COVID-19: A Professor’s Perspective

Cosco-TaraTara Cosco, Ed.D. is an Associate Professor of Education at Milligan College. She has been a KDP member for more than 20 years and serves as the Counselor of the Alpha Iota Iota Chapter.

 

 

Initially, when we heard about the Coronavirus, the college was on spring break, so to be honest I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. I was enjoying my time off.

Then, the college announced we had an extra week of spring break.

Naturally, I reacted joyfully. I took long walks in the park with my co-worker and enjoyed the extra time off from work.

Then, the college announced we needed to transition to online teaching for the rest of the semester.

What? I better look into what this is truly all about. The college is one of the last places to close. When public schools close, we tend to stay open if at all possible, so this must be serious, I thought.

I wasn’t too worried about the transition to teaching online. One of my classes was already online, and most of my materials are housed online anyway.

The first week of online teaching was okay. I added assignments to make up for the in-class work I would have typically given them. I wasn’t feeling the stress I assumed some of my other colleagues were, because I love technology and use it often anyway.

Then, we had an area meeting, and the realities of what others were facing became apparent.

My chair talked about the students’ fears about graduation and how they would finish the hours needed in the schools as a student teacher and intern. We were told many of the mentor teachers were now having to homeschool their own children and at the same time teach their students. Spouses were out of work and tensions were high. My heart started to ache for the students who dreamed of their senior year with friends and their graduation celebration. The moment they had all worked so hard for was now something that we feared would not happen.

The second week of class in quarantine, I decided to hold a Zoom meeting and allow students to gather together virtually if they could. I allowed those who were unable to attend the virtual class to watch the replay later.

I was thrilled to see my students’ faces again! I had missed them terribly!

This pandemic had taught me that there was a lot in this world I took for granted. I took for granted the everyday conversations, interactions with colleagues, students, friends, and family. We held class as usual, only through a screen instead of in person. It worked well! I was pleased with the technology, the ability to share my screen, and interact as if we were in an actual classroom.

It is now early April, and we are starting a month-long lockdown.

I am missing my colleagues, students, friends, and loved ones terribly!

I miss eating out, social gatherings, a friendly hug. The news tells of projected deaths and times are scary.

I hope everyone stays safe and we return to normal soon with an attitude of gratitude.

For e-learning resources and a community of peers, visit KDP’s website at http://www.kdp.org.

Focusing on African American Male Preservice Teachers

Today’s bloggers are Samantha L. Strachan and Jillian Davis, who co-authored the article Loud and Clear: The Importance of Telling the Stories of African American Male Preservice Teachers,” which appears in the latest issue of The Educational Forum.

Close your eyes for a few seconds and think about all the teachers who taught you.

How many of your teachers have been African American males?

If you thought about your past experiences as a student, and your answer was “none,” you are not alone. In fact, many students in today’s P–12 schools will never have the opportunity to be taught by an African American male teacher. While a number of programs and initiatives have been implemented across the country to place Black men in classrooms, there is still much work to be done.

The Problem

Educational leaders and researchers alike have focused on several issues that impact the teaching profession. One issue that continues to make headlines is the absence of African American male teachers in P–12 schools. Currently, around 2% of all teachers in the United States identify as Black males (U.S. Department of Education, 2016). This dire statistic means that concerted efforts must be made to understand how these men can be recruited and retained in classrooms as teachers. Neglecting to do so will continue to result in their absence from the classrooms and from the lives of the students who most need them.

In our article in the current issue of The Educational Forum, “Loud and Clear: The Importance of Telling the Stories of African American Male Preservice Teachers,” we advocate for understanding the perspectives of African American men on the pathway to the teaching profession. We make an argument for placing the stories of Black male teacher education candidates front and center in education. We encourage understanding of why they decide to become teachers, despite not always having had good experiences in P–12 schools as students. We also discuss how, even as preservice teachers, men of color can experience challenges that, if not confronted, can continue to hinder them from fully participating in the teaching profession.

