AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: Response: Personalized Learning Is 'Based On Relationships, Not Algorithms' STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: instruction DATE: 09/30/2015 10:50:23 PM ----- BODY:

(This is the last post in a two-part series. You can see Part One here.)

This week's question is:

What does "personalized learning" mean, and what can it look like in the classroom?


Contributions from Diana Laufenberg, Allison Zmuda, Pernille Ripp, Barbara Bray, Kathleen McClaskey and Steven Anderson were featured in Part One.

You can also listen to a ten-minute conversation I had with Diana, Allison and Pernille at my BAM! Radio Show. You can find also see a list of, and links to, previous shows.

Today's post includes responses from John Spencer, Andrew Miller, Heather Staker, Jeffrey Benson, and Louis Cozolino, as well as from several readers.

Response From John Spencer

After eleven years as a middle school teacher , John Spencer recently became Assistant Professor at George Fox University in Oregon focusing on educational technology. He blogs at Spencer Ideas:

Too often, the notion of "personalized learning" means choice-based programmed rather than truly personalized. This comes from the tech world, where "personalization" is synonymous with user choice. It's the idea of giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down on Pandora. It's the idea of having adaptive programs that change based upon one's personal preferences. It's the Facebook algorithm that tells you what information is the most relevant to you. It's about content delivery rather than user creation.

In a way, it's a confusion between customizing and personalizing something. Outside of the tech world, if I personalize a message to a friend, it means I am going off-script and sending something unique to the person based upon who they are. It is inherently personal, based upon a relationship of trust. It is the antithesis of choice-driven, algorithm-based programs. I think the same thing is true in the classroom. While tech companies promise personalization, they often promote independent, isolated learning. True personalization is interdependent rather than isolated. True personalization is based upon a horizontal relationship rather than a top-down customization. True personalization is based upon a deeply human relationship rather than a program or an algorithm or a set of scripts. True personalization is a mix between personal autonomy and group belonging. It's a mix between what someone wants and what someone needs. It's a chance to make, rather than simply a chance to consume.

So to go back to the notion of Pandora, I think the big difference is that the ed tech version of personalized learning is just like Pandora. However, true personalization is much more like a jam session where people go in and out between solo and group, trusting one another, making their own tunes while changing what's already there. It is inherently creative and it is inherently human. What it isn't is a flat menu or choices for consuming content.

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Response From Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller is on the faculty for the Buck Institute for Education and ASCD, and is a regular blogger with ASCD and Edutopia. He is the author of Freedom to Fail: How do I foster risk-taking and innovation in my classroom? (ASCD, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @betamiller:

Personalization encompasses a variety of pillars and tenets, but the overall paradigm shift is a move towards student centered learning. While the term "student-centered" is often thrown around, many don't know what it really looks like in the classroom, and how to move towards this type of environment. I think the first key piece towards personalization is knowing your students, both in terms of academics, but also in terms of passions and interests. Teachers who personalized learning not only know the academic level of their students, but also leverage the passions of their students to reach academic goals.

The teacher is a sort of navigator and translator. As students seek learning in their own ways and on their own paths, teachers help align these journeys to more traditional grading systems. In addition, a teacher provides "just in time" instruction to support students as they learn. As students come up against a wall, teachers jump in with their teacher "bag of tricks" to give students what they need, not what they think they need.

Teachers also design the infrastructure for the learning. Personalization isn't a lack of structure, but a more open structure. Many of us, as well as our students, need some level of structure, so we need to provide that to students. This infrastructure might be in the form of technology, guides, reflections, task lists, and the like.

Ultimately, true personalization would call for prescribed standards and curriculum to vanish for the system. Many claim they are personalizing learning, but in fact they are not completely. Simply putting an iPad in front of a student and allowing them to play an adaptive learning application or game is not true personalization. Although this is a step in the right direction, it's still prescribing what students will learn, rather than asking students "What do you want to learn?" If we want to truly personalize, we let students completely choose what they learn. This is the biggest hurdle and paradigm shift that needs to happen if we truly want personalized learning.

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Response From Heather Staker

Heather Staker is the president of Ready to Blend and a spokesperson for student-centered learning. She is the co-author of Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools (San Francisco: Wiley, 2015). She co-founded Brain Chase Productions, which stages online-learning challenges disguised as worldwide treasure hunts for K-12 students:

Nearly all of us have had an experience of being stuck in a class in which no matter how many times the teacher explained the concept, we just couldn't grasp it. The class whisked along, we fell further behind, and frustration mounted. Many of us have also experienced the reverse. We grew bored when the class repeatedly drilled a concept that we already understood. A stunning number of students--nearly half, according to one report--drop out of school not because they are struggling, but because they are bored.

There are several notions of what personalized learning is, but when most educators use the term today, they mean tailoring the instructional environment--what, when, how, and where students learn--to address the individual needs and abilities of each student. One benefit of a personalized model is that it opens the door for students to exercise agency and ownership for their progress and a subsequent ability to guide their own learning. They are no longer batched in classrooms where they learn the same thing on the same day in the same way. Instead, they have the flexibility to persist on a lesson until they fully comprehend the material, to receive one-on-one help when necessary, and to take the path that works best for them.

The classic example of personalized learning is the individual tutor, although of course paying for a private tutor for every student would be impossible! That's why schools are using the power of blended learning to bring the benefits of personalization within reach. Blended learning is when brick-and-mortar schools provide online lessons for students. In most personalized environments, students spend part of the course or subject online, where software adapts flexibly to differentiate for their needs. Meanwhile, teachers use the time to meet one-on-one with students, facilitate small-group experiences and Socratic discussion, and plan collaborative learning experiences, such as hands-on projects and apprenticeships that deepen the learning when laptops are shut down.

In this way, personalized learning can make the classroom experience not only more effective, but more humane. Personalized learning is not only about personalizing the acquisition of knowledge, but also the relationship between teachers and students. This switch can be as rewarding for teachers as it is for students. Diane Tavenner, who led the effort to personalize learning as CEO of Summit Public Schools, said, "Our model has more of the stuff that teachers got into education for. There's more meaningful one-on-one work, more opportunities to get to know their kids very well."

As blended learning paves the way for increased personalization, it is freeing up teachers to become learning designers, mentors, facilitators, tutors, evaluators, and counselors to reach each student in ways never before possible.

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Response From Jeffrey Benson

Jeffrey Benson has worked in almost every school context in his 35 years as an educator, from elementary school through graduate programs. Benson's first book, Hanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge Us Most (ASCD, 2014), shows educators the value of tenacity and building connections when teaching the students who most need our help. His latest book, , 10 Steps to Managing Change in Schools: How do we take initiatives from goals to actions? (ASCD, 2015), provides educators with a proven, practical, and broadly applicable system for implementing new practices methodically and effectively. Connect with him at his website, www.jeffreybenson.org:

Learning is an accomplishment of attention and effort that can take place in an auditorium filled with 2,000 people, or at a corner table in a library. It takes place with a teacher, or a coach, or with peers, or when you are alone. Learning is always a personal experience for the learner.

Our factory model of schooling obscures the fact that all learning is personal. We've been forcing too many children at the same time to be presented with the same stimulation in hopes they develop the same understanding. Because we are all evolutionary cousins, with similar brains that are wired from birth to find patterns in the environment, the factory approach sort of works-- if you like mediocrity, and if you think it is inevitable that only a few students reach mastery in classes.

Enough of us did pass the tests through the years for our schools to consider themselves hotbeds of learning. Schools have gotten away with this mediocre assembly-line delivery of lessons for so long that we find the notion of personalized learning to be innovative. But all each of us ever did, even in the stultifying rigidity of our most boring class, was to personally make sense of what was going on. Or we didn't learn. No one could do it for us.

Personalized learning as an educational imperative has at its root a very radical notion: almost all students can reach mastery in almost every subject. If you don't believe that, you will have no drive to change our factory system of education, which is as much about sorting students into successes and failures as it is about educating them. If you do believe that each student truly has the capacity for mastery in all subjects--in your subject! in your school!-- personalized learning asks two fundamental questions:

Throw out your pacing guides. Do not chain yourself to the end-of-the-chapter tests. Fill your classrooms--and I mean you in secondary school--with stuff to build and model and draw and craft. Listen to the students. Be a guide, a coach, a teacher, an inspirer, a challenger, a fellow explorer. This is not an easy path, but it will be your special path into the most interesting part of your career. Personalize your learning; no one else can do it for you.

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Response From Louis Cozolino

Louis Cozolino, PhD, is an education specialist, a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, and a private mental health practitioner. He is the editor of The Norton Series on the Social Neuroscience of Education and author of The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment and Learning in the Classroom and Attachment-Based Teaching: Creating a Tribal Classroom. Watch Dr. Cozolino speak on why education is life here:

Personalized learning means that the persons involved in education--students, teachers, and administrators--are deeply involved and invested as living, feeling, and embodied participants in learning. They are not there for someone else or fulfilling a function in the greater "educational system;" they are there in body and soul.

Our children and teachers are in no way a homogeneous population. They come from all classes and cultures with a wide range of social, emotional, and cognitive abilities and challenges. They also present a variety of individual needs that require teachers and administrators to possess considerable parenting, counseling, and psychotherapeutic skills along with their core professional training.

The first step in personalized learning is to question all of the "givens" of our present, "one-size-fits-all" system. Consider that we evolved to learn in tribes from closely related others, and that our brains are social organs. They are triggered to learn in the context of secure attachments, a sense of belonging, and deep affiliations. It is within a social context that maximize exploration and turbocharge neuroplasticity. (Neuroplasticity is the ways in which the brain changes in response to new experience--something we call learning.) When children feel safe to express themselves--their interests, desires, and dreams--you can discover how they learn best, what to teach them, and how best to approach that teaching. It is the very quality of teacher-student relationships that creates the possibility of learning.

This suggests that being an excellent teacher requires being an excellent listener in both your own inner world and the inner worlds of your students. Personalized learning accordingly means listening for passion, interest, curiosity, pain, joy, curiosity, shame, courage, fear, heart, and soul. Teachers should also be trained in expressing and deepening their passions and search for ways to integrate their passions in the classroom. We all remember the difference between teachers who taught from a book and those who taught from their passion. A teacher's passion turns on plasticity in the brains of his or her students. These deep emotions, both our students' and our own, serve as the glue of all content learning.

Finally, administrators have to shift from being accountants and fundraisers to tribal chiefs and wise elders. For every tribe needs a visionary and compassionate leader.

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Responses From Readers

Noa Daniel:

I think the real definition of personalized learning is that each student has an IEP (which is the term used for identified students here in Ontario). Instead of a list of accommodations and modifications, it is a result of teachers really learning about their students and how they learn best. It includes knowing their students interests and hobbies outside of school where lessons can be easily tweaked with analogies from the student's world and projects can have the student's unique fingerprints because they have been invited to become a part of the learning equation.

Angela de Guzman:

Personalized learning for educators means looking at data from my students and reflecting on the next steps to improve knowledge and pedagogy in order to improve student data. Based on the data, explore various choices of professional learning from my school, district, or state and decide based on the way I learn what I want to do to improve my practice.

