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Living Education eMagazine A MAGAZINE THAT DISCUSSES EDUCATION IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES

Fall Edition XIV 2015

RETHINKING TEACHER QUALITY: DEMANDING PEDAGOGICAL EXCELLENCE

Parent Involvement the Primary Key to Student Success The Power is Knowledge APPLIED!

Understanding 3 Strategies of a and Changing Successful the Social Ethos Teacher of U.S. Middle The Presence Schools of the SEC in the AP: 2015 Picks and Predictions


Congratulations CO-CEO of Forest Of The Rain Productions

Dr. Michael A. Robinson

2015 Parent Group Leader


Publisher’s Notes Being On the Same Page I had a friend call me the other day aggravated with her child’s school. When I asked what happened, she replied “I am not sure we are all on the same page.” My friend, explained the day before, her son left his homework assignments on his desk at school and as a result he was very upset, believing he had let his mom and teacher down. According to my friend, after calming her son down and assuring him everyone forgets every now and then and everything would be alright, my friend left work early to take her son back to school before the office closed. Her intention, as my friend stated was to simply retrieve the homework from her son’s classroom. She went to the office to announce her and her son where in the building and was waiting to sign the visitor’s log. However, after telling the office manager about the left homework and she was there to escort him to his class, the office manager to her surprise and dismay irrupted her saying, “Oh, we don’t allow children to go back to their classrooms. This is why we tell them to take everything with them as they pack for the end of the day.” My friend was astonished; the office manager did not or could not see what my friend described as the obvious; a parent taking the responsibility to escort her son to the classroom. My friend could not understand why this adult who as she exclaimed loudly over the phone, “I am sure he has on occasion left something he needed at home while on his way to work or worst at his desk and had to circle back to get whatever was left.” Every adult has done this at some juncture in their lives my friend proclaimed! “So, when did we start thinking kids are not human?” she asked me. This very engaged mother was frustrated with the inability of the Office Manager to understand the importance of the lesson at hand. The moment had moved beyond policies and procedures, but had crossed over to the realm of quality student services. She wanted to know, why are they not on the same page with parents, their partners? My friend said she told the office manager, “thank you” and left the office. As she got into the car she had to again calm her son down. Being an honor student, her son thought leaving his homework was a situation that was “super bad,” my friend told me that it always seems like it is parents against the school. You hear the word “no” more than you feel you are working together to educate all children. I thought about what she said regarding schools and parents not being on the same page in relation to the education of children. Honestly, it was not a new thought for me, but something I have reflected on from time to time. When will we all get on the same side of education? The side where we are not calling each other names or blaming one group over another as the reason why children are not getting the best education in this country. When are we going to accept, respect and acknowledge each other’s roles relative to what is and what is not working? I asked this question to a group of educators and advocates, “Is the mission of improving education getting lost in the debate, because it is pitting people against each other where there are more interests in being right than improving education?” Their answers varied, but one theme was common among all and that was simply children are losing in this fight. As for my friend, she emailed her son’s teacher and although he had twice as much homework to finish the next day, his teacher accepted his late work without penalty. I wonder how much of a penalty will the Nation invite for not realizing we should be on the same page every year when discussing the education of future leaders.

Michel S.Davis Robinson Co-CEO Forest Of The Rain Productions


3 Strategies of a Successful Teacher (p12)

Contributors and Articles

Dede Rittman President, Rittman Publishing, LLC; Award-winning author of Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher; www.dederittman.com; Blogger- Lessons learned from the Bunny Teacher www.bunnyteacher.blogspot.com , Guest blogger Teachers.net, My Town Tutors, Forests of the Rain Productions; Producer, Co-Host , and Education Expert for The Total Education Network, www.totaltutor.net , Motivational Speaker, 37 year veteran English/Theater Teacher; 33 year Varsity Boys’ Golf Coach; PA TOY Semi-Finalist, 2011; Delta Kappa Gamma Person of Distinction. Dede’s new children’s book Grady Gets Glasses will be out for Christmas. (Tate Publishing) 412-613-3805 dederittman@gmail.com Twitter @dederittman; Linked IN Dede Faltot Rittman; Facebook Dede Faltot Rittman; Instagram dede_rittman Q & A with Dr. Venus Winters (p17)

Dr. Venus E. Evans-Winters Associate Professor of Education at Illinois State University in the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations. She is also faculty affiliate of Women & Gender Studies as well as Ethnic Studies. Her research interests are school resilience, the schooling of Black women and girls across the life span and African Diaspora, and critical race theory and feminism. She teaches educational policy, qualitative research, and social foundations of education. Dr. Evans-Winters is the author of “Teaching Black Girls: Resilience in Urban Classrooms, and co-editor of the books “(Re) Teaching Travyon: Education for Social Justice & Human Freedom,” and “Black Feminism in Education: Black Women Speak Back, Up, and Out.” She is the author of several academic articles and book chapters. Dr. Evans-Winters is also a Board Certified Professional Counselor. In her spare time, she loves to discuss critical topics in social media. The Power is Knowledge APPLIED! (p21)

Daniel Blanchard Dan Blanchard the Award Winning Author, Speaker, Educator two-time Junior Olympian Wrestler, and two-time Junior Olympian Wrestling Coach grew up as a student-athlete. However, Dan admits that as a youth he was more of an athlete than a student. Dan has now successfully completed fourteen years of college and has earned seven degrees. He teaches Special Education in Connecticut’s largest innercity high school where he was chosen by the AFT-CT as the face and voice of educational reform. In addition, Dan is a Teacher Consultant for the University of Connecticut’s Writing Project. Finally, Dan is a double veteran of the Army and the Air Force.


Should School Busses Have Seatbelts? (p24)

Contributors and Articles

Dede Rittman

Neil S. Haley

Dede Rittman President, Rittman Publishing, LLC; Award-winning author of Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher; www.dederittman.com; Blogger- Lessons learned from the Bunny Teacher www.bunnyteacher.blogspot.com , Guest blogger Teachers.net, My Town Tutors, Forests of the Rain Productions; Producer, Co-Host , and Education Expert for The Total Education Network, www.totaltutor.net , Motivational Speaker, 37 year veteran English/Theater Teacher; 33 year Varsity Boys’ Golf Coach; PA TOY Semi-Finalist, 2011; Delta Kappa Gamma Person of Distinction. Neil Haley, CEO of Total Tutor, has been working with children for more than 12 years. His experience includes: Classroom Teacher; After School Program Director; Behavior Specialist; Educational Advocate; Developmental Therapist, SAT Prep Coach; and Practicum Supervisor. Total Tutor is an international kindergarten through college tutoring and consulting company, providing educational advocacy, behavior therapy, autism consulting, home school consulting, all subject tutoring, and SAT/ACT/GRE tutoring. Neil is also the affable host of The Total Education Network, which is heard and viewed in over 180 countries, syndicated on 120 stations, with over 2.5 million listeners and viewers per week. Neil was also a former professional wrestler. Neil graduated from LaRoche College with a B.S. in History, and obtained his M. Ed. at Duquesne University. He is married to Jennifer and the proud father of five children.

It’s Cool to Bully!!! Understanding and Changing the Social Ethos of U.S. Middle Schools (p26)

Dr. Sairah Qureshi Dr. Sairah Qureshi earned her PhD in Sociology and Criminology from the UK in 2011, based on exploring and examining the perceptions of bullying and racist bullying and particularly how it is manifested around the school environment. Dr. Qureshi has had over 10 years of academic experience and over 7 years as a consultant and practitioner in the field of bullying and bias-based bullying. She has advised local authorities on school bullying, participated in and evaluated school training manuals on bullying as well as delivered extensive public outreach work to children and young people on the subject of school bullying and racism.


Connection-Based Learning (p31)

Contributors and Articles

Sean Robinson Sean Robinson has been teaching for over 20 years in classes from kindergarten to high school in cities from Jarkarta to Vancouver. Considered one of the top project-based learning teachers to follow on twitter by The Guardian, he enjoys sharing his classroom trials and triumphs with others to move education forward. Sean received a BA in Psychology from Trinity Western University and a Post Baccalaureate in Learning Disabilities and ESL from Simon Fraser University. He has a passion for guiding teachers to employ more effective pedagogy. Along with project-based learning, he leads workshops on the flipped learning, digital citizenship and technology in the classroom. He blogs about what he has been learning at seanrtech.blogspot.ca/ The Presence of the SEC in the AP: 2015 Picks and Predictions (p39)

Dr. Adrienne Madison Dr. Adrienne M. Madison, a native of Fairfield, Alabama, earned her Ph.D. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering from the University in Georgia in August 2013. Prior to her arrival at UGA in 2007, she began her graduate studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia and completed undergraduate studies in Biomedical and Materials Science Engineering at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. A former member of the Biophotonics Laboratory under the direction of Mark A. Haidekker, her research focus implemented computational analysis in the research, design, and development of medical devices, along with applications related to bioimaging, biomaterials, and biomechanics. Most of her outreach and community work revolves around mentoring and fostering underrepresented elementary, middle, high school, and undergraduate students’ interest in STEM disciplines through math, chemistry, and computational methods and future areas of research. Dominic Barton’s WSJ Blog: Sadly, Writing Something Does Not Make It So (p44)

By Karen Gross @KarenGrossEdu Karen Gross served as Senior Policy Advisor to the US Department of Education in Washington, DC. In that capacity, I was the Department's representative on the interagency task force charged with redesigning the transition assistance program for returning service members and their families, working closely with the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Labor. Prior to becoming a college president, I was a tenured law professor for two plus decades. My academic areas of expertise include consumer finance, over-indebtedness, bankruptcy and community economic development.


The Life of an Immersive Tech Teacher (p48)

Contributors and Articles

Michelle Nimchuk I am the Assistant Director of the Immersive Technology program at Heritage Christian Online School in Kelowna, BC. My passions are innovative teaching, the effective use of technology in education and meeting the learning needs of exceptional students.

Parent Involvement the Primary Key to Student Success (p50)

Dr. Stephen Jones Dr. Stephen Jones is an outstanding educator who has spent his career helping students to succeed in K-12 schools and college. He has been instrumental in helping thousands of students realize their dream to earn a degree. He has authored the Seven Secrets of How to Study series, including "Mapping Your Strategy for Better Grades", the "Parent’s Ultimate Education Guide" and the "Ultimate Scholarship Guide." The books provide an understanding of the seven pillars that are essential to learning effective study techniques. Dr. Jones is the President of SAJ Publishing, and a Distinguished Toast Master, he is an in-demand speaker who has regular appearances on Blog Talk Radio. He also serves as Associate Dean of Student & Strategic Programs in the College of Engineering at Villanova University. The Difference Between Giving Access and Preparing for Access: How Secondary Schools are Failing Students of Color (p15)

Dr. Torie Weiston-Serdan Dr. Torie Weiston-Serdan is a scholar and practitioner with over eleven years of teaching and youth programming experience. She received her Ph.D. in Education from Claremont Graduate University, and currently teaches high school English in Southern California. She is interested in exploring and addressing gaps in the areas of mentoring and education through research, policy and programming efforts. She writes a blog where she shares her work and the work of other mentoring and education experts who approach these issues with a keen and critical eye.


