Month: January 2021

42. Evidence collection in the pandemic math classroom

How can math teachers most effectively collect learning evidence during this pandemic? Today we have a satellite round table with five incredible math teachers. I’m your host, Celeste Kirsh, and we are teaching tomorrow. 

In light of this ol’ pandemic that we are rounding one year of teaching through, Justin Medved gathered an array of powerful, thoughtful, and brave math teachers to discuss how they are collecting evidence and observations because, as we know, virtual testing is not quite a reliable measurement of what a student knows or understands. Teachers are needing to rethink, reimagine, and even relinquish their ideas of what math should look like in light of this new paradigm of teaching. 

In this conversation, you will hear from:

  • Justin Medved Director of Learning, Innovation and Technology at The York School.
  • Jennifer Gravel, Senior School Math teacher at Holy Trinity School
  • Holly Jepson Middle & Senior School Math at The Country Day School
  • Esther Lee Middle School Math teacher at Crestwood School
  • Fabio Biagiarelli Middle Years Programme Coordinator at The York School
  • Michael Moore Middle & Senior School Math teacher at Hillfield Strathallan College
  • Robin Johannsen  Math Department Chair  and Senior School MAth teacher  – The York School

All of these educators have important insights and strategies to share about how to make math learning fair, equitable, and best support student growth during this time. So let’s get to it! 

41. Educating your children at home with Carina Stone

How might parents best support their children’s learning when in virtual school at home? Today on the show I speak with Carina Stone on her experiences educating her children at home for the past 8 years.

Regardless of your day job, if you are a parent of young children, chances are high that–right now–you are taking on being your child’s teacher as their regular teacher is doing their best at educating them through a screen. While it’s amazing what we educators can do through Meet or Zoom, we know that in person learning just can’t be replicated through a screen. With Ontario’s recent lockdowns (and for some places, continued school closures) many parents are tasked with navigating the flow of their child’s day with their own work situation. To say that parents are frazzled is a remarkable understatement. 

I wanted to hear from a parent who has been figuring out the homeschooling / unschooling thing since before the pandemic. Partially because I hoped that they may have some strategies that I hadn’t tried yet. But also because I just wanted to know that it is possible for parents to educate their children and not be crying at the end of every day. While I don’t think that my guest today has all the answers or doesn’t have the occasional cry-fest of her own, Carina Stone’s caring, gentle, and attuned approach to educating her 3 boys gave me some comfort and inspiration.

In this episode, we discuss how to really observe our children to notice what their learning needs are, the importance of taking mental health days, pairing down the curriculum to “cut out the static”, and how to find that sweet spot of just enough challenge. 

I think there are some incredibly powerful takeaways in this conversation for all educators–not just for those folks who are trying to educate their children at home. The first: 

  • How might we find ways to encourage our children and students to integrate learning into the rhythm of the day? If you are a teacher, this might mean designing more self-paced units so your students can access the content on the days or times that they can handle the challenge. For parents, this might mean going onto the virtual class when your child is more focused and then finding other experiences to enrich their formal learning
  • The second is pretty simple and you’ve heard it before, but reset your expectations. Let’s be okay with doing less to be better. 
  • And finally, we are all worrying about the outside pressures and the “other side” of this learning journey we are in. It’s okay. What you are doing is enough. What you are teaching is enough. And our children and our students are enough. 

I am so grateful for Carina sharing her perspective and wisdom with us. I’ve known Carina for many years and it was really a joy to have this peek into her everyday world.

Things Mentioned in this Show:

40. How to talk to students the day after a difficult event with Genny Lee

How can teachers best facilitate conversations the day after an emotionally charged world event. Today on the show, I am joined by Genny Lee, science teacher and diversity, equity, and inclusion specialist.

I count Genny Lee as one of the kindest, most compassionate, and intelligent people I know. The day after the insurrection on Capitol Hill in the US, I knew that Genny would have thoughtful strategies for how to talk to and with students about events like these that–are quite frankly–happening more and more. In this conversation among other things, Genny shares her wisdom on what teachers can consider before they talk to their students, what to do when your students have already discussed it several times with other teachers, and what to do with these challenging conversations when they happen over Meet or Zoom. 

Genny Lee’s approach is infused with genuine care and empathy that I know you will appreciate, so let’s dive right in by clicking on the link attached. 




39. Deep Diversity in education with Shakil Choudhury

How might teachers embed emotional literacy with diversity, equity, and inclusion learning? Today on the show I speak with the award-winning educator, consultant and writer, Shakil Choudhury.

My first encounter with Shakil Choudhury was at the 2017 People of Colour Conference. I think my friend Jean Humphries had told me he was worth seeing and let me tell you, he did not disappoint. I read his book “Deep Diversity”. Then listened to the audio book. Then marched into the office of our my school’s then head of human resources and declared emphatically that everyone in our school should read this book. I’m not saying I’m the reason the book was put on our staff summer reading, I’m saying that Shakil’s work is so transformative that once you read it, you want everyone to read it. Shakil’s book is a practical, scientific and compassionate approach to tackling systemic racial discrimination. 

In this episode, we cover a lot of ground in just 50-ish minutes. We talk about burnout, self care, how to build justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work into schools, what Harvard is doing that all our independent schools can learn from, call out culture, the shadow sides of anti-racism work, and how to not get cynical. Phew. It’s a lot. It’s important. It’s beyond critical. And it was a huge honour to get to connect with Shakil in real time. 

If after listening to this show, you are hungry for more, I urge you to book off January 21st and 22nd for their free online conference: Ordinary People Extraordinary Times. 

Things We Talked About: