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. 126 - May 2024


Of Note: Positionality and Experience

The Identity Conscious Educator: Building Habits & Skills for a More Inclusive School by Liza A. Talusan
Solution Tree Press, February 18, 2022

If you strive to make your classrooms and schools more inclusive, but are not sure where to start, The Identity Conscious Educator: Building Habits and Skills for a More Inclusive School by Liza Talusan is an excellent resource. Talusan argues that teachers can form identity awareness by reflecting on their own identities, being willing to have difficult conversations, and keeping a growth mindset around their understanding of identity. Her book explores the core identities of race, class, sexual orientation, gender, and disability and provides reproducible activity pages that prompt educators to think more about each core identity as well as reflect on their own positionality and experience with regard to each identity. Talusan also includes reflection scenarios meant to help build identity consciousness; these scenarios are not only great for personal reflection but also could be the starting place for faculty professional development workshops. Additionally, Talusan presents a roadmap for moving from allyship to an abolitionist mindset in order to create a truly inclusive community. Schools looking to build a stronger, more inclusive, identity-aware experience for their students should strongly consider this text.

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Submitted by
Jen Hoggan, Collegiate School, Richmond, VA
Leadership Practice
Teaching Practice

Attending to Our Histories

Institutional Historical Acknowledgement: What Does It Hurt to Embrace the Past? by Michelle A. Purdy
Teachers College Record, Volume 125, Number 7-8, "Minding the Gap in Education Discourse: Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in Independent and International Schools", August 2023

In her article, “Institutional Historical Acknowledgement: What Does It Hurt to Embrace the Past?”, Michelle A. Purdy draws upon her experience writing – and speaking with students and educators about – her 2018 book Transforming the Elite: Black Students and the Desegregation of Private Schools. Motivated by her own experience at an independent school in the American South as well as questions she had about the Black students who’d come before her, Purdy’s research has deeply illuminated the relationship between southern independent schools and their histories, and has signified the importance of all independent schools advancing a “deeper, fuller understanding of access and opportunity in a society built on inequality.” In particular, Purdy references some sources of inspiration, as several higher education institutions have begun attending to their histories in more formalized ways, alongside some independent schools and education nonprofits. Much of her book focuses on the “fearless firsts” to attend the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, beginning in the 1967-68 school year, and the ways in which they served as courageous change agents in navigating schools that had not been built with them in mind. In an ongoing way, Purdy powerfully posits the necessity of independent schools being willing to “embrace the hurt” and examine their pasts as part of a commitment to recognizing how our prior histories have informed the policies, practices, cultures, and ways of “being, understanding, and maneuvering” that shaped us. We then can consider the remnants they’ve left and the implications they have for our equity efforts in the present moment and years ahead.

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Submitted by
Jeff Baird, Brooklyn Prospect, Brooklyn, NY
Leadership Practice

The Students are Still Watching

Screen Time for Kids Is Fine! Unless It's Not by Matt Reynolds
Wired, March 29, 2024

The Bad Science Behind Jonathan Haidt's Call to Regulate Social Media by Aaron Brown
Reason Foundation, April 2, 2024

It Sure Looks Like Phones Are Making Students Dumber by Derek Thompson
The Atlantic, December 19, 2023

When parents practice good screen habits, it rubs off on the whole family by MindShift
KQED, March 14, 2023

When Kids Are Addicted to Their Phones, Who is to Blame? by Kathryn Jezer-Morton
The Cut, New York, March 30, 2024

Jonathan Haidt’s articles and book (reviewed in several previous editions of Klingbrief) have kicked off some major reflection on the role of screens in teens’ lives. This brief gathers up several reviews and commentaries to deepen the discussion.

As some scholars and journalists have questioned Haidt’s conclusions (notably, here, from libertarian outfit Reason and here, in Wired), others support Haidt’s larger point about screen-free schools (notably, Derek Thompson’s deep dive into the data confirming drops in standardized test scores associated with screen time). Schools, meanwhile, are left grappling with what to do. It turns out that the students are still watching, and here is what they see: a teacher’s quick glance at email while showing a documentary in class, an administrator walking down the hallway scrolling through emails, and their parents on the sidelines at games checking email or swiping on Instagram. In a KQED MindShift article from 2023, notably published before Jon Haidt’s sobering and much-discussed work, researchers found that “when [parents] practice basic boundaries and good screen habits, this also rubs off on the whole family.” This observation can be extended to school, as well; without broader reflection on the role of screens in adult lives, students won’t learn effective habits or be able to make better choices about screen time. Few dispute the import of Haidt’s larger points, but the prescriptive side of his books and articles have come under criticism for neglecting the larger encroachment of screens into all of our lives, students and their adults alike. The upshot, as the provocative subtitle of this reflection from The Cut indicates, is that “parents can’t change their kids’ relationships to their screens without also addressing their own.”

