The Peripatetically Published Journal of the Progressive Education Network - Spring 2021

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The Peripatetically Published Journal of The Progressive Education Network

Spring 2021

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 learning, in their communities, and in the world.

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

EDUCATION MUST... honor and nurture students’ natural curiosity and innate desire to learn, fostering internal motivation and the discovery of passion and purpose.


IN THIS ISSUE Greetings from PEN


A Statement from the Board of Directors


2021 Kickoff Events


Call for Committee Members


Reflections on E-Learning During Covid-19


Creativity-At-Home: Resource Brochure


Citizens — Not Spectators


Learning & Teaching During a Pandemic


Progressive Changes — 1967-1977


Tips for Virtual Teacher Professional Learning


Fostering Collaboration: A Book Club on Zoom


A is for Activism: Tracy Aiden


Support PEN


Submissions for Future Issues


emerge from the interests, experiences, goals, and needs


of diverse constituents, fostering

Images from the University of Chicago Lab School and Blue Oak School in Napa, California.

empathy, communication and collaboration across difference. EDUCATION MUST... foster respectfully collaborative and critical relationships

Newsletter Design by Julie Winsberg

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


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

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

Hello to our dear PEN community! There was a time when this journal was called a “quarterly” journal. Many of you may already know that we are a volunteer board, and the PEN network does not have any full-time staff. And while we all love PEN, we all have full-time jobs that pull us in different directions. So when someone jokingly suggested renaming this as “peripatetically published,” we laughed and felt it gave us all a little flexibility. And then pandemic life lasted longer and has required us to be more flexible than we ever could have imagined. We assembled this issue back in the beginning of summer 2020, with an eye towards publishing it in the fall as we all returned to school. What a complicated return this has been! Not only have we adapted to unprecedented public health protocols, but we’ve also been challenged to help our young people process a particularly challenging period for American democracy. We have seen continued anti-Black racism, and an intense rise in hate crimes towards Asian-Americans. As educators, we have learned so many lessons in the last six months - hopefully the most important are about cherishing relationships, checking on each other often, checking on ourselves often, and finding ways to find joy and connection amidst the anxiety, frustration, and grief. We deeply value maintaining this network and are grateful to have the opportunity to finally share these pieces with you. We hope you’ve already seen our board statement from last July on page 4, and we will be taking new actions this April based on your suggestions from our community conversations last August. You will read pieces sent by educators from the Wolcott School (Chicago), University of Chicago Laboratory School, Wickliffe Progressive School (Upper Arlington, OH), Depp Elementary (Dublin, OH), Britton-Norwich Learning Campus (Hilliard, OH), and Montana State University - all of whom are grappling with continuing to honor progressive teaching principles while navigating this new world of pandemic learning. We also share about a recently published book documenting some history of the progressive movement, which we are committed to continue to explore. As we continue to look forward to a time where we achieve new milestones towards normalcy, we hope we can together think about how we want to reshape and reframe learning, using lessons we have learned from this time. We see opportunities to rebuild a better education landscape, but it will take thoughtful partnership and strategic action. We look forward to a slew of opportunities to connect online this spring, so we can continue to build this future as a vibrant network.

— Sunny Pai, on behalf of the PEN Board Spring 2021 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 3

A STATEMENT from the Board of Directors About eight months ago, we came together as a Board of Directors to compose and issue this statement that follows. We thought about the murder of George Floyd, the uprisings in Minneapolis where we had held our last national conference, and the desire to find something - anything - hopeful in how to move forward. We considered how Bettina Love, who closed that national conference in October 2019, inviting us to radically dream the post-pandemic world.

JULY 2020

Little did we know at that time that we would not only be still mired in quarantines and virtual meetings, but also seeing continued expressions of violent hatred, especially recently towards Asian-Americans. Is it getting better? Is it getting worse? We are frustrated. We are angry. We are sad. We share this statement here because we still hold the desire to gather our community amongst this pain and radically dream. We held online dialogues last August, reflected on many suggestions, and are launching new ways to connect this April (see page 7). We hope you will join us in coming together in this spirit - to not return to the status quo but to push bravely forward as a community.

Dear PEN Educators: Less than one year ago we gathered in Minneapolis for the Progressive Education Network’s biennial national conference, “Educating for Democracy: Navigating the Current and Channeling the Future of Progressive Education.” Several weeks ago on those same streets, George Floyd was murdered by police officers after eight minutes, forty-six seconds of ritual abuse emblematic of four hundred and one years of our history. As we speak, protesters’ calls to action hang in the air outside the conference spaces you traveled; one of our site visit schools, Gordon Parks Academy, stands damaged from the uprising that ensued. A movement born in recent years of the centuries-long fight against racism and anti-Blackness, catalyzed primarily by the leadership of Black women, has become part of our national consciousness. A torrent of statements has been produced by public officials, corporations, and educational institutions affirming unapologetically that Black Lives Matter & declaring commitments to advancing the pursuit of racial equity and justice within their institutions. How long this commitment will last, and how deeply it will transform those institutions, we do not and cannot know. This transformative work requires continuously vigilant commitment over time. Charges do not always lead to convictions; words do not always lead to actions; rhetoric does not often become reality. Thus we stand in skepticism with those who’ve witnessed flurries of such ‘position statements’ in the past to have been followed, almost inevitably, by inaction. We stand in skepticism with Cornel West, who recently affirmed that “We don’t need lukewarm folk. We don’t need summer soldiers. We need all-season love warriors.” The Progressive Education Network’s vision has, for some years now, been underpinned by a commitment to “promote a vision of progressive education for the 21st century that engages students as active participants


