80 Years of The Educational Forum: Educational Research During Tumultuous Times

alan-amtzisToday’s blogger is Dr. Alan Amtzis, academic editor of The Educational Forum. He is Director of the Master of Education in Instruction Program at The College of New Jersey.            

This year marks the 80th anniversary of The Educational Forum.

forumtitle2Out of curiosity, I returned to the first issue of The Educational Forum to see how we began and what educational research looked like in November 1936 as the planet perched on the brink of encroaching war, struggling against both worldwide depression and growing fascist threat.

Our first issue contained 10 articles, and not one author’s name was familiar to me now in 2016. That issue also included an editorial, a poem, and 20 pages of book reviews. The only reviewed book I’d ever heard of was Gone With the Wind—a book whose popularity is legendary, but whose contribution to educational research and practice rather eludes me.

As one of the academic editors of The Educational Forum, I admit to some pride about the direction that KDP and my coeditors (Tabitha Dell’Angelo and Ryan Flessner) have given to the journal.

In addition to theme issues on aesthetic education, sexuality and gender identity, and global citizenship, we have also offered guest-edited issues by such senior scholars as Michael Apple (“The Politics of Educational Reforms,” 2016), Pedro Noguera (“Racial Inequality and Education,” forthcoming in 2017), and Ana María Villegas (“Linguistically Diverse Classrooms,” forthcoming in 2018). In addition, we’ve published a wide array of research developed by emerging scholars, many of whom are still in their pre-tenure phase.

This combined range of experience and perspective offers our readers a substantial complement of the ideas that are important to users of educational research, as evidenced by the fact that many of our most cited articles have been published within the past 6 years.

Still, I can’t help wondering if these issues and names will be known to readers 80 years from now.

It’s an interesting and even challenging time right now to be the editor of an educational journal.

In fact, it’s an interesting and challenging time to be an educator.

Here at the close of 2016, we face what many feel is a pivotal moment in U.S. and world history, with challenges ahead we can only guess at. For me, this moment raises questions about the ability of educational research to not only reflect the interests of our readers, but also to influence and contribute to the world of education…and the world beyond the classroom.

Are there opportunities for our work at The Educational Forum to inform and even influence policy? Can we withstand the current storm to publish work that will be of interest to a new generation of educators?

Of course, these questions are difficult, at best, to answer and the outcomes may be impossible to predict, but the changes around us may prompt us to envision a kind of educational activism as part of our mission—one that might help the journal endure another 80 years.

 

Teacher Disclosure in the Classroom: Part 2

sequenzia-photoToday’s blogger is Ms. Maria Sequenzia, a teacher of Social Studies at Framingham High School. Read her full article, “Working the Dialectic: Teaching and Learning Teacher Research in Social Studies” (coauthored by Dr. Christopher Martell), in The Educational Forum.

As I described in the first part of this blog series, I embarked on a teacher research project to examine students’ perceptions of teacher disclosure in their classes.

I initially asked students about their experience of teacher disclosure with their current teacher—i.e., me. I asked it almost as a baseline; I knew I didn’t disclose much, and especially not regarding topics like abortion and the death penalty, which I asked about specifically in the survey. To my astonishment and consternation, about 40% of students thought I disclosed my personal opinion about these topics, alongside other, more curricularly relevant ones.

As I began to interview students about this specific finding, I realized that the underlying issue was that they couldn’t accurately determine disclosure. In other words, they had difficulty distinguishing between my general discussion of a topic and my opinion of it. For example, when I mentioned that soldiers during WWII were often lonely, one student I interviewed explained to me that that was me disclosing my opinion because it had to do with feelings.

One of the fundamental aspects of teaching history is how teachers communicate information and how students engage with and comprehend that information. It is vitally important that classrooms aren’t just spaces for indoctrination. But at the same time, to “objectively” present information is still presenting a certain perspective—all too often, a white-washed, androcentric, heteronormative one.

This conundrum takes center stage right now, as campaign season kicks into high gear and we confront the challenge of teaching about an election wholly unlike any other.

Now, this issue of teacher disclosure becomes important in a different way—it’s not just about our opinions of certain candidates and their positions. Added to that great challenge is how to answer questions that resonate with students on a more personal level.

How do teachers respond when students ask them how they feel about deportation, and the teachers know they have undocumented students in the class? What about questions surrounding marriage equality, when teachers know they have gay students in the class? For many of us, these are issues of basic human rights. But that’s our belief, our opinion—and some students and parents may disagree strongly.

