MindShift Podcast The MindShift podcast explores the innovations in education that are shaping how kids learn. Hosts Ki Sung and Katrina Schwartz introduce listeners to educators, researchers, parents and students who are developing effective ways to improve how kids learn.We cover topics like how fed-up administrators are developing surprising tactics to deal with classroom disruptions; how listening to podcasts are helping kids develop reading skills; the consequences of overparenting; and why interdisciplinary learning can engage students on all ends of the traditional achievement spectrum.This podcast is part of the MindShift education site, a division of KQED News. KQED is an NPR/PBS member station based in San Francisco.You can also visit the MindShift website for episodes and supplemental blog posts or tweet us @MindShiftKQED or visit us at MindShift.KQED.org.
MindShift Podcast

MindShift Podcast


The MindShift podcast explores the innovations in education that are shaping how kids learn. Hosts Ki Sung and Katrina Schwartz introduce listeners to educators, researchers, parents and students who are developing effective ways to improve how kids learn.We cover topics like how fed-up administrators are developing surprising tactics to deal with classroom disruptions; how listening to podcasts are helping kids develop reading skills; the consequences of overparenting; and why interdisciplinary learning can engage students on all ends of the traditional achievement spectrum.This podcast is part of the MindShift education site, a division of KQED News. KQED is an NPR/PBS member station based in San Francisco.You can also visit the MindShift website for episodes and supplemental blog posts or tweet us @MindShiftKQED or visit us at MindShift.KQED.org.More from MindShift Podcast »

Most Recent Episodes

Why Ninth Grade Can Be a Big Shock For High School Students

High school is an important time in the life of any teen: hormones are raging, social cliques are forming and the pressure is on to develop a college résumé. Teens gain more independence as they get older, but adults also expect more from teens without providing as much of the nurturing and guidance of their earlier years. Starting high school is a big transition and, it turns out, the ninth is grade a pivotal moment for teens' potential success or failure in high school. When students enter ninth grade at a traditional high school, they experience "ninth grade shock." Kids experience a "dramatic drop" in their academic performance once they transition to high school, according to research conducted by Nikolas Pharris-Ciurej while at the University of Washington. The differences are understandable in this period of change — in addition to adjusting to a bigger school environment, students are faced with more rigorous coursework that carry greater consequences. Many students get back on track and recover, but researchers have found that students who fail courses in the ninth grade have a harder time recovering and making up those credits; catching up to their peers becomes more difficult and these students face a greater risk of dropping out of high school. At Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, California, educators are combatting "ninth grade shock" by developing the kind of community kids don't want to miss. To create this environment, the public school applies strategies that are centered around relationship-building and meaningful work. Students enter the school belonging to a "house," which is comprised of about 110 students, to help carve out smaller learning communities on this campus of about 1,400 kids. Students learn four core subjects (math, social science, English Language Arts and science) together within their house, and those subjects are taught by the same four teachers for both ninth and tenth grade. Students also stay in the same advisory for both years. These four core subject teachers meet several times a week to discuss each student's academic progress and personal dilemmas. Through sharing what they know about each student within their house, this team of teachers can see multiple sides of a student, not just what that child's performance is in one subject. Teachers Danielle Robledo and Mike McCall have their weekly house meeting to discuss what's going on in the lives of their students in order to identify areas of need. (KQED/Samantha Shanahan) "Since we're sharing kids, nothing really gets through the cracks," said House Marrakesh social sciences teacher Danielle Robledo last spring. "We celebrate together we grieve together. We are a team with this one group of kids for two years and so you get to know people." But for all the support systems Hillsdale has in place, kids still have challenges that can get in the way of learning. Hear how student Jeffrey Aragon overcame some of the failures he experienced in the ninth grade to find success as a high school junior. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, NPR One or wherever you get your podcasts.

Can Inviting Teachers Over to Your Home Improve How Kids Learn?

