Thursday Reading List: Advice for New Teachers and Attitudes Towards Schooling

Many schools just reopened after the summer recess, and more will reconvene just after Labor Day. Mark Joseph, writing at Education Post, offers some thoughts for new teachers, in the form of a letter to a younger version of himself:

I know, you’re scared—not of the kids but of the seriousness and urgency of the task. You’re responsible for their seventh-grade education. Seventy kids. Reading and writing and history and health. That’s a lot of pressure considering how little you truly know about teaching ... Well, I can tell you this, Mark—you go to school on Friday, September 7, 2007, and you’re still teaching 10 years later in 2017. Over 1,000 kids and counting ... Let me give you some advice. Ten pieces for the 10 years you’ve been teaching. It can’t hurt, right? If anything, it will only help you get better.

The advice that follows is equal parts practical, inspiring, and thought-provoking. In particular, I appreciate Joseph's emphasis on "love." It's very hard to teach for the long-haul if you don't truly love the children in your classroom.

giphy (56).gif

On a more statistical note, Phi Delta Kappan released its latest polling of the American public's attitudes about schooling. Emily Richmond at The Atlantic dissects the headlines:

 A new poll suggests the American public puts a premium on offerings outside of traditional academics, including career-focused education, developing students’ interpersonal skills, and providing after-school programs and mental-health care. At the same time, even as local schools were generally viewed favorably in the national survey, parents said they would consider taking advantage of vouchers for private or religious schools if the price was right. And while parents said they favored schools that were economically and racially diverse, a majority were unwilling to have their child endure a longer commute to attend a less-homogeneous campus.

Regular readers might intuit that I'm fascinated by the fact that families' cravings for diversity cannot overcome their need for transportation convenience. As long as housing remains racially segregated, this will be a huge barrier to school integration. I plan to write a deep dive on these results after Labor Day, so stay tuned!

giphy (57).gif

In related news, Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat looks at the lingering effects of the Great Recession on schools:

Using a huge data set that included over 95 percent of the country’s public school students, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that each year students spent in school during the recession hurt their reading and math test scores. The effects were modest in size — roughly equal to the impact of increasing class sizes by three to five students — but they applied to a vast number of students. Crucially, the downturn didn’t affect all students equally: Test scores generally declined the most in districts serving more disadvantaged students. More affluent districts, with many white students or few students with disabilities, for example, often went unharmed.

It is troubling - but not surprising - that our most vulnerable children experienced the most downside from the recent economic crisis. This data comes on the heels of other research, which indicates that Black families experienced much greater declines in housing wealth as a consequence of the recession. It's almost as if these things are inextricably connected ...

Have a thoughtful day!