Klingbrief

A carefully-curated collection of reader-submitted books, articles, and resources for educators.

In 2009, the Klingenstein Center launched Klingbrief, a free monthly e-newsletter containing readings of particular relevance to independent and international school educators.

Current Issue: Vol 114 - January 2023

Article

Of Note: Ashes and Unknowns

The College Essay Is Dead” by Stephen Marche, "The End of High School English" by Daniel Herman, and "The Transcendent Brain" by Alan Lightman
The Atlantic, December 5, 2022 - December 9, 2022

What is learning, academic life, or academic discourse without the essay? Is the essay a thing of the past – and will the humanities (continue to) die a slow death? How will education evolve? Stephen Marche probes our new era of artificial intelligence (including the GPT-3 with the capacity to write poetry) and its total reshaping of academia. Students share their sense that using a machine to write an essay is not a violation of academic integrity because it is not another person. Professors discuss no longer being able to assign work outside of class. The big "and yet" moment of Marche's piece arrives with this declaration: "natural-language processing is going to force engineers and humanists together [...] The connection between humanism and technology will require people and institutions with a breadth of vision and a commitment to interests that transcend their field." How are faculty members in our schools talking across the aisle, so to speak, of humanists and technologists? How is your school anticipating a paradigmatic upheaval of traditional departmental silos? High school teacher and writer Daniel Herman outlines "The End of High School English": "the end of writing assignments altogether – and maybe even the end of writing as a gatekeeper, a metric for intelligence, a teachable skill." Herman says, "The question isn't 'How will we get around this?' but rather 'Is this still worth doing?'" What say you – and what say your schools? As we navigate a quickly-changing world, surely Alan Lightman's essay "The Transcendent Brain" (adapted in part from his forthcoming book by the same title) is an antidote to the notion that sciences have left humanities behind. Rarely if ever do we encounter a more synthetic, transdisciplinary, or poetic kind of writing — about science or anything. The end of eras in education is upon us. How will independent schools rise from their ashes and frontier into the new unknown?

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Submitted by
Meghan Tally, On Sabbatical, Davidson, NC
Creativity
Technology
Teaching Practice
Book

The Necessary Ingredient

Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection And Bridging Divides by Geoffrey L. Cohen
W. W. Norton & Company, September 13, 2022

In his accessible book Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides, Geoffrey L. Cohen argues that belonging is more than one criterion; it is a necessary ingredient for success in any setting and "every domain in which humans deal with other humans." Cohen offers steps supported by social science that we can employ to nurture a sense of belonging in ourselves, in others, and in our schools. Additionally, Cohen sprinkles in various school-related case studies, such as Elizabeth Paluck's work combating bullying in New Jersey's public schools. He also devotes an entire chapter to outline research he conducted on feedback in the classroom. In this study, he implements "wise criticism," which yielded positive results regarding student engagement. Furthermore, he cites the research of Jason Okonofua, a professor at UC Berkeley, on interrupting negative feedback loops between teachers and students of color. He also offers specific, often small steps we can each take to bridge distance and disconnect. Cohen reminds us of the powerful, positive impact of belonging on students and also highlights ways it can allow for productive conversations in our school communities, improve our own connection as employees, and influence our personal health. His writing is infused with optimism; fostering belonging in our daily interactions impacts us personally and all those with whom we interact.

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Submitted by
Noah Cogan, St. Catherine's School, Richmond, VA and Tamara Schurdak, Teachers College, New York, NY
Social-Emotional Learning
Student Wellness & Safety
Teaching Practice
Article

A Continuum of Competencies

Critiquing Racial Literacy: Presenting a Continuum of Racial Literacies by Laura C. Chavez-Moreno
Educational Researcher, AERA, April 28, 2022

In her recent article in Educational Researcher, UCLA Professor Laura C. Chavez-Moreno problematizes the idea that racial literacy is simply "the enactment of antiracist practices and ideologies" and suggests that instead, racial literacies exist along a continuum of competencies. Racial literacy, Chavez-Moreno argues, is more than the belief in anti-racist ideas or the use of anti-racist speech; further, she says, "the label illiterate serves as a political tool to stigmatize certain people and their literacy practices." Such labeling is "counterproductive" insofar as it deems race-evasiveness, for example, as a form of illiteracy when in fact, Chavez-Moreno states, it is "a way of making meaning of our world." Instead of the literacy/illiteracy binary, Chavez-Moreno promotes a differentiated approach that helps people to "conceive of all literate practices as conveyors of racial literacies, whether from a race-evasive or an antiracist orientation." Ultimately, she feels that racial literacy, like other literacies, is best understood as continuous and evolving.

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Submitted by
Jessica Flaxman, Rye Country Day School, Rye, NY
Current Events & Civic Engagement
DEIJ
Article

Serious about Play

Learning Through Play at School – A Framework for Policy and Practice by Rachel Parker, Bo Stjerne Thomsen, and Amy Berry
Frontiers in Education, February 17, 2022

Parker, Thompson, and Berry analyze learning through play as a framework to help implement policy and practices to engage students in joyful, meaningful, and socially interactive activities. In doing so, they place an important emphasis on the benefits of learning through play for students in early childhood and elementary school environments, not just preschool. Research shows that school environments that encourage students to learn through play cultivate cognitive, social, emotional, creative, and physical skills leading to deeper, more enduring, and transferable learning. Based on this research, the authors' Framework for Quality LTP (Learning through Play) incorporates the student experience, learning experience design and facilitation, and learning outcomes for all students. Schools might use this framework to understand, evaluate, and apply playful practices in their communities. Though there can be limitations to such practices, the plethora of benefits for students should drive teachers and administrators to consider how they might show up in our schools in intentional and authentic ways.

