Klingbrief February 2016
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Looking Out for the Quiet Ones
Why Introverted Teachers are Burning Out, by Michael Godsey

Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet, along with others, have helped to shine a light on the many ways that introverted people are undervalued and unsupported in the workplace and in school environments. In educational circles, teachers have mostly focused on quiet students and ways to support introverted children and discover their many talents. In this helpful and incisive article in The Atlantic, Michael Godsey summarizes research and several books that speak to the many ways that the educational reforms of the last two decades create work environments for introverted teachers that lead to burnout and high levels of attrition. The push for teachers to collaborate in professional learning networks and to create cooperative learning opportunities in the classroom are examples of reforms that may lead to better functioning schools while leaving little time and space for other important teaching practices, such as quiet, reflective self-assessment, individual scholarly research, and thoughtful solitary planning. Thoughtful schools try not to force students into a single mode of learning; likewise, teachers in those schools should have choices regarding their professional growth. They need some degree of flexibility to teach with their own strengths and styles. School leaders will find this article an important reminder of the need to build flexibility and inclusivity into their definitions of excellence in teaching.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, NM
The Atlantic, January 25, 2016
Klingbrief is a free, monthly publication of recommended articles, books, research reports and media selected by and for independent school educators.  The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers. For information about submitting to Klingbrief, please click here.
February, 2016 VOL 59

Coordinating Editor, Assistant Head, Upper School, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

PK-12 Director of Studies, The Walker School, Marietta, GA

Klingenstein Center Director, New York, NY

Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY

Assistant Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

Visiting Scholar at the International Educational Research Centre at Kobe Shinwa Women's University, Kobe, Japan

English Department Chair, Windward School, Los Angeles, CA

Head of Lick-Wilmerding High School,
San Francisco, CA

Operations Manager, Klingenstein Center,
New York, NY

2.leaders Humility Gets its Due
We Like Leaders Who Underrate Themselves, by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman

Confidence is an oft-cited core trait of leadership, and the key to Daniel Goleman's work on emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Therefore, one would expect effective leaders to have a very accurate view of their strengths and weaknesses and to err on the side of overconfidence to enable them to make tough decisions and lead in the midst of uncertainty. However, a study of 360-degree feedback data on 79,000 managers by Harvard Business Review found that the most effective leaders underrate their own abilities; in fact, the more they underrate themselves, the higher is their perceived effectiveness as a leader. The implication is important: in the judgment of constituent groups, the combination of "humility, high personal standards, and a continual striving to be better" that drives a leader to underrate himself or herself outweighs the benefits of true self-awareness or overconfidence. The authors do warn that there are downsides to underrating yourself - the emotional toll of continually proving yourself or the possibility of taking on less challenging projects - but it is helpful to remind current and potential leaders in our institutions of the importance of humility when taking on the complicated tasks of school leadership.

Michael Arjona, The Walker School, GA
Harvard Business Review, November 10, 2015
3.mathclass The Search for the Search for Meaning
The Math-Class Paradox, by Jo Boaler

In a recent article from The Atlantic, award winning author and educator Dr. Jo Boaler summarizes and extends her new book, Mathematical Mindsets (forward by Carol Dweck). In a relevant and timely manner, she highlights a problem many would find familiar: too many students complain that they are bad at math, that they hate math, and that they are afraid of it. Students are tested frequently in their math classes, speed is often rewarded over depth of thought, and typically there is only one right answer. As such, there is a fundamental disconnect between how students learn to do math in school, and what mathematicians actually do in their careers. Where mathematicians might describe math as a search for meaning and patterns, with a focus on deep learning and reasoning, students in school describe math as a test of speed, accuracy, and performance as they sprint through a series of disconnected lessons. Consequently, students are taught to have a fixed math mindset. Instead, Boaler suggests, educators need to continue to move away from traditional math curriculum and embrace a pedagogy that values reasoning over speed and accuracy. Though this article mentions the Common Core by name, Boaler's work is of immediate applicability and importance to educators in independent schools who are much less constrained in their approach to curriculum and classroom practices than colleagues in the public school system.

Alicia Johnson, Ed.M. candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
The Atlantic, December 31, 2015
4.mockingbird To Keep Alive a Mockingbird
Teaching Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird', by Roger Brooks

In a tribute to Harper Lee and her iconic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Roger Brooks, who is president and CEO of the important educational organization "Facing History and Ourselves," presents a compelling commentary on why studying Lee's text continues to be so vital for young people and for our democracy. Brooks underscores especially the novel's power in our current historical context as issues of race, class, and gender continue to roil our society. For Brooks, novels like Lee's allow students to ask themselves about their own blind spots, the unwritten societal conventions that serve to deny justice and opportunity to so many members of our communities. To Kill a Mockingbird is a staple of so many English classes across our country, and this essay reminds us of why it has become a part of our canon and how important it is to give our students relevant access to the important and painful conversations of the present via the struggles of the past as reflected in art. Even more important, Scout and Atticus can serve as a model for how social change can happen.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, NM
Boston Globe, February 20, 2016
5.tide_ Meaningful Change?
Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions, by Richard Weissbourd, in collaboration with Lloyd Thacker and the Making Caring Common team including Trisha Ross Anderson, Alison Cashin, Luba Falk Feigenberg, and Jennifer Kahn.

