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In this interactive discussion, we’ll talk the importance of research and dissect how to analyze research results as well as revamping teacher professional development models.
*Apologies for the relatively low audio quality. First time we’ve recorded on Jitsi!
Dr. Susan Engel is a professor of developmental psychology at Williams College, with a focus on curiosity, school reform, and educational research. Her many works include The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood and The End of the Rainbow: How Educating for Happiness, Not Money, Would Transform Our Schools. Further, Dr. Engel is co-founder and educational advisor to the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, NY.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to summit number seven for January here with the Human Restoration Project. Today, we're going to be talking about changing the status quo by reading research. I'm super stoked to have this conversation because it's very specialized. It talks about things that we can actually use. It's effective. It's just a really interesting thing once you get past the fact that it's just reading research, which might sound kind of boring on its core, but we'll get to it. This is brought to you by our Patreon supporters. If you like the work that we're doing and you appreciate free professional development, please check out our Patreon page. There will be a link to that in the description of this video or in the show notes if you're listening to this podcast. Finally, if you would like to participate and join in the discussion, in the bottom left-hand corner, there is a raise hand button. Just go ahead and hit that hand and I'll invite you to unmute so that way you can talk to us, engage in the conversation, ask some questions or anything like that. Some introductions here. I'll start. My name is Chris McNutt. I teach graphic design at a public STEM school in Ohio. I'm also the founder of Human Restoration Project. What we do is stuff like this, just free professional development. We offer free resources. We do a lot of stuff and you can learn more about that on humanrestorationproject.org. I'll toss it over to you, Susan, to introduce yourself. Hi. Thanks. Okay. I teach developmental psychology at Williams College and I direct our program in teaching. That's a program for all undergraduates at Williams who are interested in education. Some of them want to be teachers. Some of them just want to study education the way they would want to study history or chemistry. For many, it's a combination of those two things. I've taught all ages from three on up. I'm a co-founder of an experimental school. What else can I say about myself? I've written quite a few books about education and about child development. I think that's it. Yeah. I'm stoked that you're here to join us because I think that you're underselling those books. They're really well-written and they're super cool. I think that they're a huge benefit to progressive ed. Plus, they're really research-heavy, hence these questions surrounding research. To me, that's a huge thing that we're missing within a lot of school communities is a focus on research and what research matters versus what research doesn't matter. Another way to word that would be what research is valuable for what it is that we're trying to do. We have three questions here. I'll just briefly showcase this, then go back to our normal video view. Essentially, what we're looking at here is figuring out how we actually go about doing research, figuring out what misconceptions there are surrounding research, as I see that all the time, and then trying to figure out how can educators actually utilize this stuff? How can they go about finding it? How can they go about actually putting it into practice? Let's just jump right into this first question, Susan. I'll toss it over to you to briefly explain why it matters to know the research that backs education in general. Okay. I'll start actually just telling a little of my own history because it's so related to this question. I was a teacher before I was a researcher. To be totally honest, when I was a kid, I ran a summer camp for little children when I was in my teens. Like a lot of people who teach, to begin with, I didn't give it a lot of thought. I just knew I loved kids and I had a knack for it. Like a lot of teachers, it was just a feeling I had that I was good with kids, that I knew how to make up fun activities for them or help them do things and I like to be around them. Anything more kind of elaborate or in terms of formal education regarding teaching never occurred to me. Then I went to college and I totally fell in love with developmental psychology and all I wanted to do was be a researcher. I studied sort of complicated things, early word acquisition and how children learn to participate in conversations and how concepts first are acquired in the first few years of life and stuff like that. Even then, I really didn't think that my work with kids and my work as a researcher had anything to do with each other. I went on teaching while I was in college in New York City in public and independent schools mostly just as a way of making money. I didn't think those two worlds connected until I began to realize that I knew all this cool stuff as a researcher that wasn't making its way into classrooms. When I was in schools working with other teachers, I saw that they often didn't know the most interesting or most relevant research that would help their teaching. I began to realize that those two worlds were just too far apart from one another. I've spent my grown-up life trying to bring those two worlds together, trying to help make the most interesting research accessible to teachers and help teachers figure out what kinds of research would be helpful to them and how to make it useful in their classrooms. That's the personal piece of this. More broadly, I would say there are two reasons why teachers should know what the good research is all about. The most important thing is it empowers you as a teacher. It's the best tool you could possibly get. I promise you that you could go to six workshops on continuing ed days and learn how to make a cool aquarium or how to do a great lesson plan on a certain book or how to set up a project in your classroom. It wouldn't get you a tenth of as far, it's not even good English, but it wouldn't get you nearly as far as if you understood how children think, how they learn, how they develop, how they get from being a three-year-old psychologically to being a 12-year-old, what they go through during adolescence. Learning those things would be so much more useful and powerful than learning three more lesson plans. The most important reason for learning the research is it is the best tool you can have as a teacher to make your classroom a wonderful place and to help you reach students and help them thrive and learn. The second reason is also really important, which is if you are trying to do things in an interesting way in your classroom that isn't just following all the rules of your school or if you're trying something new or you have a different idea about how to do things, which I think is certainly true of you, Chris, and you, Nick, that you need to be able to explain why your practices