Executive Perspective Good People and Education By Michael A. Robinson, Ed.D. I have no shame in admitting, I believe in the best of people. I believe there are more good people in this world than bad. This is what I remind myself daily and it is also what I share with my two children. Choosing to believe in the best of people I feel makes life limitless in having experiences and learning new things that will have lasting effect on your life and how you view the world. It is this belief that led to the creation of Forest Of The Rain Productions and the publication of Living Education eMagazine. Forest Of The Rain Productions is an educational affairs organization and our mission is to expand the voices of those seldom heard in education, parental engagement, fair housing, academic research and the business of education. To carry out our mission effectively we have to fully believe people can disagree, think differently, work uniquely and still be good people. I knew this to be true as did my wife; founder of our growing organization and therefore establishing a culture of acceptance to varying and unique views, talents. Through the years I have found that many are uncomfortable with this concept when discussing education. Oddly some have expressed their confusion on where I personally stand on certain educational positions because of we give a platform to all perspectives and opinions when discussing educational issues. Creating an outlet for new voices that challenge the way we think; seek answers and explore ideas that are unique and at times unconventional in the examination of issues and challenges in our educational system is what it means to be a part of the Forest Of The Rain Productions organization as well as to be a contributors to Living Education eMagazine. More importantly it is what it means to be an educator on a global scale. Accepting that another’s intentions are good until shown differently is not a leap of faith; it is a walk of growth and understanding. Forest Of The Rain Productions and Living Education eMagazine were not designed to be trendy or vogue; here today and gone tomorrow. Forest Of The Rain Productions was created to make a difference by finding the good people in education (and there are many) who want to be heard and share their voices, experience, and expertise. I hope this issue, as all our LEeM eMagazine issues will cause each of you to consider another’s point of view; reach for not necessarily agreement but understanding; to perhaps challenge our journeys of educating our country. And if nothing else, I hope you will read each of our fantastic contributor’s article and at the end realize that this is a great magazine and Forest Of The Rain Productions is a great education company with good people.

Michael A. Robinson, Ed.D. Co-CEO Forest Of The Rain Productions


Organizations to Know Integrated Educational Services Integrated Educational Services (IES) is a test preparation and tutoring service that specializes SAT prep courses. IES offers free SAT practice workshops run by a staff of experienced teachers, and offer courses in verbal and math, including advanced and online courses. Additional services include private tutoring, GMAT preparation, essay editing, college and interview preparation, ESL, GRE. http://www.ies2400.com/ The Youth Mentoring Action Network The Youth Mentoring Action Network is dedicated to leveraging the power of mentoring relationships to increase access to opportunities for all youth. We believe that developing strong relationships not only provide benefits for young people, but address a significant number of issues related to their success, i.e. educational attainment and career readiness. http://www.mentoringactionnetwork.org/ After School Programs, Inc. (ASP) was founded in 1991 as a 501(c)(3) not for profit corporation and has been serving thousands of Florida families for nearly twenty-five years. ASP is one of the largest providers of quality on-site after school programs in Florida, serving over 8,000 children from culturally diverse and varying socioeconomic backgrounds in Broward, Collier, MiamiDade and Orange Counties. ASP is Broward County's only child care provider to be accredited by both SACS and CITA and employs over 900 qualified and trained childcare professionals. http://afterschoolprograms.com/


3 Strategies of a Successful Teacher Dede Rittman @dederittman

I was an English teacher for 37 years until retiring in 2011 to care for my husband who was dying from stage four colon cancer. Even though I am technically “retired” from teaching, I will never stop teaching. Asking me to stop teaching would be the equivalent of asking me to stop breathing. Teaching and Dede Rittman have ceased to exist as separate entities, and they are now, and will forever be, inextricably linked. I enjoy sharing some of the valuable lessons I learned during those 37 years of teaching, 33 years of coaching, and 20 years of directing stage shows, and now that I am not correcting thousands of English compositions, I take great pleasure in reflecting, writing, and sharing with my fellow educators. Today, I am thinking and writing about the importance of teachers - their actions, their words, and their ability to connect with their students. Think back to elementary school . . . a while ago, to be sure, but try to remember. Do you recollect any favorite teacher? How about one that was a little scary? If I ask you to think of a time a teacher yelled at you, and a time a teacher praised you, I feel sure that you will remember both equally. Why am I so sure you will recall both? Because words and actions are so important to children, and so are relationships. You remember the teachers you liked, as well as the ones you thought liked you. For children of all ages, teachers are not only role models, they are also the stars who appear in the movie reels of every child’s daily school life, and teachers have the ability to determine if a child’s day is happy or stressful. In many cases, children spend more time with teachers than they spend with their own parents.

Students, for the most part, want to please the teacher; they want the teacher to “like” them; and many students also work harder when they feel a positive connection to the teacher. Being a teacher is a HUGE responsibility; shaping young lives and handling tender hearts is a prodigious task, and one which should be carried out with dignity, respect, and kindness. Teachers, more than any other group of adult professionals, have a tremendous capacity to harm or to heal, to elevate or demean, through their actions and words. How should teachers handle such a significant responsibility? My answer is this: teachers should be kind, caring, and interested in their students. It seems to me that in today’s society, so many children are coming into our schools hungry, tired, neglected, needy, under-parented, and in some cases, even homeless. School is their “safe harbor” where they can be warm, see their friends, and eat lunch. As teachers, we must make school so much more. We must uplift the students and model good


manners, treating our students with the same “please and thank you” manners we expect from them. We must look each of our students in the eyes every day, smile, and let each one know that he/she is important to both the class and to us, personally. I know for a fact that students will improve their school attendance when they know they are valued; for years I practiced what I am preaching. And what about a teacher’s words? A personal attack on a student is never good; if a problem exists in the classroom, I suggest a personal conversation asking the student about what is wrong rather than yelling. Trust me, you might be surprised by the answer. I had a student who was being completely ornery, mean, and obstinate. I did not permit him to steal the focus of the class, but told him that I would speak to him after class alone. When asked about his unruly behavior, he started to cry, and he shared that his father had thrown him out of the house the night before, telling him not to return. He walked around all night; he was hungry, and he was tired. You see, his behavior had nothing to do with me, the teacher; but through personal contact, care, and concern, and the fact that I had an established relationship with this student, I was able to get him a hot lunch, a nap, and an appointment at Guidance, who called the authorities. So often, teachers are not the real targets, but speaking mean words and not listening first will merely escalate a bad situation.

I believe in real words of praise when deserved, not empty words of praise for no reason. Strong words of praise must be appropriately spoken and timed, or they are meaningless. Words from teachers can be inspire or defeat; I advise you to choose your words carefully. Just as the wood will never be the same, even after a nail is removed, harsh words can harm a student’s motivation and sense of self, even if an apology is issued. I do not believe in shouting unless an emergency is happening; shouting leads to more classroom chaos. Whispering is so much more effective, and so much less stressful for everyone.

I had great success through the years in sharing glimpses of my life with students, and listening as they shared their lives, issues, problems, or triumphs with me. When my husband was first diagnosed with colon cancer and he was having regular chemotherapy treatments, I was touched when my students would ask “How is Mr. Rittman feeling?” Many of my 10th grade students had a family member go through a series of chemotherapy treatments, so they knew the ordeal that both Scott and I were enduring. Through the years, I bonded with my students through discussions of sports, fishing, cars, job applications, college choices, golf, family matters, prom dresses, boyfriend/girlfriend matters, and an endless stream of topics. I recognized through the years that cooperation in a classroom is so much better when the students know and trust the teacher, and the teacher knows and trusts the students, and that a mutual respect is present. I loved being in the classroom all those years, and I also enjoy sharing some secrets of my success with all of you. My final advice: if you show your students that you like them and are interested Continue on page 36


@donnayford

November 1, 2015

editor.forestoftherain@gmail.com


The Difference Between Giving Access and Preparing for Access: How Secondary Schools are Failing Students of Color The education reform agenda has generated a considerable amount of discussion about the issue of higher education access, especially when it comes to students of color (Astin & Oseguera, 2004; Aud, Hussar, Kena, & Bianco, 2011; “The crisis and economic potential in America’s Education system,” 2013). The Obama administration has placed its focus on mentoring young men and boys of color, on making higher education more affordable and on looking closely at higher education’s ability to deliver on their promised outcomes (Duncan, 2015; “Fact sheet White house unveils America’s college promise proposal: tuition-free community college for responsible students,” 2015; White House, 2014). Colleges and universities are grappling with their responsibilities in terms of the admission and retention of students of color, looking closely at how their internal policies help or harm them (Harper, Ph, Patton, & Wooden, 2009). Finally, secondary schools, serving as the primary gateway for colleges and universities, are focusing on graduation rates and meeting college entrance requirements for these youth. On the secondary school level, a considerable amount of work has been done to create multiple pathways, often including ways for students to remediate courses outside of the traditional classroom, i.e. online and or after schools courses to ensure student completion (Hickman, Bartholomew, Mathwig, & Heinrich, 2008; Tyler & Lofstrom, 2009). Secondary schools, however, are often missing the mark in their attempts to ensure that students of color are able to move on to higher education. In fact, the goal appears to be about positive data for the schools, rather than long-term preparation for the students. This lack of preparation is harming the most vulnerable of pupils as they struggle later on down the line. A report released by ACT and the United Negro College fund, noted that while Black students are taking and passing the college level coursework required of them, they are still underprepared for college work (The condition of college and career readiness 2014: African American students, 2015).

By: Torie Weiston, Ph.D. @TWeiston

Furthermore, data shows that Black and Latino students have college graduation rates of only 38% and 48% nationwide, compared to the 60% and 68% attributed to their white and Asian peers (“The crisis and economic potential in America’s Education system,” 2013). The issue at hand is that many K-12 schools are “giving” access without “preparing” for it. In an effort to increase self-promoting statistics, schools are increasing their number of graduates, but only to find that many of the students who achieve these goals still have a hard time excelling in college (ACT, 2013; Engle, 2007; “The crisis and economic potential in America’s Education system,” 2013). In 2014, a study reported that though high school graduation rates were on the rise, standardized test scores in areas like math and reading were historically low (Summers, 2014). Students were graduating, but without the academic outcomes needed to be successful long term. Of course increasing the numbers of youth of color who graduate from high school and gain access to college is a worthy goal and an increase in numbers make both high schools and higher education institutions look as if they Continue on page 42


