From the Editor

    Today, this 10th Anniversary issue of Klingbrief arrived in the inbox of 5466 educators at the end of a week when we are only beginning to process the loss of its chief architect, Pearl Rock Kane. She would want us to hit our deadline, keeping our monthly promise to you, our readers, so that's exactly what we intend to do. 

    We imagine that this edition of Klingbrief is mixing in your inbox with a letter from your head of school and a note from an advisee. It sits alongside a meeting agenda, an email from a concerned parent, your child's sports schedule, or a reminder for an upcoming dentist appointment; that it competes for your time, in other words, with the business of school and of life.  And we are grateful to you for making time in your days, busy as they undoubtedly are, to join us in pursuit of ongoing professional learning and growth. 

    Klingbrief was introduced 10 years ago, in February 2009, with a short note from Pearl Rock Kane introducing "[t]his free, monthly publication of carefully selected articles, books, blogs and videos . . . intended specifically for independent school educators." The very first "brief" addressed teen suicide, offering "three sources . . . that might be of use in the face of such devastation."  

    Then and now, Klingbrief places student learning and wellbeing at its core, and like its very first entry, it aims to cut through the fog, making clear what’s important in independent schools. For the last decade, it has been assembled with much care, thought, and love for the schools - and their programs, policies, faculties, and students - that make up the tangled, prismatic, idealistic, and aspirational community that the Klingenstein Center aims to serve.  

    Behind the scenes, not much has changed in a decade, except the growth of the editorial board from five to ten members. The editorial board is tasked with the stewardship of Klingbrief. Each month, we read all submissions and collaborate to determine which to publish. Editors suggest cuts and fight for what they believe should be in that month's issue, including the "Of Note" feature. Sometimes we agree completely, but some of our best arguments reveal our deepest goals for our publication.  

    We consider whether to include the popular book that seems to have already "made the rounds" or to favor the lesser-known work. We want each Klingbrief to introduce our audience to as much new thinking and as many new voices as possible. Or, when there's an issue in the news and on the minds of the sharpest school people we know, we wrestle with our own theory of coverage. Should we always publish articles that respond to current events that are stirring debate and action? Should we push for more or less balance? Should we editorialize? We aim to be organic and to honor the floating conscience of our schools. Sometimes, this leads an issue to be almost entirely "of its time." And sometimes the entries feel more timeless. More often than not, we publish a bit of both, showing how one can be the other and the other, one.

    In each issue we hope that Klingbrief helps us to step out of our schools, which often engage us almost entirely, to hear from others. Before we return to that work, and as we turn 10, I'd like to thank the editors past and present and the schools that inspired them to model lifelong learning. I'd like to thank Dr. Pearl Kane, who, time and time again, helped us to stay true to our purpose -- even in this, the week of her passing. I'd like to thank Dr. Nicole Furlonge, who has continued to support Klingbrief as she begins her tenure as Director of the Klingenstein Center. And most of all, I’d like to thank you, our passionate readers and writers, who consume and contribute to and share Klingbrief each month. With you, we intend to go on, for at least another decade, to meet the challenges and the opportunities, the timeliness and the timelessness, the prose and the poetry of our schools.  

    Thanks for reading, writing, and thinking with us!

    Stephen J. Valentine
    Coordinating Editor, Klingbrief
    Montclair Kimberley Academy

    Submitted By Klingbrief


    Of Note: Imperfecting a Generation

    Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls by Lisa Damour
    Ballantine Book, February 12, 2019

    "There has never been a more academically impressive generation of girls than the young women we are raising today," says clinical psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour in Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. Nor has there ever been a more stressed generation of young women: "A staggering 31 percent of girls and young women experience symptoms of anxiety compared to 13 percent of boys and young men." Despite that fact, Damour argues that stress and anxiety are necessary for achievement, and that girls can learn to manage them both. Damour calls on parents and teachers to seek ways to help girls differentiate among types of stress (life events, daily hassles, and chronic stress); identify what stresses them individually; and take steps to cope with the waves of worry that come with striving and caring about success. Damour paints a positive and empathetic portrait of today's pressured girls and reminds the adults in their lives "to frame the demands of education in positive, capacity-building terms, because doing so actually changes how our daughters experience school." Teachers and parents alike can be cautious about the ways in which they implicitly or explicitly praise girls for being overprepared, perfect, or compliant at school. Damour posits that actually conditioning girls to stress - helping them to understand what stresses them and why - and then strengthening them so that they can handle the "weight" they pick up, will serve them better than agreeing with them that they can't handle the challenges they face.

