The Inevitable Change in Teacher Preparation and Recruitment Practices to Achieve ALL in the AC-Stage of Education

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As Vice Provost of Teacher Preparation and Founding Dean of Relay Connecticut, Dr. Good believes that empowering teachers with a rigorous curriculum of practical application, theory, and educational pedagogy grounded in culturally responsive teaching, can have a dynamic impact on PK-12 students. An award-winning educator, Dr. Good started her career as a secondary language arts teacher in the Miami-Dade County Public School district, as a charter corps member of Teach For America.

Dr. Michael Conner

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. Welcome to another episode of Voices for Excellence. I am your host, Dr. Michael Conner, CEO and Founder of the Agile Evolutionary Group, and of course, the proud host of VFE. And today’s guest, I can actually say I have known for over 20 years. We were talking where Dr. Rebecca Good’s kids, I remember when they were babies and Dr. Good said, hey Mike, I remember when you had no kids and now my son is going in fourth grade. It has been that long. Dr. Good has seen me as a teacher. We have been friends for over 20 years, seen each other’s careers just blossom. It is just an honor to see Rebecca now as the Vice Provost. Now, I want to say that because this is coming from a proud friend. This is not Dr. Michael Conner speaking.

Dr. Rebecca Good

I like to add, I like to add the national. National Vice Provost.

Dr. Michael Conner

My, my bad, this is coming from a friend, right. Dr. Rebecca Good, let me rephrase that. National Provost of Teacher Preparation for Relay Graduate School of Education and of course, one of the founding deans of Relay Connecticut. It is just, I tell you, Rebecca, I am just super proud of you. National Vice Provost. I remember it was just Mrs. Good. Now, it’s Dr. Good?

Dr. Rebecca Good

I still get called Mrs. Good. I was I was in the grocery store the other day. I got Mrs. Good.

Dr. Michael Conner

That’s that’s when you know it’s way back. We were the Mrs. Good, Mr. Conner. Yes, right? It was no Dr. Good, no Dr. Conner.

Dr. Rebecca Good

And now when you tell people, Now it’s, now it’s Dr., they’re like, all right.

Dr. Michael Conner

I love it. As you can see, the synergy, the friendship between us. To my audience, Dr. Rebecca Good, I’m just super, super proud of her. So, as I stated before, the National Vice Provost of Teacher Preparation for Relay Graduate School of Education, the founding dean for Relay Connecticut, it’s just an honor. I want to welcome you, Dr. Rebecca Good to VFE. Of course, before the recording, we were talking for, like, 20 minutes before we started. Then we started actually recording this episode. But Dr. Good. How are you today?

Dr. Rebecca Good

I cannot, you are like the best hype man. I’m like, hey, I feel like I need to take you on the road with me. I’m like, and here I am. I feel real, like, oh, man, this is, this is it. I have arrived. Come on with the introduction.

Dr. Michael Conner

Exactly. And Rebecca, here’s the thing with the introduction, with the first question about what’s your, what’s your, what’s the song that defines you, that’s going to be the walk in song.

Dr. Rebecca Good

That’s going to be my walk in song. That’s what I’m saying. Oh my goodness. Like this is I, you know… One, I’m just… you talking about proud of me, I’m just so proud of you. I mean, I’m seeing all this incredible work. I’m seeing it. All of this, like what you are doing to impact kids and impact school systems, like this is the work. And to see you out there and just spreading such a great work, not just nationally but internationally is phenomenal. And when I went on the website and I said, oh, let me check the guests, I said, man, I must have gotten the family/friends discount because you got some guests on this podcast. I’m showing up here like, oh, I’d better bring, I better bring all of my, Dr. Good-ness to the podcast.

Dr. Michael Conner

Rebecca, I tell you, I need some more Dr. Rebecca Good. And by the way, I haven’t laughed this hard in a while and it has been, to my audience, this is how I laugh all the time with Rebecca for the past 20 years. And, you know, there’s another mutual friend that we love out there, shout out to Doctor William Johnson. You know, he you know, those two. I’d tell you, you know, we want to talk about…

Dr. Rebecca Good

Don’t, don’t get us all on this on this podcast. Don’t get the three of us up here.

Dr. Michael Conner

Oh, like, this is home right here. This is home. Just so good to see you. But now again, we could go off like we All we do, but I’m…

Dr. Rebecca Good

Give it to me, I’m ready. I did my homework.