are a good idea. It's not enough to say, trust me, I know it's better to let the kids make up a play than their diagram sentences. You have to be able to say why that's so. And often really great practices that look unusual or unexpected and make administrators or parents uneasy, if they understood that the research totally backs up the certain approach, whatever it is, we could get into specifics later, then they're comfortable with it and they're willing to trust it and they're willing to let you have a chance to reach your kids in a different way or set up your classroom in a different way. So the second reason is that it makes you much stronger as an advocate for your own way of doing things in your classroom. Yeah. And I want to, I mean, all that stuff definitely harkens true for a lot of what we believe in. I think it's astonishing for people to figure out how much the obvious stuff that you would think that helps students ends up helping them in research. So I mean by that is things like play or having the ability to choose things that they want to do and not just like cramming and memorizing things. All those things obviously help and therefore the research supports that. However, what's interesting is I want to dissect that word relevant research because I don't know if you're familiar with the quote unquote research ed movement, but they're a nonprofit social media heavy group that believes in quote unquote research and education. And what they state is that we need to go more towards direct instruction, more towards like very worksheet heavy by the book style research because it shows that it increases a student's quote unquote knowledge. And I think a lot of people that tend to read research might get a little confused or have some misconception surrounding what it means to learn, which I know that's like a huge question, but I'm curious like how do you how do you differ what research matters versus what doesn't matter when it comes to looking at increasing knowledge quote unquote, right? Okay, so it's lucky we have plenty of time because that's it's complicated to answer that question. First of all, because there are two pieces. One is deciding what kind of knowledge you want about children and learning. And here what I mean by that is I think that there's a big tendency in schools and school settings to look for the piece of research that backs up the certain practice you're doing. I'll give you a very concrete example. If you've been in the last few years reading sort of books about education, then you've read the word mindset like a million times, Carol Dweck's mindset. And the tendency amongst teachers and educators is to quickly look to the end of the book or the end of the article and find the intervention that you can do to give kids a growth mindset. And then if you're looking to sort of like this group you're talking about to show why that's a good those interventions are good to do, you quickly look for the result that shows that it quote unquote works. And the mistake of that is understanding research usually isn't just grab picking and choosing a piece of study here and a study there and using the technique that's advocated at the end of the study. It's understanding what the research tells you about the way the children's minds work and the way that they interact, the way their social development unfolds and the way in which their thoughts change as they get older. And I know that sounds vague and broad, but if you wonder if you have a bigger picture of what the research has told us about how children grow and learn and develop, then you can be more, what would the word be? You can be a little savvier in figuring out which study is worth paying attention to. So for instance, in the example you just gave, we know that kids who simply memorize information may do well on a test the week that they need to do well on a test for the school to look good in terms of state reports. But we also know that it has very little long-term impact on them intellectually. And much more equally important, it doesn't do anything to make them want to go on learning. And we also know from research that getting kids to want to go on learning is the single most powerful thing that can happen to them in school. Because if learning is to do you any good, you have to go on doing it after you're 18. If you stop doing all your learning at 18, you'd be dead in the water. So cramming kids with facts not only doesn't really change the way they think, but it also doesn't work in the long run if in the course of doing that, you didn't get, you didn't help them want to go on learning or help them learn how to be independent learners, to learn on their own. You'd have to have some understanding of what it means to grow intellectually to even know that that kind of research isn't useful for you as a teacher. But guess what? That's a long-winded way of saying that I think that one of the things I would wish that people would get from this podcast or from some of the things that I've written is that reading research is not about finding out the newest technique and the test scores that prove that it works. It's about finding out what researchers have learned about what children's minds are like and how they change as they grow and what kinds of influences really matter to them, which influences or practices hurt them and which help them. But you have to have a bigger picture in the first place. You know, the only thing I think of is like nutrition research. If you follow what to eat and what not to eat, you're always saying, you know, butter's good, butter's bad, whole milk's good, whole milk's bad, carbs are good, carbs are bad. You just, as anybody listening knows, you go crazy. Every few weeks, you change how you eat. If you understand something about how the body works, you can make better judgments about which nutrition advice, which specific studies are helpful because you're fitting them into a bigger framework. Yeah, that's a fantastic example and it makes me think a lot about the fact that, you know, a key piece of education should be motivation, as in if we teach kids that learning sucks, that it's like this very memorization based, just really not fun thing to do. It's no wonder that we see like a declining reading rates, like a lot of adults don't ever read or we see a decline in, well, there's a little bit of a rise right now, but usually there's been a decline in civic participation in government and voting and things that if taught correctly, and what about you meant correctly, is if taught in a way where it makes things interesting and they matter and people see relevance in it and they see it as a fun, engaging activity, it would only make sense that people continue to do that well into their adult life, which is what you were just saying. And I think too, for the teacher's perspective, knowing the research helps us a lot and ensuring that we stay motivated, because if I constantly feel like I'm doing something wrong, because I'm trying something that's kind of against the norm, at least in a very traditional school, and I don't have that research to back what it is that I'm doing, I'm going to constantly feel like I'm the one in the wrong, because a lot of times it is you versus, you know, like a hundred people. There aren't a lot of people doing this type of work still. It