The coolest Internet radio station for educators and music lovers

Living Education eMagazine Internet Radio


Q A

Dr. Venus Evans-Winters

with @DrVEvansWinters

Host Comments: Black women have always had a significant role in the expansion of educational access, for the black community; from the start of Spelman College in the basement of the homes of mothers seeking a safe environment for their girls to learn to a day In November 1960 when U.S. Deputy Marshals escorted 6-year-old Ruby Bridges from William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans African American women have fought for education at all levels. Q. Why has the fight for access to an education been such a significant part of the fabric of the black woman’s contributions to communities, the nation, and the world? A. Education and literacy have always been significant for Black women in the U.S. Education was a strategy to ensure the survival of the culture, economic stability, and the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the civic and political life of the nation. Historically, for Black women education was not an individual endeavor, but a community effort to uplift our girls and women in order to participate in social transformation on behalf of Black women and men. Across time the education initiatives of Black women have included gaining basic literacy skills, homemaking training, access to the arts and sciences, and methods of political organization and engagement. It is easy to forget in today’s world of individualism how Black women have intently labored to center education in the Black struggle for citizenship and humanity. Q. When you study research on the continued progress women of color have made and are continuing to make what do you think about? How do we translate their successes in the classroom to their successes in the labor force, the community and yes in government? A. Women of color, in particular Black women, I believe have taken the education world by surprise. More than ten years ago when I began studying the education and schooling of Black girls, I argued then that Black girls were one of the most ignored and overlooked student populations in this country. Basically, I predicted that they would be underestimated for their academic skills and educational resilience. In my book, “Teaching Black Girls: Resiliency in Urban Classrooms,” I found that Black girls received support from Black teachers and other caring adults, their mothers, and community networks, such as


afterschool programs and churches. Today, social scientists and economists are finally talking about Black women’s educational attainment and position in the economic structure. Because we live in a racist and sexist society, educated Black women still encounter unemployment, underemployment and unfair wages. I believe that this will become an economic crisis for the nation and Black community, since Black women are more likely to be the sole or primary financial providers in their immediate families, to care for elderly parents, and to support religious and civic organizations financially and otherwise. To counter the problem, affordable and accessible education programs (at all levels) must be developed that honor and facilitate Black girls and women’s leadership capacities. Second, national policies must be created that provide financial assistance for higher education and continuing education programs targeting Black women. Also, incentives must be created for large-scale businesses to recruit Black women postgraduation. A part of these national and international initiatives I believe must also include supporting Black women owned businesses and entrepreneurship pursuits. Finally, the government must continue to advocate for and enforce the Fair Pay Act. Q. What are the unique challenges women of color face in pursuing an education in America or in other parts of the world? For many women of color, African American women in particular, access to affordable higher education will be a challenge. Education has been revered for Black women for so long that many will go into debt to pursue higher education and possibly advance degrees. Again, this is where government and the private sector must work together to alleviate college debt in this country. In a democracy, access to higher education must remain the norm and a public good. Another challenge for many students attending preK-12 schools in majority Black and lower-income and working class communities is access to quality education. Our fight will be to ensure a high quality education for all children, put an end to unequal school funding, and recruit highly prepared teachers across the nation. One’s zip

code or income should not determine the type of schooling and educational opportunities she receives. In other parts of the world, like in some countries in Africa, the challenge for Black girls and women is related to access to affordable reproductive care and education. For example, in South Africa where I worked with young adults living in Townships, early pregnancy or poverty prevented access to education. Similarly, in West Africa where I taught rural schoolgirls, some families felt it was a waste of resources to send a daughter to school as opposed to a boy child. We need to eliminate barriers to education for all girls, regardless of social class or location. Q. It is reported that African American women are the most educated group in the United States. If this is the case are there really concerns about access to educational attainment? African American women disproportionately attend college at higher rates than other groups of women. Our concern remains the fact that Black women are also disproportionately going into extreme debt to seek out higher education. Our concern is also that many Black women are not getting an economic return on their degrees earned compared to their White male and female counterparts with the same or lesser education, and they are just as likely to earn less than Black men with the same level of education. Thus, the question is how valuable are Black women’s education to the marketplace and social world? Furthermore, educational affordability and access to competitive institutions of higher education is a concern for us; not simply educational attainment. Moreover, there is a need for mentors to help Black women navigate educational institutions (at all levels) to be sure we are seeking the right advice about knowledge attainment and career development. Mentors are important to ensure that women are not simply being “degreed” to death with no meaningful end in mind. In my opinion, every Black woman should ask, “How will this degree help me, our community, and the nation?” In the age of have to be sure that education is related to our community needs and not simply someone else’s economic interest. Continue on page 36


Book List About the Book: The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers takes you on a personal journey to accomplish manageable goals, reflect on your experiences, and regain your spark and confidence in teaching. This innovative approach will help you reconnect to your students, improve your classroom practice, and help you transform as an educator. To ensure your success and growth, you will find:  30 short-term goals to complete at your own pace  30 long-term goals that relate to the short-term goals  Exercises throughout to help you consider each goal  Examples of how the goal has been accomplished in different teaching contexts Shelly Sanchez Terrell @ShellTerrell is a teacher trainer, eLearning specialist, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has trained teachers and taught language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert and has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, NPR, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the Most Influential People Transforming EdTech by Tech & Learning (2015).


New Leader

Nate McClain Superintendent Saginaw Public schools


True Power is Knowledge Applied! Daniel Blanchard @dan007blanchard Student: “I know! I know, mister!” Me: “Really?” Student: “Yes. Really! I know what to do. So you don’t have to tell me again because I already know what to do!” Me: “Really?” Then why aren’t you doing it?” As an inner-city classroom teacher I have frequently participated in this exact scenario played out above. In this scenario the student states that she knows what to do; so don’t tell her again, or a.k.a. don’t bother her again. In conjunction, the teacher above, I guess that would be me, acts surprised that the student knows what to do because he, I guess that would be me again, hasn’t seen any action or even any trace of evidence that this teen does know what to do. Why is it that this teen claims to know what to do, but doesn’t do it? Why is it that most of us claim to know what to do, but don’t do it? Is it just human nature to not apply knowledge? Is it just human nature to be indifferent? Is it human nature to be lazy? Let’s think about this for a second. Let me examine myself. As I’ve gotten older I know that I’ve put on a few unwanted pounds. For years I’ve been meaning to shed the few extra pounds and get back to the lean, mean, fighting weight of my old school days. Well, one day, several years ago I attended a self-improvement conference. The guru I was listening to mentioned that he had the secret to shedding those last few stubborn pounds that so many of us struggle with. He promised that he’d eventually share the secret with all of us if we could just have a little patience. Good,” I thought. I could always use a little extra help in my life, and I’m open-minded enough to listen to something new and groundbreaking. So I waited with anticipation to hear what this guy had to say. At a few spots in his well-rehearsed speech he paused to remind us that he’d be sharing the weight loss secret with us soon. “Come on,” I thought. “Let’s get to the secret,” I quietly whispered to myself. Well, the show had eventually come to the end and the guru said to the audience, “Do you still want to know how to shed those last few stubborn pounds?” Yeah!” We all yelled in unison “Okay” he said. “Consume less calories than you burn. It’s as simple as that. Consume less calories than you burn!” Well, I have to tell you that I was a little mad. I already knew that! We all already knew that! I mean, come on, everybody knows you have to consume fewer calories than you burn if you want to lose weight, right?


Right! We all already know this so he doesn’t have to tell us this again right? Wait a minute... Is this starting to sound like the young teen student from earlier in this success and leadership article? Yup! If we all already know what to do, then why don’t we just do it? Why don’t we shed those last few stubborn extra pounds? Why doesn’t the teen do what she is supposed to do in school? Maybe we all don’t apply our knowledge because it’s easy not to do it? I mean this isn’t just a weight-loss and a teen problem. The applying your knowledge or the knowing-doing gap is real and it’s a huge problem. It’s so big that a couple of Stanford University professors even wrote a book on the problem called The Knowing-Doing Gap. This problem is so big that even though businesses spend $60 billion annually to train its people, most will still act like they don’t know what to do. If asked about their lack of action, they will tell you that they know what to do; after all, they’ve been trained. Sadly though, most of these trained people just won’t implement what they are taught… But… What if… Imagine if… We all did what we knew how to do! Imagine how much more powerful we’d be! (Smile.) Imagine how much more we would accomplish if we applied our knowledge! (Smile.) If we were more accomplished and successful we’d probably be happier, right? (Smile.) And if we were happier, wouldn’t our world be a better place to live in? Now smile really BIG!!! Now teens, go learn, lead, and lay the way to better world for all of us. Remember, just knowing is not enough. If you’re going to be happy and successful, and make this world a better place to live in, then you’re going to have to apply your knowledge and close that knowing-doing gap. And finally, once again, thanks in advance for all that you do, and all that you will do.


Do something healthy for your child. Get to know his teacher today.


Should School Busses Have Seatbelts? By Dede Rittman @dederittman and Neil S. Haley @totaltutor The second week of September, a school bus crash happened in Houston, Texas, and two female students ages 14 and 17 were killed. Two others were seriously injured and were hospitalized. This week, a school bus in Florida carrying 20 children careened off a road and went into a pond. Luckily, no serious injuries were reported. All state laws require passenger cars to have seatbelts, and every state in the U.S. has a law which requires that seat belts be worn. No newborn baby released from the hospital is permitted to go home in the family car unless the family has provided a properly installed child seat, and laws for child seats are determined by age, weight, and size of the child.1 All of these laws beg the question, why are seat belts NOT required for school busses by ALL states?

Should all school busses, even the large passenger models, be equipped with seat belts? Should all children be required to wear seatbelts on school busses? After much research and discussion, both Neil S. Haley, CEO of The Total Education Network, and Dede Rittman, author of Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop From a Master Teacher, believe the answer to both questions is a resounding YES. Although school busses are “compartmentalized� for safety, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that school busses are eight times safer than riding in family cars,2 many parents want their children to have that extra measure of safety by wearing a seat belt. Even students become upset at the thought of not wearing a seat belt in the bus, when they have been taught the importance of wearing a seatbelt in the car. Continue on page 36


Living Education Everyday


“It’s Cool to Bully – Bullying is COOL!!!” ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION

Bullying remains an ever pervasive social problem in schools worldwide. Despite US legislation enforcing schools to adopt bullying prevention programs, there is a fundamental problem with the social ethos in schools. This article addresses one key issue that is limited in academic research, yet rapidly emerging in US schools, particularly middle schools. Increasingly, popular young people who bully become are viewed as ‘cool’, thus their popularity rises. In an attempt to comprehend why such negative behavior is being condoned by young people, the article demonstrates and argues that there is a need to change the social ethos in middle schools across the US. Drawing from the academic literature and references to a presentation conducted at a NYC public school with approximately one hundred eighth grade students, the article concludes with recommendations for improved long-term Upstander behavior and communication and consistent anti-bullying training for teachers and guidance counselors in schools.

School bullying and Racism are one of the most contentious social issues that society faces (Ma et al., 2001 in Qureshi, 2013: 9) with underreporting remaining a global problem. Bullying has been recognized in academic research as a major social problem that affects the lives not only of young people but families, peers and often communities worldwide (Olweus, 1993, in Qureshi, 2013: 9). As serious and as a contentious issue, the response to the nature of bullying in US schools seems somewhat mystifying! Schools implement a variety of intervention and some also prevention measures in an attempt to raise awareness and reduce bullying through outside agencies, yet an echelon of negative perceptions to condoning bullying long term remains. Researchers claim that the increasing negative behavior seems to boost kids' popularity in middle school. Psychologist Jaana Juvonen from UCLA conducted a study in 2014 in over 11 schools in LA. Among nearly 2,000 students, she discovered that young people believed that “The ones who are ‘cool’, bully and the ones who bully more are seen as ‘cool’”(Juvonen, 2014). Particularly, she interestingly

Key words: Social Ethos; Cool; Bully; Popular; Victim; Middle School.


observed aggressive behavior and that pushing or shoving and gossiping worked the same for boys and girls (Live Science 2013). “The impetus for the study was to figure out whether aggression promotes social status, or whether those who are perceived as popular abuse their social power and prestige by putting other kids down,” said Jaana Juvonen, a UCLA professor of psychology and lead author of the study in a press release. “We found it works both ways for both ‘male-typed’ and ‘femaletyped’ forms of aggression” (Eldred 2013).

essentially seen to be cool? What is the fascination associated with this perception? This article raises such awareness drawing from the academic literature as well as from data collected from work conducted during a school presentation among eight grade students. Recommendations include long term consistent training and ultimately the need to change the social ethos, particularly at middle school level.