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Submitted by
Breanna Conley, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
Teaching Practice
Science of Learning
Book

The Math They are Doing

Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics by Peter Liljedahl
Corwin Mathematics, October 1, 2020

Building Thinking Classrooms is, at its core, a set of recommendations for how to get students to think about the math that they are doing. Peter Liljedahl and his team of researchers used a data-driven approach to determine the impact of various classroom interventions on student outcomes. Their work is distilled into 14 key practices–where students work, how we give tasks, and how we form groups, to name a few–that are straightforward and fairly easy to implement. A thinking mathematics classroom finds students problem-solving collaboratively, discussing their findings, and reflecting on their work. Further practices instruct the teacher on how to scaffold lessons, differentiate for different types of learners, and assess students' understanding. Taken together, the 14 practices can have a transformative effect on the classroom, inviting teachers and learners to think deeply about mathematics.

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Submitted by
Ian Rumsey, Miss Porter's School, Farmington, CT
Teaching Practice
Science of Learning
Article

Overheated Rhetoric

"How social-emotional learning became a frontline in the battle against CRT" by Meg Anderson
All Things Considered, National Public Radio, September 26, 2022

This article, which also aired as a story on NPR's All Things Considered, is a probing deep dive into the politicization of social-emotional learning and curriculum. As the scrutiny and pushback intensify, it's vital that educators understand the playbook and agenda of those questioning any aspect of schools' work and curriculum, including social-emotional learning's emergence "as the latest lightning rod in the battles over what gets taught in schools nationwide." The article provides a helpful context and history for SEL work in schools, explaining what SEL actually is in contrast to the caricature often presented in media coverage, and details how activists have sought to connect SEL with DEI efforts as part of a larger critique of curricular programming. The article connects this agenda to larger efforts to undermine schools' focus on identity, noting that "the fear that teachers are trying to brainwash or indoctrinate children has been around for a while." Importantly, the article also spotlights the effects of overheated rhetoric and activism on teachers and practitioners. A sobering, essential read, this article will provide essential context for the intensifying culture war discourse around schools, SEL, and curriculum.

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Submitted by
Jonathan Gold, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI
Social-Emotional Learning
Current Events & Civic Engagement
DEIJ
Book

The Urgency of Action

Learning and Teaching While White: Antiracist Strategies for School Communities by Jenna Chandler-Ward and Elizabeth Denevi
Norton Professional Books, July 26, 2022

White educators and educational leaders who feel stymied or ill-prepared to work towards cultivating and sustaining antiracist practices in their schools will find Jenna Chandler-Ward and Elizabeth Denevi's text, Learning and Teaching While White, to be essential to their practice. Chandler-Ward and Denevi state that, "White people can only stand in solidarity with, take leadership from, and develop authentic relationships with those most impacted by racism—People of Color—if they know how they have been racialized." The text is divided into two sections. The first provides important frameworks for white educators' racial identity development and how whiteness and racism operate in schools. The second offers defined steps for action for educational communities. Denevi and Chandler-Ward provide relevant activities and discuss common pitfalls for white educators and educational leaders. Chandler-Ward and Denevi capture the urgency of action, stating, "We have to stop pretending racism is someone else's issue...Let's get busy doing things differently, because if we don't, the harm continues." Learning and Teaching While White provides a robust knowledge base, a framework for schools, and clear action steps for white educators, school leaders, and parents to not only interrupt racism in school environments and develop racial literacy, but also to effectively partner with educators and school leaders of color to cultivate belonging for all.

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Submitted by
Laura Reardon, Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, CA
Teaching Practice
DEIJ
Leadership Practice
Book

With teacher burnout at historic rates and worries about retention and recruitment of faculty rising, Jen Schwanke's The Teacher's Principal: How School Leaders Can Support and Motivate Their Teachers is a timely discussion of a relevant topic for school leaders. Schwanke frames the motivations of teachers around three topics – purpose, priorities, and patterns – offering school administrators various tools and practical applications to build on positivity and address negativity. Mixing anecdotes from her own personal experience as a principal with educational literature and research, Schwanke provides administrators with a narrative that gives empathy to their experiences over the last few years. Schwanke challenges traditional notions of accountability, names challenging behaviors, and provides a solution-oriented approach to supporting educators from leadership roles. Moreover, while brief in length, Schwanke's address of inclusion within schools provides practical methods for leaders to address marginalization and exclusion. Schwanke concludes with a discussion of juggling the many balls that come with being a school leader, recommendations for self-care, and thoughts on evaluating one's own efforts. Leadership positions can feel isolating. Schwanke's text provides a reminder of the difference they can make for teachers and schools.

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Submitted by
Greg Chalfin, The Walker School, Marietta, GA
Leadership Practice

EDITORIAL BOARD

STEPHEN J. VALENTINE
Coordinating Editor
Assistant Head, Upper School, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

JESSICA FLAXMAN
Dean of Faculty and Employees, Rye Country Day School, Rye, NY

NICOLE FURLONGE
Professor and Director, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

JONATHAN GOLD
Middle School History Teacher/Expert Thinking Tri-Clerk, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI

CHRIS LAURICELLA
Head of School, The Albany Academies, Albany, NY

JESSICA MAY
Associate Director for Strategic Marketing and Communications, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

ELIZABETH MORLEY
Principal Emerita, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School, University of Toronto, Canada

MEGHAN TALLY
On Sabbatical, Davidson, NC

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