How to Teach Your Kids When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

By Andrew D. Kaufman

As the COVID-19 threat wreaks havoc on our lives, all of us are coping with the utterly unpredictable and traumatic circumstances as best as we can. For parents, in particular, who have been thrust into the role of a full-time stay-at-home mom and/or dad and full-time teacher, this new world is especially terrifying.

Source: Andrew Kaufman Blog

John Dewey, the famous educational philosopher and founder of experiential learning, said that “All genuine learning comes through experience.” And, thanks to COVID-19, just about every household in our country has just become an experiential learning classroom

As a parent with a seven-year-old and four-year-old now at home full-time, I know what it feels like. I’m also a teacher with a background in experiential learning, a teaching philosophy that puts students face-to-face with real life and then guides them through the process of learning from those experiences. 

A decade ago, I started teaching a class called Books Behind Bars at the University of Virginia, where my students meet regularly with youth at a juvenile correctional center to have deep conversations about Russian literature. 

It was an experiment. Such a course had never been attempted before. There were no roadmaps and no guarantees of success. What success would even look like was unclear. It was if I were attempting to build the Mayflower while sailing on it toward a destination I wasn’t even sure existed.

Sound familiar?

Many of the principles of experiential learning apply to the situation faced by parents across the country right now, so here are a few of my recommendations to help you navigate this new reality.

If you’re a parent, you’re already a teacher.

There’s a mystique surrounding the word “teacher,” but don’t let yourself become intimidated by the term. Some of the greatest teachers I’ve had never worked in any kind of formal classroom in their lives. They were the people I encountered growing up who were patient, cared for my well-being, motivated me to be better, encouraged me to take risks, taught me not by words but by example, and truly listened to me. Take heart in the fact that you’ve already been using these effective teaching methods for years. It’s called being a parent. 

Don’t teach by lecture, listen.

Active listening is probably a teacher’s greatest tool. Listening deeply to what another person tells us allows them to listen to themselves, to access their own creativity, and to find their own solutions—which will teach them more in the long run than anything you could possibly tell them. In order words, don’t feel like you have to lecture at your kids to teach them. 

Do the exact opposite by staying present and being curious. Ask them questions you truly want to know the answers to, not the ones you already have the answer to. Listen to them as you’ve never listened before, and they will learn more from this experience than ten hours of lecturing could ever give them. 

Co-create the curriculum with your son or daughter.

From day one of my Books Behind Bars class I told my university students that we would be co-creating this class together. I needed them just as much as they needed me in order to make it work. Those weren’t just inspirational words—they were the truth, and it took a lot of pressure off of me as a teacher. Approaching your new job as a homeschooling parent in a similar spirit will remove the pressure from you, as well. 

Sit down with your child. Ask them what they are interested in, what they would like to learn more about, what inspires them, what would they like to do? Listen to the answer without judgment. If they tell you that they want to run around outside all day in your yard and play Gaga ball with their younger brother, work with that. Go on the internet with them and learn about Gaga ball. If your child can read, then have them do the research themselves. Reading lesson accomplished.

As for math, ask them to find out the recommended size of a Gaga ball field. Do you have enough space in your yard to accommodate that? It’s a multiplication problem. If your child wants to play Gaga ball badly enough, he’ll do the math. And you do it with him.

Have your child teach you.

It’s okay that you’re figuring this out together. You don’t need to be a know-it-all. In fact, you shouldn’t be a know-it-all. Consider yourself lucky that your child is interested in a subject you know nothing about. Have her teach you about the subject. Not only will you learn something, but she will learn even more. 

As every teacher knows, you learn a subject the best when you’re trying to teach it to someone else, so turn your child into the teacher. Have her teach you one new thing about her favorite subject each day. Not only will this take the pressure off you, it will fill her with a sense of pride. And she’ll learn her favorite subject like she’s never learned it before. 

Forget perfectionism.

Perfectionism in teaching, as in everything else, is the enemy of the good. To give you a personal example: Like thousands of other college faculty across the country, I was recently told by my administration that I had to take my courses online within a week.  