makes it more fun to teach. I had an example the other day, a first grade teacher was telling me, she was wonderful classroom, she's a wonderful teacher, but she was telling me, and she was telling me that she was doing an activity with her kids. It's a very community minded school and they were going to do, the kids were going to do a little project on the difference between tattling and reporting. And she wanted them to understand something about, you know, that reporting is good, that's when you tell something worrisome that happened in the class, because you want your friends to be safe or, you know, you're worried that something hurtful has happened to somebody. And tattling, obviously, is the bad thing where you're rushing around telling the teacher every time you saw another kid, I don't know what, chewing their pencil or whatever. And as she told me about the activity, I was thinking, well, that's fun, that's nice, but what do kids need to develop that would make that more than just a quick little lesson about what you should do and what you shouldn't do? And, you know, I'm a developmental psychologist, so I thought, oh, they need to build up their inclination and their skill at respect to taking. And that's what's really key in trying to help kids think about something like when to tattle and when to report, you know, what's tattling, what's reporting. So I made a very simple suggestion to her. I said, why don't you have each kid sitting in the circle tell one time when they tattled and one time when someone tattled about them. And it was such a simple little activity. She could do it instantly. She did it that morning. It took 15 minutes. The kids loved it, because who doesn't want to tell stories about the time you did the bad thing and the time someone did the bad thing to you. But what she needed that she didn't have was a broader developmental perspective that would let her be creative and thinking about how to reach her educational goal. And when you don't know the research and you don't have that bigger picture about development, you're always just following rules. You're doing what the lesson book says or what the head of your school or the state says in terms of curriculum. If you understand something about what kids are really like and how development unfolds, the sky's the limit in terms of thinking of fun curricular ideas to meet their needs. Yeah. And something that you brought up earlier that heavily relates to that is that fad trap that we sometimes get stuck in as educators. And when we have a tendency to kind of reinvent the wheel over and over again in different forms. So when I think of like experiential learning, there's seriously like probably 30 or 40 different frameworks and acronyms that are essentially experiential learning. We've just rewritten it, in my opinion, at many points for people to make money because I can resell a lot of curriculum materials if I reinvent the framework. But going along with that, too, though, it has a tendency, I think, for people to ignore that practice or to write off that practice, even though at its core it is a good practice. What I mean by that is, is that if you take experiential learning, that's been well documented to be beneficial. It's been around for, I mean, literally centuries. It's like a really old practice. But yet, if you're a veteran educator or even someone new to the field that works in a certain environment and someone comes around and says, you know, we're going to start doing inquiry-based learning. And there's like a 50 slide thing on like the value of inquiry-based learning, which is almost the exact same thing. I might just go like, well, you know, that's not going to work. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing because it's going to be gone in a year anyway. It has a tendency to jade us, even though the underlying idea might be good. Dr. Angela Povilaitis Absolutely. Dr. Justin Marchegiani Yeah. So that, at times, I feel like a lot of people are missing the point because we're either trying to tie test scores to something that works inherently, as in we shouldn't necessarily be looking at the test score component of it, we should be looking at everything else and if it increases test scores, that's great. But two, by understanding and reading research, it also helps us ensure that we can diagnose those things as they come up, as in when I see this slide show, I'm like, oh, it's actually this, but it's being packaged curriculum. What are your thoughts, I know you wrote like an entire book on this essentially, but what are your thoughts on the kind of that corporate influence when it comes to research because there are a lot of, I guess, test prep companies that highly benefit from the fact that, you know, they can read research in a certain way in order to prop up their financial gain. Dr. Angela Povilaitis Okay. Can you tell me what you mean by that last part? They- Dr. Justin Marchegiani Sure. So being able to kind of selectively read research as a corporation to sell a curriculum package or to sell a keynote speech. Because I feel like you can't talk about effective researching without, we're gonna dive into a bunch of different topics without talking about like neo-liberalism or talking about like the capitalistic influence on everything it is that we do in our daily lives. Dr. Angela Povilaitis So I, now I'm gonna, I just, I don't know if this is gonna answer your question, but one of the tricky things, you've already said this, Chris, is that, you know, if everyone can find a study that shows the thing they wanted to show, because, you know, I have to say this, and this is gonna make me sound like I'm betraying my own field of science. But there's a lot of good research out there, but there's a lot of bad research too. And one of the reasons teachers should have more time, be offered more time and encouragement to read the research itself is so they can begin to make distinctions for themselves about what's the good research and what's the bad research. And because there's a lot of research that gets cited by money hungry corporations or publishing houses or the places selling these, you know, canned curriculum that are citing research that's just badly done. And it's worth noting, and I was going to give another example later, that there's a difference between research that simply tests an intervention or a practice and research that we call it, you know, basic science that seeks to understand the way that the human organism thinks and learns and changes over time. And it's really important that there's no reason why teachers can't know that as well as any scientist, that they should be looking for basic research, that there's so much that we're still learning about how children think, how they experience the world, which aspects of their daily lives really shape them, which things can change and which can't. I'll give you an example. Shyness is something which doesn't change much. So all the teachers who write in all the reports, I wish that, you know, Jimmy would be a little less shy. Jimmy's not going to be a little less shy. And if you read research on on personality and temperament, you'll see that it's quite quite stable. Sometimes that's a good thing, like a kid who's got a pretty easygoing temperament is probably going to stay that way. And thank God, that