As 2021 comes to an end, we’re reflecting on the year’s top five most-read stories from the EDU blog.
These posts from inspiring authors, educators, and community leaders explore important topics such as approaches to social-emotional and academic supports, anti-racism education, family engagement, celebrating reading in rural communities, and inspiring student ownership of learning.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to EDU this year! In alphabetical order by author, below are the top five most-read posts of 2021.
A Q&A with Dr. Houston Barber, Superintendent of Frankfort Independent Schools in Frankfort, KY.
In this Q&A, Dr. Barber shares how Frankfort’s ongoing 3:1 approach for supporting students has shaped the district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, how they’ve kept students engaged in literacy while addressing social-emotional needs, and how the role of superintendent has changed in light of the past year. “We developed a strategy that meets students where there are and provides opportunities that makes them want to be engaged and learn right now,” says Dr. Barber. “We definitely wanted to inspire a growth mindset culture, but at the same time, we had to take into account that our teachers have had to use different approaches, strategies and tools that they’ve never used before.”
Shane Garver is Associate Vice President of Rural Education Programs at Save the Children.
Communities have the power to build a culture of reading for children, particularly in rural areas with limited access to books. Shane describes how it takes a community to build a culture of reading for its children with the collaboration of local partners, schools, and community members. “At the heart of all literacy-building efforts like these are community members, educators, and organizations showing children that reading is important and opens up so many possibilities,” says Shane. “When children see that their parents, teachers, neighbors, and friends care about reading, they’re more motivated to engage with books.”
Anne T. Henderson is Senior Consultant, National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us much about a way forward for family engagement. Parents, students, teachers, family liaisons, district and state administrators, researchers, family resource center coordinators, and special educators everywhere have been working through this challenging time together which has fueled a powerful movement in family engagement. “What works is a system of connection and support centered on student well-being,” says Anne. “It turns out that good educational practice for the pandemic is good educational practice, period. The lessons we are learning now about innovative ways to build family-school partnerships will guide us to create a new and better normal.”
A Q&A with Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, associate professor of language and literacy at Georgia State University and the author of Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy.
According to the Scholastic Teacher & Principal School Report, approximately 7 in 10 educators say they need supplemental materials to help them address racism with their students—both the history of racism in America and the state of racism today. Moreover, 73% of educators say they need supplemental materials to help teach students to be anti-racist. Suzanne McCabe, host of the Scholastic Reads podcast, speaks with Dr. Muhammad about how educators can incorporate anti-racism into their schools and classrooms. “In my book, I present a four-layered model, which I call learning pursuits, not learning standards: identity development, skill development, intellectual development, and criticality,” says Dr. Muhammad. “Although I don’t mention this as a fifth pursuit in the book explicitly, the fifth pursuit is joy. I encourage teachers and leaders to think about how you are cultivating these five elements with each unit plan, with each lesson plan, with each learning experience.”
By Chase Nordengren, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist at NWEA.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to schools and changes teaching and learning as we had previously known them, Dr. Nordengren discusses the importance of empowering students to take ownership of their own learning with short- and long-term goal setting for students’ academic and social-emotional growth. “My own research on goal setting has documented how effective educators use these goal setting conversations to help students develop personalized learning plans and understand the relationship between a skill like geometry and future success in careers like construction, engineering, or graphic design,” says Dr. Nordengren. “All students want to succeed at something, and goal setting provides a language to connect those aspirations back to day-to-day classroom learning.”