Of Note: Become Poems

    Letters From Max: A Book of Friendship by Sarah Ruhl and Max Ritvo
    Milkweed Editions, September 18, 2018

    There is every type of school under the sun, but the heart that makes them all beat is the relationship between students and their teachers. Playwright and Yale professor Sarah Ruhl's Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship tells the universal story of that relationship and how it can transcend a classroom, spur reflective and creative work, and last beyond death. The book also shares the unique story of one teacher's relationship with one terminally ill student and poet named Max. In a series of letters, narratives, poems, and excerpts from plays, Ruhl paints a beautiful picture of Max, who passed away from Ewing's Sarcoma in 2016, as well as the power of shared words to bind learners to one another. From hospital bed and waiting room, Max sends his poetry, hopes, fears, and dreams in letters to Sarah, and in return, Sarah sends letters with her own poems and reflections on her productions, teaching, and family life. What emerges in these pages is a touching portrait of a friendship between two people who live to connect through writing, performing, teaching, and learning. As Sarah says to Max in a poem written just for him, "Max is a poet./ Max is a poem./ We all become poems/ in the end."

    Submitted By Jessica Flaxman, 120 Education Consultancy, Belmont, MA


    Teaching, Reloaded

    Cognitive Load Theory: Examples for the Classroom by Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, Department of Education, New South Wales
    September 1, 2017

    What is the relationship between working memory, teacher choice in curricular instruction, and student learning? "Cognitive Load Theory in Practice: Examples for the Classroom" provides thoughtful responses to this question, laying out clearly the topic that educational researcher Dylan Wiliam has called "the single most important thing for teachers to know." This resource from the New South Wales Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation articulates seven different strategies for optimizing cognitive load for students, and then demonstrates two ways of incorporating each specific principle into practice in the classroom. Just as important, this publication offers a clear decision tree to help teachers think about which of the seven strategies may be most helpful, something sure to be useful to teachers who are less familiar with this material. The information about working memory, schema, and long-term memory is presented visually and with text, embodying the principles of dual-coding that this resource explains to its readers. This resource will be useful for teachers at any stage of their career and will be particularly valued by those leading teacher-training programs or those looking for clear and concrete ways to incorporate into their classrooms more teaching based upon the science of learning.

    Submitted By Andrew Housiaux, Tang Institute, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA


    Can Do

    Rubric Repair: 5 Changes that Get Results by Mark Wise
    Cult of Pedagogy, March 17, 2019

    Rubrics continue to be a vital yet problematic part of our assessment practices in schools; namely, they are for students yet not always written in ways that serve student learning. As Mark Wise says in this pithy summary of effective rubric practices, "rubrics are meant to clarify expectations, but poor design can make the experience anything but clear." Effective rubrics have a student-centered approach to learning and help students "self-assess, make adjustments, and improve the quality of performance." Wise offers these five key elements of effective rubrics, discussing each one in turn: 1. Measure what really matters, 2. Weigh criteria appropriately, 3. Check your math, 4. Use can-do language, and 5. Provide students with model work. For departments, teaching teams, or full faculties, Wise's piece is an accessible, quick, and meaningful overview of rubric best practices for teachers to consider and discuss.

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


    Immediate Offset

    Does Teacher Diversity Matter for Student Learning? by Claire Cain Miller
    New York Times UpshotSeptember 10, 2018

    When students return to classrooms in September 2019,  they will experience a fact of staffing that has proven impact on their learning: many will not see themselves in the race and gender of their teachers. How much does it matter? A significant body of research, cited in this article, identifies teacher homogeneity as a substantial contributor to race and gender gaps in student learning. Across both public schools and independent schools in the US, the workforce is becoming more female (77%), and, though increasingly racially diverse, it is still 80% white. The negative effects of these figures are manifested largely in boys, and particularly in boys of color. Benefits of teacher diversity were most significant for the achievement, aspirations, and outcomes for boys, black children, and students in middle and high school. There are implications for the entire profession in these research results. Recruitment, retention, and  training are long term areas for action, but Cain Miller also points out that schools can immediately begin to offset the negative impact of unfavorable levels of diversity. High quality professional development that  teaches the teachers schools already have about their specific race and gender-related stereotypes and biases makes possible measurable gains for students. When teachers signal to all students that they believe in their capacity to learn, that intelligence is not fixed, and that each student adds value to the life of the classroom, data indicates higher success rates among, particularly, those students placed at highest risk by the experience of staffing that does not fully reflect the student race and gender demographics of the class.