When parents are attentive to what their child is learning at school, supporting their learning at home, and generally advocating for them, academic outcomes for the child improve. But getting parents engaged with school is often a big challenge, which is why so many schools and districts are trying to move beyond traditional models of parent engagement. Some are offering wraparound services like health care at school sites, while others offer English classes or parenting seminars to entice parents to campus where they can hope for more face-to-face time with them. But efforts focused around getting parents to come to school may not be the most effective. One of Yesenia Ramirez's six daughters was reading at a second-grade level when she was in the seventh grade. The girl was having difficulty accessing the material so she acted out in class. Then her reading teacher, Mr. Ford, visited the family at home. He listened to Yesenia Ramirez's concerns about her daughter and helped her develop an action plan; and everything turned around. "It was the best gift I've ever received when it comes to my children's education because he taught me how I needed to be an advocate for my children," Ramirez said. This experience inspired Ramirez to start the Parent Teacher Home Visits project training teachers around the country in the model. She passionately believes that home visits go a long way to build trust between teachers and families. Ramirez says the teachers she trains (in 20 states) are almost always hesitant at first, but she works hard to help them see the value in home visits. MORE THAN A SCHOOL CONTACT Pam Buric teaches newcomer English Language Learners at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento. Recently she has had several newly arrived families from Afghanistan. When she visited the family of her student, Ruhullah Masomee, she not only met his parents, but also his three siblings. During the visit Buric told Ruhullah's family how hard he was working and how much his English has improved. His parents asked if he was using his cellphone in class and how they could help him at home. At the end of the visit, Buric gave Ruhullah's father her card so that he has a specific contact at the school. Making sure parents have this kind of personal connection is one of the goals of the home visit. The hope is that if anything comes up for the student that the school should know about, family members will feel more comfortable reaching out. Buric's colleague at Luther Burbank, Jennifer Adkins, was a bit more skeptical of home visits. Before coming to Luther Burbank, a school with more than 1,700 students, the majority of whom receive free and reduced price meals, Adkins taught at two private K-8 schools. In that setting, parents weren't just involved, they were intrusive. They emailed and called her at all hours and showed up at her classroom in the middle of the day. She's happy to have a conversation about a child's progress, but found the constant bombardment from parents overbearing. When she heard about the home visit program at Luther Burbank she was not interested in participating. A colleague finally convinced Adkins to give home visits a try. At the training, she learned the five non-negotiable rules of the program: The program is voluntary for teachers. Teachers go in pairs. Teachers make sure the parents agree to the visit by making an appointment and following up before arriving. Teachers focus on the family's hopes and dreams for their child. Any student can get a home visit, so it doesn't become a stigma. "I was a little scared and intimidated," Adkins said. She worried the parents wouldn't want her in their home and was skeptical that the visit would really make a difference for her student, Hernan. For his part, Hernan thought Adkins was there to tell on him. "I actually felt like she was going to tell them bad things about me because I wasn't doing too well at that time," Hernan said. Listen to the rest of Hernan and Adkins' story on the first episode of Season 3 of the MindShift podcast. You'll hear more about why teachers and parents are skeptical of home visits and get to go along on one with us! Find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, NPR One or anywhere you get your podcasts.

MindShift Podcast Season 3 is Coming Soon!

It's that time of year! We're back with a new podcast episodes. This season, we investigate the intangible, and often overlooked, elements of academic success: emotional safety, trust, and relationships. You'll hear how teacher home visits can help parents see themselves as a valued a partner in their child's education; how far a public high school goes to develop an inclusive experience for the crucial transition to ninth grade; how parents and schools can address childhood trauma so it doesn't become an obstacle to learning, and what parents and communities can do to help kids grow. Join us for new episodes beginning August 28! Listen on Google Play, Apple Podcasts, NPR One or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also catch up on earlier episodes that are still relevant today. Hear how middle school principal Michael Essien transformed school discipline by sending counselors to the classroom to help teachers with disruptive students, keeping kids in the classroom; hear former Stanford dean of freshmen Julie Lythcott-Haims talk about how overparenting is creating "existential impotence" among young adults; and how students helped high school teacher Michael Godsey unlock a better way to read and learn English Language Arts through podcasts.

