CR-S

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework

Grief and loss: Supporting students, families, and teachers in a pandemic (encore)

As of today, March 31st, 2021, over 550,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. We’re reposting our conversation with Cynthia Trapanese former grief counselor, now teacher, who explains that the adults in a school need to grapple with their own losses in order to help children and families.

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Shared visions: Creating an abolitionist school culture

We continue our conversation with Grace Alli Brandstein, a school improvement and instructional coach supporting struggling high schools in the Bronx. This week, Ms. Brandstein focuses on humane, antiracist education, and explains Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s construct of literacy as identity, skills, intellect, criticality, and joy. She also speaks about the conditions for successful adult learning, giving teachers the training they need to lead one another and the space to coalesce around a shared vision, expectations, and protocols.

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The bigger picture: High school improvement in the Bronx

We speak with Grace Alli Brandstein, an improvement and instructional coach with the New York City Department of Education. Ms. Brandstein works with Bronx high schools that the State has designated as needing support. This is part one of a two part interview. Today, we discuss challenges teachers and students at these schools face, and their everyday achievements. Ms. Brandstein talks about the impacts, both positive and negative, of being rated as needing improvement, especially the pressure it puts administrators, teachers, and students. Next week, Ms. Brandstein talks about abolitionist education.

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Teaching the “isms”: Students’ lived experiences in context

We speak with Jillian McRae and Sam North, English and history teachers at Ossining (NY) High School, and their student, Alaysha. For 15 years, Sam and Jillian have co-taught a college-level course called “racism, sexism, and classism: a popular approach.” They focus on pervasive systems of power, and encourage students to discuss their own experiences of privilege, disadvantage, and intersectionality.

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Early childhood education: It is play, but it is not “babysitting”

We speak with Michele Washington, longtime early childhood lecturer at Lehman College, about expertise at the preschool level. Head Start, pre-K, and 3-K teachers can support children and families in myriad ways once parents or guardians trust them. Cultural humility is essential; teachers need to understand and respect their children’s families and communities.

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Abolitionist education: Creating liberatory spaces (Part Two)

We continue our conversation with Dr. Edwin Mayorga of Swarthmore College. We discuss the corporatization of schools that reduces students to their test scores. Dr. Mayorga encourages educators to center joy and healing. Schools should be liberatory rather than places that are too often focused on punishment and surveillance. Schools, as “localized nodes of political power,” should adopt democratic processes that cultivate voice, participation, and collaboration. As an organizer, he encourages coalitions of people resisting different aspects of racial capitalism, including those fighting destruction of the planet and exploitation of other species.

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Abolitionist education: Creating liberatory spaces (Part One)

We speak with Swarthmore’s Dr. Edwin Mayorga, who explains how abolitionist classrooms and schools create “freedom as a place” in contrast to racial capitalism. Teachers are the lead inquirers and try to “move at the speed of trust,” helping to create classrooms full of joy. Edwin describes Philadelphia’s Kensington Health Sciences Academy as a school where teaching and learning are based on establishing relationships of mutual respect.

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The impact of deportation policies on Latinx students’ mental health

Dr. Randy Capps, Director of Research for U.S. Programs at the Migration Policy Institute, surveyed Latinx high school students to see how fear of deportation – of their parents, relatives, friends, or themselves – impacts their mental health. The students, roughly half foreign-born and half US-born, suffered anxiety, depression, and PTSD at significantly higher rates than other students their age. Strong bonds immigrant students formed with one another were a source of mutual support. Students who engaged in public policy activism showed improved mental health.

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Students leading change: Inclusiveness at an elite school

Stacey Cervellino Thorp and Naima Moffett-Warden teach drama at Manhattan’s famed LaGuardia High School, and Abigail Rivera is a senior in the drama studio. Although all LaGuardia students are extraordinarily talented, their families, neighborhoods, and middle schools have vastly different resources. Students and faculty, led by students of color, have won changes and are demanding more steps to make the school more accessible and the curriculum more culturally responsive.

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Students demand equity and inclusion: call for admissions, curriculum, counseling changes

Manhattan’s Beacon High School students are fighting for racial equity in NYC’s highly segregated school system. Three student activists talk about their experiences in the elite public school, the student-led demonstrations and teach ins, and the Beacon Union of Unions’ comprehensive list of demands.

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Student stories: SEL through writing and sharing lived experiences

Keith Hefner and Betsy Cohen of Youth Communication discuss their 40-year-old organization. Professional editors help students develop personal stories, which are shared with their peers. Writers experience self-reflection, readers develop empathy and gain strength from knowing others’ experiences, and teachers acquire better understanding of their students. Youth Communication also offers curricula and materials for teachers to implement.

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Culturally responsive practice and SEL: Effective professional development and programs

Dr. Heather C. Hill of Harvard Graduate School of Education looks at the research on culturally responsive education and SEL programs. She examines components of successful professional development programs, and how they apply to SEL and CRE. Well-designed curricula give teachers a framework on which to build and perhaps self-reflect. Daily classroom practices that build trust and engagement are important. Even if the professional development is high quality and teachers embrace the strategies, principal leadership and support is critical for learned practices to continue over time.

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Vulnerable students’ needs and rights in pandemic: Threats and opportunities

Diana MTK Autin, parent advocacy leader, describes how distance learning fails to meet the needs of many students and exacerbates inequities. She leads several organizations that help parents advocate effectively for their own families and also for systemic change. The pandemic’s impacts are likely to be felt by students for a long time, and unless students’ rights are defended, long-standing legal protections may be weakened with devastating effects.

