Making Social/Emotional Education a Priority

The first year I taught kindergarten—my first year out of college—I had two classroom parents die.  Another child would barricade himself in the bathroom and refuse to leave when his parents arrived.  And I tried to restrain a five year old girl with a seated bear hug from behind only to have her drag me across the carpeted floor when she found out her father was being released from jail.  I started questioning my career choice.  Not because it was hard—it’s supposed to be hard.  I knew the hours they spent at school were the one constant in their lives. But what about the 22 year old who was standing in front of them?  Was I enough?  Could I be enough?

While the child who lost his mother chanted my name calling me an asshole from the office, I knew I couldn’t give up.  I didn’t have any answers. Heck, I didn’t even have a clue where to start.  All I knew was this:  these kids needed someone in their corner.  They needed someone to show up day after day and love them no matter what.

My own childhood was challenging.  Much like the kids I would teach years later, I was carrying secrets.  Big, emotional secrets.  Secrets and feelings that I couldn’t understand or share as an adult.  How could I expect the children in front of me put words to what was happening in their lives.

I wish I could say I changed things that day.  I wish I could say I made things better for the kids in my class.  I know I tried.  But I didn’t have the experience, the education, or the tools my first year.  Not the second year or the third year either.  Let’s be honest.  It’s been 20 years and I’m still finding my way.

The educational powers that be have felt it necessary to push curriculum standards on our youngest learners.  I have a notebook of standards my littles are expected to learn.  None of them have to do with the social/emotional learning they need most.

If we are going to make school a safe place for our students, we have to start with making it a place where they and talk and explore freely.  Children don’t come to school knowing how to do this.  These skills have to be taught.  These skills have to be modeled.  Time has to be given to our students to practice these skills.

Social/emotional understanding and education has always been important to me, but it became the focus of my classroom two years ago.  There has been a tremendous difference in my kids.  Below are some of the changes I made in my classroom.

–Classroom Meetings Daily.  Classroom meetings have been a part of our school-wide anti-bullying program for years.  The requirement was once a week.  My class has a meeting daily.  It’s a chance for us to check in on the day.  Was there something I missed?  We also role play situations they may encounter, learning to put words with what we are feeling and what we can do to control feelings, yell and tell, putting a lid on feelings while we get help,–the list goes on and on.

–Worry Jar.  I tell my kids it is my job to worry, their job to be kids.  If they have a worry, let’s work it out together.  I introduce the worry jar early.  We each add our fingerprints to the jar as does the principal.  The worry jar stays on the shelf with a stack of post-it notes.  If a kiddo has a worry, they put their name in the jar and I meet with them privately.  There are a lot of “my dog is home alone” kind of worries to test the jar, but I take them all seriously.  The goal is for them to feel like someone is there to listen.

–Good Bye Morning Meeting/Calendar Time.  I am not a morning person.  It takes a lot for me to get to school and be ready.  How can I expect all my little learners to be ready just because the schedule says they should be?  The kids come in, put their things away, and go do their own thing for 15 minutes.  Some chose to play with toys.  Some color or look at a book.  Some chat with a friend.  And some sit by their cubbies trying to wake up.  In that time, I get to greet them all individually, look in their eyes, and observe them for behavior that may be out of the ordinary for each individual child.  It is also another opportunity for the kids to tell me all the things important to them.

–Cubby Décor.  Most of my littles spend the majority of their waking hours at school.  At back to school open house or the first day of school, I give my kids a picture frame.  Their “homework” is to take it home and put a photo or a picture they draw in it.  That is how we identify their cubby for the rest of the year.  I get pictures of families, pets, favorite things, etc.  They are also allowed to bring a small stuffed animal to keep at school.  Having a little bit of home means a lot to the kids.  It is also another tool I can use to monitor the kids’ emotions.  If they are spending more time at their cubbies looking at their family photo or cuddling their stuffy, I know I need to check in with them.

–Open Door Time.  We team teach kindergarten at my school. The two kindergarten classrooms have a connecting door.  Each day for 15-20 minutes, we have open door time.  The kids get to choose which room they want to be in and what activities they want to explore.  So much of school is what we as teachers plan.  Open door time is the kids’ time to explore, experiment, and let us know what their interests are.