So why are middle school pupils particularly is supportive of this view that bullying

Peer pressure to bully, to cajole and/or witness

LITERATURE REVIEW

Understanding and Changing the Social Ethos of US Middle Schools! By Dr. Sairah Qureshi

@DrSairahQureshi

bullying behavior yet adopt a passive bystander approach has been researched for over two decades. As also evidenced in one study by Pozzoli and Gini (2010:815), their study revealed that a problem existed more among teaching staff who tried to reduce the problem of passive bystander behavior (Pozzoli and Gini 2010:815). Henceforth, one study conducted by Thunfors and Cornell (2008:66), they claim that bullies viewed as misfits is quite the contrary and that findings on peer aggression that suggest the social misfit form of bullies may somewhat be inaccurate (Thunfor and Cornell; 2008:66). Espelage and Holt (2001 in Thunfors and Cornell, 2008: 66) identified when

interviewing 422 middle school students that bullies received a similar amount of both popularity and friend nomination compared to the non-bullies (2008: 66). One theory that has been put forward is that students often struggle to discover who they are at middle school age, while trying to balance and adjusting to a new setting as well as fitting in with peers (Pister, 2014:40). This study suggests a flaw within the social climate and ethos in the school, allowing for bullying behavior to influence and impact the school climate/environment. A further theory put forward by Duffy and Nesdale, (2009: 122), argues for more than a focus on the bullying phenomenon that


explores the psychological aspect of the individual. One can agree that more attention needs to be given to the social aspects and social environment to the bullying dynamic and this culture of accepting bullying behavior. Similarly, Unnever and Cornell (2003: 6) claim that in order to reduce bullying, particularly in middle schools, by adopting whole school violence prevention programs, this assists to change the school bullying culture and reduce victimization (Astor et al, 2002 in Unnever and Cornell, 2003: 7). Pozzoli, Gini and Vieno (2012:1918), contend that such views by middle school students who deemed the bully(ies) as “cool” as well as popular, they indeed also played a pinnacle role as passive bystanders whilst bullying occurred. They argue that such views differed by age, gender as well as the aggression level of the student. Older and more aggressive students were more likely to support the bully and view them as ‘cool’ whereas girls were significantly more likely to defend the victim than boys (2012: 1926). In a presentation in front of approximately eighty 8th grade students at a NYC Public school in Brooklyn NY (November 2014), during an interactive bullying scenario activity with the students, young people’s attitudes differed per scenario. Teachers were instructed to stand in all four corners of the room holding up the answers, “Tell a Teacher”; “Tell a Friend”, “Stand Up to the Bully/ies”; “Do Nothing”. Similarly, students were presented with a scenario that identified the popular students as the bullies. The scenario included, ‘“popular kids” at school won’t allow non-clique members to sit at their lunch table. At first glance this may not seem like a bullying scenario, but in reality these kids are bullying by excluding others in a social environment. By refusing to let others join them, the popular kids are publicly rejecting and ignoring others What would you do?’”. Approximately 80% of the students walked over to the “Do Nothing” sign whilst the remaining 20% stood under either “Tell a Friend” or “Tell a Teacher”. When asked why they chose this answer, students responded that they did not want to get involved, it had nothing to do with them, subsequently did not want to confront the ‘cool students’. The students’ response strongly indicated fear of being targeted next or fear of not being accepted by their more popular peers, despite those sympathies may lie with the victim.

DISCUSSION Essentially, to agree with Juvonen and other researchers, the social ethos of the school strongly needs addressing and changed and this change needs to be within the system. However, there is a dearth of academic research that focuses upon exploring why many middle school students view perpetrators to be ‘cool’ and more studies that examine this behavior are recommended. This notion of supporting the popular students who are the bullies occur in the vast majority of schools and not class related. Schools clearly have tight schedules and dealing with the social and emotional welfare needs of young people is minimal. Staff training days are on average two to three days a year of which anti-bullying training is approximately one day; preventative measures formed within the curriculum are lax in schools. As research and work conducted in US schools indicate, the consistency and longevity in training and anti-bullying preventative education among young people is key (2015: Conference Presentations Horace Mann). Work in US schools have recognized the need to empower young people increasingly as Upstanders, however the poor communication between young people and adults needs to be addressed, this helps to explain why underreporting is so apparent in schools. Indifferent attitude among teachers coupled with despair with being overworked and the pressure to attain strong attendance and SAT scores cloud their actions. During interviews with a large group of student in a NYC Summer youth camp group (June 2013), students expressed a disinterest in the effectiveness in preventative measures, yet revealed they wanted support, that too on a long term basis. Continual awareness is crucial and the key ingredient into changing the social ethos, Zumba did not become a global phenomenon overnight!! REFERENCES: “Peer Groups, Social Identity, and Children's Bullying Behavior” Duffy, A. L; Nesdale, D. Social Development. Feb2009, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p121-139. “Bullying makes Middle Schoolers Cool” Live Science, Jan 28th 2013 5.54pm retrieved from http://www.livescience.com Continue on page 36


New Leader

Kriner Cash

Superintendent Buffalo Public Schools


Do something healthy for your child. Get to know her teacher today.


Ponder how these meaningful learning approaches include interpersonal connection. In project-based learning, we see collaboration as an important element. Students often work together as part of a group while completing projects. Imagine how better the process might be if the focus of student activity includes fostering effective collaboration among team members, building relationships with community partners and topical experts, and sharing learning with the world. It would take projectbased learning to the next level.

Connections-Based Learning By Sean Robinson @sr_tutor We are all looking for something to base learning on. We see it in the contemporary educational titles: project-based learning, passionbased learning, competency-based learning, inquiry-based learning. These titles may seem like buzz words but they are important; they set the tone for teacher conduct, curriculum foci, and student actions. Should we base our learning on projects? Passions? Competencies? Student inquiry? Each of these educational approaches is a way to guide the priorities of our pedagogy. “Blank”-based learning methods, in particular, are an attempt to describe a learning process that is meaningful to students. With project-based learning, genuine reality-based projects become the vehicle for learning. With passion-based learning, students’ passions are leveraged for learning. In competency-based learning, learners focus on progressively mastering smaller elements of a greater learning objective. And with inquiry-based learning, students form skills around developing great questions that can’t simply be “Googled”. With all these methods of structuring learning, it begs the question: do we really need another ‘blank’-based learning?

We also see interpersonal connection in passion-based learning. An environment where students feel connected to one another provides the safety to reveal passions. Is it possible to take this further? As student passions are discovered, embraced and leveraged during the school year, could groups with common passions work together with outside organizations to achieve common goals? The mastery focus of competency-based learning requires a good teacherstudent connection. Understanding where students need to work is a key component. Students who have mastered a certain concept shouldn’t be inundated with its lessons. Students need to work on concepts that are tailored to their needs, not a one-sizefits-all shotgun approach.


Without a great teacher-student connection, these needs can go undiscovered. Imagine the effect of a teacher focused on making a strong connection with each student and supporting students as they discover their own target zones for learning. And connection is also found in the tenets of inquiry-based learning. A sense of community and connection is crucial as students develop and share their genuine questions. Could the students build a connection with others outside the school who are also working on finding the answers? Could students partner with those around the world who have the same concerns, the same wonderings, the same dreams? The idea of connection is weaved throughout these four approaches and the many others that are popping up. In some cases interpersonal connection is already a part of the process but could be developed further. In other cases, adding a focus on connection changes the whole dynamic of the learning. Could it be said that what underlies the meaningfulness of these approaches is the human connection? Connecting with teacher. Connecting with the class. Connecting with the community. Connecting with experts. Could there be a method of educating that is based on these connections? What is Connections-based Learning? Connections-based Learning is a not a new way of doing education. It’s a new way of seeing education. It celebrates the way connections are formed and leveraged through education. It reminds us to seek ways of learning that facilitate the building of relationships. It declares that significant learning requires a significant relationship. Connections-based Learning makes it a priority to leverage interpersonal connection at each step of the learning process. Whether it is the teacher-student connection, the connection with members of the class, school, and community, or the connection with experts in the field of study, thought is given to maximizing these relationships. Teacher-student Connection Fundamental to learning is the teacher-student

relationship. Good teacher-student connections help students learn. It has been found to be true time and time again. In her NYU Steinhardt article, “The Effects of Teacher-Student Relationships: Social and Academic Outcomes of Low-Income Middle and High School Students”, Emily Gallagher gives a plethora of studies that support this idea: Aligned with attachment theory (Ainsworth, 1982; Bowlby, 1969), positive teacher-student relationships enable students to feel safe and secure in their learning environments and provide scaffolding for important social and academic skills (Baker et al., 2008; O’Connor, Dearing, & Collins, 2011; Silver, Measelle, Armstrong, & Essex, 2005). Teachers who support students in the learning environment can positively impact their social and academic outcomes, which is important for the long-term trajectory of school and eventually employment (Baker et al., 2008; O’Connor et al., 2011; Silver et al., 2005). Gallagher (2013) While working with inner city schools, James Comer found that the strong social bonds that help students develop the proficiencies to learn were missing. He created the School Development Program in 1968 to help schools recreate those social bonds. It worked. The students he worked with began to thrive. Students flourish in a positive teacher-student relationship. Asking questions, seeking to understand, treating students as individuals, and making time to build relationships are crucial to building that connection with a class. As James P. Comer says: "No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship". Robinson, S. (2015) Connections within the Class, School, and Community But learning through connections doesn’t stop there. Why does the student, who never writes more than a few sentences, write pages to the buddy or the pen-pal? ? It is the human connection. Why does the learning seem to become galvanized for the student who tutors another? It is the human connection. Why is the whole of a group working together greater than the sum of its parts? Human connection.


Picture a class studying Aboriginal Education. The class looks at culture, customs, and artwork. They hear stories. They draw pictures. And they never once talk to an aboriginal person. That is a missed opportunity to get firsthand information, to build a relationship, to honour another. Now picture a Home Economics class developing cooking skills. The teacher has made a connection with a local homeless shelter and once a week, the students cook there. Picture how that one connection will impact the students. Picture how it might affect those at the shelter. Connections add meaning and they provide opportunities to make a difference. Connections with Experts As Lee Crocket, Ian Jukes, and Andrew Churches state in Literacy is not enough: 21stcentury fluencies for the digital age: Electronic technology in wired, and wireless communications has quite literally meant the death of distance. There has never been a time in which distance has meant less than it does today. Students learning about civil war could be talking directly with kids in Serbia or Afghanistan. Kids trying to understand the impact of oil spills could talk with students in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Florida. Students wanting to understand the impact of natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis could talk to students in Japan or New Zealand. – p. 69, Crockett, L. (2011) Learning in the 21st Century must take advantage of the connected world we live in. We are no longer confined to study other countries from afar. They are only an email, text, tweet, Skypechat, Google Hangout away. And whether it is space, politics, animal behavior, or dinosaurs, there are numerous experts to contact. All the students need to do is ask; they might be surprised who responds. Human connection leads to well-being. In Kelly McGonigal’s TEDtalk on "How to make stress your friend", she states: And the cool thing is that all of these physical benefits of oxytocin are enhanced by social contact and social support. So when you reach out to others under stress, either to seek support

or to help someone else, you release more of this hormone, your stress response becomes healthier, and you actually recover faster from stress. I find this amazing, that your stress response has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience, and that mechanism is human connection. – McGonigal, K. (2013) If we were to base our teaching on anything, I believe it should be developing connections. The classroom becomes a thriving environment of learning. We make local or global contributions that can in turn teach others. We become healthier people. With a focus on developing relationships, there is no need to teach good citizenship. As they work on these connections, students are being good citizens. Connections are accessible to all. Anyone can get an email address. Anyone can ask a question. As I have been having my students make connections, I have found the reception to be excellent. Researchers, academics, agency leaders have responded to a simple question: “Could you help us learn?” And what a difference it makes when students are asking real people questions. They are engaged. They bring their best. They feel important. They become part of a global process to advance understanding. And they learn. References Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. Kelowna, B.C.: 21st Century Fluency Project. Gallagher, Emily. (2013). "The Effects of TeacherStudent Relationships: Social and Academic Outcomes of Low-Income Middle and High School Students" Applied Psychology Opus. Fall issue. Accessed July 2, 2015 on the World Wide Web: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/opus/issues/2013/fall/gallag her McGonigal, K. (2013). Transcript of "How to make stress your friend" Retrieved July 27, 2015 from TED IDEAS WORTH SPREADING on the World Wide Web: http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_m ake_stress_your_friend/transcript Robinson, S. (2015). “What Relationships do for Continue on page 36


New Leader

Karen Berasi

Superintendent Suffield Public Schools


Book List Seven Secrets of How to Study Resource for All Students About this book Seven Secrets of How to Study is the best study skills and college preparation book on the internet. Students are learning how to earn an A+ in 12 hours. Students who have test anxiety and who procrastinate on term papers and projects are reporting greater confidence in their ability to get started. Teachers and professors are fascinated by the student’s new motivation to learn. Students are saving a tremendous amount of time and they are more effective each time they sit down to study. The books explores the essential academic pillars which allow students to have success in any academic environment. Dr. Stephen Jones @DrStephenJones is an outstanding educator who has spent his career helping students to succeed in K-12 schools and college. He has been instrumental in helping thousands of students realize their dream to earn a degree. He has authored the Seven Secrets of How to Study series, including "Mapping Your Strategy for Better Grades", the "Parent’s Ultimate Education Guide" and the "Ultimate Scholarship Guide." The books provide an understanding of the seven pillars that are essential to learning effective study techniques.


