Tag Archives: Educational Leadership

A Beginner’s Mind: Remembering Richard Elmore

This week, Santiago Rincón-Gallardo reflects on the passing of his good friend and mentor Richard Elmore. Rincón-Gallardo (@SRinconGallardo) is an education consultant, chief research officer at Michael Fullan’s consulting team, and author of Liberating Learning: Educational Change as Social Movement.

Richard Elmore died peacefully and unexpectedly the night of February 9, 2021.  I’ve found myself crying over the past couple weeks remembering Richard’s presence in my life as a mentor, a beloved teacher, and a dear friend. I get teary eyed each time I read over the outpouring of beautiful stories and messages shared in the online memorial site created by his family, and learning more about the powerful presence he had in the lives of so many – family, students, colleagues, and friends. Among the things treasured by those whose lives Richard touched are his sharp intellect, his generous heart, his contagious laughter, his profound respect for and belief in young people, and (especially in his later years) his growing irreverence for the schooling systems that constrain them.

Richard learns geometry from his tutor, Maricruz, a 13-year-old girl from Santa Rosa, Mexico

The poet Naomi Shihab Nye once said “People don’t pass away./They die/ and then they stay.” There are many ways in which we can expect Richard to stay with us over decades to come.

Richard’s thinking has and will remain crucial as a reference to those seeking to understand how and under what conditions powerful learning can – and most often doesn’t – happen in schools, in school systems, and beyond. Some of Richard’s key contributions to the field that have stood, and will no doubt continue to stand the test of time include:

Richard’s thinking has and will remain crucial as a reference to those seeking to understand how and under what conditions powerful learning can – and most often doesn’t – happen in schools, in school systems, and beyond.

  • Positioning the instructional core as the basic unit that our efforts as educators, teachers, school and system leaders should aim to transform fundamentally: “the problems of the system are the problems of the smallest unit”; “if it’s not in the instructional core, it’s not there”; “the real accountability is in the tasks students are asked to do”;
  • Proposing a “backward-mapping” logic to examine, plan, and carry out education improvement work (starting from what you want to cause and moving gradually from the inside out to adapt the practices, systems and cultures surrounding it as change is underway);
  • The notion that no amount of external pressure on schools will work in the absence of internal accountability (shared responsibility for improvement within the school) or reciprocal accountability (the responsibility of the system to invest the necessary resources and develop the necessary capacity of educators and leaders to produce the expected results) – “if you push an atomized, incoherent organization with an external accountability system, it will only become more incoherent.”  
  • His more recent exploration of ‘outlier’ groups and organizations that are nurturing and unleashing powerful learning among young people and children (NuVu, Beijing Academy in China, Redes de Tutoría in Mexico).  
  • His dire and sharp critique of the multiple ways in which schooling – the very institution intended to develop our young people’s ability and joy to learn – is getting in the way of powerful learning.  (“A major lesson we have learned from attainment-driven models of schooling is that it is possible to disable human beings as learners by convincing them that they do not have the capability to manage their own learning”).

The list goes on, but I don’t intend here to cover the whole range of Richard’s intellectual and public legacy (a more detailed account of his outstanding public service and academic trajectory can be found in this post from the Harvard Graduate School of Education). I will instead share a more personal account of Richard as an example of a Beginner´s Mind, to illustrate how he stands out in the sea of internationally renowned education experts.

Richard knew a lot about schools, school reform, and education policy. And I mean A LOT. For many, students and colleagues alike, his mere presence was intimidating for this very reason. But much more prominent than what he knew was his disposition to learn: his openness to find surprise in the familiar and his willingness – almost eagerness – to put his own thinking to the test.  I remember him telling me in one of our shared times in Mexico, with his loud, contagious laughter, how funny it was for him to find that people that organized a series of his talks in South America were shocked to find that he had learned a few new things in the ten previous years. His book I Used to Think… Now I Think is a beautiful collection of essays where prominent education thinkers are asked to describe some of the most important ways that their thinking has changed over the years. About the book, Richard remarked “It strikes me as ironic that in a field nominally devoted to the development of capacities to learn, there is so little evidence of what those who do the work have actually learned in their careers.”

Richard remarked “It strikes me as ironic that in a field nominally devoted to the development of capacities to learn, there is so little evidence of what those who do the work have actually learned in their careers.”

Richard’s openness to finding surprise in the familiar is beautifully demonstrated in his habit of visiting classrooms one day every week. This habit, established after decades of studying education reform and policy, became an almost religious practice that opened Richard’s mind to the everyday realities of classroom practice and gave him an unmatched sensitivity and profound understanding of teaching and learning, and the many ways in which education policies with lofty intentions almost invariably miss the mark of affecting the instructional core in any substantive way.  

It was Richard’s Beginner’s Mind that led him to accept my invitation to visit Mexico in 2010 to learn about tutoría (the pedagogical practice at the core of the Learning Community Project, also known as Redes de Tutoría). He endured an early morning flight and a ride of over 100 kilometers of bumpy, dusty roads to get to a remote rural community in the State of Zacatecas. Once there, he accepted the invitation of Maricruz, a 13-year-old girl from Santa Rosa to learn geometry with her support as a tutor. He was struck by her confidence and joy as a learner and a teacher, an experience that moved him (and all of us who had the privilege of being in Santa Rosa that day) to tears. It was Richard Beginner’s Mind that saw and named the Learning Community Project as a social movement, an insight that provoked in me what I can only describe as an intellectual awakening. It crystalized and integrated several ideas that had until then felt scattered and disorganized. This insight, a seemingly small side-comment in the vast extension of Richard’s thinking, is now foundational to my thinking and work on educational change.     

I don’t know of another academic that is as openly willing – even eager – to prove himself wrong – as Richard was. You can see this in his writing and his public speaking. His book Restructuring in the Classroom with Penelope Peterson and Sarah McCartney is an account of the disintegration of his faith in school restructuring as a strategy for instructional change. Here, he outlines that new school structures do not produce, as he initially believed, the changes in culture required to enhance the learning experience of children in classrooms.  In his commentary paper “‘Getting to Scale’… It Seemed like a Good Idea at the Time” he reflects back on key flaws of his thinking 20 years earlier, articulated in his classic article “Getting to Scale with Good Educational Practice.” In his last interview Richard talked about Instructional Rounds, a practice that he developed with colleagues at Harvard. He said it struck a chord with many school and district leaders, and that it helped them reconnect with their purpose, that it stimulated a lot of action and excitement. But – and here comes the punch line – he came to learn that “there was really not much relationship between satisfaction and impact.”

As the Buddhist tradition suggests, in a Beginner’s Mind lie the keys to a happier life and a healthier connection to others and the world – much needed features of the more conscious lives and the more humane world that we can build.

Richard died in the midst of a profound global crisis, in times where nothing less than the human project is at stake. In the world that we’re leaving behind, many academics have been revered for and built their identities around all they know. Richard’s conscious decision to maintain a Beginner’s Mind even at the pinnacle of his academic stardom shines as a bright light in a dark sea. I hope many of us will find in his example the courage to cultivate a Beginner’s Mind: to engage – as he invited us in his last podcast – in learning to do things we are fully incompetent to do; to be open to the awe of seeing the familiar in a new light; and to welcome with open arms the times when our dearest certainties are proven wrong. As the Buddhist tradition suggests, in a Beginner’s Mind lie the keys to a happier life and a healthier connection to others and the world – much needed features of the more conscious lives and the more humane world that we can build.

In his last years, in addition to taking on painting, Richard brought the attention of his Beginner’s Mind to the future of learning: the latest findings of the neuroscience of learning, the potential role of architectural design to represent and enable diverse models of learning; and the work of outliers in the learning world. His excitement about the future of learning however, grew in a way inversely proportional to his faith in schools and school systems. Richard grew increasingly skeptical about the prospect of schools and school systems becoming effective vehicles to protect and cultivate the extraordinary learning minds of our young people. He grew highly discouraged and impatient with how, to the contrary, compulsory schooling crushes the natural curiosity and joy to learn in children and youth. The last time I saw him in person, during a short visit to Boston, he told me he was working on a book of his latest thinking – one that, he confided to me with a playful smile, would likely upset many people.  

Richard left a huge question for us to tackle: Will schools and school systems figure out a way to move away from schooling and cultivate powerful learning instead?

Richard left a huge question for us to tackle: Will schools and school systems figure out a way to move away from schooling and cultivate powerful learning instead? His answer today would be a resounding ‘No’. I hope we’ll be able to prove him wrong on this one. I can picture him, with his Beginner’s Mind, laughing out loud with joy when we do.

#RememberingRichardElmore

Resilience, Oppression & Liberation: A Conversation with Anna Nelson

This week, IEN shares the latest edition of the Doctoral Corner Q & A from the AERA Educational Change Special Interest Group. This week’s Q & A features Anna Nelson, LCSW. Nelson is a College Assistant Professor with New Mexico State University (NMSU) School of Social Work and a Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Leadership and Administration at NMSU. From 2010- 2016, she served as Executive Director of the New Mexico Forum for Youth in Community, a statewide network intermediary that promoted racial, health, academic and economic justice for all youth statewide. The fully formatted interview can be found on the LtC website.

LtC:  What inspired you to study educational change?

Anna Nelson: As a Critical Race Scholar and doctoral student in Educational Leadership, a licensed social worker since 2003, and a social work educator for more than a decade, my trajectory in educational change stems from my own lived experiences with education and my professional experiences as an educator and social worker. Consistently thematic in these experiences is an ever-present dichotomy. Where the potential exists for education to bolster resilience, inspire liberation and offer opportunity, the stark reality is that education is oppressive for many Black, Indigenous and Students of Color (BISOC). As a cisgender, mixed Woman of Color, I experienced school as a safe space where my mind, body and spirit were nourished. In serving BISOC, however, I regularly witness educational marginalization, punitive disciplinary actions and disparate pedagogical practices waged against them. This, coupled with the understanding of my educational privilege, edifies my mission to promote deep, socially just and liberatory educational transformation.

LtC: What and/or who inspires you in the field? Why?

AN: Seminal authors who inspired me are many, including Anzaldúa (1987; 1990), Crenshaw (1989), Constance-Huggins (2012), Delgado and Stefancic (2012), Freire (1970; 1974; 2005), hooks (1994), Ladson-Billings (1998), and Solórzano and Delgado Bernal (2001). These authors deepen my critical analysis and perspectives on education transformation and provide language to contextualize BISOC’s educational experiences. However, one distinguishes herself for me as both inspirational and transformative, and she is Tara Yosso (2005).

In 2005, Yosso authored Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Theory Discussion on Community Cultural Wealth. This article made my heart sing because, in a revolutionary way, it challenges cultural deficit narratives in education while simultaneously uplifting vast funds of knowledge, cultural capital and community cultural wealth BISOC possess. I see my students in Yosso’s (2005) words. I see hope in resistant capital, or the ability to speak truth to power and maintain one’s values and beliefs in the face of oppression (Yosso, 2005). I routinely witness aspirational capital, or the ability to maintain ones hopes and dreams even during adversity (Yosso, 2005), permeating the lived experiences of BISOC. BISOC’s brilliant expression of navigational capital, or the ability to successfully maneuver through systems and institutions that weren’t designed for or by Communities of Color (Yosso, 2005), is profound. Finally, BISOCs’ manifestations of familial capital, or the cultural funds of knowledge grown from language, collective history, memory and intuition shared across generations (Yosso, 2005) serve as a powerful foundation to combat cultural deficit narratives in education. I see these sources of cultural capital because Yosso (2005) gave me words to name them and taught me how to identify and honor them in BISOC.