Thanks to John, Andrew, Heather, Jeffrey and Louis, and to readers,  for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org.When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Anyone whose question is selected for weekly column can choose one free book from a number of education publishers.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog -- along with new material -- in an ebook form.  It's titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Just a reminder -- you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email or RSS Reader... And,if you missed any of the highlights from the first four years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below. They don't include ones from this current year, but you can find them by clicking on the "answers" category found in the sidebar.

Classroom Management

Student Motivation

Implementing The Common Core

The Best Ways To Begin & End The School Year

Teaching Social Studies

Project-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning

Using Tech In The Classroom

Parent Engagement In Schools

Teaching English Language Learners

Student Assessment

Teaching Reading & Writing

Education Policy Issues

Differentiating Instruction

Author Interviews

Teaching Math & Science

Professional Development

Teacher & Administrator Leadership

Relationships In Schools

Instructional Strategies

This Year's Most Popular Q & A Posts!

Look for the next "question-of-the-week" in a few days.....

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: John Spencer, Andrew Miller, Heather Staker, Jeffrey Benson, and Louis Cozolino discuss the definition, and practical impacts, of personalized learning. ----- KEYWORDS: ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: Response: Personalized Learning Is 'a Partnership With Students' STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: instruction DATE: 09/25/2015 10:31:22 PM ----- BODY:

(This is the first post in a two-part series)

This week's question is:

What does "personalized learning" mean, and what can it look like in the classroom?

Personalized learning is an often-used buzz word in education, but it means different things to different people.

To me, it means building relationships with students so I can better connect lessons to their interests, hopes and dreams; providing them with many opportunities for organizational and cognitive choice; and creating situations where they can get positive, as well as critical, feedback in a supportive way from me, their classmates and themselves.

It does not mean having students work on algorithm-generated drill-and-kill worksheets that are delivered electronically.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Understanding "Personalized Learning."

Today, several educators have joined me to respond to this question, and several more will contribute to Part Two. Several readers have already left comments, which I'll include in Part Two.

Contributions from Diana Laufenberg, Allison Zmuda, Pernille Ripp, Barbara Bray, Kathleen McClaskey and Steven Anderson are featured in this post. You will also be able to listen to a ten-minute conversation I had with Diana, Allison and Pernille at my BAM! Radio Show, which will be posted in a few days. You will be able to listen to the show here, and see a list of, and links to, previous shows.

Response From Diana Laufenberg

For 16 years, Diana Laufenberg taught 7-12 grade students Social Studies in Wisconsin, Kansas, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Most recently, Diana Laufenberg partnered with Chris Lehmann to start Inquiry Schools, a new non-profit working to create and support student centered learning environments that are inquiry driven, project based and utilize modern technology. She currently serves as the Executive Director and Lead Teacher for Inquiry Schools:

Personalized learning has been invoked to mean a variety of things: predictive software, individualised learning paths, interest driven project based learning, increased student voice and choice. I see the difference of definitions in largely two camps. One camp believes that technology can be used to predict what a student needs to remediate and enrich the student learning experience and who the student is as a person, not just a learner, is largely absent the experience. The second camp chooses to focus on the 'person' portion of the personalized learning phrase. In this camp a multitude of technologies and methods are used to allow students to follow their own learning path by using the methods of inquiry and project based learning as the driving forces. Camp One is about tailored learning, faster. Camp Two is about focusing on the person in their own educational path.

My personal classroom approach and work lands squarely in the second camp. Personalizing the experience for a student takes on many forms in a school. It can be a senior capstone, internships and genius hour. I would posit that many of those programs and choices are the most prevalent forms of personalization in schools today. Making the learning personal in the subject level classroom though is less likely to exist in the average school.

Personalization in the core subject areas asks the students to pull content through their own lens, make sense of the information, extend their exploration of that information through their own questions and then consider how they would like to use that information to demonstrate their learning. In American Government class I asked the students to take part in a Citizen Lobbying project. The project spanned the entire semester and was completely driven by the student's interests. Following a set of steps related to citizen lobbying, each student chose an area to focus on and then began the process of participating as a citizen in their community around a topic of interest. There was no wrong was to do this unless they did not do anything. Students chose to dig into local school issues, poverty, AIDS/HIV activism, the Philly Student Union and many more. This type of assignment says that as a curricular goal I want you to consider how to impact the decisions and systems that exist in our community and then honor the person that sits in that classroom with the room to pursue topics of their own passion and interest.

Another example I will offer comes from the middle school classroom. At the close of the 2014-15 school year I worked with 7th graders in a History of Anything unit. The curricular goal was related to having students use their research and primary source document analysis independently to demonstrate skill with telling the stories of history. Students could choose anything (within reason for appropriateness) and they had complete control in how they would like to evidence their learning. Many students chose sports heroes, the NFL, superheroes, fairy tales, Disney characters, etc. The stories they uncovered were exciting, the layers they peeled back to understand how something came to be was illuminating to all of us. The choices and struggle they incurred when deciding how to tell that story they now wanted to share was real. At the core, I was able to assess their overall research, writing and historical analysis skills while they were able to read and consume copious amounts of information about topics they loved.

Personalization is one of those things that can be invoked as with Camp One to do real damage to the meaningful experiences and relationships that schools, teachers and classrooms provide. Step carefully when discussing this as a topic so as to make sure that what you mean when you say personalized is actually what the listener understands it to be. More, better, faster is not an effective way to engage the modern learner, do not use computers as the new age of the assembly line. Crafting thoughtful learning experiences by focusing on each student as a person is the most powerful way to modernize and personalize the student experience.

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Response From Allison Zmuda

Allison Zmuda is the lead author of Learning Personalized: The Evolution of the Contemporary Classroom (Jossey-Bass, 2015) and co-author of Real Engagement: How do I help my students become more motivated, confident, and self-directed learners?(ASCD, 2015). A former public high school teacher turned education consultant and author, her current consulting work and writing centers around personalized learning where students play a seminal role in the design and development of their own education:

Personalized learning is a progressively student-driven experience where students have a role in co-creating investigations and ideas. The contemporary reemergence of personalized learning is appealing to students and their families who want to have a curriculum that is designed or at the very least responsive to them -- one that opens up space in the schedule, the topic, the audience, and the development of meaningful work. But the historical roots of personalized learning can be traced back to the progressive era. In 1922, Helen Parkhurst authored the Dalton Plan in which she advocated that the beacon lights of schooling should be making students "industrious, sincere, open-minded, and independent." This conception of personalized learning goes well beyond an individualized approach where students control the pace of their learning but the assignments are fixed. Personalized learning is designed to augment student voice and choice in what they do, how they approach the experience, and how they demonstrate achievement.

Every educator can pursue a learning partnership with the students to develop tasks around problems, challenges, texts, and ideas that are both meaningful to the student and aligned with expected outcomes.

These scenarios can exist within current structural parameters (in terms of how we group students, organize courses, indicate mastery or report progress) or innovative ones. Regardless of how traditional or innovative the structures and policies are, the pedagogical model moves beyond the traditional hierarchical relationship where the teacher determines the assignments and pace and the students follow that lead. The teacher is more relevant than ever to build trusted relationships, demonstrate steadfast belief in students' potential competency, provide timely and high-quality feedback, and approach new learning with a proactive and reflective attitude.

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Response From Pernille Ripp

Mass consumer of incredible books, Pernille Ripp, helps students discover their superpower as a former 5th grade teacher, but now 7th grade teacher, in Oregon, Wisconsin.  She opens up her educational practices and beliefs to the world on her blog www.pernillesripp.com  and is also the creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, a global literacy initiative that since 2010 has connected more than 600,000 students.  Her book "Passionate Learners - How to Engage and Empower Your Students" has been published by Routledge.  Her second book "Empowered Schools, Empowered Students"  was published by Corwin:

There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding the term "Personalized Learning" right now.  There seem to be many companies telling us all exactly how to personalize our learning, which, of course, often means purchasing their tool or program.  Yet, personalizing learning has nothing to do with following what others tell you to do but rather quite the opposite.  Personalizing learning is finding a way to create learning spaces where all students have a say in what they are doing, and all teachers have a say in how they are teaching.  And that does not come from following a prepackaged program.

So how do you personalize learning, particularly if you work with more than one classroom?  The easiest way to start is always by asking your students how they would like to be taught?  Simple questions should be asked on the very first day of school allowing students to shape the education experience to suit their needs while still covering what needs to be covered.  This may sound utopian, but for the past several years, this is exactly what we have been doing in Oregon School District, Wisconsin.  Teachers are finding a way to give students more choice in how they cover content, what they cover, how they show mastery and how they learn.  We utilize surveys, conversation, and a consistent stream of feedback between student and teachers.  

But the personalization does not end there.  Rather than being forced by a top-down approach to change their instruction,  as often happens with new initiatives, teachers were instead ask to also personalize their own change.  To start of the journey toward a more personalized learning environment, but to do so at a pace they felt comfortable with.  This aspect of personalizing learning is often something that is overlooked when we try to change our teaching.  Not all teachers will feel comfortable doing everything one way and so within our own classroom communities, we as teachers need to have a voice as well.  I often engage in conversation with my students about how I can change as a teacher to fit their needs better, while still maintaining my own personality and integrity.  What arises from these conversation is a symbiotic existence within instruction that flows between teacher and student.

So do not buy into personalized learning as an easy way to teach.  It is not, at least, not without a lot of work and a lot of personal reflection on how you need to change as a teacher to fit the needs of students better.  What it does mean, though, is that every child we teach has a voice.  Has a choice in some way in how they are taught.  Choice does not just mean content, it can mean content delivery, classroom setting, tools used, and even timeline.  At least one of those components should be active at all times within our classrooms.  I set out to change the way I taught several years ago and ended up trying to create classrooms that students actually want to be a part of.  It is our job as teachers to engage students, re-engage the disconnected, and recover the lost.  Personalizing my teaching to fit all the students I teach has allowed me to do that.

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Response From Barbara Bray & Kathleen McClaskey

Barbara Bray (@bbray27) and Kathleen McClaskey (@khmmc) are co-founders of Personalize Learning, LLC and co-authors of Make Learning Personal. You can contact Barbara and Kathleen at personalizelearn@gmail.com and follow them on Twitter using @plearnchat:

Personalized Learning is a controversial term that means different things to different people depending on where and how it is referenced. Some believe it is about promoting programs or tools that personalize learning for you where others emphasize that learning starts with the learner. Teachers have used multiple methods to personalize learning in their classrooms for years, but the opportunities to advance it are new. Consider personalized learning as a culture shift and transformational revolution shaking up teaching and learning.

Personalized Learning means...

What does Personalized Learning look like in the classroom?

Consider a learner-centered classroom where there are two or more teachers who co-teach multiple grade levels. They are in one large room that combined two classrooms with a garage door made with glass windows that can stay open or close to separate the rooms. You look around and do not see any desks. In fact, you don't even see a teacher's desk. There are multiple areas with different shapes of movable tables and chairs, two sofas, different colored cushions for learners to sit on the floor, ball chairs, and tall tables where learners can stand or pace to learn. There are some learners meeting in a closed/open area called the cave that has invisible walls made out of something like PVC pipes.

The noise in the class sounds like a hum of a coffee shop. At the creativity station, several learners are collaborating and building things. One learner was demonstrating a project in the show off area to other learners. One teacher was meeting in a private corner with a learner who needed to review content to check for understanding. The other teacher was sitting on the floor listening to several learners sharing their prototypes for their projects on the interactive whiteboard.

