PEN May 2018

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The Quarterly Journal of The Progressive Education Network

Spring 2018

EDUCATION MUST... amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world.

EDUCATION MUST... encourage the active


participation of students in their

Amplifying Student Voices On A

learning, in their communities,

Day of Action


NIPEN 5.0 at Wildwood School


and in the world.

EDUCATION MUST... respond to the developmental needs of students, and focus on their social, emotional, intellectual, cognitive, cultural,

Perspectives: Anatomy Fiction Self-Portraits 6 Progressive Professional Development: Making Justice-Oriented Education Possible 8

and physical development.

Imaginative Inquiry Adventure


WANTED: More Than A Few Good Men

honor and nurture students’

Tackling the Gender Divide in Early

natural curiosity and innate

Childhood Education


Excerpt from Blog VII


PEN Board of Directors


2019 PEN National Conference


Support PEN!


Submissions for Future Issues of PEN



desire to learn, fostering internal motivation and the discovery of passion and purpose.

EDUCATION MUST... emerge from the interests, experiences, goals, and needs of diverse constituents, fostering empathy, communication and collaboration across difference. EDUCATION MUST... foster respectfully collaborative and critical relationships

ON OUR COVER: a selection of NIPEN 5/0 participant projects (Call to Action made visible; Words to live by at Mission Hill School, one of our PEN Partners and host of the 2017 National Conference)

between students, educators, parents/guardians, and the community.


Newsletter Design by Julie Winsberg

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2018

Education must amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world

GREETINGS FROM THE PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION NETWORK! I am honored and excited to share this new issue of the PEN Journal with you. In it you will find a few new recurring features, which reflect some of our key interests for PEN as a board. We hope this journal is something our members look forward to, inspires new ideas in your work, and connects you to others with common beliefs. As board members, we are proud to be “progressive educators,” yet we wondered if it was important to have a clear definition of “progressive education.” It feels antithetical to narrowly define something which seeks to be expansive, so we instead have chosen to feature a different voice each issue answering the question “What is Progressive Education?” We invite you to think expansively with us, and to find the common themes in all of our definings. We also want to celebrate our six Educational Principles. We invited you to submit content for this issue around one principle: Education must amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world. These principles, to me, are wonderful and inspiring on paper, but the words pale in comparison to how they live out in many schools each day. Let’s push ourselves, each quarter, to delve into a principle and share how we are breathing life into them… are we truly amplifying students’ voice, or simply teaching them to parrot our own? What does it mean to amplify student conscience? What does it mean to amplify student intellect? And how do we ensure that this amplification actually creates a more equitable, just, and sustainable world? I invite you all to engage in a deeper dialogue surrounding one principle each quarter in these pages. To that end, we will focus on one principle for two issues in a row, allowing our community to push and respond to each other. We want to regularly feature the voices of teachers and students, and allow our community to benefit from sharing practices, inspiring moments, and images from our partner schools. We are grateful to our colleagues for sharing their work in this issue. As a new board member, I am honored to join this family and look forward to being an active member of this community.

Sunny Pai,

on behalf of the PEN Board

Spring 2018 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 3

Amplifying Student Voices On A Day of Action — by Kendra Sibley We Are Bronx Community: As part of our annual Day of Action on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we invited students and their families to make stencils proclaiming who they are and who we are as a community. Our students worked side-by-side with their family members to create proud messages in Spanish and English about their identities, blocking, inking, and printing them in bold colors. Inspired by the students, many staff members joined in as well. Now the posters hang in our lobby windows, letting everyone know the richness of who we are. About the Contributor: Kendra Sibley is an Art Teacher at Bronx Community Charter School Learn more about BCS at:

