5 Ways to Connect With Families During the Pandemic

Dr. Laura Anderson is a former elementary school teacher and now a Professor of Education at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. She teaches courses in pedagogy and children’s literature and is a counselor for Upsilon Kappa Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi.

Parents are a child’s first teacher. Few parents, however, envisioned being the homeschool teacher during a pandemic such as we have experienced in 2020. Connecting with families is crucial during these times, not only for supporting parents, but keeping in touch with students as well. Here are some ways that this connection can remain strong during challenging times.

Challenges Families Face With at Home Learning

  • Having questions about lesson content
  • Encouraging their children to focus on schoolwork while at home
  • Sharing one computer with two or more siblings to complete assignments
  • Internet and computer problems
  • Finding time to work with their children after working all day

How Can Teachers Help?

1. Be an encourager: Let the parents and students know that they can succeed during the pandemic challenge. Tell them that it is a learning curve for you as well. Respond quickly to emails or calls from students and parents who express fears and frustrations. Give written, encouraging comments with feedback on assignments.

2. Be flexible: Not all families are equipped with the technology or materials needed to complete all of the assignments. Many of their schedules are different, meaning the parents may not be at home during the day as they are considered “essential” workers, and leave their children in the care of grandparents or sitters. You can help by extending due dates for assignments, which will alleviate family stress. Also, adjust assignments for children who struggle academically.

3. Be available: Using apps such as Remind allows parents and students to text questions to you without having actual access to your personal telephone number. (See remind.com/teachers). You might also set up specific times to talk with parents and students on the phone about assignments and concerns they have. Ask families to give you a contact number where you can reach them, and let them know the general time in which you are available to call. Don’t forget parents whose first language is not English. Written directions in their first language or a connection to a speaker to translate would be helpful.

4. Be creative: Think outside the box on how you can be connected. For example, several teachers in my area wanted to see their students face to face and decided to have a school faculty parade through the attendance zones. They decorated their cars with signs expressing how much they missed their students, planned a parade route, gave families approximate times in which they would be on each street and sent out an “invitation” for families to come into their front yards to see their teachers. They smiled and waved to them as the parade passed their houses, while maintaining social distancing guidelines

5. Be consistent: While flexibility is key, try to keep a sense of consistency by keeping things as familiar as possible. If you have circle time procedures such as the calendar, identifying the weather and day of the week, use these to open your Zoom sessions. When making assignments, try to use the same formats and procedures that you use in the classroom.

What ideas do you have that you can share with others? Please share your strategies and tag me at http://www.instagram.com/lhsa52.

That Uncomfortable Topic of Social Justice

Today’s blogger is Katherine E. L. Norris (West Chester University), whose article “Using the Read-Aloud and Picture Books for Social Justice” appears in the October 2020 issue of the Kappa Delta Pi Record. Get free access to the article through the month of November.

Over the last six months, issues of race have been in the spotlight. Turning on the television inevitably leads to hearing stories about racial injustices and civil rights protests. In fact, over the last few years, stories of racial tension, immigration, and LGBTQ concerns have received extra media attention as we grapple with policies and practices that impact our diverse population. And children are not immune to the daily news stories and social media posts.

In many classrooms, common practice when it comes to diversity and justice has been avoidance.

With diversity, equity, and inclusion thrust into the spotlight because of the obvious inequities made more visible by the pandemic, racial injustices, and worldwide protests, educators have a renewed opportunity to begin to support students as they attempt to navigate these new realities.

Some teachers aren’t sure how to begin the conversations and how to handle sometimes uncomfortable topics of justice and fairness as they relate to race, immigration, poverty, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. Teachers must start early to introduce students to the ideas of equity and justice, and to begin to give students the tools they need to work together to appreciate and value one another both inside and outside of the classroom.

Most school days are packed with content, and teachers often struggle to cover all the required curricula, so the thought of adding something else into the school day may seem overwhelming. Many teachers already use storytime or the read-aloud in their daily schedules. Why not take this opportunity to incorporate picture books that support teaching social justice and equity in the classroom?

Picture books are a great way to cover diverse concepts and experiences in a way that young children can understand. The use of picture books during the read-aloud allows teachers to introduce topics to students and guide them as they attempt to understand the importance of equity and justice.

By using the read-aloud and picture books to teach social justice, teachers can guide their students’ understanding through questioning and clarification.

The read-aloud gives students a chance to appreciate and understand cultures and lifestyles that differ from their own. Cultural appreciation and understanding serve as a place to start in breaking down barriers and eliminating stereotypes for both teachers and their students. For teachers who feel too overwhelmed to handle diverse topics, the use of the high-quality picture books during the read-aloud time is one way to begin to navigate conversations with students in a nonthreatening way.

‘STEAM’ing Ahead Through Project-Based Learning in Uganda

By Usha Rajdev

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Dr. Rajdev is a counselor for Marymount University’s, Alpha Beta Delta Chapter, of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society, and leads the STEM initiative in KDP’s International Committee. She’s a faculty advisor for the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) Student Chapter and also for Marymount University’s Global STEM Certificate.