This is only one picture of what personalized learning looks like from many examples that we shared in our book, Make Learning Personal. It is about the What, Who, Wow, Where and Why of Personalized Learning to help change the culture of schools and to build a common language around the term: personalized learning.

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Response From Steven Anderson

Steven Anderson is a former teacher and Director of Instructional Technology, a member of the ASCD Faculty, and a 2012 ASCD Emerging Leader. Anderson is author of The Tech-Savvy Administrator: How do I use technology to be a better school leader? (ASCD, 2014) and co-author of The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning (Corwin, 2014).

Personalized learning is one of those terms that gets thrown around all too often with so many different meanings, many aren't sure exactly what it means. For me, true personalized learning is that in which students decide their own path to understanding and mastery. It's not a computer program deciding they need a harder or easier problem based on performance. It's not differentiated content or assignments based on ability. Personalized learning is setting learning goals and objectives and the student, with guidance from the teacher, deciding on the best path to take to understand the content and the best methods to demonstrate understanding of that content.

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Thanks to Diana, Allison, Pernille, Barbara, Kathleen and Steven for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org.When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Anyone whose question is selected for weekly column can choose one free book from a number of education publishers.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog -- along with new material -- in an ebook form.  It's titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Just a reminder -- you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email or RSS Reader... And,if you missed any of the highlights from the first four years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below.

Classroom Management

Student Motivation

Implementing The Common Core

The Best Ways To Begin & End The School Year

Teaching Social Studies

Project-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning

Using Tech In The Classroom

Parent Engagement In Schools

Teaching English Language Learners

Student Assessment

Teaching Reading & Writing

Education Policy Issues

Differentiating Instruction

Author Interviews

Teaching Math & Science

Professional Development

Teacher & Administrator Leadership

Relationships In Schools

Instructional Strategies

This Year's Most Popular Q & A Posts!

Look for Part Two in a few days.....

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: Diana Laufenberg, Allison Zmuda, Pernille Ripp, Barbara Bray, Kathleen McClaskey and Steven Anderson share their thoughts on what personalized learning looks like in the classroom. ----- KEYWORDS: ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: What Is Personalized Learning? STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: instruction CATEGORY: instruction CATEGORY: questions DATE: 09/21/2015 08:35:45 PM ----- BODY:

This week's question is:

What does "personalized learning" mean, and what can it look like in the classroom?

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Please share your thoughts in the comments or, if you prefer, feel free to email them to me. 

You can also send questions to me at lferlazzo@epe.org.When you send one in, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

Another option is contacting me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Anyone whose question is selected for this weekly column can choose one free book from a variety of education publishers.

Just a reminder -- you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email or RSS Reader..

And,if you missed any of the highlights from the first three years of this blog, you can find a categorized list of posts here, along with an "all-time" list of the ones that have been most popular. This year's posts aren't there, but you can find them by clicking on the archives found on the sidebar.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog -- along with new material -- in an ebook form.  It's titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Last, but not least, I record a weekly eight-minute BAM! Radio podcast with educators who provide guest responses to questions.  You can listen and/or download them here.

 

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: This week's question is: What does "personalized learning" mean, and how can it look in the classroom? ----- KEYWORDS: ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: Response: Increasing The Diversity Of America's Teachers STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: policy DATE: 09/20/2015 07:53:50 PM ----- BODY:

(This is the last post in a three-part series. You can see Part One here and Part Two here.)

This week's question (and the first question of the school year) is:

How are school districts, universities, alternative teacher preparation programs, and individual leaders, teachers, and community groups responding to the call to increase the racial/ethnic diversity of our country's teaching force?


This question, and the columns providing responses, comprise a special project being guest-hosted by Travis Bristol, PhD (Stanford Center For Opportunity Policy in Education) & Terrenda White, PhD (University of Colorado-Boulder).

Dr. White provided an introduction to this three-part series ten days ago. Both she and Dr. Bristol, as well as Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and many other teachers, discussed some of the reasons for this Teachers of Color 'Disappearance Crisis' and its impact in a series appearing here this past January.

You can also listen to a ten-minute conversation I had with Dr. Bristol on my BAM! Radio Show about this topic and see a list of, and links to, previous shows.

Part One in this series highlighted ways school districts are recruiting teachers of color and Part Three will spotlight the work of alternative teacher preparation programs and charter schools, as well as community-based efforts on the part of parents

Part Two focused on what universities are doing to recruit more teachers of color.

Today's post will focus on how alternative certification programs, charter schools, and parent and community-based initiatives are responding to the call to increase the racial/ethnic diversity of America's teachers.

Below, we draw attention to a national program, as well as initiatives in Charlottesville, Virginia, New York City, Phoenix, Arizona, and Indianapolis, Indiana focused on recruiting and supporting teachers of color.

In addition, we include responses to this series from readers, and end with policy recommendations from Dr. Travis Bristol.

Response From Raegen Miller, Teach for America

Raegen Miller is Vice President for Research Partnerships at Teach For America. His work as a researcher, policy analyst, and teacher-educator rests on a foundation of classroom teaching, over ten years in a variety of settings. He was trained at the Stanford Teacher Education Program before Teach For America existed:

Teach For America - Teacher Diversity

Diversity is one of Teach For America's core values. Maximizing the diversity of our teaching corps ensures that we are enlisting the country's top talent, whether they share the backgrounds of students affected by educational inequity or come from backgrounds of privilege.

TFA recently marked our first quarter-century by welcoming the newest teaching corps, which is as accomplished as ever and among our most diverse. Nearly half of our new teachers identify as people of color (compared with less than 20 percent of teachers nationwide); 47 percent come from a low-income background; 34 percent are the first in their family to graduate from college; and 1 in 3 come to the corps from graduate school or with prior professional experience. We're dedicated to doing as much as we can to promote a diverse and effective teaching force.

As this school year begins, Teach For America will have more than 50,000 corps members and alumni across more than 50 regions. We will continue to be the largest preparer of public school teachers for low-income communities and are committed to continuing to be one of the country's most diverse sources of talent for the classroom.

Why Teacher Diversity Matters

Teach For America believes that ensuring our teacher and alumni force is representative of students most impacted by educational inequity is essential to developing the solutions we need to ensure educational opportunity for all. Since educational inequity is largely drawn along lines of race and class, it is particularly important to foster the leadership of those who share the backgrounds of the students we serve. It's clear that students benefit when they can see themselves reflected in their teachers, who are often children's first adult role models outside of the home. But diversity in the classroom is essential not just because students ought to see themselves in their dynamic and effective teachers, but because a diverse workforce drives creativity and unlocks innovation.

How Teach For America is Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Teachers

Each year, Teach For America refines its approach to recruiting and selecting candidates for the corps, informed by research on the skills and practices of our most successful educators. We've refined our efforts to reach a wider range of outstanding candidates by reaching out to and meeting individually with many more potential applicants, increasing outreach to professionals from all sectors, and developing additional partnerships with diverse organizations that can help support these efforts in building a strong pipeline of diverse leaders. In addition, we're reaching out to prospective corps members much earlier and engaging them in ways that give them a fuller picture of what Teach For America does.

We're dedicated to promoting a diverse and effective teaching force and have a number of initiatives and recruiting efforts in place to ensure that those who identify as African American, Latino, Native American, AAPI, LGBTQ, and more view teaching in our schools as a viable and worthwhile career option. As an example of this, in concert with our support of the DREAM Act, we partnered with schools and districts to create a path to teaching for individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Approximately 50 new DACAmented teachers joined TFA's corps this year, bringing the total number of DACAmented corps members to more than 90 teaching in 12 regions nationwide.

Teach For America selects areas to study each year to better understand our most effective teachers, and some of our most recent research has looked at the impact of an applicant's experience in low-income communities and his or her efforts and determination to reach goals over time. Findings in these areas led us to place more emphasis on gathering insight into these two elements during the admissions process, which has contributed to a more diverse corps.

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Response From Jaime-Duke Hawkins, Ravenn R. Gethers, Scott Guggenheimer, African American Teaching Fellows of Charlottesville-Albemarle, Inc.

Jaime-Duke Hawkins is the Program Director for African American Teaching Fellows (AATF). She graduated from The University of Virginia in 2001, with a BA in American History and an MT in Elementary Education. She taught for 10 years with Charlottesville City Schools, prior to working with AATF.

Ravenn Gethers is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Enhancement Depatment at the American University of Antigua College of Medicine and a doctoral candidate in Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership at the College of William & Mary.

Scott Guggenheimer has served K-12 education for over ten years, as a classroom teacher, an OST program manager, and as the executive director of African American Teaching Fellows. He currently works for D.C. Public Schools as the manager of the Mary Jane Patterson Fellowship, an internal leadership development program:

African American Teaching Fellows of Charlottesville-Albemarle, Inc. (AATF) is a registered 501 (c) (3) incorporated in 2005 with a mission to recruit, support, develop, and retain a cadre of African American teachers to serve the Charlottesville City and Albemarle County public schools in Virginia. Our fellowship enables African American college students to pay for college, develop into premier teachers, establish a sense of collegiality with one another, foster connections to the community, and succeed in obtaining and retaining a teaching position.

In Charlottesville and Albemarle, there are ten students for every teacher. However, only one out of ten teachers is African American. In other words, for every 122 students, there is 1 African American teacher. Our community serves over 15,000 students and employs more than 1,500 teachers, but there are fewer than 150 African American teachers working in our schools. In Charlottesville City, 38% of students are African American and only 13% of the teachers are African American. Similarly, in Albemarle County, 11% of students are African American and 6% of the teachers are African American.

A diverse cadre of teachers in the Charlottesville-Albemarle community presents implications for our community's public school students.

AATF recruits African American students enrolled in Virginia teacher preparation programs at the University of Virginia, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, Mary Baldwin College, James Madison University, and Liberty University. As space is limited, AATF employs a competitive selection process consisting of an application, short answer essays, and a panel interview. AATF's scholarships provide tuition assistance for up to three years. In exchange for the funding, each Fellow commits to teach in the Charlottesville-Albemarle public school systems for the amount of time equivalent to the years of funding received.

Upon accepting an AATF offer, Fellows immediately begin receiving professional development and retention activities that align with 21st Century Skills. This program, known as the Teacher-Leader Institute, is designed to enhance workforce readiness skills and the technical training that s/he will need to attain a full-time teaching role, succeed as a teacher, and connect with one another and the community. Fellows participate in a number of workshops and activities which include preparing for the hiring process, mock interviews with local administrators, getting to know the schools in the community, as well as how to set up your classroom. Participation in the Fellowship, allows Fellows organically to become a support system for one another. In addition, each Fellow is assigned a mentor--a current, local educator, who helps to facilitate professional growth and development and ultimately, support a Fellow as s/he prepares and enters the hiring process.

The prospect of financial support typically draws prospective applicants to AATF. Lessons learned during Fellow recruitment inform a recommendation for policymakers to consider instituting an expedited student loan repayment plan for students seeking roles in the teaching profession. This policy may address teacher shortages by increasing the amount of students considering a teaching career. In turn, there would be a larger applicant pool from which our organization can recruit Fellows.

Since AATF's inception, we have had remarkable success. One-hundred percent of our Fellows have remained in Charlottesville-Albemarle after fulfilling their teaching commitment. There are a total of 25 Fellows teaching in the state of Virginia. Out of that twenty-five, sixteen Fellows are currently teaching in the Charlottesville-Albemarle community.

