Scott Girard (Machine generated transcript):
Hi, I’m cap tines K-12 education reporter Scott Gerard. Today. Our cap times IDFs panel will discuss how will COVID-19 change K-12 education. I’m lucky to have three wonderful panelists with me to help answer that question. Marilee McKenzie is a teacher at Middleton’s Clark street community school, where she has worked since the school was in its planning stages.
She’s in her [00:03:00] 11th year of teaching. Dr. Gloria Ladson billings is a nationally recognized education expert who was a U w Madison faculty member for more than 26 years, including as a professor in the departments of curriculum and instruction, educational policy studies and educational leadership and policy analysis.
She is also the current president of the national Academy of education. Finally dr. Carlton Jenkins is the new superintendent of the Madison metropolitan school district. He started the districts top job in August, coming from the Robbinsdale school district in Minnesota, where he worked for the past five years, Jenkins began his career in the Madison area.
Having worked in Beloit and at Memorial high school in early 1990s before moving to various districts around the country. Thank you all so much for being here. Mary Lee, I’m going to start with you. You’ve been working with students directly throughout this pandemic. How has it gone? Both in the spring when changes were very sudden, and then this fall with a summer to reflect and [00:04:00] plan, it’s been interesting for sure.
Um, overall, I would say the it’s been hard. There has been nothing about this have been like, ah, It’s really, it makes my life easy. It’s been really challenging. And at the same time, the amount of growth and learning that we’ve been able to do as staff has been incredible. And I think about how teachers have moved from face-to-face to online to then planning for.
A myriad of possibilities. And then, you know, ultimately not knowing where the next step might be. And so, um, although it’s been challenging and there has been so many times where there’s been frustration or glitches or those kinds of pieces, I also have watched. Staff, um, grow and blossom and try to [00:05:00] make the best of a situation.
Um, and I’ve also watched our district try to figure out, okay, how do we negotiate this? So it’s been hard. There’s no, no way around that. And, um, I also think we are learning and positioning ourselves to make some bigger changes down the road. Thank you, dr. Jenkins. You’ve spoken about how the transition to virtual learning went and Robbinsdale.
When you were there this spring, what lessons did you learn from that experience that you were able to bring here in Madison as you started the job with just a month until the school year began? Well, um, there were a lot of lessons out of this, the first one, the whole idea that the science. Was real. Um, we initially, uh, sent out a communication about COVID-19 February to six in our district.
And then again in February 28th, and we were watching what was coming out of Hopkins in terms of the information CDC, [00:06:00] but it was from afar, but when it hit us and we had the initial, um, case in our district, even though we had read up on it, it was real. And so in terms of all of your plans, when you have a crisis that we’ve done before, we’ve had crisis in schools, but nothing like this things we had talked about doing way out five years, 10 years from now with technology, we talked about it.
We’ve been talking about building our infrastructure. We went from being the first district to close in the state of Minnesota thinking we were closing for two days to disinfect, right. And we’ll be right back. To now the real reality of what we’re going through. But the lessons we learned in is in terms of how much we depend on one another and how much we need our children to be in close proximity to us, our realization of the children who are [00:07:00] behind, uh, during the traditional schools.
Or just illuminated 10 times, you know, more that, wow, we really need to do a better job of trying to engage, not only the children, but the families. This went from her, just totally child centered to whole family, whole community. And so COVID-19 for us has said let’s pause and check on the social, emotional wellbeing, the mental health aspect, and understanding our community even deeper.
Because the economic employment, the health, all these things that happened. So as a staff, we had to change our delivery models for instruction. Uh, initially in a crisis, we were trying to put in model the same things we were doing in traditional schools that did not work. And we learned from our students and our staff and our community, we needed to change it and not be so much it’s just on associate motion or that we didn’t.
Continue to [00:08:00] try to continue with the high levels of instruction. But initially we were just thrown off guard. I’m gonna be honest with you. And over the summer, you know, we worked together to really come up with a model that we think is better, but we’re not done. We’re still learning. Even being here in Madison.
Now the transition Madison staff did a lot in terms of just like across the country. People were taking food out to the community, getting devices out in the community, getting hotspots out. And we were not prepared for that level of support that we needed to give, but I was amazed at how all the staff and the community came together to try to get those things done.
Yeah. I still remember the lack of sharedness around the closures and how long it would be here. I talked to a number of teachers who said bye to their students for two weeks, and then it ended up being the whole semester. Thank you so much, dr. Ladson billings, this summer, you were involved in a program at Penn park that had some students outdoors learning STEM lessons for three [00:09:00] days a week.
What were the most important aspects of that sort of programming this summer for you? Well, I think dr. Jenkins actually hit upon what was central for me. I know that people are concerned about learning loss or learning, uh, opportunities, missed learning opportunities. But first let’s be clear. Our children are learning all the time.
They are human beings. There is no time when they are not normal. Maybe when they’re sleeping, I learned they’re always learning. Now, whether they’re learning academic things or curricular based things, that’s something different. But what I was doing really focused on and developing that program and we call it smartly in the park, um, I knew that the, the STEM.
