Of Note: Knowing and Supporting Not Knowing

    The Benefits of Admitting When You Don't Know by Tenelle Porter
    Behavioural Scientist, April 30, 2018

    This short article highlights a new piece of research that demonstrates the productive relationship between growth mindset perspectives and another feature of powerful learners, both student and faculty – the capacity for intellectual humility. A classroom culture in which mistakes are seen as valued opportunities to shed light on thinking and reasoning is a successful, knowledge-creating pedagogy. For these researchers, though, a question remained. Is there any inherent benefit to learners in having the humility to say, "I don't know" or "I hadn't thought of it that way?" The results were a compelling and resounding endorsement for supporting teachers and students in developing humility about the limits of their own knowledge. The first reason was straightforward: the students who rated highest on humility measures were also deemed by their teachers and their academic scores be more engaged than their peers, more likely to embrace discovery, and more successful in asking for help. The second reason has implications for all educators and students in navigating today's often declarative social and political discourse. This study found that recognizing the limits, and expandability, of one's knowledge via a growth mindset correlated to appreciating others' points of view and made disagreements more constructive. Teaching students how humility contributes to, and how certainty limits, the exchange of ideas is a lifelong lesson for all ages.

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


    Syllabus as Living Monument

    Confederate Monuments Syllabus by Kevin Levin
    January 1, 2018

    Kevin Levin, well-known historian and educator, devotes a page on his blog to a crowd-sourced syllabus for teachers and students, at both secondary and postsecondary levels, who wish to teach and learn about the ongoing debate surrounding the meaning of Confederate monuments and the American Civil War. The syllabus has a comprehensive list of excellent resources, and it provides an excellent starting point for those seeking to educate themselves on the controversy or provide a wide array of source documents for their students. It offers links to regional op-eds and editorials (about Charlottesville and New Orleans, for example) as well as videos and articles from national newspapers and journals. Levin is the author of two books on the Civil War, and his expertise in these areas has led to interviews with The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe. Levinlevi also leads workshops for teachers in teaching about these issues, with particular attention and sensitivity to the recent violence in Charlottesville and the shootings in Pittsburgh, PA and Charleston, SC.

    Submitted By Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM


    The Ideal Student 2.0

    What Straight-A Students Get Wrong by Adam Grant
    New York Times, December 8, 2018

    Do the grades you get at school and university predict your future success? According to an article in The New York Times by organizational psychologist Adam Grant, doing well at school does not necessarily mean that you will excel in the workplace. The skills that are valued for early academic success - e.g., memorization and answering questions on exams - are not as valuable in the workforce as creativity and collaboration skills. Schools don't give grades for leadership skills, or for social, emotional, or political intelligence. And at school, students who spend their time pursuing passions and interests that may not be entirely academic may be learning more valuable skills for the future than the bookish "ideal" student holed up in the library. The article suggests that companies should make it clear that they will not recruit students with the highest grades and that universities should simplify grading systems and seek to enable intellectual risk-taking. "Getting straight A's requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality," Grant contends. As such, we should encourage schools to put a greater emphasis on developing skills that will help our students excel and thrive in "the real world."

    Submitted By Paula Cuello, The Dalton School, New York, NY


    Lose It or Use It

    The Ups and Downs of Social Media by Leah Shafer
    Usable Knowledge: Harvard Graduate School of Education, May 16, 2018

    Social media has grown into a mainstay in adolescents' lives, and as a result, independent schools are searching for how to best support student wellbeing, create policies, and partner with families around its use. The discussion often focuses on social media's effect on students. This article by Leah Shafer summarizes and contextualizes a study completed by adolescent social media expert, Emily Weinstein, who, in a mixed method survey, gathered data from 568 high school students described as frequent social media users. The students reported a range of positive and negative emotions related to self-expression, relational interactions, and exploration. However, 70% of the students described their social media experiences in only positive terms. Shafer's conclusions and suggestions are relevant to educators and leaders in independent schools. She notes that "many teens are having routinely positive experiences on social media." With so much positivity, there may be opportunities for schools to better use social media as a tool to help students share their passions, explore their identity, and pursue their interests. Online challenges also provide opportunities for personal growth. This article provides perspective on how schools might build on the happy, amused, and connected emotions students often feel when using social media.