LtC: What do you believe to be the biggest challenge for educational change and what would be a first step to address this challenge?

AN: While education is widely accepted as a human right (United Nations, 1948), the sociopolitical era in which we exist underscores deep civil unrest and profound differences in educational attainment, divided by perceived street race (López, et al., 2018), gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and myriad points of identity (Crenshaw, 1989). Indeed, as Jones (2000; 2002) puts it, this reflects a lifetime of lived experiences apart from one another. To me, this is the grand challenge for education in 2021 and beyond, the need to urgently adopt antiracist, culturally humble (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998) and sustainable (Paris & Alim, 2017) curricular, pedagogical, and educational leadership practices that promote liberatory social justice and true equity in education.

Angela Davis (1983) calls us to action by stating, “It is not enough to be nonracist, we must be antiracist.” It is not sufficient to strive to be nonracist in our own actions and beliefs. As educators and educational leaders, we are compelled to radically acknowledge the disparities in academic outcomes and opportunities for BISOC and commit to taking action against policies, practices and paradigms that give rise to these disparities. This action begins within us through the consistent practice of cultural humility (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998).

“It is not sufficient to strive to be nonracist in our own actions and beliefs.”

Widely adopted by social workers and public health practitioners, cultural humility is an emerging practice in education. It requires of us a deep commitment to life-long learning and critical self-reflectivity, recognizing and challenging power imbalances between ourselves, students and communities, and holding systems and institutions accountable. We begin a sustainable practice of cultural humility when we regularly ask ourselves, “What were my perceptions of and how did I interact with students, colleagues and community members who have identities different from my own? How did I contribute to, or detract from, social justice and equity today?” and, “What can I do differently to promote social justice and equity in my work tomorrow?” We practice cultural humility when we critically analyze our curricula, pedagogy, and organizational policies for access, representation and equity. We are culturally humble allies when we interrupt and confront implicit biases and microaggressions. We humbly stand in allyship when we leverage privilege by creating pathways for power and action for our students. These actions create a foundation for culturally sustainable practices, or those that honor cultural capital, resilience and resistance among our students and promote liberatory social justice and equity as integral to education.

“We practice cultural humility when we critically analyze our curricula, pedagogy, and organizational policies for access, representation and equity.”

LtC: What are some new areas of inquiry and/or directions you think the field should be headed?

AN: Despite “unprecedented levels of cultural, linguistic, ethnic, racial and gender school diversity” (Santamaria & Santamaria, 2016, p. 1), cultural deficit narratives in academe and disparities in access and outcomes for BISOC persist in the United States. Combined with cumulative traumatic impact of racism and other oppression, these structures produce a trifecta of social injustice for BISOC in higher education. One crucial direction the field of education must consider with urgency is adopting antiracist policies and practices that uplift the cultural capital and resilience of BISOC, while systematically dismantling those that lead to academic inequities for BISOC.

With the dual purposes of igniting critical discourse within educational change and providing a framework for analyzing higher education contexts, institutional policies and practices that may either perpetuate injustice or uplift the immense cultural wealth possessed by BISOC, Critical Trauma Theory (CTT) (Nelson, 2019; 2020a; 2020b; 2020c; Nelson, Kew & Castro, 2020) is one solution to persistent educational disparities for BISOC. CTT is a microtheoretical perspective within Critical Race Theory that attends to the impact of cultural, cumulative and collective oppression-based trauma experienced by many BISOC, often in education contexts, while simultaneously uplifting vast funds of knowledge, resilience and cultural capital they possess (Nelson, 2019; 2020a; 2020b; 2020c; Nelson, et al., 2020).

Attending to the intersectional identities each of us possess, CTT offers the first unified definition of oppression-based trauma as:

Oppression-based trauma is exposure to and lived experiences of personally-mediated, institutional and structural forms of oppression (Jones, 2000) through symbolic, emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, economic and environmental manifestations, across one’s lifespan. Oppression-based trauma exposure includes but is not limited to linguicism, racism, colorism, nationalism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, islamophobia, colonization, political, historical and intergenerational trauma, and acts of oppression because of one’s documentation, immigration-,  refugee-, or former incarceration status.

Advised by this definition are CTT’s five key tenets. First, CTT calls educators and educational leaders to radically acknowledge that oppression-centered structural and institutional barriers to education access exist for BISOC and other decentered identities (Crenshaw, 1989; Delgado & Stefancic, 2017; Ladson-Billings, 1998; Solórzano & Yosso, 2001; Yosso, 2005). Second, this acknowledgement must also hold to account that exposure to oppression and subsequent risk for trauma is ever-present (Goodwin, 2014; Jordan, et al., 2014; Kucharska, 2018; & Nadal, 2018), where nascent literature links trauma with restricted academic outcomes (Arnekrans, et al., 2018; Bernat, et al., 1998; Cantrell, 2016; Jolley, 2017; Jordan et al., 2014; & Walker, 2016). Third, CTT contends that oppression-based trauma is cumulative, cultural and collective, thereby requiring its own critical micro-theoretical perspective that delineates it from individual trauma to address oppression-based trauma in educational contexts. Fourth, centrality of experiential knowledge evidences the existing presence of students’ posttraumatic growth, healing, resilience and resistance in the face of oppression (Yosso, 2005). Fifth and finally, because of the prevalence of oppression-based trauma and its detrimental impact on academic success for college students, CTT is a vital socially-just micro-theoretical addition to CRT that educators and educational leaders must consider applying to their work. 

CTT is promising in its practical application, offering educational leaders and educators tools and skills necessary for transforming their educational settings into antiracist/oppressive, culturally safe environments for BISOC to thrive. Recently I had the honor of presenting a CTT-guided series for one community college in New Mexico committed to implementing CTT campus-wide. This series culminated in my presentation of the Applied Critical Trauma Theory (ACTT)-Guided Assessment Tool which measures self- reports of personal, professional and institutional adoption of CTT-guided strategies, including a campus equity walk (Nelson, 2021). Further CTT application will be discussed in an April, 2021, paper presentation entitled Riotous Research: A Critical Trauma Theory to uplift the language of those unheard- Black, Indigenous and Social Work Students of Color.

I am humbled by this opportunity to participate in AERA’s Educational Change Special Interest Group Doctoral Corner and hopeful CTT will be one resource among many that inspires collective transformation in education systems nationally.

References

Anzaldúa, G.E. (1987, 1999). Borderlands/La Frontera: The new Mestiza. Aunt Lute Books.

Anzaldúa, G.E. (1990). Haciendo caras, una entrada. In G. Anzaldúa (ed.), Making face, making soul/Haciendo caras: Creative and critical perspectives by feminists or color. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books.

Arnekrans, A.K., Calmes, S.A., Laux, J.M., Roseman, C.P., Piazza, N.J., Reynolds, J.L., Harmening, D., & Scott, H.L. (2018). College students’ experiences of childhood developmental traumatic stress: Resilience, first-year academic performance, and substance use. Journal of College Counseling, 21(1), 2-14.  https://doi.org/10.1002/jocc.12083 

Bernat, J.A., Ronfeldt, H.M., Calhoun, K.S., & Arias, I. (1998). Prevalence of traumatic events and peritraumatic predictors of posttraumatic stress symptoms in a nonclinical sample of college students. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 11(4), 645-664. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9870219/

Cantrell, A.M. (2016). Understanding posttraumatic stress and academic achievement: Exploring attentional control, self-efficacy and coping among college students. Masters Theses and Specialist Projects. Paper 1618.  http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/theses/1618

Constance-Huggins, M. (2012). Critical Race Theory in social work education: A framework for addressing racial disparities. Critical Social Work, 13(2). https://ojs.uwindsor.ca/index.php/csw/article/download/5861/4834?inline=1

Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139-167.  https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1052&context=uclf

Davis, A.Y. (1983). Women, race and class. Vintage. ISBN: 9780394713519

Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2012). Critical Race Theory: An introduction (2nd ed). New York, NY: New York University Press. ISBN: 987-93-81406-64-9

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. The Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc.

Freire, P. (1974). Education for critical consciousness. Continuum International Publishing Group.

Freire, P. (2005). Teachers as cultural workers: Letters from those who dare teach. Westview Press.

Goodwin, E.I. (2014). The long-term effects of homophobia-related trauma for LGB men and women. Counselor Education Master’s Thesis.  http://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/edc_theses/160

hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. Routledge.

Jones, C.P. (2000). Levels of racism: A theoretical framework and a gardener’s tale. American Journal of Public Health, 90, 1212-1215. https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.90.8.1212

Jones, C.P. (2002). Confronting institutional racism. Phylon, 50(1/2), 7-22. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4149999

Jordan, C.E., Combs, J.L., & Smith, G.T. (2014). An exploration of sexual victimization and academic performance among college women. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 15(3), 191-200. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1524838014520637.

Kucharska, J. (2018). Cumulative trauma, gender discrimination and mental health in women: Mediating role of self-esteem. Journal of Mental Health, 27(5), 416-423.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29260963/

Ladson-Billings, G. (1998) Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice field like education? International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 11(1), 7-24.

López, N., Vargas, E.D., Juarez, M., Cacari-Stone, L., & Bettez, S. (2018). What’s your “street race”? Leveraging multidimensional measures of race and intersectionality for examining physical and mental health status among Latinxs. Sociology, Race and Ethnicity, 4(1), 49-66. doi: 10.1177/2332649217708798

Nadal, K. L. (2018). Concise guides on trauma care series. Microaggressions and traumatic stress: Theory, research, and clinical treatment. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0000073-000 

Nelson, A. (2019, December). An introduction to Critical Trauma Theory and its relationship to substance use disorders in Latinx Communities [Webinar]. National Latino Behavioral Health Association.

Nelson, A. (2020a, January). Practical tools to implement critical allyship and Radical self-care in our service delivery to Latinx communities [Webinar]. National Latino Behavioral Health Association.

Nelson, A. (2020b, September 15). Applying theory to the work: Bridging panel concepts to practice through decolonization and antiracism [Panel Presentation]. National Hispanic and Latino Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network, National Latino Behavioral Health Association, and U.S. Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, The Intersection of Acculturation, Assimilation and Substance Use Disorders in the Latinx Community: A Virtual Learning Community.

Nelson, A. (2020c, October 2). Conveying Mattering in online contexts for Black, Indigenous and Students of Color (BISOC) and first-generation college attendees. New Mexico State University Faculty Spotlight Series. https://nmsu.instructuremedia.com/embed/526cf0cb-c4dc-4794-8e7b-e0a274de2b2f

Nelson, A. N., Kew, K. L. & Castro, E. (2020, Apr 17 – 21). Applied Critical Trauma Theory to Enhance Resilience and Success for College Students with Oppression-Based Trauma [Roundtable Session]. AERA Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA. http://tinyurl.com/v4ce9gw (Conference Canceled)

Nelson, A.N. (2021a, January 29). Critical Trauma Theory Series: Applied Critical Trauma Theory (ACTT)-Guided Assessment Tool [Webinar]. San Juan Community College.