I wish I had more concrete answers, but as with much of our job, they’re hard to find. My biggest takeaway from this study, and what I’ve been trying to keep in the back of my mind since I conducted it, is to be aware. Be aware of the students in my classes, their reactions to what I say, what word choices I make, what topics I present as “fact,” and what topics I present as “perspective.”

And perhaps most importantly, be aware that even if I think I know how students received a piece of information from me, I don’t—not until they’ve really made their thinking visible, so that we can start to have a more nuanced and thoughtful conversation.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share Ms. Sequenzia and Dr. Martell’s article free with the education community through October 31, 2016. Read the full article here.

 

 

Teacher Disclosure in the Classroom: Part 1

sequenzia-photoToday’s blogger is Ms. Maria Sequenzia, a teacher of Social Studies at Framingham High School. Read her full article, “Working the Dialectic: Teaching and Learning Teacher Research in Social Studies” (coauthored by Dr. Christopher Martell), in The Educational Forum.

Teaching high school history means being prepared for questions about my opinion on any number of topics, from the merits of imperialism to the effectiveness of Reaganomics to Deflategate.

I love that aspect of my job; I feel it’s my responsibility to create an environment in which students feel comfortable and engaged enough to ask these questions.

But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to know how to answer them.

Teachers walk a fine line between the public and the private; the very essence of our job is performed entirely in front of an audience, yet we’re supposed to be objective disseminators of information, teaching skills and facts.

This situation becomes even more complicated when students ask questions about how we feel, and what we think. I thought about this issue often, but it wasn’t until I took a course on teacher research that I had the opportunity to examine it in a more deliberate way. Simply put, teacher research is about teachers reflecting on, studying, and modifying their classroom practice. Effective teachers do this already; teacher researchers do it in a more systematic way. The course was designed around research questions that we would generate and then study in our own classrooms.

With the aforementioned issues weighing on me, I decided to examine students’ perceptions of teacher disclosure (i.e., how much of one’s personal opinion is shared) in class. This is a tricky subject to negotiate under normal circumstances, and it becomes even more difficult, and relevant, during an election season.

Read my article (free through October) and learn more about teacher research in the current special issue of The Educational Forum, “Teaching and Learning Teacher Research.”

In Part 2 of this blog series, Ms. Sequenzia will describe her research project on teacher disclosure. Stay Tuned!

 

Research from The Educational Forum: School Leadership, Dual Language, and Social Justice

DeMatthews_photoToday’s blogger is Dr. David DeMatthews, Assistant Professor in the Educational Leadership and Foundations Department at The University of Texas at El Paso. He writes here to describe research recently published in an article (coauthored by Dr. Elena Izquierdo) in The Educational Forum.

Emergent bilingual children in U.S. public schools are one of the fastest growing student groups and make up almost 10% of total enrollment.Many Latina/o emergent bilinguals underperform academically when compared with their native English–speaking peers.

False narratives describe the success of past generations’ immigrant groups learning English through full immersion, but research has consistently indicated that dual language education improves cognitive and academic functioning and closes the academic achievement gap. Researchers have also found that dual language promotes healthy multigenerational, multicultural, and multilingual communities.

While some states like Arizona, California, and Massachusetts have outlawed dual language for emergent bilinguals, many districts and schools with growing proportions of Latina/o emergent bilingual students are turning to dual to increase student achievement and foster a school and community culture that values diversity and inclusion.

Although the benefits of dual language are undeniable, school leaders and teachers often confront serious challenges when attempting to develop and implement dual language.

Few teachers or principals learn about language acquisition, bilingualism, or biliteracy in their preparation programs. In our article, “School Leadership and Dual Language: A Social Justice Approach,” we highlight the important role of school leadership in promoting and implementing dual language education.

Readers of this blog may be familiar with some of the effective leadership and teacher practices that support inclusive and bilingual classrooms. For example, dual language often requires effective co-teaching and co-planning, which means principals must provide teachers with opportunities to collaborate, while teachers must have the prerequisite professional skills to engage in collaborative and inquiry-based activities.

However, developing and implementing dual language education is not simply about technical or professional skills.

We argue that school leaders and teachers must take a social justice approach to creating dual language education. All stakeholders should be involved and have meaningful input into decisions that affect how resources and learning experiences are distributed across a school and how student and family cultural and linguistic backgrounds are valued in curricula.