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


    Seeing Talking

    Equity Maps v.2 for iPad by Equity Maps
    February 1, 2019

    Answering the ever-present need to provide students and colleagues with accurate data, Equity Maps offers an intuitive approach to documenting our school conversations. Dave Nelson, a teacher and accredited Facilitator/Trainer for the National School Reform Faculty, helped develop a tool that can make transparent our biases in classrooms and collegial meetings. Full functionality offers the opportunity to record sessions by microphone, but at its most basic, Equity Maps allows a facilitator to map group discussions with ease by populating a classroom and then selecting a name as participants begin speaking. After a session concludes, numerous factors help pinpoint levels of participation, gender equity, and analytics for specific participants. As with many tools, the immediate impact of deploying Equity Maps in the classroom can be seen after simply stating the intention to use it to adhere to co-created norms. Even without immediate access to the data, students will be appreciative of the efforts to document interactions. After having access to the data, they will gain the kinds of self-awareness and group knowledge that can't come from a book.

     [At the moment Equity Maps are limited by the gender binary and to iPads, but the team seems appreciative of suggestions.]

    Submitted By Varghese Alexander, Asheville School, Asheville, NC


    Boys, Consent, Empathy, Health

    I’ve Talked With Teenage Boys About Sexual Assault for 20 Years. This Is What They Still Don’t Know by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Time, January 15, 2019

    This past January, the American Psychological Association released, for the first time ever, "Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men," calling attention to the harmful impact of "traditional masculinity," or cultural notions of masculine behavior that were previously seen as normal and acceptable. Redefining cultural understandings of masculinity, particularly in the #MeToo era, is critical in the teaching of consent. As Anderson's article points out, boys are sometimes misinformed around definitions of rape, sexual assault, and consent. Boys, therefore, need to be taught to recognize sexual assault and to recognize when they are complicit in perpetuating harmful behaviors. Boys also benefit from conversations that encourage empathy and vulnerability. Educating boys and teaching consent go hand in hand, particularly as more sexual assault survivors are empowered to speak up about their experiences. Schools need to consider what we teach our boys and whether or not we will work to define healthy masculine behavior and better inform boys around questions of intimacy, sexuality, and forming healthy relationships.

    Submitted By Tina Yen, Abington Friends School, Jenkintown, PA


    Off Grind

    Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work? by Erin Griffith
    New York Times, January 26, 2018

    Erin Griffith's recent article explores what drives the current workforce's youngest generation to undertake every experience as a professional and personal growth opportunity. Though this approach to work, or "hustle culture," is most often connected to Silicon Valley and similar industries, its paradigm maps easily onto independent schools where we (too) often foster similar, go-getter-until-we-burn-out environments. Griffith queries who benefits from this mindset of #TGIM (thank goodness it's Monday) and "rise and grind." Is it the workers or the bosses? The article inspires us to extend its line of thinking: for example, how does hustle culture manifest itself at schools that celebrate the traditional trifecta of roles: teaching, coaching, and advising? Additionally, it prompts us to consider the intersection of organizational and generational cultures: who works the hardest, the most, and at what cost? What drives our youngest teachers, and how do they embrace or disengage from the multiple roles they're able to take on only in our type of school environment? How do our school communities foster or refuse hustle culture? This article stands as a great think-piece about the way we push and pull teachers of multiple generations and perspectives under one schoolhouse roof.

    Submitted By Julia Cohen, The Field School, Washington, DC


    Safety and the World as It Is

    "Active-Shooter Drills Are Tragically Misguidedby Erika Christakis
    The Atlantic, March 2019

    "Teachers with Gunsby Thomas Baxter
    Boston Review, February 19, 2019

    These two articles parse the discourse around school safety while also complicating notions of security and responsibility. Erika Christakis's piece for The Atlantic argues that while schools should certainly prepare themselves for the unlikely but harrowing possibility of an active shooter event, the practice of conducting active shooter drills is itself traumatizing and needlessly reactive. Christakis then uses the increasing prevalence of these drills and other forms of disaster preparedness as a vehicle for a broader reflection on contemporary misconceptions about childhood and the effects of today's increasingly stressful world on our students. With regard to increasing rates of anxiety and stress among children, Christakis argues that "if today’s students feel anxious, perhaps it's partly because, after being told by adults that they're not capable of handling life's little challenges, those same adults are bequeathing them so many big challenges" and, in the case of active shooter preparedness, asking them to prepare themselves for the unthinkable. Meanwhile, Thomas Baxter, a public school teacher who went through a gun safety course in order to be able to carry a gun in school as part of an Ohio policy designed to prevent school shootings, takes us through his thinking as he contemplates what it means to assume this level of responsibility – and lethality – in a school. Baxter's ambivalence is palpable and poignant, as is his broader uncertainty about the world we're creating for our children. Both essays will prompt reflection for educators who take seriously our role of protecting students' safety while preparing them for the world as it is, whatever that could potentially mean.