Courage To Change: What It Takes to Shift to Restorative Discipline

The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) has become well known in the charter school movement for getting low-income kids into college. But KIPP schools also have a reputation for strict discipline and classroom management practices that require conformity. Over the past decade, many KIPP schools have been shifting their strategies, moving from strict no-excuses style discipline to restorative practices. There's a recognition among educators in the network, and outside of it, that kids need opportunities at school to practice the social and emotional skills that will help them be resilient after they graduate. KIPP Summit Academy in San Lorenzo, California has been leading the way in this effort. The school began shifting to restorative practices seven years ago and now they're seeing the academic and social results of that work. Teachers spend significant time and energy planning activities that push students to talk about difficult or emotional subjects, like friendship — a hot topic in middle school. They're trying to help students build an emotional toolbox, so they have the language to discuss conflict when it arises. It's been a long hard road, but one that has worked well enough that all KIPP Bay Area schools, and many in other regions as well, are making the shift. But implementing restorative practices doesn't happen overnight; it's a long, deliberate process of shifting mindsets among educators, parents, and students. And it doesn't always go smoothly at first. "The way most of us grew up in education was that the teacher knew everything, the student knew nothing; the teacher gave directions, the student followed directions; the teacher talked, the student listened," said Ric Zappa, director of school culture for KIPP Bay Area Schools. He led the changes at KIPP Summit Academy and is now helping other school leaders making the shift. He knows how hard it can be — he's been there. This fifth and final episode of the second season of the MindShift podcast takes us inside two KIPP schools: one has already made the transition to restorative justice and has all the staff and students on board. The other is just beginning the shift and running into snags along the way. Restorative discipline practices are becoming more common in schools around the country, but what does it take to do it well? Listen and find out on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, NPR One or wherever you get your podcasts.

How Listening to Podcasts Helps Students Read and Learn

High school English teacher Michael Godsey's favorite work by William Shakespeare is Hamlet. But a few years ago, he stopped teaching his students about the centuries-old classic in favor of a story that was unfolding in the fall of 2014: Serial, the podcast. Michael Godsey The story of Adnan Syed, Hae Min Lee and the community at Woodlawn High School captivated podcast listeners around the world, including Godsey. The story was so engaging, he made listening to Serial in real time an assignment for his students and eventually made podcasts a regular part of his English class. He also teaches with episodes of This American Life, RadioLab and Serial Season 2 that cover subjects relevant to the lives of students. When he first started teaching with podcasts, students were applying English Language Arts critical thinking skills to podcast episodes, much like they would after reading a book. However, the more he taught with podcasts, he began to discover that his students were learning in ways he hadn't anticipated. Godsey developed lesson plans for teaching with podcasts and started hearing from teachers around the country about how podcasts were getting students excited about learning again. Hear from Michael Godsey and his students on the latest episode of the MindShift Podcast. Find out how he uses podcasts in the classroom and how his students were transformed by the experience. Find us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, NPR One or wherever you get your podcasts.

Be The Change You Want To See

When Catlin Tucker pulled into the Windsor High parking lot for a staff professional development day at the end of Christmas break she was feeling less than inspired. She'd started to think that no matter what she tried in her traditional high school English classroom she wasn't really preparing kids for the world they'd find in college and beyond. And she wasn't optimistic that the jam-packed schedule of workshops would make her feel any better. But to her surprise, the talk delivered by the keynote speaker, Will Richardson, spoke to everything she'd been feeling. "He just spoke to me, to everything that concerns me about education and the way we're shuttling kids through classes and losing so many of them, and how we have to reimagine learning for kids of this generation," Tucker said. It was the validation she needed to top wishing things could be different, and start making big changes in her own teaching. "I walked out of that keynote and right into my principal's office and I was like, 'I want to do something different,'" Tucker said. The principal, Marc Elin, didn't shut her down; instead he let her explore the idea. When Tucker approached Marika Neto, a rookie teacher who was already proving herself to be restless with the traditional model, a partnership was born. Catlin Tucker (left) and Marika Neto. (Courtesy Catlin Tucker) Tucker and Neto created a program in which they share sixty students, a mix of freshman and sophomores, every other day. The interdisciplinary program blends science, English and technology learning standards into projects, and students are given more choice and independence over how and what they learn. Tucker and Neto hoped that by redesigning the classroom experience they could shift what students value about learning. Instead of being focused on grades and points, they're pushing students to see the value in self-reflection, self-assessment, and creative thinking. Listen to Episode Three of the MindShift Podcast to get a feel for this alternative classroom model, and to hear from the students, teachers, and parents who were willing to give learning this new way a try. Shifting long-held expectations of what school looks like hasn't been easy, but Tucker and Neto say it's been incredibly rewarding. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, NPR One or wherever you get your podcasts.