means that you can't screw it up much with whatever you do. But by the same token, the kid who's shy or is nervous in crowds is probably going to be that way no matter what. The reason I bring that up is, it would be better for teachers to have access to research that shows those basic characteristics of children and their lives over time, and less time looking at the sort of often shitty research, whoops, sorry. The less well done research that's looking at the little technique that makes kids un-shy, which is not based on any real model of human development, and is often not worth paying much, you know, not worth paying much attention to. So that was a digression. Your point, I'm going to say something totally different to which is that, given that you can find research to support anything, it's not all equally good research, but you can find it. It doesn't mean it was well done or that it's worth paying attention to, but it's out there and it can be cited. The real question, the other question that research alone can't answer is, what are your values about education? For teachers who are listening to this, you have to keep asking yourself, why am I doing this? What is it I really want these kids to end up with that I can have an impact on? And that's a big piece of it. So I always say to teachers, you know, what do you want for your students by the end of the year? And they'll say, I want them to love learning, or I want them to be eager for information, or I want them to feel good about themselves, or I want them to know a lot or whatever it is they they want. And the next question I always ask is, which of those things do you think you can have an impact on? Because teachers can't have an impact on everything. I mean, thank God, because what a burden that would be. But you can only have an impact on certain things. And so before you begin figuring out how to have an impact on those things, which things you are going to influence in a child's life, or a teenager's life, if you're a high school teacher, you have to decide what is it you really seek? And this goes back, Chris, to your question, if you seek a high test score, and that's your main goal as a teacher, you might approach things one way. If your real goal is to go back to something you said, Chris, to help students sort of attain a really sturdy, long lasting love of learning, you're going to do things in a different way in your classroom. And you have to decide that first, then you can say to yourself, so if that's so important to me, what will I do in this classroom to ensure that kids leave this year? In June, they love learning a little more than they did in September. That's a fantastic point. I think that pedagogical framework, I mean, that that makes all the difference and I wish that teacher training programs really emphasize that even more. I'm not sure if my experience is universal, but for the most part, teacher training for me was very rote and kind of like how to write a lesson plan more than it was why is it that you teach and how do you incorporate those values in the teaching. And I appreciate your example too of the introverted kid, because that was me. And if you want to talk about not feeling good at school and nothing feels worse than like every single teacher telling you that there's something implied wrong with you because you don't talk to people very often. What a terrible feeling. You know, it's interesting. One of the kinds of research I was going to talk about today is research on the value of a sense of security. And that covers a lot of different things. If you're not secure about where your next meal is coming from, or you're not secure that your home feel is safe. That's one thing if your walk to school or your bus ride to school is not safe, because the neighborhoods you go through or the other people you encounter, that's another kind of insecurity. But there's also a security like that you have a secure relationship, either with the people in your home life, but also with a teacher that there's someone at school that you feel you can count on and that you know you have, you know, unconditional regard from. It's very powerful and research shows that you can't really learn without it. And the reason is learning involves paying attention to uncertainty. And, you know, as you know, Chris, I do research, I wrote a book on curiosity. Curiosity involves sort of relishing a moment of uncertainty and then wanting to reduce the uncertainty by so you're uncertain about, you know, what's under that rock or how do cells divide or what happens when you multiply three numbers. All of those are examples of moments when you feel if you don't know the answer, what you feel is uncertainty. And what you want the student to do is like that feeling enough to go out and try to resolve the uncertainty by getting the answer. And every teacher listening to this knows what it looks like when a student experiences uncertainty and then shuts it down, because it feels so bad to them. They don't want to get the answer. They don't want to resolve the uncertainty. They just want to move away from the feeling. And that's what it looks like when a kid doesn't like learning. But if you don't know the research that shows how important, how pivotal a sense of security is in pursuing and being what did you call it before inquiry based learning in paying attention to your own curiosity, your own sense of the things you don't know the answer to. If you don't know how important that security is, you don't know what to do to encourage your kids to like learning. And so if you know the research about the role of security and secure attachment and the sense of safety, you'll do different things as a teacher. You'll say, OK, the first thing I have to do is make sure that the kids in my classroom have some sense of safety and security and well-being so that when they come across something they don't know the answer to, they'll enjoy it and want to get the answer rather than shutting down. So that was circuitous what I just said. But it's a way of talking about how if you know what your real goal is and then you know something about research, you know what you need to know about the kids in your room and what makes them thrive. When you put those two things together, then you can do almost anything. You can try anything in the classroom because you have the building blocks to figure out what activities to do or how to structure the room or whatever. Exactly. Yeah. And what you're saying too rings true. I don't want to go too far down this rabbit hole, but it is something to be said that there is some responsibility on teachers to share that research as well for social or political reasons because a teacher can only do so much with inside their classroom. If you have kids coming to school who are impoverished or live in a very inequitable society, it's very, very difficult as a teacher to solve those issues. And if we had a little more support for the students at home, then you would see drastic changes within school and so many opportunities to young people. So I don't want to go too far down that because that's like a whole other discussion around surrounding political movements and change. True, but it's also important. I think it's so easy to feel beleaguered as a teacher and to feel like you're being asked to do all these