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The Continuing Educator

Author: NWEA

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A math teacher and a professional learning pro bring a blast of fresh air to educators everywhere, every week!

Here's what makes this teaching podcast different: We have big ideas about education AND we know how to put them to work in your classroom AND we'll tell you funny stories about doing it. Every episode is packed with tips from your peers working in schools right now and strategies from the pros on the professional learning team at NWEA. Plus, our co-hosts Jacob Bruno (EVP of Learning & Improvement Services at NWEA) and Kailey Rhodes (middle school math teacher in Portland) guarantee that you will laugh at least 12.8 times per episode.

If you've got a comment about an episode or a funny story you want to tell, send us a voice memo at and we might respond on air. AND! If you enjoy the podcast so much that you want to learn more about how NWEA professional learning delivers high-quality online, onsite, virtual, and blended learning experiences to help educators bring curriculum, instruction, and assessment into alignment to improve student outcomes, go here:

34 Episodes
Thanks for listening! Please rate & review The Continuing Educator on your favorite podcast platform. Season 4 is coming in 2023.In this bonus episode from Season 3, we talk to a working educator about the importance of family literacy and strategies for increasing it. Our guest Martin Silverman is the principal at Salinas Elementary School in Universal City, TX, and has worked as a teacher in both urban and rural schools. From his own experiences growing up, he saw the importance of literacy as a focus in families, and has sought to revitalize that practice in the families of his students.If you enjoy the conversation with Martin, check out his podcast The Second Question.
The ALA defines digital literacy as "the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills."  We discuss the many other definitions of the term and get into what responsibilities educators have to cover this topic.Disciplinary literacy aims to apprentice students into the specialized literacy practices of each of the disciplines—practices usually only developed by those immersed in the creation of knowledge in the disciplines. We discuss why this skill is so important and how it differs from content area reading.Our guest, Laura B. Hansen, is director of Teaching and Learning Connections at NWEA where she focuses on understanding and fostering the relationships between teaching, learning, and assessment to promote literacy for all students.Thank you for joining us on this season of The Continuing Educator!  Please be sure to share the podcast and leave us five star reviews so more educators can hear these conversations. We'll be back with more episodes in Spring 2023. 
“The essence of family literacy is that parents are supported as the first teachers of their children.” Family Literacy is the idea that long after diapers and baby steps, our children have so much to learn by watching, observing, and collaborating with trusted adults at home, particularly when it comes to building a strong foundation for reading with confidence. On this episode, we dive deeper into this idea and share the how and why of building and sustain robust family literacy practices. Joining us on this journey are Lauren Bardwell, Senior Manager of Teaching and Learning Solutions at NWEA, and Shiji Mathew, Senior ELA Content Specialist at NWEA.
On this episode, we explore literacy instruction, the science of reading, early childhood literacy, and the differences between skills-focused and knowledge-focused classrooms. Our two guests are passionate leaders in the field: Dr. Lynne Kulich, Director of Early Learning at NWEA, and Natalie Wexler, an education writer and author of “The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System.”
Let’s take a trip to where it all begins, at least academically, with early literacy and numeracy. On this episode, early learning experts Dr. Cindy Jiban and Dr. Tammy Baumann join us to share classroom strategies to help young learners navigate this important season of life. How do we help children master the critical constrained and unconstrained skills necessary to build a solid foundation for more advanced pursuits? How do we balance meeting state and local mandates, particularly for reading, with developing a love for literature, knowledge and oral language? How do we address unfinished learning or intervene early when it’s clear a young learner needs additional support?  The discussion touches on the science of reading, why early numeracy sometimes takes a backseat to early literacy, and how teachers early in their career can hit the ground running in these areas. 
For episode 4, we head to Las Vegas and the nation’s fifth largest school district. NWEA and Clark County School District are longtime partners who recently engaged on developing a robust and holistic professional learning program that could have major implications for school districts throughout the country. Two members of the NWEA professional learning team, Angela Morton and Lindsay Prendergast, join us to give their stories of how the program took shape and their perspective on how it’s helping educators and kids in Las Vegas.
“For many, learning mathematics leads to perceiving the subject as a collection of procedures that are disconnected from any big picture. It’s much like filling a box with puzzle pieces, yet never building the puzzle.”  For this episode, we are joined by Dr. Ted Coe and Anita Brown of NWEA to discuss how educators move beyond "doing math" to thinking about mathematical concepts, with a focus on formative conversation starters. 
Equity is not a buzzword. It’s not a synonym for diversity. So, what is it? Fenesha Hubbard and Joyce Smith of NWEA join the pod to show what schools and classrooms would look like if we truly valued equity in the context of instruction. 
Welcome to Season 3 of The Continuing Educator, a professional learning podcast for K-12 educators produced by NWEA.  This season, we are bringing in experts in math, ELA, and unfinished learning to examine the bold, creative action teachers and school leaders are taking to help students get back on track academically, socially, and emotionally. Two years on from the start of the pandemic and we’re starting to see a glimmer of hope and pieces of normalcy return to our schools and classrooms. But as we move forward, we cannot ignore the lingering impact of pandemic disruptions. From behavioral and social-emotional learning challenges to unfinished learning in core subjects, particularly for our youngest learners, students from traditionally marginalized groups and students in high poverty schools. While educators are accustomed to navigating summer learning loss, the effects of the pandemic are more complex.This week's guests: Dr. Megan Kuhfeld is a Senior Research Scientists with NWEA. In her role she seeks to understand students’ trajectories of academic and social-emotional learning and the school and neighborhood influences that promote optimal growth. Megan’s work covers a range of topics, including  longitudinal growth modeling, achievement gaps, and summer learning loss. Her research has been featured in Education Week, the Los Angeles Times, the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, and Applied Psychological Measurement.Dr. Jim Knight is Founder and Senior Partner of Instructional Coaching Group (ICG) and also a research associate at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. He has spent more than two decades studying professional learning and instructional coaching.  The pioneering work Jim and his colleagues have conducted has led to many innovations that are now central to professional development in schools. Jim wrote the first major article about instructional coaching for the Journal of Staff Development, and his book Instructional Coaching offered the first extended description of instructional coaching. 
For our final episode on student agency, we thought it was time to help our students set some better goals. So, we brought in Chase Nordengren, senior research scientist at NWEA and author of the forthcoming book, Step Into Student Goal Setting (Corwin, Jan 2022). He's joined by 3rd grade teacher and education innovator Amanda Thornton to discuss how goal setting, with clear learning intentions and plenty of scaffolded support by teachers, can lead to high learning growth and more student agency. As always, there are plenty of tips, actionable strategies, and stories from the classroom. Thank you for joining us this season! 
How do we as educators ensure that the empowering intent of assessment remains front and center, while helping students built self-efficacy skills in tandem with content skills?  In this episode, we present the five principles of assessment empowerment—learner context, learning environments and relationships, appropriate purpose, responsive learning cycles, communication—and offer listeners strategies they can try for each. Our guests are E. Caroline Wylie, principal research scientist and research director in the K12 Teaching, Learning and Assessment center at ETS, and Erin Beard, content design coordinator for NWEA and host of the previous season of The Continuing Educator.
General education teachers aren’t often provided the training they need to effectively reach children with disabilities in their classroom, but there are simple things they can do to gain more expertise at working with these students. In this episode, we discuss information why and how teaching programs fail to prepare gen ed teachers for working with students with disabilities, break down a few common myths about students with disabilities, and give teachers actionable ideas and strategies for building student agency with their entire class. Our guests are two NWEA experts in special education: Douglas Buttorff (content designer) and Elizabeth Barker (accessibility research scientist).
Our education system had been failing our emergent bilingual students since long before the pandemic. How can teachers better serve the emergent bilingual students coming back to the classroom and build their agency as they become proficient?  In this discussion, we cover how to recognize the assets emergent bilingual students bring with them, how to get back into the groove of academic language, and how to make room for both language and communication with English language learners. Our guests are three experts from NWEA (who all happen to be emergent bilingual speakers): Teresa Krastel (Spanish solutions lead), Angela Johnson (research scientist), and Adam Withycombe (content design and development).