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2018

NIPEN 5.0 @ Wildwood School

Standing, from Left: Kate Kerrane, Katrina Pommerening, Rick Yee, Jill Hughes, Jumi Nathan, Melissa Wimer, Tracy Aiden, Andrew Williams, Jumi Nathan, Susan Kitson, Sunni Kitson, Patrick Gall, Anne Carroll, Xi Song, Sarah Simon, Sarah Beebe, Sarah Barlow On the Climber, from Left: Michael Simzak, Melissa Nocero, Molly Mansfield, Melissa Casorio , Lorraine Chao, Andrew Stephens, Alicia Mommer

The National Institute of PEN launched its fifth cohort (NIPEN 5.0) this January. Hosted at The Wildwood School, a PEN partner, 24 educators from across the nation gathered for three days immersed in progressive education history and pedagogy, observing practice in action in classrooms across all grade levels at both Wildwood campuses. We are especially grateful to Steve Barrett for hosting us, and to all of the Wildwood faculty who welcomed us into their classroom communities. A unique, cohort-based progressive professional learning opportunity, NIPEN seeks to achieve the following with our colleagues: 1. Increase participants’ knowledge about progressive education (historical context, ideals, and pedagogy), and 2. Embolden participants to be able to contribute to the mission of Progressive Education in their school setting and at-large. Led by co-directors and PEN Board members Chris Collaros and Theresa Collins, the cohort will gather for the second half of the workshop in late April at partner school Francis W. Parker in Chicago.

Spring 2018 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 5

Perspectives: Anatomy Fiction Self-Portraits —by Celia Cruz Inspired by the workshops of artist Yuki Okumura, we asked our first and second grade students to reflect on how we can express our inner selves as opposed to our “outside” appearance. We traced each other’s upper bodies and depicted our identity, imagination, stories, and perspectives beyond our structural anatomy through drawing and painting with acrylic colors. Descriptions of the self-portraits are expressed in each child’s artist statement. When we share our reflections, we can begin to understand and appreciate the multiplicity of perspectives. One of our guiding questions this year is “How does it feel to see something from another person’s lens?” Here are a few photos and artist statements:

Making Art “So I really like making... well, drawing little critter houses and so that’s what I did, and I really like making art and so I drew a painting; and I love small drawings of small ponds so I put a pond in my head. Critter houses. I like building little, interesting and detailed critter houses, so I like make little floors and make sure all the things in the houses are made with materials from forests or where ever that creature lives. So in my body I was doing those things on the tops of trees and carved into cliffs. The paths in pencil are so people can get from place to place and do different things. I really like dragons. I drew a dragon in pencil, and I like that the dragon is covered with paint.” 6

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2018

“When I was being traced it felt weird because the side of the oil pastel was scraping the side of my body. The paints felt good because it was like magic. All of a sudden there was color!” “I was thinking there was a river that goes to a pond. And there would be a doorway to my brain and to my heart and to my lungs. Then, in my brain, I have a guy on a computer because you think with your brain. You get to think about math...and writing...a lot of things. The food, after I eat, goes down, and there’s food that goes into the pond, kind of little fishies. There’s a pathway to my brain, lungs, and heart.”


Creativity “After I watched the movie “Leap,” I really got into dancing. There’s a statue on the top of the building in my painting that represents ballet. I liked red because it was made into swirls that make me feel like I was dancing. The yellow shows that I’m happy. The pink is my blood and also waves. When there’s a big wave, I’m happy; when there’s a small wave, I’m sad. “I wanted to make something with lots of people because I like to have a world inside my body. I wanted to make a bridge. It’s rickety and tiny. Life is sometimes hard like that bridge. The violin player leads to the sketch pad that leads to the elevator box, and that leads to the gigantic mouth and eyeball.” About the Contributor: Celia Cruz is a first/second grade teacher at The Miquon School, in Conshohocken, PA. She can be reached at Spring 2018 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 7