Connections-Based Learning continued from page 33

Retrieved August 28, 2015 from ON THE SIDE OF TECHNOLOGY on the World Wide Web: http://seanrtech.blogspot.ca/2015/07/whatrelationships-do-for-learning.html It’s Cool to Bully continued from page 28

“Clueless or Powerful? Identifying Subtypes of Bullies in Adolescence” Peeters, M; Cillessen, Antonius and Scholte, Ron. Journal of Youth & Adolescence. Sep2010, Vol. 39 Issue 9, p1041-1052 “UNDERSTANDING BULLYING THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUTH” Pister, R. Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research; Fall2014, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p2743. “Bullying and Racist Bullying in Schools: What ARE We Missing?” Qureshi, S 2013 NJ (pub) Xlibris “The role of individual correlates and class norms in defending and passive bystanding behavior in bullying: a multilevel analysis” Pozzoli T; Gini G and Vieno A. Child Development [Child Dev] 2012 Nov; Vol. 83 (6), pp. 1917-31. Date of Electronic Publication: 2012 Aug 07. “Active Defending and Passive Bystanding Behavior in Bullying: The Role of Personal Characteristics and Perceived Peer Pressure” Pozzoli, T; Gini, G. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, v38 n6 p815-827 Aug 2010. “The Popularity of Middle School Bullies” Thunfors, Peter; Cornell, Dewey; Journal of School Violence; 2008, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p65-82 “The Culture of Bullying in Middle School” Unnever, James D. Cornell, Dewey G. Journal of School Violence; 2003, Vol. 2 Issue 2, p5-27. Strategies of a Successful Teacher continued from page 13

in them as people, if you treat them with respect, and if you speak to them in a kindly manner, you will be successful. Best of luck! I will leave you with this quote, which inspired my entire teaching career. Perhaps it will inspire you as well. “I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my personal approach that creates the climate. It's

my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a student's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a student humanized or de-humanized.” --Haim Ginott, from Between Parent and Child Q.A. with Dr. Venus Evans-Winters continued from page 18

Q. In a recent report it indicated the higher education attainment for African American women is coming at a cost; such as high debt. What can be done to assist women of color who aspire to attend college, but may not be able to afford it or run the risk of being saddled with debt entering their retirement years? A. See all of the above. Should School Busses Have Seatbelts? continued from page 24

Neil S. Haley is the father of five children, and he states that “Just as schools want to create a safe environment within the school, parents also want the school to continue to make a safety cocoon for their children as the kids are traveling back and forth to school.” The cost of installing seatbelts into all school busses currently on the road would be prohibitive, but since schools sell and buy new busses periodically, perhaps a partial solution would be to have all new busses be equipped with seatbelts. Dede Rittman, 37 year teaching veteran and 33 year golf coach, never felt totally safe on school busses when traveling to away golf matches. “Although a school bus sits higher off the road, I always worried about the team’s safety in case of a crash. It seemed like they, along with their golf clubs and bags, would be propelled into the air, and that would not be a good scenario for anyone on the bus.” Continue on page 53


Spotlight

Thanks to Tommy Torres, Assistant Principal and Commissioner at The Williamsburg Sports League for share this great event. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams yesterday led hundreds of young athletes in their sports gear and team uniforms, along with their Coaches, Parents and Team Volunteers, in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge calling for greater city access to safe spaces for play. Grand Street Campus High School Wolves Athletics with Assistant Principal Tommy Torres mentioned the positive impact that youth sports has had on addressing childhood obesity, gang violence, and social development issues. Following the march, participants gathered for a youth sports expo at Brooklyn Borough Hall offering resources for Student Athletes and giveaways sponsored by MODELL'S


For more information on Williamsburg Sports League or Commissioner Tommy Torres follow on Facebook.


The Presence of the SEC in the AP: 2015 Picks and Predictions Adrienne Madison, Ph.D. @AntiTwittaMeaux An impressive eight teams from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) earned rankings in the preseason release of the coveted AP (Associated Press) Top 25 College Football Poll: 3. Alabama, 6. Auburn, 9. Georgia, 14. Louisiana, 17. become the next National Champion. However, each team should first seek to clinch their respective division (SEC East or SEC West), then play for the SEC Championship title. This article will take a look at the top teams in the Conference to watch while providing predictions and insight for each. SEC WEST: The West division holds five of the eight teams ranked, and two in the Top 10. Home of the 20092012 National Champions and SEC champions since 2009, they are hoping to recover from a dismal 2014 25 bowl season performance. Most notable is Alabama’s loss to Ohio State 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl playoff game, which doused the chances of an SEC national champion for a second consecutive year. Alabama: Nick Saban. I could stop here. His name alone gets the Houndstooth Brigade yelling “Roll Tide”. By earning three Conference (2009, 2012, and 2014) and National titles (2009, 2011, 2012) since his

arrival, he has done more than transform this program. It is almost the prototype of college football. (I’m getting a bit nauseous, so let’s move on.) Despite the number three ranking and fan base desperately hoping this season is the “Road to 16”, Coach Saban and Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin have yet to name their starting QB. We will likely see action from prospects Jake Coker, Cooper Bateman, and David Cornwell in the season opener. I believe this team’s most anticipated matchups will be: Ole Miss (to avenge the 2014 loss in “The Grove”), Georgia (first regular season meetup since 2008 and both have high odds to win their divisions), and of course Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Auburn: Batman and Robin. Sherlock and Watson. Bert and Ernie. Sonic and Tails. Everyone is curious to see what the “dynamic duo” Coach Gus Malzahn and new Defensive Coordinator, former Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp have cooked up on The Plains. Auburn coaching legend Pat Dye has highly complimented the defensive strategy and performance he observed at camp. This alleged power packed defense, coupled with the usual uptempo offense (now starring QB Jeremy Johnson), could make the Tigers unstoppable. Week 3 vs. LSU is the litmus test as to whether the “Gus Bus” is ramped up or deflated…that is if Louisville doesn’t pull a season opener upset. . If all goes as the War


Nation anticipates, the Iron Bowl vs Alabama will determine who wins the West and plays in the SEC title game. Arkansas: Why did I choose Arkansas as third in the SEC West over LSU despite the AP rankings? Easy. The Razorbacks, under Head Coach Bret Bielema, ended the 2014 season with an impressive momentum and have the potential to shake things up in the division this season. Their one point loss to Alabama, upset victories against LSU and Ole Miss, and bowl game win over Texas is exactly why they are on the radar. Despite the loss of RB Johnathan Williams due to injury, their advantage over Alabama and Auburn is that they have a returning starting QB (Brandon Allen). Week 5 at Tennessee should be a good game, but there’s a high possibility for an upset at Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, or LSU. Or should I say upsets, as in more than one? SEC EAST: This is the year of the SEC East. It is time for us to reclaim the SEC championship title, earn a playoff berth, win a National Championship, and silence all the doubters. Yes, every team from the West appeared in a bowl game, but the five representatives from the East (Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, and South Carolina) went undefeated in bowl game appearances. And when I say “us”, I should offer a disclaimer. I attended Tennessee as an undergraduate and both Missouri and Georgia for graduate school. These are my top picks in the division. Now before you assume this is a conflict of interest and extreme bias, remember that these are also the three East teams in the AP poll. This is both an exciting and complicated mess for me. Either way, I get to cheer for one of my teams in the SEC Championship game. Here goes…

Stacked defense who improved their performance under new Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt last season. On the offense, there is an impressive group of running backs including Nick Chubb, and fans are curious to observe the “postBobo” era offensive strategies under new Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Until recently, the team was deadlocked in the decision of choosing a starting QB. Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta, and Greyson Lambert competed for the coveted position. Lambert has since been named the starter for the opening game. Georgia deserves to be first in the East, SEC champion, and National Champion contenders because of their schedule. They face both Alabama and Auburn in the regular season, and would likely have to play one of them again in the conference title game. Needless to say, fans are restless and the pressure is on. The chances are great if they play smart. Tennessee: Good ol’ Rocky Top Tennessee. “Brick by Brick”, Butch Jones has done an excellent job of rebuilding and restoring Tennessee’s storied football tradition. A returning, now experienced defense and QB Josh Dobbs are two advantages this team has after a 2014 season resulting in 7 wins led to a bowl game invite and victory. As a result, the Volunteers are being considered a potential favorite in the SEC East for the first time in years. Ranked in the polls at number 25, they are in a very good position to break a 10 game losing streak against Florida. This ranking also means the Vols will face tough match ups against higher ranked teams such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, and Oklahoma in attempts to clinch the division. I believe in the “The Big Orange”. I really want them to win all of these games, the East, and the SEC title. Yes, that includes beating Georgia and Missouri and I mean it. Tennessee is my favorite, my first love. There goes the bias I was trying so hard to suppress.