Dr. Michael Conner

Listen, this is a national vice provost. This isn’t an interview, okay? I’m going to show you how you be putting other people on the hot seat. So now you’re on it, right? Oh, yeah. But Dr. Good, as you can see, everybody can see our synergy. But you have an array of instructional expertise. And this is the reason why you’re on this, you know, teacher development, quality, effectiveness, your instructional prowess. I want my audience to be able to see that. But, you know, your instructional expertise in the ecosystem is, you are a czar, in my opinion. But as we were talking about before, what is Dr. Rebecca Good’s excellence and equity song that underscores your leadership signature in the AC Stage of Education, which is After COVID-19?

Dr. Rebecca Good

Yeah. When, when I’m going to come out and the song that I play to get me like, this is it, this is why we do this work before I’m testifying, before I’m creating… Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, They Did Freedom. And there is a line in that song she said, I’ma keep on running because a winner don’t quit on themselves. I’m like that right there is the… That’s my, my, my push. We don’t, we don’t quit. I can’t quit because I could never say I’m going to quit on a kid. And all this work always comes back to doing right by children and making sure that the world that they inhabit, this is better than the one we have today.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. And Dr. Good, I’ll tell you, I love that. Right. Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, two legends. Two legends. And when you say a winner don’t quit on themself And looking at it from the can’t quit on kids, I look at now in the AC stage of education where there are these compounding variables that we need to intentionally address. I always love to reference now that we have to factor into our strategies or strategic equations in solving these compounding problems is Raj Shetty’s work around the opportunity insight, right, and how we can impact economic and social mobility. And when I think about that and strategies around economic and social mobility in education and creating systems of that magnitude one, we got to have the expectations for our kids. And we can’t quit on them. A winner don’t quit on themself. I think of a lot of stakeholders in the ecosystem that need to be able to hear that. But I want to expand on your work, your National Vice Provost of Teacher Preparation at Relay Graduate School of Education, amazing. Founding dean of Relay Connecticut. Dr. Good, You’ve done so much for the education ecosystem. And specifically around teacher development, educator effectiveness. You understand the depth of the practitioner’s needs and the context of building capacity and pedagogical effectiveness and how we reach all of our students. But with the radical shift in student demographics and sociographics specifically within the next two years of education, 57% of education’s students are going to be black and brown. How do we adequately prepare future and current practitioners to root new pedagogies to achieve all?

Dr. Rebecca Good

Yeah, it’s a great question. I think about when preparing a teacher, an aspiring teacher or supporting a teacher on their evolution of growth, there’s not one way that fits all teachers, as there’s not one way of learning that fits all students. And so to think that we can say, this is what makes a great teacher, there’s just that space where that’s false. So it’s never going to be successful. I’m also thinking about the generation of children we have today, and future generations. We are still, right now, in our school systems, in so many ways, grappling with the effects of No Child Left Behind. And teachers are still grappling and being forced to teach to the test. Or there’s this generation of teachers that learned how to teach to the test really well. And so there’s no, there’s kind of, they don’t want to change that. And they’re like, this is what I do. Well, I can teach to this test. But what we’re seeing is teaching to the test is not preparing our kids to live for all lives of opportunity to reach economic stability. We are needing to ground our teachers. At Relay, and I just believe in any teaching space to prepare students for an unknown future. Like we need to start preparing children for what was in the past. We need to start preparing children for what is right now. We need to prepare the for the future. We need to prepare students to be active citizens. We need to prepare students to be self-sustainable. How do you take care of yourself as you grow older? How do you take care of one another as an active citizen? And all of those things still require some basics, right? What is the science of reading and how do we teach a child how to read? How do we teach number sense? How do we, you know… To be an active citizen, you need to understand the the historical journey our country has had, not only nationally but in the globalization context. So there are some basics, but we’re losing sight of the value of problem solving in classrooms. In social issues, when you walk into your average classrooms, oftentimes you can see students and or teachers that are bored, like as a teacher, as a high school teacher, and my favorite as a middle school teacher, that is one thing I could not be was boring. If I was going to have my class be successful. Teachers need to feel empowered in their expertise, and right now we have a lot of extra voices involved in the preparation of teachers and teachers don’t always feel as empowered in all spaces that they’re in. And so I really believe if we are going to move into new pedagogical approaches, we are going to have to let go of some of the past, let go of some of the present, and open our teachers and empower them to prepare our students for a future that is unknown.