The very core of Books Behind Bars—relationships between my university students and the correctional center students—will likely cease suddenly and completely. I don’t mean just the face-to-face relationships. I mean the relationships, period. The correctional center students are not allowed to have access to technology, so virtual teleconferencing isn’t a possibility. And after the semester is over, the so-called “no-contact rule” prevents further contact between the two groups of students for five years.

Imagine how traumatic this is all for the students on both sides. 

If I set myself the goal of creating an awesome class through all this, I’m doomed and so are my students. Some college administrations are putting pressure on faculty to maintain the same high standards in the online version of our courses that they expect us to have in the traditional classroom format. Such pressure is not only unethical but ludicrous, when people have mountains of pressure on them already. 

Now is not the time to be a perfect parent or a perfect teacher. Now is the time to radically adjust our expectations, and give one another—and ourselves—permission to be human and imperfect. 

Your most important teaching goal right now should be the well-being of your child.

There’s a saying in teaching circles that you start with the student, not the subject. This is more true now than ever.

The most important thing that should be on your mind in this traumatic moment is the well-being of your child. 

I am continually reminding my university students right now that my number one concern is their well-being first, their learning second. Imagine what college students must be going through at this moment. Some of them are be living at home, taking care of ailing parents, looking for work, and still trying to keep up with their studies. It’s insane. My students aren’t thinking about Tolstoy or Dostoevsky right now. They’re thinking about real things, big things, life things. 

If my students take nothing more from my class in five years than the knowledge of how to care and be cared for in a time of trauma, then this semester will have been a success. It will have taught them something invaluable.

The same is true for your child. If throughout this traumatic period they don’t learn one thing about math or reading, but learn instead that their parents love them deeply and are always there for them, then consider yourself a success as a teacher. 

Godspeed. 

Read the original post on Dr. Kaufman’s personal blog.

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If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Youth-Nex@virginia.edu. Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: A nationally recognized expert on teaching innovation and service-learning, Dr. Andrew Kaufman is currently an Associate Professor and Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia. He supports faculty and teachers across the country in creating profound learning experiences that change the way students think, act, and feel, while making important contributions to their communities.

Teaching through Relationships

By Theresa Pfister

Source: The BOLD Blog

It was my first month of teaching and it wasn’t going particularly well. A native Midwesterner, I laughed loudly and smiled easily, two of the worst possible things a new teacher could do.

“Your lesson was good,” my coach told me, “but you’re coming off as too warm. Too friendly.”

“I—”

“They’re going to walk all over you.”

“I—”

“You’re here to teach them, right?”

I nodded.

“Then stop trying to be their friend, and be their boss.”

Read more of this post on the Blog on Learning & Development (BOLD).

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If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Youth-Nex@virginia.edu. Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: Theresa Pfister is a PhD student at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on adolescence, the importance of relationships, and equity. An educator first and foremost, she believes deeply in the importance of working in partnership with schools, communities, and students and using research as a tool to empower others.

Dialoging for Democracy, the 7th Youth-Nex Conference

By Johari Harris

Highlights:

  • Youth-Nex hosted their 7th conference in November 2019.
  • The title of the conference was “Dialoging for Democracy: Youth Moral Reasoning and Social Justice.”
  • Co-chair Dr. Johari Harris discusses why this conference was chosen and what participants got from attending.

The Unite the Right White Nationalist march that took place in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12th 2017 demonstrated the resiliency and inherent violence of White supremacy. In the time since, this nation has continued to see a rise in hate crimes directed at different, often marginalized, communities within the United States. These events run parallel to larger conversations about justice and human welfare happening both in the U.S. and abroad. From immigration to global warming, people are grappling with what solutions to these problems should look like. While these issues and subsequent conversations are often viewed as “best left to the adults,” events like March for Our Lives, the Global Climate Strike, and A Day Without Immigrants demonstrate the vested interest today’s youth have in these and other moral issues and the health of our overall democracy.