Progressive Professional Development: Making Justice-Oriented Education Possible Mollie Gambone shared with us an article that she recently published, titled, “Teaching the Possible: Justice-Oriented Professional Development for Progressive Educators,” and it appears in the most recent volume of the Brock Education Journal. This article is an offshoot of Mollie’s dissertation research, which was a qualitative study (a year-long ethnography) of teachers at a progressive high school. Ms. Gambone observed and interviewed the educators to better understand how they collaborate to provide equitable, differentiated, culturally relevant curricula for their diverse students. As Dr. Gambone writes in this compelling analysis. “Historically, encouraging young people to analyze, critique, and work to fix enduring issues of social injustice has been one of the most compelling and contested aspirations underpinning progressive education (Bruce & Eryaman, 2015; Counts, 1932; Cremin, 1961; Dewey, 1916/2008; Kliebard, 1995; Westheimer & Kahne, 2004). Currently, in the United States, the effects of divisive political tension, the inequity inherent in standardized testing, and the rise of common curricula that fail to recognize the contextual differences between individual schools give renewed urgency to developing curricula that encourage teachers and students to think critically about meaningful ways to address inequity in both education and society. (Billings, 1995; Milner, 2012). One way of addressing this issue is through focused and effective teacher professional development.” (Brock Education Journal, vol 27, no 1, p. 53) As part of her research, Mollie attended the PEN 2015 National Conference in New York. While she listened to speakers and participated in sessions, she became interested in how the conference was serving as professional development for the teachers who attended, particularly the way the sessions were designed mainly by teachers for teachers. The level of interest, interaction, and conversation that she experienced as a participant was so energizing that she decided to analyze the workshops and write a peer reviewed article about it. In the abstract for the article, Gambone explains that providing justice-oriented professional development for progressive educators has historically been a site of tension. To address this, PEN brought together over 800 educators for its 2015 National Conference, titled “Teaching the Possible: Access, Equity, and Activism!” The article documents PEN’s framework for facilitating an opportunity for educators to engage in dialogue about areas of social injustice throughout education and within their own schools.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2018

Gambone analyzed the workshop abstracts published in the conference program and found that the conference provided professional development in three areas: 1. workshops were designed by teachers to share useful methodologies relevant to the conference theme with other teachers 2. workshops encouraged attendees to critically examine how problematic issues in education are commonly understood, then reframe them to consider the issues from different perspectives 3. doing so gave rise to an understanding that in order to imagine innovative solutions to systemic problems, one must first be able understand how different groups of individuals experience the problems Her findings indicate that by aligning the conference with a critical, justice-oriented theme, the workshops were designed to provide attendees with opportunities to investigate their own roles in producing, changing, and interpreting socially-just learning and teaching in their own school contexts. In doing so, workshop presenters advanced the study of equitable access to progressive pedagogy, while at the same time their practices adhered to a proven framework for providing effective professional development for teachers. To read the full article, please go to: About the Contributor: Mollie Gambone is a researcher at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA., where she studies urban, progressive education.

Join us for an Imaginative Inquiry adventure this summer! JULY 30 - AUGUST 2, 2018 in NEW YORK CITY Registration Open! Spring 2018 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 9

WANTED: More Than A Few Good Men Tackling the Gender Divide in Early Childhood Education —by Jay Underwood, Head of School, High Meadows School, Roswell, GA Mrs. Tartak, my beloved kindergarten teacher, was kind, nurturing, and patient — three qualities of a great early childhood education instructor. She was the first of many female teachers who shepherded me through my beginning years of academic and social development. The first “Mr.” I had taught seventh grade history. My experience is hardly unusual. According to the Department of Education, about 20% of teachers in elementary school are men, which is a slight increase from previous years, but still decidedly low. Why is this? The common belief is one that has dogged the profession forever—that teaching young children brings less prestige and lower pay than traditionally male-dominated careers like engineering and IT. Additionally, society has conditioned many to believe teaching young children is a woman’s job, based on the fallacy that only women can instinctively understand them and nurture them. Unfortunately, this misperception, and the stigma that comes with it, has led to a dearth of men teaching in lower grades. Boys learn differently than girls, so the daily interaction of an inspiring male teacher in their learning environment can help them connect better both with their instructor and with the material being taught. Girls also benefit from male teachers by experiencing different styles of teaching that might resonate more, and in learning how to interact positively with encouraging male role models. Conversations about gender abound, and those who challenge gender stereotypes and enable young minds to ignore gender barriers are essential to the future of our profession and our society. So, what do we do about it? WHAT EDUCATION LEADERS CAN DO • At the highest level, our education-focused organizations should be actively recruiting the best candidates, and that should include appealing to men specifically. • Start earlier with education recruitment in high school and in beginning of college counseling, noting the 10