Dr. Michael Conner

Yeah. Dr. Good, I’ve just been capturing some of your sentiments. there is a lot there to my audience. This is one of those responses that you want to play multiple times so that you can be able to scaffold and delineate the specific strategies that Doctor Good highlighted. one thing I that resonates with me, Dr. Good. Specifically in the context though now instruction, culturally responsive instruction because student demographics that we’re seeing the radical shifts with that is empowering teachers. Right. And empower teachers to not I would say in this rigid context, tightly coupled implementation of the curriculum work, relativity, is obsolete and the residual effect is students that are disengaged or bored. Right. And we’re starting to see that where it’s moving from this level of strategic implies I’m doing this to get the A to ritual compliance, where I’m just not engaged in totality. But you are absolutely right. And I think that and I look at this from a broad systems lens, is that the instructional systems, the operating systems within our model focus on the outcomes of the percentiles of a test. And you’re absolutely right. One of our previous guests that we had here, Tom Vander Ark, who was one of the architects of the No Child Left Behind Act, looks back at it and states that, you know, these were some of the things that I wish we could have accomplished, but we’re still seeing the long term effects based off of what we’re doing in the science and reading, Dr. Good.

Dr. Rebecca Good

I can tell you the whole thing there.

Dr. Michael Conner

That’s a whole episode in itself, because you and I, and we’re talking about before the science of reading became an educational fad, where how could they not teaching in the basics lesson. And this was when we were writing this book. We were teachers.

Dr. Rebecca Good

When we had to feel like you had to sneak around to teach phonics.

Dr. Michael Conner

Right, we’re like, we’re teachers, we’re really unpacking pedagogy. And we’re like, kids can’t access the text. And this balanced literacy approach, should we go back to teaching like phonics? And we were teaching back then and saying that. So we were at this was a long time ago. So now with the science of reading, as you stated, and problem solving and social issues, but I just want to expand on empowering practitioners, right? We know that there are tightly coupled systems policies, implementations around curriculum scope and sequences that teachers are afraid to be off by a few days. Obviously, those are contributing factors to the actual gaps that we’re seeing within our classrooms. But Dr. Good, how could we because of the the level of rigidity that we see with policy mandates in the context of instruction and curriculum implementation, where our teachers are allowed to have this level of empowerment and some type of semi structure autonomy. So that they can reach all learners for true engagement. And this is a sub question.

Dr. Rebecca Good

Yeah. Well, it’s so funny because I’m still stuck on the culturally responsive teaching, the… it’s a… I gotta come back to that. We’re going to just make sure, make a note on that. Like I gotta go on, So the empowerment of teachers this actually, I do see this as a stress, a structural and systemic issue. One of the biggest reasons is there’s a lack of trust. So let’s just, if we just look at any state, your governor or your, your education commissioner or a leader for that state, our voting population, who do we trust? Do we trust our superintendents to create talent kind of pathways to select for their districts, for the needs of their students? No, we don’t we don’t trust, we don’t trust them right now. We say we’ll do all the selecting like the state will figure it out. And then you can pick from the pool. We do, we trust our principals. We don’t trust our principals very much to select. Once again, we say we will filter and we’ll bring you these teachers or the state will bring you these teachers that says they are good enough. And you can only select from these even though, as you know, like as a principal, we saw people out here that would be incredible, incredible teachers. And they weren’t able to we weren’t able to hire them because they hadn’t met all of these other… kind of jump through all the other hoops. So do we trust our educator preparation programs? Well, if we trusted our educator preparation programs, we would say once somebody has successfully completed an educator preparation program, they do not need to jump through any other hoops. Here’s your license. Go. And what? And then if we trusted the principal, a principal will select you to teach in their school. We don’t trust our educator preparation programs when we say graduate from there and then take the praxis 2, your EdTPA, your foundations, take all these other tests, pay all this extra money, put in this amount of time, we add all these extra hoops to say we don’t actually trust them 100%. Well, what about do we trust our baccalaureate system? Our colleges? No, we don’t really trust them. We don’t say somebody could become an incredible teacher, enter into a profession. And after four years of college, we’re like, no. And we don’t even trust our college system enough to say we don’t even think, you know, the basics. Like math, your reading… So there’s oftentimes states will provide a basic content assessment. They want your SAT scores, they want something else because they’re not sure that college degree actually gave you the basics. Do we trust our k-through-12 system? Well, we don’t. Because if we’re saying we want all of this content knowledge assessed on basic level, I’m not talking about your advanced chemistry, I’m talking about, basic kind of reading, writing, math. We think we need to test because even though you graduated with a high school degree, though you graduated with a bachelor’s degree, though you might have a master’s degree in teaching, as a state, we still want you to take… we want you to go through all these hoops to become a teacher. Yeah, there is a lack of systemic trust and that then permeates into the classroom for teachers. What profession do you know that can have a master’s degree and do all of this work, have constant professional development, and everybody gets to tell you how to do your job. You’ve done all of that. And still, when you get into the classroom, you’re told, here’s what you will teach this year. Here’s how you will say it. This is what is expected for your classroom from minute to minute to minute. There is, we’ve got to release this control they’ll get me into, like where I think all this control comes from. But they got to be able to tell teachers and release control and say, you are the expert. You have dedicated your time, talent, your money to becoming an expert in the classroom. Do your thing. Do you know who trusts teachers and your independent schools? Why is it that independent schools around the world, they can hire who they want? Yeah, they don’t have, they don’t have to have any kind of credentialing and extra test. And who pays thousands and thousands of dollars to get their kids in that under credentialed teachers classes like that? There is a big sign to say, why are we putting so much on these extra hoops and layers? Our educator preparation programs? Yeah, like they are preparing great teachers. Let us now trust principals and superintendents to hire some great teachers.

