TeachLab with Justin Reich

Lillian Hsu and Angela Daniel

Episode Summary

This week on TeachLab, Justin is joined by Lillian Hsu, the founding principal of Latitude High School in Oakland, California, and Angela Daniel, instructional coach and design thinking project strategist at PSI High in Seminole County, Florida. They reflect on their transition to distance learning in the age of COVID, what values they brought with them, and how this experience will inform the upcoming fall semester.

Episode Notes

This week on TeachLab, Justin is joined by Lillian Hsu, the founding principal of Latitude High School in Oakland, California, and Angela Daniel, instructional coach and design thinking project strategist at PSI High in Seminole County, Florida. They reflect on their transition to distance learning in the age of COVID, what values they brought with them, and how this experience will inform the upcoming fall semester.

“So much of the ninth grade program at our school is around visiting different community partners and getting to visit lots of different work places to investigate the anthropology of different careers, so how we can still translate that to the online space is something that really matters to us.” - Lillian Hsu


Note to the audience:

The Teaching Systems Lab and the TeachLab team would like to thank all of our audience for their patronage as we attempt to shift our production and content in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We think it is of the utmost importance to continue distributing as much content as we can, and as widely as we can, to assist those who are in need of information in these difficult times. We are working to improve the quality of our content with these new constraints and get back to a more regular scheduling. Thank you for your patience.

Resources and Links

Watch “Voices from the Field: Centering Context” featuring Lillian Hsu

Watch “Voices from the Field: Asset Framing in Practice” featuring Angela Daniel

Check out the full course “Becoming a More Equitable Educator: Mindsets and Practices  now on the MIT Open Learning Library

Check out the full course “Becoming a More Equitable Educator: Mindsets and Practices on edX





Produced by Aimee Corrigan and Garrett Beazley

Recorded and mixed by Garrett Beazley


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Episode Transcription

Justin Reich:                 From the Teaching Systems Lab at MIT, this is TeachLab, a podcast about the art and craft of teaching, I'm Justin Reich. Today we have two fabulous educators joining us from two project-based learning schools, Lillian Hsu is the founding principal of Latitude High School in Oakland, California, and Angela Daniel is a instructional coach and design thinking project strategist at PSI High in Seminole County, Florida. Angela, thanks for joining us.

Angela Daniel:              Thanks for having me, Justin.

Justin Reich:                 And Lillian, wonderful to have you as well.

Lillian Hsu:                   I'm excited for the conversation.

Justin Reich:                 And we're lucky that the two of you know each other, both of these educators work in schools that are supported by the XQ School Network, so they've had a chance to network and learn from one another as well. Today, we want to talk about remote learning, how it's going, what we're learning, what kinds of lessons we're picking up this spring that we could apply to this fall. Lillian, maybe we can start with you. When school's closed in Oakland and you had this scramble, what was your sense of what was the initial plan? What was it that you were most hoping to be able to preserve from your school culture and curriculum and things like that as you were transitioning to distance learning in March?

Lillian Hsu:                   Sure. I think, first and foremost, I think giving students a sense of predictability and consistency was something that we really prioritized, as well as small groups, so that there would be space and airtime for students to be able to process with each other and still be in community. So I think those were some of the core values that we were really trying to go after in the first days of remote learning.

Justin Reich:                 And the small groups where those organized from within classes, or did you have... Was a class a small enough group as it was already [inaudible 00:01:56] or did you have to find additional staff to be able to break classes up into smaller units? How did you make the small groups happen?

Lillian Hsu:                   Yeah, so what we did is we actually as much as possible try to preserve the same time blocks, but so for example, if a ninth grade student had design engineering in the morning from 9:00 to 11:00, they would still have design engineering sometime in that time block, but be a shorter amount of time. So maybe 30 minutes on a Google Hangout with a smaller cohort of five to eight students. And so as much as possible, we were trying to give them that consistency, but we were also trying to find a sweet spot in terms of screen time. So we thought shorter blocks, and then that would also enable smaller groups of classmates from within the same pod.

Justin Reich:                 Great. So you have a block schedule at Latitude and you basically slotted everyone into a portion of their block, so using the same times, but with smaller groups, Angela, what did things look like at PSI High? What was the plan when the Florida governor closed schools?