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

in their learning and in society,” “advance critical dialogue on the roles of schools in a democratic society,” and “promote diversity, equity, and justice in our schools and society.” You have worked hard, with us, to determine what the enactment and expression of these commitments might look like in our schools in the years to come. As a board, we have tried to center this work in recent years by reframing our vision, mission, and principles to foreground our commitments to equity and justice; ensuring diverse representation in our board composition, and explicitly focusing on these commitments in our biennial conferences, NIPEN Institute, and publications. We will continue to do so in a spirit of solidary and radical hope. First, we recognize that anti-racist action requires the deeply personal work of examining one’s own racialized identity and its implications in the personal and professional spaces we travel. For our white colleagues in particular, this includes deep reflection on the conscious and unconscious ways our own behaviors, dispositions, choices, and words perpetuate white supremacy and anti-Blackness. Upon that foundation, white people--the beneficiaries of institutional and systemic racism--must commit themselves to action as accomplices and coconspirators to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) colleagues, students, and parents in the spaces we travel. We stand in skepticism with those who’ve seen “allies” declare their public solidarity but retreat into complicit silence. Second, we recognize that racism is not defined narrowly by the abhorrent actions of individuals; it is the product of systems, structures, and institutions that perpetuate racialized inequities and oppression. As others have suggested, events such as George Floyd’s killing are not symptoms of “bugs” in the criminal justice system, but intentional features of its design. Anti-Black racism is the product of 401 years of socially accepted marginalization and state-sanctioned violence. Third, we recognize the degree to which white supremacy and anti-Blackness are embedded in and perpetuated by our school system through education policies and practices such as punitive school discipline, grossly inadequate funding, the segregation of the communities in which schools are located, testing and accountability policies, and a narrowing of the training, support, role, and agency of teachers. All of these disproportionately impact students, families, and communities of color and threaten our democracy as a whole. Yet there seems some ambiguity, in certain corners, whether the interrogation of these issues is the “proper” business of schooling. We insist that it is the necessary business of schooling. Fourth, we recognize that the history of progressive pedagogy is inextricably intertwined with problematic racialized ideology. Our narrative was born in whiteness and in many corners continues to center on it. Great experiments in progressive pedagogy in the public sector have been undermined by inadequate funding and the relentless neoliberal transformation of the public school system to serve the imperatives of our economy over the needs of our society. Progressive schools in the private sector have in many instances provided outstanding continued > Spring 2021 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 5

educational programs to communities of privilege, but have not done the hard work of examining their own “color-blind” racism and its perpetuation of racialized inequity, exclusion, and oppression in their schools and in our society. As we said in 2016, the PEN Board of Directors implores progressive schools and progressive educators to acknowledge the urgency of addressing racial justice inside and outside our classrooms. In addition, we believe the work of conscientized progressive pedagogy carries with it an imperative to examine the complicity of our own institutions in racial bias and inequitable representation in our curriculum and pedagogy, and in our institutional systems, structures, and rituals. A progressive pedagogy must ensure that Black Lives Matter not only generally in our society, but more visibly in our schools. Our schools must ensure that inequity, bigotry, and white supremacy in all its forms are interrogated and mitigated in our classrooms and in our boardrooms. Our students deserve, and increasingly demand, no less. As the Board of Directors, our role is to lead, to serve, and to listen. Rather than to provide prescriptions, templates, ‘resources,’ or recipes incrementally or transactionally to improve your schools, we continue to invite you into the perpetual, vexing, passionate, messy, and demanding work of educational and social transformation. To that end, we ask you what you need from us to support you in the continued work ahead. As we all reframe the systems, structures, and rituals of online, hybrid, and on-site schooling during this unprecedented time, we have an imperative to examine them through the lenses of diversity, equity, and justice. To build and support our network, we will host a series of online “PEN Conversations” to learn what you need from PEN and to consider how we all can enact our commitments to equity and justice at this historic moment. To see the format we used for these sessions, click here. To see notes from the sessions, click here. The obligations and imperatives of this work are ours to share. As Bettina Love recently declared, “The impossible is becoming possible. As we all stand in the midst of a world crisis, those of us who can dream must dream. And after we dream, we must demand and act. In the face of that racism and resistance, it may seem pointless, but this is the perfect time to radically dream.” We look forward to dreaming, demanding, and acting with you. With respect and love, The PEN Board of Directors Sven Carlsson, Theresa Collins, Ayla Gavins, Sung-Joon (Sunny) Pai, Heather Schilling, Dan Schwartz, Chris Thinnes, Kavan Yee, Andrew Williams


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

2021 KICKOFF EVENTS ProgEdNet@Distance Join us starting in April for two new ways to connect with your PEN colleagues!


A monthly hour-long Zoom discussion on a variety of topics presented from members of the PEN community MONDAY, APRIL 12th 8:30 pm (Eastern) / 7:30 pm (Central) / 6:30 pm (Mountain) / 5:30 pm (Pacific) / 2:30 pm (Hawaii)

“The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture” So What, Now What? We will read’s Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture and discuss the complexity of what it looks like to actually shift practices in schools and organizations. Hosted by PEN Board. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!


same times as above

Multi-age Classrooms Roundtable Discussion Hosted by educators from Wickliffe Progressive


same times as above

Outdoor Classrooms Hosted by Simon Tyler

NEW PEN A monthly hour-long Zoom discussion for new progressive teachers WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28th 7:30 pm (Eastern) / 6:30 pm (Central) / 5:30 pm (Mountain) / 4:30 pm (Pacific) / 1:30 pm (Hawaii) For teachers new to teaching or new to progressive education to come process this school year. How have you adapted? Can you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel as we are approaching the end of the year? CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!


Time TBA

So what, now what? Planning for summer and fall.

These Zoom events are free for all to attend. If you find value, we invite you to make a suggested donation to PEN of $0-30 per session.

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CALL FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS The Progressive Education Network (PEN) is seeking members to apply to various working committees. Each committee is co-chaired by members of our board and will meet regularly by Zoom. To see full descriptions of committee work and to apply, please click here.



Description Organize and lead PEN National Conference in Fall 2022. Public school educators and educators of color encouraged to apply.

Description Call for, select, edit, and publish submissions for each Journal issue. Looking for creative thinkers and strong editors.

Time Commitment Two hour-ish meetings per month.

Time Commitment One 30-minute meeting per month + time related to work tasks.

CALL FOR NEW BOARD MEMBERS PEN seeks two new members to volunteer on our board of directors as we plan strategically for the future of our network. These positions are both one-year commitments, with the option to renew. Potential board members should have: • personal and professional alignment with the PEN mission to connect educators, and work for equity and racial justice in schools and society • fundraising/development experience • strategic planning experience with not-for-profits or other mission-driven orgs • participated in one or more PEN events (national conference, ProgEd@Distance, NIPEN) • strong communication skills • great ideas and a desire to collaborate with others • drive to work independently to meet deadlines • a love good food and progressive education To apply, please email us at and include a current resume and a letter of interest, in which you share what you would bring to the board, including an idea for a program or initiative that you would be interested in developing.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

WHEN THE SCHOOLS CLOSED: Reflections on E-Learning During COVID-19 — by Christina Kuszewski Rouches Are you there? Really? Are you? Can we take a deep breath and step back to rethink what we are all doing? In moments of panic, why did we all revert to the same tired industrial model of learning? This is without precedent. How might we rethink this? How might we do this better? How could we make this more authentic? How might we preserve our own well-being and that of our families, while also contributing to the social emotional health of our students and their families? Take a step back. Breathe… Rethink this educational model that seems so familiar to those of us who were raised during the Cold War. Competition. Productivity. Efficiency. Outcomes. We were cogs in a factory model of education that offered very little interpersonal connection and authentic learning. Education was reduced to test scores and grades; learning was a lucky byproduct for those who were privileged enough to be able to question authority. Despite educators’ best efforts during this unprecedented crisis, the model that is being embraced once again is one that lacks meaningful connection. We simply cannot replace the beauty and magic of the classroom. Let’s stop trying. Let’s imagine something new. Something extraordinary. Something transformative.