Dr. Michael Conner

Dr. Good, I always like to say root cause analysis. Always like the exact correlation. That’s how my, how my mind operates. And I’m thinking, I’m thinking that you went deep into the root cause, the systemic root cause, and issues that we see in the education ecosystem, culture, trust, allowing that flexibility once you get through all of these myriad of loopholes and barriers, then you put a curriculum in front of you and being explicit and didactic, you have to do X, Y, and z. And this level of synchronization in to the district mandates and dates that are prescribed. You’re right. That is a culture issue. And, the culture mindset policies need to be, radically transformed. That should basically say, seriously, us in a serial, disruptive manner change. And I kind of want to go into the next question because that alludes to that, because I want to expand upon this, right. Is the importance of, representation. Now, when we think about trust, when we think about some of these tightly coupled, inhibiting structures, cultural structures, explicit structures that are in place, we know what the impact is going to be, limited representation beyond the barriers that you have just highlighted. So when we talk about representation in the leadership and, leadership ranks, the classroom, practitioners, the first line of engagement are students. But you are a point. It and I want you to expand on your expertise on this. You were appointed to the Connecticut Commission of Education to focus on and craft initiatives with minority teacher recruitment and policy development. Yes. Now, you alluded on some of the problems which rose, but the this is more of a national problem of context that we’re seeing in your role as well, you see in this. But for leaders and policymakers that are listening to this episode of Vfi, what are, Dr. Good, the initial steps that need to be accomplished to improve representation at the classroom level and then expanding on how can we now start redefining trust and eliminate those barriers within the structural mandates per se? becoming a teacher?

