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 110 - May 2022

Book

Of Note: Dignity Consciousness

Leading with Dignity: How to create a culture that brings out the best in people by Donna Hicks, PhD
Yale University Press, October 8, 2019

A global voice advocating for recognizing the power and impact of honoring dignity in ourselves and others, Dr. Donna Hicks has followed up her original text, Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflicts. In Leading with Dignity, her new book, Hicks takes the dignity model and shares the essential interpersonal skills, relational skills, and competencies required to “pay closer attention to the effects we have on others.” Her text ties together core values of strong leadership—listening intently, receptiveness to feedback, empathizing, and apologizing effectively—to emphasize how these actions honor the dignity in others. Her focus on the importance of leaders understanding, acting with, and honoring dignity boils down to an essential point: leaders set the tone in an organization. Without what she describes as "dignity consciousness," even good people who are well intentioned can still cause harm to others. For leaders—whether new to their role or seasoned—this text has renewed relevance in a time of division when many in our communities may feel even more deeply the sting of repeated indignities. We are reminded that if we lead with dignity, and model the skills that show our value for each individual, we can have a ripple effect across organizations, uplifting adults and children alike.

Read More
Submitted by
Zaineb Hussain, Ed.M. Candidate, Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, New York, NY
Leadership Practice
Report

Depth of Crisis

Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey - United States, January-June 2021 by Adriana Rico et. al
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 1, 2022

The ever present headlines highlighting teen and college-age suicide have been painful and disturbing to read. In many instances, students shocked their communities because many close to them did not see it coming. Little is known about how the pandemic impacted this vulnerable population, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention performed a study on adolescent behaviors and experiences in 2021, which is the first national, comprehensive study to investigate pandemic stressors on youth. Over 7,000 students were surveyed, and the data clearly indicates the severe and dire consequences of the pandemic on adolescents. In one year alone, there was a 31% increase in mental-health-related emergencies among youths aged 12-17. Stress, isolation, abuse, and grief were some of the risk factors that led many towards substance abuse, suicidal ideation, and other mental health struggles. The study also reveals data around perceived racism, emotional and physical abuse, and the differences within demographic mental health. It is not an easy report to read; however, our children need us to listen and pay attention to this growing reality. As educators, it is imperative that we grasp the depth of this crisis and find ways to support our students, children, and each other.

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Submitted by
Nina Freeman Hanlon, Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, CT
Student Wellness & Safety
Covid-19
Article

Circling Around

The Redemption of Frederick Shegog by Eric Hoover
The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 9, 2022

Frederick Shegog began community college at the age of 34 after having survived homelessness, addiction, and mental health crises. His journey, beautifully described in Eric Hoover's essay, imparts myriad lessons about the importance of relationships. "No one succeeds alone," Hoover writes, and Shegog's story reinforces that truth through its profiles of Shegog's professors, counselor, and Delaware County Community College's campus life staff. In partnership with Shegog, these educators helped him to slowly feel that he belonged. This essay is crucial for independent school educators as they consider the differences between traditionally underrepresented students and those who arrive without knowing the unwritten rules of our schools. It is also a powerful reminder that Shegog “persisted, in part, because many faculty and staff members had done their jobs well, and, often, much more than required." From describing the professor who "started each class by asking students how they were doing, what they were up to, a relatively small gesture that Shegog loved," as well as the countless staff members who help Shegog navigate school bureaucracy, Hoover shows us that our jobs are much more than jobs. Taken together, they form the circles around our students that, in uncountable ways, help determine their success. Even the most privileged students need a circle, and this article serves as a powerful reminder about why we dedicate ourselves to others.

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Submitted by
Jonathan Schoenwald, Gulliver Preparatory School, Miami, FL
Student Wellness & Safety
Psychology & Human Development
Teaching Practice
Book

The Textured Reality of Commitment

Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in an Age of Infinite Browsing by Pete Davis
Simon and Schuster, May 4, 2021

Pete Davis, a civic advocate from Falls Church, Virginia, posits, with compelling conviction, that our current culture prioritizes and perpetuates a state of infinite browsing, often leading us to paralyzing indecision. In the book Dedicated, catalyzed by a commencement speech he delivered at Harvard Law School in 2018, Davis thrusts us into the thick of a tension between open options and commitment. The former stems from a "novelty" culture in which we are programmed to resist commitment—and all it entails—to make space for the consideration of endless possibilities. The latter points to a counterculture—one reflected in the lifetime achievements of Fred Rogers, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the “slow and steady” teachers from our past. Whether we, as educators, are engaged in strategic planning, assessing and building culture, or honing our art of teaching and learning, Davis encourages us to lean into the textured reality of what commitment requires of us. To accept the discomfort of vulnerability, fear of failure, and inevitability of unforeseen challenge, is to commit. And such work, Davis argues, is our most authentic path toward enduring change. An intriguing, contemplative, and insightful read, Dedicated invites us to interrogate our own tension between browsing and commitment.