We at Youth-Nex wholeheartedly support these efforts. Further, we believe that, rather than overlooking the concerns of youth, our educational and policy systems should center youth in the process of understanding complex problems by paying attention to how youth think about these issues and how adults can support youth’s engagement in creating solutions to them. I had the wonderful opportunity to co-chair the 7th Youth-Nex conference on “Dialoging for Democracy: Youth Moral Reasoning and Social Justice” with Dr. Nancy Deutsch (Director of Youth-Nex) in November 2019. 

We realized during the planning of this, however, that there are key questions we must consider as we seek to support and collaborate with youth.

First, how does youth’s thinking about complex moral and social issues shift as they grow and change? What does the science of child and adolescent development tell us about how to best scaffold youth’s engagement with moral issues and how do we then engender civic engagement among youth? Second, what is the role of dialogue in this process? What are best practices for engaging youth in moral issues? Finally, how do we engage youth in moral issues in our current social and political climate? In particular, how do we do this work within K-13 spaces, both formal and informal educational settings?

To begin answering these questions, the conference looked closely at the developmental processes related to how youth think about moral issues, the power (and constraints) of dialogue, and the relationship of both of these constructs to democracy. Importantly and intentionally, we kept the structural issues youth face at the forefront of the conversation. There must be an understanding of macro-level forces, like systemic racism, that dictate the effectiveness and expression of individual agency. Therefore, we discussed how implicit and explicit issues of power cannot be divorced from the types of dialogue in which youth can engage. We unpacked the developmental process related to moral reasoning, empathy, civic engagement, and perspective taking, and provided examples of best practices of how to do this work in a range of spaces from classrooms to camps.

Our hope was that participants left the conference ready to return to their own spaces better equipped to amplify youth’s engagement with moral issues and social justice in ways that further their existing capacity as today’s change makers, and the future leaders of our democracy. You can watch video from all the sessions and many performances at the conference on the Youth-Nex youtube channel and our website.

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If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Youth-Nex@virginia.edu. Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: Dr. Johari Harris is an Assistant Research Professor at the Curry School of Education and Human Development. Her work examines how social identities, specifically race and gender, along with cultural values systems, like Afro-centric values, influence African American adolescents social-emotional competencies. Her research is grounded in intersectionality, developmental psychology, and social psychology theories.

Special Journal Focuses on Civic Engagement, Moral Identity: Charlottesville’s Summer of 2017

We resume blogs about Positive Youth Development with a focus on the center’s three new core areas: a) Out-of-School Time; b) Educational Systems: Middle School; and c) Community Engagement: Civic and Political.

We start with the Journal of Adolescent Research Special Issue focus on Youth Civic and Moral Engagement. Nancy Deutsch penned the introduction, posted with the permission of the publisher, which shines a light on the events that transpired in Charlottesville over the summer of 2017.

Introduction to the Journal of Adolescent Research Special Issue on Youth Civic and Moral Engagement

As our editorial team was putting together this issue, our home, Charlottesville, Virginia, was still reeling from the events of the summer of 2017. Images of angry White, mostly male, faces holding tiki torches and weapons, wearing white polo shirts and khakis, chanting fascist and racist slogans were still fresh in our minds. Many of these faces were young; the leaders were under 40. The man charged with killing Charlottesville community member Heather Heyer, who was one of the counter protestors on August 12, was 20 years old. For those of us who study young people, these images could seem to signify a crisis of civic engagement—a reflection of youth whose disengagement from the moral fabric of our society was so great as to lead them to a White supremacist movement that advocates violent hatred.

Yet that is not the full Charlottesville story. On the evening of August 11, 2017, a group of students from the University of Virginia faced down a mob of tiki torch wielding White supremacists who had marched across the school’s campus. The students linked arms, surrounding the statue of Thomas Jefferson that sits at the heart of campus, in front of a sign proclaiming “VA Students Act Against White Supremacy.” These students took the ultimate civic stand—putting their bodies in harm’s way to defend the values that we hold dear. Members of the antifascist movement, whom some clergy members credit with saving their lives during the protests on August 12, are also primarily young people. Furthermore, for weeks, months, and even years before the August events, local youth had been working within our community to organize for racial and social justice. It was a high school student who started the petition to have the confederate statues removed from our local parks. Local high school students started a Black Student Association and an organization to help undocumented students. Their story is one of civic and moral engagement of the highest caliber.