Dr. Rebecca Good

Yeah. I never, I never imagined I was going to end up in this kind of ed policy space. And so about seven years ago, I was, appointed to the now increasing Educator Diversity Policy Oversight Council. Now, that is a council that was put together via legislation. But honestly, there are so many councils where legislators come together and they pull together to say, we’re doing something and then the council never meets or it’s just on paper on the website. And even the one, this one I can to on I was in a meeting and somebody said, well, is that even an active council? And I said, yes, I’m there every time, we meet every month and all. But people don’t know what’s happening. And so what I appreciate about that council and much of that work,, the lead of our commissioners of education have been supportive of that work. Dr. Shwana Tucker has been really supportive of that work. And leading in that is to say, “All right, what are districts doing to increase teacher diversity and increasing teacher racial diversity, ethnic diversity, linguistic diversity in our teachers?” It’s almost becoming buzzy. Like, oh, we got to do this thing. And then there’s an interesting connection between, we need to change our certification, how we license. And that will increase teacher diversity. As though, people who do not identify as white need less of these kind of restrictions. And that’s like not… no, no, no, that’s not what it’s about. Our regulations in most states are really… just take Connecticut and how to become a teacher. It was written back in the late 80s and implemented in the 90s. Like, I don’t want a teacher from the 80s and 90s. I mean, don’t I? I was taught by teachers of the 80s and 90s. I think they did a pretty great job. But that’s not what my kid needs today. They need a very different type of teacher, and it has taken all this time to even get a conversation about changing those 1990 regulations right now. We just… in this past legislative session, a coalition of people across the state had to come together and I’m talking coalition of, those are your teacher unions, your advocates, your legislators, your education department members to get in public. Act 2441. And so this was directly connected to changing our education certification pathways for teachers. I believe, looking at how somebody needs to become a teacher, simplifying it, streamlining it, recognizing we’re in 2024. We are, we have a lot of advancement in technology, that can make this a lot easier. It’s one of many steps to increasing teacher diversity in a community, a state or beyond. I will say it’s not the only step and people get really nervous on change. Why do people get nervous about change? Well, usually that comes back to money. Somebody is going to lose money. Somebody’s gonna lose a job. If you look at your educational kind of state agencies where you have local education agencies, you’ve got a program that’s launched. And next year that program was great. That but at some point, that program that might not be delivering what we need it to be, but we don’t want the, we don’t want anybody to change a job or what did this and impacts money flow to that organization so people will fight? No, we need to keep this program. And so now we don’t have as much money to get the new program X, but we’ll do what we’ll try to get X. So let’s add x to y. And then that just keeps going. You never get rid of y. But you keep adding another program and you add another program. And now you’re diluting and you’re siloing the entire system. Education agencies that all stay, they’re doing the same thing, but oftentimes aren’t really working together. Oftentimes there’s money being wasted. I’m openly talking about ETS and I’m like, man, that’s that’s like a private big money maker. They’re going to fight tooth and nail to keep their tests out here in the streets. I get it, I understand, that’s business. That’s like capitalism, but that’s not what our teachers need. So when are we going to stand up to people and say we don’t want to pay that anymore? This is what our teachers need over here. And we’re like, that sucks for you. But like, this is what our teacher need to break down systems. You got to be ready to make really difficult choices around moving money. And when you start talking money, people get people want to lock their pockets and they don’t. They don’t want to move money. People don’t want to lose jobs. And going forward often means the loss of some jobs, while new ones get put in place. Or the loss of money.

Dr. Michael Conner

Yeah, yeah. And now, Dr. Good, I want to segue into that because you spoke about simplifying and streamlining the process, breaking down systems and really thinking about the work different. So programs like Relay, just expand and programs like Relay innovate options regarding teacher, teacher development, teacher credentialing and all that. When I look at that, do you consider now or should there be flexibility within the policy, within legislation around having these type of programs so that this is the type of, this is a new resolution and alternative resolution because you’re absolutely correct. Right. In order to, remediate this quandary that we’re facing. And it’s kind of like kicking the can down the road, we have to really look at things fundamentally differently and relax on some of these 1980, 1990 policies, when now we’re talking about, the demographics and socio graphics are the antithesis of anything, the 80s and 90s, specifically generation Z and Generation Alpha. Do we need more, of programs like Relay out there so that now we’re not holding people back? Do we need more?