Attraction will be there for the wider community. But my focus was on the children’s social, emotional and mental health needs. So many of [00:10:00] our kids are isolated. They, you know, they got a parent who was trying to go to work. Who says you may not leave the house. Okay. You got to stay here. And we figured that out when we started this with the lunches kids, weren’t coming to get the lunches because they were told don’t leave the house.
So, uh, at Mount Zion, one of the things we did is we got, we got the van together. We collected the lunches and we delivered them. So I said, this can’t be good for our kids to be this isolated. So, you know, we did not have sort of assessment metrics or any of those things in place for the summer. What it was, was the opportunity for kids to be in face to face communication with one another and with caring adults.
And I think that’s what we’re learning in this whole process. We can talk about curriculum. We can talk about instruction. But we are in the human being business. We don’t have any human beings. We have no business. And so indeed until we meet those basic [00:11:00] needs, those social, emotional, and mental health needs, we are, we’re not going to be successful.
And I think those were really underscored, uh, as, as spring went on and into the summer. Thank you very much. And that actually leads into another question I have here. Uh, all of you have spoken to me or publicly about social, emotional learning, being as important right now, uh, as academic learning, but how can that be done through a screen?
Um, I’m going to start with Mary Lee just because you’ve been trying to do that with your students. Okay. Um, so there’s a number of ways to do it. Um, It would be a misnomer to think that all of our students were showing up to school on a daily basis when we were seeing them face to face. And so, as teachers, as staff members, we’ve developed ways of connecting with students beyond the physical classroom to begin with.
Right. But there’s also ways to do that in front of a screen. Right. Taking the [00:12:00] time to check in with students. Yeah. I have 50 minutes with my group of students. But guess what? I spend that first five, 10, and that’s at least checking in, maybe it’s a silly question. What’s your favorite fall activity to do or fall flavor.
Right? It could be something silly like that, but it also could be something of like, how are you right now? Where are you at? Um, and then on top of that, it’s meeting students where they’re at some of our students. I have students who are not ready to do a zoom meeting. It’s too much for them. The and a number of ways.
So guess what I’m doing? Phone calls and text messaging and finding ways to connect with them in, in lots of different ways. Do I wish that I could be face to face with them? Absolutely. A hundred percent. And we are, we are finding ways to make those small connections that then lead to being able to open up to bigger connections.
And trying to provide some space during our class time or whatever, you know, [00:13:00] synchronous time that we have to also let them talk with each other. Because like dr. Ladson billings said our kids are isolated in their houses and some of them haven’t seen peers or reached out to peers. So creating some structures and spaces to have some of those conversations, to be able to have engaged in that discussion, that would happen in a classroom.
And, you know, creating those spaces. What are you hearing from staff and what are staff doing in Madison to foster those sorts of things? First of all, let me just say thank you, Mary. I mean, she really spoke to what I’m hearing from a number of our staff and, uh, not just here in Madison, but just throughout the country, as a meeting with other superintendents regularly on a national level to talk about what we can do to continue to build these relationships.
And funny go back to doctor Lassen billings. When she started talking about culturally relevant pedagogy and always look at that in terms of relationship building. [00:14:00] And that’s what Mary was talking about so way before everyone else was talking about it, that the last and bill has been talking about this whole thing of relationship relationship.
And we talk about relationships, but the reality of relationships as just describe that’s where our teachers are. Another thing in terms of uplifting. The voices of the teachers, all of the assessments. Some individuals think that when still need to be hard on the AP exam, harder and act, that’s not the main thing right now.
The main thing is that we put our arms around our students, around our staff, around our community. We see one another and we uplift the voices of the students and of the staff. How are they really experiencing this new thing? Taking those voices in the emphasis of our planning in the past, a lot of times we have gotten to planning from my office, all the other offices, the hierarchy that we’ve known must be flipped up on his head right [00:15:00] now that has not even worked doing a traditional for all.
Children serve some children. Well, but not all children. This is the time that we’re saying before you start the lesson, ask a simple question. But a big question. How are you today? And then pause and listen. Okay. And so our staff intentionally, but when we design our lessons and coming back and looking at how we get students in groups, how we’ll listen to them, individually, students talk to students and we have to be very careful about, um, just doing the content at this time.
But at the same time, our students. They want the structure. They need the structure to help them have some sense of what am I to do today. Parents need it. The other thing we’re doing, trying to connect more with parents and for us, we’re finding that we are actually having more contact with some parents than what we did prior to COVID in particular black and Brown [00:16:00] families.
We have the one group that’s been disengaged before Kobe that’s even more now. Particularly with black and Brown and special needs students. But right now, at this time, we’re trying to make sure we have that additional communication for those students who have been most marginalized prior to covert and now doing covert.
And so I think those things, uh, and students know we’re paying attention to them, staff know that we’re hearing their voices, parents know that we’re hearing their voice and then being prepared to pivot right now we’re in the middle of making shifts from what we’ve learned, even since school started back.