    Submitted By Elizabeth Morley, Visiting Scholar at the International Educational Research Centre at Kobe Shinwa Women's University, Kobe, Japan


    A Dish Best Served Warm

    Becoming a Warm Demander by Shane Safir
    Educational Leadership, Volume 76, Issue 6, March 1, 2019

    This article applies Lisa Delpit's concept of the "warm demander" to the work of educational leaders. Equity is not just important within a classroom, Shane Safir argues; it must be seen in all aspects of a school, including interactions between administration and faculty. By adopting a framework focused around believing in the potential of each faculty member, trusting one's team, maintaining high, yet achievable expectations for all colleagues, and encouraging learning from failure, a school leader can create a stronger culture and better address the common, yet difficult problems faced in independent schools. Safir recalls a personal experience of a time when a student of color was switched out of her class because she was "not positioned to serve [him] well." In playing the scene out again, but instead having her principal take a more equitable approach to the situation, Safir lays out a better model for administrators to demonstrate equity in leadership when issues arrive. First, leaders must ask faculty to look at problems through the lens of the school's values and multiple perspectives. In doing so, the school leader sets the stage for deeply listening to the faculty and affirming them as they enunciate the concern in clearer, meaningful terms. From there, the warm demander can more effectively "call somebody in and up to their fullest potential" rather than "[calling] them out." By exercising the steps outlined in this article, school leaders can better model and cultivate an equitable spirit in all aspects of school life.

    Submitted By Michael Chapman, Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, Cambridge, MA


    Unconditional and Without End

    How To Raise A Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men by Michael Reichert, PhD
    TarcherPerigee, April 1, 2019

    How to Raise a Boy
    builds on Reichert's previous titles – Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys and I Can Learn From You – which focus on best practices in engaging and relating to boys in school. How to Raise a Boy takes a more expansive look at boyhood and is intended to serve a wider audience (i.e., teachers and parents) than his first two books. The best practices in relational learning apply to educators as readily as to parents. Though the central thesis of his book may seem obvious – that boys require healthy relationships with caring adults to successfully navigate the treacherous waters of male adolescence – Reichert demonstrates why the work is still so challenging. Boys become oppositional when they perceive that our support of them is conditional or that we have given up on them. Fortunately, boys do not require perfection from their adults, and Reichert tells compelling stories of how we can help even the most seemingly lost among them. In establishing his argument, Reichert draws not only on research, but also on his varied anecdotal experience working in private practice, schools (he has worked with the Haverford School for several decades), and the criminal justice system.

    Submitted By Pen Vineyard, Fairfield Country Day School, Fairfield, CT


    The Repair Work Essential

    How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain by Thomas Lickona
    Penguin Books, April 10, 2018

    A book to inspire conversations about what we believe and how we act, Thomas Lickona's How to Raise Kind Kids explores what kindness is (hint: it's more than just actions), why it matters, and how to help children be kind both now and as they grow into adults. From making character a top priority to suggesting that we exercise parental authority wisely, Lickona weaves together anecdotes, research, and pragmatic tools in service of an uplifting vision. By naming teachers as partners in parenting and child-rearing, he opens space to explore the critical role schools play in helping children learn to be kind, compassionate, and inclusive. Children have moral lives from the very beginning, with the innate capacity for both kindness and cruelty; schools are experimental laboratories where children have the opportunity to make mistakes, recover, and do the repair work essential to moral development. The implications are clear: schools that want to develop kindness in students will regularly teach children to be courteous and caring; they will have a coordinated approach to teaching character, emotional intelligence, and social-emotional learning; they will integrate cooperative learning into their instructional practices; and they will find appropriate ways to listen to and include student voices.

    Submitted By Zachary Roberts, Gateway School, Santa Cruz, CA

    Last Chance for Free Books!

    Please take this opportunity to complete 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. We'll draw the winner on July 1!

    Submitted By The Klingbrief Editorial Board

KlingensteinCenter Teachers College Columbia University

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