Nelson, A.N. (2021b). Riotous research: A Critical Trauma Theory to uplift the language of those unheard- Black, Indigenous and Social Work Students of Color [Paper Session]. Social Work, White Supremacy, and Racial Justice: Reckoning with our History, Interrogating the Present, and Reimagining Our Future. Compendium pending publication.

Paris, D., & Alim, H.S. (Eds.). (2017). Culturally sustaining pedagogies: Teaching and learning for justice in a changing world. Teachers College Press. ISBN: 978-0-8077-5833-5

Santamaría, L.J., & Santamaría, A.P. (2016). Toward culturally sustaining leadership: Innovation beyond ‘school improvement’ promoting equity in diverse contexts. Education Sciences, 6(33).  https://www.mdpi.com/2227-7102/6/4/33

Solórzano, D.G., & Delgado Bernal, D. (2001). Examining transformational resistance through a Critical Race and LatCrit theory and framework: Chicana and Chicano students in an urban context. Urban Education, 36, 308-342. http://uex.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/36/3/308

Solórzano, D.G., & Yosso, T.J. (2001). Critical race and LatCrit theory and method: Counter-storytelling. Qualitative Studies in Education, 14(4), 471-495.  http://www.sjsu.edu/people/marcos.pizarro/courses/8021/s1/SolorzanoYosso2001.pdf

Tervalon, M., & Murray-Garcia, J. (1998). Cultural humility versus cultural competence: A critical distinction in defining physician training outcomes in multicultural education. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 9(2), 117-25. Retrieved from https://melanietervalon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/CulturalHumility_Tervalon-and-Murray-Garcia-Article.pdf

United Nations. (1948). Universal declaration of human rights: Article 26. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

Walker, L. (2015) Trauma, environmental stressors, and the African American college student: Research, practice and the HBCUs. Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. https://cmsi.gse.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/Walker%20Research%20Brief%20%28final%29.pdf

Yosso, T. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69-91. doi: 10.1080/1361332052000341006

From Learning Loss to Learning to Read: High Leverage Strategies for School Improvement

This week IEN shares a post drawn from IEN founder Thomas Hatch’s new book with Jordan Corson and Sarah van den Berg, The Education We Need For A Future We Can’t Predict (Corwin 2021). An edited version of this post was published originally at: https://corwin-connect.com/

Along with the devastation of the coronavirus outbreak and widespread school closures come hopes for reimagining schools as they reopen. These hopes for the future, however, rest on making the concrete improvements in schools that we know we can make today.

Despite the enormity of the challenges and the massive race and income-based inequities in society and schools that the coronavirus exposed – again – the pandemic has also made visible the fact that many communities already have the capacity to address at least some of these challenges. In New York City, in the first month of the school closure, the Department of Education worked with businesses like Apple and Microsoft to provide almost 500,000 computers and iPads to students who needed them. Across the US and around the world, even with limited digital infrastructure, communities are opening up hotspots for public use, equipping buses with Wi-Fi (and sometimes solar power), and pursuing other innovative ways of getting students online. Given the existing possibilities, one commissioner for the US Federal Communications Commission testified that the connectivity gap could be closed “virtually overnight.” If it can be done, then it should be done. No need to wait any longer.

Getting students connected to the Internet is no panacea for educational challenges, however, particularly in many parts of the developing world, where almost half of all students don’t have a computer at home and over 40 percent lack access to the internet. We also know that even with Internet access and online opportunities, significant improvements in students’ learning depend on developing more powerful instructional practices and providing better support for educators. Nonetheless, the responses to the coronavirus show that we have the capacity to address some inequitable learning opportunities, and we can take these steps right now by responding to high-leverage problems.

High-Leverage Problems

My colleagues in the New Jersey Network of Superintendents and I argue that those efforts can begin by developing a coordinated response to what I call high-leverage problems:

  • High-leverage problems concentrate on issues widely recognized as central to the development of more equitable educational opportunities and outcomes.
  • They present opportunities for visible improvements in relatively short periods of time.
  • They establish a foundation for long-term, sustained, systemic efforts that improve teaching and learning.

Addressing high-leverage problems depends on developing a keen sense of what matters to people and what matters in an organization. It requires careful analysis of multiple problems and continuous reflection on the process of addressing them. It relies on a powerful repertoire of strategies that meet the specific demands of different situations and on developing new practices and resources when necessary. All together, these steps can lead to the “quick wins” that help propel organizational and social changes in many sectors.

#Learningloss & Learning to Read

Take the critical concern for the “learning loss” likely to be created by the massive disruptions to schooling that so many children around the world are experiencing. That term – now almost a one-word hashtag – actually obscures a host of challenges that have to be unpacked to be addressed productively. First, different children experience learning loss to different degrees; they may experience it in some academic areas and not others; learning loss may also be affected by experiences of trauma and the stresses and socio-emotional challenges that come with the pandemic; it may result from inaccessibility to online learning and school support services including free meals and counseling; and it may stem a loss of relationships with peers and teachers, disengagement with school, and prolonged absences from learning in person or online. Such a litany of problems can make any first step seem inadequate and pointless. Nonetheless, breaking down a high leverage problem like learning to read yields a coordinated series of strategies that many communities already have the capacity to pursue:

  1. Make books by authors from a variety of backgrounds freely accessible.
  2. Find children with vision problems and provide them with glasses.
  3. Develop and understanding of why some children are chronically absent from school/online learning and support regular attendance.
  4. Identify children who are struggling to learn to read and provide targeted interventions.

The logic is simple: when children have access to books, when they can see, when they’re in school, and when they receive targeted support if they’re struggling, they’re much more likely to learn to read.

The logic is simple: when children have access to books, when they can see, when they’re in school, and when they receive targeted support if they’re struggling, they’re much more likely to learn to read.

Even in countries like the United States, children in high-poverty areas have a much harder time getting books than their peers in middle-income areas, but a number of programs (including one sponsored by the country singer Dolly Parton) have taken advantage of book vending machines, doctor’s offices, and other mechanisms to address this issue. Organizations like EmbraceRace and the Jane Addams Peace Association post lists of books by authors from different racial and cultural backgrounds so that there’s no excuse not to provide all children with access to materials that reflect their heritage.

 Of course, making books and print materials available in a variety of languages, by authors from a range of backgrounds, is just one step. Children still need to be able to read those books once they get those books into their hands. Nonetheless, 25 percent of school-aged children in the United States have undiagnosed eye problems that inhibit their ability to read, and one in three children haven’t had their vision tested in the past two years (if at all); but relatively low-cost programs to test students’ vision and get glasses to those who need them do exist. In the developing world, it may be complicated to create a supply chain that makes print materials readily available and ensures every child who needs glasses gets a pair, but it can be done.

We know that chronic absences from school have a devastating effect on children’s learning and have a disproportionate impact on students in communities of color, but that knowledge has also led to the development of a number of successful strategies for helping many children to get to and stay in school. Despite the re-emergence of the “reading wars” over the best approach to teach reading, there are a number of well-established strategies and supports that many teachers and schools are already using that target the specific needs of at least some of the students who experience difficulties in learning to read when they are in school.

Improve Schools and Transform Education

These first steps may not reach every student right away, and any initial success has to be followed by developing educational activities that foster more advanced skills and a broader set of developmental needs – an even more challenging proposition. Ultimately, addressing these challenges will depend on truly reimagining schooling, and, reconceptualizing notions like “learning loss” that ignore the mile-wide and inch-deep curriculum and age-graded pacing that make it almost impossible for students to catch up once they’re left behind.

We need to reimagine schooling, reconceptualizing notions like “learning loss” that ignore the mile-wide and inch-deep curriculum and age-graded pacing that make it almost impossible for students to catch up once they’re left behind

In short, the pandemic itself will not change schools:  Nothing will change in schools unless we change it. Yet the strategies to provide glasses, to address chronic absences, and to provide targeted support in reading can lead to real improvements in schools – even in the midst of a pandemic – if we choose to dedicate the time, resources and commitment to put them into practice on a wide basis.  We can take these critical steps to make the schools we have more efficient, more equitable and more effective today and to lay the groundwork for transforming education as a whole in the future.

On Leadership, Strategy, and Equity: The Lead the Change Interview with Isobel Stevenson

This week, IEN features the Lead the Change (LTC) interview with Isobel Stevenson. Stevenson works for the Connecticut Center for School Change, a nonprofit organization that supports school districts in their organizational improvement efforts. She is co-author, with Jennie Weiner, of The Strategy Playbook for Educational Leaders: Principles and Processes and writes The Coaching Letter, a newsletter supporting the work of coaches and leaders in education.  A pdf of the fully formatted interview will be available on the LtC website.

Lead the Change: The 2021 AERA theme is Accepting Educational Responsibility and invites those of us who teach in schools of education to accept greater responsibility for the inadequate preparation of educators for work in racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse P–12 schools and postsecondary institutions. For example, when educators discipline African American students at disproportionately higher rates, misdiagnose them for special education, identify too few of them for advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs, deliver to them a culturally irrelevant curriculum, teach them in culturally disdaining ways, and stereotype their families as careless and hopeless, the schools of education that produced these professionals are just as responsible as the professionals themselves. Furthermore, if scholars who study and document these trends do too little to make our findings actionable, then we, too, are contributors to the cyclical reproduction of these educational inequities.

Given the dire need for all of us to do more to dismantle oppressive systems in our own institutions and education more broadly, what specific responsibility do educational change scholars have in this space? What steps are you taking to heed this call?

 Isobel Stevenson: My day job, so to speak, is in an organization that has equity in education as its mission, so this is an issue that I spend a lot of time working on and thinking about. My contact with school and district leaders (including coaches, department heads, and so on) tells me that they have already got the message that the system generates and perpetuates inequities. They are looking for ways to do something about it. But a lot of what is available to them is still at the problem-identification level. And for sure, having good data, completing an equity audit (Skrla, Scheurich, & Garcia, 2004), identifying the inequities that exist and seeing them for what they are–all those are essential. But even when you know the problem, the “now what?” can remain elusive.

Much of the attention being paid to equity at the moment is in the form of books that discuss why race is hard to talk about, how our personal biases show up in our work, etc. See, for example, White Fragility (DiAngelo, 2018), Unconscious Bias in Schools (Benson & Fiarman, 2020), How to be an Anti-Racist (Kendi, 2019). These are all great books, and you have to start somewhere, but many educational leaders seem to have gotten the impression that engaging in this kind of work is what it means to “do equity work”. I think there are other aspects of “doing equity” that, if not red herrings, are overstated in their importance. By which I mean, it’s not that they are not important, it is that they are not, by themselves, long enough levers to bring about meaningful change. I would include in this category: “relationships”, “SEL” (currently the single most overused and under-specified construct in education), and “trauma-informed Text Box: “How can we re-introduce the idea that in addition cultural relevance, intellectual challenge and academic press are also crucial?”instruction.”

If I have one big complaint, it is that programs in educational change are not paying enough attention to instruction–or they do so in a lopsided way. We use terms like culturally-responsive or culturally-relevant, but these are only one part of the picture. A culturally relevant curriculum that does not expose students to grade-level tasks is missing the mark, but “rigor” has become a tainted concept, and we don’t seem to talk about teacher expectations any more. How can we re-introduce the idea that in addition cultural relevance, intellectual challenge and academic press are also crucial?