Our early learners, we have to define what the screen time mean, how we’re approaching our earliest learners, our ELL students, how do we give them the support? How do we support our students who may be special needs and just students who may be having anxiety and social, emotional issues and staff. So that’s what we’re trying to do to build a relationship, see people, and then actually.
Serve them based on [00:17:00] their needs and then provide the overall support, uh, systematically, not just an isolated classroom, how will all of our teachers in our face with our students now, that’s what we’re doing. Thank you so much for detailing all of that. Dr. Ladson billings, what sorts of best practices are you seeing on social, emotional learning right now?
So, you know, it’s interesting, there is an instructional practice that we had before all of this called the flipped classroom. And it suggests that a lot of the learning take place online and then you come face to face to do sort of minimal things. Well, I’m seeing that we have in flipped relationships.
What do I mean by that? Is this this stuff worried about in terms of communicating electronically, our kids already know how to do that. They can sit in a room right next to their best friend, and they’re not talking, they’re texting them. It’s become their way of communicating so we can learn some things [00:18:00] from them and not presume that we have to be the ones who are telling them, uh, I want to know, and visited a class, you know, visit as an electronic yeah.
In Baltimore. And I asked the kids, uh, what they liked or didn’t like about. Oh, virtual learning. And one kid said, Oh, I love it. He said, cause when she gets on my nerves, I just turn her off. He’s he’s I couldn’t do that when, when I was in the class, but to sit there and listen. So it’s interesting that the way that they are adjusting and adapting, um, and I think we can take some hints from them.
Uh, no, we don’t want everybody on screens all the time. I think we’re all sick of that. But I do think we can be a lot more creative with it and what I will say. And I think, you know, thinking of dr. Jenkins sitting there, I think that we’re having a diff totally different relationship with our it departments that before they were this group on the side, they were the [00:19:00] resource people.
If my internet goes down, if I can’t get my email, I call them they’re there moved to the center. And we are now in a partnership with them, which is the way it should have been, that they should have been our instructional technology folks as opposed to information technology on the side. So I think we’re learning a lot of how to improve education, uh, as a result of this.
Thank you so much. Are any of you concerned about the screen time for students right now? Does anyone want to talk about how they’re trying to manage it? Well, interesting. You asked that question because that’s been our conversation the last several weeks from parents, from students and staff, uh, and our team.
First of all, we need to redefine what the screen time and all the research prior to Colvin, we need to look at that research with a critical eye [00:20:00] because. You may be on a zoom. And as with dr. Lessen villain just said, the kid may be there. It may be working independently. It’s on, but you’re working independently.
You’re not just interfacing eyes and concerned about, um, whether or not the students engage from a visual straight up point. It just may be on. And so we need to define it first of all, and that’s what we’ve been talking about, but we do need to pay attention to our learning earliest learners. You know, four and five year olds and what can they really manage?
And do we want them to be in such a structured environment? Whereas they’re not being able to be them be independent learners because students can learn independent in what some would call it, unstructured environment. I’d say playtime playtime is very important. So we need to think about it on levels of primary and secondary.
Now, secondary students. They’re on it, but they’re doing it in a totally different way than what our early learners. And so we just need to be respectful. Then [00:21:00] that goes back to listening to the student. And sometimes they can’t manage as much as we were trying to. We’re trying to give them, we have, the pendulum has swung from last spring, not being as much.
And people say, Hey, we want more too. I think sometimes now we’ve got a little too far. And we need to engage the students, hear that voice engaged the teachers. The most important thing right now is to engage that teacher, those formative assessments will allow us to know how we need to pivot along with engaging the voices of the studio.
That’s where we are with. What about you for high schoolers, Mary Lee. I mean screen time is a conversation that we have with our high schoolers, even when we’re face to face in the building of how much time are they spending on their Chromebook in the classroom. Um, because. It’s still a lot. And then we expect them to go home and do homework.
And that a lot of times is on [00:22:00] the Chromebook or on a computer or on their phones. And then you bring in the phone piece. So are a lot of times my high schoolers are definitely multitasking with a phone in one hand and a zoom meeting in the other. And we’ve had some really good conversations about that.
Um, because as we kind of go back to that social, emotional learning, The high school students. And not that the elementary aren’t either, but like the high school students are searching and seeking that social connection. And right now it’s the device. It’s the phone that brings that social connection right level than it already did, even beyond, you know, students sitting next to each other and texting each other.
Like there’s, there’s so much more there. Um, I don’t know if there’s a good answer. For any of that? I think we have to keep learning. I think we have to keep a critical eye of thinking about how can we make our screen-time meaningful. And how can we also pull off the [00:23:00] screen? How can we get creative and pull off of the screen and get kids back outside?
I think of the STEM program that dr. LED’s and billings talked about of being outside working, um, one benefit we’ve had is we’ve had students in our, uh, community garden that we have outside of our school. And I look at that and seeing that is been amazing. Um, that they are engaging with, um, the food chain and how things are produced and you know, how can we build that into schools all over, not just at school, but in their homes, in their communities and connecting there.