In our article, we present five steps to facilitate a thought process of how to move a school from a segregated pullout English immersion program to dual language education:

  • Lay foundations by valuing all stakeholders.
  • Explore perspectives to engage key stakeholders.
  • Assess the context and plan the program.
  • Recruit and build capacity.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and renew the program.

Although in practice each of these five steps must be continuous and occur simultaneously, we believe they provide a broad framework for how school and teacher leaders can think about dual language education, create a culture of collaboration, and foster an inclusive environment in which all stakeholders share in decisions, trust and support one another, and remain reflective and willing to grow.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share Dr. DeMatthews and Dr. Izquierdo’s article free with the education community through July 31, 2016. Read the full article here.

How Do We Prepare Graduates to Thrive in the 21st Century?

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi.

How do we provide quality education that prepares children to live and thrive in a rapidly changing world? Depending on where you live in the world, there are some cultural differences in how a quality education is delivered, but the goals are the same around the globe.

Faye in China 3From the children of Nomads in Mongolia to teenagers in Beijing, education systems are being reoriented so that everyone has the opportunity to get the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that empower them to contribute to sustainable development. Research and case studies showing how these goals are being realized was the focus of the third Asia Pacific Education for Sustainable Development Expert Meeting held in Beijing June 2-4, 2015.

Educators from the Philippines, Canada, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, Laos, Sweden, Thailand, China and the U.S. participated in the meeting. Having been invited to share the work of KDP in advancing the understanding of education for sustainabile development (ESD), I was honored to have the opportunity to learn from international colleagues who have made substantial progress in infusing ESD in their national education systems.

Faye in China 2During our two days together, we reviewed global evidence related to the successes and challenges of delivering quality education through the implementation of ESD. A common reference point for many of the discussion and presentations was the findings from a recently released research report which studied 18 countries that incorporate sustainability in their education and traditional disciplines to prepare graduates to thrive in the 21st Century. The research results provide abundant evidence that ESD contributes to a quality education and promotes the learning of skills, perspectives, and values necessary to foster and maintain sustainable societies.

Faye in China 1As is so often the case, it is through conferring with others who are doing similar work that helps us to grow professionally and be inspired by others’ successes. I look forward to using the experiences and insights of this new group of colleagues to help inform KDP’s effort to infuse ESD in the U.S. education system and to grow a widespread commitment to include the important goals of educating for a sustainable future in our classrooms.

If you would like to learn more about education for sustainable development, University of Edinburg in Scotland is offering a free online course starting June 22. This five-week course requires a 1-3 hour time commitment each week. University of Edinburgh produces high quality ESD programs and materials. Learn more about the course on the Learning for Sustainability: Developing a Personal Ethic web page.

Got a Minute? Week of February 9, 2015

Got a minute for KDP? See what’s going on at headquarters in a one-minute(ish) video.

This week:

  • Check out The Educational Forum! KDP’s 79-year-old premiere academic journal has a new look. Members get 75% off subscription prices. Learn more on The Forum page of the KDP website.
  • Proposals are now being accepted for KDP Convo, Oct. 22-24 in Orlando. There are many formats this year, so check them out! Deadline is Feb. 16.

One Year Later—How We’re Changing to Better Serve You

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi.

Faye_S_7-1-14Last April, I shared information about the results of a membership needs assessment and stated that I would keep you posted on our progress in moving the Society forward based on what we learned.

Since the start of the 2014-2015 academic year, much of our effort has been focused on providing a more consistent chapter experience for collegiate members by:

  • Providing common expectations for all chapters,
  • Implementing new training for chapter officers, and
  • Increasing the amount of resources and support provided to our chapters by Headquarters staff.

Our efforts seem to be making a positive impact. As of the end of December, the number of initiates has increased 7% and there has been a steady increase in the number of graduate students. As an indication of increased chapter engagement, 14 chapters have volunteered to host regional iLEAD conferences this semester.

Building off the finding that we needed to find ways to better inform members about the benefits, services, and events available to them, we increased our use of social media and targeted mailings. In September, we launched an entirely new website with improved navigation and streamlined information. Member input was used throughout the development of the new site.

To address the challenges of transitioning into the classroom, a New Teacher Community was established in KDP Global, with 14 expert teachers serving as online mentors.

While we are pleased with our progress, our work is not done. We continue to assess what we do and how it aligns with the professional needs of KDP members. As you can see, we take our responsibility for serving and supporting you very seriously. We rely on your input to guide our efforts. If you have any suggestions or ideas, I would love to hear from you! You can contact me at faye@kdp.org.