Think Connected Virtual Summit: Experts on Equity, Remote Learning, and More

WF1304039 Shaped 2020 Blog Post Virtual Summit Speakers Blog

Equity. Growth mindset. Instructional planning. Remote learning during a pandemic.

These are some of the topics on district leaders' minds across the U.S. today—and some of the themes covered at HMH's Think Connected Virtual Summit. The invitation-only event in October was an opportunity for K–12 district leaders to engage and interact with recognized authors and other educators nationwide to discuss solutions to their most pressing challenges.

In addition to connecting with their peers in sessions led by researchers and other educators, district leaders watched keynote sessions from four renowned leaders:

  • Dr. Jo Boaler, Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education and expert on growth mindset and mathematics education
  • Dr. Tyrone Howard and Jaleel Howard, Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and his son, a doctoral student and former educator, who discussed equity, access, and intervention
  • Dr. Thomasenia Adams, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at the University of Florida College of Education
  • Dr. Adam Drummond, ICLE Director of Professional Learning, who spoke on remote teaching and learning

The speakers covered four principal themes in the keynote sessions. Take a look at what the experts had to say about each of them.

Mindsets and Data

A limitless approach to learning can open up different pathways in life, leading to higher, more equitable, and more enjoyable achievement. We are in an exciting time in terms of the knowledge we can all access and the ways in which knowledge is being communicated.

In this keynote session, which you can watch below, Dr. Jo Boaler explored ways teachers and students can learn, lead, and live without barriers and with a strong sense of purpose. Part of her talk focused on teaching students to embrace the idea of struggle and viewing challenges as learning experiences. Struggling often leads to persistence, she explains.

"I find that when people get this information about struggle being a really good time for your brain, they start to live differently," Boaler says.


Equity and Access

Tyrone and Jaleel Howard engaged in a thoughtful discussion around the elusive quest for educational equity. Speaking from a multigenerational perspective, the Howards focused on their respective research and advocacy for attaining high-quality education for all students, but in particular the most vulnerable populations.

At one point in the session, the speakers differentiate between equity and equality. While equality focuses on giving all students the same resources, equity focuses on meeting students where they are and uprooting disadvantage.

"If we gave everyone the same thing when it comes to schools, we would still have inequality," Tyrone Howard says. "Because at the end of the day, what I think makes equity bolder, what I think makes equity more transformative, what I think makes equity more courageous, is that it is about saying, 'We're going to give students what they need to succeed.'"

Watch the recording of this keynote session below to examine issues such as race, poverty, relationships, and learning, as well as discover strategies to establish more equitable and transformative spaces for students.


What Really Matters for Student Success

In the session below, Dr. Thomasenia Adams addressed the issue of “mattering.” Think about it: we really only invest the best of ourselves in the things that matter the most to us. This applies to our personal lives as well as other parts of our lives, such as our roles in educating the nation’s children. What are the characteristics of someone who understands that mattering makes a difference for students?

First, students have to matter. Not the student ID number in the school, district, and state records, but the student, the person, the child that belongs to someone. Second, what we want students to learn—the content, skill, or application—has to matter so that we give attention to critical content that leads to a productive and literate society. Finally, how we empower teachers to engage in their craft the pedagogy, the ways of assessing student learning, and how we make adjustments amid COVID and post-COVID.

"Just like in the business world, in education, touchpoints need to be important to us," she says. In this context, touchpoints refer to any interaction with students in the classroom, and these experiences ultimately define the student experience. The better students' experiences, the more likely an educator can engage and retain them. This leads to increased graduation rates in the long term.


Planning for Instruction During COVID-19

A powerful instructional plan built by a passionate teacher is needed in every classroom. We know that boosting student growth and teacher efficacy stems from a successful instructional plan. Whether your teaching is remote, hybrid, or face-to-face, educational leaders must re-align their priorities so that instructional planning, along with feedback, are their top demands.

In this closing keynote, ICLE's very own Dr. Adam Drummond discussed the importance of building choice, space, and praise into your leadership repertoire so that you can create the pathway for passionate educators to reach all of their students with rigorous and relevant learning.

"We need the feedback loop in, 'how do we continue to improve?' And [we need to make] sure teachers have that voice to share," Drummond says.


Educators, students, and families can teach and learn at school, at home, and anywhere in between when you think connected. Explore HMH's Connected Teaching and Learning for best-in-class instruction, along with reliable assessment, relevant practice, and a growing library of on-demand educational resources.

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