Dr. Rebecca Good

I think I do think that we need more programs that have that are more nimble, that are more flexible, that are not kind of mired in, traditional kind of pathways. oftentimes traditional is coded language for, well, gosh, I don’t know what type of what type of podcast I’m on, but if you need to mute this out, like, I think of traditional, kind of steeped in, a kind of white, hegemonic, cabalistic… it just upholds a sense of values that does not meet our, the diversity of our of our communities. And like the trueness of our culture in the United States. So I do think more programs, but I also think there are some, there are just so many incredible educator preparation programs, and institutions of higher education, that if they were not as restricted by the latest and greatest, kind of quality control measures, they would also evolve. I think they would they would want to shift and change. You know, Dr. Travis Crystal is doing really great work over in the the National Teacher Residence and National Teacher Residency, but increasing educator diversity like center. And he and the national teachers of teaching residencies have some really great ideas. But what I often hear from more traditional institutions of higher degree education or graduate schools of education is that they’re like, oh, but we can’t do that. Our faculty will never do that. Oh no, this is the way we’ve always done. Thing is, and what’s beautiful about the work I get to do at Relay is that. Yeah our faculty, our faculty will do that. There’s not there’s nothing that they would not do in service of preparing teachers wonderfully. you know, at relay, we actually co-create all of our courses. They are deeply co-designed. It’s not just me, doctor. Good. An expert in ECS like developing this. You know, you you’ve adjunct for us, like, we really deeply design and the latest research of what is needed for today’s communities, what is needed for future citizenship for our students and our faculty. Guess what? Our faculty. We don’t have a traditional tenure system or anything like that. We’re not a like research institution of higher education. We’re teaching college like that’s what we do, and we do it really well. And our faculty are so incredibly, they’re they’re just happy. They love their work. Every single one of our faculty also has been a K to 12 teacher. Like, you can’t be a faculty at relay unless you have taught in a classroom and and and been successful teaching children in the classroom. To me, teachers need to teach teachers like I mean, I might be like a great researcher, but that doesn’t all that research and all that knowledge goes out the door. When I have a six year old that has crawled under their desk and refuses to come out, you know. So yeah, you need to like that’s the type of faculty I believe we need to be teaching our future teachers. But so many of our schools are are trapped in an old system in an old way. So yeah, we can have new spaces. But I also think we we need to give empower our more traditional spaces to be more innovative.

Dr. Michael Conner

That Doctor Good is, a profound, profound caption. the creative tension that we’re experiencing, in higher education, which then has this kind of was in effect for the PCT. Well, world. Right. Traditional teacher preparation programs, teacher pathway programs, pre-service programs. So I want to contextualize it. And the, I like to say the the opposite of a traditional teacher prep program experience, where you have just underscored various elements of innovation that is disrupting the teacher prep model, where teachers are leading teachers that experience co-design, co-create. And we don’t see that in traditional, higher education institutions, whereas the expert that is creating the syllabus or content or sequence materials are resources that are being utilized. But the underlining, the underlining point to that is that there’s classroom experience, where practitioners are leading practitioners in the development of tomorrow’s practitioners. And, Rebecca, you could be as provocative as you want on this, but on this episode on Vfi, because we talk about the I like to say we talk about the, the polarized content that sometimes get ignored or pushed to the side because, again, it challenges the status quo leading into this question. Right. And I want to talk about instructional leadership and the readiness levels of classroom practitioners, specifically, when we talk about creating culturally responsive classrooms and learning environments, we know that the demographics are shifting. By 2026, 57% of education will be black and brown, our student population. So we have to start bringing in this polarized notion of culture responsive pedagogy, or I like to say, equity driven environments. This word equity has become so polarized and education that has been eliminated from the education vocabulary or the academic registrar of leaders and teachers today. But this is generation Z and Generation Alpha, just like you. And I know, you know, our babies are all kids are belong to generation Z, generation Alpha, fundamentally different. We can say we the pedagogy of the legacy model does not work, but because equity is so polarized, then you know, these tactics of radical new responsive pedagogy has become politicized as well. And in the pre-K sector, right. Higher education. Now, when we talk about how can we ground that and our alternative programs, our teacher prep programs, higher ed, education or higher institution, how do we ground urgency? Urgency, right. Not moving fast, but strategic urgency to leverage culturally responsive learning environments in this new paradigm of the AC stage of education?