Think deeply about what is happening here. How might we rethink this entire thing? How might we reimagine the essence of what we are doing? Why is there so much pressure to adhere to a system of learning that has been imposed upon us? How might we use this time to repair fractured relationships? How might we use this time to tap into something unique and creative in our children? How might we use this time to fill in gaps in our own knowledge of family history, struggles, triumphs? How might we use this time to document our own understanding of what is happening in this world? How might we better understand our responsibilities to one another? Spring 2021 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 9

Honestly, I’d like to throw all of the computers in my home out of the window. We simply do not need them to connect in an authentic way. How can we re envision this? How can we take the pressure off of ourselves and one another and just… be? What might we learn about ourselves and one another in the process? What would it look like if we asked our children to breathe... pause... think? What would they do? What might they be inspired to create? Some might choose to compose songs that reflect the times. All that is needed is paper and pen. Parents could take photos or record videos of the compositions and email them to the teacher. No high-speed internet required. The great equalizer. Students could play the composition for their teachers over the telephone. They would have the undivided attention of a mentor, a champion, an advocate. Might it be possible to invite students to choreograph their own interpretations of social distancing? Might we ask emerging poets, spoken word artists, storytellers, and visual artists to create art that reflects the times? What about activists, athletes, scientists, engineers, and actors? How might they contribute to the documentation of what is happening within themselves, their homes, communities, countries, and the world? Might it be possible to ask all children to step outside - onto their front stoop or into their backyard with eyes closed and just ... breathe... listen... be? What do they hear? What do they feel? Might they just be inspired? What could happen if we trusted their inner genius? How might we use this time to interview our families and friends and create material that captures this very real and shared moment in the history of the planet? How might we connect what is happening to us with what our ancestors went through? Fear, anxiety, and future uncertainty are not unique to us at this moment. How would this information inform the works that we create? How might we identify user needs and develop prototypes for addressing the very real challenges that exist in our health care systems? How might we make social distancing something that is effective? How might we use our language skills to develop global messages that bring people of all language and cultural backgrounds together? How might we invent a sport that maintains social distancing and still allows for authentic connection with others? Could we use this time to explore a new language, learn about other cultures, and incorporate these revelations and understandings into our future creations? Could we? Must we? 10

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

Might it be possible for our expectations of teachers to include placing a phone call to their students and their families? Offering feedback and encouragement - the old-fashioned way? Witnessing my own daughters’ teachers attempting to run a Zoom class with 25 students has been beyond painful. There has been little learning. There has been little meaningful connection. The magic has gone. The irony of a traditional model of learning that incorporates the most up to date educational technology is not lost on me - even in the most progressive schools. We can do better. Step away from the computer. Close your eyes. Imagine. What if we used this time to write, create, heal… Might it be? Could it be? What would be lost? How much more would be gained? How might we make this truly memorable for our children and for ourselves? How might we make this a time that they will remember - a time of deep connection and awakening? How might we make this experience one that is truly interdisciplinary and that leaves us with a stockpile of memories and documented learning that transcends our wildest dreams? I have seen magic in the classroom and I have witnessed the genius of children who are inspired. I am fortunate to have enjoyed a career as an educator that has allowed me to bear witness to the joy of learning - without the pressure of high stakes standardized test preparation and grades. My adolescent students happily sang, danced, recited poetry, traveled, investigated social justice issues, and became passionate leaders. They were given the time and space to create. To explore. To be. They were given parameters and were responsible for articulating their understanding and were held accountable for the process of learning. Their parents were partners, rather than drill sergeants responsible for forcing their children to sit in front of a computer screen for 6 hours a day.

We can do better. Imagine. Might it be? Could it be?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Christina Kuszewski Rouches is a progressive independent school educator with a deep commitment to equity, inclusion, and to teaching to the strengths of every student. She currently serves as the World Language Department Chair at Wolcott School, an independent high school in Chicago for exemplary students with learning differences. Christina has taught in Ecuador at a progressive bilingual school, worked for a women’s rights organization in Argentina, researched human rights education and policy in Chile, and worked for international and national educational organizations. Christina has a B.A. from Boston College in Spanish and Psychology, and an M.A. from Columbia University in International Educational Development. She lives in Chicago with her husband and twin daughters. When not teaching, Christina loves to travel.

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CREATIVITY-AT-HOME: Resource Brochure — by Jason Blair This brochure was designed to help exercise and grow children’s creative muscles at home. All children are born with creative potential. In order for that creative potential to stretch and grow, we must provide rich opportunities and environments for them to experiment, play and engage their creative capacities in new and exciting ways. Inside this brochure, you will find several sections to spark ideas and uncover possibilities. The brochure is organized into 4 sections. It is designed to enter at any section and jump around freely throughout its pages. It also encouraged to see what ideas each section sparks for you, follow your creative path and unlock your own creative potential in the process.

Section 1: CREATIVITY-AT-HOME This section features several open-ended creativity challenges for the whole family. Several of the challenges have links to an example video that will help explain the challenge further. Remember, you don’t have to follow these challenges exactly, you might want to change them up, combine them or invent your own!

Section 2: ONLINE ART This section features links to various digital art making tools. Each site has unique opportunities to stretch your creative muscles. While all of these sites are child friendly, practice cyber-safety and preview all online links before letting children use them.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

Section 3: TEACH ART This section challenges children to teach others how to stretch and grow creative muscles. Perhaps they create a, “How-to...” video, teach a dance, make a snack, or share ways a family can make a fort. The sky is the limit in this section and the child is the teacher!

Section 4: PARENT CREATIVITY RESOURCES This section features book links, articles, websites, links to toys and games, links to virtual museums and much more. The purpose of this section, is to provide a starting point for digging deeper into creativity development. Have fun with this brochure. Jump around and see what ideas, activities and experiences you can engage in, to grow creative thinkers in your home or school! Please email me with any questions. To download your copy of CREATIVITY-AT-HOME visit ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jason Blair believes the creativity of our children will change the world. Currently, Jason is co-assistant director on the Project Zero--Cultivating Creative and Civic Capacities project. He is also the Teacher-Leader- in-Residence with the Columbus Museum of Art. Jason received his MA in art education from The Ohio State University. Currently, he teaches elementary art at Abraham Depp Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio.