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2018

intellectual rigor of teaching young children and the opportunity to do meaningful work. Offer internship programs in preschool settings to spark interest. • Work to increase average salaries for teachers in all school settings. Money can’t be a solution unless it’s a solution for everybody, men and women, in all grades and specializations. • Demonstrate the need for male teachers: Male high school and master’s level graduation rates are far lower than female rates and dropping, in part due to the gender disparity in their teacher role models. • Highlight the impact that early childhood teachers have on the development of young minds, positioning teachers in this field as true researchers who apply child psychology principles to position students for lifetime success. • Show the non-tangible benefits of an educator’s life, which are especially appealing to younger generations who rebel against long hours and commitment to one job indefinitely. With preschool schedules allowing summers off and shorter school day hours, side projects and pursuits are possible. • Develop fellowships and summer study programs for early childhood educators to add appeal and demonstrate the importance of investing in educators at this level. WHAT TO DO AT THE SCHOOL LEVEL • Normalize the presence of men with young children participating in learning activities together. Do your training materials, hallway posters, and newsletter photos all feature female educators or helpers? It’s time to revisit the images you’re presenting to your school community. • Hire more male staff members and recruit more male volunteers. Deliberately seek male parents, college students, scouts and seniors to assist with on campus projects when appropriate. • Share articles and updates on the importance of diversity among educators and impact on young children’s development. Dispel gender “norms” by focusing on the importance of both men and women in taking care of and teaching young children. • Create compensation opportunities beyond the teaching salary, like tutoring, coaching, chaperoning, etc. Consider offering signing bonuses, tuition reimbursement, continuing education stipends and relocation allowances for new hires, like other industries do. We now know that the early childhood years are the foundation for lifelong learning and socialization patterns. As educators, we owe it to our children to create environments that enable both girls and boys to succeed and have mentors with whom they can identify, connect with and emulate. Concerted efforts on the part of our national education organizations and at the school level can eradicate gender barriers in early childhood education and bring more men into the field. The results will benefit all teachers and students. About the Contributor: Jay Underwood has led the vision and mission of High Meadows in his role as Head of School since 2010. A principled leader in our professional, institutional and educational progress, Jay works closely with the board of trustees to define and uphold the high standards and ethical behavior in all areas of school operations. He is equally comfortable on the playground and the boardroom, and is often seen joining students in active learning and educational play around the High Meadows campus. About the School: High Meadows School is a PEN Partner School and a host of the 2016 National Institute of PEN. Learn more about High Meadows here: Spring 2018 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 11

Excerpt from Blog VII —by Melinda Tsapatsaris Last month, a board member at my school sent me an Atlantic article: Bryan Caplan’s “The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone.” This article and its connections to progressive education continue to preoccupy me a bit. Reading Professor Caplan’s article through the lens of progressive education alters his claims. My y own school’s public culminations that students do at the end of each of their units serve as evidence. In the last two months, as head of school at Westland, I observed: • A third-grade student beaming with pride sharing that she is the only student in Westland’s history who has ever studied the country of Tonga in the Country/Geography Study. She shared her personal artifacts from her mother’s family and shared the highlights of her research and knowledge. I told her she was an expert. She nodded and gave me a knowing smile. • As part of their City Study, second-grade students hosted third and fourth-grade students to answer their questions regarding the recently erected simulated block city. The second-graders extemporaneously answered their questions, explaining their learning and research process