This fall, as I walked across campus every day, I was reminded of the courage and moral fortitude of our local youth. At the same time, I could not ignore the continued presence of White supremacy and the increasing public presence of hate groups across the globe, groups that often prey on disengaged young people for recruitment. The time for a developmental focus on youth civic and moral identity and engagement is now.

In line with our mission, and following that commitment, our editorial team decided to create a special issue featuring articles focused on civic engagement and moral identity. The four articles in this volume feature a range of perspectives from across the globe. Some consider contexts or interventions that may promote civic engagement, such as schools, service learning, and youth councils. Others consider the development of moral and/or civic identities. We felt that this topic was timely and deserving of a dedicated issue. We hope that you agree. And we hope that some day #Charlottesville can come to represent not the violent reemergence of hate groups in the United States but the power of youth civic engagement and moral identity, and the tremendous ability of young people to promote positive social change.

Nancy L. Deutsch
University of Virginia
Youth-Nex: The UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development
Charlottesville, VA
nld7a@virginia.edu

Articles in the issue: (access depends on your individual or institutional permissions):

If Someone Asked, I’d Participate: Teachers as Recruiters for Political and Civic Participation
Rebecca Jacobsen, David Casalaspi
First Published October 24, 2016; pp. 153–186

Youth Civic Engagement: Do Youth Councils Reduce or Reinforce Social Inequality?
Astraea Augsberger, Mary Elizabeth Collins, Whitney Gecker, Meaghan Dougher
First Published January 4, 2017; pp. 187–208

Globalization and Moral Personhood: Dyadic Perspectives of the Moral Self in Rural and Urban Thai Communities
Jessica McKenzie
First Published October 9, 2016; pp. 209–246

Development of Adolescent Moral and Civic Identity Through Community Service: A Qualitative Study in Hong Kong
Huixuan Xu, Min Yang
First Published March 20, 2017; pp. 247–272

https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558418756524
Journal of Adolescent Research
2018, Vol. 33(2) 151–152
© The Author(s) 2018
Reprints and permissions:
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DOI: 10.1177/0743558418756524
journals.sagepub.com/home/jar
The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in the Journal of Adolescent Research, Vol. 33(2) 151–152, February/2018 published by SAGE Publishing, All rights reserved.

Series: Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes And Black Adolescent Identity

 
This is the first post in a series based on Professor Valerie Adams-Bass‘ UVA class, “Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes And Black Adolescent Identity.”

Introduction by Valerie Adams-Bass, Ph.D.
TV talks. The characters we view on television shows and in movies speak to us through the written scripts and through the physical bodies of the characters. Media socialization—the exposure to mass communication (television, radio, internet, newspapers) messages, which teach people socially accepted behaviors that have: (a) a direct influence on cognitive ability and behavioral functioning, and (b) a mediating or facilitative indirect influence on learning (Adams & Stevenson, 2012), has been identified as a notable factor during adolescence. Arnett, 1995; Lloyd, 2002; Strasburger, Wilson & Jordan, 2014). Students in EDHS 3100, Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes and Black Adolescent Identity, are learning about the scripts that are associated with black media images and discussing the impact on African-American adolescents. Their blog entries reflect an understanding of the scripts viewed in television sitcoms, drama, reality shows, or movies and the potential impact of exposure to theses media images on viewers.


