performance while also amplifying teacher leadership. GOA dispels common misconceptions about CBL, including that it is self-paced, prioritizes skills over content, or lacks rigor. In fact, schools that adopt CBL bolster three ever-more crucial learning elements for students: agency, equity, and transfer. To help teachers to collaborate around strategic CBL academic directions, GOA also created a CBL toolkit, available for purchase. The toolkit includes the above described handbook; an expansive set of activities, prompts and protocols for teachers; and reflection and experience cards aimed at aligning and strengthening teaching teams as they shift their pedagogy a lot or a little to prioritize this student-centered, 21st century learning framework.

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


    2 + 2 = For (Change)

    Teaching for Social Justice Through Critical Mathematical Inquiry by Steven Greenstein and Mark Russo (eds.)
    #41, Bank Street Educate: Occasional Series, March 1, 2019

    This collection of papers offers an opportunity to deepen the discussion of meaningful and effective teaching for social justice. Steven Greenstein and Mark Russo make their case for going beyond the now familiar concept of teaching mathematics for social justice. They argue that using consequential social issues to pose math problems, while worthy and significant, misses three key ways that mathematics education can become a genuine tool for change.  Critical Mathematical Inquiry (CMI) provides all three. A critical lens includes an interrogation of systems of power and oppression and strives to remedy social inequities and injustices. The mathematical lens anchors this work with powerful forms of thinking and reasoning that include conjecturing, connecting, experimenting, representing, and proving. Inquiry builds on students' knowledge by testing ideas, validating them, and explaining relationships. Taken together, the component parts of CMI make math education a powerful place for real life thinking and everyday action. They broaden the spaces in the subject, create "doers of mathematics," and provide leverage for all students to act with agency. The final essay in the series makes clear that "the soft bigotry of low expectations" in math education plays a role that remains misunderstood by many in math instruction. The way forward, from early childhood through high school, lies in the combination of genuine critical pedagogy and empowered learning that each essay in this issue heralds.

    Submitted By Elizabeth Morley, University of Toronto, Jackman Institute of Child Study, Toronto, Ontario


    Moving Up Calling In

    Speaking Up Without Tearing Down by Loretta J. Ross
    Teaching Tolerance, Issue 61, Spring 2019, March 1, 2019

    How do teachers respond to biased statements in the classroom in a way that can generate constructive conversation? The answer, claims Loretta J. Ross, is clear: call students in without calling them out. Though this message seems abstract at first, Ross prescribes practical ways to create a "calling-in" culture. First, we must avoid reactions that result in shaming, which does little to ameliorate (and in fact, only exacerbates) atmospheric tension and serves to alienate the offender. To prepare to make the right move, we should self-assess by practicing sentence starters that promote calling-in conversations. Second, we need to let students practice calling in with exercises that teach them how to distinguish between intentional prejudice and acts by those who are willing to learn. Third, a frank discussion with students about their understanding of call-out culture helps them better understand how to call in. Ross ends the article by exhorting teachers to look for curricular spaces for calling in white students. She believes that creating a calling-in culture before situations escalate prevents the kind of explosions that derail productive learning.

    Submitted By Michael Berglund, Holland Hall School, Tulsa, OK


    Accessing Equity

    The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students by Anthony Jack 
    Harvard University Press, March 1, 2019

    Anthony Jack opens his powerful new book, The Privileged Poor, with a question he asked himself on his first day as a freshman at Amherst. "Where are the other poor black kids?" Drawing upon sustained fieldwork at "Renowned" -- an elite college in New England -- and his own experience as a student who went to prep school for a year before college, Jack shines a light on the diverse range of experiences for disadvantaged students in higher education. In particular, he makes a distinction between the so-called "privileged poor" -- students who attended independent schools or pre-college programs such as Prep for Prep -- and the "doubly disadvantaged," students who arrive lacking preparation and who often find themselves mystified by the hidden curricula and expectations of elite schools. Jack's analysis highlights a second crucial distinction as well: the difference between access and equity. He shows how these two terms are not synonymous, and schools that have made real efforts to create more diverse student bodies now need to do the challenging -- and ongoing -- work of creating inclusive learning environments where all students feel seen, heard, and able to succeed. This outstanding book offers many lessons for educators as we consider both our own schools and the colleges and universities that our graduates will be attending.

    Submitted By Andrew Housiaux, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA

    What School Could Be Book Cover

    A New Angle on Partnership

    What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers across America by Ted Dintersmith
    Princeton University Press, April 10, 2018

    During the 2015-16 school year, author Ted Dintersmith spent 9 months travelling to over 200 schools in all 50 states. He then compiled his reflections on American education in this engaging read. While providing clear historical context on the evolution of the public education system, Dintersmith uses anecdotes and interview excerpts from his comprehensive journey to weave a narrative about how schools have evolved in the 21st century. What he finds on several occasions is an all too familiar story: schools following an outdated education model that lacks the creative and purpose-driven teaching necessary for today's student. By comparison, Dintersmith also describes visits to innovative schools and dynamic classrooms driven by modern strategies that encourage deep learning. Usefully, Dintersmith identifies a combination of factors that separate innovative schools from those lagging behind the curve: the importance of purpose/mission, essential skill development, student agency, and strategies to encourage deep learning. With common values in broad alignment with those of successful independent schools, this text speaks to the ongoing opportunity for partnership between public and private education in America.

    Submitted By Oliver Merrilll, Ed.M Candidate, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

KlingensteinCenter Teachers College Columbia University

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