Georgia: Missouri: I realize they have been expected to win the division and conference titles since 2012. I KNOW. They were so close in 2012, but time ran out. I am still very much traumatized by this event. Mark Richt has been excellent at recruiting and things are pretty lined up in his favor. He has a

This Tiger team loves being underrated. Newbies to the conference, Head Coach Gary Pinkel and Mizzou have done more than proven themselves. The consecutive SEC East Champions were never expected to clinch the division the last 2 Continue on page 46


Living Education Everyday


How Secondary Schools are Failing Students of Color continued from page 15

are successfully working to increase diversity in education. However, the simplistic way in which this issues are being addressed has led to dire circumstance for those students who cannot compete academically and are often subject to drop-out later on down the line (Ahn, 2010; Bowers, 2011; Engle, 2007). Ultimately, both K-12 schools and higher education institutions are playing both sides of the game, failing students of color and increasing their own material stock. The issue at hand has to do with how we view access. If access is simply defined as opening a door in order to allow someone to travel through to college, then secondary schools are more than meeting their goals. However, if access is defined as ensuring that students are prepared to meet the demands of higher education or a future career, then secondary schools are failing dismally. Without utilizing a critical analysis that would require us to unpack issues of systemic racism, class discrimination, gender gaps, and an increasing reliance on standardized tests, I would suggest that secondary schools, focus on cultivating long-term success or preparation for access, rather than short-term gains or giving access. What is really needed is a closer examination of the multi-faceted problem before we can come to a multi-faceted solution. "Giving" access only works short term. We must "prepare" our youth of color for this access. Youth of color should be paired with mentors who help them to navigate high school, college and a career. Mentoring is one of the most critical components, as mentoring relationships have the potential to aid in increased academic success as well as in the expansion of critical networks (Bruce & Bridgeland, 2014; Coles, 2011). High school courses should be rigorous and college focused, preparing youth for the critical reading, thinking and responding they will be required to do in college. These courses should also be making connections to the career world. Successful work in the area of linked learning has shown us the benefits of this (Almond, 2015). Youth of color need to connect with college students and professors who look like them in order to round out the existing narrative about who attends college. And, most importantly, youth of color need to engage in honest conversations about the challenges that come with being a person of color in predominately white and Asian

institutions, should they choose to attend one. We must also find a way of addressing those youth who may not want to attend college; the ongoing devaluation of trades and especially of the arts, is also pressing. Most importantly, if we are sincere in our efforts to increase the diversity of our higher education institutions, we must not do it by setting up our youth of color for failure, for while the numbers may appear positive, we will end up perpetuating the problems we say we mean to address. References ACT. (2013). The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013. Retrieved from http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/cccr13/pdf/CC CR13-NationalReadinessRpt.pdf Ahn, J. (2010). The Role of Social Network Locations in the College Access Mentoring of Urban Youth. Education and Urban Society. Almond, M. (2015). Linked learning: The next generation high school. Astin, A. W., & Oseguera, L. (2004). The declining“ equity” of American higher education. The Review of Higher Education, 27(3), 321–341. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/rhe/summary/v027/27.3asti n.html Aud, S., Hussar, W., Kena, G., & Bianco, K. (2011). The condition of education 2011. NCES 2011-033. … Center for Education …. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED520001\nhttp://files.eric.ed.gov/ fulltext/ED520001.pdf Bowers, A. J. (2011). What’s in a grade? The multidimensional nature of what teacher-assigned grades assess in high school. Educational Research and Evaluation. Bruce, M., & Bridgeland, J. (2014). The mentoring effect: young people’s perspectives on the outcomes and availability of mentoring. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/images/uploads/The Mentoring Effect_Executive Summary.pdf Coles, A. (2011). The role of mentoring in college access and success. Pathway to College Network, 1– 11. Duncan, A. (2015). Toward a new focus on outcomes in Continue on page 60


New Leader

Scott Nicol

Superintendent Ellington Public Schools


Dominic Barton’s WSJ Blog: Sadly, Writing Something Does Not Make It So By Karen Gross @KarenGrossEdu A recent expert blog post in the Wall Street Journal by Dominic Barton, the global managing director at McKinsey & Co., states emphatically that new research shows that “the most important factor” in enabling college success is that students are “malleable,” exemplified by their capacity to develop the right mind-set (“Blog”). It is this capacity for “improving” their mind-sets that, he states, allows students to overcome external factors like being first generation and low income. This conclusion is simply wrong. Would that the problem could be solved so facilely. Before turning to an explanation of why this position is at once incomplete and inaccurate, I need to explain why Mr. Barton’s views need to be taken so seriously and then refuted. First, his views will be believed for these three reasons: his position at McKinsey, the status; reputation of the well-known consulting firm he run; and the place where his views appear, namely the WSJ, a well-regarded and trusted source of information. Not everyone can call

himself (or herself) an “expert WSJ blogger.” Second, Mr. Barton is, by all accounts (and I do not know him), one smart person with outstanding judgment. His years of experience (not in education to be sure except as a student at excellent institutions in the UK and Canada) should have sent up thousands of red flags regarding his Blog. After all, he was just elected to a third term as McKinsey’s “global managing director,” a position you do not get unless you have remarkable acumen. Third, it’s a pretty bold statement to claim to have found “the most important factor” that accounts for why thousands upon thousands of students have failed in college, apparently based on one study McKinsey conducted at a “large Southern State university system” and several other seemingly randomly selected studies, which actually speak to different issues. Mr. Barton has to know about the risks of hyperbole in his business, something his firm likely sees and tries to correct in their clients. It strikes me that perhaps someone in McKinsey’s education division wrote the blog and up the chain it went.


Fourth, there are aspects of this piece that strike me as subtle “marketing” efforts to showcase the talents of McKinsey consultants and their capacity to aid colleges and universities in improving their student graduation rates. While the proffered McKinsey expertise referenced hinges on the one study they completed (rather than their in the trenches experiences which may indeed exist), the piece implies that an educational institution can move from theory (the study of the power of mind-sets) to practice (raised graduation rates) with relative ease and at low cost. Those of us who have been in the trenches at institutions with high Pell enrollment and first gen students know that change is neither easy nor cheap. Bottom line: Mr. Barton’s conclusion on a key social issue, namely educational success, will be treated as true by many readers. And, the timing of the piece exacerbates the situation because truth telling is a hot issue in politics with Presidential primaries looming. The many Presidential candidates are spewing forth positions as if they were accurate in debates and speeches and in writing. One is even offering medical advice and he isn’t a doctor to the best of my knowledge. Truth matters; exaggeration is tough to identify and then squash. We need to trust those in or seeking positions of power; they cannot be gas lighting. With the power of a bully pulpit, whether one is a CEO or a presidential candidate, comes enormous responsibility. Now, back to the Blog. The educational problem identified in the Blog is accurate. Sadly, many students who enter a two or four year college do not graduate. The Blog correctly observes that the failure to graduate is especially sizable for low-income first generation students, and much has been written about America’s unacceptable growing educational attainment gap. The Blog also notes, accurately, that as a nation, we need for an educated workforce; more and more jobs in the 21st century will require a minimum of a BA/BS degree. The Blog also states, rightly, that the problems of students are particularly acute in the first year; the adjustments to college are difficult for many students. But, here is where the piece goes off the proverbial rails:

The Blog conflates terminology. It suggests for starters that the essential ingredient of mind-sets is grit. Actually, within the academic literature, these terms have different origins and different meanings. The literature on “growth” mind-sets can be attributed, for starters, to Carol Dweck. The grit literature can be ascribed, for starters, to Angela Duckworth. Mind-sets, grit, resilience, perseverance, character, optimism are among the terms that are often conflated here and elsewhere, and each has been offered as a strategy to foster vulnerable student success across the entire K-20 educational pipeline. Their actual and perceived successes have been shown in different ways, including academic empirical studies. These traits/qualities all have this key similarity: the belief that they can be taught to students, although there is no consensus as to how they can be taught and by whom and when. Mind-sets and grit, as distinct terms, have not been resoundingly accepted as the panacea that the Blog suggests despite initial exuberant adoption. Angela Duckworth, the “mother” of grit, has recently co-authored a paper suggesting that we use real caution in viewing “grit” as the educational panacea; she noted data that undercut the power of grit. Note, too, that this new study is referenced in an NPR piece that sharply distinguishes mindsets from grit. A recent piece in Salon strongly criticized the mind-set theory. The study of an unnamed Southern state university system (I appreciate the maintenance of confidentiality since it is a client of McKinsey’s) referenced in the Blog is not described in any detail, and there are no citations to the study that I could find within or outside the blog. There are many unanswered questions about the empirical quality of this study and its findings. What students were subjects and what were their demographics? Was there a control group? Were there regression analyses? Was the institution public or private? For profit or non-profit? Was it


accredited and if so, by whom? Were there other interventions that came into being at about the same time as mind-sets were introduced at this institution? A new student life leader perhaps? A new Provost? New faculty? A new dorm? Were the admissions criteria stable? What percentage of the students were Pell eligible and what percentage were first generation? It is hard to give credence to a study when the data cannot be reviewed. Dominic Barton and his colleagues know this all too well. The other studies referenced in the Blog do not, ironically, relate to the development of mind-sets. The Middlesex Community College (and I assume the Southern State University system was not or did not contain a community college) study relates to nudges and information acquisition by students. Through the use of mobile platforms, this institution improved its outreach, and that effort to reduce information asymmetries improved retention. Graduation rates were not measured, although the Blog is overtly focused on graduation rates. The second study is at a “California college” that, too, is unnamed but is not identified as a McKinsey client; the proffered study involved the use of writings that reflected the views of senior student mentors and new students’ journaling their personal journey through college and paying it forward by messaging to future similarly situated students. Well, do you know how many colleges there are in California? Which one is this and what is the quality of the study and where are the results? But, most importantly, these studies are not about the efforts to “train” students to develop new mind-sets or grit. Instead, these studies are about third parties (the college or senior mentors) showing their

support of students; neither study is directed at shoring up student skills. I am not picking on Mr. Barton. His reputation is stellar. His firm has a global presence and is hired by many firms and has been hired by the US government too. That is why – that is precisely why – the Blog is so problematic. It professes to deliver the truth and it fails. We need to get more students to and through college. Whatever the value of mind-sets and grit, they will not do the trick alone. They are not even the primary factor. As the two other studies suggest, filling students with skills assumes the problem is the students themselves. The reliance on malleable students reminds me of Paulo Freire’s critique of education as banking where we deposit information into students and call that learning. The two referenced studies actually focus on how others, apart from the students in question, can show that they care and that they understand. I worry that if people focus on Mr. Barton’s cure for higher education, money, time and attention will be directed to the wrong place. But, on this point Mr. Barton and I agree: we are not forever wed to an educational achievement gap. As a matter of economics, social policy, morality and the health and well-being of our nation and its citizens, we need close the equity gap so that more and more individuals can successful complete affordable, quality postsecondary education. And yes, it can be accomplished. That is the truth. The Presence of the SEC in the AP continued from page 40

seasons, so they likely prefer you to laugh at the idea of a three-peat. With new Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom, they hope to reconstruct their defense after losing key players to injuries and the NFL. Quarterback Matty Mauk is under pressure to lead the offense while improving and refining his performance. Their schedule is not as tough in comparison to Georgia and Tennessee, so this could definitely give them the edge needed to clinch the East. However, after losses to both Alabama and Auburn in previous SEC title games, a return trip to Atlanta for the championship game would also increase the chances the West would be three-peat SEC Champions. Yuck. Continue on page 51


Book List About the Book: José Vilson writes about race, class, and education through stories from the classroom and researched essays. His rise from rookie math teacher to prominent teacher leader takes a twist when he takes on education reform through his now-blocked eponymous blog, TheJoseVilson.com. He calls for the reclaiming of the education profession while seeking social justice.

José Vilson @TheJLV is a middle school math educator for in the Inwood/Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. He writes for Edutopia, GOOD, andTransformED / Future of Teaching, and his work has appeared in Education Week, CNN.com, Huffington Post, and El Diario / La Prensa. José Luis Vilson is a math educator for a middle school in the Inwood / Washington Heights neighborhood of New York, NY. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in mathematics education from the City College of New York. He’s also a committed writer, activist, web designer, and father.