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CITIZENS — NOT SPECTATORS — by Suzanne Sutliff During this time of separation, unanswerable questions and difficult realities, my class and I stayed connected through correspondence. Along with staying connected, my students needed to be empowered to know that they were a part of history and how they experienced these events mattered. At first, this correspondence looked like any other journaling activity with prompts that guided responses. But as the weeks of quarantine passed, my students’ writing evolved into something more important. Students started using this time to process events as they were happening to them. They began to open up about the personal ways they were being affected by living during a pandemic. The familiarity and comfort of working in pajamas among favorite pets and memorabilia removed the barrier between home and academia and emboldened their writing in a unique way. Without any prompting from me, they were archiving these memories as participants in their own history. Every week, through this quarantine, I sent a personal postcard to each student at their home. Later, parents told me that this was something their children looked forward to all week. How often do children today get “snail mail”? Students would show me their postcards on our daily zoom meetings and tell me where they were storing them for safekeeping. It seemed to me that this back and forth correspondence between my students and myself was not unlike letters written by soldiers or refugees to loved ones in any country in the world during any time in history. We go to these primary resources to understand the events, the emotions and the very personal reflections by those who lived that history. Like those soldiers or refugees, my students were hungry for connections. They were seeking an affirming response that said, “I am listening, and I understand.” Children and adults throughout history have had their lives interrupted by world events. By writing letters to loved ones and keeping records of events in journals, they were able to preserve these memories for


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

themselves and future generations. It is certainly possible that no one other than the authors will ever look at their writing, however, it is the awareness this experience awakens within them that matters. I intend to implement this type of journaling with my new class in the fall. It may not be Covid-19, but history is happening all around us, all the time, every day. My students will have the opportunity to become historians, documenting their lives, connecting the dots between the past and the present as well as the future. Now that summer is here, many students have started a back and forth correspondence with me through the mail. I believe they know the importance of staying connected in a personal, tangible way. Many of them told me they were going to continue journaling through the summer. I hope they do. I believe we started something that has the value and the power to help them realize that they are citizens of this world, not spectators. They have the power to use their words to, not only document history, but to change it as well. This quarantine took away many things from our teaching and learning lives, but through the simplest act of correspondence, we found that we were still connected, we were still a community, we still had our individual voices, and it was powerful.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Suzanne M. Sutliff teaches 5th grade at the Britton Norwich Learning Campus in Hilliard Ohio. She has previously taught in multiage and multigrade classrooms for the Hilliard and Columbus City School Districts.

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LEARNING & TEACHING During a Pandemic — by Shelly Hughes When the governor of Ohio announced that schools would be extending their spring breaks due to the Coronavirus, I was not sad. I was actually kind of, dare I say, gleeful. Education be damned! I could sure use a nice extra-long spring break. I loved the thought of not using my car all week or sitting in traffic. I could sleep in as I did not need to commute or pack a lunch daily. There would be no guilt over abandoning my dog and no more doggie daycare fees for a week. This was going to be awesome, I thought. Then, after our extra week of spring break was over, when we learned that we would be transitioning to distance learning indefinitely, buyers’ remorse settled in, and my journey of constant reflection and self-doubt began. At first, it was pretty practical - questions like: What did they still need to learn before sending them to the next grade level? What were areas of weakness that needed more attention? What was essential? What could I let go of? Who will struggle with this format? Whose parents need reassurance? Who needs what? My first-week-back-from-spring break lesson plans were completed before the break so that I could relax and enjoy my break without worrying about them. Now, my thoughts were will these lesson plans still work? What needs to be changed or modified? What materials do they need to do this from home? Will they be supported by their families? Would I be asking too much of them? What if I am asking too little? What are the rules for this? Do I bug them about missing work? How hard should I push them for more effort? What if parents are helping? How will I handle that? How do I keep them from bugging their parents? What needs to be communicated upfront? How do I find out what their parents are anticipating? Surveys were sent to students and their parents. Data was analyzed, and yeah, it was looking like we were all on the same page, and my goal was to make school as normal as possible. For us, digital-school was just like in-person school. I set up our Zoom meeting times for the same times that things happened at school: Morning Meeting at 8:30, with Word Work right after. Theme at 9:30, followed by a break for lunch. Math at noon, and ELA at 1:30. We did not stay in our Zoom meetings the entire time. We met at the beginning and I taught the mini-lesson and then released the children to work, much like Samantha Bennett of the Workshop Model taught me. We came together after a bit to share our learning and produced work. Then it was break time till the next meeting. We thought of breakout rooms like working at tables in our classroom. The kids were put in them to work together, and I circulated from room to room, answering questions, and checking their thinking and work. Those who needed a less social space, worked in a breakout room, alone or with one partner. My students were happy.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

I was happy. I used the break times to view their videos and record my reply videos. I also looked over their submitted work, made suggestions, and sent it back to them. It was interesting to learn which of my students would thrive and who might struggle in this new environment. It provided me a challenge to observe closely and implement changes to meet their individual needs. It was a delight to see some who had struggled to stay focussed in class, thrive alone in their distraction-free basement or bedroom workspace. As I do at school, I allowed the children to figure out where they work best. Some left our Zoom meetings entirely and rejoined us at a specified share-out time. Many liked their self-created workspaces at home. Many liked sharing their thinking and work in a video format, using Flipgrid. Many liked being able to see and hang out with their friends after being apart for so long. We often ate lunch together. My students’ parents were pleased. I was occupying and engaging their child much of the day, and they were able to get their work done. There was peace and harmony across the lands. Until there wasn’t. Our union and administration were meeting daily to hammer out expectations during this unprecedented time. We were getting conflicting emails daily, one from administration using our school email account and one from our union using our private email account, each prompting us to engage in opposite behavior. The district’s lawyers were being consulted. The union was in communication with the Ohio Department of Education. On one day alone, we received three emails from our union, which made us all very anxious. At the crux of them were: Zoom had security issues, some teachers had small children at home to tend to, and the district recommended two and a half hours of student engagement time to regular teachers, and to fulfill all IEP minutes to special education teachers. I kept my mouth shut and kept doing what I was doing, hoping nothing would go wrong. Colleagues, following our union recommendations, were emailing work lists with embedded videos to their students and keeping office hours, were inundated with communications from parents and students. My questions became very egocentric. Why wasn’t I getting many emails? Was the fact that I was not getting many emails a good thing or a bad thing? Was I working harder than what was expected? Was I neglecting my own selfcare? Was I neglecting obligations to my peers and union?