things that feel almost impossible to do. And part of the reason they feel impossible to do is because of the things you just alluded to, that we've put all of society's problems on the shoulders of teachers. You take these kids who live in a tough setting or are the targets of bigotry and inequity and you should make them want to learn and make them good at learning and make them behave and make them have high aspirations and one thing after another and it's not a reasonable set of expectations. And so one thing, yet another reason why it's important to know the research is so the teachers can be realistic and fair with themselves about what they can and can't achieve. And speaking to that point too that you stated about the idea of having a sense of safety or a sense of connection with the teacher in the room. I think it's important that we understand too that the way that you develop that relationship tends to be by being very authentic and very welcoming and very friendly, not by trying to manipulate like your social ability in order to connect with every single student. I think kids see right through that and what goes along with that too is recognizing that you're probably not going to connect with every single student. I would rather have a very authentic relationship with the kids that know that I'm being authentic with them and have another teacher have an authentic relationship with the kids that just don't, we just don't share that connection because there's different types of people. I totally agree with that. Can I go back for one more thing? Yeah, go ahead. I just want to say something. I just want to encourage anybody who liked what we were just talking about a few minutes ago. I love the idea of starting the year by making a little note on which kids in your class like learning and which don't and pay attention to what clues are telling you that. Like how are you deciding that? And then decide what you as the teacher are going to do to get all the kids to move the needle just a little bit from where they are and then take their temperature again in three months and then in six months because it's not, it wouldn't be an impossible thing to measure in your classroom and it would change everything if you kept a record of it and thought this is my real goal. And every kid could move a little bit. The kid who already likes learning could like it even more or could get even better at fulfilling their, you know, their curiosity or their hunger for learning. And the kid who seems to shut down totally and have no interest in learning, if you could get them to like it just a little bit, you'd have done a lot. So I just want to plant that seed. Yeah, I think that's a really important point because if you get bogged down in staring at the grade book when it comes to certain students, you turn them into a number. I think it misses out on a lot of the hope and change that you feel when you see students embrace that. Actually this week, so I've been teaching photography recently, so we went on a photography tour. Downtown's like a mile from where I work. And I have a student who has not been doing well pretty much in any class. She's really struggling. But outside, downtown, taking pictures, doing that kind of stuff, it was like one of the most drastic transformations I've ever seen of a student really engaged in learning. And even though, this sounds kind of bad, even though that might not necessarily change what that grade book might look like at the end of the year, even though we're mostly gradeless, we still have to report a grade, we've at least identified something that we can be proud of, we can share with her that we can maybe find other ways to engage in a more active outside approach if that's what it is or maybe it's something else. But it's something. And when you reflect on those things, that makes a huge difference. Definitely if you reflect on it and make it a deliberate goal, like it's not just some kids like learning and some don't, I can do something to help the ones who don't seem to like it a little more. And you know, engagement is one of these other things that the research is so clear about the power of engagement, really being immersed in something. And not every kid can be engaged in everything they learn. But if every kid has something in the day that they find really challenging and engaging, like that young person found photography to be, it changes their experience of school. Yeah, let's shift into like the meat of the discussion. This is something that we were talking about kind of a little bit before we went on the recording, which is how do you actually go about finding the research? It's one thing to say, like, read the research, but it's, I mean, it's kind of the Wild West out there. Yeah, it's very hard to find, because not only do you have to, you know, not only do you define the research, you also define the research that's effective, then you have like a normal research, like fairly long. You know, teachers have limited time. It's not necessarily supported through professional development to do independent research, even though I think it should be like the idea of like self-sustaining professional development. So you go ahead. I have some concrete ideas. The first you just alluded to. I think every teacher should try to push their school for their next professional development to drop all the workshops on how to, you know, all those things that you learn in those workshops, how to use a new kind of whiteboard in your warm and blah, blah, and learn how to read research that's relevant to your work as a professional. A lot of the research is in education journals, but I'm going to say, and I'm biased about this because I'm a psychologist, I'm a developmental psychologist, a lot of the best research is in psychology journals. And I'm going to say something more about that in a minute. But one cool thing that you just gave me the idea of, why not spend a professional development day each reading one research article in an area that interests you, and then reporting to your little team that you're in a group with for professional development day and learning together how to be discerning consumers of research. For one thing, many, many teachers should be able to, should know that because they're teaching students how to be discerning consumers of information. So you should, everyone should be able to do it for themselves and understanding, yeah, I mean, get the science teachers in your school to lead the, to lead that seminar. They know that a good piece of research should have a clear hypothesis and have a method for testing the hypothesis that's well thought through and that the measures should match what the questions were. I mean, some of it is stuff that everybody should know because that's what everybody should be teaching their students. So one thing is to push a little harder for that to be part of professional development. That's, I just think, I didn't think of that until you said what you said, but but I think that would be so much more effective and far-reaching in terms of how it would help teachers in their daily practice. I want to interrupt you really quickly because there's a question here that's talking about what you just were talking about from Monica in the chat here. She asked if you recommend any specific psychology