The Life of an Immersive Tech Teacher By Michelle Nimchuk @NimchukMichelle I am the Assistant Director of the Immersive Technology (IMT) program at Heritage Christian Online School (HCOS), which is an innovative, online, DL school in Kelowna, BC, Canada. The Immersive Tech program at HCOS encompasses the renowned Quest Atlantis game spearheaded by Dr. Sasha Barab of Indiana University (now of Arizona State University). The IMT program also incorporates DimensionU, Active World’s 3DU, Scribblar, Thinking Worlds, and various other simulations and games to round out our program offerings. I have been working with Gord Holden, the Director of the Immersive Technology team at HCOS, for the last four years. Our program began with the introduction of Quest Atlantis and several virtual worlds in Cybernet Worlds that were created and maintained by Scott Miller. In the first year of our program, we experimented with different formats of delivery before settling in on what we currently offer to our middle school students. In a typical work week as an online teacher with HCOS, I have the great fortune to be able to stay at home and homeschool my two teenagers and care for my two preschool-aged children. I take homeschooling my children seriously as I wish to raise them with a Christian worldview and train them up in the way they should go and in keeping with their individual gifts (Prov. 22:6 AMP). On top of my daily homeschooling agenda, a regular week in the Immersive Tech program has me preparing and delivering a weekly online meeting in Scribblar, a

virtual whiteboard or within Active World’s 3DU classroom world, Musgamagw. Trailer for the 3DU reboot of Quest Atlantis Quest Atlantis is the backbone to our IMT program and I monitor and supervise student questing in Quest Atlantis. I have my avatar present in the virtual world and offer assistance to students both in my school as well as to other students from around the globe. I regularly spend time providing timely and meaningful feedback to students who have submitted quest and mission responses ‘in world’. As the Assistant Director of the IMT program, I collaborate with the other immersive tech teachers in the program as well as with Scott Miller, our Active Worlds caretaker, who manages and maintains our virtual worlds. The Active World’s 3DU platform offers students and teachers virtual classroom space for the presentations, a staging ground for virtual fieldtrips, and provides access to virtual study carols where students can review previous class recordings. Beyond the virtual classroom space of Musgamagw in 3DU, IMT teachers, like myself, are versed to a degree in our 3D World Art program that has students working with Scott Miller and our HCOS art teacher, Ryan Titley, on learning to create 3D builds on individually assigned lots in the 3DU virtual world. On occasion, I may be seen creating in the 3D world and showing students how to build using the integrated building tools within Active Worlds. This year I am looking forward to visiting our newest immersive world Continue on page 51


Living Education Everyday


Parent Involvement the Primary Key to Student Success Dr. Stephen Jones @DrStephenJones School districts all over the country are suffering from a lack of parent participation. Could you imagine a day when fifty percent more parents show up for a parent’s night. Parent involvement can change an entire school system. I challenge parents who are reading this article to use their social networks to encourage friends of your family to show up at Parent’s Night. If more parents showed up it would let parents know what resources are needed and they could play a major role in helping schools to become better. Gone are the days when a mother stayed at home to raise children and participate in school activities. When a child’s parent is involved in their school it sends a message that they care. If a parent a parent is working they can send a relative or their own parent. Something needs to be done to make parent involvement in K12 schools a high priority. What the educators are saying about parent involvement is true. Parents who read to their children early develop children who enjoy reading. Children are like sponges absorbing new knowledge at a tremendous rate. Today parents are too concerned about keeping their children entertained. Parents are great role models for their children’s love for learning. If the majority of the parent’s time is spent in front of the television then it becomes their child’s main source of information and learning. In other words parents who

demonstrate a joy of reading instill it in their children. A student’s enthusiasm for learning should begin in the home then spreads to a child’s in school instruction. Here are a few tips: 

Parent Involvement – Make out a schedule will you or a relative will show up during the school year. There are plenty or resources that are only announced during a parent’s night. Also you are getting an opportunity to meet your student’s instructor to find out how they run their class. You will also uncover ways that you can get involved with at least one activity for the year. Encourage them to set goals for themselves – Children need to know that there is no limits to wait they can accomplish. Encourage your child and stay involved in helping your child to success. Failure is success – Help your child to understand that there is a lot that they can learn from each failure. Let them know that they will know to try something different the next time that they are pursuing a goal. Surround your child with positive role models – Get them involved in activities that promote leadership and determination. An optimistic child can learn that they should never give up. Expose your child to the world - Children need to know that there is more to the world than their immediate neighborhood. There are a lot of positive things that they can learn from others. Physical fitness and good health leads to optimism – A child who is physically healthy will have more energy and enthusiasm for life. A child who is eating write, physically fit and gets sufficient rest will be a very productive child. Get a Tutor – If your student needs help with their academic achievement level talk to their teacher about tutoring. The teacher may provide it or have a tutoring recommendation. If you ask you will find out that other parents are getting help for their


children. Some governors are saying we need more standardized tests to resolve the student achievement gap. Parent involvement is an alternative that costs fewer dollars to implement. The resources that are allocated for testing could be spent to increase the number of parent leaders who are in the schools. Some schools are finding ways to get parent’s involved in the daily activities of their schools. Parents who are involved can learn about instruction methods that other parents can use in the home. They are the catalyst to get parents who are not involved to volunteer for special projects. Parents sometimes reflect on the bad experiences that they had when they were in K12 schools. Student achievement can be raised when parents know that their active participation will make a difference in their child’s learning capacity. Some parents are looking at their child’s achievement level to see if there are any differences. They need to know more about the benefits of looking at the value of education from a different perspective. Some parents do not know what a good education looks like. School administrators and teachers must continually advocate for increased communication with parents. Parents need more information about how K12 education is changing. Most parents are not aware of the financial challenges that school systems are facing. Many schools are underfunded when compared to school districts within their own states. Parents can play a role in encouraging their local legislators to get involved in changing their states school funding formula. Parents should invite the legislators to visit schools and to witness so that they can witness the challenges that they are facing. It is easy to intact a policy that defunds schools when you make assumptions that money is getting wasted. Parents need to partner with schools in order to help with specific resources that their child’s school requires. The United States is steadily slipping in terms of its edge in graduating students from high schools, trade schools, and colleges. Starting a national campaign to help parents to understand their role in student achievement is a solution whose time has come. New and innovative organizations

are needed. These organizations must take into account the changing trends in family structures. Parents are looking for solutions to the achievement gap. The solution lays in a combination of community and K12 schools working toward alternative education activities which are easily implemented in the home. Some parents are raising the bar on their expectations for their student. They are often interested in identifying resources that will prepare their child for college. They participate in after school and weekend programs right along with their child. They sign up because of their belief that their program will serve as a link between high school and post-secondary education. Today is the day to get involved and make a difference in your local school. Parents are the key to a successful school and their child’s future career opportunities. Dr. Stephen Jones is and education advocate and an author of the Parent’s Ultimate Education Guide. Get your copy http://www.DrStephenJones . You can join his newsletter at http://bit.ly/1sVyCzs . The Presence of the SEC in the AP continued from page 46

Football in the South is more than just a past time. Take me as an example. Can you seriously imagine my stress on Saturdays? Oddly, I have been counting down the days until I get to wear multiple team colors. This conference is loaded with powerhouse teams and exciting matchups that I am most definitely looking forward to. Regardless of who ultimately wins the SEC East, West, and Conference titles, the SEC’s dominance in the AP poll should not be ignored. The depth and presence of the Southeastern Conference in the rankings has proven that, despite the playoff elimination last season and failure to claim the rights to the National Championship, we are indeed back with a vengeance. Immersive Tech Teacher continued from page 51

program, IMT French, which will be taught by a veteran French teacher, Alisha Hadley. Students in the IMT French program will be learning and contributing in oral and written French in our French Language World within 3DU. Students will be expected to tour and interact within a virtual 2km squared lot that is rich with French language content, French speaking non-playing characters (NPC) Continue on page 53


New Leader

Penny White Superintendent Medina Independent School District


Should School Busses Have Seatbelts? continued from page 36

Recently, NBC’s Jeff Rossen of the TODAY Show presented a live school bus crash at 30 mph using “student dummies”, and the results are startling , difficult, and disturbing to watch. You can check out the live crash and see just what happens inside the bus at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJvf8lfTTzU. Right now, only six states require school busses to have seat belts.3 Both Neil and Dede hope that all 50 states will get on board to require children to wear seatbelts, in order to keep our children safe.

Immersive Tech Teacher continued from page 51

and French speaking mentor students. After visiting our French Language World, I may choose to meet up with IMT students and play a virtual game of DimensionU. DimensionU is used in our IMT programs to assist us in meeting our core skills in English Language Arts such as, language conventions, parts of speech, reading process skills, vocabulary and writing processes. One of my favorite games in DimensionU has me trying to collect colored spheres in world and then running through a light beam to answer skill testing questions on literary topics, all the while trying to goop others with my goop soaker. All of these outstanding programs that I’ve mentioned are all blended into our comprehensive IMT courses which are organized within Moodle, a learning management system. Moodle allows us to combine our virtual world assignments with supplemental material and simulations pertaining to the BC learning outcomes for each grade level. Each of the teachers within the IMT program have learned how to create their Moodle courses from the ground up.

Our level of Moodle competence allows us to not only assess daily student work samples but we can also create and adapt course materials according to learning needs. The beauty of our DL homeschooling program is in being able to work in partnership with the students and their parents/caregivers. This triangular network composed of teacher-studentparent is very effective in delivering a learning environment in which students feel supported physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Parents come alongside the student and become a sounding board for student ideas and to proofread their child’s submissions so that the student learns quickly the responsibility and importance of submitting quality work. As a teacher in the IMT program, I have the opportunity to be in regular contact with the parents as well as with the students in the program. The student-teacher contact hours in our virtual worlds is high and our worlds are monitored and protected from outside contact therefore providing a safe environment for learning in immersive worlds. If you would like to learn more about our IMT program you can contact: Gord Holden gholden@onlineschool.ca Michelle Nimchuk mnimchuk@onlineschool.ca Check out our IMT blog: www.ImmersiveTechnology.EduBlogs.Org Check out the Kickstarter campaign to reboot Quest Atlantis: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/questatlantis/q uest-atlantis-rebooted


Forest Of The Productions Presents

Conversations in Fair Housing

Stella Adams @fairhsgstella

Robert Strupp @BNIMaryland1

Recent HUD ruling on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)

Zip Codes and Fair Housing Violations


Forest Of The Rain Productions Presents

Living Academic Research

Dr. Melanie M. Acosta

Dr. Shonta Smith

A Culture-Focused Study with Accomplished Black Educators on Pedagogical Excellence for African American Children