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


    Our Robots, Ourselves

    Why Doctors Hate Their Computersby Atul Gawande
    The New Yorker, November 12, 2018

    It isn’t so much that robots are replacing us but that advances in technology can make us behave more like robots ourselves, Atul Gawande suggests. He writes about medical professionals' software systems both increasing constraints on how doctors do their jobs and taking time away from human interactions. Educators (and others, across vocations) may find his descriptions eerily familiar, as our own systems are increasingly computerized. Software systems set out to simplify and streamline our work, to make information easier to access, and to make us more efficient in assessing how we’re doing for whole groups of people, not just individuals. In other words, they tend to be good for clients (i.e., patients and students) and good for administrators, yet bad for practitioners (i.e., doctors and teachers). There is inevitable conflict, Gawande concedes, between "our network connections and our human connections," yet we need "systems that make the right care simpler for both patients and professionals [...] in ways that strengthen our human connections, instead of weakening them." Gawande has at least one beautiful solution: for our systems to become more flexible and customizable, with applications professionals need to enhance their practice. As educators and especially school leaders make choices about online learning management systems, human resource software, and record-keeping software, they should keep in mind Gawande’s philosophically profound yet practical and relationship-oriented framework.

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


    The Power of Congruence

    Through the Labor Market Looking Glass: An Inquiry into Principal-Teacher Race Congruence,” by Goff, et al.
    Research study and blog, October 1, 2018

    A recently published study by Peter Goff et al., from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, evaluated the role that the race of public school principals plays in teacher
    "recruitment and retention." Researchers used the framework of "representative bureaucracy," defined by Goff in an accompanying blog post published by the Brookings Institution, as the theory "that people are more likely to work in organizations led and managed by people with whom they may have shared similar life experiences."  With this lens, the researchers investigated the impact that having a shared racial background with a school principal has on a given teaching applicant's job search and selection process, as well as, if hired, their long-term commitment to the school. Their findings were striking. According to Goff, the researchers found that "teacher-principal race congruence is a significant factor that moderates how teachers select the schools in which they work," and this tendency was even more pronounced for People of Color, defined as "Minoritized individuals" by the researchers in the study. Although Goff’s team's study only focused on Wisconsin public schools, this data is relevant for independent school leaders as it clearly highlights the impact that racial representation in administrative positions has when it comes to recruiting non-white teachers in schools.

    The Brookings Institution, Goff:

    “Through the Labor Market Looking Glass: An Inquiry into Principal-Teacher Race Congruence,” Goff, et al.:

    Submitted By Sarah Peeden and Phoebe Search, Pacific Ridge School and The Elisabeth Morrow School, Carlsbad, CA and New York, NY


    Meet Me at Meaning

    The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker
    Penguin Random House, May 2018

    Are most of the meetings you attend meaningful and memorable? Are some lackluster, routine, or unproductive? Priya Parker asks such questions in her effort to examine gatherings - because gatherings matter. Her aim is to help us understand what sustains a human-centered approach to our experience together. To go beyond the accepted conventions of meetings, she outlines how to make simple, specific changes that bring the distinctiveness of each member of the group into the experience. In her research, she interviewed more than 100 gatherers, including the New York Times Page One editors, Cirque de Soleil choreographers, flash mob participants, families in crisis, and Zen Bhuddist leaders. She concludes that the discerning gatherer understands the difference between routine and ritual. While unexamined traditions can constrain, rituals are powerful as long as the form continues to match the underlying needs of the gathering. She believes that gatherings can only be meaningful when there is a purpose for them and that the habit of gathering for a clear purpose makes for more honesty, more likelihood that we will see the things that we used to avoid, and more balancing of power among the participants. For Parker, a good gathering is constructed so as not to miss tapping into the potential of all people around the table – that is, if there is still a table in your gathering space, because everything about how we come together is up for grabs. Parker is inviting, believable and steady in her advocacy for gathering well to advance the causes and issues that matter most in our work and in our lives.  

    Submitted By Elizabeth Morley, Dr. Eric Jackman Laboratory School, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

KlingensteinCenter Teachers College Columbia University

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