Of Note: Do Less

    COVID-19 from Global Online Academy by Michael Nachbar
    Global Online Academy, March 2, 2020

    "Panic-gogy": Teaching Online Classes During The Coronavirus Pandemic by Anya Kamenetz
    National Public Radio via, March 19, 2020

    In these unprecedented and uncertain times, schools do well to simplify teaching and learning and to focus on their students’ and communities’ wellbeing. Thankfully, partners in education like Global Online Academy (GOA) have been honing instructional strategies and assessment practices online for years. From learning habits to design strategies for video calls and faculty meetings, GOA’s COVID-19 resource page, with an overview from Executive Director Michael Nachbar, compiles pertinent and quickly digestible materials for teachers, students, and administrators. Elsewhere, in a recent piece for National Public Radio about colleges moving to online learning, Anya Kamenetz offers a synthesis of sane, wise, and humanizing advice for educators. Her thoughts are easily applicable to K-12 schools, and the short version of her advice is: “Do less.” Institutions moving curricula quickly online tend to overreach and overestimate what is reasonable to ask of students and teachers in the current climate of anxiety and disruption. Kamenetz advocates for compassion above all else, more than emphasizing particular tools or logistics. Hers – and Nachbar’s – is a sage message for all of us right now, allowing room for the instinct to keep learning and innovating while acknowledging our humanity in this colossal and historic moment.  

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


    Prepping Prep for the 21st Century

    Prep for Prep and the Fault Lines in New York’s Schools by Vinson Cunningham
    The New Yorker, March 2, 2020

    In this nuanced article, Vinson Cunningham recounts the forty-year history of Prep for Prep, weaving in his own life story as one of its early recruits and alumni. At the heart of the article is the tension that Cunningham experiences between the program’s early, laudable goals to give gifted and talented students from under-resourced areas of New York City a chance to access elite, high-quality education, and the ways in which programs like Prep for Prep can mask systemic, racist inequalities in American education. Cunningham clearly sees his own experience with Prep for Prep not only as the source of much good in his life, but also as a source of confusion and pain. Now, as the organization seeks to grow and stay relevant for the 21st century, Cunningham underscores the challenges it faces as it assesses its original mission and leadership. Any independent school educator will be moved and challenged by the thoughtful, rigorous questioning that Cunningham brings to his historical and personal analysis of Prep for Prep. The article serves as another important lens through which we should think about the balance between giving marginalized individuals access to education and opportunity, and simultaneously, urgently, agitating for change in the larger political systems that create the need for these programs.

    Submitted By Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM


    Coarse and Coping

    The Role of Memes in Teen Culture by Jennifer L.W. Fink
    The New York Times, February 6, 2020

    This article discusses the role of “meme humor” in adolescent culture. The author, Jennifer L.W. Find, an expert on adolescent boys, notes that “there’s a generational gap between how [she learns] about and perceive[s] the news, and how [her] teenage sons learn about and react to the same events.” Understanding that gap is an essential part of helping teenagers to process the complex and jarring news of the day. Fink observes that what may seem like coarse, insensitive humor is in fact a coping strategy for navigating the destabilizing, whiplash-inducing, overwhelming nature of our contemporary news environment. She offers guidance for parents and educators to help unpack that response by focusing on asking open-ended questions, reinforcing the values of digital citizenship, and sharing their own vulnerability and emotional responses. Teenage meme humor, though it can certainly be a symptom of immaturity or lack of understanding, more likely stems from teens trying to cope with a world outside their control. Fink’s article is a helpful guide to thinking about how to support children in these chaotic times while understanding their complex emotional responses to the world around them.

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


    Unmuting Listening

    The Right to Listen by Astra Taylor
    The New Yorker, January 27, 2020

    “All living is listening for a throat to open,” writes poet Claudia Rankine, “the length of its silence shaping lives.” These lines resonate with Astra Taylor’s assertion in “The Right to Listen” that listening, like speaking, is a powerful act and a democratic right worth defending. Yet, as Taylor notes, listening is underappreciated in our democracy. “Our lack of attention to listening,” Taylor asserts, contributes to “the larger crisis of American democracy, in which the wealthy and powerful shape the discourse while many others go unheard.” Our need to listen is muted, Taylor suggests, by social media platforms like Facebook that facilitate speech yet create the illusion that we are continuously listening. Such platforms are responsible, Taylor writes, for “the deliberate pollution of our common listening space,” what could be understood as “an anti-democratic act.” While Taylor’s discussion focuses on habits of activism and citizenship, her question – “What would such a democracy sound like?” – could be asked of schools as well. What would such a school that cultivated listening sound like? What if we developed a student’s listening as intentionally as we do their voice? How might we be better audiences for each other?