“How can we re-introduce the idea that in addition to cultural relevance, intellectual challenge and academic press are also crucial?”

The irony here is that we have research going back a long way that shows that teachers cannot think their way out of their biases–not because they are bad people, but because they are human, and the whole point of implicit bias is that it is implicit. The question then becomes how can we construct policies and practices, for instruction and other aspects of education, that are not dependent on educators overcoming their biases in order to improve opportunities, experiences and outcomes for all students? Specifically, in my experience, organizing for equity means consciousness-raising for educators (by reading books like Unconscious Bias in Schools (Benson & Fiarman, 2020), for example) SO THAT they understand, and agree with, the need for them to alter their teaching practices to increase BOTH the challenge AND the support that traditionally marginalized students receive. Paul Gorski, Zaretta Hammond, and Matthew Kay all provide guidance on how to do that.

LtC: Given your focus on strategic planning to enhance school performance and equity opportunities and outcomes, what would be some of the major lessons the field of Educational Change can learn from your work and experience?  

IS: A lack of strategic thinking can lead educators to make choices based on un-tested thinking, including but not limited to:

  1. Believing that because another district appears to have had success with a program, it should be adopted in our district.
  2. Proposing solutions without thinking through what the problem is (this tendency is compounded by the temptation to talk about solutions as if they were problems, as in “the problem is we don’t have enough counselors.”)
  3. Adopting a program/approach/ initiative without a tough conversation about the capacity needed to implement it.
  4. Thinking that the answer is professional learning for teachers; the answer is never just professional learning for teachers.
  5. Believing that writing something in a plan means that it will happen.
  6. Believing that having a vision or adopting ambitious goals has power other than inspiration; it is, at best, the starting point for coherence.
  7. Thinking that filling out a template for a school improvement plan or a district strategic plan is the same thing as being strategic.
  8. Making assumptions that everyone in the organization is clear about what the organization’s strategy is (in fact, most teachers in most districts don’t know what the district is focused on).
  9. Making assumptions that everyone in the organization is clear on their role (coaches, for example, are often decidedly unclear on what they are supposed to be coaching towards).

Leaders need a strong conceptual framework for strategic planning, so that they don’t fall into these traps. They also need tools for strategic planning, but, above all, they should deploy these tools thoughtfully, not replace one set of compliance activities for another. Obviously, I think the antidote is, at least in part, that educational leaders should read my new book with Dr. Jennie Weiner, The Strategy Playbook for Educational Leaders: Principles and Practices;but Being Strategic : Plan for Success; Out-Think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change by Erika Anderson is also really great.

“Leaders should deploy these tools thoughtfully, not replace one set of compliance activities for another.”

Both books emphasize process over product. They provide a big-picture methodology involving building a bridge from what is to what is desired. Obviously, that sounds simple and straightforward, but implementing the process well is actually quite challenging, and so they contain a lot of guidance for how to go about it.

LtC: In your recent work, you make the case that strategic planning can be an important tool for continuous improvement but requires a principled framework of equity, logic, capacity, and coherence to facilitate such change. What do you see as the most needed changes to policy/practice in response to this argument? 

IS: There are many areas where I see policy under-utilized, and many where it is wielded clumsily. For example, many districts have created policies around the creation of strategic plans that are more about compliance to external mandates and/or the format of the plan than about the substance of the plan relative to the needs of the district.  I understand the desire for accountability around the practice of planning, but putting so much emphasis on a product–and, more than that, a product in a specified format–makes the creation of the product a rather onerous task. For example, we have seen templates that require the inclusion of a root cause analysis, or pages of data. I don’t see that as helpful, and simply reinforces a couple of things: the message that planning is a compliance activity; district and schools’ priorities are only loosely coupled; schools get to choose how and when to pursue equity.

At the same time, districts choose not to wield their power when it comes to policy that perpetuates inequity. I don’t understand why districts don’t have stronger equity-related policies around, for example, placement in advanced courses, discipline, grading, and high-quality instruction.

Capacity building is neglected at a policy level. Sometimes it seems to me that a realistic conversation about capacity becomes impossible, because it can be construed as a lack of faith in the mission. Educators who ask difficult questions about capacity fear that they will be labeled as “negative”, “resistant”, or “nay-sayers.” There is a lot of work to be done on psychological safety in education.

To change these patterns, you have to think of policy as part of strategy, rather than separate from it, which is how it’s often treated. School boards are often involved in the creation of the strategic plan, but they seem to see themselves as separate from it, as though it is a mechanism for them to delegate the work rather than direct the work.

Text Box: “Collaboration and support in transformation requires psychological safety.”LtC: Educational Change expects those engaged in and with schools, schooling, and school systems to spearhead deep and often difficult transformation. How might those in the field of Educational Change best support these individuals and groups through these processes?

IS: In addition to my training and experience in educational leadership and change management, I also have training and experience in coaching, and that has been completely invaluable. So, I’m going to answer this question by highlighting how my coaching background shines a light on the question of supporting educators facing difficult challenges, in the hope that I can inspire others to investigate how interpersonal, as well as organizational, theory and practice can be helpful:

  1. Collaboration and support in transformation requires psychological safety. Without it, leaders will simply not be granted access to information they need in order to improve their strategy, and subordinates will carry the impression that their leaders are more interested in hearing good news than in providing support. Psychological safety means seeing failure as data and not lack of commitment; it means not judging the quality of decisions by their results; it means not reacting to good news as much as not reacting to bad. Amy Edmondson’s (2018) The Fearless Organization is essential reading, as is Meghan Tschannen-Moran’s (2014) Trust Matters.
  2. I often work with educational leaders who know what they ought to do, but don’t do it. When pressed, they tend to use explanations that indicate that they don’t think that the required action (let’s say, a challenging conversation) will actually make a difference; but I suspect that even though they are expressing their doubts as what Bandura (1977) would call an outcome expectation, they actually don’t have confidence in their ability to perform the action. Leaders of educational change need skills, and developing them requires guidance, coaching, and practice.
  3. A universal complaint of educators is that they don’t get enough feedback; this is particularly true of leaders in challenging situations. There are two parts to this. First, educational leaders need conceptual frameworks to formulate feedback (see, for example, Hattie & Timperley, 2007), and practice in developing the skill of engaging in feedback conversations. Let’s say that’s the formal version of feedback. But second, they need to understand how to harvest feedback from the environment, because it is actually all around them, and how to solicit feedback that is useful to them. Let’s call that the informal type of feedback. And educators need practice in receiving feedback, which they almost never get.

“Collaboration and support in transformation requires psychological safety.”

There’s a line in Execution (Bossidy, Charan & Burck, 2011) about how the conversation is the smallest unit of change, and I think there is an essential truth in that. Educational leaders tend to think of coaching as a soft skill separate from the hard skills of developing strategy and decision making, but I think that’s a mistake. A lot of the methodology of strategic planning is exactly parallel to the scaffolding of strategic thinking that is the essence of coaching.  I think that educational leaders would benefit enormously from formal training in coaching; it would improve their support for individuals and groups, help them benefit from coaching and supervision, as well as giving them the skills to have strategic conversations.

It’s not just about coaching, of course. In our book, The Strategy Playbook for Educational Leaders, we talk about principals and superintendents being clear on their role in putting equity first while supporting teachers, and about building capacity, which is also a form of support. We also talk about coherence–which is all about clarity and shared understanding–which is a much-underestimated form of support; there are so many educators who would feel much less stressed and much more supported if they only felt that they were on the same page as senior leaders regarding what the focus was and who was supposed to be doing what. That’s a big part of our book.

LtC: Where do you perceive the field of Educational Change is going? What excites you about Educational Change now and in the future?

IS: This is a watershed moment. The pandemic has been a disaster for millions of children, but it has also shone a light on inequity in a way that nothing else has come close to doing since Kozol’s Savage Inequalities (1991) was published. My unscientific reading of social media tells me that there is a deep divide between educators who want nothing so badly as going back to what they had before the schools shut down in March, and those who want to reinvent schools based on what the pandemic has made apparent: that schools are not meeting the needs of all students. My greatest hope is that this conversation does not become a head-to-head competition, but rather a strategic conversation: a process for agreeing on a shared vision based on equity for all students and generating a strategic plan to reach that vision that isn’t a performative exercise, but makes sense, is realistic, and devotes adequate resources to the mission. I am optimistic.

References

Andersen, E. (2009). Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change. St. Martin’s Press.

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological review, 84(2), 191.

Benson, T. A., & Fiarman, S. E. (2020). Unconscious bias in schools: A developmental approach to exploring race and racism. Harvard Education Press.

Bossidy, L., Charan, R., & Burck, C. (2011). Execution: The discipline of getting things done. Random House.

DiAngelo, R. (2018). White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism. Beacon Press

.Edmondson, A. C. (2018). The fearless organization: Creating psychological safety in the workplace for learning, innovation, and growth. John Wiley & Sons.

Kendi, I. X. (2019). How to be an antiracist. One world.

Kozol, J. (1991) Savage inequalities. Crown.

Tschannen-Moran, M. (2014). Trust matters: Leadership for successful schools. John Wiley & Sons.

Skrla, L., Scheurich, K.J., Garcia, J., & Nolly, G. (2004). Equity audits: A practical leadership tool for developing equitable and excellent schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, 40 (1), 133-161.

Stevenson, I., & Weiner, J. M. (2020). The Strategy Playbook for Educational Leaders: Principles and Processes. Routledge.

ABOUT THE LTC SERIES: The Lead the Change series, featuring renowned educational change experts from around the globe, serves to highlight promising research and practice, to offer expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change, and to spark collaboration within the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.  Kristin Kew, Chair; Mireille Hubers; Program Chair; Na Mi Bang, Secretary/Treasurer; Min Jung KimGraduate Student Representative; Jennie Weiner, LtC Series Editor; Alexandra Lamb, Production Editor.

What Will the Biden Administration Do in Education? Looking Ahead at Education Policy in the US in 2021 (Updated)

1/24/21

This past Wednesday, IEN shared a roundup of articles (below) that looked at what many anticipated the new Biden administration might do in education. It didn’t take long to find out:

In inaugural address, Biden says it is possible to teach children ‘in safe schools’, Louis Freedberg, EdSurge

On His First Day in White House, Biden Dissolves Trump’s 1776 Commission on U.S. History, Kevin Mahnken, The74

Biden Revokes Trump’s ‘Patriotic Education’ Order, Will Shield DACA, Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week

Biden Launches New Strategy to Combat COVID-19, Reopen Schools, Evie Blad, Education Week

Biden promises guidance, vaccines to get schools open, though familiar challenges loom, Matt Barnum & Kaylan Belsha

Linda Darling-Hammond and Ted Mitchell on what President Biden will do for education, Podcast, EdSurge

https://www.edweek.org/policy-politics/biden-to-revoke-trumps-patriotic-education-order-shield-daca-on-first-day-as-president/2021/01?utm_source=nl&utm_medium=eml&utm_campaign=eu&M=59842604&U=2704344&UUID=29b05a6a00f3b0bfb76e975de146a39e

1/20/21

Last week, IEN focused on stories describing how educators were responding to the insurrection at the US Capitol. This week, with the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, we’ve collected headlines and links for a number of stories that center on what many expect to be a dramatic shift in US education policy. Some of the stories look back, assessing the tenure of Betsy Devos; many look ahead to examine what Miguel Cardona and the new administration might do; and a few look at the roles that Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray and others have played and may play in education policy moving forward.  