Stepping Back from Overparenting: A Stanford Dean's Perspective

When Julie Lythcott-Haims was dean of freshman at Stanford, she saw troubling behavior from some of the most accomplished students in the country. Students would involve their parents — and parents would involve themselves — in every aspect of the student's life and school work at a time when these young adults were supposed to exercise greater independence. "Parents seemed to feel a need to talk with their college student, inform them about something, check in about something, know their whereabouts, ask, 'How did that quiz go?'" said Lythcott-Haims. Sometimes the constant checking-in even seemed to verge on the unethical. This parental behavior doesn't start when kids head off to college, it begins long before: there's the excessive help with school assignments and fighting with teachers over every grade. For many parents this type of advocacy feels necessary to ensure their child's success, but Lythcott-Haims says normalizing over-parenting can lead young adults to experience an "existential impotence." They end up feeling incapable of handling life's challenges on their own. On the latest episode of the MindShift Podcast, we discuss the tension between the parental need to help children get ahead in life, and the unintended consequences of those good intentions. In a hyper-competitive world, how do parents strike the right balance? Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. Author Julie Lythcott-Haims (Kristina Vetter) Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success and Real American: A Memoir.

A Whole School Approach to Behavior Issues

When Michael Essien became an administrator at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Middle School in San Francisco it was immediately apparent that he needed to help teachers get behavior issues under control. If students acted out in class, teachers sent them to an in-school detention, where they waited for disciplinary action. Pretty soon, any kid who struggled with a lesson was trying to get sent to detention, thus avoiding challenging work that might be embarrassing. Essien could see too many kids were not learning in this dysfunctional system. In his first few years, Essien tried everything he could think of, including training teachers to deal with disruptions more effectively in the classroom, but nothing seemed to work. He quickly found that this "restorative" approach to classroom management was too much for individual teachers to handle on their own. "Teachers are actually paid to teach and the behaviors were happening so frequent, if we're expecting teachers to hold restorative conversations that means they're not teaching," Essien said. That's when Essien had an "ah ha" moment that is helping to turn this school around. Listen to the first episode of the MindShift podcast's new season, "A Whole School Approach to Behavior Issues," to learn how Essien and his staff are leveraging the relationship building expertise of support staff to support teachers in the classroom.

A Preview of the MindShift Podcast

We're back! MindShift is back with a new season of podcast episodes featuring educators, parents and students who are developing effective ways to teach and learn. Listen to this preview of what's next.

The Epic April Fool's Day Prank

This is an installment of the Stories Teachers Share podcast. Listen above or on iTunes to hear how the story unfolds. April Fool's Day pranks at school are often the projects of students who are looking to have a good time and impress their friends. At World Language High School in Chicago, teachers Al Julius and Alex Fernandez had some ideas of their own to ring in April Fool's Day a couple of years ago. The joke started when Mr. Julius hid Mr. Fernandez's laptop from him. Moments before Mr. Fernandez came into class looking for his laptop, Mr. Julius asked his students to be in on the joke and stay silent while he denied having the laptop. The joke ultimately escalated into one teacher getting handcuffed by a police officer in front of the students. Years after the incident, students talk about that prank as one of the highlights of their school lives. The joke also had the side effect of creating special bonds at school. One student named Ashley recalled how she broke the news about the prank to her mom as soon as she got home. "I said, 'oh my god, mom, you're not going to believe what our teacher did,'" said Ashley. "And I told her and she was like 'oh wow.' She didn't believe that a teacher could do that because she thought teachers were very professional. But Mr. Julius and Mr. Fernandez have that energy and they have that personality that just comes out and you're like, 'oh, we could actually get along with this teacher.'" The social bonds kids develop with friends and teachers can be just important as academic achievements. By creating a joke that included students, Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Julius established themselves as legendary pranksters and set the tone for students who were still getting acquainted with one another. "[The prank] made me get to know my teacher a lot better," said one student named Camilo. "It was a good feeling that we were all getting along after that day. We were just friendly overall. It was a good thing to happen." How did the teachers pull off this epic April Fools' Day prank? Take a listen to our podcast to find out. Subscribe in iTunes Don't miss an episode of Stories Teachers Share. Also available via RSS.

Back To Top