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Submitted by
Allison Letourneau, Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, NH
Technology
Psychology & Human Development
Leadership Practice
Article

The Longer History

To Own Whiteness by Musab Younis
London Review of Books, February 10, 2022

In this essay, Musab Younis, a scholar at Queen Mary University of London, brings a critical eye to a quartet of popular anti-racism books, including Robin DiAngelo's Nice Racism, Layla Saad's Me and White Supremacy, Rachel Ricketts' Do Better, and Emma Dabiri's What White People Can Do Next. Younis is skeptical of the shared project these books undertake, which he distills down to "commend[ing] White people willing to 'do the work’ on racism, but condemn[ing] them for the bad faith in which they approach anti-racist labour." He grounds his analysis in the longer history of the self-help genre and its overlap with anti-racism, which he dates back to the 1960s and 1970s, when both the Civil Rights movement and counter-cultural movements encouraged more open conversations about racism. This history is invaluable to those looking to understand the American traditions of racism and anti-racism. Younis also includes some helpful insights from critics of the contemporary iteration of anti-racism work, forcing us to broaden our thinking beyond the narrow categories we've been handed and to look to more radical traditions like the anti-colonialism of Franz Fanon, the linguistic philosophy of Paul Gilroy, or the critical tradition of James Baldwin. Younis also laments the "demise of an internationalist conception of race," noting the limited scope of contemporary anti-racist work and its disconnection from previous movements for social progress. Overall, this article is an urgent call to think more expansively and more critically about the work we are trying to do in spaces committed to anti-racist work.

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Submitted by
Jon Gold, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI
DEIJ
Book

Teach to Reach

When it comes to student engagement, what comes first? Should students feel emotionally connected to learning? Should curiosity be piqued? Must students be well behaved? And how do we respond when we get the dreaded question, "Why do I have to read this?" These are some of the compelling questions Cris Tovani unpacks in her latest book, which provides advice, resources, and strategies to plan ahead for meaningful student engagement in any content area. Tovani organizes her chapters through stories of disengaged students wearing various "masks." She shows us that based on what a student needs, "the masks they choose to wear can change from class to class and day to day." Some students wear a mask of anger and apathy. Others wear a mask of minimal effort. Some wear the mask of the class clown or of invisibility. Tovani provides thoughtful ways (including an appendix of resources) to make connections, through literacy, to these different students' "head, heart, and gut." She offers tools to plan for long-term engagement as well as in-the-moment techniques, and she shares an honest reflection of her own teaching (especially her mistakes) to help teachers of any subject area teach the hardest to reach students.

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Submitted by
Michelle Tursellino, Avenues The World School, New York, NY
Teaching Practice
Social-Emotional Learning
Curriculum
Book

A Necessary Voice

How can we support our students (or own children) in a college application season that grows ever more competitive and rigorous? First as the Director of College Admissions at NYU, then as the Director of College Counseling at several independent schools, Laurén Carter has dedicated her career to helping students find their best match. To read this book, with separate sections for teens and parents, is to be immersed in a warm, compassionate conversation with a wise admissions professional about what a student or parent can (and what they can't or shouldn't!) do to increase the student's chances of receiving that (virtual) fat envelope. Included are approachable activities, guides for conversation, practical suggestions for ways to generate and narrow lists, and monthly checklists for each year of high school that make the mounting tasks feel manageable. Especially valuable for recent recruits to secondary education, but also worth a look from busy college counselors looking for practical activities to support individual students, this guide invites introspection, reflection, and sustainable action; it is a necessary voice of reason during an intense process.

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Submitted by
Bridget McGivern, Emma Willard School, Troy, NY
General
Curriculum
Book

Astonishing Freedom

Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda, Translated by Sara Lissa Paulson
Enchanted Lion Books, April 26, 2022

One of the greatest authors of the 20th century, Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda received numerous accolades throughout his lifetime including winning the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature. In a newly-published edition of Neruda's Book of Questions, originally completed only a few months before his death and composed of a sequence of poems written entirely as questions, Spanish translator Sara Lissa Paulson and Chilean illustrator Paloma Valdivia infuse carefully chosen and beautifully arranged selections from Neruda's masterwork with new life and a new audience in mind: children. The medium of the book plays with the very idea of translation, breaking apart and rearranging Neruda's mysterious, musing, and playful question poems using striking images, text in two languages, and interactive fold-out pages. Neruda asks all of us to consider with an open mind fundamental questions about our world and ourselves, such as "Why do the trees hide / the splendor of their roots?" and "Where does the rainbow end, / in your soul or on the horizon?" As the book's editor points out, "What Neruda shares with us as an old man isn't an arrival at Truth, but the astonishing freedom of a curious mind that dares to reimagine the world again and again." By creating a version of Neruda's text that is accessible to children who speak different languages, come from different places, and live radically different lives, Paulson and Valdivia bring Neruda’s work full circle. They open spaces for children—and, indeed, for us all—to engage in this same act of reimagination, seeing the world around us in new and miraculous ways.

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Submitted by
Amy Francisco, Ed.M. Candidate, Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, New York, NY
Curriculum
Creativity

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

STEPHANIE LIPKOWITZ
Associate Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

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, Mooresville, NC

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