I feel that it’s in billings. I know screen time was a concern. And part of the reason that you were so happy with the program this summer, that was outdoors. What are your thoughts on students avoiding too much screen time? So earlier this year, well, probably late, late, late summer, as we were thinking about going back to school, I did a workshop [00:24:00] for.
A local bank that has branches in Milwaukee and green Bay. And because a lot of those, uh, employees, so, you know, I still have to work, but what about my kids? And so we had really good conversation and I literally helped them build a schedule for whether it was elementary, middle, or high school. And I built into that schedule, like stop and go outside.
Like that was like written there. Oh, cause one of the things that we are forgetting is that, you know, as human beings, we, we are mind, body and spirit. We’re not just minds. And so this is an opportunity to literally say it’s important that you get some exercise. I talked to, to the parents about having more than one in one place in their home.
Or their kids to be engaged in their learning. So yeah, maybe the, the den or their room is where they, they might do English or [00:25:00] literacy or reading and mathematics, but maybe it’s the kitchen table or the kitchen Island where you’re going to do the craft activity. And then get outside, you know, minimum amount of time.
We need the very things that we need to do in a well-developed face to face program. We still can keep going, uh, modify at home. We want to make sure that our kids are taking care of their bodies. Um, you know, one of the unanticipated. A result of this pandemic is that a number of our high school students are, are taking jobs.
And we hadn’t thought about that. A merely talked about knowing that that some of the kids are not checking in. They’re not checking in cause they’re working. Uh, and they’re adding hours if they already had a job. So they need to be active. They need to minimize the amount of time that they have to be.
In front of those [00:26:00] screens. Um, cause they haven’t drawn to the many way. Um, my generation was drawn to the TV and back then it was like the television producers had enough sense to turn us off at midnight. It’s like, we go watch no more, but we are, you know, we’re in, in a generation in which. People getting most of their information through the screen.
So we’ve got to break it up and make it, uh, an opportunity for them to also get their bodies moving. And so that they just don’t, you know, secondary, um, activity is what leads to all the sort of heart disease and diabetes and things like that. So we don’t want to set them up for, um, a negative future.
Well, I have one other part about that, and I know we we’re talking about with the students screen time. We’ve also been talking about we’re wrestling as adults. When do we begin our day? When does our day end? So we’ve got to have more calibration around this whole moment. We’re [00:27:00] in, it seems like there’s no ending to it.
We did have a set time doing traditional, but now you’re at that desk. You’re in your space working from early morning to late at night. So we have to recalibrate on that. And I think as we think about ourselves, That will help influence what we’re doing with our students. Realizing too, as you mentioned about the phone’s constantly going, and if we don’t do that as dr.
said, it impacts our health. When our minds never shut down. And that’s whole about the whole sleep time study. And that’s another discussion, but yeah, that’s a great point. I mean, Mary Lee, how, how has that been for you as a teacher wanting to connect with students, but trying to live your own life? Well, and I, I thank you for bringing that up.
I really appreciate it because I do think as teachers, we spend a lot of time thinking about our students screen time, and then we’re not necessarily reflecting on how exhausted we are and understanding why that is. Um, I, I taught [00:28:00] online before online was the cool thing too do. And so I had to learn that I was, I was balancing both teaching some face to face some online.
And when I first started teaching that online piece, I realized I was working all hours of the day and I was responding to emails at eight o’clock at night and at five 30 in the morning. And I realized I had to set some boundaries for myself and. As a community of staff members, we haven’t, we haven’t, I don’t think we’ve gotten there yet because we feel like there’s so much to do and we’re learning and trying to stay on top of so many things.
And as I think about our staff, um, yesterday we were in a professional development and we, we did try to take some times to take a break, but it just becomes all consuming. And, um, I appreciate dr. Jenkins thinking about the staff and how [00:29:00] yes. We might be teaching face to face or not face to face, but on zoom, synchronous, you know, from nine to two, but guess what?
Our job doesn’t end there. And so then we’re on the computer on a screen beyond those hours, a lot of times, many hours beyond those hours. And so, um, And I think we are, we’re learning and we’re going to hopefully get into a place where we’ve gotten through the first term. We’ve started to realize, okay, here’s some strategies that really work and how we can set some of those boundaries.
Thank you both for speaking to that aspect of this, one of the other pieces that we’ve spoken about Mary Lee is that sort of this time has illustrated. That no learning system is going to work for everyone, including virtual, but, but I think, uh, a lot of people assumed the other system was just the way it was, but this has highlighted that it’s not going to work universally.
How can education move forward with that? [00:30:00] Understanding that not all systems work for every student. Um, I’ll actually start with dr. Ladson billings on this one. So now that you’ve, um, Toss me a nice softball, cause it’s kind of what I’ve been talking about all along all, since we’ve been in the pandemic and I’ve suggested that, um, this is an opportunity for us to do what I’ve called the hard reset, and I’ve actually used the analogy of the devices that we all have, that when they don’t work.