With this need to prepare our youth for future challenges in mind, in November 2018, in Indianapolis, I presented a ‘STEAMing Scientists’ workshop (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) about my upcoming STEM teaching approach. The following year, I would model this approach for the KDP Esooka chapter in Uganda. After my Indianapolis presentation, several audience members asked to meet with me. They expressed their interest in this upcoming STEM hands-on teaching approach. In 2019, I embarked on a journey to provide STEM education to teachers and institutions of the Esooka KDP Chapter. This STEM education was part of the KDP STEM Initiative. Over the course of two weeks I met with faculty members from one university and administrators and teachers from four local high schools to develop STEM programs. Under my guidance, The Mosquito! Module (https://ssec.si.edu/mosquito) was implemented at the five institutions. Teachers from each institution engaged in training using local resources to later implement this project with their students.

The Mosquito! Module framework focused on sustainable actions that students defined and implemented to reduce mosquito infestations in and around schools. The content of the module included cleaning wells, removal of stagnant water, learning the life cycle of mosquitoes and the spread of diseases, and the importance and urgency of engineering and designing mosquito traps. The Ugandian students continued to work and strengthen their projects and traps throughout 2019. They were actively engaged in informing their surrounding community about the mosquito problems and offering realistic and sustainable solutions. The students also communicated with the school nurse to document the decline in cases of malaria in their schools. They were looking forward to sharing their data and projects at the next International KDP/STEM Convo in 2020. However, due to COVID-19 canceling the 2020 Convocation, this KDP presentation will take place at a later date.

Uganda’s KDP/STEM story does not end here with the Mosquito! Module. The Ugandan teachers will continue to work on this module over the coming years and will present their projects at some point when routine life begins. They plan to mentor and expand this Mosquito! Module with other schools and will begin their work on the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s COVID19! Module with me. The effects of the contagion will be compared with that of the mosquito diseases within their local communities.

Teachers and students met monthly online with me to update their progress and receive support on how to best continue and overcome any challenges. In October 2019, members of the Esooka Chapter met with the Smithsonian Science Education Center to discuss progress of the Module. Some schools had an abundance of stagnant water, while others dealt with marsh areas. The teachers and I also discussed ideas for the future of the program including an International KDP/STEM Conference that is planned for Kampala, in Uganda, when the COVID-19 pandemic ends. A Ugandan teacher who worked with our STEM program entered his student in a STEM competition. Of the 1,200 students involved in the project, the student’s presentation, demonstrating his passion for sustainability, was one of the winning projects. (https://bit.ly/2BSa2Qm). All five institutions are working on the criteria for a ‘STEM School Certificate’ through Marymount University’s Global STEM Chapter.

As described by the Esooka Chapter Counselor, Joyce, Nansubuga, this experience through KDP’s STEM Initiative helped in… “making teaching and learning more practical through the PBL approach, being an innovative teacher and a lifelong learner, and embracing STEAM in preparations of our lessons and in teaching.”

The journey continues. (https://bit.ly/2NHoJs7).

KDP’s International Work

Today’s bloggers are Dr. Barbara Meyer (Member, KDP International Committee) and Dr. Susan Trostle Brand (International Ambassador and United Nations NGO Representative for KDP).

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Everyone deserves a quality education.

Education, at best, is tailored to each individual’s unique developmental, cultural, and academic needs. 

Every student learns differently, and each student, even a youngster with only a five-year history, brings their personal stories, cultures, traditions, and histories to the classroom.

History and culture exert a tremendous impact on an individual’s learning. Teachers who recognize and take a pro-active role in students’ cultures and histories are better prepared to reach out and meet the needs of their students.

Some educators have the opportunity to travel, engage with others abroad, and observe how others live.

Other educators do not have these opportunities.

Regardless, in order to attain ongoing enlightenment, mutual respect, and continued progress in social justice, educators must all acquire an understanding of those who live in different places and speak different languages. Acquiring an awareness, an understanding, and an acceptance of those who live in different regions and countries equips individuals to work for equality and equity and, ultimately, strive for a more harmonious world. People with whom we work and socialize all have different backgrounds, even though we may live in the same neighborhoods.

As teachers, the students in our classrooms may originate from other countries or speak a different language in their homes. 

Their priorities, goals and challenges may be different from what we experienced when we were that age. Educators who embrace these differences are better prepared to actively and compassionately teach every child with an appreciation for, and recognition of, their uniqueness.

The mission of Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education, is “to prepare all learners for future challenges.” This mission includes the preparation of educators throughout the world, as KDP is an Honor Society for all teachers in all countries.

One example of our KDP mission in action is evidenced through the work of the International Committee of KDP that strives “to establish, promote, and enact, various initiatives of action, advocacy, and advancement towards international education and international educators.”