Transforming the Profession, One Story at a Time

Stories can be powerful. Like all teachers, African American men have stories that need to be shared and heard. These stories can provide the impetus needed to transform how they experience the teaching profession. However, their stories must be told and highlighted in a way that does not perpetuate stereotypes and negative notions, but instead will further how the education and research community could make changes to ensure that Black men can fully engage with the teaching profession. This is especially true for men in teacher education programs.

Since the stories of Black male preservice teachers are rarely highlighted, it is important to use their perspectives as a foundation for understanding the specific changes needed in the teaching field, and how these changes could be implemented in a manner that allows men of color to thrive in the profession.

African American male preservice teachers are uniquely positioned to provide insights that could be transformative to the teaching field. They have made the decision to become educators, and their perspectives, especially during training, can serve as reflections for teacher education and the teaching profession.

If we want to know how we can engage African American males as educators, providing spaces for them to share their stories will be important.

Not doing so will continue to sideline a group of educators whose impact in classrooms could be great.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share an essay from The Educational Forum with the education community. Access the article at Taylor and Francis Online, free through March 31, 2019.

References

  1. S. Department of Education. (2016). The state of racial diversity in the educator workforce. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/highered/racial-diversity/state-racial-diversity-workforce.pdf

Dr. Samantha Strachan

Dr. Samantha L. Strachan is Interim Chairperson of the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. She also serves as Director of the M.AL.E. (Males for Alabama Education) Initiative, a state-funded program focused on recruiting and preparing minority men for P–12 classrooms. Dr. Strachan’s research is focused on improving minority students’ participation in teacher education, particularly in the STEM fields. Her work also focuses on examining creative ways to diversify the teaching workforce. This includes sharing the stories, perspectives, and experiences of African American men on the teaching pathway.

Jillian Davis

Jillian Davis is a MEd candidate in Elementary Education at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. Her current research explores the stories of African American male preservice teachers, discussing their personal experiences, understanding their perspectives, and raising awareness of their impact on education. Jillian’s interests include the study of social justice in education, inequality, and poverty. Jillian serves as a graduate assistant.

Beginning Teacher Resilience: Considerations for Formal and Informal Mentoring

Today’s blogger is Dr. Brie Morettini, who authored “Building Beginning Teacher Resilience: Exploring the Relationship Between Mentoring and Contextual Acceptance,” published in The Educational Forum.

Each year, teacher candidates across the country graduate from colleges of education. Many of these recent graduates already have teaching jobs lined up for the following school year, while many more work earnestly and excitedly on applications for positions.

These beginning teachers are enthusiastic and qualified and possess the pedagogical content knowledge needed to effectively reach the diverse learners who will fill their classrooms. Yet, much more remains for them to learn—so much that it is hard to learn it all in a methods course, a clinical practice seminar, or even through a high-stakes assessment.

For those of us who look back fondly on our years spent in classrooms, the gift of time has rendered our daily challenges and struggles into memories. For beginning teachers, however, these struggles are not memories—they are living, breathing, real elements of their everyday lives in the classroom. The ability to thrive despite the daily struggles of teaching are what we have come to understand as resilience.

Scholarly and practical interest in teacher resilience has emerged as a topic of international interest, as the need to develop a stable teaching force has arisen as a global commitment.

To better understand the nuances of beginning teacher resilience, we sought to develop a study that focused on one rather commonplace aspect of beginning teacher resilience development: mentoring. I recently co-authored a piece with Dr. Kathryn Luet and Dr. Lisa Vernon-Dotson about mentoring as an element of building resilience, which is featured in The Educational Forum and is titled “Building Beginning Teacher Resilience: Exploring the Relationship Between Mentoring and Contextual Acceptance.”