Um, we, you know, try something, things, we take the SIM cards out, put them back in the battery out, put it back. They don’t work, they don’t work. And we, we, we head off to the store, whether it’s the Apple store or the Samsung store, Android, wherever you got your device and somebody who was about 17 years old, wearing a tee shirt, tells you the dreaded words, we’re going to have to do a hard reset.
And what they mean. I mean, by that is if you haven’t backed up everything. When [00:31:00] they give you that phone back, all your contacts are going to be gone. All your pictures are going to be gone wherever you were in the candy crush. Thing’s going to be gone. You’re going to have a phone that’s like it was when it came to you from the factory.
And that’s really where I believe we are in education. I don’t think, I think we can, you know, when people say I can’t wait to get back to normal, well, normal. For the kids that I’m most concerned about was a disaster. Normal was they weren’t reading normal was that they were being suspended at a disproportionate rate.
Normal was, they were over identified for special education. Normal was, they were being expelled normal was they weren’t getting an advanced placement. So with the heart reset, We have this opportunity, you know, I’ve been siting a Indian novelist by the name of our Arundhati Roy who says this, the pandemic is a portal.
It’s a gateway from the old world into the new, [00:32:00] and that we have an opportunity. I know we’re all talking about how horrible this is, but I want to say that it’s also an opportunity. There’s also a chance for us to have a clean slate, to think differently about what we’re doing too. Focus differently.
I’ve got a panel coming up next week with the national Academy. And one of the things I’m going to say is that we need to center science and I’m not just saying science curriculum, but the problems of living in a democracy, whether it is climate change, whether it’s economic downturn, whether it’s an inability for people to access a quality education, that if we send it problems, then the curriculum will come along because.
You know, you, you can’t make a case if you’re not literate. Right. So I don’t want you to, just to read, because I want you to have a set of skills. I want you to be able to solve a problem. So I just think, yeah, again, I can’t remember whether it was [00:33:00] Ronald manual or some political person who said we should never let you know, not take advantage of a good crisis.
Well, we got a good crisis here and we need to take advantage of it. Mary Lee, how can you bring that idea of systems? Not universally working for every student into teaching? Uh, so I I’ve been really lucky. Um, I work at Clark street community school. We have started this step. We’ve gotten rid of grades.
Not, standard-based not one, two, three, four. Like we have truly, there is no GPA, there’s no grades. We are mastery-based. So we’re actually looking at when you write something or when you read something or when you do some math work, we’re looking at that and saying, okay, where can you improve? Where have you really mastered this skill, that kind of piece.
Um, we’ve looked at how do we. [00:34:00] Look at personalized plans for students. And how are the students taking the lead on that plan? What do they want to do? What do they want to pursue? I do think this, I cannot second enough. What doctor Ladson billings is saying is this is such an opportunity. That we can start saying maybe one size doesn’t fit all.
And here is our chance to actually make those changes that maybe we don’t need all of our students in our building at the same time, in order for them to be growing and learning, maybe we can connect with our communities. I think of, um, what dr. Jenkins was saying about how, you know, the outreach and the connection with community centers and community groups.
Maybe we need to make that the norm as compared to just the crisis situation. So I think there’s so many different opportunities within that to say, huh? Turns out when we take some of these pieces away, not everything [00:35:00] falls apart and maybe we are actually seeing students grow and seeing students thrive in, in a way that we haven’t seen before.
How can a whole school district embrace those ideas? Do you think. I think it’s critical that we all pause and look at what we have and turns out COVID-19 intersecting with the whole racial injustice. Um, since the emphasi of our country. For me, when I publicly witnessed mr. Floyd being lynched 16.2 miles from our home.
Um, a moment as an educator of 30 years, I said, I’m not doing my job. I’m not being disruptive enough. It came full circle, the historical wrongs of black and Brown, poor children, special needs children. [00:36:00] And I’m saying, what can we do? That was the question I asked. And I said, it’s time that we go back and look on the promise of America.
Of America and hold America accountable, but it’s reciprocal accountability. We have to do our parts and America must do their parts. We’re fundamentally flawed, no matter which system we try to implement right now, we’re fundamentally flawed how we resource education. We need to make education, the main thing.
And when I say resource, see, it’s not just money. It’s the resources. Be it human. Be it an opportunity for advancement once. An individual would come educated. This is an opportunity for us to hold America true to his promise. When Abraham Lincoln said we came together to form a more perfect union. This is the time to form a more perfect union and to be all inclusive, put the schools in a community and hold the community accountable.
Put the community in the schools [00:37:00] to hold schools accountable. It’s a shared responsibility. It’s not just schools is businesses. Is healthcare. It’s all about the employment. And I just think, regardless of where we stand, which system, if we don’t see the people, and if we don’t have a service mentality about the people, right.
And trying to support the people and we develop policies that impact our practices, that impact the people that are still not taken into that promise. We are Americans. I think this is the greatest opportunity in my time in education. It’s like I’ve had a rebirth. I consider myself as a first year educator right now, not superintendent dropped the titles.