Through traveling abroad and experiencing locations outside of our local areas, educators encounter and acquire an appreciation of the personal stories and histories of their students. These educators share their international experiences and new knowledge with other educators through meetings, publications, webinars, lesson modeling, and face-to-face interactions. Therefore, they promote international awareness and an expanded range of teaching skills for other educators that embrace all diverse learners.

In 2016, the International Committee of KDP formed the International Ambassador position. As International Ambassadors travel to different countries, they bring with them their expertise and resources from KDP and discuss with educators abroad the value of joining KDP. Some ambassadors initiate new members into KDP and even install chapters in international schools, universities, and colleges. They describe and visually display the resources that KDP offer for educators and explain how these tools can be used for their own professional development and instruction.  Because of this work, KDP has an ever-expanding number of members in 47 countries outside of the United States.  

The outreach of our KDP ambassadors and other KDP members has resulted in substantial and groundbreaking work in countries such as Western Kenya, Uganda, China, Mexico, and more. 

With this progress in mind, over the next few months, we plan like to present a series of blog posts that describe these experiences and provide KDP members with ideas of how they might also travel abroad to promote the mission of KDP and work with members and chapters in other countries. Watch for exciting and inspiring international posts a few times per month from October through December.  We hope you will enjoy hearing these international stories, perhaps consider traveling yourself, and also glean ideas about how to better serve the needs of international students in your own community.

To contact us about opportunities, email membership@kdp.org.

Secondary Traumatic Stress: What Happens When Teachers Are Compassionate

Today’s blogger is Jessica N. Essary (Cazenovia College), who co-authored the article “Secondary Traumatic Stress Among Educators,” which appears in the July 2020 issue of the Kappa Delta Pi Record. Get free access to the article through the month of October.

Comments students have shared with their teachers:

  • My cousin died of a drug overdose.
  • The fire destroyed my house.
  • My pregnant aunt was murdered by her boyfriend.
  • My brother cries every night. He has Hand-Schüller Christian disease. So, I hit my cat.
  • I saw my Mommy dead. She killed herself.
  • Some guys took me to McDonald’s, but I did not know they were in a gang. They bought my lunch. Then they told me to kill the cop. They promised me daily lunch and a car. I did not do it. So, they beat me up and left me in the Everglades.
  • I broke my leg in a car accident.

Teachers are often among the first individuals who children confide in—especially if they like their teacher. Even if teachers were robotically focused on academics only (hypothetically ignoring social, emotional, and physical development), they could not ignore the impact of stress on a child, because it likely permeates the child’s academic experience. And when students experience ongoing episodes or a singular traumatic event, a teacher can experience secondary stress, also known as secondary traumatic stress disorder or compassion fatigue.

I firmly believe that children deserve compassionate teachers because compassion is also treatment for stress. Yet, the burnout that stems from secondary stress symptoms can cause us to lose our most compassionate educators. We simply cannot fail these children and their teachers because of societal ignorance of secondary traumatic stress.

Teachers in some communities are likely more at-risk of experiencing secondary stress, but the rate of trauma among children suggests that the majority of teachers will have exposure to traumatized children during their career. Based on my anecdotal evidence, I suspect that most teachers experience some form of secondary stress symptoms (many creating negative physical ailments/responses) approximately once every month, or more! Yet, there is a dearth of related literature, and we are just scratching the surface of this often hidden, ongoing, worldwide issue. Unfortunately, teachers may suffer from secondary stress disorder without metacognitively understanding the intricacies of their plight.

I have yet to speak with a teacher who could not relate to secondary traumatic stress symptoms due to their exposure to childhood trauma. However, many of these teachers were unaware of secondary traumatic stress disorder before our conversation. I can understand why the topic of secondary stress among educators has a dearth of related research. Have you ever heard some researchers refer to research as me-search? Sure, many research investigations begin with our practical exposure to the topic. Yet, with a topic like secondary stress, a personal investigation may be too psychologically daunting. For many years I believed that it would have been a lot easier, emotionally, to study something else. Yet, I always believed that solutions might exist for teachers, and that encouraged me to persist. Perhaps a lot of educational researchers have felt this way. After studying this issue for more than a decade, I can attest that it has brought me considerable awareness and compassion satisfaction. Why was I never taught about secondary stress in my teacher preparation program?

Yes, a crater of missing knowledge exists in our field of education. After experiencing secondary stress countless times throughout my teaching career, my conscience care for teachers and children could not ignore this enormous vicissitude. After conducting my own investigation, I was even more aware of the interdisciplinary relevance. Therefore, I found it vital to invite authorial colleagues to join me; so, I contacted two experts whom I highly respect, as they are likely among the most consummate readers in their fields of expertise. My professorial psychologist friend, Dr. Lydia Barza, has an extensive background on compassion fatigue, beginning with her preparatory work in counseling. My professorial cognitive scientist friend, Dr. Roy Thurston, has a multitude of brain-based impacts of stress readily available for discussion. Our article in the July issue of the Kappa Delta Pi Record is the product of our collaborative research.

