ISA’s April Newsletter

By Abner Oakes

ISA's Director of Outreach


Equity in the Era of Covid-19: Resources to Accelerate Learning

(ISA’s Dynell Kellyman helps her sons with school work while they’re home.)

We here at ISA hope that you are staying safe and healthy, and over the last several weeks we have added new information to our Covid-19 resource page and have divided it into two sections, to make navigation easier:

We will continue to build on what is at these two sections and so please be sure to check back from time to time. Also please send us resources that you are accessing and find useful; we will be sure to add them to our bank.

Once again: Be safe and healthy, Team ISA. Wash your hands. Practice smart physical distancing. Check on your elderly neighbors. Be patient and smile. We got this!

New Blog Post on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. (We Call It SEAD!)

The author of this new blog post is Dr. Jacqueline Ancess, co-director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST) at Teachers College, Columbia University. NCREST is an ISA partner, and in the blog post, Jackie discusses ISA’s four-year-old program to integrate students’ social and emotional development into the academic core in secondary schools and the research behind this work.

Want to learn more about SEAD in action?

(The above photograph is courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.)

Meet ISA Coach Paula Fleshman

(Here’s our third article about an ISA coach, this time Paula Fleshman. Paula brings over 20 years combined experience in instruction, supervision, and education/youth development research and evaluation. Since earning her Ph.D. at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, Paula has taught elementary and secondary mathematics curriculum and methods courses for general and special education pre- and in-service teachers at Hunter College and Brooklyn College. Through Hunter, she’s also supervised pre-service elementary and secondary teachers in mathematics at various public schools throughout New York City.)

What teacher of yours do you feel most impacted your coaching approach? Why?

My mother most impacted my coaching approach. Her ways of teaching, guiding, encouraging, and supporting me, listening to and talking to me, and trying to get at the heart of issues that concerned me are what I draw from when working with teachers. Just as my three siblings and I had different talents, skills, interests, quirks, and personalities, so do my teachers. I think about how my mother would approach me and my siblings each in ways that she knew would work. I always keep her in mind as I work with teachers and try to see what works with their different talents, skills, interests, quirks, and personalities!

What do you enjoy most about your coaching work?

Quite simply, I love learning and helping people to learn. Each of my degrees and careers has allowed me to do what I love, including coaching. I enjoy seeing and feeling the energy of teachers breaking through whatever barriers have kept them from teaching and engaging students in more effective ways, moving towards the teachers they envision themselves being. I enjoy helping school leaders think through and develop their vision for mathematics in their schools. I enjoy seeing students enact new ways of learning, doing, and reflecting in math and, most importantly, enjoying those new ways and wanting to do them more often! Mostly I enjoy knowing that I make a difference.

What was your most memorable moment with a student or students when you were teaching?

My most memorable moment with a student was when I taught GED math at LaGuardia Community College. From different walks of life and with different reasons to be in the program, my students ranged in age from 16 to 70+ years old. One of my students was a black Haitian grandmother with one daughter and three grandchildren only a few years apart in age in elementary and middle school. One evening I was reviewing my students’ algebra homework at the chalkboard. They had to solve for x in simple one- and two-step equations. After I finished, the grandmother, in tears, asked me, “Ms. Fleshman, that’s it? That’s all there is to it?” I said, “Yes, that’s it.” I asked her why she was crying, and she replied, “I could never get it in school. All my math teachers were white, and they made me feel stupid for asking questions. So I stopped. I couldn’t do it anymore. I ended up dropping out of school in 9th grade.”  I waited a moment and said, “And now you’re here, asking all the questions you need to and learning math well for your grandchildren. I know they are so proud of you!”

Although that moment happened decades ago, it will forever stay with me for the simple fact that countless lives of black and brown learners – young and old – continue to be negatively altered because teachers shame them for being human.

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Haagen-Dazs Butter Pecan! No other brand’s butter pecan can touch Haagen-Dazs.

Does Your School or District Need Help Making the Most of Google Classroom?

Is your school or district using Google Classroom to provide online instruction? Do you feel your teachers and administrators might need a helping hand to do more with the power of online tools? ISA’s senior director Keith Look is a Level 2 Google Certified Educator, and as a superintendent, he used the Google Suite for Education, Google Team Drive, and Google Classroom to support, communicate, facilitate, organize, and monitor departments and schools. All educator professional development was facilitated through Google Classroom as well.

Keith notes that while “not every school or district will use the Google Suite of tools, the planning involved and skills developed are transferable across most software packages and platforms. Even in my district we pulled from a number of tools beyond Google to develop a comprehensive set of supports for students, parents, and educators.” Please reach out to Keith for information on how he can assist you and your team with its online strategy, be it Google-based or any other collection of online tools.