journals that you would trust. I was just going to say that. That was going to be my next part of my answer. Go ahead. Thank you, Monica. So yeah, so I, that's the other thing. So we, everybody in the sciences, in every field in science, there are the sort of top-tier journals and they're the best ones to read because they are peer-reviewed. So every, no article gets published if other researchers didn't read the research without knowing the name of the scientist. So it's not about who you like and who you're friends with or it's just about whether you think the research is good and it's worth looking at those top-tier journals. So Educational Psychology put out by APA, American Psychological Association, is a very good journal. Child Development is a very good journal. I know less about, these days I haven't been reading much in about adolescent development. There used to be a good adolescent journal of adolescent development, but there's plenty on adolescence in the Child Development. That's what it's called, the journal, Child Development. So those are two that I think are really good, Educational Psychology and Child Development. Because of Google Scholar, you all know that you can type in a search word and come up with any number of articles, but you know my mom is 95 and she's incredibly savvy and she actually started schools in her life and you know she and I talk about education all the time and she's a very well-read woman and very astute, but even so she's always saying to me well I found it on Google. Now I know she's 95 and probably your listeners are not 95, but the reason I tell that is it worries me that she still doesn't get that just because it popped up when she did a Google search doesn't mean it's a reputable source. So look for studies that were done at well-known universities and look for journals, articles that were published, you know, if not Educational Psychology or Child Development, some other, you know, highly regarded journal. The Merrill Palmer Quarterly is another one that's very good. There's a very good journal called Cognitive Development. It's put out by the Jean Piaget Society. Now a lot of this is sort of pitched towards preschool and elementary school, but some of it's about adolescence. There's a weird paucity of research on adolescent development. There's just not enough that's done in that area in my view. Maybe we'll see a revival of that, but those are the journals that I think are really good. But also you could go into Google Scholar and look and see what articles come up, but then pay attention to where they were published and whether the people who did the research, you know, whether they're at, you know, reputable institutions. And that's not about snob factor. That's about making sure that the research was done in a rigorous way and an honest and reliable way. And then pay attention to how the research was done because you would want your students to pay attention to that. So why shouldn't all of us pay attention to that, you know, whether the subjects were chosen in a smart way, whether the question is an interesting reasonable one, and whether the measures make sense to you. It's beneficial for teachers to have that list on hand because there is not, at least as far as I know, not a place where you can find all that information. That's what we were just talking about a few minutes ago, but I mean it's difficult to know. Try to start something like that because I think it's shocking there isn't. I did for people who teach elementary school. I wrote a book that came out last year about child development for teachers, but it's mostly about elementary school. So for those of you who are high school teachers, it still might be interesting to you because it sort of frames the basic process of development and it makes the distinction between learning and development that's interesting no matter what age you teach. But for any elementary school teachers who are listening, that book might be helpful to them because it synthesizes a lot of what I consider to be the best research and it kind of pops the bubble. That bursts the bubble about research that, as you said, is faddish but not really very good or useful. And to that point too of allowing teachers time at work or acknowledging the work of research through professional development, it's interesting to note that when you do a practice like that where you have teachers going out and doing kind of independent or group study and sharing it out and working on their own, you're mirroring the exact same techniques that you would want to see in a classroom with students. What I mean by that is that we have a tendency to, we're all people who study education, but yet the way that teachers tend to be taught is incredibly backwards. A lot of 50 to 60 slides with just three bullet points on them and just reading off for hours on end. And as a result, I mean, obviously you're not going to learn as much as if you were passionate about the idea that you're pursuing, that you're working in groups, that you get to move around, that you're respected as an individual, because a lot of times it's the meaning to do PD. It feels like you're being treated like you're dumb. So it's no wonder if you're a student in a classroom listening to a 60-minute PowerPoint about something, or if you're a teacher listening to a 60-minute PowerPoint about something else, even if it's in your field, it's no wonder people become demotivated and don't want to do this kind of stuff because that's what we know as teachers. Yeah, you know, it's interesting. A few years ago, I took a year sabbatical and I worked as the director of learning and teaching for a public school system and I was in charge, among other things, of the PD. And for the first PD day that I had for the district, I got rid of all the workshops and the seminars and the PowerPoints you were just referring to and the kind of cool, neat activities. And instead, I had them each observe another teacher in the school system. And the only rule was you couldn't observe someone in your own grade level or your own field if you were a high school teacher. So if you were an English teacher, you couldn't observe another high school English teacher. And if you were a third grade teacher, you couldn't observe another third grade teacher. You had to observe someone in another area. And basically, we devoted that year to doing observations like that and then sharing our insights. And eventually, we built it into doing small studies together, collecting data to answer various empirical questions. And at first, the teachers were very resistant, I have to say. They didn't get how that was going to quickly show up as having an effect in their classroom. And I was trying to do what we're trying to do in this conversation right now, which is change the way teachers thought about what would help make them better teachers. And over time, they got to love it because as the teacher, who wouldn't like the chance to really watch kids in action in somebody else's classroom and be the one watching rather than the one doing and begin to kind of draw your own conclusions about any number of things, whether there are gender differences in the classroom or whether there are certain parts of the classroom that seem more active than other parts or what it looks like when kids are concentrating. I