The more I speak with teachers, the more I am convinced that secondary stress expertise is critical in our field. Before you read the details, I should note that this topic is not just doom-and-gloom. Fortunately, there is a silver lining here. There are plenty of practical steps that administrators and educators can take to transform secondary stress into compassion satisfaction. Teaching is interpersonal, and harnessing compassion satisfaction is a powerful skill for everyone involved with children.

In summary, this topic, arguably, should be presented in every teacher education program and popularized in the media for greater awareness. Also, we need to collaborate with, as well as provide professional development opportunities for, social workers, school administrators, policy makers, cognitive scientists, and school counselors to help educators attain compassion satisfaction as they work with ongoing secondary stress. In addition, now, more than ever, we need governments to empower teachers by providing them with access to resources to help their colleagues on the “front lines” and the children they serve as they experience Covid-related stress.  Finally, we must empower teachers by providing them access to recommended government agencies and nonprofit services for children. These agencies should be mandated to provide timely follow-up on the services they can offer teachers, students, and their families. Working together, we can ease the burden of trauma on our students and their teachers.

An Invitation to the Past

Craig Kridel

Dr. Craig Kridel

Today’s blogger is Craig Kridel (University of South Carolina), who authored the article “Black Progressive Educators of the 1940s: An Overlooked Chapter of Progressivism in American Education,” which appears in the July 2020 issue of the Kappa Delta Pi Record. Get free access to the article, which is part of the John Dewey Memorial Lecture series sponsored by the Daniel Tanner Foundation, through the month of August 2020.

I didn’t know what to expect when I embarked on an oral history project many years ago.

I thought 1930s and 1940s progressive education would have entered African American schools in some way, but because there was so little documentation, I was uncertain.

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Lincoln High School faculty, Tallahassee, FL, ca. 1944; courtesy of The Lincoln Room, The Lincoln Neighborhood Service Center, Tallahassee, FL

To my delight, I would discover a group of black progressive educators and their students, many still living, who participated in the Secondary School Study, staged from 1940 to 1946 in 17 experimental high schools in the American Southeast.

My article, “Black Progressive Educators of the 1940s,” introduces KDP members to this overlooked chapter in progressive education and African American education during the time of Jim Crow. But my essay is not as much research as an invitation for readers to hear directly from those magnificent teachers and students as they describe these extraordinary experimental schools.

The 1940s narratives . . . give us the opportunity to “enter the classroom” and watch the joys and problems of the experimentation by a group of courageous teachers and students.

These teachers welcomed classroom experimentation as a way to improve the lives of their students. Like today, they were aware of problems and issues caused by change, but they felt little fear. They built strong communities among themselves and among the other participating schools in the study where, unlike today, they were encouraged to experiment with their curricular materials and instructional methods. They didn’t have professors hounding them about research designs or establishing validity and reliability. Experimentation was a natural part of their educational life, a way of life, and the Secondary School Study would ultimately maintain that an experimental school was a healthy school.

I interviewed more than 150 individuals, between the ages of 80 and 102, during a 13-year period (2007–2019). This resulted in a 150-page exhibition catalog, Progressive Education in Black High Schools (with 102 historical images and 186 contemporary photos), and a museum website, The Secondary School Study Web Exhibitions, presenting more than 500 images and historical documents and 750 statements from the interviewees—from teachers and students themselves—as they describe progressive and experimental methods from their classrooms. The interview statements do have some glow of “those were the days,” caused by the passing of the years; yet, racial injustices and the daily indignities that black teachers, students, and parents endured during that time (and beyond) never permitted our conversations to float off into idealistic utopian rhetoric.

During my work I discovered a remarkable set of materials like no other I have ever seen in my decades of archival and historical research.

All participating schools were requested to submit final reports; however, three schools prepared creative nonfiction narratives of their experiences with classroom experimentation. In these 1940s ethnographic, historical school monographs, we join educators discussing their curricular and instructional methods and ways to better convey meanings and to connect with young adults. We overhear teachers talk to students about their hopes and plans for the future and their search for ways to make school more meaningful and more able to prepare all for the indignities that they would inevitably face.

The 1940s narratives, recently republished and now titled Becoming an African American Progressive Educator: Narratives from 1940s Black Progressive High Schools, give us the opportunity to “enter the classroom” and watch the joys and problems of the experimentation by a group of courageous teachers and students.

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High school students from Moultrie High School for Negro Youth, Moultrie, GA, 1947; courtesy of Odessa Walker Hooker.

We meet Susan Prim, a teacher with a “mule-in-the-middle-of-the-road attitude toward newfangled ideas,” but who recognized that her students’ needs were not being met; and we watch her change from a traditional teacher to a progressive educator. We are introduced to Miss Parker, a first-year teacher who comes to understand the basic tenets of progressive education and the practice of teacher–pupil planning. And we follow co-valedictorians Sarah and Herbert as they walk around their high school interviewing teachers and students to prepare their commencement speeches.

My research became a gesture of service and, ultimately, of affection for those I met.

I was graciously invited into homes so that those who had been ignored and silenced for years could finally speak.

