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#EdWriteNow - Connecting with Every Student: Creating a Culture of Equity and Access

Being a connected educator has allowed me to develop my capacity as an educational leader and learner.Over the last few years I’ve connected with a number of brilliant and passionate people who have inspired me to find and share my voice through chats, podcasts, research, and blog posts. One of those professional learning network connections is Jeff Zoul, teacher, leader, presenter, author and someone whose work I follow and admire.
Last year I received an exciting email from Jeff. He invited me to be part of a project with nine tremendous educational leaders. In his email Jeff shared a bit about the project and I immediately knew that I wanted to be part of it. The book project is titled #EdWriteNow VII and the plan was to write the book over a couple days AND publish 6 months later.I was familiar with #EdWriteNow Volume I and the great organization associated with the project, The Will to LiveFoundation. The Will to Live Foundation is an organization dedicated to the prevention of te…
Recent posts

The Myth of Colorblindness

Recently I read a quote by a popular actor that troubled me. His words: 


"The best way to stop racism today is to stop talking about it." 
Interesting thought. Should we end poverty by not talking about it? Should we close the achievement gap by avoiding the topic? We could begin to change so much of what is wrong in our nation if we engaged in honest and courageous conversations about our biases, beliefs, and misconceptions. One of those misconceptions is the myth of colorblindness
Colorblindness is the belief that we don't see color or race, that we see people and that we are all the same. These beliefs are widely held by wonderful and well intentioned people, including educators and school leaders. These are idealistic beliefs and there are a number of issues with this ideology:

We are beautifully diverse. Colorblindness negates our diversity, race and cultureWe all see color and we all have biases. When we identify as colorblind, we are suppressing our authentic views …

Understanding the Language Acquisition Process: The First Step in Understanding the Needs of ELs

What is the Language Acquisition Process? When exploring the needs of English Language Learners, we must review the development of language acquisition. Students are expected to learn two types of language, conversational language and academic language. “The distinction between academic and conversational proficiency was first articulated by Jim Cummins, who coined the terms basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) years ago and has written extensively about them…” (as cited in Goldenberg, 2010). Conversational language is informal and acquired more easily than academic language. Academic language is the language used in textbooks, writing, and academic conversations. Students can acquire conversational language in a couple of years, but take much longer to master academic language. “Research in language acquisition supports the hypothesis that we all acquire language the same way-by understanding messages” (Krashen &…

Understanding the Benefits of a Student's Home Language- as shared in EdWeek Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo

This post was originally posted in Education Week, Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo, 1/31/17

Question: What is the role, if any, of an ELL student's home language in the classroom?


“It is hard to argue that we are teaching the whole child when school policy dictates that students leave their language and culture at the schoolhouse door” (Cummins, 2005)
The number of English Learners has dramatically increased over the last two decades. Current research indicates an extraordinary boom in our English learner student population in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 4.5 million English learners are enrolled in public schools across the U.S. (CDE, 2016). The growth is evident across the nation, but especially in California where “…one of every four students is an English learner” (Goldenberg, 2010). For many educators, English language learners ARE the majority student population in our schools. Clearly, educators have the responsibility of addressing …

Resisting an Oppressive Banking Concept of Education for SOC: Evolving and Becoming

Research and history indicate that English learners are part of a group that has been culturally marginalized and economically disenfranchised. “For too long, the histories, experiences, cultures, and languages of students of color have been devalued, misinterpreted, or omitted within the formal educational setting” (Delgado-Bernal, 2002).  English learners have dealt and continue to deal with issues of race, culture, and language in our schools.  Those issues negatively affect the overall learning experiences of English learners and many other students of color. As an Educational leader, reading Freire's (Freire, 2010) work on oppression was a transformational experience. Freire's ideas about the banking concept of education as an instrument of oppression deeply resonated with me.  This concept critiques the student-teacher relationship as narrative, with the teacher feeding the students facts and “sonority of words’ that lack the power to educate or transform (p. 71).  When …

Passive Oppression in Education: Fueling the Achievement Gap

Many students in districts across the nation are faced with issues of poverty, racism, and oppression in their communities and schools.  Educators and administrators are uncertain about how to meet the needs of  students, especially students of color, living in poverty. The fact is that too many educators, for a variety of reasons, have simply surrendered to the forces of poverty and racism. In the process they have also surrendered our children’s future (Yes We Can, 2005).  This sad submission contributes to the academic achievement gap for our Hispanic, Native American, and Black youth. According to the 2013 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): The test scores indicate that Black, Hispanic, and Native American students in the fourth and eighth grades scored significantly lower than their White peers in reading and math. Moreover, Black, Hispanic, and Native American students demonstrate proficiency in reading and math at much lower levels than White stu…

Review: Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division by Dr. Anthony Muhammad

Rosa Isiah, Ed. D.
Dr. Muhammad's book, Transforming School Culture, completely changed my perspectives on school culture, leadership, and student achievement.  I picked up the book 7 years ago as a new Assistant Principal and had an opportunity to listen to Dr. Muhammad speak shortly after. As a new administrator, the book and his message were exactly what I needed to help me better understand my teacher teams and the journey from a toxic to a healthy school culture. This is my sixth year as a principal and Transforming School Culture continues to be my go-to culture framework.
Dr. Muhammad’s book is organized in a way that allows the reader to navigate the book easily.  The reader can choose and target specific topics or choose to read it from cover to cover. Dr. Muhammad’s introduction in chapter one explains the need for an overhaul of our current educational system. The research presented helps the reader understand the need to shift from the current system to a system that sup…