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Engaging young black men in school: What we can learn from art class

Dr. Don Siler, a researcher and inservice teacher educator, himself a former high school dropout, discusses how art classrooms invite students to be themselves, to explore their lived experiences, and to work on projects that mean something to them. Student engagement in the art classroom can be leveraged across subject areas by incorporating both the arts and art-based pedagogy throughout the curriculum. Student outcomes improve when we broaden the ways in which students get information, process the information, and demonstrate their understanding of the information.

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Teaching as research: Auto-ethnography of a pioneering bilingual teacher educator

Dr. Carmen Mercado, CUNY professor emeritus, talks with us about the importance of self-study, sharing diverse perspectives in class, and reflective writing in her own development and that of her students. She shares her experiences as one of the first bilingual classroom teachers and teacher educators in NYC. Carmen’s book, “Navigating teacher education in complex and uncertain times: connecting communities of practice in a borderless world,” was published in 2019.

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The “Name Game”: racialization in a suburban high school

Drs. Tony de Jesus, Anthony Johnston, and Don Siler of University of St. Joseph recount their intervention in a multiracial high school in crisis. White students had instigated a “game” of addressing Black students as the n-word. We discuss the impact of racialization in the Trump era on white students, students of color, and the school community as well as actual and potential responses by schools.

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The Algebra Project: Bob Moses on math literacy as a civil right – Part 2

The Algebra Project founder and president–and lead organizer of the famous 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer voting rights campaign–talks about math literacy as an organizing tool to guarantee quality public school education for all children. Bob Moses describes the Algebra Project’s strategies to connect math to students’ life experiences and everyday language. The interview is divided into two episodes.

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Advice for Secondary School Teachers

This is an encore. We interview Lev Moscow who, for the last 14 years, has taught history and economics at The Beacon School in New York City. Lev reflects that advisory, done well, can serve as a venue for students to explore questions of ethics, purpose and happiness. He talks about balancing the history curriculum to include non-European perspectives. Getting students to read more than a few sentences is perhaps today’s teachers’ greatest challenge and Lev explains his approach.

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Emotionally Responsive Education: “inviting and containing”

Margaret Blachly of Bank Street’s Center for Emotionally Responsive Practice describes how to fit materials, curriculum, and relationships together to create an emotionally safe classroom. Emphasizing the importance of a deep understanding of child development, she tells how important it is to know each child’s “story.” Margaret shares what she’s learned as a dual-language and special ed teacher and gives advice to new kindergarten teachers. Reflecting on Dewey’s Education and Experience, she talks about the ethical dimensions of teaching and the connections between the classroom and the larger society.

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Reframing masculinity: Stopping violence against women and girls

Quentin Walcott (“Q”), a leading NYC and international anti-violence educator and activist, creates programs that help transform men and boys — even batterers — into activists against violence. He focuses on the intersections of violence — race, class, and gender — and its impact on marginalized communities. Q is Co-Executive Director of CONNECT, a nonprofit that approaches domestic violence systemically and holistically, including in school- and after-school programs. CONNECT helps males reassess their perceptions of masculinity and fatherhood. While perpetrators need to be held accountable, so do institutions and public leaders.

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Prioritizing Mindsets: What New York State’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework Gets Right

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash Schools adhere to ideas of what is the “correct” way to be, act, learn, and communicate. They institutionalize these ideas through school policies, teaching choices, and curricula. But these norms are not neutral or arbitrary; they mirror the norms that allow society’s justification for why certain groups such as white, middle-class, and…

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José Jiménez on gender diversity and sexual identity in elementary schools

We speak with José Luis Jiménez, principal of A.C.E. Academy for Scholars, PS 290, in Queens. A queer educator of color, he came out to his students during Pride Month in 2017. If a community is truly welcoming to all, he thought, “you don’t “check a part of yourself at the door.” José encourages his…

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Ethical College and Career Decisions

John Dewey, arguably America’s greatest 20th century philosopher and educator, stressed the importance of teaching habits of rigorous ethical inquiry in the classroom and in the larger society. He argued that students should learn to consider the impacts of their individual and collective social, economic, and political choices. Fortunately, many schools and youth programs encourage…

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David Kirkland on New York’s State’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework

We speak with Dr. David E. Kirkland, Executive Director of NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. A leading voice in culturally responsive and sustaining education, the Metro Center helped write New York State Education Department’s new Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. The Framework is founded on a view of education that regards culture as a critical component of learning. Multiple expressions of diversity, including race, ethnicity, gender, language, and sexual orientation, are regarded as assets to be recognized and cultivated.

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Mark Gordon on the Friends and Relationships Course: Teaching and learning from people with intellectual disabilities about sexuality, interdependence, and inclusion

We talk with Mark Gordon, founder of the Friends and Relationships Course, a program in New Mexico that provides classes for adults with intellectual disabilities who want to learn how to form intimate and other relationships. He talks about what he’s learned over 15 years of teaching sexuality classes, learning along with his son about the ongoing necessity for interdependence. We also discuss society’s failure to welcome and accommodate people with developmental disabilities.

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Feelings Charts Instead of Behavior Charts: Radical Love Instead of Shame

As practitioners and teachers of Emotionally Responsive Practice (ERP) at Bank Street College, we have the privilege and adventure of stepping into a wide range of settings in which grownups work with groups of children. We travel from daycare centers to independent schools, from charter schools to NYC public schools, seeing classroom practice with children…

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