    Submitted By David Hutchings, Ravenscroft School, Raleigh, NC


    Selective Disengagement

    "A 'Fit' Over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More than Selectivity" by Challenge Success

    October 1, 2018

    While perhaps this white paper from Stanford University's Challenge Success research group won't surprise independent school educators, the paper is nonetheless exceedingly helpful in distilling recent research and articulating for our school communities why college engagement is so much more important than college selectivity. The paper's executive summary overviews three main tenets: 1) that rankings are problematic; 2) that college selectivity is not a reliable predictor of student learning, job satisfaction, or well-being; and 3) that engagement in college is more important than where you attend. Educators and parents/guardians alike will find the analysis of rankings fascinating and worthwhile, revealing the irrelevance and subjectivity of most existing metrics and identifying some of the more meaningful data colleges don't or can't gather. Particularly noteworthy are six factors Gallup-Purdue studies have proven to matter in a college experience towards future job satisfaction and well-being: engaging professors, professor-student relationships, mentors encouraging personal goals, sustained project work, internships to apply learning, and extracurricular activity. The paper, ultimately, promotes seeking a good "fit," which Challenge Success defines as "a school where students can engage and participate fully in academic and social life in order to thrive both during the college years and beyond."

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


    All Inclusive

    "To Retain New Hires, Spend More Time Onboarding Them" and "To Retain Employees, Focus on Inclusion – Not Just Diversity" by Ron Carucci, Karen Brown
    Harvard Business Review, December 3, 2018

    School leaders, especially in independent schools, understand the importance of teacher retention and greater employee inclusivity so as to keep qualified faculty and staff and enrich their communities. Yet, when facing the fear of teacher burnout and the demand for more inclusion, how can school leaders retain new and promising hires? How can they create a culture where employees do not struggle with "identity cover?" In two separate articles for the Harvard Business Review, Carucci and Brown offer proven strategies to support both the onboarding of new hires and the process of making employees with diverse backgrounds feel included. Carucci breaks down the onboarding process in three separate dimensions (organizational, technical, and social), with each one featuring actionable steps that leaders and colleagues can take to support a new hire's transition. Brown's data-supported recommendations call on leaders to be authentic and empathetic, putting forth the resources and energy, such as segmented employee surveys and focus groups, to make employees from underrepresented groups feel valued, heard, and understood. Put together, Carucci and Brown's findings are transferable and promising for organizations such as independent schools that wish to enhance their onboarding process, retain strong employees, and seek feedback on their diversity or inclusivity initiatives.

    Submitted By Jeremy Sandler, The Potomac School, McLean, VA


    The Fault with the Faulty Adult Brain Theory

    Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore
    Public Affairs Books, May 1, 2018

    "Risk-takers," "moody," "only want to spend time with their friends:" these are some of the traits most commonly associated with teenagers. Adolescence is often perceived as an invalid form of being on the way to adulthood. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore's timely new book, Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, questions this perspective. After more than a decade of research on the adolescent brain, Blakemore posits that this stage is, in fact, "an important, distinct biological period of development in its own right" and exists across "all cultures." Furthermore, she makes us ponder why adults often mock this important developmental and formative stage as if the teenage brain were nothing more than a faulty adult brain. Combining interesting personal anecdotes about her journey into the study of the brain with groundbreaking research, Blakemore presents complex findings in an accessible way. Clear explanations about risk-taking, fear, and social pressures offer new perspectives on this important field. For the benefit of our teenagers, this book can help school leaders, teachers, and parents rethink outdated educational practices and behaviors.

    Submitted By Zilkia Rivera-Vazquez, Saint John's School, San Juan, Puerto Rico


    Reality over Priority

    What Works: Gender Equality By Design by Iris Bohnet
    Harvard University Press, March 1, 2016

    Iris Bohnet's What Works: Gender Equality By Design argues persuasively that using behavioral design will help to dismantle gender and other forms of bias in the future. The moment we learn the sex of a person, says Bohnet, "gender biases are automatically activated, leading to unintentional and implicit discrimination." To counteract that, she offers useful questions and checklists that can be broadly applied across sectors to help decision makers become more adept at designing for gender equity. Behavioral design begins, she says, with data collection. For example, ask "How many men and women has your [institution] hired and promoted, to what positions and at what salaries, over the past five years? Are boys and girls in your school gaining proficiency at reading, staying the same, or becoming less proficient? How many of the portraits in your organization's lobby or conference rooms are of women, and how many are of men?" Bohnet advises decision makers to "collect data to understand whether and why there is gender inequality; experiment with what might close gender gaps; and, informed by behavioral insights, nudge behavior toward more equality." Behavioral design, critical to all sectors but especially to education, can help to ensure that gender equity becomes not just a priority but a reality.

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

KlingensteinCenter Teachers College Columbia University

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