That’s nonsensical, drop the titles and let’s just come together and do the work whichever system we designed, make sure it’s one of excellence and not non excellence. I think critically when we say excellent [00:38:00] excellence is not some children reading at 18% and other children reading it. 64%. And we’re trying to compare the students, black and Brown students to white students who are scoring at 64%.
64% does not put us on a competitive level internationally. That’s the very reason in math and science, we had 32 and 34 in terms of our rating. When you look at the performance of international that says, this is an opportunity for America to really lead how America can lead. And I truly believe with the great science that’s here in Madison.
Number one public institution share parking lots with MMS D share a parking lot is no reason that we can’t come together. Take the science, take the practice, listening to the students, listen to the staff and listen to the community. Whichever system we come up with. We’ve come up with it together. And it’s all in.
That’s what I believe that we have to do in a system that we choose must maintain [00:39:00] unhuman perspective. And not just test outcome perspective. Thank you all very much for that per those perspectives. We need to take a quick break here and we’ll be back to talk more about teaching and learning. Going forward.
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Welcome back to our panel on how COVID-19 will change the future of education. So one of the things I think a lot of students and adults are facing right now through this pandemic is uncertainty. Uh, in their lives, how can teachers and, uh, educational institutions help students through that uncertainty, uh, while also managing, you know, their, their own, uh, challenges, Mary Lee, I’ll start with you.
Um, I think it starts with. Well, going back to the question of [00:41:00] how are we approaching social, emotional wellness? How are we looking at the wellness needs of our students, of our families and of our teachers? Um, I think we have spent a lot of last spring. Early this fall saying, okay, we’re going to check the box on making sure our kids are okay.
And I do have some concern that we’re going to, you know, get further in and be like, Oh, well we already checked that box. So we don’t need to continue to do that. And that’s where I think parents and staff members and students and administration and the greater community can help, continue to check in to.
Keep that pulse. Um, we’re going to head into winter here soon, whether or not the weather today actually looks like that. Um, and that’s going to change the dynamic. And so as we continue through these different phases, as the data changes as well, different events come through in the next few months, we need to continue [00:42:00] to check in, um, because the uncertainty is not right, going away, not for awhile.
And. The more that we are being aware of the mental health need. The more that we continue to message to families that the wellness of your family is of the utmost importance. Yes. We want students learning. We want students growing and they’re going to continue to do that. Especially when they are. Wow.
Especially when they have levels of security and that could look like a lot of different things, whether that’s a schedule. I love how dr. Ladson billings talked about working with families of how do you do a schedule? How do you actually, we make a schedule I’m going, I wonder if we’ve done that with our parents?
I don’t know if we have, we’ve talked with some of our high schools students about doing that, but that might be really great for our elementary students to think about. We’ve actually set up a schedule as teachers I’m really skilled at that. It’s what I live in, right? Like that’s my world that I live in.
Not everybody lives in that world. So as we [00:43:00] continue on, we have to continue doing those checkpoints. We can’t just check a box and say that we’re moving forward. Dr. Jenkins on that similar note. I mean, how can the district give parents and students certainty right now? I think right now we have to truly just be honest with the community.
We’re in a state of uncertainty and it’s all about how you view it. Uh, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world because we’re uncertain. We’ll give you as much information as we can, based upon the information we’re getting, but I’m also really pushing for parents and for staff to be very careful about what information coming to you.
For example, there is a, an economist out of Harvard Shetty. He just put this piece out based upon his metrics really would fall into discern online curriculum about Wisconsin [00:44:00] and the high socio economic students have increased learning 83.3% on his own online curriculum and the lower socioeconomic students have.
Decrease by 1%. So we know we have gaps, we’re Wisconsin, number one in the nation. Right. But what does this type of data mean inflammation when you get it, it contained to perpetuate narratives of someone else versus trying to understand your own realities. And so that narrative individual may take, do we even use the Zurn curriculum in all of Wisconsin?
No, but right now the narrative is, these are the things that’s happening. So no, the information and from where it come, no, the metrics do your homework as much as you can to be in alignment with the guidance that’s coming out, we’re in a medical situation, the academic piece. And I wholeheartedly agree [00:45:00] with dr.
Our students are learning right to the staff. I’m saying, Hey, give yourself some space and grace and give the students in space and grace. You didn’t turn it in about two o’clock. Nope. Zero, hold up. Wait a minute. That kid was at home helping three of their siblings. You don’t know all the situation, ask questions before we make those final decisions.
Same thing to parents in particular, parents who are working and have children at home, give yourself some space and grace give you students in space and grace. And one of my former people, uh, student services, um, supervisor, she said that to our team. Because when we first started, we were in a crisis. She say, hold up, everybody, let’s just give some space.
And grace. And I really embraced that philosophy of saying, you’re not going to be perfect. I’m not going to be perfect, but we’re just striving to do better. And as long as we can understand that we’re going to strive to get better. You don’t have to be perfect. That’s the other thing, [00:46:00] too. Right? As long as we know our intent and we’re really working hard.