Angela Daniel:              We were actually fortunate in that the decision came down during our spring break, or at least the impending decision was there during spring break. So we were given two weeks to really plan how we were going to move forward. And just like Lillian mentioned with Latitudes, one of the things we needed to do was create a consistency and remove as much ambiguity as possible because our students were really reporting that that feeling of unsettled was challenging and almost insurmountably challenging at the time. So what we did was we actually created, we took all of our classes, put them in one frame on what we call eCampus, which is essentially a clever portal. And we made all of the classes look identical, essentially. You would find all of your lessons in the same place, your curriculum map would be visual, and made it as easy as possible for the students to be able to access their learning modules.

                                    But on top of that, like Latitudes did also, we knew that our kids need really needed a lot of community and a lot of adult community support. So we offered classes building that consistency, but not in the same kind of time blocks that they had at school, as a matter of fact, some of our advisement classes ended up being at 9:00 at night. It was our most popular time slot, actually, and they would play Pictionary and do things like that. But we maintained the integrity of our advisements while opening them so that if a student wanted to drop in on another advisement and other adult's advisement, they were welcomed to do that. And we also opened up all of the classes for the same thing. So you could drop into a class, get some help with that class, or you could just drop in on a class to say hi to the teacher or the kids that were there. So it became a really large learning community with an extremely open door policy.

Justin Reich:                 Will you tell us about what advisement looked like beforehand? This sounds like a really interesting model. Is it like what other people call advisories or?

Angela Daniel:              Yeah, so advisement was, kids were randomly assigned to an adult and we largely work on SEL and things like that, but also really pushing the equity issues and giving people space to talk about things that are important to them, helping them connect things to their own personal feelings of purpose and community inside those spaces. And we would do that every week, we'd have... There wasn't... At one time we were actually doing advisement and daily, this last year, we were doing it twice a week. And so over the COVID term, we actually, each advisor had three different sessions placed at random periods during the week, but they would always maintain that, for instance, I had a 4:00 advisement on Wednesday, it was always 4:00 on Wednesday, and so the students would drop in, largely my advisement but sometimes other people's advisement students would drop in. So yeah, it looked a little different.

Justin Reich:                 With a colleague in the Boston public schools, [inaudible 00:06:07], we did a design session where we asked 15 of her middle school students along with two of her graduates who were then in high school to do some design work, to start planning next year on the principle that there's exactly one generation of students that have done remote learning during a pandemic and they have some real wisdom that we have to listen to. There's lots of stuff that adult educators know about educational systems, but none of us has ever been students during the kinds of circumstances we have right now. And definitely the kinds of things that you're talking about, about building and maintaining community connections for these middle schoolers was absolutely the top of mind kinds of things. One girl said, "Man, I wish I had a button that I could press and a teacher would just appear."

                                    I'm pretty sure we can't build that button, but it does seem like a schedule of advisements where there's always a teacher around is the kind of thing that we could build for the fall. And then we thought a lot about... The students want to talk a lot about all the ways in which clubs, and sports, and teams weren't going to be able to work the same way in the fall. It seems like 9:00 PM Pictionary games are like exactly what middle school students, high school students need to have accessible to them in order to continue to feel that that sense of community. A, it's a real tribute to the teachers who did not at the beginning of the year sign up to be available to their students at 9:00 PM on a Thursday night, once a week. But I think those kinds of community building things are just going to be incredibly important in the year ahead. Lillian, in the model that you built, what worked and for who? What kinds of students responded really positively to the designs that you've put together and then what are the mismatches that you found between your remote learning plans and the students who had the hardest time with adjusting?

Lillian Hsu:                   Yeah, I think I would say that for the most part we've had about 95% daily attendance on our three Google Hangouts a day. And so for the most part, I think because the groups were smaller and so we could really adapt and personalize for the kids and those small groups, I think that it worked for the majority of students. We were able... I think that what we prioritize in those spaces is opportunities for discussion, still being able to do collaboration, collaborative problem solving, Socratic seminars, as well as continuing a lot of our project work so that students still felt a sense of purpose and meaning behind the work that they were being asked to do. I would say that for about 95% of our students, I think the model has worked quite well. We just did three town hall meetings with our families to get feedback on the year, and overwhelmingly, I think families have really appreciated the structures that we created and are excited that we'll be building on those for the fall.