Response From Shea Reeder, Success Academy Charter School

Shea Reeder is from New York, where she resides with her husband and 2 kids. Shea has worked for Success Academy for the past 5 years. She is currently in her 2nd year as principal of Success Academy Bronx 4 Charter School located in the South Bronx:

I have been in education long enough to know that I cannot create an amazing school alone. As a former classroom teacher and now an administrator of a recently opened charter school in NYC, I know it takes a strong leader who understands the local community in which the school is located and also someone who can build lasting relationships with the community and her staff. This year marks my 10th year in education and it was a chance for me to make a difference within a community where failing schools are the unfortunate norm.

My school is located in the Bronx, where too many failing schools are locked in a paradigm of low expectations for students, coupled with limited opportunities for success, and broader concerns related to lack of safety and violence. As an African American woman with young children of my own, I felt honored to take the helm and position my school as a beacon of light and voice for a community of parents who deserve more for their children.

When I opened my charter school, my vision was centered on building relationships with the families and our scholars, as well as with my team of teachers. When preparing for my first year as a school leader, I knew that I needed a team of teachers who shared my vision for a strong and caring community that fostered parental engagement and rigorous approaches to instruction that would engage children at a high level.

As is the case for the vast majority of schools across the country, most of my teachers are White. My organization openly acknowledges that we have to do a better job and are currently developing an initiative to recruit more minority employees. While creating a more diverse organization is the goal, in the meantime, we feel an urgency to continuously open schools, but must find a way to balance that given the very few administrators of color. The nature of the job [in my organization] is also very demanding and not for everyone, regardless of ethnicity.

Regardless, I try to make sure my teachers have time and support to be fully prepared to teach. I am in their classrooms, observing and giving feedback, consulting and coaching. This level of support helps new teachers be successful, and that is key to retention.

As an organization, we do an excellent job of training teachers on how to execute the curriculum and behavioral management techniques. But I know from experience there are additional skills that go beyond the curriculum. To be effective, we must build an understanding about the population we serve and use that understanding to better handle the various situations that can happen over the course of the year. Being a woman of color was definitely an advantage for me in this regard, and I am proud of my ability to understand and reach the families of my students on a deeper level. It is important to me to make sure that I educate my staff on how to work with the families from the community that we serve. So this academic school year, I will continue to do everything I can to increase my staff's diversity while meeting the community's demands to maintain strong positive relationships.

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Response From Breshawn Harris, Ph.D and Christopher Billingsley

Dr. Breshawn Harris, a native of Phoenix, AZ, received her B.A. in Communications from Howard University; her Master's of Education in Educational Counseling from Northern Arizona University, and her PhD in Higher Education Administration from the University of Phoenix. Dr. Harris is entering her 16th year in education teaching College, Career and Readiness, and Strategic Reading classes in the Phoenix area.

Christopher Billingsley, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, received his B.S. degree in Technical & Occupational Education from the University of Southern Mississippi; a Master's of Arts in Educational Counseling, and is currently a doctoral student pursuing Educational Leadership at Grand Canyon University. Mr. Billingsley served in the United States Air Force:

Why Teacher Diversity Matters

As very active and engaged parents in our children's lives, as well as secondary educators, we understand the significance in discussing the need for teacher diversity in Phoenix, Arizona where the teachers of color are disproportionately outnumbered by their White counterparts. In 2010, lawmakers in the state of Arizona proposed and passed a law to ban ethnic studies courses in Tucson, which targeted specific ethnic groups. An example included banning the Mexican Studies curriculum in K-12 public schools. Yet, in 2012, the Hispanic population was the largest elementary school population in Arizona for grades K through second grade.

The Center for American Progress revealed, in 2011, 80% of Arizona school teachers were White, 16% Hispanic, 3% Black, and 1% identified as mixed races. The number of minority professionals serving as teachers should be proportionate to the number of students enrolled in the school and in the community. However, in order to have a teacher population representative of a school's student population, the issue of recruiting and retaining qualified teachers needs to be addressed.

Recruiting and retaining qualified teachers is a local priority in Phoenix, Arizona. To change this ongoing undesirable condition and the changing demographics of Arizona's schools, greater focus needs to be drawn to increasing teacher diversity. The following recruitment measures were offered and used by a school district in Phoenix, Arizona.

Recruitment:

  1. Create media announcements and place job advertisements in minority community newspapers, on radio stations targeting minorities, in church bulletins and billboards.
  2. Minority employees should accompany human resource administrators on job fairs.
  3. Use of visuals promoting district diversity when recruiting minority teachers to emphasize diversity.
  4. Consider recruitment in cities where diverse population is the norm. Cities include: New York City, Miami, Dallas, and Nashville. Teachers in these cities are accustomed to diverse student population.
  5. Recruit from minority teaching programs from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions. Also, provide teachers of color a financial stipend to help offset the fees associated with the teacher certification process.

These recruitment efforts were used to hire more teachers of color (two Hispanic teachers and two African American teachers) in a particular school in Phoenix. Additionally, plans to recruit more teachers of color will expand to cities in the southern and northeastern regions of the United States. This year's recruitment efforts to hire more teachers of color will utilize all recruitment strategies listed above.

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Response From Blake Nathan and David McGuire; Educate ME Foundation, Inc.

Blake Nathan teaches engineering and technology at Stonybrook Middle School in the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township located in Indianapolis, IN. Mr. Nathan is the CEO and Founder of the Educate ME Foundation, which promotes the development of African American male educators in the urban, middle, and secondary school settings through mentorship with current practitioners.

David McGuire is passionate 7th and 8th grade Language Arts teacher in Indianapolis. He is a PhD student at Indiana State University in Educational Leadership K-12 Supervision:

Educate ME Foundation, INC's goal is to increase the number of African American males in the field of education; this can be accomplished by creating a pipeline of educators. Currently, the Indianapolis School District has a 53% African American student population compared to their 20% White student population. Additionally of the teachers that serve these students, 81% are White and only 14% are Black.

Through our Educate ME Series we collaborate with high schools in Indianapolis to target specific African American males students, who we feel can be developed into effective teachers in the future. The Educate ME Series (EMS) takes a holistic approach to leadership development.The participants of the series are trained to be leaders of change and innovation.The EMS guide participants to focus on key levels of effective education leadership and also support development of innovative solutions to impact students and their families.The series is designed to increase engagement, retention and leadership rates for our male educators of color.

In the Summer of 2016 Educate ME will launch its inaugural Project REAL (Realizing Excelling Achieving through Learning) Summer Institute. In partnership with the Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis School of Education, Educate ME will host 25 young men for a four week summer training. The institute will consist of academic development, leadership training, teacher training, and conclude with a week long summer teaching assignment. Our goal of the program is to create a pipeline of young men who will eventually graduate high school and transition to college with an emphasis on majoring in education and becoming a teacher in the Indianapolis public school system.

Responses From Readers

mcruiz:

Do you really want to attract more successful Black and Latino Men, with degrees in math or science? Increase the pay, improve the working environment, and restore respect and reputation to the profession. How many successful White males, with science or math degrees go into teaching? About the same low percentages as minorities. Unfortunately, teachers are still seriously underpaid, and if you hold a degree that can get you a job that will give you satisfaction, good pay, great benefits, respect and status, and keep you away from vultures trying to blame you from all of society's ills, why go into teaching?


Policy Recommendations By Dr. Travis Bristol

Over the coming months, U.S. presidential candidates will begin to add substance to their education agendas; this three-part series should inform their policies aimed at improving our nation's public schools. As Dr. White discussed in her introduction, the country's current teacher shortage is due in part to weak recruitment and retention of all teachers, and particularly teachers of color. Based on the promising initiatives from this three-part series, there are clear steps forward to increase the pipeline of racially and ethnically diverse educators and strengthen the conditions for their retention. To outline some of these steps, I provide the following recommendations for national, state, and local education policymakers.

National education policymakers should launch a "Grow Your Own" grants program. The U.S. Department of Education, through its discretionary grants program, should spur local innovation by requiring urban districts to partner with teacher education programs to create a pipeline that prepares students to return, as teachers, to the communities in which they were educated. The Pathways2Teaching program provides a model of how the University of Colorado Denver and neighboring urban school districts are working to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of teachers.

State education policymakers should also provide similar grants that support "Grow Your Own" programs. Moreover, state officials should ensure that teacher preparation programs have the resources to support pre-service teachers of color from entry through completion. The Center of Pedagogy in collaboration with the Teacher Education Advocacy Center at Montclair State University in New Jersey is one model of ongoing support for candidates of color; candidates work with a full-time advisor who provides personalized support from adjusting to college life, to academic and financial assistance. Additionally, state education officials should provide scholarships for perspective educators of color. Subsidized certification programs, such as Teach for America, have proven successful in attracting candidates of color.

Local education policymakers should coordinate a multi-sector approach for increasing a district's racial and ethnic teacher workforce. Too often school districts bear sole responsibility for recruiting teachers of color and are unsuccessful because of an inability to design initiatives that can attend to out of school factors (e.g. affordable housing). New York City's initiative to recruit 1,000 male teachers of color is a joint collaboration with the Office of the Mayor, the city's Department of Education, and the City University of New York.

Finally, a word of caution: Human capital policy levers such as increasing the racial and ethnic composition of teachers in a school or district will not close persistent learning gaps between historically marginalized youth and their more economically privileged peers. Policies aimed at diversifying the teacher workforce should be one part of a comprehensive system-wide approach that increases the expectations for learning for adults and students, while providing the necessary resources to meet these expectations (Darling-Hammond, Wilhoit, & Pittenger, 2014; Snyder & Bristol, 2015).

References

Darling-Hammond, L., Wilhoit, G., & Pittenger, L. (2014). Accountability for college and career readiness: Developing a new paradigm. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22(86).

Snyder, J., & Bristol, T. J. (2015). Professional accountability for improving life, college, and career readiness. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23(16).

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Thanks to Dr. Bristol and Dr. White for "guest-hosting this series, and to Raegen Miller, Jaime-Duke Hawkins, Ravenn R. Gethers, Scott Guggenheimer, Dr. Breshawn Harris, Christopher Billingsley, Blake Nathan and David McGuire, and to readers, for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org.When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Anyone whose question is selected for weekly column can choose one free book from a number of education publishers.

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Look for the next "question-of-the-week" in a few days.....

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: This post focuses on how alternative certification programs, charter schools, and parent and community-based initiatives are responding to the call to increase the racial/ethnic diversity of America's teachers. ----- KEYWORDS: ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: Response: How Universities Are Recruiting More Teachers of Color STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: policy DATE: 09/17/2015 07:04:50 PM ----- BODY:

(This is the second post in a three-part series. You can see Part One here.)

This week's question (and the first question of the school year) is:

How are school districts, universities, alternative teacher preparation programs, and individual leaders, teachers, and community groups responding to the call to increase the racial/ethnic diversity of our country's teaching force?


This question, and the columns providing responses, comprise a special project being guest-hosted by Travis Bristol, PhD (Stanford Center For Opportunity Policy in Education) & Terrenda White, PhD (University of Colorado-Boulder).