I was able to offer teachers and students a public and academic venue for their astonishing tales of the joys of education under the harsh circumstances of segregation and social injustice.

They spoke with grace and dignity, with pride and with laughter, and with anger and righteous indignation that these special experimental schools had been ignored and dismissed by their local and regional communities.

I invite you to join me and stand in the corners of experimental classrooms of the 1940s.

The published narratives and hundreds of oral history descriptions allow us to see life in those schools and to wonder how progressive ideals and classroom experimentation could alter and improve our lives in classrooms of today. “Black Progressive Educators of the 1940s: An Overlooked Chapter of Progressivism in American Education” appears in the July 2020 issue of the Kappa Delta Pi Record.

The Secondary School Study Web Exhibitions may be visited here.

The exhibition catalog, Progressive Education in Black High Schools: The Secondary School Study, 1940–1946, may be downloaded gratis here.

The three school reports, now presented as one volume, Becoming an African American Progressive Educator: Narratives from 1940s Black Progressive High Schools, may be downloaded gratis here.

The Daniel Tanner Foundation supported the printing and web-dissemination of these Museum of Education materials as well as the article, “Black Progressive Educators of the 1940s: An Overlooked Chapter of Progressivism in American Education,” in the KDP Record.

Get free access to the article, which is part of the John Dewey Memorial Lecture series sponsored by the Daniel Tanner Foundation, through the month of August 2020.

Craig Kridel is the E. S. Gambrell Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Educational Studies and Curator Emeritus of the Museum of Education, University of South Carolina, and is currently completing the unfinished memoir of Harold Taylor (1914–1993), former president of Sarah Lawrence College and KDP Laureate.

COVID-19 and Disparities in Higher Education

In March of this year the world shifted in a way that we’ve never experienced.

A global pandemic unlike any other would change the world in so many ways.

Many Americans shrugged off the warnings to self-quarantine and limit their movement to essential needs only. After all, America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, right?

To suggest an immediate lifestyle of isolation to a country of people who are accustomed to doing as they pleased proved difficult. Shortly thereafter, the nation’s education system moved into immediate lockdown and campus evacuations.

This meant that all students, both domestic and international, had to return home. This action would cause a series of concerns not previously considered to surface.

Global Pandemic and Campus Life

According to Goldrick-Rab and colleagues (2019), 18% of their survey participants at 2-year colleges and 14% of participants at 4-year colleges are housing insecure. Many of these students rely heavily on university housing for food and lodging. Universities began evacuating and, in some cases, providing students only 48–72 hours to vacate the premises.

What would become of the students who were housing and food insecure? Universities often provide campus pantries for these students. What is not publicly known is if universities also provide emergency housing in instances such as COVID-19.

Also, what happens to international students who are in the United States on student visas? As campuses evacuated and residence halls closed, international students were left without many options and had to return home. International students remain uncertain if they will be able to return to campus this fall. What will this mean for enrollment? How will this pandemic affect university budgets, considering that many international students are full-pay students?

International students immediately had to scramble to make flights in or out of the country before they were cancelled. These students also have indicated that they have not been successful in their attempts to contact U.S. embassies (Federis, 2020). As the likelihood of suspended services at embassies increases, the American Council on Education predicts a 15% drop in enrollment and a 25% drop in international enrollment for fall 2020 (Federis, 2020).

COVID-19 Exposed Educational Biases and Assumptions

The world as we knew it will never be the same. As an African American male in higher education, I am completely at peace with this.

Higher education, as proven by the creation of the hashtag #BlackInTheIvory by doctoral student Joy Melody Woods and Dr. Sharde Davis, has always been unkind to individuals who look like us. This pandemic allowed inside access for the world to also view how marginalized students, staff, and faculty are treated. It has allowed us to see the gaps that exist in the system of education and how universities make sweeping assumptions about their students. For example, an emerging issue in both the K–12 and higher education sectors is the assumption that all students have access to laptops and personal mobile devices to do their work.

It was also assumed that all students had access to Wi-Fi services. I learned from some of my own undergraduate students that they were writing course papers on cellular phones, borrowing Internet from neighbors, or having to log on at a church to complete their work.

A few of my students discussed how the pandemic forced them back into intolerable living circumstances that tested their already-fragile mental health. Other students were thrust back into the role of familial caregiver to aging grandparents while juggling 19 credit hours. What this pandemic also showed us is where institutions place their values. Faculty and staff members were furloughed or asked to reduce working hours to reduce their pay but remain employed (Nietzel, 2020).

These reductions are imbalanced from an ethical perspective and are felt mostly by employees with lower salaries (Nietzel, 2020). As an educator who has previously been on the wrong side of a budget cut, the people who take the greatest hit are often those closer in proximity to the average student. It’s my opinion that athletic coaches and university presidents who make upwards of a million dollars or more in salary should always take the greatest hit in these instances. The rationale for this is that the loss of income would not have as great of an impact on their living circumstances. However, the employee who is a single parent making considerably less and furloughed will now have to acquire other resources simply to survive. Where is the middle ground?