Research shows that beginning teachers who receive mentoring from more seasoned, veteran teachers are more likely to return to their high-needs school than teachers who do not receive mentoring. Mentoring, therefore, has become a widely practiced aspect of first-year induction for beginning teachers in an effort to retain talent and diminish the high rates of teacher turnover that plague the profession, particularly in high-needs schools.

Our study is part of a larger grant-funded project aimed at improving mentor quality by drawing on tenets of sociocultural theory. We maintain that individuals learn and grow when educational opportunities attend to environmental factors and teachers’ specific needs, and when such opportunities progress in logical stages promoting incremental learning and growth. Specifically, the context in which beginning teachers work influences their learning about the nature of the profession.

As part of our grant-funded project, cohorts of mentor teachers received 2 years of intensive professional development on culturally responsive pedagogy, anti-racist education, and critical friends’ groups. These topics were identified through a large-scale needs assessment with teachers from Hillside Public Schools. This represents an organic approach to mentoring targeted at the needs articulated directly by beginning teachers.

The study explores whether and to what extent, if at all, this targeted mentoring support contributed to beginning teachers’ resilience.

What we found throughout our study was that resilience is best achieved through a nested approach. More specifically, beginning teachers begin to build resilience when they experience layers of contextual acceptance: acceptance from students, colleagues, and the larger community. And, mentoring offers entrée into feelings of acceptance from colleagues, which consequently prompts some beginning teachers to feel belonging or acceptance from their students and ultimately the larger community in which they teach. The feelings of belonging and acceptance that a range of mentoring experiences creates for beginning teachers enhances resilience, which helps beginning teachers overcome their perceived lack of preparation for the rigors of teaching, particularly in a high-needs setting.

The beginning teachers in this study referenced the support they received from some level of mentoring, whether the support occurred as formal mentoring required by the state for first-year teachers or as more informal, sporadic mentoring from colleagues. The study illuminates the importance of formal and informal mentoring spaces for beginning teachers and of building a community of support and acceptance so that beginning teachers can manage and overcome the chronic and acute stresses that accompany teaching.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share an essay from The Educational Forum with the education community. Access the article at Taylor and Francis Online, free through March 31, 2019.

Dr. Brie Morettini

Dr. Brie Morettini is an Associate Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education at Rowan University. She teaches courses on research literature and analysis, working with families and communities, and inclusive early childhood and elementary education. Her research focuses on beginning teacher identity development, beginning teachers’ perspectives on the profession, and the use of self-study methodologies to uncover and acknowledge epistemological frames.

 

 

Truth Talk: Conversations About Race

Khasnabis

Dr. Debi Khasnabis

Today’s bloggers are Debi Khasnabis and Simona Goldin, who co-authored with Ebony Perouse-Harvey and Margaret O. Hanna to write “Race and the Mona Lisa: Reflecting on Antiracist Teaching Practice,” which appears in the latest issue of The Educational Forum.

Race permeates every thread of the fabric of society in the United States, regardless of whether we recognize and speak to it.

Simona Goldin

Dr. Simona Goldin

This truth is stitched throughout all aspects of public schooling, from the gaps in academic learning opportunities that children of color experience relative to their White peers, to the racial marginalization of children at recess. This truth weakens the fabric of the institution of schooling.

As teacher–educators, we support beginning teachers in seeing and responding to the ways that race pervades children’s experiences in classrooms.

In doing so we help them leverage the knowledge that children of color and their families bring to their work in schools as well as repair the rips in the social compact.

Our current research, highlighted in “Race and the Mona Lisa: Reflecting on Antiracist Teaching Practice” in this issue of The Educational Forum, is inspired by our awareness that children’s full sets of knowledge are often unseen in schools. Children of color, especially, are unlikely to be seen for their knowledge. This invisibility occurs in instructional moments when that knowledge is related to students’ racial or ethnic identity.

What does it look like when children’s knowledge is made invisible? 

A common refrain heard in schools is “That’s racist!”

Digging into this, we were initially surprised to learn what young children identify as “racist.”