The wreckage Betsy DeVos leaves behind, Editorial Board, New York Times

Delay, dismantle, resist: DeVos leaves a legacy like no other Education Secretary, Nicole Gaudiano & Caitlin Emma, Politico

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is download.jpeg
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos observes a classroom setting at the Phoenix International Academy in Phoenix. | AP Photo/Matt York

Little Legacy on Higher Ed for Betsy Devos — Except Controversy, Kery Murakami, Inside Higher Ed

As Betsy DeVos steps down, critics hope it is time to put the public back in public education, Liz Willen, Hechinger Report

As DeVos exits, where does education go next?, Stephanie Hanes, Christian Science Monitor

The Biden administration must commit in the first 100 days to building education policies with community, not for it, Khalilah Harris, the74

How Biden’s Education Department will tackle pandemic and Trump-era policies, Candice Norwood, PBS NewsHour

New year’s resolutions for those moving into the U.S. Department of Ed., Rick Hess, Education Week

Rebuilding America’s schools: The new Secretary of Education will need to prioritize both access and breadth of skills, Elias Blinkoff & Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Brookings Institution

In 2008, the NEA demanded a limited federal role in education. Its policy wish list for 2021 is very different, Mike Antonucci, the74

Who Is Miguel Cardona? Education Secretary Pick Has Roots in Classroom, Evie Blad & Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2021-01-19-at-9.04.27-pm.png
https://www.edweek.org/policy-politics/who-is-miguel-cardona-education-secretary-pick-has-roots-in-classroom-principals-office/2021/01

What to know about Miguel Cardona, Biden’s pick for Education Secretary, Emily Tate, Jeffrey R. Young, Rebecca Koenig, Stephen Noonoo & Tony Wan, EdSurge

Cardona a deft pick for Ed Secretary at a time when political fights should be secondary to the disaster facing millions of students, Andy Rotherham, the74

How Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona works with Teachers, Rachel M. Cohen, The American Prospect

What Biden’s Pick for Ed. Secretary Discussed with Disability Rights Advocates, Evie Blad, Education Week

Cardona’s Role in Connecticut’s Complex School Desegregation Efforts Becomes Focus: Will He Give Integration a National Platform as Ed Secretary?, Mark Keierleber, the74

For the Second Time In Less Than Two Years, Miguel Cardona is Set to Prove Himself on a Much Larger Stage. Is He Ready for the ‘Political Headwinds’ He’d Face as U.S. Education Secretary?, Linda Jacobson, The74

Miguel Cardona, Biden’s pick for Education Secretary, stares down a long to-do list, Lauren Camera, US News & World Report

5 big questions facing Miguel Cardona, Biden’s pick for Education Secretary, Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat

How Cardona could uplift immigrant students and English language learners as Education Secretary, Mark Keierleber, The74

San Diego superintendent will bring years of teaching to deputy education secretary post, Louis Freedberg, EdSource

With Alexander’s Exit, Divided Senate Loses Quiet Champion of Bipartisan Approach to Ed Policy, Linda Jacobson, the74

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2021-01-19-at-9.10.44-pm.png

Patty Murray Set to Lead Senate Education Committee After Democratic Wins in Georgia, Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week

With Senate in Democrats’ Hands, Attention Turns to Ed Committee Leadership, Cardona Confirmation, Linda Jacobson, the74

  • Thomas Hatch

Looking Ahead at Education Policy in the US in 2021

Last week, IEN focused on stories describing how educators were responding to the insurrection at the US Capitol. This week, with the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, we’ve collected headlines and links for a number of stories that center on what many expect to be a dramatic shift in US education policy. Some of the stories look back, assessing the tenure of Betsy Devos; many look ahead to examine what Miguel Cardona and the new administration might do; and a few look at the roles that Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray and others have played and may play in education policy moving forward.  

The wreckage Betsy DeVos leaves behind, Editorial Board, New York Times

Delay, dismantle, resist: DeVos leaves a legacy like no other Education Secretary, Nicole Gaudiano & Caitlin Emma, Politico

Little Legacy on Higher Ed for Betsy Devos — Except Controversy, Kery Murakami, Inside Higher Ed

As Betsy DeVos steps down, critics hope it is time to put the public back in public education, Liz Willen, Hechinger Report

As DeVos exits, where does education go next?, Stephanie Hanes, Christian Science Monitor

The Biden administration must commit in the first 100 days to building education policies with community, not for it, Khalilah Harris, the74

How Biden’s Education Department will tackle pandemic and Trump-era policies, Candice Norwood, PBS NewsHour

New year’s resolutions for those moving into the U.S. Department of Ed., Rick Hess, Education Week

Rebuilding America’s schools: The new Secretary of Education will need to prioritize both access and breadth of skills, Elias Blinkoff & Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Brookings Institution

In 2008, the NEA demanded a limited federal role in education. Its policy wish list for 2021 is very different, Mike Antonucci, the74

Who Is Miguel Cardona? Education Secretary Pick Has Roots in Classroom, Evie Blad & Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week

What to know about Miguel Cardona, Biden’s pick for Education Secretary, Emily Tate, Jeffrey R. Young, Rebecca Koenig, Stephen Noonoo & Tony Wan, EdSurge

Cardona a deft pick for Ed Secretary at a time when political fights should be secondary to the disaster facing millions of students, Andy Rotherham, the74

How Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona works with Teachers, Rachel M. Cohen, The American Prospect

What Biden’s Pick for Ed. Secretary Discussed with Disability Rights Advocates, Evie Blad, Education Week

Cardona’s Role in Connecticut’s Complex School Desegregation Efforts Becomes Focus: Will He Give Integration a National Platform as Ed Secretary?, Mark Keierleber, the74

For the Second Time In Less Than Two Years, Miguel Cardona is Set to Prove Himself on a Much Larger Stage. Is He Ready for the ‘Political Headwinds’ He’d Face as U.S. Education Secretary?, Linda Jacobson, The74

Miguel Cardona, Biden’s pick for Education Secretary, stares down a long to-do list, Lauren Camera, US News & World Report

5 big questions facing Miguel Cardona, Biden’s pick for Education Secretary, Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat

How Cardona could uplift immigrant students and English language learners as Education Secretary, Mark Keierleber, The74

San Diego superintendent will bring years of teaching to deputy education secretary post, Louis Freedberg, EdSource

With Alexander’s Exit, Divided Senate Loses Quiet Champion of Bipartisan Approach to Ed Policy, Linda Jacobson, the74

Patty Murray Set to Lead Senate Education Committee After Democratic Wins in Georgia, Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week

With Senate in Democrats’ Hands, Attention Turns to Ed Committee Leadership, Cardona Confirmation, Linda Jacobson, the74

  • Thomas Hatch

Looking Back to Look Ahead – Rounding up Key Education Stories From 2020

Annually, in January, IEN scans the headlines from our regular sources for reviews of the previous year and predictions for the future (see Rounding up the issues of 2019 and the 2010’s – Part 1 & Part 2 and New year, new predictions?). But, after an incredibly unpredictable 2020, many of the stories we encountered focused on trying to make sense of what happened last year. Below, we’ve rounded up the reviews of 2020 we’ve come across so far. Next week, we will share a collection of articles looking at what policy changes the Biden administration and the nominee for Secretary of Education might bring to schools in the US in 2021.

Global education

2020: A year of turmoil but also hope in education, Emiliana Vegas & Rebecca Winthrop, Brookings

The Education Year in Review: Five Big *Non-COVID* Stories of 2020, Maryam Akmal, Shelby Carvalho, Susannah Hares and Alexis Le Nestour, Center for Global Development.

Education in the US

What Education Looked Like in 2020, Jaclyn Borowski, Education Week 

10 of the most popular stories about education research in 2020, Jill Barshay Hechinger Report

The 11 Most Popular Classroom Q&A Posts of the Year, Larry Ferlazzo Education Week

Best Education Articles of 2020: Our 20 Most Popular Stories About Students, Remote Schooling & COVID Learning Loss This Year, Steve Snyder the74

2020 Vision: Reflections on Hope and Learning in a Most Challenging Year, EdSurge

16 Charts that Changed the Way We Thought About America’s Schools This Year,  Kevin Mahnken, the74

Research from Opportunity Insights (https://tracktherecovery.org/) showed that higher income students slightly increased their participation in Zearn Math, while lower- and middle-income children’s participation level decreased
https://www.the74million.org/article/16-charts-that-changed-the-way-we-looked-at-americas-schools-in-a-year-unlike-any-other/

The Teaching Profession in 2020 (in Charts) , Madeline Will, Education Week

2020 Vision: Reflections on Hope and Learning in a Most Challenging Year, Edsurge

2020 LookBook Remake Learning (a network in the Greater Pittsburgh area that supports coordination, collective impact and innovation in education)

Edtech, Edbusiness, & “Innovation”

Education Technology in 2020: 8 Takeaways From a Chaotic Year, Mark Lieberman, Education Week

10 Stories That Mattered in the K-12 Market in 2020, Sean Cavanagh, Education Week,

Crises and Capital: The Top Edtech Business Stories of 2020, Tony Wan, EdSurge

2020: The Year Of the Edtech Paradox,Isabelle Hau, EdSurge

From Blue Light Glasses & Noise-Canceling Earphones to Tablets & Masks for Kids, a New World of Student Technology in the Age of COVID, Tim Newcomb, the74

The Second Year of The MOOC: A Review of MOOC Stats and Trends in 2020, Dhawal Shah, Class Central

“Of all the learners that ever registered on a MOOC platform, one third did so in 2020, making 2020 MOOCs’ most consequential year since the ‘Year of the MOOC’.”
https://www.classcentral.com/report/the-second-year-of-the-mooc/

2020 Roundup: What We Learned From #Innovators Creating Prosperity, Efosa Ojomo, Christensen Institute

Education Journalism

The 14 most memorable pieces of education journalism of 2020, Alexander Russo, Kappan

EdSurge Reflects On a Year of Pandemic-Era Education Journalism, Jeffrey R. Young, Rebecca Koenig & Tony Wan, EdSurge

Philanthropy

Philanthropy Awards 2020, Inside Philanthropy

  • Thomas Hatch

A Driving Force Behind Educational Change: Cecilia Azorín on Networks, Distributed Leadership & Inclusion

This week, IEN features the November Lead the Change (LTC) interview with Dr. Cecilia Azorín (@CeciliaAzorin), Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Murcia, Spain. Dr. Azorín is one of the leaders of an Erasmus+ KA2 Project comparing all age schools in Wales, Spain, and Iceland.  She received the Michael Fullan Emerging Scholar Award in Professional Capital and Community (2019).

Lead the Change: The 2021 AERA theme is Accepting Educational Responsibility and invites those of us who teach in schools of education to accept greater responsibility for the inadequate preparation of educators for work in racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse P–12 schools and postsecondary institutions. For example, when educators discipline African American students at disproportionately higher rates, misdiagnose them for special education, identify too few of them for advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs, deliver to them a culturally irrelevant curriculum, teach them in culturally disdaining ways, and stereotype their families as careless and hopeless, the schools of education that produced these professionals are just as responsible as the professionals themselves. Furthermore, if scholars who study and document these trends do too little to make our findings actionable, then we, too, are contributors to the cyclical reproduction of these educational inequities.   