A Demand for Action Because A Call Just Won’t Do!

Racial tensions in the world are at an all-time high. Police brutality and racist occurrences are happening in plain sight, and ignoring them or playing obtuse are no longer acceptable practices.

The system of education may encounter a rude awakening as well as the forced overhaul of whitewashed educational practices. As we consider how we will now envision education, it is time that the voices of the marginalized be placed in course syllabi, guest lectures, university announcements, and in the classroom. For far too long we have allowed the privilege of whiteness to be the barometer for how we measure all things related and pertaining to education.

We have witnessed our peers who are Black women be ignored, talked over, and disregarded. We have watched our disabled peers be overlooked by ableism. Many of us have experienced the unfavorable denial of tenure based on unfair, biased student evaluations that negatively impact professors of color. We are taking a stand and saying “no more!” We will no longer be pushed aside, disregarded, labored without pay or for low wages, and abused. The time is up for the reign of privilege, White supremacy, White manning, and White fragility.

Institutions and institutional leadership will acknowledge these harmful practices and move to rectify them. We will no longer accept empty promises, carefully worded memos, or text messages from our fragile “allies.” Which side of history will you be remembered for standing on, and will you be able to reconcile within yourself if you make the wrong choice? The choice belongs to all of us.

Frederick Engram Jr.Dr. Frederick Engram, Jr. is an expert of graduate enrollment and diversity, equity, and inclusion. He is a qualitative researcher who grounds his research in critical race theory. He held faculty appointments at American University and Radford University and is now Assistant Professor of Practice Department of Criminology and Center for African American Studies at University of Texas-Arlington. He focuses his research on the lived experience of African American graduate students enrolled at PWIs (predominately white institutions). He is a published scholar and a contributing author of the book No Ways Tired: The Journey For Professionals of Color in Student Affairs: Vol II (2019), and the article “An Act of Courage: Providing Space for African American Graduate Students to Express Their Feelings of Disconnectedness” (2020). He has published several other articles for Blavity and Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

References

Click the image above to register or view (if after 8/5) Dr. Engram’s webinar.

BLM

Black Lives Matter

Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education, is an educational nonprofit organization that serves, supports, and provides leadership opportunities for more than 35,000 collegiate pre-service teachers, K-12 teachers, and teacher preparation faculty. In the wake of the recent killings of Mr. George Floyd, Ms. Breonna Taylor, Mr. Rayshard Brooks, and others at the hands of law enforcement, we would like to unequivocally affirm the sentiment that Black Lives Matter, not only in instances of police brutality, but in every facet of life. As such, we are committed to working in solidarity with our members and partners to implement systemically focused efforts that directly address the racial inequities within our beloved profession.

Teachers are often the most influential adults in the daily lives of their students beyond family. Teachers who embrace and exemplify diversity, equity, and inclusion transform the lives of students by expanding their minds, knowledge, and opportunities. We recognize this pivotal moment in history as a time to not only teach, but to pause, learn from and embrace the reality that not all of our lived experiences are the same. We also recognize this as a time to celebrate the academic, cultural and professional contributions of individuals throughout the African diaspora that have been undervalued for centuries.

Systemic racism in education prohibits children and adults of color from experiencing high quality, engaging educational experiences despite their talents and abilities. All people of color have a right to learn skills and acquire knowledge in educational environments that enable them to realize their inherent lifelong potential.

It is not enough to commit to solidarity and state our beliefs. We must act. Therefore, KDP’s leadership and staff commit to the following actions to ensure Black students, teachers, families, and communities stop being targeted with violence, oppression, and lesser opportunities:

  1. Acknowledge implicit biases, prejudices, and privilege within KDP by engaging in difficult conversations about racism while seeking solutions.
  2. Establish KDP’s first-ever Coalition for Anti-Racism in Education (CARE) to work with KDP on the development of processes that can support teachers to teach Black students well.
  3. Ensuring the work of Black educators is central to all of KDP’s programming.
  4. Provide ongoing staff training on anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  5. Evaluate KDP’s policies and procedures to remove barriers for people of color to join as members, contribute thought leadership, and become employed.
  6. Diversify KDP leadership, staff, and membership to ensure the voices and votes of people of color are incorporated into KDP’s work locally, nationally, and globally.
  7. Expend resources to develop and expand KDP chapters in Historically Black Colleges & Universities.
  8. Partner with companies, organizations, foundations, and other educational associations to identify greater-impact solutions and opportunities for teachers of color.
  9. Be authentic, transparent, and committed to eliminate racism in and out of the classroom while never forgetting the countless lives lost or devastated by racism.

KDP remains committed to helping recruit, prepare, and retain a diverse, effective, and respected teacher workforce, and we look forward to working with you to eliminate racism in education.  If you wish to join KDP in these efforts, please email a message to CEO@kdp.org.

Sincerely,
tonja

 

Tonja Eagan, MPA, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer

BLM

Click to download the statement in PDF form.