Dr. Rebecca Good

So at Relay, part of our pedagogical framework at the foundation of every course is culturally responsive, teaching like that’s a it’s it’s not a, it’s not a course. It’s in all courses. that is, you know, as we’ve heard many times, it’s just good teaching. But I think it’s. You’re right, you’re right. It’s not. It’s not the teaching. Only for like, our black and brown kids, it’s like great teaching for all kids. Like, do you, do you build relationships because, like, what about like, that’s a pretty standard. Basic, culture responsive teaching. and so, you know, while our demographics are shifting and like, yeah, majority of our kids, will identify as a student of color, and, you know, and, and in most district, in many districts, in many states, as like already the case, majority of the kids, like majority of the kids in schools in Connecticut, are students of color. But what we are also seeing is extreme segregation based on living where people live. Right. And so our schools, while our demographics are shifting, I, I, we are not seeing the shift and the kind of diversity we would want within a school system because, you know, think essentially you got your de facto segregation still going strong today, right? People are moving into neighborhoods. And so a child truly can, a child that identifies as white can truly go to a school with all white children and all white teachers, a public school in many districts across our country, like their entire okay, their pre-K through 12 experience. And the first time maybe that they might be in a racially, ethnically or linguistically diverse space is in college. But even now, in our more polarized space, we’re seeing the segregation like of our colleges where like there are families deciding, hey, I want, you know, no, I want my you my kid to to stay in a, a very kind of segregated schooling space. And so then the first time they’ve got to interact with folks is like, in the working world. Oh, that’s right. you’re right. And and not just there’s not just you don’t see it, just the impact on children that identify as white. You’re seeing it on on children. Like, I can just think right here in New Haven right there and children that go to school and you have always gone to school with predominantly black or Hispanic kids, like, that’s been your whole world. That was your neighborhood, that was your school. And then if like you go off into the working world or you go into college, all of a sudden everybody is not black and brown, that’s a culture shock. But that’s like a culture shock, like, and you just drove ten minutes like, away. and like, we’re not preparing our this generation. Yeah. Of generation Z and Alpha to face those culture shocks. But they are so smart. This is why each generation is, like, better than us, right? They’re like, yeah, you’re not going to prepare me for it? Well, I’m going to go on social media and try to like, see what it’s out, see what it’s like out there. And then they get a real warped idea of like, what is that like out there? And algorithms that are being like, here, let me try to like, manipulate it is out there. But they are they want to know. They’re curious. They are not as, I don’t know. They don’t have as much hate in their hearts yet, that is. See, in, they are a curious generation in like a way. Then they want to think outside of like what is what is possible. They’re pushing us as old folks to say, oh, you need more. You want it to interact. And so I do think it’s like really important to to name that. While we do get diverse, like we’re still in these segregated spaces. And then when you think about our, you know, what kids are being taught culturally responsive teaching once again, is not just for our schools that are in marginalized communities, that are in like, communities that have been economically put at a disadvantage or minoritized communities like those, like all schools, should have the foundation of what is culturally responsive teaching. There should be strong relationships all children should feel like they are represented and seen in that community. And that’s not just based on your, like, racial identity. There’s like so much ethnic like cultural aspects that need to be celebrated. And so how do we do that and leverage that for children and say, and this is what’s going to make you stronger as you come together to be out in society as grownups, like every kid needs it.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely, doctor. Good. I loved how you dispelled the micro and macro misnomers regarding culturally responsive or culturally relevant pedagogy and practices. Relationships where all ethnic backgrounds are represented. Yes. It’s just not limited to, the scope of what, you know, politicians and people around country have been polarizing culture responsive practices and culture relevant pedagogy. But I want to I want to highlight a statement that you, presented, right. The de facto segregation, different learning environments across the country. a good friend of mine, fraternity brother, Doctor Gregory C Hutchinson Jr. He wrote about this in his book Good Trouble. And one of his principles that he identified was around this level, de facto segregation and or de facto segregated learning environments. And I think the question that we have to continuously to ask ourselves, since we celebrated the 70th anniversary of Brown, the Board of Education a couple of weeks ago, is have we truly made progress since that historical landmark, policy that was enacted or did? And if we’re still in 2024 talking about de facto segregated learning environments, I think that we continue we have to really interrogate with this level of vitality, of defining progress and eliminating these de facto segregated learning environments that we still see. Yeah. And that, to me is, there are laws and there are there’s legislation that needs to be put in place.

Dr. Rebecca Good

Right. And so, you know, there’s all this kind of hubbub in Connecticut about every district is supposed to put together, like their increasing diversity, educator plan and like, what they’re doing. And I was like, oh, man, this is so hard. No, people need, we need we need some rules on it. Like we need to say you like for for a district that is just 100, every single teacher identifies. I think I froze a little bit there. Pause the tape, Serena. And then. Yeah. we we need to it’s sad in 2024 that we need to force integration, but we do. I mean, like, we need to make sure that children who identify as white see diverse leaders like racially ethnic and linguistically diverse leaders and teachers in their school communities. we need to ensure if if we can’t, if people are going to move and like parents are going to decide, like, I don’t want my kid to go into this school, a parent has a right to do that. They have a choice of where they want to send their child. I really respect a parent’s right to choose the educational system that they want for their child. Then we need to provide within that education system. We need to legislate and have rules around. All right. Well then the staffing needs to be diverse. And this is what that looks like. And if a school is not doing that there needs to be consequences for that.

