Webinar on March 3: Curating a Literacy Life: Student-Centered Learning at Glenville High School

This webinar on March 3 celebrates the publication of a new book by Dr. William (Bill) Kist with help from Glenville teachers, Shannon Davis and Ga-Vita Haynes. Curating a Literacy Life: Student-Centered Learning with Digital Media comes out of the work that Bill, an ISA coach and professor emeritus at Kent State University, did in the vibrant, student-centered classrooms of Shannon and Ga-Vita.

Bill’s book and this webinar will spotlight the idea of curation as a process for inspiring student-centered learning with digital media. Young people need to learn to become purposeful collectors and, thus, curators of their own learning, and Bill helped Shannon and Ga-Vita empower their students to make sense of all the books, videos, websites, and social media that they access. The webinar will share a model for learning to learn–a way of processing, making meaning, and repurposing the texts that surround everyone. Curating can happen no matter where the teaching and learning are taking place, whether virtually or face-to-face, in school or out of school. Using smartphones, a Netflix account, and access to a variety of young adult, canonical, and media texts, the act of curation provides a foundation for becoming lifelong scholars and artists.

Participants will be

  • Jacqueline Bell, co-principal, Glenville High School, Cleveland, OH
  • Shannon Davis, English teacher, Glenville High School
  • Dr. Betty Greene-Bryant, senior director of programs, ISA, New York, NY
  • Ga-Vita Haynes, intervention specialist, The School of One, Cleveland, OH
  • Dr. William Kist, ISA coach and professor emeritus, Kent State University, Kent, OH

Join us at 3:30 pm ET on March 3. (Registration is obviously closed.)

Coach’s Corner: Q and A with ISA Coach Valeria Gamarra

Val joined ISA as a coach in 2021, with a special focus on ISA’s social, emotional, and academic development (SEAD) work. She began her career as a social studies teacher in Miami, FL and then moved to New York City where she coached teachers in Washington Heights, Crown Heights, and Philadelphia. She has a deep passion for reimagining social studies education, particularly in middle school. Aside from coaching teachers in Missouri and Philadelphia for ISA, Val works with education companies across the country, writing curriculum that helps students and teachers develop proliberation mindsets through engaging and relevant content.

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

When I was in high school, I had the same teacher in 11th and 12th grade. He went by JB, was my U.S. history teacher and then my government teacher, and was just dynamic. He was definitely one of those social studies teachers that led with personality, just using his excitement for the content as a tool to rope us all in. While I’d always done well in school, JB really took the time to see that. He was the only teacher I can remember who called home to let my mom know how great I was doing in his class, which made me feel seen. I spent my entire early career in the classroom imitating his excitement for history, and it really worked. JB taught me that you can create a strong culture, foster great relationships, and teach complex events through the power of “geeking out.” In my current work as a coach, I spend a lot of time encouraging teachers to bring content into the classroom that they are passionate about and encouraging them to develop their teacher voice through that passion. To me, being able to talk about what you love or care about, authentically, is so contagious to kids. It allows them to share their passions, pulls them in, and makes class meaningful.

What do you enjoy most about your coaching work?

I love helping teachers make their ideas come to life. I am largely a curriculum first coach, as I believe in the power of a good lesson. I think lately a lot of teachers are trying to figure out ways to address all of the things that are happening in the world and sometimes become overwhelmed with how to do it in a way that feels intentional and in service of developing other critical literacy skills. I love sitting down with teachers and figuring out how to do that in a way that feels authentic to their classroom vision.

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

I have so many wonderful moments I can talk about, as I was blessed with incredible groups of kids year after year. I can’t say I was always the best teacher, particularly in those early years, but what I lacked in pedagogy, I made up for with pure unfiltered passion about systemic problems in the government. I really felt that students should walk away with an understanding that the government works for us and thus we get to demand more from them and demand change. In June of 2020, I got many calls, texts, and direct messages from former students, who were looking to talk about the events of that summer, to clarify their understanding of what was happening, and to express their views and their worries about all that was occurring. They shared photographs of the protests that they attended, and as best they could, they verbalized their grief and their anger about current events. I felt so lucky to have had these activists as students. It was a hard time, for the country and for our kids, but it reinforced the fact that they are paying attention, that they care, and that they have agency. Our job isn’t to help them with memorization of dates and events but to remind them of their own power to create change.

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food.

From the Annenberg Institute for School Reform: Teachers of Color, Culturally Responsive Teaching, and Student Outcomes

In this newsletter we highlight a report from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University called Teachers of Color, Culturally Responsive Teaching, and Student Outcomes: Experimental Evidence from the Random Assignment of Teachers to Classes. This EdWorking Paper was authored by David Blazar at the University of Maryland.

As Professor Blazar writes, there “is broad consensus across academic disciplines that access to same-race/ethnicity teachers is a critical resource for supporting the educational experiences and outcomes of Black, Hispanic, and other students of color. While theoretical and qualitative lines of inquiry further describe a set of teacher mindsets and practices aligned to “culturally responsive teaching” as likely mechanisms for these effects, to date there is no causal evidence on this topic. In experimental data where upper-elementary teachers were randomly assigned to classes, I find large effects…of teachers of color on the short- and longer-term social-emotional, academic, and behavioral outcomes of their students.”

Click here to read the paper.