                                    The students it hasn't worked for, I would say, I think are ones who have really struggled with some depression as a result of everything that's happened and are really struggling with motivation and purpose during this time. And so for a lot of those students, we've been talking a lot about what does radical differentiation look like? How do we start from a place of what matters most to them right now? And for each of those students that might be a different lever. It might start from focusing on what are their future plans and really starting, working on a passion project or a capstone project that's going to be connected to that personal interest right now and not doing what's happening in the regular classes for the moment and putting that on pause. And so, yeah, so I think that we're looking at each student individually for those 5% for whom the larger model isn't working right now.

Justin Reich:                 What is the staffing for that look like? Are you having a core special response staff working across those 5%? Are you asking your design engineering teachers to also raise their hand and say, "Can you pick up one or two of your advisees or students who you would have some kind of connection with?" Or, what does it look like to reach out to... To figure out the way to get adults working in that intensive, radical differentiation?

Lillian Hsu:                   Yeah, I would say that I think it's primarily our Dean of students and myself really reaching out to the families and having those conversations. And then, coming up with the beginnings of an action plan that we then bring back to the larger team. Actually, just before this call, I was on the call with three students for whom it hasn't been working in terms of the regular model. And so, we've been working on a differentiated plan for them as well as the plan for the summer. So, today was when those students came back and presented to the larger staff of teachers what their summer is going to look like, that might look different than everybody else's as well as going into the fall. But it took a lot of coaching before that with the Dean of students and myself to prepare them for today. Right? And a lot of just conversations and dialogue about what's happening on the home front and what does feel motivating in this moment.

Justin Reich:                 That's great. No, that's really terrific to be able to provide that support and then give students some leadership, and some ownership, and agency, and charting their path forward. Angela, at Sigh High, same questions to you. What are the things that feel like, "Oh, wow, this is really landing and working for students." And what are the things that feel... Where are the points of disconnect felt most urgently?

Angela Daniel:              First of all, Lilian, that's terrific. Everything you just said is so wonderful for the students. One of the things that we found hugely successful, and we probably should've guessed it, the transparency of expectations with regard to the students. When you're building classes online, the level of foreknowledge that the kids have to have and transparency about what you're hoping to get from them is hugely important for the vast majority of our students. And actually, that all by itself, corrected a myriad of issues that we could have had. I also concur, if the students are struggling with a mental health issue or even larger than their own depression or mental health, if they're having a familial health or mental health issue, then everything exponentially increases. I think what has been... While I would never, obviously, want any of our students to struggle in this way, what's been wonderful though, is that teachers are really getting a front row view of the fact that we really don't understand what our kids are coming to us with. And their coping mechanisms may be miraculous.

                                    But, that's what we're really looking at. And we have to remember that because we're looking at the shell, they've created doesn't mean that we really understand the struggle that's going on there. I would say another thing that I've really appreciated here that we've had to make some adjustments, when we have a student who's struggling, but has an intrinsic motivation to succeed at some point, but just can't leverage that right at this moment. We've just really encouraged our teachers, like, "You need to really be clear about what it is that you're hoping that those students can demonstrate with regard to that skill or that content, and be very selective about that skill."

                                    Now is not the time, in other words, to bundle eight skills together. Pick the skill that's the most important for you and allow that student to offer you ways in order to demonstrate that. Let's work together with the students collaboratively to get to the end that you're looking for, but it might not look the way that you thought it would at the beginning. And so, empowering our teachers to have those really important conversations, but also to just self-evaluate. Am I asking for something that's truly important at this moment? Or, am I asking for something that would just be nice? And boiling that down, I think, is going to be important regardless of the situation in the fall.

Justin Reich:                 What kind of coaching did... You just described two skills for us that sound really important. Maybe three skills. One was in an online learning environment, being able to really clearly and concisely articulate instructions, expectations, those kinds of things. A second one was bringing a competency mindset to skills development. Can I, as a teacher, define a scale and an outcome, and then set up a system where students can take multiple pathways to be able to develop and demonstrate that skill? And then, can I do a strategic audit of my curriculum and to be able to figure out what's important, what's not. With some educators, I've been using the joke of having a Marie Kondo ceremony in our curriculum where we put our hands on a learning objective and see whether or not it sparks joy.

                                    And if it doesn't, fold it and give it away. Those are hard skills. If you were to ask me before the pandemic, how long will it take for a teacher to be able to develop some proficiency in those kinds of things, I stock answer will be, "The research literature suggests it takes 40 hours of professional development and some number of months to get better at one of those things in any given time, let alone multiple of them." So, what does the professional learning look like for teachers to be able to develop some proficiency? How many of those three things were you all working on anyway, and how much feels new during COVID?

Angela Daniel:              Well, as far as the transparency goes, that was actually, believe it or not, the easier portion because what we did over spring break was created a template with the expectations already filled out in an example course. And essentially, encouraged the teachers to borrow whatever aspect of that template. Like I said, we wanted them to look identical anyway. So, a template made the most sense. But also, when we were rolling out that template and really coaching the teachers how to use it most effectively, building out a nine-week curriculum map with all of the expectations built in, and then having an expectation for rubrics prebuilt, that pretty much clears up the transparency all by itself. Just having that high expectation.

                                    What was wonderful about Florida too is we had an extra week of spring break. We normally have one week. The governor came in and gave us an extra week. But, our teachers actually were paid for that second week so that they could actually do that development and develop those courses. Even though a week doesn't sound like a lot, five days of solid work with your colleagues can move mountains, really, if that's what you're aiming at.

                                    And then, as far as the other competencies, the fact of the matter is we're a project-based school. So, our teachers always are looking to codify those very important super standards, so to speak, and make sure that those enduring understandings are outlined way ahead of any king of learning or experience, even, that the kids are going to be involved in. So, that was actually a more natural transition. And then, like Latitudes, we are one of the most collegial and collaborative groups of teachers you're ever going to meet. And, there is at no moment at all that you're building a class alone. You're on the phone with your colleagues, and across disciplines, and what you can't see, someone else will help you figure it out. Or, several someone elses will help you figure it out. So, I think collegiality is huge with regards to that.

Justin Reich:                 So, you had a lot of strengths to build on. I think that's a wonderful way of thinking about these challenges is both, what are the strengths that our faculties have to build on? And then, also, what are the strengths that our students have to build on? There are all kinds of capacity that often schools take away a lot of the autonomy that, in fact, if we offer to students, they're able to take advantage of, and show their agency, and maturity, and all of those kinds of things. Lillian, as you look towards next year, what do you feel like are the things that were most important to learn during the school closures that you and your colleagues are excited to build on in new ways as we do some kind of remote or hybrid learning in the fall?

Lillian Hsu:                   Yeah. I think it's very much present on our mind right now because we are onboarding a brand new class of 50 new ninth graders who are all chose Latitude because of our model of city is our classroom. And so, having to likely, at this moment, be predominantly online, at least for the beginning of the school year, is going to challenge that. So, I think thinking about how we're going to build relationships with a brand new group of students. How are we going to capture, in some ways, the magic, and spirit, and sparkle of what makes Latitude different than a conventional high school experience is something that's very much on our minds right now. Right? So, what do those first few weeks look like by way of the kinds of projects that are going to feel really relevant and exciting during this time?

                                    How can we still be multimodal and sensory in terms of the project work we're asking students do you. Right? This spring, our design engineering and physics teachers were running around town delivering lab supplies and arts materials so students could take on passion projects. Right? And so, that's something that I think the families and kids all really loved was feeling like they were still creating something tangible. And so, I think that's something we're still thinking very much about into the fall. And then, again, that community connection piece, right? So much of the ninth grade program at our school is around visiting different community partners and getting to visit lots of different workplaces to investigate the anthropology of different careers. 

And so, how we can still translate that to the online space is something that really matters to us. And then again, still projects that feel like they have an authentic audience. This spring, the project that was most well received by our students was working with a community partner called Lava Mae. That turns old buses in San Francisco into mobile showers for the homeless community. And so our students, when the shelter in place hit, they had been working on building a tiny house for homeless youth in the Bay area. And obviously they had to stop building, but so our teacher pivoted the project and instead they were designing kind of 3D models of communal spaces for this tiny house village. And then they presented their final models to our community partners at Lava Mae.

                                    So having that authentic audience where you had a community partner who was really an expert in this work, be able to give students feedback, but then also having students feeling like they were working on something that would actually matter to someone in real life, in their community, on an issue they cared about. That was also just generated a lot of motivation. And so we're kind of thinking about how do we build on that for the fall, in terms of the projects we're designing. How do we really, again, tap in this moment when it feels like a lot of us don't have bandwidth for the things that just don't matter, how do we really distill down and zoom in on what matters to kids right now? And how do we kind of leverage that in terms of building community and mobilizing students behind a shared sense of purpose?

Justin Reich:                 Well, one of the things that I'm hearing from educators, I think duck tails quite a bit with what you just said, which is that if you're on campus for seven months and you have these powerful community relationships and you have in your case, powerful relationship with community partners, then one of the advantages you have going into a transition to online is that you've done all of this relationship building already that you just kind of built up a bank of chips that you can now spend in 10 weeks of online learning. It sounds like building up that entirely or mostly online is one of the things sort of most front of mind, particularly as you're thinking about new ninth graders coming in. Are there any particular ideas that you've heard from staff or students or other stakeholders about starting next year in building community next year, that you're really excited about? Any sort of particular sort of new approaches to that community building that might have to happen online that have stood out to you as like, Oh, we really got to think about how we're going to do that in the fall?

Lillian Hsu:                   Well, I think that this spring, the Dean of Students and myself, we've been doing 30 minute welcome intake calls with all of our new ninth graders to essentially try to get to know them deeply, even before the school year starts. And we are thinking about switching up our advisory structure next year to be mixed grade level and smaller groups, to be able to leverage our older students, to be leaders and mentors, and also kind of build a sense of community for this incoming class. In some ways like calling on our existing Latitudes students, right, who understand kind of the Latitude way and kind of are excited about kind of passing that on to our incoming class in this unusual moment, we think that will kind of give purpose to the older students, but also be another way of welcoming kind of the new students into the fold.

                                    And then we're also, I think, just thinking ahead to what that first week of onboarding might look like. And again, leveraging student leaders, as part of like a summer bridge experience or like a first week design challenge, that brings together some of the returning students and new students.

Justin Reich:                 Historically at Latitude, the advisories would have been in a single grade level, like it'd be a group of ninth graders or things like that. And one of the things you're thinking about shifting is saying, well, let's get some 10th, 11th and 12th graders in the mix there so that these ninth graders have some role models to help bring in. I mean, that sounds ... What I like so much about that idea is it seems like eminently doable. It seems like an important community building strategy and something that you sort of pass along to the faculty. And it also just gives more leadership and more responsibility over to students to be able to say, look, we all have to pull together to make this weird new normal work and we need you. I would imagine that students will respond in powerful ways. Angela, what have you all learned at Sigh High this spring that you're excited about bringing into the designs and plans for the fall?

Angela Daniel:              Definitely, we're keeping the transparency because that not only supports our students who need some advanced warning before they engage on something to help them sort of get that background together, but it also helps the kids who really want to leap forward on projects. So that kind of thing is for sure around to stay. Also, just the extent of student voice and that distilling of the things that are really essential, not just distilling them in our own mind, but that make them student facing. Let's have the students be on board with the things that they're hoping to do. I think that our students are really hoping that we go back. We have no word actually in Florida whatsoever. I know that there are many, many, many smart people trying to figure out a way to get the kids back on campus for multiple reasons, not just community and education.

                                    But what we found during this COVID crisis is that schools aren't just a place of education that they really are a lifeboat for a lot of our most fragile humans. It's our obligation to make sure that they continue to have a lifeboat until we can figure out how to fix the other broken things. Also, our school is very, well, we're an equity project, so we're very asset minded and having our teachers have these very important conversations with students and encouraging them in really dark times to continue leaning on their strengths because they have them and they're very important for our community. And so I love William's inclusion of the older students, bringing the younger students or the newer students in, because I also think that one of the things we found over this time is having reliable adults. An adult, when you call them, they are going to pick up, even if it's at eight o'clock at night and having that sort of extreme reliability, kids respond to that.

                                    And particularly the kids who aren't used to that respond to that very quickly so I think that that's hugely important, whatever that means, whatever iteration that that happens in, I think is something that really needs to stay, especially for the students that benefit from it, which might be all of them. And then as far as our community building, we're kind of thinking along similar lines. How do we engage reliably as adults? And how do we encourage our students to engage reliably also because if they're going to do this work, then they essentially become the face, which was funny because they always were. If we're going to be serious about it, that's, that's what they've always done, for good or for not. Having some intentional training and help with regard to how they face our new students is going to be important.

                                    But I also am actually very encouraged and as weird as it sounds, a lot of the conversations that we have that are just casual, are the students mentioning their favorite TikTok artists, or Facebook, not really Facebook, but like YouTube, YouTubers is what they call it, which always makes me think of potatoes. But so their favorite sort of celebrities, the pseudo celebrities are real celebrities, I guess, and how attached they are to them because they're spending so much time with them at home right now.

                                    And it really heartens me because what that means is that we can actually form important bonds with our students through unusual means, through means that we might not have thought of before, but when they can count on us to be at the other end of the screen, whatever that happens to look like, I don't know. I find that like my creative thinking kind of gets, gets really positively spun when I start thinking that we have opportunities that we haven't thought of. But I do think if anyone's going to think of them, I need a little cohort of 10th graders to give me some ideas about how to generate a relationship in that way too.

Justin Reich:                 Yeah. Using the tools that students are using. One of the things I heard was inviting students to think about what are the communication mechanisms that they're using right now that we might be able to, as adults, participate in or build community in or things like that. I mean, in this group of Boston high school students, we ended up talking about like, well, if there aren't going to be sports teams, can there be video game rec leagues? If I can't play soccer with my friends every afternoon, can I play Fortnite with my teacher and 10 other kids on Tuesday afternoons or something like that? What other mechanisms have you been setting up in the end of the year, or thinking about setting up in the summer to be able to solicit that student voice and student leadership? Are there structures that are yet in place? Is it also sort of informal or have you started asking teachers to do certain things or creating structures for students to be able to share in the planning and leadership for next year?

Angela Daniel:              So right now it's sort of informal. We always ... Depending on the teacher, we frequently have cohorts of students that are in for think tank sessions, or tutoring sessions and things like that. So we have a normal flow of students to the degree that we can right now, safely. But as far as the formalized structures with regards to that, we haven't set those up yet.

Justin Reich:                 That's great. Well, this has been a really rich and exciting conversation. I mean, one of the things that I'm hearing from it is that both of you have helped to build and lead schools that are organized around project-based learning. They're organized around community connections. They're organized around thinking about where you want students to end up, and how different students will take different pathways to get there.

                                    And you're able to build and adapt on those kind of well-established models, even in the midst of lots and lots of difficulties, especially the incredible difficulties of being at a distance from kids for whom, being connected is one of the main reasons that we do this kind of work anyway.

                                    Are there things, as you sort of look at the larger landscape of schools, are there things that you're hoping that your community does, or your family does, or the state will do? What other supports do you need, or would you hope to have from sort of outside the school building, to be able to make next year be as successful as possible?

                                    Lilian, have you thought at all about what else you're hoping that the rest of the world, the rest of your community might be able to do to make this easier for you?

Lillian Hsu:                   Gosh, I have to be honest. I think in this moment, when I feel like there's actually a lot of lack of leadership coming from other structures, and a lot of lack of clarity, just even in terms of what data to trust, I think more than ever, we're really having to focus on how do we build up our own communities to be strong during this time?

                                    Like Angela, I think that has been, in some ways, the secret sauce of what's allowed us to make the transition as strong as it has been, is the fact that we meet every day as a staff, right? So we, even before all of this, our team met daily before students arrived for from eight to 8:45, and we've kind of kept that sacred, even with the transition.

                                    And I think that's been really important for us to be able to communicate at a time when communication is hard. It's allowed us to calibrate and kind of be quick to make adjustments and adaptations when things aren't working, and then just share best practices, and be able to innovate quickly and spread ideas quickly.

                                    But I think more than anything else, actually, it's actually about, how do we maintain morale and a sense of meaning, and give people a space to process and do meaning-making at a time when things are so confusing, and people's emotions are all over the place, right?

                                    So I think that, I guess I would say that rather than looking outward, we've actually been really focused on, how do we keep and sustain our community to be strong? And that's the students, it's the families. We've had a lot of town hall meetings with families, and just helping families connect with our mental health providers so that they can think about strategies they can use to really support their students, their own kids at home during this time.

                                    But I also just think we really need to tend to the wellbeing of our teachers, right? I think that in these conversations right now, it can often feel like, yes, it's about the students. And if we aren't keeping our staff healthy, both physically and mentally during this time, if they can't be centered, they can't be anchored for the students either. Right?

                                    So how are we, as a school leaders, how are we really tending to that and sustaining that is something that's very much on my mind.

Justin Reich:                 Yeah, I've been amazed in the last few months at sort of how much teachers have given to their colleagues, their communities, their students, their families. And I do just have in the back of my head, there is a limit to that amount of energy. that cannot be sustained forever.

                                    But certainly, one of the more ... The more meaningful it feels to be doing that work, the better supported people are, the deeper the wells that we can find in ourselves to stay up 'til 10 o'clock at night playing Pictionary with our students, and get up at 8:00 AM in the morning the next day for staff meeting, and those kinds of things.

                                    Angela, have you thought at all about what other kinds of structures with families, with school leadership, with district leadership, with communities, that you feel like are needed to be successful next year?

Angela Daniel:              Like Lillian, it would be great if we had some kind of decisive leadership with regard to untimely leadership, I guess also, to make those important plans. Also, we are leaning hard inwards. I actually feel very, very fortunate. Because in our environments, and Lillian's too, spending time at latitudes, being student-centered is sort of a saving grace in this environment.

                                    Because you never wonder why you're doing it. When the student calls who really is struggling, or really having a hard time, that's why you're doing it. You're not doing it because you can crank out virtual learning material, none of us have signed up for that. And that's probably the least favorite thing of all of the tasks, and the most favorite being those times when you can rush in and support students.

                                    What I think, I don't know about PSI High in particular, because I feel like we have what we need at this moment.

                                    And we also know that we can trust each other to get what we need, even if it means crawling across the country to get another brain on an idea. So I do feel very fortunate that I have that kind of collegial, collegiality inside my school, and outside my school as well.

                                    I do think though, that now is an excellent time for a little bit of a teacher revolution with regard to that kind of collegiality. Making it okay to share ideas, and plans, and feedback, and receiving feedback, and just being the most generous human being and professional that you can possibly muster. I think now is a great time for that.

                                    Not just because our students could use it, but also because it makes the difference in your own core when that's where you're standing. It changes everything.

Justin Reich:                 No, that is a wonderful note to end on. That there are pockets of schools in this country where that is absolutely the norm, and there are other places where that is not always the practice. And it seems like, that the wonderful thing about bringing that spirit of generosity to our colleagues is that if you're in a place where that exists, then you're not just taking care of yourself.

                                    You've got another dozen, or two dozen, or 80 educators who are looking after you as well. And those are the best kinds of places to feel like you're working in.

                                    Well, Angela and Lillian, this has been an incredibly rewarding conversation. It sounds like you've done an amazing job in your communities taking care of each other and students during these challenging times, and I'm really grateful for the chance to learn from you, and to add to my list of things that I'm thinking about and trying to share as we all work together over the summer to get ready for the fall. So thank you.

Lillian Hsu:                   Thank you.

Angela Daniel:              Thank you for having me.

Justin Reich:                 That was Lillian Hsu, founding principal at Latitude, and Angela Daniel, instructional coach and design thinking project strategist at PSI High. These are both terrific schools with deep commitments to equity, to listening to and honoring student voice, that use project-based approaches to learning, that held high expectations for students while finding multiple pathways for students to be able to achieve those high expectations.

                                    And certainly, as I listened to that conversation, the thing that strikes me is how those kinds of core values really lend themselves to success during this crazy period of emergency remote learning. And then I suspect, also in whatever forms of hybrid learning we face in the summer and fall ahead. If you want to learn more about these schools, we've got some great documentary videos about them in our massive open online course, Becoming A More Equitable Educator, which you can sign up for on edX.

                                    We're also releasing the course on MIT's open learning library. So you can go there, and on the open learning library the course resources have no start dates and end dates. They're just always available. And all the materials of the course are openly licensed, so you can reuse them and remix them to your heart's content.

                                    I'm Justin Reich. Thanks for listening to TeachLab. I hope you enjoyed the conversation, be sure to subscribe to TeachLab to get future episodes on how educators from all walks of life are tackling distance learning during COVID-19.

                                    This episode of TeachLab was produced Aimee Corrigan and Garrett Beazley, recorded and sound mixed by Garrett Beazley. Stay safe. Until next time.