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Then, our community got involved. Facebook community groups lit up as parents learned how much teacher FaceTime their neighbors’ children were receiving compared to their own. One of my colleagues pointed out that while she did not have children at home, she needed to support those teachers who did and that when I spend more than the district’s recommended two and half hours of daily student engagement, I was part of the inequity problem my community was passionately discussing on social media. Yikes! My inner voice turned philosophical - Was she right? Was I creating inequality within my school community? Was I part of the problem? Should I scale back? How can I scale back now that we have routines established? What will my students’ parents think if I scale back now? How can high school teachers who have over a hundred students, some of which just joined them at the semester change, be compared to elementary teachers who have 20+ students for the second year in a row? Obviously, children’s experiences were not going to be the same. Even comparing elementary students across the district was fruitless as our elementary school communities are incredibly diverse. It’s never apples to apples, as there are too many variables. Why don’t people understand this? Why is sameness societies default? I also felt a sense of guilt at how smoothly I transitioned from in-person to online. Why would a true progressive educator adapt so easily to this new inauthentic impersonal realm? Would this become part of our new normal? Somehow, I knew that I should not want this to be our new normal, but I kind of enjoyed working from home. Before the pandemic, I was the one who lambasted digital books, and paperless classrooms. I argued the developmental appropriateness of putting an iPad into the hands of every child to anyone who’d listen. I researched how screen time negatively impacted social and emotional development and shared links to the articles I read with anyone who showed the slighted interest in my ramblings on the subject. Now, here I was doing school 100% digitally. My students were engaged in project-based learning, sharing their creations, discoveries, and thinking via Flipgrid videos. They completed 4 STEM-based design challenges around the ideas of transferring energy. They researched childhood during different generations, interviewed an elder, and wrote comparative essays. They were turning work into me via shared google docs, and Notability. I was able to give individualized feedback and my students were coming to me with questions in our live Zoom meetings. We were still engaged in robust discussions during our read aloud, White Bird by R.J. Palacio at the end of each day. Students were making their artwork via School Sketch. It all seemed pretty normal, school as usual, right up until the end, and as a bonus, I got to feel good about all the trees saved by going paperless. I took pride in my ability to be flexible and learn how to go 100% digital at my age.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

Even though the school year has ended, my colleagues, many of whom are also my friends, routinely profess their dread and anxiety around having to return to this format in the fall. When they do, new questions of self-doubt creep back into my psyche. What is wrong with me? Why do I not detest this way of doing school? Again, am I truly a progressive educator? When this happens, I try to be introspective. What does it mean to be a progressive educator? I try to ground myself with the tenets of progressive education, and remind myself that the physical space need not matter. If I emphasize learning by doing, if I integrate the curriculum, if I engage children in problem- solving and critical thinking, if I foster collaboration, service, social responsibility, and democracy, if I highly personalize the experiences, if I give individualized feedback and encouragement, and help families grow their children into lifelong learners, then I am a progressive educator. While I do not have all the answers, especially about what is fair, I do know that whether we come back to school in the fall full time, do a blend of face-to-face school and digital school, or are 100% back to distance learning, I am a progressive educator. I will continue to learn and grow, be flexible, and do my best with what I have, and the children in front of me whether I am looking at them on a screen or not.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Shelly Hughes was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. She is a graduate of The Columbus College of Art and Design, The Ohio State University, and Ashland University. She has taught at the Arts IMPACT Middle School in Columbus City Schools, co-founded and served as administrator of The Arts and College Preparatory Academy, been an assistant principal and then principal of Jones Middle School in Upper Arlington, and then joyfully returned to the classroom at Wickliffe Progressive School, as a 4th & 5th-grade looping teacher. Shelly lives in Columbus with her husband and children. Shelly enjoys nature, creating, and beekeeping.

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PROGRESSIVE CHANGES in the Decade of Daring — 1967-1977 — by Charles Suhor The neo-progressive movement in American education in the late 1960s and early seventies had much in common with the principles of the foundational progressivism of Dewey, Kirkpatrick, and others. But its origins were in the context of a decade of massive social upheaval, its methods were supported by new research, and its practitioners often showed a boldness, bordering on arrogance, that reflected the turbulent times that were a’changin’. Education could not have escaped the restless temper of the times—Viet Nam protests, the hippie movement, Black Power, the emerging drug culture, sexual liberation, assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, Detroit burning, bra-burning, and riots at the Chicago Democratic Convention. English language arts was arguably the subject area of the most radical challenges to the lockstep curricula of the fifties. And avalanche of changes to traditional programs—contemporary, young adult and black literatures, inexpensive paperbacks, mini-courses, multiple textbook adoption, film study, multi-media, whole-word reading, invented spelling, miscue analysis, audiolingual grammar, discussion skills, creative dramatics, free writing, the writing process, and innovative testing--appeared with surprising rapidity. While progressive changes garnered publicity in the popular press and professional literature, the historical accounts of the time have been overly broad, lacking particularity and a sense of presence. As active participant both nationally and as K-12 supervisor in New Orleans Public Schools, I wanted to combine solid research with boots-on-the ground reportage about the accomplishments and failures of the neo-progressive years. My documented memoir, Creativity and Chaos: Reflections on a Decade of Progressive Change in Public Schools, 1967-1977, is a personal vision that comports with other accounts of what was happening in the city, the schools and the nation. The groundswell subsided with the countermanding forces of the back to basics movement and the spotlight has shifted to charter schools and other issues, but I have faith that principles outlined by PEN and others will find their rightful way into the mainstream. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Charles Suhor, Ph.D., spent the first half of his career in New Orleans Public Schools as a high school English and history teacher and K-12 Supervisor of English. Subsequently, he worked for twenty year as Deputy Executive Director of the National Council of Teachers of English in Urbana, IL. He is a co-founder of the NCTE Assembly on on Expanded Perspectives on Learning. Since 1997 he has written from his retirement home in Montgomery, Alabama.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

ONLINE AND PROGRESSIVE Tips for Virtual Teacher Professional Learning — by Jim Vanides BSME, M.Ed., Online Instructor, National Teacher Enhancement Network, Montana State University The educational principles described by Progressive Education Network begin with: “The purpose of school expands beyond prevailing education policy and practice. Progressive educators support their students’ deep intellectual development and healthy identity formation—as developing individuals, as active learners within a school community, and as engaged citizens in the broader world.” Those who have spent their careers providing high-quality professional learning experiences for teachers would quickly agree that the same could apply to adult learners. Drawing on some literary license, we might mirror the statement above in the context of professional learning: “The purpose of educator professional learning expands beyond prevailing “professional development” practice. Progressive professional learning for teachers supports their deep intellectual development and ongoing professional identity formation - as lifelong learning professionals, as active learners within a professional community of practice, and as educators who invite their students, and themselves, to be active citizens in the broader world.” It’s a tall order. Is there a role that online learning can play to scale this high bar? Yes - if the online learning experience is designed thoughtfully to support this vision and model the progressive pedagogy teachers will be practicing in their own classrooms. There are many effective ways to approach online professional learning for teachers. “Learning Online: What Research Tells Us about Whether, When, and How” provides an excellent frame to think about the possibilities. (see chart >)