Dr. White provided an introduction to this three-part series last week. Both she and Dr. Bristol, as well as Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and many other teachers, discussed some of the reasons for this Teachers of Color 'Disappearance Crisis' and its impact in a series appearing here this past January.

You can also listen to a ten-minute conversation I had with Dr. Bristol on my BAM! Radio Show about this topic and see a list of, and links to, previous shows.

Part One in this series highlighted ways school districts are recruiting teachers of color and Part Three will spotlight the work of alternative teacher preparation programs and charter schools, as well as community-based efforts on the part of parents.   Here is the introduction by Dr. Bristol and Dr. White to today's column:

This week we draw attention to the work of the nation's leading organization committed to teacher preparation across hundreds of colleges and universities, as well as four university-based teacher preparation programs that are responding to the call to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of our country's teachers. The organizations featured this week include: the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Call Me MISTER program at Georgia College, the Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the NxtGEN program at the University of Colorado Denver, and the Center of Pedagogy at Montclair University.

-Travis J. Bristol, Ph.D (Stanford University) & Terrenda C. White, Ph.D. (University of Colorado Boulder)

Response: The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)

AACTE is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are ready to teach all learners. Its over 800 member institutions represent public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. AACTE leads the field in advocacy and capacity building by promoting innovation and effective practices critical to reforming educator preparation. For more information, visit its website.

"Increasing the Diversity of the Teacher Workforce: AACTE's Networked Improvement Community"

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) is committed to increasing the diversity of the teaching workforce to better match the characteristics of our nation's students. In 2014, AACTE launched a major effort to address this goal: a "Networked Improvement Community," or NIC, comprising 10 universities around the country.

NICs are characterized by their focus on a well-defined common aim, their deep understanding of a problem and the system that produces it, their disciplined application of improvement science to the problem, and their network of participants. The network accelerates the development, testing, and refining of interventions and then shares and adapts those interventions into a variety of contexts.

AACTE's NIC aims to diversify the teacher candidate pool by focusing on recruitment of more Black and Hispanic men into teacher preparation programs. It addresses the problem of alignment between the teacher workforce and the demographic makeup of the PK-12 student population, particularly in relation to increasing the percentages of Black and Hispanic male teachers. Focus group interviews were conducted to identify conditions that would inform specific interventions chosen for testing. Both Black and Hispanic male teacher candidates, as well as with a broader sample of teacher candidates and alumni novice and experienced educators were interviewed to investigate factors which influenced their decision to enter teaching, as well as supports and barriers to entry and retention *.

According to data collected from AACTE members through the Professional Education Data System, of the total number of bachelor's degrees awarded in 2013-2014 to teacher candidates, only 5% were awarded to Black candidates and about 6% to Hispanic candidates. The goal of AACTE's NIC is to increase the recruitment and retention of Black and Hispanic males into the teacher candidate pool at each of the 10 participating institutions by 25%.

As the educator preparation profession moves to reorient itself more closely around the needs of the education workforce, there is significant need to develop programs' capacity to meet schools' needs. The NIC is supporting research and improvement to meet the demographic imperative of developing a diverse teaching workforce by focusing on key points in the pipeline: recruitment and retention.

The following institutions participate in AACTE's NIC:

AACTE is committed to working with its members to support the development and dissemination of innovative practices. For more information about the NIC, visit its website.

* Focus group interviews were conducted with Black and Hispanic male teacher candidates to investigate at what point in their education they decided to pursue a career in teaching, what their personal goals were for entering the profession, how aspects of their program did or did not support their success, and how they felt race and the degree to which the inclusion of multicultural education impacted their experiences. A similar focus group survey was conducted with teacher candidates and alumni novice and experienced professional educators which provided information about personal reasons for choosing to enter the teaching profession as well as supports and barriers to entry and retention. These surveys were administered broadly and allowed for the collection of comparative input by race and gender.

Response: C. Emmanuel Little, Georgia College

Emmanuel Little is the director of the Call Me MISTER program and minority retention at Georgia College. Emmanuel is also a doctoral student whose research focuses on the experiences of historically marginalized communities in higher education.

"The Importance of Teacher Diversity"

I currently help administer the first and only "Call Me MISTER" (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) program in the state of Georgia, located at Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA. Call Me MISTER is focused on diversifying the teaching field by recruiting, training, and empowering transformative Black male educators. Since its inception in 2000 at Clemson University, the program has provided a resounding answer to the question "where are the Black male teachers?" by introducing young Black men to the classroom at early stages and training them to become not just traditional teachers, but transformative role models inside and outside of the classroom.

We hope to have the same impact on teacher diversity here in Georgia. Through Georgia College's Call Me MISTER program, we are introducing our first cohort of four MISTERs and plan to foster their development and growth in several ways. First, these future teachers are a part of a living-learning community, living in the same residence halls throughout their time on our campus. This fosters a collaborative atmosphere, as a sense of brotherhood is crucial in providing a collective determination to graduate and enter the teaching force. Such a dynamic is particularly needed on our campus, where Black men account for a minute percentage of the undergraduate student body.

We also use a multifaceted system of mentorship. MISTERs receive guidance from current educational leaders in the area, as well as from that of their respective host teachers once entering their respective cohorts to do student teaching. This is crucial, given that we expose our future teachers to the classroom as early as their freshman year of college. Our MISTERs are also connected to programs such as our African-American Male Initiative on campus, not only as a way to foster the aforementioned sense of brotherhood & peer mentorship, but also to reach younger Black males that may possibly wish to pursue teaching in the future.

As we say in Call Me MISTER, "teamwork makes the dream work". Thus, relationships across our campus and community are absolutely crucial. We are deeply invested in creating pipelines for this program by forging strong collaborations with our admissions office, College of Education cohort programs and local school systems for recruitment and retention. The success of our Call Me MISTER program also depends on partnerships with advancement and development offices to cultivate financial resources to support these efforts. This means providing the necessary incentives for underrepresented populations to consider teaching as a viable career option.

We must continue to ask the tough questions about why people of color are so severely underrepresented in front of the classroom despite the increasing racial diversity of their students. Finding solutions to these questions means making connections and partnerships with like-minded organizations with the resources to help shift the current paradigm. Call Me MISTER is one piece, but we must use every tool at our disposal to change the face and future of education. The fate of our children depends on it.

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Response: Ramon B. Goings, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Ramon Goings is the Program Coordinator of the Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a doctoral candidate in Urban Educational Leadership at Morgan State University. His research is centered on African American male student success (PK-PhD/MD), Urban STEM teacher preparation and retention, and nontraditional student success in higher education.

"Diversifying the STEM Teacher Workforce in Maryland"

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) prides itself on being a national leader in producing graduates from over 150 countries, with a strong liberal arts foundation. While our university is known for producing students of color who earn advanced degrees in STEM, we are equally committed to developing students of color for Maryland's STEM K-12 classrooms. As a result, the Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars Program was established at UMBC to address the shortage of highly qualified STEM teachers serving in high-needs schools. The program has a three-pronged mission to: 1) support UMBC's students and alumni who are pre-service and in-service teachers in the STEM fields; 2) increase the number of those who teach in high-needs and urban schools and school systems; and 3) increase retention of Sherman Program alumni in those schools and school systems.

In order to seek a diverse applicant pool, the Sherman program actively recruits students throughout their undergraduate experience. This is important because in Maryland like other states, many students of color begin their collegiate careers in community colleges. As a result we have students who enter as freshmen, transfers, upperclassmen, and masters level candidates (visit website for more recruitment information). The Sherman Program provides professional development for both UMBC students and alumni who are currently teaching in school districts across Maryland and other states. In particular, our professional development is focused on developing culturally competent students. Through our partnership with Lakeland Elementary/Middle School a Baltimore City Public School, our students are able to work in an actual classroom settings with children and experienced teachers prior to student teaching.

To support our retention efforts it is imperative that after students complete their degree they transition seamlessly into a teaching position. Currently, many school districts contractual policies impact the timeline for new hires and teacher candidates may not be offered a position until mid-August. Particularly in districts where highly qualified teachers are needed most, they miss potential candidates because of this policy. This impacts new teachers of color specifically, as many may incur significant student loan debt from their college education; thus, if employment opportunities are not readily available, some candidates may choose other jobs to pay their debt and subsequently not become an educator. Changes in district-level policies regarding hiring timelines will greatly benefit school districts attracting and retaining more teachers of color.

As the nation's demographics continue to shift concerted effort from stakeholders to diversify the teaching profession is essential. UMBC has created an evidence-based support system to diversify our STEM teachers. We believe it is imperative to work with students prior to college in order to develop their desire to become teachers and desire to pursue a STEM degree. Thus, through our partnership with Lakeland and other applied learning placements, our students are able to build the next cadre of STEM teachers and innovators while improving their pedagogical practices. UMBC and the Sherman Scholars Program are committed to fighting for diversity in the STEM teaching workforce.

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Response: Barbara Seidl and Cindy Gutierrez, University of Colorado Denver

Dr. Barbara Seidl, Associate Dean in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, supports the school's multiple teacher education pathways and has over 20 years of experience in preparing teachers for diversity.      

Dr. Cindy Gutierrez, Director of the Office of Partnerships in the School of Education & Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, leads the School's extensive school and community partnership network focused on innovative clinical preparation of urban teachers:

"The NxtGEN Undergraduate Residency"

The Next Generation of Educating Diverse Teacher Project, or NxtGEN, is a unique Four Year Undergraduate Residency (4Y-UGR) teacher preparation program created through a partnership between the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) and a diverse, high-poverty urban school district, Denver Public Schools (DPS). NxtGEN is aligned with the district partner's needs and builds upon the transformative teacher preparation agenda of the School of Education and Human Development at CU Denver.  

While 15% of teachers are of color in DPS, the majority of students (79%) are of color and 36% are identified as English Language Learners (Colorado Department of Education, 2013). Additionally, like most high poverty, urban districts, DPS faces high teacher turnover each year with nearly 22% of the district's 5000+ positions needing to be filled this coming year.

The NxtGEN 4Y-UGR aims to address these issues, creating the "next generation" of teacher education designed around the recruitment and preparation of teachers equipped to support the education of children in our highest need schools. The residency is framed by several key components. NxtGEN recruits local talent through high school, community college, and paraprofessional pipelines to bring in residents who are from the community, whose goals are to stay and work within the community and who better reflect the diversity of students in DPS. NxtGEN residents serve in newly designed, three year, district paid paraeducator internships.

These paid internships provide three years of extensive clinical experience and are a means for mitigating some of the financial barriers many first generation college students experience. Residents then participate in a full, final year residency that combines district specific curriculum with university coursework that includes an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education. Throughout the residency, students are provided academic, social, and emotional support by the NxtGEN Student Support Center. These supports are designed around principles of cultural responsiveness and target the strengths and needs of first generation college students. Finally, NxtGEN graduates receive two years of differentiated induction within a cohort model.

The NxtGEN residency represents innovation along several lines. It takes the idea of partnering to a new level with the distribution of responsibility much more evenly distributed across the university and district. The residency also moves even further toward a clinical approach where extensive classroom experience and coursework co-mingle in a tightly integrated model of delivery. Finally, it reconceptualizes initial teacher education as the period encompassing preservice education and the first years of teaching, thus requiring that new teachers continue to receive targeted, differentiated support as they grow from beginners to accomplished teachers in their first years of teaching. This next generation of teacher education is a much-needed response to the call to prepare a more diverse teaching force for our diverse students.  