When children are raised to be “colorblind,” they can think that referring to people by their racial identifiers is racist.

What are the effects of this? From Black colleagues, we learned that their race-conscious children who had been raised to recognize, discuss, and analyze race and its associated qualities were silenced by their peers and teachers in discussions of race.

One colleague’s son, after referring to a Black person as “Black,” was hushed by a peer and told “That’s racist!” This also occurs in instructional interactions when children of color speak about race and racism. When they are silenced, what becomes invisible is their racial literacy and fluency, their advanced and sophisticated knowledge.

More than just students blister at direct discussions of race in classrooms. Teachers also frequently steer clear of discussions having to do with race.

A teacher candidate once consulted with Debi after two Black students in her science class critiqued a Bill Nye video as racist.

The students’ critique rested on their judgment that the film featured fewer people of color than White people. The teacher candidate expressed trepidation about how to handle this accusation, especially as she saw nothing “blatantly racist” in the film. She wondered how she could convey to the students that their critique was inappropriate.

These everyday occurrences affect the health and vibrancy of classrooms.

In addition to silencing students, they fail to leverage and mine the racial fluency and expertise that some students, especially students of color, can bring. Further, students whose racial fluency is undeveloped lose out on critical opportunities to speak directly about race and racism, to practice having substantive discussions about inequality, and to construct, together, a pluralistic society.

We argue teachers should model interest and engagement in the child’s thinking. When students use racial identifiers, teachers should perk up, as this is a sign that their students are bringing reservoirs of knowledge about race to this discussion. This knowledge is a rare and precious resource.

When students launch racialized critiques, this shows their teachers that they have reservoirs of knowledge about oppression.

Recognizing students’ reservoirs of racial knowledge for what they are—assets to be built upon for learning—is in the interest of the child and the learning community.

When we silence these discussions, we uphold normative ways of being that support White supremacy.

Simona Goldin teaches courses pertaining to the sociology, history, and policy of schooling in the U.S. She conducts research on ways to transform the preparation of beginning teachers to help them teach in more equitable ways and has elaborated the teaching practices that bridge children’s work in schools on academic content with their home and community-based experiences. 

Debi Khasnabis is a clinical associate professor of education and the chair of elementary teacher education at the University of Michigan School of Education. She teaches courses focusing on multicultural and multilingual education and conducts research on pedagogies of teacher education that support the development of culturally responsive teaching and understandings of inequality in schools.

Climate Change: An Opportunity for STEM Education

Dr. Mubina Schroeder is an Associate Professor at Molloy College and is a Kappa Delta Pi United Nations Professional Representative.

In preparation for the upcoming Climate Change Summit at the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated:

“We need rapid and deep change in how we do business, generate power, build cities and feed the world.” 

Climate change and its far-reaching effects on the lives of everyone in the global community represent a unique challenge for society—and a unique opportunity for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. STEM educators often contend with ways to promote scientific literacy.

How can we create the next generation of critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, and solution engineers?

One pathway is to promote awareness of socioscientific issues (SSI). Zeidler and Nicols (2009) describe SSI:

“Socioscientific issues involve the deliberate use of scientific topics that require students to engage in dialogue, discussion and debate. They are usually controversial in nature but have the added element of requiring a degree of moral reasoning or the evaluation of ethical concerns in the process of arriving at decisions regarding possible resolution of those issues. The intent is that such issues are personally meaningful and engaging to students, require the use of evidence-based reasoning, and provide a context for understanding scientific information.”

Climate change is an issue that affects every corner of the world, and students in every classroom may be witness to some of its effects. 

Several regions in the world have experienced unprecedented heat waves, water shortages, and extreme weather events–all because of climate change. The beauty of teaching using an SSI approach is that socioscientific issues often are complicated and multifaceted–allowing STEM pedagogues to be creative in teaching about them.

Some great resources on teaching about climate change can be found here:

References

Zeidler, D. L., & Nichols, B. H. (2009). Socioscientific issues: Theory and practice. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 21(2), 49.