mean, there are a million interesting questions a teacher could ask and use observations as a means of answering that question. But you can't do that if you don't actually practice it. And so, PD is a wonderful place to make some of these shifts. And that just involves getting your school to agree to do it differently. I mean, because I've never heard a teacher say what you just said, but I bet you're right that it often feels demeaning in those PDs. Yeah, I mean, I've rarely gone to a PD that I've enjoyed. So, I mean, that sounds really bad. I've been teaching for six years and maybe two have felt meaningful. If you could have your dream PD, what would it be? My dream PD would be something that's going to sound so self-promotional because that's something that we're working on, human restoration project to do. But it's the reason why I think it's important, which is allowing teachers to choose their own path on what is they want to do, and then working with administration to come up with that plan and then just enacting on it. I like being able to go out with a team of one, two, three other people and say, okay, here's what I want to look into. Let's learn more about it, gather all that information, make some kind of report on it, then share it out. Very simple. I mean, it could be as simple as reading about it or going to visit other schools, but having free reign on what schools we pick. Or even something that I was thinking about when you were talking about observing other teachers, something that was very beneficial to me when I was in college was they had us do the shadow of student challenge or whatever you want to call it, where you just follow a student period at a high school. That's cool. I don't want to sound cynical because I'm not blaming teachers, but it really lets you remember what it was like to be in high school because I think we sometimes forget when we become teachers what it was like, or we like to see ourselves as doing it a lot better than what it was like. It was rough. It doesn't feel good if you have a bathroom policy where it's like you can only go once a day or in your three-minute break between periods. There's these small things that we forget about from when we were in school and just how controlling it was and how little opportunity we had to make choices. Nowadays, it doesn't cross my mind that these policies exist and it helps us to rethink about the structure of school because if I don't like it now, it must be really bad when at least now I have a choice. If I have a restrictive policy, I can go somewhere else and I can make that decision, but as a student, I can't. From a PD standpoint, I think it would be beneficial for teachers to be exposed to a lot of different things, have the opportunity to take with that and run with it, and then share that information out with others in a way where it's incredibly independent because there's also a respect issue there as well. Teachers are supposed to be at least very well-trained in reading, writing, and reading research. That's literally the entire degree for the most part. We don't really get a huge opportunity to do those things outside of when we're in college. By giving teachers those skills and the ability to enact on them, not only are you respecting them, but you're letting them maintain that practice that way they can use it in the future. You're still learning when you're a teacher. Because the whole idea of those professional development days is to build in to make teachers... You know how all schools have these mission statements that say lifelong learners, but then when you think about it, many schools don't even do their part to help their teachers be lifelong learners. So if you thought of, I'm just building on what you said, if you thought of professional development or even if you get time as a team, let's say a grade level team or a subject area team, to work together, that should be thought of as a time to be scholars, to be learners, what you referred to the college atmosphere. It should be that. And what it ends up being instead of these little quick fixes, there's something to fill up that professional development day or teach you the new technique or give you some new skill you needed. Instead of using it as a time to create a community of learners and thinkers amongst the teachers. Yeah. And I think too that some of that is just recognizing the value of independent PD as a way to recognize things like what we're doing right now. So for example, if you're listening to this right now, there's a form on our website that is a certificate. You would get it at the end of a traditional PD session that says, reflect on one side, the other side. It has my signature and says that you did this activity. Yes, it's not the traditional, you go sit in a room with 30 other people and you get your little printed off certificate that says that you did it. It's not like that. It is virtual, but it should just have just as much power and influence because you're making the decision to do it. So you go download that, print it off, show your admin this YouTube video and say, hey, this is a real thing that you can do. And Nick just linked it there in chat too. This seems like thing goes though for like listening to podcasts or reading a book, like literally just checking out a book from the library from a reputable author and reading it and doing a book report as old school as that sounds. That kind of stuff matters. When I was doing that thing in the school system, we gave teachers stipends to form book clubs with each other. And the books they read didn't have to even be about education. It was so much fun. The teachers loved it and they loved the chance to talk to one another about things they were reading. They had to agree. I forget how we did it, but they agreed on the books and they read three books over a certain period of time. And maybe two of them, we wanted to be about education or psychology, but one could be something else altogether because why not? And that was one of the most powerful things we did. And it's just what you're saying, it just supported teachers, you know, their need and their right to spend time with each other talking about interesting things. I like that point that you bring up too about stipends, because even though teaching isn't about the money, I think there is value in financially rewarding someone for going that extra mile, especially if there isn't time being given to do these things at the workplace. Because we were actually talking about this on the phone, I think, the other day, maybe last month, the month before, but you were talking about the LinkedIn founder and that idea of being paid for connections or something like that. It was basically the value of extrinsic motivation to get someone to start doing something. Because I think there are a lot of teachers out there that maybe, like, I've never really thought that they wanted to do these things, or maybe they forgot that they wanted to do these things. Or if you told me like, hey, I'll give you 100, 200 bucks to go do this, that might spark curiosity that is more lifelong after you start doing it. Absolutely. And it means that the administration or the community or wherever the money is coming from is making it clear, they're putting their money where their mouth is. They're saying, we