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: 40 More Lenses

    Independent Queers: LGBTQ Educators in Independent Schools Speak Out by Dr. Philip D. McAdoo
    Mascot Books, March 5, 2019

    During a time when relationship-based education continues to be a central facet of independent schools, Independent Queers offers an impactful account of the unique and shared experiences of 40 LGBTQ educators working in independent schools. Recognizing that heteronormativity is deeply embedded in our institutions and society at large, Independent Queers unearths the experiences of educators who must wrestle with and negotiate their social and professional identities in independent school spaces. This book explores subtle and explicit socially constructed messages that affect how LGBTQ educators navigate the workplace as they strive to develop meaningful relationships with their students. Through the profoundly personal and authentic stories of independent school educators, Dr. McAdoo delves into concepts of teacher identity, intersectionality, and social acceptance. In doing so, he raises our awareness that issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, and racial oppression cannot be viewed with a single lens. Independent Queers is a gift to the independent school community in the way it affirms and elevates the narratives of numerous LGBTQ educators who shape and influence the lives of children across our nation.

    Submitted By Thu-Nga Morris, St. Edmund’s Academy, Pittsburgh, PA


    Hard History

    Another Slavery Simulation: We Can and Must Do Better by Monita K. Bell
    Teaching Tolerance, March 11, 2019

    Stories of racist images, videos, and simulations are increasingly entering the news – either resurfacing activities from years ago or exposing current events. From printed relics and yearbooks to viral images and videos, from off-campus social events to in-class simulations, disturbing and egregious displays of racism continue to resurface, emerge, and exist. (This is not to say that nuanced and subtle displays do not exist, but they do not usually make the news.) Most schools are working responsibly to prevent and respond to these stories, though many question how to do this work well. In her article, “Another Slavery Simulation: We Can and Must Do Better,” Monita K. Bell of Teaching Tolerance shares how poor pedagogy can not only end up in the news but also can damage learning circumstances, experiences, and memories for students – particularly those made to feel “singled out and humiliated.” Drawing upon research conducted in 2017, she highlights common problems teachers encounter in teaching “hard history.” In response to these noted obstacles and more, Teaching Tolerance “has created an entire framework designed to help educators get this history right – without traumatizing their students in the process.” Though we are not all history educators or standing in front of students everyday, we all can take an active role in doing this work better, even if that means that we need to learn more of the hard history ourselves.

    Submitted By Deepjyot Sidhu, Ed.M Candidate, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY


    Technical and Cultural Considerations for a New Normal

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission:  Initial Report by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission
    January 2, 2019

    Dedicated to the 17 students and faculty who lost their lives in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, FL, this heartbreaking report illustrates an all-too-common reality facing most schools today. Beyond the chilling narrative timeline of gunman Nikolas Cruz methodically working his way through MSD Building 12, these 428 pages offer valuable lessons for independent school leaders. In fact, they lay out the hard choices all schools must make. For example: should we design classrooms with "hard corners”? Who should be authorized to call a lockdown? What’s the role of a standing Threat Assessment Team? While some of the report’s recommendations are technical (e.g., installing sufficient surveillance cameras and effective public address systems), the cultural changes it suggests may pose the greater challenge for most schools. Conducting regular active threat drills, requiring all students, faculty, and staff to wear identification badges, or keeping classroom doors locked: these behavioral shifts ask our communities to think differently about their lives at school. This new normal is one that no one welcomes and for which all must prepare.

    Submitted By Jonathan Schoenwald, Gulliver Preparatory School, Pinecrest, FL


    A Rose Not By Any Other Name

    America, Say My Name by Viet Thanh Nguyen
    New York Times, March 9, 2019

    A few sentences into famed author Viet Thanh Nguyen's latest op-ed, some of us will immediately empathize with his struggle: if I don't have a "typical" American name, will I take on a nickname? If my name is hard to pronounce, will I use a simpler name when I order coffee at Starbucks? Others will recall the time we mispronounced a student's name on the first day of class, or when a nickname appeared on a class roster and we weren't sure which name the student wanted us to use. Nguyen recalls his own ongoing struggle with his name: on the one hand, his name anchors him to his family and his history as a Vietnamese refugee; on the other, he was teased for his name as a child, and it's still often mispronounced and misspelled, even by people who laud his work. He discusses his ultimate choice to forgo a more traditional American name, and he expresses empathy for young people he meets who still have to wrangle with that difficult choice. As our schools become more racially and ethnically diverse – and for some of us, as our schools include more and more of an international presence – Nguyen's article reminds us of the small but powerful daily struggles of minority groups in communities with long-standing expectations and traditions. It serves as a powerful call to action for us as educators: we can make the effort to say and write our students' names correctly, and in small ways, we can celebrate the range of names our students will use.