–“I Love You and Think You Are Wonderful!”  One day, completely out of the blue, I told my kids I had a very important announcement.  They stopped what they were doing.  The words “I love you and think you are wonderful!” came out of my mouth.  From that day forward, I have made sure I have said it every day.  It’s become my tagline.  The kids act like they are embarrassed or annoyed.  They tell me they already know that or that I say it every day.  But every single face has a smile on it at that moment.  I also say these words to them individuals when they need to hear it the most.  After they have gotten in trouble, if they are having a rough day, or just missing mom.

–End of the Day Meeting.  At the end of the day, we all come together as a kindergarten community.  I check in with them about their days.  This is another opportunity for the kids to tell me about concerns or problems I may have missed.  We look for solutions as a group.  Then we talk about the best parts of our day and write it on the calendar.  Some days, this meeting goes quickly.  Some days it takes time.  Either way, the kids have come to depend on this part of the day.

–End of the Day Homework.  It’s a very simple reminder to all of us (including me) that kindness matters.  Their homework is to “Smile a lot.  Laugh a lot.  Give lots of hugs. And share your joy with the world.”  While this simple phrase is one that I blurted out over five year ago when a little boy was begging me for homework, it is one that has stuck.

These ideas are nothing new.  They are simple things teachers have been doing for years.  But for me, putting them altogether has caused me to slow down and focus on the kids in front of me in ways I wasn’t before.  Academics are still important.  Standards are still being met.  But now we are building a community in my classroom.  One where everyone is accepted, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone gets to learn from those mistakes.  Above everything else, it is a community where everyone is loved.

Tagging Parents for Summer

First, it is super to debut a guest post on TII. This work matters and is changing conversations for education and ambitious teachers.

“Tag Parents, You’re It.”

It is probably already, or otherwise soon approaching, summer for your students. While the hugs and tears and genuine statements of pride and hope are all present at this time of year, we must talk about something that is innocently NOT compassionate: “Tag! Parents, you’re it.” (also seen as “Tag, parents – Your turn.” or, on t-shirts, as “Dear Parents, Tag…You’re it. Love, Teachers.”).

T-shirt

I get it. You’re tired and ready for a margarita by the pool (because that is what teachers do during the summer, right?) but when you use/retweet/say this phrase you perpetuate a normative family, a lack of empathy, the de-professionalization of teaching, and that children are burdens in educator’s lives. Let us take a look closer at each of these messages.

  1. The normative family.

Embedded in the phrase is the loaded assumption that children go home to parents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 69% of children live with two parents, 27% with one (23% are single mothers, the others fathers). That means that about 4% of our students have other household arrangements – grandparents, aunts/uncles, neighbors, foster parents, etc. Note here, also, that this doesn’t even scratch the surface of family diversity in terms of what “both parents” looks like (e.g. adoptive parents, same-sex parents, emerging families) or the actual presence of adults in the household (e.g. working multiple jobs, health, homelessness, vulnerabilities).

  1. Lack of empathy.

Summer is tough for many children and families. About 21% of children live below the federal poverty threshold with 41% of those under 18 considered living in “low income families” (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2018). It is a great privilege if students can attend camps, go on vacation, or, more simply, have an available caretaker at home. At a bare minimum, we have to consider the implications of summer and added stress on parents to provide breakfast and lunch that was being provided by school: the number of children living in food insecure households (due to cost, proximity, and/or other resources) ranges from 8.5% to 20.8% in states across America (Household Food Security in the United States, 2015; Map the Meal Gap, 2016).

  1. The de-professionalization of teaching.

With teacher strikes and BAT groups rising, it is clear that it makes educators mad when others don’t take teaching seriously. It angers many of us when the “Those who can’t, teach.” statements are seen or heard. At the same time, though, there are so many versions of “anybody can teach” that get promoted all the time, like this. Families aren’t always equipped with the knowledge and resources to simply continue “school” throughout the summer. They can’t just be “tagged” for the job. That takes dedication and hard work on the part of educators to partner with families and support them in efforts to continue academic and social development at home. The phrase basically says, “Poof! My job is your job now.” without supplementing it with suggestions to families for active learning, continued practice, and reading and educational opportunities overs summer (although, return to #1 about the assumption about families to determine whether they have the time and resources to do this even when suggested).