Principals’ and Teachers’ Perception of Principals’ Instructional Leadership


RETHINKING TEACHER QUALITY: DEMANDING PEDAGOGICAL EXCELLENCE Melanie M. Acosta, PhD macosta@bamaed.ua.edu Prior to my work in higher education, I was a classroom teacher serving African American children in an economically marginalized community. I was also a mentor teacher to student teachers from the local university. One year I served as a mentor to a young, white female student named Hailey,1 who was very diligent,

hardworking and committed. We hit it off easily and developed a positive working relationship. We observed each other’s teaching and gave constructive feedback. We planned lessons together and Hailey had numerous opportunities to teach under my careful supervision. Our third graders excelled in so many ways and so did she. I do not share this to boast about my abilities as a mentor teacher (because I made many mistakes), but to merely describe the environment in which Hailey was situated. She did so well as an intern that when she graduated she was offered a teaching position with same group of students she worked with in my classroom as an intern. As she taught her first year, we talked a lot. She shared how things were going in the classroom and provided me with updates about the children. Mostly though, she vented her frustration about the fact that the students’ behavior was so different and pleaded for my advice on how to get the students to behave the way they had just a few months before as third graders. I listened intently and responded with what I thought were sure fire tips and strategies to improve the situation for her. These were the same techniques I had used with these same students with great success. Unfortunately nothing I suggested worked, and we were both clueless as to why this was. The more Hailey questioned, the less I could explain. My only recourse was to help her brainstorm more strategies and write more lesson plans that might work with our students. Hailey finished out the year as best she could, but moved to a different school the next school year and is still teaching now. Last summer Hailey sent me a text message sharing that she was awarded Teacher of the Year at her school, and she thanked me. She said my way of teaching influenced her as a teacher in more ways than I’ll ever know. I was excited and moved by her accolades. Yet, it is precisely “these ways of teaching that I’ll never know” that hold the key to improving the quality of teaching for all children, particularly children pervasively underserved in formal schooling environments. Pedagogical Excellence: A Framework For Understanding Teacher Quality As I worked with Hailey I never believed for a

moment that she was not capable of enacting the same kind of pedagogy I demonstrated in the classroom. But she, and I, needed more. What was missing was an explicit unpacking, on my part, of the sociological underpinnings of the teaching that appeared simple in observation. We both needed to be able to connect pedagogy to larger cultural, social, and political tenets in order for me to move fluidly between theory and practice, and in order for her to understand the scope of the critical elements needed to successfully teach our brilliant African American third and fourth graders. What we needed was a framework for pedagogical excellence. “Pedagogical excellence represents an intentional attempt to crystallize, or bind together the research that outlines the features of effective teaching for African American children by making connections between the ideological premises that often undergirds these teaching approaches” (Acosta, 2015 p. 62). This is important because it provides a way to think about the symbiotic nature of the cultural, political, and historical factors that


the quality of instruction of African American learners. However, this is a key indicator missing from many discussions about teacher quality. For example, according to United States Department of Education a highly qualified teacher is one who has a bachelor's degree, has full state certification or licensure, and can prove that they know each subject they teach by passing a subject area exam. This set of criteria encourages k-12 schools, policymakers and teacher education programs to privilege content expertise and colorblindness over pedagogy and social context in educator preparation despite the importance of situated pedagogy on teaching and learning. This approach has resulted in the cultivation of a generation of teachers who have graduated from preparation programs, achieved national teaching certification yet are unprepared to meet the educational needs of African American children, a reality that implicates us all in the persistence of racebased disparities in achievement. Pedagogical excellence emphasizes the sociological influences on teacher quality, which includes cultural, historical, and political considerations. In other words, it is a way of thinking about effective teaching as intricately connected to the world we live in. It rejects the assumption that teaching is neutral work and that teachers have little impact on or responsibility for improving society. Instead, pedagogical excellence encapsulates the nature of teacher quality within a justice-oriented mission that positions teachers as essential agents of change, and it is this sociological connectedness that provides the foundation for effective teachers’ enactment of instructional practices that promote student success (Acosta, 2015). Pedagogical excellence builds on three theoretical frameworks that describe effective pedagogy for African American children. These frameworks include culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1994), effective Black educators (Foster, 1994, 1997), and African American schooling prior to the end of legalized public school segregation on the basis of skin color (Siddle-Walker, 1996, 2000). I have used these frameworks to illuminate key facets of pedagogical excellence such as its political bounds, cultural tenants and historical connections (Acosta, 2015). Though these frameworks have been conceptualized separately, there is a high degree of overlap and fluidity between each such that it is difficult to distinguish between them. Rather than separate

them, however, it may be more promising to analyze their connections to each toward a larger vision of teacher quality. I must note that pedagogical excellence does not seek to replace the existing interpretive frameworks. These works have been pivotal in shifting the thinking about improving African American education from a deficit perspective, which locates the source of academic failure within the child, family, and community; to an effective teaching paradigm, which posits that improving the quality of instruction can mitigate systemic challenges that impose on student academic achievement. What the concept of pedagogical excellence does is re-emphasize the assumptions, beliefs and values that orchestrate the harmony between each framework and that make each framework effective. “If I Had The Chance…” New Directions In Thinking About Teacher Quality If I could go back to my days as a mentor teacher to Hailey I would approach her professional development from an “inside-out” perspective. That is, my mentorship would begin with a serious interrogation my perspectives in ways that rendered visible the cultural, political, historical, and economic influences on my teaching. I would have made my critical race perspectives apparent and available for analysis and dialogue. I would have Hailey interrogate her own identity and positionality to help her begin to conceptually dismantle the “common-sense” assumptions about African American children, families, and communities rooted in ethnocentric hegemony and racism. I would have linked my teaching beliefs in connectedness, holistic curriculum, and real world problem solving to larger African and African American cultural formations to help Hailey understand the essence of relevance in teaching beyond the incorporation of rap songs, multicultural literature, and technology into lessons and activities. In other words, I would not have taken for granted that the culturespecific knowledge I have is universally accepted and understood, especially as it relates to the sociopolitical status of African American people. When the sociological influences on good teaching lie buried underneath strategies and curriculum, it allows teachers to remain dysconscious (King, 1991). Dysconsciouness represents an uncritical way of thinking about teaching and learning in our diverse world and stifles teachers’ ability to teach in ways that promote excellence for


African American children. The framework of pedagogical excellence begins to address this problem by speaking back to the overwhelming emphasis on instructional strategies, pacing guides, and universal curricula as a panacea for improving teacher quality, which implies that teachers are irrelevant to student learning and that teaching is a technical, objective enterprise. Indeed, pedagogical excellence reaffirms the fact that there is no mystery to successfully teaching African American children and that we need not consume ourselves with curriculum reform as if African American children require instruction and interaction outside of what all human children need to be successful (Hilliard, 2003). Instead, the framework of pedagogical excellence demands the educational community to link teacher quality to the very human struggle for justice and self-defined existence. Thinking about teacher quality within this frame can help develop teachers with the commitment and capacity to promote educational excellence for countless African American children. References 1

Name has been changed

Acosta, M. (2015). Quality of implementation as the “IT� factor in preparing teachers of African American children. African American Learners Journal, 4(1). Foster, M. (1997). Black teachers on teaching. New York: The New Press. Foster, M. (1994). Effective black teachers: A literature review. In E.R. Hollins, J.E. King. & W.C. Hayman (Eds.), Teaching diverse populations: Formulating a knowledge base (pp. 225-242). New York: SUNY Press. Hilliard, A. G. (2003). No mystery: Closing the achievement gap between Africans and excellence. In T. Perry, C. Steele, & A. Hilliard (Eds.), Young, gifted, and black: Promoting high achievement among African American students (pp.131165). Boston, MA: Beacon Press. King, J. E.( 1991). Dysconscious racism: Ideology, identity, and the miseducation of teachers. Journal of Negro Education, 60(2), 133-146. Siddle-Walker, V. (2000). Valued segregated schools for African American children in the South, 1935-1969: A review of common themes and characteristics. Review of Educational Research, 70(3), 253-285. Siddle -Walker, V. (1996). Their highest potential: An African

American school community in the segregated south. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.


Living Education Everyday


How Secondary Schools are Failing Students of Color continued from page 42

higher education. Retrieved January 1, 2015, from http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/toward-new-focusoutcomes-higher-education Engle, J. (2007). Postsecondary access and success for first-generation college students. American Academic, 25–48. Retrieved from http://dbweb01.aft.org/pdfs/highered/academic/january0 7/Engle.pdf Fact sheet - White house unveils America’s college promise proposal: tuition-free community college for responsible students. (2015). Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-pressoffice/2015/01/09/fact-sheet-white-house-unveilsamerica-s-college-promise-proposal-tuitio Harper, S. R., Ph, D., Patton, L. D., & Wooden, O. S. (2009). Access and equity for African American students in higher education: A critical race historical analysis of policy efforts. The Journal of Higher Education, 80(4), 389–414. http://doi.org/10.1353/jhe.0.0052 Hickman, G. P., Bartholomew, M., Mathwig, J., & Heinrich, R. S. (2008). Differential developmental pathways of high school dropouts and graduates. The Journal of Educational Research. Summers, J. (2014). Nation’s report card shows stagnant scores for reading, math. Retrieved January 1, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwoway/2014/05/06/310181788/nations-report-card-showsstagnant-scores-for-reading-math The condition of college and career readiness 2014: African American students. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2014/states/pdf/Afric anAmerican.pdf The crisis and economic potential in America’s Education system. (2013). Retrieved January 1, 2015, from http://impact.all4ed.org/#crisis/college-gradrates/united-states/ Tyler, J. H., & Lofstrom, M. (2009). Finishing high school: Alternative pathways and dropout recovery. Future of Children. White House. (2014). My Brothers Keeper Initiative. Retrieved August 6, 2015, from http://www.mentoring.org/my_brothers_keeper

Do something healthy for your child. Get to know his teacher today.


Educational Twitters We Think You Should Know

Dr. Stephen Jones @DrStephenJones K12 Trainer and Consultant, education expert, Author, Howard University alumnus. Contributor to:#satchat #edchat #education #quote

Shelly Sanchez @ShellTerrell Teacher The 30 Goals Challenge author #30goalsEDU, NAPW Woman of the Year, and #Edchat Founder

Dr. Susan Gardner @PhDSus Assistant Dean @UCSOP @UCWV


Kris Giere @Kris Giere Learner, Teacher, Skeptic. Full of passion & compassion.

Dr. Andie P. Marwah @Pdove72 Education Reform, Sciences, Multiple Intelligences. Published Author, Arts Advocate and Agent for Social Justice and Racial Equality.

Dr. Rosa Perez-Isiah @RosaIsiah Principal, Doctoral Grad, Ed Leader for Equity & Social Justice. Passionate about learning, leading, serving.


What is Your Definition of Parental & Family Engagement

?

Living Education asked 43 Educators to share their definition of parental/family engagement. Below are a few of their thoughts. To read more click here! Parental Engagement: Understanding your role in the physical/social/psychological/emotional development of your child, then using that understanding to be the best protector, guide, mentor, life coach you can be. The trickiest part of the job occurs during adolescence (and the ramp up to, AKA, the tween years). As your child light-speeds toward young adulthood, your level of parental engagement must, by necessity change. Of course, keeping our children safe is Job#1, but safeguarding a tween and/or teen isn’t the same as watching over a 4 year old. Tweens and teens need many occasions to roam free and use their own judgment. Of course they

will make mistakes and those mistakes (with your compassionate guidance) will become golden opportunities for them to learn manage emotions, situations, and relationships effectively and responsibly. (Annie Fox) Parental Engagement: Can mean different things to different people depending on their stake in the experience. As a parent, I see engagement as my awareness of what is happening in my son's life and my ability to be accountable for my contribution to his successes and/or shortcomings. As a teacher, I see engagement from parents as a vital component of my students' cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development throughout their experiences in our teaching and learning environment. Without parents being involved in what happens in our classroom, my students often question the purpose of what they are doing and why. Their parents help to bring an authentic audience into the fold thus providing another dimension of parental involvement for yet the most important stakeholders in the experience-the children! (Kathryn Suk) Parent/Family Engagement: Should mean that family members have regular, face-to-face exchanges with each other, to talk about what's going on in their individual lives, as well as to gauge how the family can stay connected. Phone calls and text messages are fine, but nothing compares to looking into your kids' eyes and actually seeing how they're feeling when responding to questions or statements. And, as old fashioned as it may sound, getting a card (even in the mail) from a family member, "just because," say "I care about you/I'm thinking of you" in ways no text message could ever do. Interpersonal relations with parents & children and among adults in a family should be just that...PERSONAL! (Nancy Campbell)


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Living Education eMagazine 2015 Fall Edition (Vol. XIV)  

Living Education eMagazine is a magazine that discusses education in our everyday lives.

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