value you as teachers, and we're going to show that we value it when you are really professional, when you're thoughtful, when you're curious, when you want to share ideas with each other. It's not only an incentive for the teachers when they get the money, but it strengthens the overall commitment of the educational organization to teachers doing their very best. Exactly. And really quick, too, I want to, there's a question. When you were talking about the book that you had written that was great for elementary ed educators, what was the title of that book? It's called The Children You Teach. And I think the subtitle, it's embarrassing that I can't remember, but I think it's something like Using a Developmental Framework in the Classroom. Sure. Cool. And Nick just linked it in chat there. So there's that. Cool. Nick's on it. Nick's also linked a bunch of it. You're on it, man. Influencer or not, he's ready to go. Really pushing through. So we only have like five minutes left, and I kind of deviated this conversation from just reading research to a lot of other different things. But in our last five minutes that we have, is there anything else that you want to say on this subject that you think is incredibly important that everyone really needs to know that we've missed? No, we've talked about, I mean, I had made a list of some of the places where reading the research in a superficial way got people into trouble. But I don't want to end, well, I said mindset. So the mindset research is interesting because the real research is really fabulous, Carol Dweck's original research, and the idea that it's mindset has a huge influence on what they'll learn and how long they'll go on learning, that's really great. But when it all got turned into quick interventions that would change everybody's mindset forever, and got sort of filtered down into schools in a kind of superficial way, it undermined the value of the original research, and it was the wrong way to take that research. So what was a really interesting paradigm and some beautiful original empirical work got sort of overly digested and kind of distorted in a way that I think has not been at all useful. Another example is, I have never gone to a school where someone didn't talk to me about learning styles, but there's absolutely no research to support the idea that there are different learning styles in any important way. Which is not to say that kids don't learn in different ways and that people are individuals, but there's no body of research that shows that there's this fundamental thing called learning styles or that attending to them has some measurable impact. And that's an example of where teachers were susceptible to kind of shoddy interpretation of shoddy research, because they didn't have access to the research themselves. On a plus note, because I don't want to end in a negative way, there's all this cool research out there that teachers would love to read about, like this fabulous work showing the way in which your hand gestures can augment and sort of exponentially increase the power of teaching math. And it's something people spontaneously do, use their hands to gesture. And it turns out with just a little awareness of how that plays out in natural settings, it can be this powerful weapon in the classroom. Weapon in a good way. I don't mean weapon. I mean this powerful tool. Or the research on conversation. I'll end with that because it's my favorite topic in the world. If teachers knew more about all the incredibly beautiful research on the way in which conversations are the cornerstone of intellectual development, it would be so liberating for them because half the time that they were doing some tedious, onerous activity with kids that was supposed to help kids become readers or become critical thinkers, they could skip that and just have some really great conversations with the kids. And if they knew the research, not only could they do it, but they could justify it and explain it to skeptical administrators and parents. Yeah. Yeah. It's the same thing that we've done recently with... There was a thing that Alfie Kohn published, I want to say last year, maybe it was 2018, surrounding this idea of a Y sheet, which is like a really simplified double-sided sheet of paper where you explain the practice that you're doing so that parents and administrators don't freak out when you try to change the system. That has all that research in there. So we shifted to a portfolio system instead of giving grades. So even though it's required by the state to give grades, there isn't a formal grade until the end of the year. We've gotten virtually rid of all homework. But if you just walk in day one and say on your syllabus, there's no grades and no homework, that might not come across very well to some people that have grown up in a traditional system, but they just... Yeah, yeah. So let's end on one more practical suggestion. Another use of PD would be for teams of teachers who are like-minded to sit together and build a Y sheet for themselves on a certain practice. Yeah, exactly. And for anyone listening too, go ahead. Well, that would be a cool thing to do and really build community amongst teachers. And you'd each have to come up with one piece of research or one idea from psychology and educational research that you could use on the Y sheet, and then you all could use that Y sheet. Sure. And shameless self-promotion. There's two of those on Human Restoration Project's website, as well as I've linked on our website to the International School of Uganda. They actually came together and did this in PD. So they actually took that exact idea that you're talking about and they published, I want to say like five or six of these, and they're all really well done, like play, authentic relationships in the classroom. There's a bunch of them. They all talk about just different pillars of their school, but showcase the research surrounding it. It's really interesting. Let me end then with one last piece of advice for teachers. If you read those Y sheets that Chris, you and Nick put up on the thing, fine. But every teacher should at least track down one of the studies cited in the Y sheet and read the study itself. Yeah. And let us know if it's bad so we could change it because there's no promises. So yeah. Thank you again, Susan, for joining us today. I love having these conversations because I think that there are just so many teachers out there that feel like they're stuck in a rut and it really does like refill our glass or fill our cup, I mean, to have conversations like this and to listen into them. I get messages all the time, like emails, like probably weekly from people that say, being able to listen and read this stuff really reminds me on why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place, because you can get trapped really quick if you aren't around other individuals who are thinking the same way as you or that value of things or haven't forgotten. So I appreciate you having this conversation with us. Yeah. Even if they don't agree with you, they can talk to you about it. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, we'll call it there and wrap things up. And again, I sincerely appreciate your time. For anyone listening, this will be available on YouTube so you can watch the video version or on our podcast.