ONLINE LEARNING DESIGN OPTIONS (moderating variables) MODALITY • • • •

Fully online Blended (over 50% online) Blended (25–50% online) Web-enabled F2F

PACING • Self-paced (open entry, open exit) • Class-paced • Class-paced with some self-paced STUDENT-INSTRUCTOR RATIO • < 35 to 1 • 36–99 to 1 • 100–999 to 1 • > 1,000 to 1 PEDAGOGY • Expository • Practice • Exploratory • Collaborative ROLE OF ONLINE ASSESSMENTS • Determine if student is ready for new content • Tell system how to support the student (adaptive instruction) • Provide student or teacher with information about learning state • Input to grade • Identify students at risk of failure INSTRUCTOR ROLE ONLINE • Active instruction online • Small presence online • None STUDENT ROLE ONLINE • Listen or read • Complete problems or answer questions • Explore simulation and resources • Collaborate with peers ONLINE COMMUNICATION SYNCHRONY • Asynchronous only • Synchronous only • Some blend of both SOURCE OF FEEDBACK • Automated • Teacher • Peers Source: Content adapted from Barbara Means, Marianne Bakia, and Robert Murphy, Learning Online: What Research Tells Us about Whether, When and How (New York: Routledge, 2014).

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The course I have been teaching for the last 18 years is a conceptual physics course - a hands-on, guided-inquiry course designed for upper primary grade teachers. Referring to the modality chart on page ?, my course is • Modality - fully online • Pacing - class paced (each week, new content, activities, and discussion topics are released) • Student:Instructor Ratio > small seminar (7-15 learners at a time) • Pedagogy - mostly exploratory (experiments and projects), with some collaboration and LOTS of group discussion) • Role of Online Assignments - provide (formative) feedback to learner and instructor. Yes, I grade some of it, too (begrudgingly, as required by accreditation) • Instructor Role - active presence (but I wouldn’t call it all “instruction”) • Student Role - explore and collaborate • Online Synchrony - asynchronous (with optional synchronous “live” office hours) • Source of Feedback - teacher and peers But this doesn’t tell the whole progressive design story. When I designed the course 18 years ago, my goal was to recreate, as best as possible, the engagement and curiosity that came from an on-ground week-long summer workshop on the same Science of Sound topic. Knowing that I couldn’t entirely replicate the experience, I challenged myself to create an experience that would have similar value to the teachers, while retaining the progressive philosophy expressed in the research about how people best learn science. • Guided Inquiry - providing opportunities to explore and wonder by DOING science, not just reading about it, with facilitation and guidance from the instructor • Learning Together - each cohort of teachers becomes a “community of learners”, sharing what they know and what they are wondering about. The discussions are where the understanding takes shape. • Alternative Assessments - where measuring conceptual understanding is more important than determining how well students have memorized facts • Reflection to spark metacognition - “thinking about your thinking” is built into the course, as it helps participants see their own progress, find their own questions, and helps me know “what sparked their curiosity this week”.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

With these in mind, my Science of Sound course has the following elements: • Things to read • Things to watch - including short videos, as well as a virtual “tour” and an interview with professionals who use the Science of Sound • Things to do - explorations that in some cases us materials from a modest “kit” of supplies shipped to each participant, and projects (such as building a schematic model of the ear) • Creating a science notebook to capture predictions, experimental plans, experimental findings, questions, and reflections on science teaching • Discussion - lots of discussion, actually; each week has 3-4 topics which require a posted reply plus the expectation that everyone will respond to others with some high quality comments and questions • Assessment - but not traditional tests. Formative insights (and ultimately their grades) come from: • An open-ended concept map, early in the course (pre) and again at the end. To learn more about how to design this type of score-able open-ended assessment activity, see “Using Concept Maps in the

read watch do create discuss assess

Science Classroom” (Vanides, Yin, Tomita, and Ruiz-Primo, NSTA Science Scope, Summer 2005) • The quality of their weekly science notebook entries • The quality of their contributions to the discussions • Submitted projects NOTE: There are no simplistic, auto-scored multiple-choice tests on science facts, and there are no “timed tests”. What is so intriguing about asynchronous online discussions (threaded discussion boards) is that they provide a way for deep intellectual engagement to happen in a way that is quite different from in-person conversations. Much has been written about the “affordances” and characteristics of asynchronous discussions: In essence, everyone answers at the same time - in their own time. Turn-taking has more parallelism, allowing everyone the same opportunity to share their thoughts • To some extent, it levels the “playing field” in discussions. Discussion aren’t dominated by the learners with the most outward enthusiasm and volume; reflective, “introverted” personalities aren’t swamped by the extroverts in the room • There is more time to think - and continue thinking. The quick repartee of a seminar discussion can be invigorating - but it can leave out the voices of those who take time to gather their thoughts. In an asynchronous discussion, one has the option to ponder for days before posting or replying • Facilitation is more measured. In studying traditional live discussions, Mary Budd Rowe’s research on waittime clearly showed that the time between asking a question and calling on a raised hand to answer is often less than 1 second; the preferred practice is to count to 10 before calling on someone so that more hands go up, and more minds are engaged. In an asynchronous discussion, the best wait time can often be DAYS; if the facilitator responds too soon, fewer students participate.

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I have personally experienced, year after year, how the asynchronous discussions are far deeper and scientifically engaging than the discussions in my original on-ground face-to-face workshops. For example, I begin with an discrepant event called The Cocoa Mystery. On-ground, it’s a demonstration of filling a mug with powdered cocoa-mix, adding hot water, stirring with a spoon to mix it, then tapping with the spoon on the inside bottom of the mug - and listening to the sound (try it! You’ll be surprised…); online, it’s an activity they do on their own and then report their findings in the discussion area. In person, the activity took about 30 minutes, including a lively discussion about what might be causing the sound to behave as it does. But the first time we did this online (asynchronous), the threaded discussion LIT UP (everyone had theories and ideas) - and more interestingly, the discussion lasted for six weeks! Clearly the online teachers were engaged and couldn’t stop thinking about the mystery. They reported waking up in the middle of the night with more questions and ideas for testing their theories using other liquids and mixtures. Unlike the 30 minute workshop demo, it became a platform for inquiry - and it was great fun. Let’s be honest: Deep intellectual engagement doesn’t happen from a demo or in a lecture hall alone - at best, it happens AFTER an inspiring lecture or curious demo; more often, it happens in the course of smaller discussions (seminars) and personal reflection, supported by thoughtful facilitation and guidance. Watching videos online won’t make people smart. Sadly, it makes people THINK they’re smart - but they don’t know what they don’t know until they go deeper, apply what they think they know, then think-it through again, talk it out and wrestle with what doesn’t make sense. Then the learning begins to take root. Yes, effective and engagement teacher professional learning can be accomplished online - especially when we leverage what we know from the learning sciences and the principles of progressive education.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jim Vanides is a senior education and industry consultant to organizations around the world that are passionate about creating extraordinary learning experiences for students. His consulting practice focuses on working with education and industry organizations to create new possibilities through partnerships. Jim’s experience includes more than a decade of leading global education philanthropy initiatives for HP. From the launch of his engineering career in Silicon Valley to today, Jim has been a tireless advocate for STEM(+) education and teacher professional learning. He serves as an advisor for the California Science Project, an initiative of the University of California Office of the President, and for 18 years has been teaching science teachers online through Montana State University. Jim is also an adjunct faculty member for the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College. Jim holds a BS in Engineering and a MA in Education, both from Stanford University.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

FOSTERING COLLABORATION Between Students and the Community: A Book Club on Zoom — by Susan Binkley When I heard in the spring of 2020 that schools would close due to the covid-19 outbreak and move to remote learning, I never imagined that I too would be learning remotely. I wasn’t a student, I wasn’t enrolled in any kind of class, and I certainly didn’t plan to be. I was a parent. I dreaded being turned into a homeschooler with the new remote learning situation. But an unexpected learning experience was a pleasant surprise during the very unpleasant covid-19 shutdown. This is not a story of a parent helping a child with her online assignments. Instead, it is the story of a parent who became a student in a fifth-grade class. My daughter’s fifth-grade teacher at Wickliffe Progressive Elementary School sent an email inviting parents to join one of the class’s book discussion groups. As an avid reader, I jumped at the chance. I heard him describe the different book choices to the students during a Zoom morning meeting, and the book A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer caught my attention. The story took place in Mozambique and Zimbabwe – two countries I knew very little about. It didn’t appeal to my daughter, however, and she chose to be in a different book group. So when I joined the Girl book group, I wasn’t necessarily there in the role of my child’s mom, but just as a parent from the community. The book group, consisting of the teacher, five students, and me, met on Zoom twice a week for three weeks. Our first session immediately started with the students teaching me how to use Zoom -- how to raise your hand and mute yourself on Zoom. We then launched into the discussion of the book. Once we started, I could barely get a word in edgewise. I was so impressed with how eager the students were to share their thoughts. They wanted to talk about the main character Nhamo, her grandmother, and the region. Their excitement about the story was lively and invigorating from the very first meeting until the last. I learned so much from the students. They focused on different aspects of the story than I did and picked up on details that I missed. For example, they wanted to discuss the stories and tales told to Nhamo by her grandmother. I had glossed over these stories-within-a-story, and so I could barely contribute to the discussions about them. As children, these students often listen to stories themselves, whether bedtime stories or read-alouds

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in class. In their reading of Girl, they were also listening to stories being told within the story – stories for them as well as for Nhamo. They paid attention to the grandmother in the book as they might pay attention to their own grandmother telling them a story. As an adult, I am rarely told a story, so in my reading, I wasn’t “listening” to the stories. I initially skimmed over these parts of the book, but the students showed me how much I was missing. They talked excitedly about the tales and tried to figure out their purpose and meaning in the storyline. They taught me to read these sections much more closely so that I too could discuss the significance of the tales. Since this was not in a traditional setting (in person), the students saw me as literally just another face on the screen in a box. The Zoom boxes equalize all participants. When you look at grid-view on the screen, no one has a bigger box, no one stands out, and there is nothing to single me out as an outsider. It is inclusive. Progressive education aims for inclusion. It also aims for collaboration and partnerships both among the students as well as with members of the community. This book group met those challenges and created an enriching experience. The students answered my questions and I answered theirs. I was part of the group, not a guest speaker. I participated, they included me. I learned from them, they learned from me. How cool is that?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Susan Binkley (PhD) is an adjunct professor of French. She attended the progressive elementary school associated with Kent State University as a child (unfortunately the school closed many years ago) and is a firm believer in progressive education. Her two daughters attended Wickliffe Progressive Elementary School in Upper Arlington, Ohio, where she taught French in the After School Discovery program. You may contact her at


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

A IS FOR ACTIVISM: Tracy Aiden — by Theresa Collins With her epic collection of t-shirts for Black history month--one for each day--February is always special for Ms. Tracy Aiden. Beyond her amazing fashion sense, and the month of February, is a deep and abiding commitment to teaching her elementary school students through the lens of equity, kindness, and social justice. Ms. Aiden teaches “little people” at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, where her students spend three years with her in a loop. Before entering the field of elementary education, Ms. Aiden had a “whole other career as a counselor” for adolescents, working in a variety of CPS schools to help teens and their teachers develop peer mediation centers. Her work with children has been a lifelong element of her professional identity, however her move toward elementary education came after she had her own daughters. As she watched her own children’s education develop, in particular the ways that her daughters and their classmates were “invited to be part of their learning,” Tracy decided to make a pivot from older learners to the younger ones; because of her lifelong dedication to justice, her keen interest and focus on raising her daughters to be proud of their identity as young black women, and her strong sense of self as a progressive educator, her classroom work has always included social justice. Over the course of the last 3 years with her students who loop with her from pre- k - 1st grade, Ms. Tracy’s learners have marched for Black lives, created buttons and a pop up t-shirt shop, made a public memorial for Breonna Taylor, mixed paint colors to reflect the variety of their skin tones, read dozens upon dozens of books that center and celebrate identity, community, and connection. Tracy’s work has had impact on her students and their families, anyone who follows her on Instagram, and recently, her co-facilitation for an online PEN Zoom space for BIPOC Women, and her presentation at PoCC 2020 titled “The Takeover: Creating ‘Blackspace’ Where Black Children are Valued in a Predominantly White School” which had an audience of close to 1000 attendees. A NIPEN 5.0 alum whose work includes the classroom work students and a robust classroom newsletter for their parents, Tracy facilitates learning that embodies the Progressive philosophy that school is life itself, that the needs of society determine the work of the school, and that teaching and learning are a shared experience that extends beyond the classroom to the family and the communities in which our students live, learn, thrive, and to which they learn to contribute their “knowledge power skill and service.” What follows is a collage of experience with Tracy--excerpts from an interview with Theresa Collins, former president of the PEN Board of Directors, and selections of Ms. Aiden’s own writing about progressive education, as well as images from her classroom which highlight her focus on equity and justice in her curriculum.