At the beginning of its second year, NxtGEN has 10 graduates and 42 current students. Of this number, 31 % are of color, 20% are bilingual with 6 different languages spoken, many are first generation, and close to 50% come from the local Denver Metro community. These numbers indicate that the strategies used in NxtGEN to both recruit and support diverse, local talent are having an impact.

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Response: Jennifer Robinson, Montclair State University

Dr. Jennifer Robinson is faculty and Executive Director of the Center of Pedagogy, the institutional unit charged with coordinating policies and collaborative work among faculty from the liberal arts and sciences, the college of education, and the schools in the preparation of new teachers. Robinson is also founding director of the Teacher Education Advocacy Center, to increase the recruitment and retention of students from under-represented groups into teaching at Montclair State University.

At Montclair State University in NJ, the Center of Pedagogy (CoP) coordinates programs for teacher preparation. Recognizing the inherently political nature of schools and teaching, the CoP promotes a vision of teachers as ethical decision-makers who embrace the value of diversity and are committed to changing inequitable school practices. The Teacher Education Advocacy Center (TEAC) in the CoP, enhances the Teacher Education Program by supporting the recruitment and retention of students from minority groups (e.g. linguistic; cultural; racial and/or ethnic) into teaching.

TEAC promotes the implementation of culturally responsive educational programs and academic assistance activities for pre-collegiate, undergraduate and graduate students; and has special initiatives that respond to the need to recruit a diverse, well-prepared teaching force. Full-time advisors assess student needs and provide personalized support, academic guidance, college life adjustment, mentoring, counseling, and financial assistance. TEAC interacts with several offices on campus to provide students with appropriate interventions designed specifically for them.   Advisor contact begins at any point at which a student is identified as interested in teacher education: elementary, middle, high school, community college, and at non-traditional settings including churches, ethnic sororities and fraternities, civic, and community organizations. Advisor contact during the summer prior to freshman or transfer enrollment is critical, as is on-campus orientation.

Continued contact amounts to at least two visits per semester with the advisor, to ensure student adjustment to campus and to monitor academic progress. Students experiencing academic difficulties are assessed to identify the source of the challenge (e.g. need for tutoring, test anxiety, financial need, housing) and interventions are designed specifically for the student. TEAC staff refers students to existing campus resources, based on identified needs. When a resource does not exist at the university, TEAC has the capacity to develop or provide new services to meet student needs.   For example, a TEAC writing coach provides students, especially ELL's, with personalized assistance during hours when students are available or when the campus-writing center is not open. Thus students are not left alone to discover the maze of potential supports available to them at the institution.

It is also through specific approaches and practices with students that TEAC serves in an advocacy role on the campus, intentionally avoiding a deficit posture that historically has characterized programs targeting minority populations. Students are intentionally informed about the bureaucratic and political nature of large educational institutions and they are taught negotiation skills as they matriculate through the university (Lucas & Robinson, 2003). TEAC staff members help students become self-advocates who will eventually advocate for their students in future classrooms. Thus, a culture of support, encouragement, community building, and goal attainment exists for those students who utilize the Center and make a commitment to pursue teaching as a career. Within this context, programs and services designed to recruit and retain pre-collegiate, undergraduate, and graduate students of color are established and flourish.

Bold new policies to recruit and retain teachers of color need to be implemented on local, state, and national levels. Locally, universities should invest in both recruitment and retention of candidates of color because students need consistent, long-term support in varying degrees and at different levels through the teacher preparation program.

States should assist school districts in developing strategic plans to diversify the teaching force and improve all staff's ability to be culturally responsive. Finally, the federal government must increase opportunities for talented candidates of color to enter the teaching force through grants and loan forgiveness opportunities and programs.[1] [2]

[1] This piece is excerpted from the article: Robinson, J., A. Paccione, F. Rodriguez (2003). A Place where people care: A case study of recruitment and retention of minority-group teachers. Excellence and Equity in Education, 36, no. 3.

[2] Lucas, T. & Robinson, J.J. (2003). Reaching them early: Identifying and supporting prospective teachers. Journal of Education for Teaching, 29, no.2

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Thanks to Dr. Bristol and Dr. White for "guest-hosting this series, and to AACTE, Emmanuel Little, Ramon Goings, Dr. Barbara Seidl,  Dr. Cindy Gutierrez, and Dr. Jennifer Robinson for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.  Contributions from readers will be included in Part Three.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org.When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Anyone whose question is selected for weekly column can choose one free book from a number of education publishers.

Just a reminder -- you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email or RSS Reader... And,if you missed any of the highlights from the first four years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below.

Classroom Management

Student Motivation

Implementing The Common Core

The Best Ways To Begin & End The School Year

Teaching Social Studies

Project-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning

Using Tech In The Classroom

Parent Engagement In Schools

Teaching English Language Learners

Student Assessment

Teaching Reading & Writing

Education Policy Issues

Differentiating Instruction

Author Interviews

Teaching Math & Science

Professional Development

Teacher & Administrator Leadership

Relationships In Schools

Instructional Strategies

This Year's Most Popular Q & A Posts!

Look for Part Three in a few days.....

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: Today's post examines how universities are helping to recruit more teachers of color. ----- KEYWORDS: ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: Response: Strategies for Recruiting Teachers of Color STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: answers CATEGORY: policy DATE: 09/16/2015 08:21:43 PM ----- BODY:

(This is the first post in a three-part series)

This week's question (and the first question of the school year) is:

How are school districts, universities, alternative teacher preparation programs, and individual leaders, teachers, and community groups responding to the call to increase the racial/ethnic diversity of our country's teaching force?


This question, and the columns providing responses, comprise a special project being guest-hosted by Travis Bristol, PhD (Stanford Center For Opportunity Policy in Education) & Terrenda White, PhD (University of Colorado-Boulder).

Dr. White provided an introduction to this three-part series last week. Both she and Dr. Bristol, as well as Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and many other teachers, discussed some of the reasons of this Teachers of Color 'Disappearance Crisis' and its impact in a series appearing here this past January.

You can also listen to a ten-minute conversation I had with Dr. Bristol on my BAM! Radio Show about this topic and see a list of, and links to, previous shows.

As Dr. White wrote last week:

Part one of this three-part series will feature examples from school districts that have implemented innovative strategies to recruit and retain teachers of color. Part two will feature the work of universities, schools of education, and teacher preparation programs. And part three will spotlight the work of alternative teacher preparation programs and charter schools, as well as community-based efforts on the part of parents. For each part, we hope that readers will share their thoughts and knowledge about innovative efforts to improve teacher diversity in the nation.

Response: Richard Buery, New York City Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives

As Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives in New York City, Richard Buery leads priority interagency efforts, including Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature initiative to offer high-quality pre-kindergarten and the development of community schools, and chairs the NYC Children's Cabinet:

While Black, Latino and Asian male students make up 43% of our entire public school demographic, Black, Latino and Asian male teachers only make up 8.3% of the entire teacher workforce. Increasing the diversity of our teaching force is a significant recruitment priority for the City of New York and one of the initiatives we've designed to provide every young man of color with a role model who can mentor them along their path to higher education.

Through the Department of Education and Mayor Bill de Blasio's Young Men's Initiative, the City is setting out to recruit an additional 1,000 Black, Latino and Asian men by 2018 to enroll in teacher certification programs. The undertaking will provide young people of color with role models reflective of who they are and where they come from, aiming to address the disparities faced by communities of color and working families. Research shows that students benefit from being taught by teachers with similar life experiences, creating a positive learning environment and leaving a profound impact on students' grades and self-worth.

This new approach will offer cohort, professional and leadership workshops and programming beginning in spring 2016 to keep aspiring teachers engaged and interested, as well as to build support systems early. Starting in high school, the City aims to build interest in the teaching profession and create a support system for male students of color to begin the path to become teachers. The Department of Education has already established a strong partnership with the City University of New York to recruit graduates from teacher preparation programs, with 35% of this past year's NYC Teaching Fellows being people of color. But outreach will also target CUNY juniors and seniors on an educational track and community college students that could begin an educational track in senior college, as well as students pursuing degrees in other professional fields.

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Response: Margarita Bianco, Founder & Executive Director of Pathways2Teaching; Professor, University of Colorado, Denver

Dr. Margarita Bianco is a professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Pathways2Teaching:

Like many other teacher preparation programs around the country, faculty at the University of Colorado Denver are involved in various recruitment and retention efforts to increase our diverse teacher candidate pool. One of our efforts has centered on the development of a pre-collegiate Pathways2Teaching program. The program is a collaborative effort between the University of Colorado Denver and several local, urban school districts. Since its inception in 2010, the Pathways2Teaching program has enrolled nearly 300 high school juniors and seniors from 5 high schools in the Denver metro area.

Additionally, in collaboration with faculty from Eastern Oregon University, the Pathways2Teaching program has been replicated there across 3 rural school districts serving predominantly Latino/a and Native American communities. Our potential future teachers look vastly different from the current teacher demographics in Colorado, which is mostly female and 90% White. Nearly 60 % of our current and former students are Latino/a, 35% African American and 42 % male.

The Pathways2Teaching program is designed to encourage high school students of color to explore the teaching profession as a viable career choice by viewing the work of teachers as an act of social justice. In other words, the teaching profession is presented as an opportunity for engaging with, giving back to, and disrupting educational inequities in and for their communities. The curriculum has an explicit focus on preparing students for college through rigorous coursework and experiences that foster students' abilities to analyze, synthesize, and critically evaluate a range of complex issues that exist in poor communities- the very challenges experienced by many of our students. Students become empowered with "emancipatory knowledge" as they conduct their own research, analyze their data, and offer their perspectives on how to influence positive change. Students are constantly reminded that it is precisely because of their experiences and deep understandings of their communities that they are well positioned to become the teachers most needed in our classrooms.

Teacher diversity must be viewed and accepted as central to any discussion on the quality of education for all students. Addressing the current demographic divide between teachers and students requires more than politically correct rhetoric; it requires deliberate action, clear policy, and strong commitment at the federal, state, and district levels - with legislators ready to champion this cause. For example, during the last legislative session in Colorado, State Representative Rhonda Fields, introduced House Bill 15-1349, Grow Your Own Teachers: A Colorado Initiative. The Pathways2Teaching program was named as a model program in the Bill because of our aim to diversity the teacher workforce. Although the Bill did not pass during the last session, Representative Fields has committed to working tirelessly on future legislation with the same goals in mind. It is this kind of strong commitment that is needed at the policy level for meaningful change to occur. Supporting community based "grow your own" diverse teacher programs holds promise for creating tomorrow's teachers.

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Response: Rachelle Rogers-Ard, Manager, Teach Tomorrow in Oakland Unified School District

Dr. Rachelle Rogers-Ard is an educator and administrator with over 24 years of experience modeling Culturally Responsive Instruction and leadership development. Her work around recruiting, retaining and growing diverse educators is a main focus; Rachelle also demonstrates expertise in providing training around Project-Based/Linked Learning curricula aligned to common core standards:

Teach Tomorrow in Oakland (TTO) is a federally -funded initiative housed with the Oakland Unified School District designed to recruit and retain local, permanent teachers. We never asked "where are all the teachers of color" because we knew that teachers are made and not simply recruited. In other words, we don't wait for colleges to graduate teachers; we work in partnership with community organizations, undergraduate unions, churches, and other groups that are already working with people of color towards developing a pipeline of community candidates.