The Parkers, “That’s What Friends Are For”
By Alysa Triplett, UVA student

The Parkers is a sitcom about an African-American mother-daughter duo in Los Angeles, California who both attend a local community college. In this particular episode, both mother (Nikki) and daughter (Kim) prepare for a final examination for a class taught by professor, and love interest of Nikki, Stanley Oglevee. Just a few days before the exam, Nikki’s high school friend, Flo, arrives in town for a charity walk and stays with the Parkers. Flo’s presence proves to be a hindrance to Nikki’s studies as she repeatedly convinces Nikki to go out instead of studying, even the night before the test. On this particular night, Flo leaves Nikki at a party, which eventually results in Nikki getting arrested and missing her morning exam. On Kim’s side of the story, she and her [musical] band (with friends Stevie and T) book a lot of gigs in the days leading up to the exam. This leaves them with little time to study and thus they resort to cheating. Continue reading

Research and the Real World, Are They a Match?


Above, Joanna Williams speaks to a standing room only crowd of colleagues and students, at the February Youth-Nex Works in Progress Meeting on “Investigating Diversity in Early Adolescence.” (Audio of the talk here.)

Williams is an associate professor at the Curry School of Education and is affiliated with Youth-Nex and Youth and Social Innovation (YSI).

In her recent blog for the William T. Grant Foundation, Joanna Williams asks if research matters in the real world. Published with the foundation’s consent here are her thoughts. Continue reading

Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress: A Comprehensive Review

By Aleta L. Meyer, PhD

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Aleta L. Meyer is Senior Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Meyer’s work focuses on the translation of theory and empirical research across multiple health outcomes into effective and feasible prevention programs for communities. At Administration for Children and Families (ACF) this includes the translation of research on early adversity to ACF programs, community-based-participatory-research to evaluate early childhood programs within American Indian/Alaska Native communities, and positive youth development.

In March 2015 we featured the first of 4 inter-related reports on self-regulation and toxic stress published by the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, titled Seven Key Principles Identified in New Report on Self-Regulation Development, by Meyer who conceived the project, led the effort, and is the project’s program officer.

Since that time, the project published a second report, A Review of Ecological, Biological, and Developmental Studies of Self-Regulation and Stressa literature review on the impact of early adversity and chronic stress on self-regulation development from birth to young adulthood.

This post by Meyer, highlights the recently released 3rd report, Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Report 3: A Comprehensive Review of Self-Regulation Interventions from Birth Through Young Adulthood. Key authors: Desiree W. Murray, Katie self-reg-coverRosanbalm, Christina Christopoulos, Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University.
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Itching For Scratch

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By Valerie N. Adams-Bass, PhD

Valerie N. Adams-Bass is an Assistant Professor of the Youth and Social Innovations (YSI) program in the Curry School of Education and a Youth-Nex Faculty Affiliate, at the University of Virginia.

Educational Technology, Ed-Tech is garnering considerable attention as public school districts increasingly adopt and integrate technology into day-to-day instruction. In 2015, I worked as a research fellow with the University of California Davis School of Education on the Digital Promise Pilot to Purchase Project.

Considered a “short-cycle” research project, we worked at a rapid pace for the first half of the year to learn as much as we could from six districts that ranged in size from 1,200-to-96,000 students about how they pilot and make purchasing decisions about ed-tech products. To collect data, I touched down in 4 time zones and visited 4 states; Alabama, California, Idaho, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. After a demanding travel schedule, I wrapped up my data collection and headed home.

Many of our findings were published in Pilot-to-Purchase, Piloting Ed-tech Products in k-12 Public Schools report and we created a “tool kit” of resources that are the result of recommendations included in the report. In steps two, three and four of the toolkit I discuss planning, training and implementation and data collection, all important components of piloting ed-tech tools. You’ll find videos discussing these steps throughout this blog, courtesy of DigitalPromise.org.

Adams-Bass Video One:
From Digital Promise.org
Planning
When planning a pilot, districts must clearly articulate what they are trying to accomplish and how they will collect evidence to make an informed decision. Pilots produce the most useful results when everyone involved can answer the question, “What does success look like?”
adamsbassvid1

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Ethnicity and Health: How Can We Maximize Urban Green Space for Health Promotion?