This report examines the unintended consequences of the current college process and suggests how it might be changed for the better. The "tide" referenced in the title is the deleterious effect the college admissions process seems to have on students, families, and schools. As university admission became increasingly selective over the last few decades, high performing students increasingly risked becoming "Excellent Sheep," pursuing personal achievements tailored to the college process, rather than following genuine, intrinsic desires. Meanwhile, students without access to relatively high-performing secondary schools often found themselves locked out of the process because they could no longer meet ever-rising baseline admissions criteria. A trend among adolescents in general seems to be increased incidents of mental health issues triggered in part by the inordinate family, school, self-induced, and societal pressures of the college process. In an effort to address these concerns, an impressive coalition of educators and admissions professionals have come together to endorse three major changes to the college admissions process: (1) Promoting more meaningful contributions to others; (2) Assessing students' ethical engagement and contributions to others in ways that reflect varying types of family and community contributions across race, culture, and class; and (3) Redefining achievement in ways that both level the playing field for economically diverse students and reduce excessive achievement pressure. Having the Harvard imprimatur means that this report stands a chance of driving some meaningful change in the admissions process. It should be of interest to all independent school educators who embrace a college preparatory mission.

Christopher Lauricella, The Park School of Buffalo, NY
Making Caring Common Project Harvard Graduate School of Education, January 20, 2016
The The Silo Effect: The Perils of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers, by Gillian Tett

When is compartmentalization necessary or helpful, and when does it stifle innovation and creativity? In her new book, The Silo Effect, Gillian Tennet seeks to answer this question. Using her expertise as both an anthropologist and a financial journalist, she presents case studies to examine the advantages and disadvantages of silos. Although most of her examples come from the business world, there are lessons here for educators at all levels - and great questions. How often do we collaborate within departments rather than inter-departmentally? Do we share data across departments to uncover insights about student learning? Do we "protect our own" at the risk of innovation (as the silos within Sony did)? Fortunately, Tennet offers us more than questions; her answers to the problem of "information bottlenecks" and stifled innovation also point the way forward for schools. By constantly remaking successful products in order to stay ahead of the competition, training new teachers to see their schools through a broad lens rather than multiple disciplinary lenses, and ensuring that our buildings themselves foster the ability for different kinds of people to collide with one another and spark ideas, we will avoid what Tennet calls a paradox of the modern age: "that we live in a world that is closely integrated in some ways, but fragmented in others."

Erica Budd, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ
Stephen J. Valentine, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ
Simon and Schuster, September 1, 2015
To the Tinkerers go the Spoils
Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing our Kids for the Innovation Era, by Tony Wagner & Ted Dintersmith

In affiliation with their documentary film of the same title, as well as an initiative for change in schools, Wagner and Dintersmith bring us this lively reexamination of the purposes of education. Synthesizing their own personal stories and anecdotes about education more widely, along with recent educational research and literature, Wagner and Dintersmith call for a complete overhaul of today's homogenous, credential, and test-driven American K-16 education. Using research data and empirical evidence, they advocate for a 21st-century education that prepares students to "succeed in the world of work, citizenship, and lifelong learning." Their book is accessible and breezy yet provocative and surprisingly urgent, advocating for an approach to learning based on doing: riding a bike, speaking Spanish, learning to write by writing a lot. The authors call for tinkering and experimentation as well as the involvement of communities and business leaders. Calling for "real learning" and "real competencies," Wagner and Dintersmith challenge the disconnect between what our schools' missions and values name as our purposes and what we're actually doing in classrooms. Fortunately, too, this book offers concrete suggestions about how schools and educators can better teach and assess critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity (the "four C's"), and how to give students more freedom, choice and agency in their learning. It's a compelling read, raising old and new questions about how best to prepare students today for tomorrow's world.

Meng Lusardi, Riverdale Country School, NY, Ed.M. candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
Meghan Tally, Windward School, CA
Scribner, August 18, 2015
8.wired_   Fitting in the Misfits
Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire

Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire have teamed up to write the rare kind of book that is both deeply researched and utterly accessible - and it's a good news report. First, creativity is open to all (hence the title of the book); second, and best of all, certain habits can spark creativity. Daydreaming, being open to experience, seeking solitude, and playing the numbers (that is, creating often, even if you don't succeed) all support the creative act. Though the book is for the general reader, it will help educators and educational leaders understand better some of their students and colleagues. That "messy mind" that has trouble sitting through class could be hiding a burgeoning creative talent. And that teacher who misses deadlines because he's always experimenting and turning up fresh ideas is worth sheltering. If we want students to produce creative work - and if we, as teachers and school leaders want to produce creative work - we have to think about the way in which schools are designed and what is rewarded and promoted within them. As Kaufman and Gregoire write, creativity happens when we encourage "risk taking and originality, and give people autonomy to decide how they learn and create." People need "time . . . for personal reflection, daydreaming, and inner exploration." That these conditions seem so difficult to institutionalize in the schools we have now is worth noting. As Isaac Asimov said, "The world in general disapproves of creativity." Schools never should.

Stephen J. Valentine, Montclair Kimberley Academy, New Jersey
TarcherPerigee, December 29, 2015

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