Teacher Preparation for Online Learning: Now Is the Time

Mary RiceToday’s blogger is Mary Frances Rice (University of New Mexico), who co-authored the article “Orienting Toward Teacher Education for Online Environments for All Students,” which appears in The Educational Forum. KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share access to the article free through June 30, 2020 at Taylor and Francis Online.

In March 2020, 1.3 billion learners at all levels were displaced from their educational buildings due to COVID-19 (UNESCO, 2020).

In the U.S., most school buildings closed for the rest of the shool year (Education Week, 2020). For many, closures of this magnitude were previously unthinkable.

Even as buildings closed, many schools and institutions of higher education adopted some form of remote emergency learning.

Aside from the psychological panic induced by COVID-19 that made transition to new ways of learning difficult, many students did not have the devices and reliable internet access necessary for online learning. In fact, many teachers did not. Moreover, teachers had not been prepared to teach online. Why not? Well, for many reasons (see Rice & Deschaine, 2020). For some teacher education programs, it was because they thought online teaching was not real teaching. For some programs, it was because they lacked resources—faculty with know-how and models to emulate. For others, it was because they (and their state licensing boards) were tightly tethered to the notion that (time in seat = learning) and online instruction disrupts that equation.

Regardless of the reason, teachers in many schools distributed devices as best they could and started sending work online to families.

Did they bring their strongest pedagogical practices to the emergency online work? Some probably did.

Success stories abound from teachers at schools who already had consistent access to infrastructure and who were already using digital resources. I have a research site right now where students are receiving private music lessons with instruments provided on a rent-to-own basis by the school as part of their home-based learning. In this school, teachers are also sending students to break-out rooms for conversations, reading bedtime stories to students, and making use of learning management systems for young children. In these nice, safe neighborhoods, teachers can parade in their cars and wave to students to lessen the distance while keeping everyone safe. Moreover, in these neighborhoods, parents can stay home with children, find places in their spacious homes to make fun spaces for learning, and monitor children’s formal learning for a few hours a day.

But that is not what it is like for most families.

In many schools, the worst pedagogies and the most deficit-laden attitudes followed them to remote learning.

In another school site where I am conducting research, students were assigned to watch a 45-minute slide presentation with narration about the Falkland Wars. Students were supposed to take notes and write an essay. This  expectation—to learn using one of the driest content delivery systems ever invented—is for 12-year-olds! In another district, parents of students with disabilities were barred from entering their children’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) virtual meetings because they did not have district email addresses. When parents were not logging on, school officials chalked it up to parental ineptitude instead their own.

And then, there are the teachers who are not able to teach at all.

The devastation of the virus in some communities has been so intense that teaching and learning are the last priorities—with good reason.

For example, the Navajo Nation on the Arizona/New Mexico border is fighting the virus while most community members lack running water (McGraw, 2020). Surely, if we have to choose between the internet and running water, the water should win, along with food and medical supplies. But in most communities, if they had decent internet bandwidth and families had access to devices and teachers were prepared to teach online and collaborate with families remotely, all students could do home learning with some success.

Although there were good reasons to prepare teachers to teach online before the pandemic, it is understandable that many educators and many communities were caught underprepared.

However, moving forward from COVID-19, it seems prudent for institutions of higher education who prepare teachers to make preparation to teach online and in blended or hybrid spaces their highest priority.

Yes, teaching online requires different types of skills (Pullham & Graham, 2018).

Yes, teaching online requires teachers to think about time and achievement differently (Yan & Pan, 2011).

Yes, teaching online increases the transactional distance between students and teachers which must be lessened through strategic actions from teachers (Moore, 1993).

But, teaching online can be done well.

Teaching online can be a positive relational experience for students (Rice & Carter, 2015). Teaching online can also support the development of critical digital literacies and other advanced skills (Blau, et. al., 2020). But stop-gap emergency will not ever be anything other than that. And if we continue to rely on it in times of trouble, we run the risk of exacerbating educational inequalities that are already beyond tragic and unacceptable.

Communities need internet.

Students need devices.

Teachers need preparation.

Parents need support. Let’s lay the blame for uneven remote learning where it belongs—lack of planning, lack of interest, and structural inequality.

Then, let’s fix it.


References

  • Blau, I., Shamir-Inbal, T., & Avdiel, O. (2020). How does the pedagogical design of a technology-enhanced collaborative academic course promote digital literacies, self-regulation, and perceived learning of students?. The Internet and Higher Education, 45, 100722.
  • Education Week. (2020). Map: Coronavirus and school closures. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/map-coronavirus-and-school-closures.html
  • McGraw, G. (2020). How do you fight the coronavirus without running water? New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/02/opinion/coronavirus-water.html
  • Moore, M.G. (1993). Theory of transactional distance. In D. Keegan (Ed.), Theoretical principles of distance education. (pp. 22-38). Routledge.
  • Pulham, E., & Graham, C.R. (2018). Comparing K-12 online and blended teaching competencies: a literature review. Distance Education, 39(3), 411–432.
  • Rice, M. & Carter, Jr., R. A. (2015). With new eyes: Online teachers’ sacred stories of students with disabilities. In M. Rice (Ed.) Exploring pedagogies for diverse learners online (pp.205-226). Emerald Group Publishing.
  • Rice, M. F., & Deschaine, M. E. (2020). Orienting toward teacher education for online environments for all students. The Educational Forum 84(2),114-125.
  • UNESCO. (2020). COVID-19 educational disruption and response. Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse
  • Yan, H., & Pan, S. (2011). Rethinking time management of online instruction: Flexible or strict?. Open Education Research, 3. Retrieved from http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-JFJJ201103018.htm