In this conversation, we venture into the domain specific ways we, as educators, can empower students within our classrooms. How is building student agency in ELA different than in mathematics or science? How can we leverage our curriculum, content-specific learning progressions and practices to build in students a robust belief in their abilities to master academic content and apply their learning in new contexts? We ask what roles do mathematical practices, next generation science expectations for emerging scientists, and the ELA expectations play in building student agency, then discuss how we as content area teachers leverage our content areas in impactful ways to build, not just content knowledge of students, but the deep belief in themselves to master grade level expectations and beyond.   Our guests are Miah Daughtery (Literacy Director of Content Advocacy and Design at NWEA), Ted Coe (Director of Content Advocacy and Design at NWEA), and Fenesha Hubbard (Content Designer at NWEA) -- all three of whom came to NWEA with years of experience in classrooms.
Setting the conditions within which an environment of student agency is possible is not something that happens by accident. This episode will explore elements of culturally responsive teaching, supportive environments, and the actions that educators and leaders can take to create a space where students belong, feel valued, and thereby are more likely to take risks, make mistakes, and build a sense of self-efficacy that will serve them well in their academic journeys and in their lives beyond school. Our guests: Benjie Howard is Benjie Howard is the executive director of New Wilderness Project, an outdoor education program focused on developing youth leadership for equity and land justice, and he is the co-founder of Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!). Lindsay Prendergast is a former principal, guidance counselor, and special ed teacher who is now at school improvement coach at NWEA. 
At the heart of student agency is engaging students directly in their learning in ways that provide them choice points, skill in navigating formative learning cycles, and increasing levels of expertise to assess, as Royce Sadler famously coined, “Where Am I Now?,” “Where Am I Going?”, and “How Will I Get There?”  This session examines elements of student ‘voice and choice’ as critical enabling elements needed to build in students that kind of self-efficacy that will help them thrive and meet their full potential as learners. The conversation centers on practices and routines that are applicable to a number of scenarios and classroom contexts.  Our guests are Myron Dueck, author of Giving Students a Say  and Grading Smarter, Not Harder; and Brooke Mabry, Strategic Content Design Manager at NWEA.
Welcome to season 2 of The Continuing Educator! Teachers have tremendously complex jobs and a constantly shifting ecosystem of expectations, yet despite shifts across so many other areas of educational practice, building student agency remains a key desired classroom outcome that educators generally recognize as an area of need. This conversation will give teacher voice to the importance of student agency, varied practitioner views on the opportunities and challenges related to building student agency, and a frame for the season that will prepare listeners to hear about topics ranging from supportive environments and goal setting to meeting the unique needs of students with disabilities and emergent bilinguals. 
Shifting to grading for learning can have a powerful impact on your students, and whether you’re just beginning or you’re digging deeper into practices, your persistence will pay off! All students deserve to receive clear, meaningful, growth-focused measures of their learning and, with an aligned purpose you’ll be ready to deliver on this goal. The strategies and ideas shared by the experts in this podcast will equip you with the tools for success!
Since the advent of online gradebooks, we’ve put the tools in students’ and parents’ hands to regularly view their learning progress. But what happens when those systems work against our grading practices focused on learning, as is often the case? Designing reporting methods that uphold the clear communication around best, most recent evidence and also distinguish between achievement and behavior shouldn’t require sophisticated methods. Consider ideas for organizing gradebooks and communicating with students and parents that keep the focus on the learning, not the points!
Grading for learning requires reconsideration of several practices deeply entrenched in tradition, and one of those is the opportunity for students to reassess, or redo a learning activity. If we truly believe our goal as educators is for every student to learn, not to sort, rank or exclude anyone from that opportunity, it’s time to recognize why reassessments should be the norm, not the exception. Ken O’Connor and Dr. VaShawn Smith share why this is fundamental for student learning and how to make it work in the everyday classroom.
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