Dr. Michael Conner

Yeah. Yeah. Doctor. Good. I can tell you this. You brought up a statement before, that resonated with me, but that is true. Yeah. you stated that, you know, some, students don’t get to experience, a black or brown racially or ethnic, ethnic wise that are different, of a teacher. I never had a black or brown teacher. And so I’ve reached my master’s level, courses. Yes. Right. Master’s not even undergraduate, but master’s level courses.

Dr. Rebecca Good

I got one in my undergrad, 20 year undergrad.

Dr. Michael Conner

But I could say this. And I was like, you know what? I don’t want that to happen for my son already is, going into fourth grade next year is had, African American woman as a teacher, black teacher, and then now his principal, his headmaster, I should say, is a black woman as well. Something that your experience more than I experience. By the time I was. Wow. Yeah. And my 20s when a master’s, when, you know, master’s degree versus already in third grade is very experienced, black woman as a teacher and a black woman as a head master. Something that was intentionally done to, Dr. Good, so that he’s able to have those culturally responsive experiences. Yes. With that, last question Dr. Good, I can’t believe it. It seems like we’ve been on for like five hours.

Dr. Rebecca Good

I know, like I hope the audience members, podcast listeners, I hope you listened to all the way up to then, I got some, I got my last question. It’s going to be a good one.

Dr. Michael Conner

Last question. So now this is the… Dr. Good, I’m not trying to hold you back. Okay. But I do have some type of tightly coupled structures in this question limiting you to three words, but nobody listens to it. They just expand upon it. So I’m going to be like Neo, do you. What three words do you want our audience to leave with regarding pedagogical readiness to support the learning needs of generation Z and Generation Alpha in the AC stage of education?

Dr. Rebecca Good

Listen, learn, empower.

Dr. Michael Conner

You gotta elaborate, Dr. Good. You gotta.

Dr. Rebecca Good

No, I followed the rules. You said only three words.

Dr. Michael Conner

Oh, Dr. Good, you’re not going to elaborate? I’m writing this down. You’re not going to elaborate? This is a first on VFE. You’re like, no.

Dr. Rebecca Good

Listen, learn, empower.

Dr. Michael Conner

And I’m going to underscore listen, learn and empower. This is the first on VFE. Even when I say can you expand on it. They’re like, no, I’m following the rules. Listen, learn and empower. Dr. Good had so many nuggets on this episode. So doc, it has been an absolute honor. Anybody that wants to reach out to you regarding your expertise, with instruction, teacher development, policy redesign, governance redesign, teacher minority recruitment, how would they be able to get in touch with you or even just knowing about, Relay Graduate School of Education? How would they be able to get in touch with you?

Dr. Rebecca Good

100%. You can go to www.relay.edu or just find me on LinkedIn. I’m good. That’s that’s my social media, I’m not, I’m not there yet. My kids talk about me, but my LinkedIn game is a little bit better than everything else. So please reach out. You can find more about relaya at www.relay.edu, and message me on LinkedIn. And I am just all about connecting and doing the work in service of our kids. Mike, this has been a blast. This podcast is a blast. Thank you so much for having me.

Dr. Michael Conner

It’s been, it has been… Rebecca, I’m like, I’ll be like, yes. When you were talking about, your kids with social media, it startled me. It startled me. I had to go back when my son was talking about “IG.” I’m like, wait, wait. Hold on. Stop. That’s scary.

Dr. Rebecca Good

I said, my daughter commented on my slideshow the other day. She’s like, why are you using those templates? You know, you can go over here and just get all these templates. I said oh, mhm. We’re being told about ourselves now. That’s okay. I’m open to feedback. Tell me, teach me generation Z, teach me Generation Alpha. I am all for it. I will listen, I will learn, I will feel empowered by you.

Dr. Michael Conner

Thank you so much. Rebecca, it has been so good. It has been such an honor to have you on VFE. Like I said, this has been just kind of like a catch up, I’ve been following your work. Continue to do what you’re doing because you are truly impacting the ecosystem. And thanks again for coming on VFE. I cannot wait for my audience to be able to really get down in an asynchronous manner and unpack this episode in totality, because there was a lot that I learned that I didn’t know. And of course, you, Dr. Good, providing those nuggets so that I can grow as well as my audience. Thank you.

Dr. Rebecca Good

Thank you. We’re out.

Dr. Michael Conner

And on that note, onward and upward everybody. Have a great evening.