A Survey of All Knowledge

Today’s blogger is Daniel Tanner, Board Chair of the Daniel Tanner Foundation. He reflects here on the writings of Frank Lester Ward, the subject of an article recently published in The Educational Forum.

In early 1961, while attending the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Los Angeles, the announcement was made that the book The Transformation of the School by Lawrence Cremin had just been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history.

Unfortunately, the publisher’s representative at the conference had no copies for sale at the meetings. I soon obtained a copy after I returned home and found that once I opened the pages I could not put it down.

Beautifully written, yet richly documented, the book told the story of the life and passing of the movement for progressive education that was part of the larger social movement of progressivism in America from 1876 to 1957.

In Transformation I found only passing mention on how, early on in John Dewey’s tenure at the University of Chicago, a colleague there, Albion Small, called Dewey’s attention to a book by Lester Frank Ward that had been massively ignored and virtually forgotten.

Had it not been for Small, according to Cremin, “a whole generation of educators might well have missed his work.” Ward’s ideas on education, as outlined by Cremin, were profound and fascinating to my mind, but all too brief with no mention of how Dewey drew upon Ward’s ideas. And so I obtained from interlibrary loan a copy of Ward’s massive and musty two-volume work published in 1883, Dynamic Sociology or Applied Social Science.

Tracing every source I could find on Ward’s life and work, I found that Dynamic Sociology sold very poorly, fewer than 500 copies in 10 years. The two volumes ended with a concluding chapter of almost 100 dense pages under the title Education. The footnote on the first page of the chapter explained that it was “an abridgement of a far more extended treatise actually written ten years earlier” (1873).

Cremin’s Transformation begins with the year 1876, marking the opening of the progressive movement in American education. In the final chapter of Ward’s magnum opus, Ward presented his vision of the three universal curriculums to meet the needed democratic prospect for the 20th century. Ward admitted that no one knew the shape or form that would be taken by the three universal curriculums, but he presented in detail the guiding principles for the new curriculum synthesis that was left for John Dewey’s Democracy and Education (1916).

The lives of Ward and Dewey could not have been more different: Dewey, from a long line of Vermont heritage and security, and Ward from the American heartland and early years of laborious work and struggle. Largely self-educated, Ward managed to obtain degrees to qualify for careers in law and medicine, but his passion was in natural science.

Dewey’s opportunity for higher education was smoothly available in his chosen field of philosophy. Whereas Dewey did not discard the remnants of religious sentiment until his earliest adult years, Ward was an iconoclast, and examined deeply the comparative origins and influences of science and religion in society. Both men were greatly influenced by Darwin’s findings and ideas.

Ward held that through the evolution of the human brain, humanity was empowered to direct the progression of civilization. Ward and later Dewey contended that the course of human progress was to be shaped by scientific method or “the method of intelligence,” released through universal educational opportunity to meet the democratic educational prospect.

After working as a paleontologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, Ward’s writings eventually drew recognition to the extent that he became recognized as the founder of the field of sociology, although one could say it was the entire broad field of social science, as indicated in the title of Ward’s masterwork. At age 65, Ward was invited to join the faculty of Brown University. He was truly an orchestral man, so it seemed fitting that students at Brown flocked to his course, A Survey of All Knowledge. At his passing in 1913 at the age of 72, Ward’s copious collection of notebooks and records were burned by his wife.

Daniel Tanner is Professor Emeritus in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. He is author of Crusade for Democracy: Progressive Education at the Crossroads (SUNY Press, 2015), and coauthor (with Laurel Tanner) of History of the School Curriculum (Macmillan, 1990) and Curriculum Development: Theory Into Practice (4th ed., Pearson, 2007). 

Communication Is the Key to Student Teaching

StudentTeaching

As a senior education major, you are thrilled to begin your student teaching experience.