To get there. I think we’ll be a little bit better off, but that adds to the social emotional. I have to be perfect. I’ve had to have more psychologists talking to our 4.0 students over time because of the anxieties they have. Wait a minute. I just scored a 97 on that test. Oh my goodness. I didn’t get a hundred, hold up, slow down.
You know, that wasn’t all that bad, you know, and that’s not low expectations. But it’s just saying, relax, you know, and we all going to have to do that, help one another, uh, do that. And I think we’ll be better off the anxiety’s a real amongst all of us right now, dr. Ladson billings, how can uncertainty and, you know, disruption to routine affect kids’ learning, um, and development.
Um, so I think what’s important for us to understand is even though this panel is about COVID-19, we are in the midst of four readily [00:47:00] identifiable pandemics. We do have COVID-19 it’s the reason why, you know, people are distancing, why I’m here and not in the studio with you. We understand that one, but we’re also in a pandemic of anti-black racism that that’s everywhere.
I mean, was George Floyd and Arbery, um, C’mon Arbery and Brianna Taylor, and then lo and behold, Jacob Blake, I mean, right down the road and Kenosha. So that’s all around too, but we also are facing a terrible economic situation. We haven’t talked much about it, but the truth of the matter is that, um, even though the governor has, you know, had a landlord stay the requirement for people to pay their rent, those rents are going to come due.
And people don’t have jobs or they’ve had to cut hours. So rents and mortgages and all those things will come down, come, come due. And then the fourth one, although we think of [00:48:00] ourselves as kind of safe from it in the upper middle is the coming climate catastrophe. You know, I’m a grandmother who all of her grandchildren are on the West coast, so they can’t even go outside because the air is so bad.
So those fires raging in California, or if you live in that, um, in the, in the Gulf coast area, uh, we are now through all of the regular alphabet with storms and now into the Greek alphabet, Louisiana is bracing for, uh, the Delta, right? So all of these things are happening. So uncertainty is not just around COVID-19 it’s around living in this world right now.
So one of the things that I think will help us with the uncertainty is that as teachers, we have to begin to build our pedagogical repertoires, COVID-19, it’s forced you to do it. To some extent you can’t just do the same old [00:49:00] stuff. Uh, I recall as a professor at UWA because, you know, unlike, um, K-12 school and we don’t get a room.
You know, you don’t have a room. That’s your room. You have your office, what you teach, wherever they assign you, wherever their space. And I, I made a decision that whatever space I’m in, I’m going to take advantage of whatever, whatever resources are there. So my last. Couple of rooms were connected to our IMC, which meant I had all of this technology.
I had smart boards, I had docu cams. I had, uh, all kinds of listening and I decided to start doing some things differently. I began to run a, um, uh, a class hashtag. A Twitter feed. And what did I find out that many of my international students absolutely loved because they don’t like raising their hands and speaking out because that’s not how they came into education in their countries, but they can pull out their [00:50:00] devices and tweet about what we’re doing.
I would not have thought about that without that resource there in front of me. So I think the, again, you know, I want to look at the opportunity. So the opportunities are for us to build, um, better, um, pedagogical repertoires to learn, to teach together. That’s another thing that I think we, we, we give lip service to team teaching, but I think now we do have to work together.
Uh, and that as that Jenkins had said earlier, the whole notion of the community and the school and the school and the community, that, that, that gives us another opportunity. Um, Mary Lee talked about a community garden. Um, we could be doing so many more things, uh, and not letting the assessment tail wag the dog here that.
Uh, I just wanna, I just don’t want us to lose this opportunity to miss it because it really is, uh, an [00:51:00] opportunity. Thank you so much, dr. Jenkins, dr. Ladson billings just spoke a lot about teacher development and growth and learning right now. What are you doing as an administrator to learn and grow through this period of time?
JFK said that leadership and learning are indispensable. You can’t be a leader without wanting to continue to grow. And I am listening a whole lot more to everyone. Uh, and what I’m hearing from the children, uh, when I go out in the community, when I’m going and tapping into the schools, when I’m meeting yesterday with the principal groups and what, uh, when I’m listening to the parents.
Okay. When I say I’m in my first year of my new education, As a leader, this is my first year. And it’s exciting. It’s given, it’s rejuvenated me in a way as a learner, you know, reading, uh, [00:52:00] any and everything, because there’s not a blueprint for this where we are now. So as I walked through it and looking at the models, not of what has been, but what could be, I think what dr.
Less ability to say, this is an opportunity. I am in that mode of saying this is the learning should be occurring for myself, trying to educate also working in collaboration with our board, working with the staff and yesterday the principals, we had a great time conversations and we’re going to flip our model central office, bringing in all the experts central office, come in and leave.