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INTERVIEW What are your students most interested in or curious about when you are focusing on issues of diversity and equity and the concept of sameness and difference? The overarching theme is that they want to be able to take care of people. They want people to feel loved and supported. That makes them feel good. Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness is my all time favorite book. I usually save it for their kindergarten year, but this year I read it to them in their 4 year old year. It’s about how when you put something out there, it ripples out into the world, it spreads. Even the smallest thing you do spreads out and can change someone’s life forever. So they are always talking about ripples and how what they do has rippled out and how it’s affected someone. So that is the core of our classroom community, our classroom family, is we are all about kindness. From the very beginning, at 3 years old: this is how we treat each other; we are stuck together for three years, we are gonna love each other, we’re gonna support each other, we’re gonna take care of each other. Do you consider yourself a progressive educator, and if so, why? I believe that I am, and always have been before I even knew what it was. I never enjoyed school as a child— it was a chore to me. I never felt that I was a part of my learning, so I was very deliberate in my student teaching and my beginning years to really invite children in to their learning, have them be curious and be wondering and be excited and hands on, and I found that alongside of them I Was excited about learning with them which is something that I never felt in my own learning when I was a kid. SO that’s kind of how I got there (to progressive ed); the first few years, I was like this is my jam, but later on when I started hearing about progressive ed, I was like “I think that describes me”I think that’s what I am, and then it wasn’t until I went to NIPEN that I really felt validated in everything that I was doing. Where I was like Yes. I’m gonna say it loud and proud, I am a progressive educator.” How long has social justice been intimately tied to your pedagogy and how has it shifted over time? Working in independent schools oftentimes lends itself to you being one of the few people of color. At Baker, I was the only black teacher for 13 years. What happened was that my girls started growing up. We were always very explicit about raising them to understand prejudice, racism, oppression, to understand all that stuff within their suburban bubble so


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

that they wouldn’t have culture shock when they left home.

At some

point I realized that I was teaching them lessons that didn’t translate to myself. What I want for my kids is for them to show up authentically in the classroom, to be themselves; I want to honor that, so it should be the same for their teacher. i shouldn’t have to be anything other than what i really am. i feel like i really teach who i am, it just comes out in everything that i do. That was kind of the key, I didn’t want to seem hypocritical to my own children. they kind of pushed me along— they didn’t know it, but i feel like that’s when i started thinking about myself, as well as thinking about inequities for our kids of color who come through progressive schools, really trying to give them a voice while also teaching our white kids what their responsibility is in the world to other people. It’s not all privilege. We all hold a responsibility. So (I’m) opening their eyes to the world and what we can do better and how we can do better. That’s kind of how it all started. Bringing your authentic self; How do you share your voice and your experience as you help students and their families find their own voices when it comes to race, equity, inclusion, issues of social justice? I think that what’s helped me is that I’m a black woman. I can always use myself as an example. I don’t ever have to use a child or a fictitious character. I always use myself and my experiences as the tool that I’m sharing for them to get a glimpse of what’s going on in the world. I feel like it’s my duty, if I’m going to be in that kind of setting that’s not helping my own people/people who look like me, then I need to make it work in a way that enhances the world of people of color, and people of less privilege. SO that’s how I always approach it. When we talk about privilege…I am okay with saying that I don’t live in a house, or some people only have one tv, or some people can’t afford Whole Foods, I can throw out examples that make sense to kids and they are like “Oh!:”It’s pretty honest and matter of fact, so kids feel really comfortable acting questions, and I use those moments as teachable moments. What helped with this group is that I had them as 3 year olds, so I feel like I’ve almost raised them. I’ve been able to plant little seeds each year to bring them along, and then we build on it every year. Has your newsletter always been part of your practice? How does the newsletter help cultivate and germinate the seeds? It informs parents, I try to ease their minds, give them a picture into what I’m thinking and where my thinking comes from. I’m pretty honest about my life, where I come from, I share a lot of myself so that they can make connections. I feel like it brings them in a little bit more into the topics we

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are discussing. Because it seems more relevant to them— this could be about Miss Tracy. Parents panic. When you say “I’m teaching BLM” without any explanation, they panic, because one they don’t understand it, two they don’t’ know where you’re going, not understanding there is an age appropriate way to do it, and the newsletter really just breaks things down and it just gives them a glimpse into everything that we’re doing. It gives them a tool to have talking points with their kids, also.

What Progressive Education Means to Me — by Tracy Aiden “The needs of the society determine the work of the school.” — Francis W. Parker I believe that progressive education is and should be a right for all children. As a Black teacher, I know and have seen that this is not what education looks like for so many children of color. All children should have access to an education that values their identities and spirits in a way that highlights their learning styles, interests and gifts they bring to the classroom community. Progressive education isn’t just about academic achievement and knowledge of “stuff”. It’s about exposing children to relevant opportunities that will allow them to think about the world outside of their classroom. Family, community and the world outside of school should be part of this education experience that engages children in meaningful learning that will expose them and give them tools to become active members in society, engaged citizens, allies and upstanders. Teaching as a progressive educator gives me hope... I believe that children privileged enough to experience and be taught in a progressive education setting will one day be the world heroes that we look up to and be proud to have taught.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

SUPPORT PEN: These are unprecedented times, and our work at PEN continues. We would love your support at any level, which means giving financially, connecting with us online through our social networks, purchasing a little PEN swag (new products for summer!) and sharing this journal with your friends and colleagues. Amplifying the work, especially now, is powerful and important. Thank you!

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Thank You!

Spring 2021 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 31

How will you use what you’ve learned during this pandemic to further the principles of Progressive Education?

SUBMISSIONS FOR FUTURE ISSUES OF PEN: The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Given the abruptly altered educational landscape we all now teach in, we would love for you to share you best ideas and experiences on how you are navigating this world of distance learning. In reflecting on the experience of teaching and learning Progressively during the Covid-19 pandemic, what experiences and learning have you gained that you can use to live ANY of the PEN Principles (listed on page 2 of this issue) more intentionally? Please submit your ideas with the subject “COVID REFLECTIONS” and cite the specific PEN Principle you are demonstrating.In addition, we invite you to submit to any of our regular series of features listed below: “PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE” Featured articles engaging our featured Educational Principle above “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 next issue is MONDAY, MAY 31, 2021. 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 32

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2021

Articles inside

2021 KICKOFF EVENTS ProgEdNet@Distance

page 7

Support PEN

page 31

A is for Activism: Tracy Aiden

pages 27-30

Fostering Collaboration: A Book Club on Zoom

pages 25-26

Tips for Virtual Teacher Professional Learning

pages 21-24

Progressive Changes — 1967-1977

page 20

Learning & Teaching During a Pandemic

pages 16-19

Citizens — Not Spectators

pages 14-15

Creativity-At-Home: Resource Brochure

pages 12-13

A Statement from the Board of Directors

pages 4-6


page 3

Reflections on E-Learning During Covid-19

pages 9-11

Call for Committee Members

page 8
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