7 Resources for Teachers to Change a Racism Narrative

As one of the articles we are sharing describes, racism is alive and well in America.

In your classrooms, whether in-person or virtual, you have a responsibility to ensure all children receive an equitable education.

We’ve compiled 7 resources for you from our magazines, The Teacher Advocate and the KDP Record, to help you address racism and racial inequity in your classrooms and communities.

We’re All in This Together: Four Tips for a Culturally Responsive Learning Environment

article

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Author: Marquita S. Hockaday (@KeeKeeHockaday), Assistant Professor of Education at Pfeiffer University

Today’s classrooms are even more diverse, mirroring the changes in American society. More than half of the students in these classrooms are culturally and linguistically diverse. They need culturally responsive instruction that allows them to recognize and understand their own culture, while building knowledge from that cultural base. These four tips will help you create and maintain a culturally responsive learning environment in your classroom.

Teaching in an Increasingly Polarized Society

article

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Author: Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, Charles Howard Candler Professor Emeritus at Emory University; she is a 2015 KDP Laureate Inductee

Our democracy and equal opportunity for all students are endangered as schools become increasingly polarized. Dr. Jacqueline Jordan Irvine calls for better-prepared and more committed teachers in the areas of social justice and culturally responsive pedagogy.

Racism is Alive and Well in America

article

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Author: Joyce Lynn Garrett, Teacher and Administrator in the public schools and higher education for 35 years

“A recent event from my own experience provided the impetus for this column,” writes author Joyce Lynn Garrett. “At a social gathering, someone used a racial slur to describe President Obama. After I made it clear I was offended by the comment, I left immediately.” Read more of Joyce’s story and find three areas she recommends teachers address in the fight against intolerance.

Broadening Our Approach to Educating Children in Poverty

article

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Author: Pedro Noguera (@PedroANoguera), Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education at UCLA; he is a 2011 KDP Laureate Inductee

 

New York City leaders have embraced a holistic vision of school reform that begins to confront the race and class disparities in learning opportunities for poor children that most other cities neglect. Though their plan for high-quality, full-service schools goes against the current tide of market-based reform, research has shown that these schools can have a major impact on the academic and social outcomes of children.

Failed Citizenship, Civic Engagement, and Education

article

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Author: James A. Banks (@DrJamesABanks1), Kerry and Linda Killinger Endowed Chair in Diversity Studies and Director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Seattle; he is a 1997 KDP Laureate Inductee

Many racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious groups are denied  structural inclusion into their nation-state. Consequently, they do not internalize the values and symbols of the nation-state, develop a strong identity with it, or acquire political efficacy. The author conceptualizes this process as “failed citizenship,” compares and contrasts it with “successful citizenship,” and describes the role of schools in reducing failed citizenship and helping marginalized groups become successful and efficacious citizens in multicultural nation-states.

Fighting to Be Heard

article

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Author: Tracey Flores (@traceyhabla), Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin

“On an evening in June, four Latina girls entering ninth and tenth grade, along with their mothers and fathers, gathered at [my] university for an evening of drawing, writing, and sharing. Sitting side-by-side at tables, girls and their parents busily sketched, in pencil and crayon, a drawing in response to the question, De dónde eres? (Where are you from?).” Read more of Tracey’s story by downloading the article.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Understanding and Addressing Whiteness and Color-Blind Ideology in Education

article

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Author: David Gillborn, Professor of Critical Race Studies and Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom; he is a 2015 KDP Laureate Inductee

Dr. David Gillborn argues that color-blind ideology amounts to a refusal to deal with the reality of racism, which protects and extends White racial advantage, as well as shares thoughts on dismantling Whiteness in education.

BONUS: Intro to Social Justice Course

We live in a diversifying democracy—one that (at least in theory) is built upon the values of the dignity of all people, equal opportunity, and justice. But a quick glance at headlines tells us that, despite the progress made, we have a way to go. To close the gap between our democratic vision and reality, citizens (and educators) need to develop skills in citizenship and democracy.

The KDP University Intro to Social Justice Course introduces the notion of social justice and guides teachers in the development of awareness and skills needed to reframe lessons and units to have a social justice lens.

Enroll in the course for FREE by DMing us on Instagram (@KappaDeltaPi) or Twitter (@KappaDeltaPi) or by emailing us at marketing@kdp.org and simply request the Social Justice Course code.