Understanding that barriers to teaching for people of color is the hardest obstacle to face, we take great pains to remove as many of those as possible: providing reimbursements for teacher test fees, credential fees, fingerprinting fees, etc., and providing tutoring for teacher tests (e.g. CBEST and CSET) at no charge. We do not require that all teachers attend one specific credential program, but we strongly recommend that teacher candidates attend partner universities as a cohort for stronger support. Once teachers are placed in the classroom, we also provide materials and supplies, help to decorate teachers' classrooms, and offer monthly professional development sessions led by TTO Teacher-Leaders using a critical race theoretical lens.

Now, after doing this work for six years and placing more than 150 local teachers who reflect the diversity of Oakland's students, we know that it is not enough to simply recruit teachers of color; we must create systems that help those teachers combat the cultural isolation that is caused when they desegregate school sites. Often teachers of color are the "one" or the "only" on campus, and find that they are called upon to "handle" children of color when white teachers cannot. These teachers are often asked to serve on numerous committees to meet the diversity quotient, but are rarely regarded as curriculum specialists; instead, they are known for the way in which they "manage" their classrooms. To battle this phenomenon, we create support affinity groups so teachers do not experience these challenges alone. For example, we created a "Men in the Classroom" series, led by a male educator, so men could discuss challenges associated with working in a female-dominated field.

Effective teachers are constantly grappling with the notion of what comes after them; placing teachers at sites where there are other teachers of color with a social justice framework can produce school-wide reform. To that end, TTO works with principals and hiring managers to place TTO teachers at sites where other TTO teachers have been effective. One school in East Oakland has 7 TTO teachers; they have turned around the culture of the school by supporting each other and new teachers, sharing curriculum and creating stronger ties with parents. However, the greatest success is that TTO teachers know that students are in good hands when they move to another classroom.

Currently, TTO has a 78% retention rate, and more than half of our teachers are on track to complete their five-year commitment to teaching in Oakland. There has been attrition due to the types of causes inherent with teaching in the urban environment, but for those who remain, Teach Tomorrow in Oakland provides a sense of family and belonging that allows them to remain in the classroom.

If we are to stem the tide of the educational genocide that plagues our country, we must begin with schools. It is imperative for all children - not just children of color - to value and see instructors of all races as holders of knowledge so the next generation can break down the racial barriers on which our country was founded. Developing pipelines for local folks of color to become teachers is one answer.

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Response: Christopher Rogers, School District of Philadelphia

Philadelphia Black Male Educator Meetup is a support group for Black male teachers in Philadelphia public schools at the Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Our members include Brendon Jobs, Sam Reed, Brandon Miller, Shamir Reese, Raymond Roy-Pace, Ismael Jimenez, Yaasiyn Muhammad, Chris Rogers and all who attend our roundtable sessions. The group can also be found on Facebook:

In the Summer of 2014, I embarked on a journey with 11 Black male educators to launch the Philadelphia Black Male Educator Meet-up hosted at The Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. We range from teachers who are within our first couple years of teaching as well as being inclusive of more veteran teachers. We welcome educators of all subjects. Within our ranks currently, we have educators from elementary, middle, and high school subjects (English Language Arts, Af. Am History, etc.) including special education teachers. We are sector-agnostic, embracing educators coming from traditional public, public charter, and independent schools. We take a holistic approach to our practice, understanding that legacies of structural racism, active community asset stripping, and "broken windows" policing of Black and brown communities contributes to a toxic environment that pervades the communities and schools of Philadelphia. Taking these realities into account sets forth our beautiful struggle within and beyond the classroom to transform these conditions with the students and families we serve.

We attempted to create a space for collaborative practitioner inquiry that served as a support/accountability forum as well as a platform to engage in more scholarly community-facing work.  We are excited about the space we inhabit as Black male educators who rarely get to converse with other Black male educators about our practice. From one of our support forums around the Ferguson Uprising, we wrote a collective statement to voice our everyday struggles. At another meeting, we discussed the necessity of being trauma-informed in our approach, always considering what happened before reacting to what we may see as wrong. Upcoming, we are working on a publication to highlight Black male educators and their motivations for continuing to teach. This was birthed out of a podcast project we published in PennGSE's Urban Education Journal to highlight our own responses to why we continue to teach. We are accepting submissions through October. Please read more here.

In terms of recruiting diverse educators to the classroom, we have found ourselves taking a different approach than we have found within our workplaces. We believe it to be unethical to engage in recruiting of "diverse" educators without the institutional acknowledgement of the full gamut of administrative and structural adjustments that we all observe must take place. For the most part, the approach of bringing Black male educators has been one of evading the necessity of cultural competency training and curriculum overhaul for ALL educators for the sake of visible diversity in the faculty. Through our circle, we create room for the tough conversations that we must engage in order to be able to serve our students as well as ourselves navigate through an educational system that we know to be unfinished and inadequate. We see this peer-to-peer intergenerational mentoring as both healing and growing, allowing us the space and courage to recognize our failures so that we might plan for better.

We believe the most important task that we may offer up to our students and fellow educators is to take up the advice of Dr. Mindy T. Fullilove to "see what's in front of us by listening carefully." We don't believe there are shortcuts to transformational change in education that doesn't reflect how we walk and dream in the world beyond the classroom walls. We must all take steps to unlearn oppressive, dehumanizing beliefs and behaviors to relearn and rebuild cultural communities of respect, humility, and reciprocity. By convening more spaces to engage, reflect, and question what we may find, we want to change the narrative from one that emphasizes solely professional development as educators to one of the sincere role we must play as cultural workers within community.

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Thanks to Dr. Bristol and Dr. White for "guest-hosting this series, and to Richard Buery, Dr. Margarita Bianco, Dr. Rachelle Rogers-Ard and Christopher Rogers for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.  Contributions from readers will be included in Part Three.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org.When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Anyone whose question is selected for weekly column can choose one free book from a number of education publishers.

Just a reminder -- you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email or RSS Reader... And,if you missed any of the highlights from the first four years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below.

Classroom Management

Student Motivation

Implementing The Common Core

The Best Ways To Begin & End The School Year

Teaching Social Studies

Project-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning

Using Tech In The Classroom

Parent Engagement In Schools

Teaching English Language Learners

Student Assessment

Teaching Reading & Writing

Education Policy Issues

Differentiating Instruction

Author Interviews

Teaching Math & Science

Professional Development

Teacher & Administrator Leadership

Relationships In Schools

Instructional Strategies

This Year's Most Popular Q & A Posts!

Look for Part Two in a few days.....

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: In Part One of a three-post series, Richard Buery, Dr. Margarita Bianco, Dr. Rachelle Rogers-Ard and Christopher Rogers share stories from school districts that have implemented innovative strategies to recruit and retain teachers of color ----- KEYWORDS: Teachers of Color, education, teacher retention ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: What Can Districts Do to Recruit More Teachers of Color? STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: questions CATEGORY: policy CATEGORY: questions DATE: 09/09/2015 08:54:16 PM ----- BODY:

This week's question (and the first question of the school year) is:

How are school districts responding to the call to increase the racial/ethnic diversity of our country's teaching force?

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This question, and the columns providing responses, comprise a special project being guest-hosted by Travis Bristol, PhD (Stanford Center For Opportunity Policy in Education) & Terrenda White, PhD (University of Colorado-Boulder).

Here's an introduction from Dr. White:

As the nation's children return to school for a new academic year, several organizations have taken important steps to ensure that the teachers who greet them are more racially diverse than in years past. Their work comes at a pivotal moment, due to the nation's teacher shortage, which has gained recent attention in prominent media from NY Times, NPR, and popular education blogs such as Cloaking Inequity.  Current efforts to supply schools with an adequate number of qualified teachers, however, should not be divorced from efforts to diversify the teaching force or strengthen the retention of teachers already in the classroom. In a previous series on this blog, researchers described the value of a racially and ethnically diverse teaching force as a dimension of school quality and an important mechanism for improving learning and engagement for all students.  So in light of what we know from research, and the national shortage of teachers in schools, this week's blog turns to those who have taken active steps to supply our nation's schools with a highly qualified and racially diverse cadre of teachers.

Part one of this three-part series will feature examples from school districts that have implemented innovative strategies to recruit and retain teachers of color. Part two will feature the work of universities, schools of education, and teacher preparation programs. And part three will spotlight the work of alternative teacher preparation programs and charter schools, as well as community-based efforts on the part of parents. For each part, we hope that readers will share their thoughts and knowledge about innovative efforts to improve teacher diversity in the nation.

Please share your thoughts in the comments or, if you prefer, feel free to email them to Larry. 

And,if you missed any of the highlights from the first four years of this blog, you can find a categorized list of posts here, along with an "all-time" list of the ones that have been most popular.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog -- along with new material -- in an ebook form.  It's titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Last, but not least, Larry records a weekly eight-minute BAM! Radio podcast with educators who provide guest responses to questions.  You can listen and/or download them here.

 

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: This week's question (and the first question of the school year) is: How are school districts responding to the call to increase the racial/ethnic diversity of our country's teaching force? ----- KEYWORDS: ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: Links To All Q & A Posts From The Past Four Years - In One Place! STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: compilations CATEGORY: compilations DATE: 09/05/2015 10:56:47 PM ----- BODY:

I'm beginning the fifth "season" of questions and answers in a few days.

Here are links - categorized and with descriptions - of all the posts appearing here for the past four years!

Classroom Management

Student Motivation

Implementing The Common Core

The Best Ways To Begin & End The School Year

Teaching Social Studies

Project-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning

Using Tech In The Classroom

Parent Engagement In Schools

Teaching English Language Learners

Student Assessment

Teaching Reading & Writing

Education Policy Issues

Differentiating Instruction

Author Interviews

Teaching Math & Science

Professional Development

Teacher & Administrator Leadership

Relationships In Schools

Instructional Strategies

This Year's Most Popular Q & A Posts!

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: Here are links to all Q & A posts from the past four years - categorized and with descriptions! ----- KEYWORDS: ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: Q & A Collections: Instructional Strategies STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: compilations CATEGORY: compilations DATE: 09/05/2015 08:00:41 PM ----- BODY:

I'll begin posting new questions and answers in next week, and during the summer  shared thematic posts bringing together responses on similar topics from the past four years.

Today's theme - the nineteenth (and last) one in this summer series - is on Instructional Strategies.  Though I've obviously published a number of new posts over the past year related to Instructional Strategies, I've previously added them to more "specialized" lists.  So you won't find any new ones from this year in this compilation.

Previous updated thematic collections are:

Classroom Management

Student Motivation

Implementing The Common Core

The Best Ways To Begin & End The School Year

Teaching Social Studies

Project-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning

Using Tech In The Classroom

Parent Engagement In Schools

Teaching English Language Learners

Student Assessment

Teaching Reading & Writing

Education Policy Issues

Differentiating Instruction

Author Interviews

Teaching Math & Science

Professional Development

Teacher & Administrator Leadership

Relationships In Schools

You can see the list of Instructional Strategies posts following this excerpt from one of them:

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From 2013/14

'Differentiation Is More Than A Set Of Strategies'

This post features a response from Kimberly Kappler Hewitt and a number of suggestions from readers.