    Submitted By Nicole Brittingham Furlonge, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY


    Push Factors

    What's Really Holding Women Back? by Robin J. Ely and  Irene Padavic
    Harvard Business Review, March 1, 2020

    In their searing article in Harvard Business Review, professors Robin J. Ely and Irene Padavic take a long, data-driven look at the facts rather than the feelings behind what they call the “work-life narrative.” Researching a global consulting firm for 18 months, Ely and Padavic found that the “real culprit” undermining everyone was not women’s particular difficulty balancing work and life, but “a general culture of overwork that… locks gender inequality in place.” Men and women alike were distressed over missing important moments in their children’s lives, but women were the ones much more likely to adjust their work commitments, resulting in “sacrifices in power, status and income.” The authors identify several “push factors” impacting women including the perpetual option to off-ramp or move to an internally-facing position; the pressure to exchange a relational style for a more “hard-charging” style in order to advance; and the “poor reputation” of women with children. “With these push factors constantly reminding women that they don’t really belong in the workplace,” say Ely and Padavic, “it’s no wonder that women are often ambivalent about their career commitments… leaving the culture of overwork intact [and locking] gender inequality in place.” Their findings are relevant to all professional sectors including education, where leaders of all genders are maximally stressed.

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


    Caring for Individuals, Caring for Communities

    How School Leaders Can Place An Equity-Oriented Lens on Social-Emotional Learning with Kate Kennedy by Kate Kennedy and Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins
    March 2, 2020

    “How School Leaders Can Place an Equity-Oriented Lens on SEL,” an episode in Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins’s Leading Equity Podcast series, explores culturally responsive Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) with Kate Kennedy. Through her research, Kennedy found that although many schools have been working on making their curriculum and classroom libraries equitable and culturally relevant, there is not a lot of research or data about the inclusivity of social-emotional learning practices. While it is common to focus on the individual when integrating social-emotional learning into your classroom, Kennedy stresses that we should also strive to promote “a collective responsibility for the wellness and social justice of our communities,” and that this effort should be included in our definition of SEL. In addition to developing a common definition that includes community, Kennedy and Eakins review five more considerations when leading SEL initiatives. These include ensuring that practices are more inclusive, keeping the bigger picture in mind, reflecting on how schools are using tests and assessments to check learning, making care the core of SEL, and finally, keeping in mind that we are all still learning and that the work and research is just beginning to grow.

    Submitted By Julia Calantone, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York, NY


    Difficult Questions and Personal Cost

    Know My Name by Chanel Miller
    Viking Press, September 24, 2019

    After sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at a party at Stanford University in 2015, Brock Turner became the face of sexual assault on college campuses. During the sentencing phase of the trial, the woman known only as Emily Doe wrote a powerful victim impact statement that instantly went viral. This woman – Chanel Miller – has shed her anonymity in a profoundly brave and vivid first-person account of her experiences with the legal system, university officials, victim advocates, and others. Named one of the top ten books of 2019 by the Washington Post, Know My Name is filled with difficult questions about consent, sexism, and gender-based violence. Miller skillfully illuminates the social and personal cost of coming forward within a culture that questions victims at every turn, reminding us that “[e]very woman who spoke out did so because she hit a point where she could no longer live another day in the life she tried to build.” Miller’s memoir would be an excellent choice for a book club among students and faculty at the secondary level.

    Submitted By Tom James, The Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY


    Built on the Art of Listening

    You’re Not Listening: What You Are Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
    Celadon Books, January 1, 2020

    Becoming good at important conversations is part of teaching and learning. Knowing when to speak, how to persuade, who to include, and what to question are essential skills in classrooms and in life. This book focuses on the part of conversation that is often less celebrated – the art of listening. Author and journalist Kate Murphy has gathered both the research on what is happening to our listening skills and the evidence of the costs of failing to hear each other. As she describes the current social challenges to true listening, readers may feel the jolt of recognition, finding that these sound all too familiar: egos that are too loud, a talkative culture, hasty exchanges that preclude depth, fixed mindsets, broadcasting mode standing in for debate, and the tendency to equate sensitivity with weakness. Fortunately, Murphy does not leave us with no way out. She cajoles in a way that can be heard. For example, chapter titles like “I Know What You Are Going to Say: Assumptions as Earplugs” invite attention without hectoring. In establishing that listening is a requirement of change, respect, and trust-making, Murphy reminds us of the most important reason to become better listeners: the art of human connection is built on the art of listening.

    Submitted By Elizabeth Morley, Kobe Shinwa University, Japan


    Remembering Forgetting

    The End of Forgetting: Growing Up with Social Media by Kate Eichhorn
    Harvard University Press, January 1, 2019

    For most of us, remembering is of great importance. We need to remember where we put our keys, who our family members are, and all those little details on the MCAT that can get us into an esteemed profession. We also enjoy remembering important events from our lives: a favorite song from childhood, our first car, a birthday party that actually turned out well. But, what about those events that we would rather forget or that we need to forget? In her new book, The End of Forgetting: Growing Up with Social Media, Kate Eichhorn argues that it is in fact impossible to forget much of what needs to be forgotten in the new age of social media. This is especially true, she suggests, for individuals whose identities are not fully accepted in their families and communities during childhood, and who, upon reaching adulthood, seek to carve out a new identity within a new social environment. Haunted by images and videos from their past lives, today’s youth may find it impossible to make such a journey and to leave the most traumatic or embarrassing parts of their childhood behind.

    Submitted By Brandon Dowd, Ed.M. Candidate, Klingenstein Center,Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY

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