No, no, no, no, no. Principals will lead the PD. They were going to come up with the topics and working in concert with the staff. And, um, I met with some amazing principals. Yes,
we have so much talent in MMS. D I just, I mean, I’ve been in a lot of places and I knew that when I left and it’s still [00:53:00] here. So that’s what I say as a, as a new leader, you know, I am in a learning mode. And I think I’ve been rejuvenated by this COVID-19, but it’s racial the whole injustice piece. So I think that’s what, from my level and lens, we have to do throw out what we were before this and start a new.
Yeah, in sort of to build on that. Are there any specific curricular or content changes that you see happening as a result of everything that’s going on right now? Mary Lee? I mean, do you plan to build any of what’s been going on in the world into your content going forward? We are, that’s a really amazing part.
Um, so the school that, uh, I work at, um, we’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now of looking at, um, how do we bring what students are already passionate about? How do we bring what is already, um, in [00:54:00] both popular culture, in the news in science and bring it into our focus. So right now our students are split into two cohorts.
One cohort is working on a, um, the theme is growing. You’re growing our future. So looking at food, sustainability, planetary health, looking at philosophy, how does philosophy impact how we, we, um, interact with the world poetry? So how can poetry and. Within that hip hop and language be impactful for communicating your ideas.
So that’s our one strand. And so we have a group of teachers who are then working with our half of our students for this entire first term interspersing, all of those ideas I’m in the coming of age. So thinking about what does it look like to come of age? Both in this time and in times, All over the world.
Right. [00:55:00] So thinking about it from a global perspective and right here in our community, so what are we looking at? What are we doing? How do we look at statistics and use that to inform our, our decisions that we’re making? How do we use literature to have that windows and mirrors effect? Right. What do I see in literature that is similar to me?
What is literature that opens my eyes to different pieces? Um, so. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been doing this for many years now. And I think we are now we have an opportunity to say, how can we use what is happening in our world right now? If you take any of the pandemics that dr. Ladson billings talked about, you could develop curriculum for years on those topics alone.
And. We have an opportunity to do that. We have the materials, we have the ideas out there, but it’s going to take a massive shift. It’s a massive shift to shift away [00:56:00] from what we’ve been doing to what we can do. And I think this might be the time and yes, it’s going to be hard. It’s already hard. So what can, what are those steps that we can start taking as we look at that?
Dr. Ladson billings, how important do you think it is for teachers to do that sort of curricular adjustment, uh, for their students? Um, I think it’s imperative, you know, it’s interesting some years ago, um, psychologist, how a gardener who most people know from multiple intelligences, Howard said, you know, We keep talking about what schools need to do or what, you know, how, how to get better.
He said the truth of the matter is if you look around the world, there are different places in the world that are X.
[00:57:00] We keep talking about what schools need to do or what w you know, how, how to get better. He said the truth of the matter there is, if you look around the world, there are different places in the world that are expert at different aspects of it. He said, if you want, wanted to have a child have a perfect education, you put them in preschool, Italy at Reggio Emilia.
You put them in elementary school in Finland. You then put them in high school in Germany, and then you send them to college in United States. That indeed that’s the best system seemed to be. So we have this opportunity to look or what what’s going on at Reggio Emilia, how can our preschools be less sort of structured and focused and more whole child oriented what’s going on in Finland?
Why are the fins doing so well in elementary school? Uh, How much [00:58:00] latitude do their teachers have to make curricular decisions what’s going on in Germany, uh, with high school? Well, one of the things I know for sure is that German high school offers a promise. If you stick through this, this is what we’re promising you at the end.
So they’ve sat down with industry and ha and postsecondary ed and said, Buhr people come through the program. We guarantee them a route to one of these. They want to go work in the Mercedes Benz plant. They can do that, but if they want to go to belong, yeah. Uh, to study, they can do that. And then of course our colleges are the cream of the crop.
Everybody comes here. Everybody wants to go to a college and university in the U S we have to find a way to synthesize all of this great information and great opportunities, because we were one of the best resource countries, nations the world’s ever seen. And I don’t actually think it’s about quote money.
I think it is about our [00:59:00] political will. It is about our political, do we want to invest in just the fence or do we want to invest in our people? Thank you so much, dr. Jenkin, you spoke a little earlier about sort of some conversation about achievement gaps, uh, nationally, and that’s something that’s been certainly a big part of the conversation over the past seven months is the potential for widening achievement gaps through this time.
Uh, is that a concern here and how can you stop that from happening? Well, I think achievement gap is one thing, but the opportunity gap and based upon just even what you just heard. They were talking opportunities, right? And the higher, more wealthy families have opportunities before school, after schools on the weekend spoken language at home is so many opportunities.
And when I said there’s a resource with fundamental flaw, how we resource, this [01:00:00] is what I mean, it’s bigger than just money to these opportunities we can create, uh, for our children. And I’m still on the narratives. We have to shift the narratives. I said this when I was speaking at, um, the editorial board for the state journal, I think the media has a lot to do with shifting this narrative.
And when I mentioned Shetty’s work earlier or some other individuals who are economists or, and we should be shooting, what were you doing? The other side?
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