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by Jenny Roe, Ph.D. and Alice Roe
Originally published on The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (UD/MH) blog, here. [Jenny Roe, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Design and Health, School of Architecture, University of Virginia. Her recent talk, at our sponsored lecture series, can be found here.]

 

Access to parks and urban green space facilitates exposure to nature, exercise and social opportunities that have positive impacts on both physical and mental health. In the last decade, rates of migration have risen dramatically across the globe: by 2038, it’s expected that half of London’s residents will be of a black and minority ethnic origin (BME). Our cities, towns and communities are becoming increasingly multicultural and, yet there are inequalities. A recent report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission showed that in the UK, ethnic minorities are experiencing worse health outcomes. This is particularly the case for mental health: in 2012, the proportion of adults in England who were at risk of poor mental health was found to be higher among Pakistani/Bangladeshi and African/Caribbean/Black respondents than White respondents, and there were inequalities in accessing healthcare.

Hence, it is increasingly important that research reflects the diverse make-up of these populations. A new study has sought to better understand the differences in use and perception of urban green space among BME groups in the UK, and illustrated the need for park facilitators to accommodate the needs, attitudes and interests of our multicultural population.

Continue reading

An Inside Look at AERA 2015

Chicago – Site of 2015 AERA. “ChicagoOverheadTiltShift”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Over the course of five days in mid April, thousands of researchers, teachers, and administrators came together to discuss current educational issues. Valerie Futch, Ph.D., gives us a look into the 2015 American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference held in Chicago this spring. aera jpeg

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Valerie Futch, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor of Education, and Youth-Nex faculty member at the Curry School of Education. Her current work includes several projects that aim to improve understanding of youth experiences in the classroom, in after-school programs, and in relationship to adults. Futch is Program Chair for the American Educational Research Association Out-of-School Time (OST) SIG, American Educational Research Association, 2015 & 2016 Conferences. She was a Youth-Nex postdoctoral fellow from June 2011–August 2014.

Since I’m only one person and can’t be in multiple places at once, I followed a lot of the concurrent sessions on Twitter. If you want a great recap of the main points as well as links to lots of other resources, definitely check out the #AERA15 conversation.

The theme this year was “Toward Justice: Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis” and many of the keynotes took up issues of achievement and opportunity gaps, disciplinary discrepancies, access to quality schools, and issues of education policy and reform. For a full listing of keynote speakers and information about their talks, visit the conference page.

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AERA OST-SIG Business Meeting Panel

I also had the opportunity to chair the program for the Out-of-School-Time Special Interest Group (OST-SIG). We had several roundtable and paper sessions, as well as a few posters. Some of the topics that were covered included discussions of what constitutes quality in after-school programs, how we can build collaborative opportunities in out-of-school-time settings, a full paper session documenting outcomes in these programs, and a look at global programs for youth. We also had a very productive business meeting with leading researchers in the OST field where we discussed the ESEA renewal debate in Congress and the importance of funding after-school programs. We are working on compiling all of the slides from our presenters and will post them on our SIG webpage for you to have access to in the next few weeks. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to have access to these materials when we post them!

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Maxine Greene Memorial Program

There were somber moments as well, as several memorial sessions honored and mourned the loss of brilliant scholars. Two who were influential to me were Maxine Greene and Greg Dimitriadis. Both took up issues of art, aesthetics, justice, and philosophy of education. Their ideas fuel many educators and researchers and inspires us to create classrooms that spark creativity. The full rooms and heartfelt memories shared by former colleagues, students, and friends attests to their long-lasting influence on many in the education field.

The highlight of my trip was definitely the Saturday morning Youth Research Festival coordinated by AERA President Joyce King and Distinguished Professor Michelle Fine. Over ten teams of youth researchers from across the nation (and one group from South Africa!) presented their participatory research projects and highlighted the impact these projects had in their local communities. You can learn more about several of the projects by visiting the Public Science Project webpage. I’m looking forward to chairing the OST-SIG program again next year and encourage you to submit your work for presentation at the 2016 conference, to be held in Washington, DC.