    Submitted By Austin Davis, Abraham Joshua Heschel School, New York, NY


    Feedforward, not Back

    The Feedback Fallacy by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall
    Harvard Business Review, March 1, 2019

    Drawing on brain research, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall critique traditional approaches to feedback in hopes of finding a better way. They identify three problems in traditional approaches: it is impossible to give truly objective feedback (it’s always at least as much about the observer as it is about the person being observed); we don't learn when our flaws are pointed out (in fact, we shut down); and it is impossible to define excellence in a way that makes sense for everyone (every person’s excellence is unique to them). The authors recommend an approach that focuses on sharing our own responses, and above all, focusing not on shortcomings but on successes: “Whenever you see one of your people do something that worked for you, that rocked your world just a little, stop for a minute and highlight it.” This will help your team member (or your student) “recognize what excellence looks like for her.” The article provides useful tips on phrasing feedback, but more importantly, it is a useful reminder that positivity, rather than negativity, is the best way to push our students (and each other) to succeed. Feedback should ultimately be more about aiming at excellence than about meeting certain defined criteria.

    Submitted By David Korfhage, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ



    The Kids (Who Use Tech) Seem to be All Right by Lydia Denworth
    Scientific American, January 15, 2019

    Though most educators and parents accept as a given that adolescent use of technology is a net negative, even a terrible danger, the studies that undergird this belief turn out to be based on flawed, and alarmist, research. In this paradigm-shifting article in Scientific American, Lydia Denworth reports on a new paper out of Oxford University and published in Nature Human Behavior, which reveals that screen time has negligible effects on student well-being, as measured by rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Sleep, bullying, and drug use, for example, show substantially higher levels of effect on teen well-being. Certainly, excessive use of tech might affect these other aspects of children’s lives, but the study reveals that even two hours of screen-time each weekday, and longer on weekends, did not have a strong negative effect on teen psychological health. Some studies that sought to replicate the negative effects of screen time actually revealed a positive sense of connection and belonging. This article is a corrective to the prevailing “stickiness” of the dangers of screen time. Adults who work with teens might present this article alongside films like Screenagers and books like iGen by Jean Twenge as they seek to respond to the very real epidemic of adolescent anxiety and seek to create effective wellness programs in schools.

    Submitted By Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM


    Ed for Sex Ed

    Principles of Gender-Inclusive Puberty and Health Education by Gender Spectrum
    GenderSpectrum, March 3, 2019

    Gender Spectrum, an organization that works to create gender-sensitive environments for children, has published the first guide to gender-inclusive sexual education. Their guide, which has been endorsed by several leading non-profits, aims to give educators tools to create a puberty health education (PHE) experience that is “decidedly individual.” Gender Spectrum’s work, which is intended to be incorporated into existing PHE materials, stresses the complexity of gender as the interrelationship between one’s body, identity, and expression. While transgender and gender expansive students are frequently at risk of stigmatization and discrimination, research shows that support from families and schools can greatly alleviate mental health risks. Gender Spectrum has identified the foundation for gender-inclusive PHE through five key principles and provides guidance on how to create a more inclusive educational environment. While not a one-size-fits-all gameplan, the recommendations serve as a valuable tool for educators and set the stage for broadening the scope of what traditional sexual education can be.

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


    Building the Biliterate Brain

    Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf
    Harper, August 7, 2018

    In Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World, her follow-up to Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf explains the marvelous circuitry of the brain as it engages in an activity for which it was not originally hard-wired: reading. Remarkably, the circuitry of our brains is not only changed by the act of reading, but also it is changed by what we read. Moving beyond the science of reading, Wolf shares her concerns as she sees readers, particularly young readers, trading immersive reading experiences, like being transported to a new world by a novel, for the superficial, skimming approach of many digital readers. Among her concerns for young readers are those shared by teachers and school leaders: a lack of persistence with a text, the deterioration of student writing, and a decline in empathy once fostered by encountering new characters. Reader, Come Home, however, is not all pessimistic as Wolf proposes ways in which educators can help children develop a biliterate brain, one which is ready for both deep reading and the digital age. Written as a series of letters to the reader, Reader, Come Home invites educators and school leaders to consider how their own reading habits and levels of attention have changed in the digital age and what effect the digital age will have on children just learning how to read.

    Submitted By Brendan Faughnan, Cristo Rey New York High School, New York, NY

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