You also may be concerned about the relationship with your cooperating teacher. Are you a guest in the classroom or a co-teacher? Did the teacher volunteer to work with you, or were you just assigned to him or her as another duty this year? How worried is the cooperating teacher about supervising you and raising the test scores of all students during the same semester?

It is critically important to start student teaching “on the right foot.”

You need to clarify answers to so many questions with clear communication before, and during, the student teaching semester.

What To Do Before the Student Teaching Experience

  1. Find out where you are to be, and when. Start dates are important. Are you to meet with the teacher before the first day of the student teaching assignment? Are you to coordinate that meeting with both the teacher and the college supervisor?
  2. What are the hours involved in student teaching? Does your college require the same hours of the teacher, or can you leave when the students leave on days that you need to be back on campus?
  3. How do you communicate with the cooperating teacher (sometimes called the mentor teacher)? Today’s teachers are overwhelmed and may not want to be available 24/7 for your text messages and emails. Make sure that you know how the teacher wishes to be contacted. If it’s only during the school day, plan ahead for your work.

What To Do the First Few Days

Some student teachers report that they don’t know what to do, or that their teacher has them sit off to the side. Here are starting points for the first few days:

  1. Make a copy of the bell schedule for yourself.
  2. Make a copy of all seating charts for yourself.
  3. Read the school’s management plan and faculty handbook.
  4. Discuss the management plan and discipline with your teacher.
  5. Find out where things are—the computers, copier, and supplies.
  6. Get to know the building—restrooms, emergency exits, cafeteria, and other teachers’ rooms.

Planning Your Work

Your cooperating teacher may not know the expectations of the college’s student teaching program. At your initial meeting, share copies of specific assignments that you must complete, and communicate the hours you need to teach.

  1. Get a calendar and look at your assignments side by side with the schedule of the cooperating teacher. Make sure you both write the specific due dates.
  2. Share the guidelines with the cooperating teacher about how he or she will approve your teaching hours.
  3. Be the go-between person to coordinate the required observations from your college supervisor.
  4. Show your cooperating teacher a copy of the evaluation that he or she will complete about your work. Discuss how you can demonstrate some of the requirements of the evaluation, such as use of technology or differentiation of instruction.
  5. If your college or state requires EdTPA, (the Teacher Performance Assessment) or other video assessment, get the necessary permissions for use of video early in the semester.

What Your Cooperating Teacher Expects

While many cooperating teachers are delighted to share their knowledge and consider working with a student teacher to be a recognition of their expertise, others are very worried when they are assigned a student teacher. To assuage their fears, be the best co-teacher you can be.

  1. Always be on time. Communicating that you will be late is not an excuse, so don’t text and say you are running behind that day. Your teacher/mentor expects you to be there on time.
  2. Your teacher expects you to be there all the time you are assigned to the room. Teachers rely on student teachers for help with everything from attendance to teaching lessons. Don’t let them down.
  3. Be prepared. With 28 third graders sitting in front of you, you can’t just “wing it.”
  4. Look professional. You can’t dress the way you would for a class on campus. Look like the teacher! No casual clothes, and you must get up early enough to have a good hair day.
  5. The teacher wants help. He or she appreciates help to provide more small-group remediation and to provide more individualized attention to students. Having a second adult in the room can be a real asset. Being a remarkable helper ensures that you will learn more at the same time.
  6. Your teacher expects you to be immersed in the classroom experience—no texting or reading Facebook during class time. Be 100% present.

The Magic Words

Student teachers continue to evaluate their field experiences as the best part of their teacher education programs. A good student teaching experience prepares you well for your first year of teaching—and beyond.

Remember the magic words, “How can I help you today?” These words are the best communication tool for a productive learning experience in student teaching.

mary clement berry collegeDr. Clement is a Professor of Teacher Education at Berry College in north Georgia, where she continues to supervise student teachers annually. She earned her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is the author of 13 books in her research area: the hiring and induction of new teachers.

Additional Online Resources