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2018

(which included several field trips), and described next steps of their study—discussing issues ranging from local government to waste management to taxes to voting. The second graders were teaching their older peers. • Approaching the fourth and fifth-grade’s recent culmination on Southern California’s original people, the Chumash, I came upon this public display of learning and sharing. A scene of excitement, anticipation, and clear preparation as the students put on an original play, which included dance, research, and performance. • One of our teachers Dalida, who was born and raised in Istanbul, visited our fifth and sixthgrade classroom at the peak of their culmination. Upon entering, she took in the murals, all the colors, and the fragrance of the “Golden Age of Islam” culmination. She told the teachers, “This made me feel like I was back home at the Grand Bazaar!” Dalida later reflected: “It is quite extraordinary for a group of kids who live on the other side of the world to create an atmosphere like that. In time you do forget the things you’ve learned at school, but you never forget the way certain things/places made you feel… I’m sure that they’re going to remember this Culmination.” • The older students on our campus visited the kindergarteners’ Fire Station Re-creation several weeks ago. Upon reflecting, they remembered their exact committee, how they built their section, and their own conversations with the visiting captain. Their recall and level of detail was stunning. • Watching all last week the 1st graders cook homemade dishes (Wontons! Homemade lavender ice cream!) for their upcoming Restaurant Culmination with their teachers and volunteer parents. I wondered if the children knew how much math they were doing as I eavesdropped. My inner-nerdy-rebel-self thinks to herself, “Take that, Professor Caplan!” Beyond my “mesearch,” the actual research, like Jay McTighe’s article in Education Leadership, “Three Key Questions on Measuring Learning,” shows that progressive education makes learning last. I sincerely try not come across as preachy-preachy or sales-pitchy in regards to progressive education. But, gosh, I can’t help but to express my feisty pride at the value of a progressive education - students at progressive schools like Westland learn by doing, by teaching, and by reflecting constantly. And I’m confident they will do so for the rest of their lives. They know how to know. As such, the title of my article for The Atlantic would be: “The World Might Be Better Off With Progressive Education For Everyone.” About the Contributor: Melinda Tsapatsaris is head of school at the Westland School, a progressive elementary school in Los Angeles. Twitter: @mtsapatsaris You can read this full length blog post here:

Spring 2018 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 13

Meet the PEN Board of Directors

The current PEN Board of Directors (clockwise, from left) Sung-Joon (Sunny) Pai, Theresa Collins, Dan Schwartz, Sven Carlsson, Kavan Yee, Chris Collaros, Chris Thinnes, Ayla Gavins, Heather Schilling Contact:


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2018

Save the Date!

2019 PEN National Conference Minneapolis/St. Paul October 3-5, 2019 Join us in the Twin Cities. Stay tuned for more information!

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Thank You! Spring 2018 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 15

Education must amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world

SUBMISSIONS FOR FUTURE ISSUES OF PEN: The Journal of the Progressive Education Network We are particularly interested in curating pieces that explore, illustrate, or critically interrogate the mission, vision, and/or educational principles of The Progressive Education Network that inspire our collective work. In the Summer 2018 issue, we will continue to foreground the first of our Educational Principles: Education must amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world Beginning in the Fall of 2018, we intend to include a regular series of features in the journal including: “PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE” Featured articles engaging each of The Progressive Education Network’s Educational Principles “REFRAMING THE PROGRESSIVE PANTHEON” Archival material and/or critical essays foregrounding the contributions of progressive educators and theorists of color to progressive education “CONTEMPORARY CONTRIBUTIONS” Featured pieces that foreground the contributions of an influential, contemporary progressive educator and explore her/his contemporary practice “WHAT PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION MEANS TO ME.” Short essays from students and from classroom-based educators articulating personal commitments and/or experiences (~500 words) “PRINCIPLES IN ACTION” High-resolution photos from your work in schools, accompanied by extended captions (~100 words). The deadline for submissions for the Summer issue is Monday, June 11th. Please provide written submissions as word.doc files. Please upload high-resolution images to Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box, and share a link with us. Please direct all submissions to 16

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2018

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