Differentiating Lessons by 'Content, Process, or Product'

Carol Tomlinson, Donalyn Miller and Jeff Charbonneau contribute responses.

'Best Practices' Are Practices That Work Best for Your Students

This post features contributions from Roxanna Elden, Barnett Berry and Pedro Noguera, along with comments from readers.

Great Teachers Focus on Connections & Relationships

Eric Jensen, Jason Flom, and PJ Caposey share their ideas.

'Start By Matching Student Interests, Then Build From There'

Diana Laufenberg, Jeff Charbonneau, Ted Appel and special guest John Hattie share their thoughts.

The Maker Movement Can Give Students 'A Story To Tell'

Tanya Baker from The National Writing Project discusses implications The Maker Movement has for different content areas, National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau elaborates further on its connect to STEM, and Leslie Texas and Tammy Jones make a connection to Project-Based Learning.

The Maker Movement Believes In 'Kid Power'

Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager graciously adapted a portion of their book, Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Education in the Classroom, into a piece for this blog.

The Best Advice On Doing Project-Based Learning

This post is a Part Two to last year's popular one by Suzie Boss (and readers!) on Do's and Don'ts for Better Project-Based Learning. Suzie agreed to share additional ideas this year, as did many readers.

'Help Students Be Organized By Being Organized Yourself'

Debbie Diller and Leslie Blauman share their thoughts, as do readers.

Practical Ideas To Help Students & Teachers Stay Organized

Three educators -- Julia Thompson, Ariel Sacks and Gini Cunningham -- contribute their responses.

The Role Of Arts Education In Schools

This post features guest responses from three educators -- Virginia McEnerney, David Booth and Heather Wolpert-Gawron.

 

From 2012/13

1. Using -- Not Misusing -- Ability Groups In The Classroom

This is a special guest post from author/educator Rick Wormeli.

2. Ability Grouping In Schools -- Part Two

In this post, Carol Burris, New York's 2013 High School Principal Of The Year, and Tammy Heflebower, Vice-President of the Marzano Research Laboratory contribute their thoughts, along with comments from readers.

3. Best Homework Practices

Educator/authors Dr. Cathy Vatterott and Bryan Harris contribute their thoughts here.

4. Do's and Don'ts for Better Project-Based Learning

Few people know more about Project-Based Learning than Suzie Boss, and she graciously agreed to respond to this "question of the week."

5. Assisting Students With Special Needs

Three experienced educators -- Michael Thornton, Gloria Lodato Wilson, and Ira David Socol -- offer their thoughts on the topic.

From 2011/12

1. Several Ways We Can Help Students Develop Their Creativity

This post features guest contributions from Jonah Lehrer, former staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, and from Ashley Merryman co-author of NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children.

2. Several Ways To Help Students Become Better Listeners

Middle School teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron, author of 'Tween Crayons and Curfews :Tips for Middle School Teachers and I share our ideas...

3. Several Ways To Teach Critical Thinking Skills

Three guests share their recommendations: Ron Ritchhart, author and researcher for Harvard's Project Zero; educator Todd Stanley, co-author of Critical Thinking and Formative Assessments: Increasing the Rigor in Your Classroom; and Robert Swartz, Director of The National Center for Teaching Thinking.

4. Several Ways To Differentiate Instruction

I was lucky enough to get both Carol Tomlinson and Rick Wormeli to contribute their ideas here!

5. Thoughts On The Meaning Of "Rigor"

Barbara R. Blackburn, author of Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word; Cris Tovani, author of So...What do They Really Know?; and "Senior Provocateur" Ira Socol provide diverse guest responses, and I throw-in an intriguing chart.

6. More Ways To Differentiate Instruction -- Part Two

This post features contributions from Megan Allen, Florida's 2010 State Teacher of the Year and Dr. Kimberly Kappler Hewitt & Daniel K. Weckstein, co-authors of Differentiation is an Expectation: A School Leader's Guide to Building a Culture of Differentiation.

7. Several Ways To Apply Social-Emotional Learning Strategies In The Classroom

Two guests with a great deal of experience with Social Emotional Learning write responses -- Maurice J. Elias, director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab and Tom Roderick, the executive director of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.


I hope you've found this summary useful and, again, keep those questions coming!

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: All my posts on Instructional Strategies from the past four years - in one place! ----- KEYWORDS: ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: Q & A Collections: Relationships In Schools STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: compilations CATEGORY: compilations DATE: 09/02/2015 08:45:19 AM ----- BODY:

I'll begin posting new questions and answers in mid-September, and during the summer will be sharing thematic posts bringing together responses on similar topics from the past four years. You can see all those collections from the first three years here.

Today's theme - the eighteenth one in this summer series - is on Relationships.

Previous updated thematic collections are:

Classroom Management

Student Motivation

Implementing The Common Core

The Best Ways To Begin & End The School Year

Teaching Social Studies

Project-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning

Using Tech In The Classroom

Parent Engagement In Schools

Teaching English Language Learners

Student Assessment

Teaching Reading & Writing

Education Policy Issues

Differentiating Instruction

Author Interviews

Teaching Math & Science

Professional Development

Teacher & Administrator Leadership

You can see the list of Relationships posts following this excerpt from one of them:

Great-teachers-focus-not111.jpg

From 2014/15

'Care Is The Catalyst For Learning'

Sean McComb, P.J. Caposey, Cindi Rigsbee, A. William Place, Jennifer Fredricks and several readers share their thoughts on the role of "care" in the age of standards.

'There's Nothing More Innovative Than Care'

Educators Andre Perry, Sara Ahmed, Kristine Mraz, Sean Slade, and Mai Xi Lee provide responses to the question: "How does caring relate to our current focus on standards in education?"

 

From 2013/14

Many Ways To Help Our Students Grieve

Several exceptional educators have contributed to this column, including Mary Tedrow, Stephen Lazar, Larry Swartz, Dr. Sherrel Bergmann and Dr. Judith Brough. In addition, I've included responses from readers.

Great Teachers Focus on Connections & Relationships

Eric Jensen, Jason Flom, and PJ Caposey provide guest responses.

A Teacher-Counselor Partnership Is 'Essential' For Student Success

This post post includes responses from Julie Hartline, the 2009 National Counselor Of The Year; and educator/authors Trish Hatch, Dr. Sherrel Bergmann and Dr. Judith Brough. In addition, I've included comments from readers.

Ways To Develop A Teacher - School Counselor Partnership

This column features suggestions from three exceptional educators on how to solidify the teacher/counselor partnership: Dean Vogel, counselor, teacher and President of the California Teachers Association (I am a proud member of CTA); Leticia Gallardo, who works at the school where I teach and who is the most amazing counselor I've ever seen; and Mindy Willard, the 2013 National Counselor Of The Year.

From 2011/12

Several Ways Teachers Can Create a Supportive Environment for Each Other

Author/educators Bill Ferriter and Parry Graham provide guest responses to this tricky question.

Can Teachers Be Friends With Students Using Social Media?

Educators Bud Hunt and Ernie Rambo take on an issue that always seems to be in the news.

Part Two -- Can Teachers Be Friends With Students?

Jose Vilson and I give our observations on the topic.

Can Teachers Be Friends With Students? -- Part One

Well known author-educator Rick Wormeli contributes his thoughts.

I hope you've found this summary useful and, again, keep those questions coming!

----- EXTENDED BODY: ----- EXCERPT: All my posts from the past four years on relationships in schools - in one place! ----- KEYWORDS: ----- -------- AUTHOR: lferlazzo TITLE: Q & A Collections: Teacher & Administrator Leadership STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CONVERT BREAKS: richtext ALLOW PINGS: 1 PRIMARY CATEGORY: compilations CATEGORY: compilations DATE: 09/01/2015 10:03:16 AM ----- BODY:

I'll begin posting new questions and answers in mid-September, and during the summer will be sharing thematic posts bringing together responses on similar topics from the past four years. You can see all those collections from the first three years here.

Today's theme - the seventeenth one in this summer series - is on Teacher & Administrator Leadership.

Previous updated thematic collections are:

Classroom Management

Student Motivation

Implementing The Common Core

The Best Ways To Begin & End The School Year

Teaching Social Studies

Project-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning

Using Tech In The Classroom

Parent Engagement In Schools

Teaching English Language Learners

Student Assessment

Teaching Reading & Writing

Education Policy Issues

Differentiating Instruction

Author Interviews

Teaching Math & Science

Professional Development

You can see the list of Teacher & Administrator Leadership posts following this excerpt from one of them:

Given-a-way-to-pilot-new111.jpg

 

From 2014/15

Avoiding 'Trust Busters' When Making Change in Schools

Today's contributors on the topic of making change in schools include Catherine Beck, Paul D'Elia, Michael Lamond, Julie Combs, Stacey Edmonson, Sandra Harris, PJ Caposey and Kirke H. Olson. In addition, you can see quite a few comments from readers.

Change In Schools 'Is A Process, Not An Event'

Educators Sally Zepeda, Bill Sterrett, Pete Hall, and Opal Davis Dawson share their thoughts on how teachers can encourage - and "embrace" - change.

From 2013/14

School Leaders Must Focus On 'Authentic Learning,' Not 'Test Prep'

Justin Baeder and Kelly Young (who I consider my mentor in education) contribute their answers here. I include comments from readers, too.

Administrators Must Make 'Alliances With Students, Teachers & Parents'

This post shares guest responses from three educators -- Anne Reeves, Justin Tarte, and PJ Caposey.

Education Innovation Is Like A 'Stradivarius Violin'

This column shares responses from Maurice J. Elias and Elise Foster, plus comments from readers.

'Educators Are Suffering From Innovation Fatigue'

This post includes commentaries by Scott McLeod, Sally Zepeda, and Tony Frontier.

Teachers Must Help Determine New Ideas Being Implemented

I share my thoughts here, as do Renee Moore and Kelly Young.

Advice For Aspiring Principals: "Shadow, Connect & Dream"

Scott McLeod, Kelly Young, John Gabriel and Paul Farmer all offer their advice here.

So, You Want To Be A Principal?

Justin Baeder, Allan R. Bonilla and Josh Stumpenhorst share their reflections.

Advice for Educators Wanting to be Principals -- Part One

Lyn Hilt, Joe Mazza, and Cheryl James-Ward contribute to this post.

'Teacherpreneurs Can Lead Reforms': An Interview With Barnett Berry

I interview Barnett Berry about the book Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead but Don't Leave (Jossey-Bass 2013) authored by Barnett and Center For Teaching Quality  colleagues Ann Byrd and Alan Wieder.  In it, they document the leadership journeys of eight classroom educators (several who are regular contributors to this blog) who are spreading their expertise beyond their schools, districts, and states -- and even nationally and internationally.


From 2012/13

We Need "Fewer John Waynes & More John Deweys"

This is Part One in a series responding to the question: "How can teachers best relate to Superintendents -- and vice versa?"

This post provides responses from a teacher's perspective, with contributions from Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers; Dean Vogel, President of the California Teachers Association ; and Barnett Berry of the Center For Teaching Quality.

Teachers & Superintendents Must "Work To Understand Each Other"

This is Part Two, and provides responses from a Superintendent's perspective, with contributions from three Superintendents (along with comments from readers): Joshua Starr, Pamela Moran, and John Kuhn.


I hope you've found this summary useful and, again, keep those questions coming!

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