  1. Children are burdens.

This one seems fairly self-explanatory, but I will partially flesh it out anyway. Tagging families because you are ready to wash your hands clean from the year suggests that you are tired of your students and ready for them to leave. Aren’t you sad? Aren’t you going to miss them? Does all the joy and learning they brought to you throughout the year get outweighed by your desire to kick them out of your classroom door? And while we’re at it, the phrase also indicates that the 6.5 hours that teachers are spending with children is equivalent to 24 hours a day they spend at home. Remember during the school year, families guard, care for, and exchange with them the other 17 hours and weekends: teachers are not parenting, they are not your children

At this point, I wonder how many have said, “Sheesh, it’s just a joke, of course I love and will miss my group of students and value families.” But, we have to mean it and we have to follow it in every facet of our teaching and in every post and comment we make. Deleting these phrases is akin to banding together to say that calling people “gay” or “retarded” is reprehensible.

So, next time you feel compelled to chuckle at or post “Tag parents, you’re it!” as your students are on their way into June, replace it by checking in with those without available adults, acknowledging the challenges summer presents, providing support for continued learning, and remembering how lucky you have been to share the lives of 17 (or 20, or 25, or 35, or 150) children all year.

Discipline, Suspension, Expulsion, and the School to Prison Pipeline

On to Week 2!  Articles will be posted here, updated throughout the week.  My students are also watching the documentary Resilience this week which is based on the ACES study and the work of Nadine Burke Harris.  You can watch her TED talk here.

The School-to-Prison Pipeline- Disproportionate Impact on Vulnerable Children and Adolescents, 2017

Justifying and Explaining Disproportionalityy 1968—2008- A Critique of Underlying Views of Culture, 2010

Alternate Realities- Racially Disparate Discipline in Classrooms and Schools and its Effects on Black and Brown Students, 2016

An Evidence-Based Approach to Reducing Disproportionality in Special Education and Discipline Referrals

A Decade of Disproportionality

Breaking The School-To-Prison Pipeline for Students with Disabilities

The Gestalt of the School to Prison Pipeline

Race_Is_Not_Neutral_A_National_Investigation_of_Af

Action steps using ACEs and trauma informed care- a resilience model

LRE and Inclusion in Practice

It’s already summer school time and I have a course titled Critical Issues in Special Education.  We’re kicking off with some conversations about LRE and inclusion backed by the literature on the topic.  I’ll share the articles we read here in case you want/need to learn more or brush up on the nuance of LRE.

McGovern, 2015

Kauffman & Badar, 2017

Kirby, 2016

Carson, 2016

Kurth, Morningstar, & Kozleski, 2014

Preventing Double Segregation for Students with Disabilities

Rozalski, Stewart, & Miller, 2010

Rafferty & Griffin, 2005

Primary Pre-Service Teachers’ Attitudes Towards Inclusion Across the Training Years, 2018

Sometimes Separate Is Better, 1994

Instructing Students With High-Incidence Disabilities in the General Education Classroom

Social Acceptance and Paraprofessional Support for Students with Severe Disabilities.pdf

Inclusive education, Beyond Popular Discourse, 2018

Educating Students with Learning Disabilities in Inclusive Classrooms, 2013

Rock The Socks

I posted on Instagram about the trip my daughter, Isley, and I made to Lawrence, Kansas for a play her former kindergarten teacher wrote based on an experience Isley had with bullying in 7th grade.  I want to provide more context to that experience first and then provide some facts and resources related to suicide prevention.  I’m hoping the connection between the two will make sense as we work through it.

I know it’s hard to read but it says “Zoe G is a bitch and she is ugly Doanta F said so with those ugly ass long socks.”  This was found on a bathroom wall in the middle school and Isley and Zoe knew immediately who had written it.  Zoe was hurt, of course, and the girls considered a variety of responses.  Ultimately, though, we decided to wear long socks for the remainder of the school year.

Isley and Zoe bought tall socks and we posted about it with a few hashtags.  Former students of mine shared the story with their students who then joined in the tall socks movement.  One of my former students who is now an extraordinary teacher in Brooklyn sent a box of tall socks for the girls to share with classmates who wanted to participate.

 

We started getting pics of long socks from California, Kansas, Virginia, North Carolina (one of our sock supporters was in MY prek class when she was 4!!), and more.  Zoe felt supported and seen and the message was spreading far beyond our little St. Louis suburb.  We kept the long socks going until the last day of school and eventually even the girl who wrote the message came to school in long socks.  Seriously.

It was an opportunity to create community from hurt and we took it.  However, it did not address the root causes of the hurt nor did we have any luck in motivating the school counseling staff to support the learner who wrote the message to better understand how she was feeling in the school environment.  As we often say, hurt people hurt people.  Bullying is not a natural and inherent part of educational spaces – kids need our support in navigating big and difficult emotions.  Why aren’t we actively and proactively providing those supports?