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Submitted by
Jonathan Gold, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI
Teaching Practice
Student Wellness & Safety

If Drawn to the Fire

The Leap to Leader: How Ambitious Managers Make the Jump to Leadership by Adam Bryant
Harvard Business Review Press, July 11, 2023

Adam Bryant’s newest book provides a concise leadership playbook, whether one is in education or any other field. While his examples mostly refer to the corporate world, the chapters have analogs to schools. For example, chapter two recommends that to be a great manager, one must master the basics of their current job. In a school, before one becomes an assistant principal, one should strive to be a master pedagogue. Chapter three advises on the path to promotion. In a school, this could look like a master teacher networking, seeking input from diverse audiences to improve pedagogy or classroom management, and using the resources to continue to grow and move forward. The key is simply Bryant’s opening question: “Do you really want to lead?” Is the teacher or staff person “drawn to the fire” of a problem at the school? Do they want to contribute in such a way that they take the risk of changing the structure and culture of an organization? For many good reasons, one might say, “No.” For other very good reasons, and because they see the present challenge as a chance to take a school to its next level, one might say, “Yes.” For the latter practitioner, Bryant’s book will help them navigate their next steps.

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Submitted by
Vincent Marchionni, Saint Ignatius School, Bronx, NY
Leadership Practice

Antinomies and Dilemmas

International Perspectives on Inclusive Education: In the Light of Educational Justice by Simone Seitz, Petra Auer, Rosa Bellacicco
Verlag Barbara Budrich, April 24, 2023

As countries become increasingly globalized and schools endeavor to educate more diverse student populations, assessing learning needs is often clouded by intercultural and linguistic differences. Additionally, identifying specific areas where students require support can be impeded by seemingly well-intentioned ethnocentrism. In this book, a collection of professors and postdoctoral research assistants from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, and the United Kingdom explore views on learning in different European countries, cultural similarities and differences in multicultural societies, and the importance placed on learners as individuals and collectives. Along the way, they also surface the conflicts and compromises that educators and institutions must contend with as they strive to increase inclusivity and belonging. Beyond simply assessing learning differences and implementing supports, understanding the barriers of linguistic and intercultural exchange, as well as pitfalls of educational provisions based on “socially constructed categories,” is central to the support of diverse and marginalized groups. The authors guide the reader to a common ground where the acceptance of antinomies and dilemmas provides an avenue for broadening perspectives and bolstering belonging, reminding the reader that not all differences are deficiencies, and educators must be cautious to avoid inadvertently perpetuating marginalization when the opposite is their intent.

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Submitted by
Kristofor J. Langetieg, Cardigan Mountain School, Canaan, NH
Teaching Practice

Forward Actions, Alignment, and Accountability

Episode 81: The 9 Steps To Having a Difficult Conversation With One of Your Teachers by The Private School Leader Podcast, Host: Mark Minkus
May 4, 2024

Navigating difficult feedback conversations with colleagues is a task that many would dodge if given the chance. In The Private School Leader Podcast, host Mark Minkus distills the process of delivering such feedback into nine manageable steps. Minkus not only urges listeners to "find the courage" in moments of uncertainty but also advocates for a reframing of these conversations as opportunities to enhance the student experience. Among the top tips, Minkus emphasizes thorough preparation for the discussion, strategically choosing a conducive time and setting, and establishing clear objectives for the conversation by gaining clarity on the desired outcomes. Throughout, Minkus urges school leaders to embrace a collaborative, solution-oriented approach to formulating forward actions as opposed to a prescriptive one. Crucially, each interaction should conclude with a concrete follow-up plan, ensuring alignment and accountability. By following each of the nine steps, school leaders and those entrusted with guiding others will be empowered to deliver difficult feedback with grace, professionalism, and confidence.

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Submitted by
Claudia McGuigan, The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, CT
Leadership Practice

Evidence of Beauty and Wonder and Learning

The Case for Hope by Nicolas Kristof
New York Times, May 9, 2024

A Bronx Teacher Asked. Tommy Orange Answered. by Elisabeth Egan
New York Times, March 18, 2024

“Journalism is an act of hope. Why else would reporters rush toward gunfire, visit Covid wards or wade into riots to interview arsonists? We do all this because we believe that better outcomes are possible if we just get people to understand more clearly what’s going on,” Nicholas Kristof writes in a New York Times article about his new memoir, Chasing Hope: A Reporter’s Life. Educators, like journalists, can compile a harrowing overview of the state of our world and work to honor the incredible challenges of this moment. And educators, too, like Kristof, can excavate evidence of beauty and wonder and learning from the rubble, as education, like journalism, is an act of hope. As teachers, students, and administrators stagger through the one hundred days of May to the year’s finish line, Kristof models for us an affirming and inspiring synthesis of our time’s terrors and possibilities. Likewise, we can name for one another the particular griefs we are experiencing and the particular marvels. A teacher in the Bronx, Rick Ouimet, teaches There There by Tommy Orange and says, “Students love the book so much, they don’t realize they’re reading it for English class. That’s the rare find, the gift of gifts.” One night in early March, after midnight, Ouimet sent off his “midlife college essay” to Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau, sharing the profound impact of Orange’s novel on his class, inviting him to visit. And it worked. Orange came: “When [he] cracked open his new novel, you could hear a pin drop.” As Ouimet’s students discussed their personal connections to Orange’s writing, Orange shared, “‘That’s what drew me to reading in the first place. The feeling of not being as alone as you thought you were.’”

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Submitted by
Meghan Tally, Davidson, NC
Teaching Practice


Coordinating Editor
Associate Head of School
Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

Dean of Faculty & Employees and Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Rye Country Day School,
Rye, NY

Executive Director, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

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

Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Community, Gill St. Bernard's School, Gladstone, NJ

Head of School, The Albany Academies, Albany, NY

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

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

Director of Professional Learning, Global Online Academy, Raleigh, NC

Upper School English Tutor, Davidson, NC

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