Given the dire need for all of us to do more to dismantle oppressive systems in our own institutions and education more broadly, what specific responsibility do educational change scholars have in this space? What steps are you taking to heed this call??

Cecilia Azorín: Accepting educational responsibility implies conceiving education as something that can help individuals overcome inequalities, a mechanism capable of transforming lives and positively impacting people’s progress. This statement leads one to think about the social mobility that can be produced as a result of education. Harris and Jones (2020b) have recently stated that “social and educational mobility are important because they reflect the equality of opportunity in society” (p. 18). Put simply, Hargreaves (2020) defines social mobility as the chance to achieve greater success through education compared to one’s parents.

When your background is humble, for example, when your father is a farmer and your mother a homemaker, becoming the first PhD of your family, and eventually, a university professor, is no easy task. I have experienced social mobility firsthand, and it has not been a bed of roses. And yet, I can say that my own social mobility was the consequence of education and the experiences I received. Creating effective educational experiences for all children is the first step to dismantle oppressive systems. This is linked to an approach that essentially recognizes the power that education has in terms of social justice.

When I think about dismantling oppressive systems in education, a song springs to mind – “Another Brick in the Wall” released by the British group Pink Floyd in 1979. I invariably use this song as a university welcome for my students, future teachers, with whom I work on concepts such as, what is, and what is not, an effective pedagogical approach, how to capitalize on their passion for teaching, how to engage in divergent thinking and what it means to educate in an environment that responds effectively to student diversity. Another Brick in the Wall is a protest against the strict norms and rules of traditional conceptualizations of teaching and learning – a system more concerned with maintaining discipline and restricting creativity than with motivating and transmitting knowledge.

On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration of Children’s Rights, the United Nations declared 1979 the International Year of the Child, thus recalling our collective commitment to protect children. From that moment on, authoritarian approaches to education began to be questioned. Undoubtedly, the message this song projected not only in British society, but in the rest of the world, allowed people to dream that the change in education was possible. In reality, the argument was clear and called for a new teaching, an improvement of the school based on less control and more freedom.

In 1980, one year after its release, this song was adopted as a protest anthem among black students in South Africa who were suffering from apartheid, a system of racial segregation that divided schools and communities in a discriminatory manner and unjustly perpetuated inequalities.

Today, there are new layers of exclusion that leave childhood and youth unprotected. According to the Global Monitoring Report (UNESCO, 2020, 4): All over the world, discrimination is based on gender, remoteness, wealth, disability, ethnicity, language, migration, displacement, incarceration, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion and other beliefs and attitudes; the Covid-19 pandemic has added new layers of exclusion.

Unfortunately, the continued exclusion of many merely confirms that oppressive systems are embedded in the very fabric of our societies, and are traditionally characterized by discriminating forms of oppression that directly attack the most vulnerable groups. For example, in Spain (my home country) and in many other places around the world, discrimination, stigmatization continue as does the fight to make schools more inclusive. Thus, a system of parallel schooling is currently maintained, with students attending so-called “ordinary” schools and others being relegated to “special education” schools. 

Inclusion is a major driving force for educational reform and a central goal of the international agenda. In a recent article, we analyzed how we can help schools to review progress on their journey to becoming more inclusive and show that fostering reflection amongst teachers about the contexts, resources and processes that underpin their work can make a difference (Azorín & Ainscow, 2020). But, how does one ensure that no one’s dream is denied and keep young people on the track to a brighter and equitable future without equal education opportunities for all children? The school cannot and must not leave anyone behind; on the contrary, it must set itself up as a guarantor of the right to a truly inclusive, equitable and quality education, without exceptions. This is probably one of the main challenges and responsibilities facing educational change scholars in these complex times.

“The school cannot and must not leave anyone behind; on the contrary, it must set itself up as a guarantor of the right to a truly inclusive, equitable and quality education, without exceptions.”

LtC: Given your focus on school networks as a strategy to enhance educators’ knowledge and practice, what would be some of the major lessons the field of Educational Change can learn from your work and experience? 

CA: Nowadays, scholars are turning their attention to collaborative networking and all it entails. The inference is that educational networking as a policy mechanism is here to stay, and that networks represent a school improvement strategy with high expectations placed upon them (Azorín & Muijs, 2017). Networking is becoming ever necessary to tackle problems and establish the adjustments demanded by contemporary education. Some interconnected lessons derived from the penetration of networks in education are explained below (Azorín, 2017):

  • An opportunity for crossing boundaries. Networks enable the creation of a whole new scenario in which connectivity is prioritized over isolation; collectiveness over individualism; and collaboration over competitiveness.
  • A strategy for building bridges. When collaboration extends beyond schools and professionals, resources are effectively mobilized and there is an exchange of knowledge and experiences that make it possible to “learn from others”.
  • A driving force behind educational change. Networks are formed by interactive and horizontal structures that act as levers for change, leaving behind the hierarchies of the past to allow progress to gain momentum.

This way of understanding education embraces winds of change that go beyond school gates in the quest for greater collaboration. A few years ago, a couple of research stays in the United Kingdom afforded me the opportunity to see emerging networks and partnership alliances in action (Azorín & Muijs, 2018). In an attempt to promote reflection on why professional learning networks are social, political, and cultural, as well as educational (Azorín, 2019), my research in the British context offers other views of networks that focuses not only on education but also on social welfare issues and aims to target networking from a broader perspective. This results in opening up schools to the community, a topic which is not yet covered widely in educational research.

“Networking is becoming ever necessary to tackle problems and establish the adjustments demanded by contemporary education”

To position school networks at the forefront of research, in 2018 I co-edited a special issue based on new forms of participation and social transformation through networking in education (Azorín & Arnaiz, 2018) in the Spanish journal Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado (see Volume 22, Number 2). This edition put the focus on the expected role of collaborative networks in education, the new forms of participation and social transformation that appear under these modes of organization, and the need to disseminate ideas that contribute to the creation of knowledge within this fruitful line of current and future research.

Recently I edited another issue on leading networks in the School Leadership & Management journal (see Volume 40, Number 2-3), which boasts an excellent line-up of international authors. This edition explores leadership actions that support effective networking and promotes reflection about whether networks can impact positively on students or are merely used as an organizational structure that benefits teachers in terms of professional learning and support (Azorín, 2020b). Together the diverse set of articles in this compendium conclude that empirical evidence in this direction remains thin and requires further attention.        

The central lesson of school networks as a strategy to enhance educator’s knowledge and practice is probably that networking affords a powerful way of organizing and operating; they offer viable solutions for the future of the network society and represent a reality that is advancing towards other forms of social participation and transformation. Networks are, in essence, the constellations illuminating the next routes of educational change.

LtC: In your recent work, you argue that distributed leadership offers new opportunities to understand professional collaboration generally and in the context of professional networks specifically. What do you see as the most needed changes to policy/practice in response to this argument?

CA: While COVID-19 continues, millions of people are caught in a traumatic experience. The pandemic is causing a chronic state of uncertainty and highlighting the weaknesses of education systems to adapt to change.

At the education level, leading schools during a pandemic is a challenge of vast dimensions. Once the initial shock is over, educational leaders need to recover the helm of their schools that this unexpected virus has taken from them. In this respect, networking is becoming a good ally in the fight against COVID-19.

Prior to this period of crisis, educational research and practice had already focused on the prevalence of an important current of thought that advocates distributed leadership as a key condition for effective networking and coherent professional collaboration (Azorín, Harris & Jones, 2020; Harris & Jones, 2017). COVID-19 has accelerated networking to an unprecedented level and distributed leadership is now being used as a mechanism of coherent response to the current situation. 

In education, there is a call for collaboration and leaders are being required to network. According to Harris and Jones (2020a), “most leaders will be running on empty given the myriad of challenges that COVID-19 has created for them, so distributed leadership is a necessity to survive” (p. 246).

We have argued that the adoption of a lens of distributed leadership practice within networks will afford a better understanding of how networks operate (Azorín, Harris, & Jones, 2020). In our work, from the point of view of distributed leadership and networking we provide a three-fold classification that aims to make sense of the complexities involved in changing education policies and practices:

  • Network leadership: based on leadership through organizational connections across organizations, where the type of network dictates membership, there are no implicit barriers to entry and knowledge transfer is central to effective networking.
  • Lateral leadership: characterized by collective agency, interdependent decision making, collaborative action, formal and informal leadership patterns, collective ownership, fluid, interchangeable membership and releasing potential.
  • Distributed leadership: related to leadership by expertise within, between and across organizations, inter-changeable membership according to needs, a focus on leadership practice more than leadership position, and extending or ‘stretching’ leadership capacity as a key purpose.

In terms of policy and practice, Harris (2012) argues that “despite decades of research on school improvement, school effectiveness and system reform, some policymakers are still selecting and implementing policies that have little, if any, independent empirical evidence supporting them” (p.5). Distributed leadership perspective would shift the knowledge base on networks “away from largely normative descriptions, self-report and over assertion to more sophisticated research designs and analytical processes that would generate more rigorous and reliable evidence” (Azorín, Harris, & Jones, 2020, p. 121). If we look at the educational research, there is empirical evidence that supports the following set of propositions about the types of leadership practices that are most prevalent and effective within networks (Azorín, Harris & Jones, in press):

  1. Middle leadership supports effective networking.
  2. Distributed leadership within networks enhances innovation.
  3. Teacher leadership is an essential component of effective networking.
  4. Collaborative practices need to be learned and practiced.
  5. Formal leadership drives distributed leadership.
  6. Distributed leadership patterns matter in networking activity.
  7. Effective networks are communities of practice.
  8. Distributed leadership provides support in networked organizations.
  9. Leadership in networks is not fixed but interchangeable.
  10. Effective network leaders build and sustain professional capacity.

These findings clearly demonstrate that distributed leadership is a successful approach that can support, stimulate, and enhance networking. Within this change of outlook, a good recommendation is to take note of what evidence tells us and bring in policies that include what is functioning in practice to promote reforms that go in the right direction. It is important to facilitate links that allow distributed leadership to flourish in networks at the systemic level. To make this happen, educational leaders’ actions have to go beyond school limits and move towards a process of democratization and openness.

“Distributed leadership is a successful approach that can support, stimulate, and enhance networking.”

LtC: Educational Change expects those engaged in and with schools, schooling, and school systems to spearhead deep and often difficult transformation. How might those in the field of Educational Change best support these individuals and groups through these processes?

CA: One of my priorities as an educational change scholar is opening up schools to their communities and elevate these communities’ importance in decision-making and policy. In education, as in many other aspects of life, it is important to recognize that context matters (Harris and Jones, 2018). Schools have to reflect on the context in which they are immersed, be prepared to work in collaboration networks with neighboring allies, and to take firm steps to open up to the world (Azorín, 2019).

Schools are no longer expected to merely provide an educational function or service, but to safeguard the well-being of their students and, despite the pandemic, ensure continuity of learning. They are asked to take a step forward, to foster rapprochement with their local community, neighborhood, various educational and social agents, volunteer networks, and associations (Azorín & Muijs, 2018). In the 21st century, it does not make sense to live disconnected from what is happening around us. It is vital to open up and remove the barriers that still make it difficult for millions of people to benefit from the improvement provided by the different connections they have in educational and social spheres.