Fast forward a year and Isley’s amazing kindergarten teacher (middle school theater elective teacher also because of course she is) . . . Ms. Fewins and Isley connected when Isley was in her kindergarten class and they’ve remained close.  The best teachers are like that – teachers for life.  Ms. Fewins wrote a script loosely based on the tall socks experience and her middle schoolers edited and revised it, eventually selecting it for their spring play.  We knew we had to be there for it.

As soon as we got into town, we were greeted with LONG SOCKS!

The cast told a powerful story of the social dynamics and challenges kids are facing and their individual and collective struggles to fit in AND be true to themselves.  We know what adolescence brings.  Rather than saying “middle school is so hard,” how about we actively work on providing kids the space to work through their emotions, strategies for navigating the difficulties, and opportunities to practice mistake making and forgiveness granting?

Ms. Fewins helped us bring the experience into the light again and to reflect on what we learned from it.  Isley and I continue to feel that we didn’t do enough to help the girl who wrote the message – she has gone on to continue hurtful behavior toward Zoe.  Rather than punish “bullies” after the damage is done, we should push in as much social emotional support for kids throughout their educational experience.  We leave many many kids with very limited problem solving skills to continue doing harm to themselves and others.  In fact, in schools we often pile on to those kids who need the most support creating amplified feelings of isolation.  Restorative practices are critical for interrupting this cycle.

The mental health of our learners must be on the forefront.  Rates of suicidality, suicide attempts, and deaths by suicides are all increasing and are present in very young children.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among children and adolescents ages 10-24.  Nearly one of every eight children between the ages 6 and 12 has suicidal thoughts.

That’s multiple people in your class and in mine.  There are no restrictions to who is affected – across genders (girls attempt suicide more than boys but boys die by suicide more than girls), across race, across ethnicity.  We do know that LGBTQ+ kids who do not see themselves in others are at increased risk of suicidality.  Please know and be familiar with the Trevor Project resources if you teach kids!!

We have a moral and ethical obligation to take loving care of all of our kids.

We teach college students and we are so fortunate to have these conversations with students pretty regularly.  I say fortunate because we are fortunate to be a resource and to be trusted and to be able to connect our students with resources.  Unfortunately, far too many faculty are not considering the many and heavy demands on our students.  In fact, far too often, they’re piling on unnecessarily.  We know our courses are not the only or most important thing students are grappling with.  We know our deadlines are, for the most part, arbitrary.  We accept our students are humans with full lives and our responsibility is to partner with them in their learning. (More on that another day)

We will keep talking about this but I wanted to share a compilation of national resources so you have vetted places to go when you need them.

Active Minds

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 

American Association of Suicidology

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Jed Foundation

The Imagine Project

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1.800.273.8255

Trevor Project

You have local resources as well.  If you have a resource you want to share, send it to us and we will add it as well as post it on our social media.  We can provide a space of hope and of care for each and every kid.

The Real World

What is this “real world” you speak of?

Who defines it?

Is it the same “real world” for everyone?

I was recently in conversation with colleagues about class attendance.  Now, full disclosure, I do not have an attendance policy.  I know my class is not the only thing going on in the lives of my students.  I know they have to make choices with how they spend their time and I do not sit in judgment of those choices.  I encourage open communication, I want to know if you aren’t coming (if at all possible) because I’m a worrier and I care about you.  The ‘why’ you aren’t coming isn’t my business.  I do not attach points to attendance or the ever elusive but pervasive concept of “participation.”  If you’re missing a lot of class, I ask if we can talk.  I want you to get the content, the knowledge, the learning, the experiences, and I want to help remove any barriers I possibly can.  I want us to work together and I try to be a trustworthy and empathetic person who can serve as a resource.

So, that’s my approach.

My colleague said a student emailed saying they were going through a traumatic breakup and wouldn’t be in class.  The colleague said nope.  Another colleague said, when you’re a teacher, you can’t just stay home when your heart is broken.  The real world doesn’t stop for your break up.

Why not?

We get personal days and sick leave and we can and should use them in ways that support our overall well-being, right?  We need to learn how to engage in self care and boundary setting and mental health awareness and care.  Teachers are not martyrs or superheroes or angels.  They are humans with the wide range of human emotions and experiences.

