The idea that “math talk” can have academic payoffs isn’t new. Research studies have described the benefits of discussing mathematical thinking for decades, and the idea crops up in a stream of publications from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics dating back 40 years, said Robert Q. Berry, the immediate past president of the organization.
“There is no easy answer to this, and there are trade-offs everywhere, and you have to err on the side of fairness to all of the students and the validity of whatever performance measure you use,” said Robert Pianta, dean of the school of education at the University of Virginia.
Virginia study finds prospective teachers improve their handling of student misbehavior when training simulations are combined with human coaching
The combination of stress and grief can produce brain changes that make the already-stressful job of teaching even tougher, said Patricia A. Jennings, a professor of education at the University of Virginia and an expert in teacher stress. The sudden shift to the new demands of home teaching, laced with fears about coronavirus, blend into a kind of trauma that can shift the brain from higher-order thinking skills into survival mode.
Nancy Deutsch, professor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, said teachers need to understand that students are not going to be engaged academically if their psychological needs aren’t met.
Among several suggestions, Deutsch recommended that parents find ways for children to connect with friends and non-parental adults virtually. Elementary-level teachers often think about relationships, but this is something that teachers working with teenagers in the middle school level and up should think about as well. Upper-level teachers tend to focus on the content, she said, when they should also pay attention to the social connection.
Amanda P. Williford, University of Virginia associate professor who researches how young kids can best get ready for school
"As adults and as kids right now, we're kind of balancing wanting to kind of keep routines and emphasize continued early learning, with the fact that we are in a crisis," Williford said. "And that crisis is pretty stressful for everybody."
Williford says normally, one factor of high-quality early education programs is the adult in the room.
Kayser stressed that teachers shouldn’t let technology affect learning, as there are people across the globe who are still learning with limited access to technology. The pandemic is an opportunity for teachers to be creative, like using materials at home like Legos, books or a playground outside to make learning relevant.
“We need to think about equity because of where the children live or have access to. This is a test to see how well you know your parents,” Kayser said, adding that she wouldn’t assign anything that young children couldn’t complete independently.
Examples for when those skills are necessary abound, said Catherine Bradshaw, a developmental psychologist and professor at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Human Development.
“Kids may have a lower risk of contagion so they have to be mindful that while they may not get sick, they have to wash hands to reduce other people’s risk,” said Bradshaw.
“So that’s a clear opportunity to understand how their actions and choices affect others.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam has shuttered the schools, and parents in our community, with help from teachers and administrators, are adjusting to the new reality of temporary homeschooling.
For Jennifer Pease, an assistant professor at University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education with a focus on secondary education, two parts of her life have collided in her living room.
Judy Paulick, an assistant professor of elementary education at the Curry School who specializes in literacy, said there’s a lot that parents can do that does not directly involve replicating a traditional classroom.
Here is an amazing collection of online resources compiled by Abigail Amoako Kayser, postdoctoral research associate of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.
Op-Ed: Today, in middle schools across California and the country, many students struggle to balance the weight of rigorous academic coursework, extracurricular commitments, and social obligations with peers, all of which occur after the final bell rings. This all unfolds amid the significant physical, social, and biological changes that happen during early adolescence.
Rose Nevill, director of the University’s Autism Research Core and research assistant professor of education, emphasizes the novelty of the DRIVE.
“It’s the first platform of its kind to link a research registry with an online resources database to share educational information with the community,” Nevill said. “There are other state-based research registries, and there are other state-based resource directories, but we haven’t come across a system linking all of these elements into one.”
Risks, in other words, don’t have to be inherently harmful, said Joanna Lee Williams, an associate professor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development and a contributor to the National Academies report. They can be healthy, too, like deciding to join marching band.
But Tish Jennings, an education researcher at the University of Virginia says buyers should beware.
Jennings at the University of Virginia has taken a different, in some ways even more intensive approach. She believes successful mindfulness programs should include adults as well as the children in a school, and they should be integrated with a schools' approach to discipline and social and emotional learning.
Solari said school systems need core evidence-based instruction as a baseline support and valid, reliable screening measures to identify students who need more help.
“If kids are struggling with reading, it’s not the fault of the teacher; it’s the fault of the system,” she said, identifying a range of factors that affect reading achievement.
One system-level change will kick in next fall as the Curry School rolls out a new curriculum for its reading courses that will include the information about the science of reading and how teachers can apply it in the classroom.
Reading, unlike speaking, is not a natural process for the brain to learn. So, children need to be explicitly taught the fundamentals of reading — including phonics, phonological awareness and oral language, said Emily Solari, a professor of reading education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development.
Curry School Dean Robert Pianta said the research in support of the science of reading has accumulated to the point “where we are more confident in making moves that are evidence-based.”
Starting in the fall, students in Curry’s elementary and special-education teacher programs will learn about the science of reading, as well as practical strategies to apply it in the classroom. Solari added that changing the teacher prep programs is one of many levers, including state policy, that need to be pulled to improve students’ reading skills.
Dr. Meghan Puglia, Assistant Professor with the Department of Neurology; Dr. Santina Zanelli, Associate Professor for the Department of Pediatrics; and Dr. Micah Mazurek, a psychologist in the Curry School of Education, are working together to catch symptoms of autism much earlier than usual.
“The circumstances are incredibly distressing and upsetting,” Deutsch said. “I hope the men are able to get help and support and compensation.”
At the same time, the need is great for organizations that offer mentoring for young people and provide supportive relationships with adults, she said.
"We need to have a lot of variety in the types of programs accessible to young people” in order to meet their needs and interests, she said.
The "reading wars" never really went away within schools of education, said Emily Solari, a professor of reading at the University of Virginia who spoke at the roundtable. Getting academics to change their instruction to align with evidence-based practice is "a very political and difficult task," she said.
U.S. News & World Report announced its 2020 Best Online Programs rankings today, the ninth edition of these rankings.
Education (309 colleges)
1. Clemson University (Moore)
2. University of Florida
3. University of Virginia (Curry)