Similarly, the construction of a “school without walls” could be supported, both physically and pedagogically; a renewed institution capable of transcending its own rules and questioning its own practices and relations with its surroundings. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, reimagining schooling in that sense is a reminder that the call for collaboration and networking should not be delayed any longer.

Below are 7 important factors that educational change scholars could bear in mind to support the transformation of education when they engaged in and with different school settings:

  1. Communicate to share and exchange information.
  2. Connect to learn from others.
  3. Collaborate together for a common purpose.
  4. Create new knowledge.
  5. Co-lead for distributed leadership to flourish.
  6. Circulate ideas that allow the dissemination of innovations.
  7. Catalyze the change of cultures, policies and practices.

Educational change scholars act as links that bring the value of ideas and are able to initiate social movements that enable the transformation of educational systems for the improvement of their countries. This is often done through the use of evidence-supported knowledge and advice about practices that work. Their work is to connect theory, policy, and practice, clarifying the meaning of what they do so that others can replicate it.

“Educational change scholars’ work is to connect theory, policy, and practice, clarifying the meaning of what they do so that others can replicate it.”

In short, I have published numerous results of research projects and experiences of educational innovation carried out in schools with which I had the opportunity to collaborate very closely. Often, when I share the trends in scientific literature and the proposals of some schools with others, the professionals working in them say they were unaware this knowledge was available. I have learned from these experiences how relevant it is that ideas travel from one school to another. When we know that something has worked in one school it is easier for another to want to put something similar into practice, while adapting it to its own reality. The educational change scholar has the capacity to make this possible. In summary, the interconnection between the different educational and social agents involved in the school, as well as the dissemination of their practices, is part of the formula for educational change.

LtC: Where do you perceive the field of Educational Change is going? What excites you about Educational Change now and in the future?

CA: Unquestionably, 2020 has been a turning point, a before and after in people’s lives. The pandemic has marked the end of the educational journey of the previous decades. Hargreaves and Fullan (2020) recently stated that “educational reform in the postpandemic age must be transformational and not seek to return to normal” (p. 327). Beyond the COVID-19 supernova (Azorín (2020a) “we need to come out of this crisis as a stronger society, with a fairer and more supportive educational system that really can change lives. Otherwise, we will have missed out on an opportunity” (p. 388).  In the coming years, educational change is going to take huge strides in terms of networking, leadership and innovation.

First, the monitoring of collaborative networks that have sprung up in education and society, especially in these uncertain times, needs to be researched. Since the beginning of the pandemic “the chains of favors have multiplied with initiatives of support and help towards the most vulnerable” (Azorín, 2020a, p. 383).  If networks are at the front-line of the crisis, where formal and informal groups connected by social ties have emerged in force. 

Second, Harris and Jones (2020a) state that “a new chapter is being written about school leadership in disruptive times that will possibly overtake and overshadow all that was written before on the topic” (p. 246). At the school level, there is no single person able to respond to all the demands and challenges deriving from COVID-19. In contrast, many actors are playing crucial roles at this moment and distributed leadership is positioning itself as a viable strategy for the present and future of education (Azorín, Harris, &Jones, in press). 

Third, within this uncertain atmosphere, it is worth asking if COVID-19 can act as a channel for innovation and change in education. I agree with Fullan and Quinn (2020), who conclude, “Our sense is that there are many people (students, teachers, parents and others) who see a dire need for improvement in learning systems and are willing to work toward that end. With the right combination of action positive system change could occur at a more rapid rate than at any time in the past century” (p. 22).

In any case, surely the above ideas can serve as beacons to illuminate the change in education that is so needed and will mark the new coordinates on which we will continue to teach, write and research.

References

Azorín, C. (2017). Redes de colaboración entre escuelas inglesas para la mejora de la inclusión socioeducativa. Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado, Número Extraordinario, 29-48.

Azorín, C. (2019). The emergence of professional learning networks in Spain. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 4(1), 36-51.

Azorín, C. (2020a). Beyond COVID-19 supernova. Is another education coming? Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 5(3-4), 381-390.

Azorín, C. (2020b). Leading networks. School Leadership & Management, 40(2-3), 105-110.

Azorín, C. and Ainscow, M. (2020). Guiding schools on their journey towards inclusion. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 24(1), 58-76.

Azorín, C. and Arnaiz, P. (2018). Redes de colaboración en educación. Nuevas formas de participación y transformación social. Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado, 22(2), 1-6.

Azorín, C. and Muijs, D. (2017). Networks and collaboration in Spanish education policy. Educational Research, 59(3), 273-296.

Azorín, C. and Muijs, D. (2018). Redes de colaboración en educación. Evidencias recogidas en escuelas de Southampton. Profesorado. Revista de currículum y formación del profesorado, 22(2), 7-27.

Azorín, C., Harris, A. and Jones, M. (2020). Taking a distributed perspective on leading professional learning networks. School Leadership & Management, 40(2-3), 111-127.

Azorín, C., Harris, A. and Jones, M. (in press). Future Leadership. Distributed Leadership and Networking: Exploring the Evidence Base. In D. Netolicky (Ed.), Future Alternatives for Educational Leadership. Routledge.

Fullan, M. and Quinn, J. (2020). Education Reimagined: The Future of Learning, available at: https://edudownloads.azureedge.net/msdownloads/Microsoft-EducationReimagined-Paper.pdf (accessed 27 November 2020).

Hargreaves, A. (2020). Moving: A Memoir of Education and Social Mobility. Bloomington, United States: Solution Tree Press.

Hargreaves, A. and Fullan, M. (2020). Professional capital after the pandemic: revisiting and revising classic understandings of teachers’ work. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 5(3-4), 327-336.

Harris, A. (2012). Lead the change series Q&A with Alma Harris. AERA Educational Change Special Interest Group, 20, 6.

Harris, A. and Jones, M. (2017). Professional learning communities: A strategy for school and system improvement? Wales Journal Education, 19(1), 331-333.

Harris, A. and Jones, M. (2018). Why context matters: A comparative perspective on education reform and policy implementation. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 17, 195-207.

Harris, A. and Jones, M. (2020a). COVID 19 -school leadership in disruptive times. School Leadership & Management, 40(4), 243-247.

Harris, A. and Jones, M. (2020b). System Recall. Leading for Equity and Excellence in Education. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

UNESCO (2020). Global Education Monitoring Report 2020. Inclusion and education: all means all. Paris: UNESCO.

ABOUT THE LTC SERIES: The Lead the Change series, featuring renowned educational change experts from around the globe, serves to highlight promising research and practice, to offer expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change, and to spark collaboration within the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.  Kristin Kew, Chair; Mireille Hubers; Program Chair; Na Mi Bang, Secretary/Treasurer; Min Jung KimGraduate Student Representative; Jennie Weiner, LtC Series Editor; Alexandra Lamb, Production Editor.

Connecting Youth Development and Educational Change: An Interview with Helen Janc Malone

This week IEN features the October Lead the Change (LTC) interview with Helen Janc Malone (@HelenJancMalone), Vice President for Research and Innovation at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) and the National Director of the Education Policy Fellowship Program. Among her books, Malone is a former Chair of the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association and helped to launch the Lead the Change series. She also served at the editor of Leading Educational Change: Global Issues, Challenges, and Lessons on Whole-System Reform, a collection of many of the first interviews produced for the LtC series. 

This is the sixth in a series of interviews inviting some of the authors of earlier Lead the Change interviews to review their previous responses and consider how they might modify/ adjust/add to what they wrote based on their experiences and insights since publication.  The fully formatted interview can be found on the LtC website along with the original interview  from 2015. 

Lead the Change: How, and in what ways, has your work evolved since the first publication of this piece? What ideas/points still hold true? Which might you revise?

Helen Janc Malone: First of all, congratulations to the Educational Change SIG on 100+ issues of the Lead the Change Series! Kudos to Drs. Santiago Rincon-Gallardo, Kristin Kew, Osnat Fellus, and Jennie Weiner on their editorial contributions to take the series to the next level. When the newsletter first started, we sought to create a place for members to dialogue about the latest research, emerging questions, and possibilities for further field advancement. I am humbled that the series continues to serve as that platform.

In the 49th issue I spoke in part about the out-of-school time field and the importance of bridging youth development and educational change fields, “What this means is that educational change must pay attention to how we create both the conditions and vehicles for authentic experiences that support student learning and development at the center.” My views from five years ago have only been reaffirmed—linking fields that serve the same students in order to complement experiences of school and out-of-school learning is essential.

There has been significant research in both fields that could inform and reinforce each other’s approaches on the relationship between system design and opportunities to high-quality education access, and by the growing evidence about the importance of cross-actor collaboration as a vehicle for educational change. The research on out-of-school time learning, for instance, has offered new approaches to cultivating authentic student voice in education, to building strong school-community partnerships, and to equity and access in learning. Educational change has started to address the importance of family and community voices within schools and in supporting teaching and learning. Taken together, we now have substantial evidence about connecting the school day with nonformal and informal learning, with strong family and community engagement, and with community services that provide well-rounded, positive, and developmentally appropriate learning experiences through the day.

Having spent nearly twenty years contributing to various domestic and international research networks and creating outlets for knowledge translation, I have observed evolving conversations about the need to authentically engage community partners in educational change efforts in order to facilitate student learning, especially in the face of rising societal inequities that manifest themselves most starkly through persistent resource and opportunity constraints. Today’s unprecedented times in some ways, demand that we further create intentional spaces for research exchange while simultaneously interrogating our collective assumptions about whether our existing structures support the desired outcomes we seek for the most vulnerable student populations.

LtC: What do these shifts suggest to you about the field of educational change more broadly?

HJM: As someone who has been a part of youth leadership development work, comprehensive school reform efforts, out-of-school time learning, community schools strategy, and educational change field, I have witnessed within these spheres a commitment to change that is adaptive and responsive to various actors within and outside schools. At the same time, I have observed that education policies enacted in the U.S. and abroad approach supporting students, and in particular, vulnerable populations, using simultaneously cyclical, continuous, and emerging perspectives. Cyclical, because in education policy, we have witnessed an oscillating dynamic of public dollar investments in the instructional core as the sole driver of educational change and looking broadly at the role various actors play to support teaching and learning. The investment priorities have at times positioned dollars for an in-school approach as an either/or proposition to a coordinated services approach. Yet, we know from practice, the answer is that students benefit when we as a society invest both teaching and learning for equity and supportive learning environments outside of the classroom.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">While public policy has navigated the narrow/broader debate to educational investments, there have been long standing, though perhaps more discrete sustained efforts to create authentic whole child services that advance learning and positive youth development.  Communities engaged in these efforts display a core belief that teaching does not happen in isolation, and that a holistic approach stands to benefit students, families, teachers, and communities. And finally, especially during time of focusing events, we have observed moments of (re)discovery that necessitate a broader approach to education. These shifts of what approach will lead to the most meaningful and lasting educational change will likely continue into the future unless we flip the debate and start with a foundation centered on equity and students and the facilitating factors that support thriving children and youth. And, that piece is on us to lift up in our research, in practice, and in informing policy.While public policy has navigated the narrow/broader debate to educational investments, there have been long standing, though perhaps more discrete sustained efforts to create authentic whole child services that advance learning and positive youth development.  Communities engaged in these efforts display a core belief that teaching does not happen in isolation, and that a holistic approach stands to benefit students, families, teachers, and communities. And finally, especially during time of focusing events, we have observed moments of (re)discovery that necessitate a broader approach to education. These shifts of what approach will lead to the most meaningful and lasting educational change will likely continue into the future unless we flip the debate and start with a foundation centered on equity and students and the facilitating factors that support thriving children and youth. And, that piece is on us to lift up in our research, in practice, and in informing policy.