I wonder about things like perfect attendance awards (why?) and the “in the real world, you’ll be expected to . . . ” framing that builds and reinforces anxiety and this run yourself into the ground, work 24/7 mentality that is literally killing us.

What if we modeled self care?  What if we respected boundaries?  What if we taught students to ask for what they need?

This week, I had a number of long, stressful days.  So, on Thursday, I cancelled a few things and worked from home, caught up on emails, scheduling, feedback, some writing.  In all day meetings on Friday, I talked with a colleague who had done the same the day before, took a “mental health day.”  We both said “GOOD FOR YOU!” to each other.  Where did we learn this was okay?

We didn’t.  We both expressed guilt and shame and a feeling of embarrassment about it.

In the words of the perfect Jonathan Van Ness, “who gave you permission to be so amazing?”  I’m giving you permission to set boundaries and to teach students to do the same.  And here’s the tricky part – respect the boundaries they and others set.  We must take care of each other.

How have you learned to care for your own mental health and well being?  How do you extend that grace to others?

Resource Roundup

We often are asked for resources on a variety of topics so I am creating a space here to share readings, books, videos, modules, movies, that we use and love. If you have resources, send them our way!

READING

Bradshaw, W. (2013). A framework for providing culturally responsive early intervention services. Young Exceptional Children, 16(1), 3-15. Bradshaw, 2012

Inclusive Classroom Profile

Empowered Educators:  How High-Performing Systems Shape Teacher Quality Around the World, 1st ed.  Darling-Hammond, Burns, Campbell, Goodwin, Hammerness, Low, McIntyre, Sato, & Zeichner  ISBN:  978-1119369608

Troublemakers:  Lessons in Freedom From Young Children At School by Carla Shalaby

VIDEOS

Not sure I love this video but it’s assigned in my course this week so we’ll see what kind of discussions come from it.

PODCASTS

Cult of Pedagogy

INSTAGRAM

@britthawthorne_

@teachandtransform

 

Wading in the Education Policy Pool

When I was a child, my mother would take me to swimming lessons at the local pool. After she dropped me off, I would watch through the changing room window for her to drive away. I would then quickly leave and run home. She would complete some errands and I would be waiting at the kitchen table for her to arrive. Mother persisted in taking me to the lessons and not until several years later did I fully understand her reasoning. She didn’t know how to swim and she wanted her four children to have that skill. I am forever grateful for her persistence.

Now many years later, I have revisited the swimming pool experience as I engage in the work of public education policy as it relates to the field of early childhood special education. As the Policy Team Leader for the Division for Early Childhood, (a subdivision of the Council for Exceptional Children) I entered the work with little to no experience but knowing that I needed to do more to advance policies that benefit young children with disabilities and their families. During my almost twenty-eight-year pubic school career, I advocated for children, families, educators, and therapists yet I rarely engaged in the work of informing policies that affected our daily pursuits of excellence in service. As a practitioner, I didn’t think I was qualified.

Advocating for policies that support the fields of early intervention, early childhood education and early childhood special education has never been more vital. Despite the empirical evidence as noted by the Learning Policy Institute (click for link), those in control of funding sources are hesitant to invest in high quality early learning experiences and access for all children; experiences that not only prepare children for their academic futures but more importantly, prepare them for life.

Whatever your current role in the field of education, be it doctoral student, practitioner, administrator, therapist, family support specialist, or coach, I encourage you to become active and engaged in public education policy. Attending a local school board meeting or education council event will open opportunities for you to enter the policy pool. As a recent transplant to Colorado and the greater Denver area, I am familiarizing myself with local and state organizations that influence public education policy. The Colorado Association of School Executives maintains a listing of “organizations that impact public education policy in Colorado and the nation.” More information can be found by clicking on this link.

“Learning begins at birth, and the preparation for learning begins before birth. The investment we make as a nation in early learning will pay dividends for generations to come.”
Sen. Tom Harkin (D – Iowa)

Unteaching and Unlearning is Intellectual!

Reposted from https://hawkhopesblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/15/unteaching-and-unlearning-is-intellectual/

adult-education-2706977_1280

The “apprenticeship of observation,” introduced by Dan Lortie (1975) provides a lens through which we can consider why preservice teachers (and the general public) may feel they know all they need to know about teaching and learning.  They went to school, kindergarten through 12th grade, at least, and have had numerous teachers across their educational experience.  As a result, they may enter into a teacher preparation program with the belief that they know what teachers do, why teachers do what they do, and how they, as teachers themselves, will do it better.