“Teaching does not happen in isolation…a holistic approach stands to benefit students, families, teachers, and communities.”

LtC: What most excites you about the direction of the field of educational change is going?

HJM: In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic there is an opportunity to re-imagine education that supports all students, and in particular, student populations that the current system does not serve well. Rather than create a ‘new normal’ that maintains the status quo, we (collectively) could approach this moment from a redesign frame and think deeply as to what we want in and from our education environments. This includes determining the conditions we want for learning, approaches to schooling, to the students’ experiences themselves. We have an opportunity to closely examine the purpose[s] of schooling, the pedagogical approaches to learning, the role external partners play to support and facilitate student development, the fiscal [in]equity in education, as well as systemic alignment with and across a student’s day and life. How we respond to these areas of consideration will be shaped by who is in the conversation. We need to be sure that the proverbial table includes voices that ultimate benefit from the educational changes we collectively seek – children, youth, families, teachers, and community partners. Local communities should be an essential partner in these conversations. Systems are not designed to change overnight, and in many ways, they are designed to resist rapid and discontinuous change, so having conversations regarding the future of education should be the focus of our present, in order to maintain a sense of urgency, obligation, and necessity, while also coupling practice, research, and advocacy to advance new directions.

The Educational Change SIG is well positioned to lead these conversations, as the core of what we do is to explore, examine, and engage in the change processes at all levels. Some of the scholars highlighted in the Lead the Change series have both led and researched within- and cross-sector systemic changes that redefined the narrative on teaching and learning, roles and responsibilities, lifted up local voices and sought educational justice. We could model the conversations that surface deep structural work, to learn from each other across continents, and to lift up innovations that we see make a significant difference in students’ lives. As a global community, we have the power of collective voice to share lessons of the past, the possibilities for the future, and considerations for education at large.

“As a global community, we have the power of collective voice to share lessons of the past, the possibilities for the future, and considerations for education at large.”

LtC: What advice might you have for those interested in affecting change and improvement?

HJM: There is a renewed urgency in our work. As John Kingdon’s (1984) classic work, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, reminds us, we have a policy window, an opportunity to potentially see new policies enacted at all levels that address the needs of learners. As noted in the previous question’s response, we are in a global moment where countries across continents are taking a deeper look into their teaching and learning practices, their systems, designs, institutional arrangements, and funding for education. There is a pressing need to be informed by innovation, research, and promising practices. As a global SIG, affecting change starts with listening, sharing, and collaborating. First, we have a shared responsibility to engage the field to look for allies in learning that play a critical role in students’ success and positive development. Second, we have a responsibility to bring attention to the political, social, and historical dimensions of educational change. The SIG’s scholars have done due diligence in examining the educational change process from various aspects, structural, institutional, and individual. Their scholarship can contribute to our shared understanding of the why, what, and how of education improvement and policy change for the current moment. And, as I noted in the 49th issue, we have an opportunity to join other SIGs in a collective voice for the change we seek in our communities and across systems.

LtC: What are the future research directions that should be addressed in the field of educational change?

HJM: I’ll note three that immediately come to mind given the current global context. First, we should take note of who is leading during these times of rapid change. In many respects, the immediate responses to directly support students has been at the local level, with school districts, principals and staff, teachers, families, and community allies working together so that students have access to food and basic supplies, health services, WiFi, and online lessons for continuous learning. We should unpack the ways our schools and local communities innovated during these challenging times, what can we learn from their responses about leadership, about change management, about innovation, and look for ways to authentically engage local voices in the shared research so that our work is informing local contexts and we in term, learn from them.

Second, educational change intersects with cross-sectoral issues—equity, racial justice, climate—and thus, we stand to benefit by learning from these issues and associated social movements to understand the macro forces that are shaping what we see inside classrooms, as well as how we can rethink education in the broader context. And, third, this period has given us an important inflection point to examine whether our ‘go-to’ leadership and change theories we apply to understand various education phenomena remain both relevant and adequate given the transformative nature of recent events, or whether this is an opportunity to expand upon the leadership theories, as well as to develop new frameworks and theoretical underpinnings to guide educational change in the future.

ABOUT THE LTC SERIES: The Lead the Change series, featuring renowned educational change experts from around the globe, serves to highlight promising research and practice, to offer expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change, and to spark collaboration within the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.  Kristin Kew, Chair; Mireille Hubers; Program Chair; Na Mi Bang, Secretary/Treasurer; Min Jung KimGraduate Student Representative; Jennie Weiner, LtC Series Editor; Alexandra Lamb, Production Editor.

Inequality, adaptability and survival: A view of the pandemic and school closures from Dignitas’ Deborah Kimathi in Kenya

In honor of the announcement of the WISE Award winners for 2020, we are reposting our interview with Deborah Kimathi, the Executive Director of Dignitas, an education development organisation in Kenya. Dignitas was one of six WISE Award winners this year for its Stawisha Instructional Leadership Institute. (Dignitas is also a partner of Global School Leaders, the focus of last week’s post.) The WISE awards celebration will take place virtually on October 28th (with free registration) and will include “Building the Future of Education: Conversations with Resilient Innovators.”

This interview was one in a series that included posts from Chile,  from Japanfrom the Netherlands, Scotland, Liberia,  Pakistan,  Australia,  Canada, China, and Ghana. The “A view from…” series editors are IEN’s Thomas Hatch and Karen Edge, Reader/Associate Professor in Educational Leadership at University College London’s Institute of Education.

IEN: What’s happening with you and your family?

Deborah Kimathi: Kenya announced its first case of COVID19 on March 13th, and on March 15th the government announced national school closures, and social distancing measures that included working from home for those in non-essential services. I spent the next morning in the Dignitas office, setting up our team of 15 for remote working, with no idea of what that would really look like (for a team who are typically 80% in the community delivering training and coaching to our 140 School Partners) or how long it might last for. Now, 11 weeks the team are all still working from home, and being incredibly fruitful despite the challenges.

Ever since, my family and I have been working from home in Nairobi, schooling from home, shopping from home, socializing from home, and everything-else-from-home! My husband and I are both still working full time (or more than), and managing our three children. Our childcare ceased on the same day, so that our nanny could also follow the government’s guidelines. Our oldest two (7 and 9 years old, one lockdown birthday later) are doing some home learning (not their school prescribed program which was 6 hours per day of poorly managed Google Hangouts), and our 3 year old, who was due to start nursery this term, is generally having way too much screen time. My working day currently starts at 5am, and goes until around 10pm, with a variety of interruptions.

IEN: What’s happening with education/learning in your community?

DK: One word comes to mind – inequality.  I have two very different ongoing conversations when it comes to education.  The first is with my children’s friends’ parents, mostly struggling with schedules, the need for each child to have a device or laptop, how to turn baking into a science lesson, and where to source real butter for said cake.  The other, and the more urgent conversation, is with our School Partners and friends, largely in Nairobi’s urban informal settlements.  Here, the struggle is not for comfort, the struggle is for survival.  COVID19 has brought with it severe social, health and economic hardship, and these hit the poorest communities the hardest.  In these communities, more than 60% of families were unable to access public education pre-COVID19, as a result of poverty and systemic exclusion.  Marginalised by poverty, these are the same families excluded from a myriad of essential health and education services now, and often fighting a daily, violent war with police in their struggle to exist.

The more urgent conversation, is with our School Partners and friends, largely in Nairobi’s urban informal settlements.  Here, the struggle is not for comfort, the struggle is for survival.  COVID19 has brought with it severe social, health and economic hardship, and these hit the poorest communities the hardest.

The significant challenge of inequality is, as a result, exacerbated in the most violent way, only bringing harm to children, families, and society as a whole.  This raises critical, urgent questions of ‘What happens next?’  When schools reopen, will those who’ve participated in online or home learning be ‘ahead’ of others?  How will schools assess progress and promote students to the new school year?  How many girls will be married or pregnant, never to return to school?  How many families will end up on the street, their children never to return to school?  How many children will have died from starvation?  How many children will be so scarred by the trauma, violence and anxiety of this season that learning never really resumes?

The significant challenge of inequality is, as a result, exacerbated in the most violent way, only bringing harm to children, families, and society as a whole. 

A young learner proudly carries his school books outside a typical partner school. Photo: Dignitas

IEN: What do you/your community need help with?

DK: Dignitas is working tirelessly to protect and promote the learning and well-being of children living in poverty.  Whilst everything else is disrupted, our vision to ensure all children have the opportunity to thrive and succeed remains core to our COVID19 response.

In an effort to reach and protect these children, we immediately thought of our amazing community of School Leaders and Teacher Leaders.  Dignitas has trained over 1,000 educators, and have another 450 educators enrolled for 2020.  These School Leaders have already benefited from Dignitas training and coaching and they are also leaders who are rooted in, and passionate about the needs of their communities. Our partnership lays an ideal foundation for them to be further equipped to respond in these times of crisis as community champions of well-being and learning.  Dignitas is remotely training and coaching these educators as Community Champions who can work in household clusters to protect and promote children’s learning and well-being.  

Dignitas is working tirelessly to protect
and promote the learning and well-being
of children living in poverty.  Whilst
everything else is disrupted, our vision
to ensure all children have the opportunity
to thrive and succeed remains core
to our COVID19 response.

To make this possible, we need help in curating more digital content for these educators, the educators need tablets to access and share learning content, families need basic devices or radios to benefit from the government’s education broadcasts, we need to design and print home learning packs for children, and we need to help families with food!  The list is long, and we’ve been excited to collaborate with some amazing partners like Safaricom Foundation, Team4Tech, Cosaraf Foundation and Synthetic so far, but the need is huge!

A young girl, now at home, facing an uncertain future. Photo: Dignitas

IEN: What resources/links/supports have you found most useful? 

DK: I’ve really appreciated being part of some great networks – WISE, Global School Leaders, RELI, Global Schools Forum and others who have curated relevant content and tools, and offered consistent, valuable support.  The opportunity to share and learn with peers has helped me to stay focused, inspired and fruitful in this season.

Friends and donors who are authentic partners in our work!  Can donor relationships be unhealthy, and have skewed power dynamics?  Yes. However, they can also be wonderful places of strategic collaboration, bringing together passionate, committed teams of people and resources to respond to community need in a wise and compassionate way.  We’re fortunate to largely experience the latter, and they’ve been amazing thought and action partners for this season.

IEN: What are you reading, watching, listening to that you would recommend to others?  

DK: I’m mostly listening to podcasts and recordings of webinars that I’ve missed in the busy-ness!  WISE and Africa.com have had great content, relevant to our context, and not afraid to ask the hard questions.  In terms of reading, material from Harvard Graduate School of Education and Brookings Institute have offered interesting insight.  However, I think my most valuable learning experience in this season has been listening to others – peers in the Kenyan and Global education sector, and the communities in which we work.

IEN: What have you found most inspiring?

DK: People!  People who are so intentional in bringing hope and light to others.  People giving so generously of their time and expertise.  People who don’t have much, always willing to give the most.