High quality teacher preparation programs typically prepare candidates through a mix of theory, evidence-based and best practices, and field experiences. Teacher educators and preservice teachers often struggle with the disconnect between the preparation program’s teachings and the practices and strategies preservice teachers experience in their field placements.  This is when we must also tackle “unteaching” of misunderstood or misinformed educational practices and “unlearning” of the things we think we know about what it means to be a teacher.

white board

Unteaching

Unteaching requires us to acknowledge some of the commonly-held beliefs and practices prevalent in schools and classrooms; as well as to challenge those practices that are problematic with evidence and applicable strategies.  For example, in early childhood teacher preparation, we are charged with unteaching shaming and punitive behavior management systems such as clip charts because these systems persist in practice.  Simultaneously, we teach the evidence about social emotional developmentcommunity building, and trauma-informed care, which are all in direct conflict with systems like clip charts.  Both are critical to future teachers’ ability to eschew traditional systems and instead implement best practices in meeting the needs of their learners, teaching the behaviors they want to see, and honoring the individual and unique needs of each child.

neonbrand-426918-unsplash

Unlearning

Unteaching is hard work but unlearning is even more challenging.  The “apprenticeship of observation” is so powerful.  Unlearning is the act of letting go of ideas, beliefs, and practices we believed to be true, effective, and valuable.  When presented with more compelling evidence for an alternative approach, we unlearn the previously held belief and replace it with a new belief.  Years of watching disruptive kids be removed from class, conforming to threats of punitive consequences (e.g., your grade drops one letter grade for late submission), and expecting school success to be measured by compliance with rules, many future teachers struggle to adopt more equitable, intentional strategies focused more on teaching than on punishment.  As I have become more intentional in implementing unteaching pedagogy in my courses and interactions with preservice as well as inservice teachers, I have become increasingly aware of the challenges we face in creating inclusive, accepting, responsive learning environments for learners and teachers.

In an attempt to “bridge the gap” (is this the most overused phrase in education?), I, along with my colleague and friend at James Madison University, Dr. Mira Williams, started a website with an intentional social media presence in an effort to make our own unteaching pedagogy and unlearning practice visible to other teacher educators, teachers, and learners.

Social Media As A Tool

We started by building a Facebook page for sharing blog posts and resources with a growing community of teachers.  However, on advice from a trusted marketing expert/friend, we branched into Instagram.  Do you know that there are thousands of teachers on Instagram who post about their lessons, their resources, their struggles, their wins, their processes, their thinking, and their outfits of the day?  Neither did we.  The hashtag teachersofinstagram has over 3.7 million posts as of today and the Instagram teacher leaders boast upwards of 40,000 followers.  Where are teachers going to share resources, ask for support, get new ideas?  Instagram.

Our site, @teachingisintellectual, attempts to provide bite size best practices to our small but growing community of followers.  We use apps such as Word Swag and PicLab to create visuals in order to communicate an idea or to pique interest for a click over to the blog.  We engage with the growing number of teachers we follow as well in order to contribute to the community and build relationships.  We have learned so much about what teachers want support with, where they look for solutions, and how they challenge each other on matters of unteaching and unlearning simply by following, participating, and listening.

The culture of education dominating teaching Instagram is in many ways different than what those of us who no longer teach in PK-12 environments may believe.  The #teachersofinstagram have taught us innovative classroom practices.  For example, just this weekend, a third-grade teacher we follow on Instagram posted an anchor chart she made with her students about consent.  The post has since gone viral and national news outlets such as CNN and MSNBC ran stories about her post.  Popular education Twitter accounts have tweeted about it with many prominent voices in education boosting its’ reach.  Teachers are using their social media presence to get the word out about their work.  They are telling their own stories.  We are simply listening. We then use our resources as partners to respond in ways that are useful and supportive of the unteaching and unlearning of flawed practices with a focus on replacing them with better strategies.

We aim to grow our reach in order to use our platform to inform our research but also to provide a hungry, deeply committed community of educators with the resources they are seeking to unlearn ineffective practices.  Additionally, providing preservice teachers access to teacher leaders on social media who are making their innovative, creative work visible, shows what is possible.  The #teachersofinstagram are modeling best practices in real time with real students in real classrooms.  We believe partnering with these teachers and learning from them could be a critical 21st century step in bridging the much-talked-about research to practice gap.