11 episodes

A podcast from the Alliance for Excellent Education that explores the rapid changes happening in the body and the brain during adolescence and what these changes mean for educators, policymakers, and parents.

Critical Window Alliance for Excellent Education

    • Kids & Family
    • 4.5 • 4 Ratings

A podcast from the Alliance for Excellent Education that explores the rapid changes happening in the body and the brain during adolescence and what these changes mean for educators, policymakers, and parents.

    Navigating Literacy Development During Adolescence

    Navigating Literacy Development During Adolescence

    On this episode of the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Critical Window podcast, Dr. Medha Tare breaks down what research on the science of adolescent learning says about the development of literacy skills during adolescence, and how educators can support this development.

    • 25 min
    Death and Disability Rates Jump Dramatically During the Teen Years—Here’s Why

    Death and Disability Rates Jump Dramatically During the Teen Years—Here’s Why

    Too often people think stereotypically about the period of
    adolescence as a time of vulnerability, risks, and problems. You may even be
    guilty of this. How often have you participated in or overheard conversations between
    parents that sound something like “my daughter is headed to middle school next
    year” and the response is “yikes, good luck!”?







    But the reality is that adolescence is the healthiest period
    of the lifespan, explains Professor Ronald Dahl, MD, a pediatrician and
    developmental scientist, on the latest episode of our Critical Window podcast.
    “Almost everything you can measure—if you go from elementary school across
    adolescence into early adulthood—gets better,” says Dahl. “Strength, speed,
    reaction time, reasoning abilities, cognitive skills, immune function,
    resistance to cold, heat, hunger, dehydration, and most types of injuries.”



    This sounds like good news, but we also know that “the
    overall death and disability rates jump 200 to 300 percent between elementary
    school and early adulthood.” Dahl explains that those jumps don’t come from “mysterious
    medical illnesses.” Instead, such increases result from teens still learning
    how to control behavior and regulate emotion. Therefore, we see “increasing
    rates of accident, suicide, homicide, depression, alcohol and substance use,
    violence, reckless behaviors, eating disorders, sexually transmitted diseases,
    health problems related to risky behaviors broadly, [and] worsening obesity.”



    Dahl calls this the “health paradox of adolescence.”



    In this episode of Critical
    Window, Dahl breaks down stereotypes and popular assumptions about
    adolescent health and focuses on the opportunities to support positive
    development and shape the future of young people. 



    Here are some takeaways:



    Adolescent brains do
    what they are supposed to do.  



    “Adolescent brains are very well adapted to the tasks and
    challenges of adolescence,” says Dahl. “They’re focusing and prioritizing
    learning about their complex social world and their place in it as an
    individual.”



    Dahl gives an example of how understanding this shift in
    priorities can shape learning environments. “If it’s a way to increase [their] social
    world, adolescents will master the learning very rapidly. If they’re being told
    that they need to learn something because it’s going to help them sometime in
    the future, then their brains may not look like they work very well. But it’s
    not because something’s wrong with their brain.”



    Adolescents are passionate.



    “We’re doing a disservice to the brain if we think that it’s
    all about rational thought,” says Dahl. The adolescent brain is figuring out
    what matters and what doesn’t matter and is establishing heartfelt goals and
    priorities that can lead to positive impact, especially when given proper
    support. “Feelings can be smart, wise feelings,” says Dahl. “We can have
    passions for good causes and purposes that guide our value systems, and shaping
    these systems are as important as shaping the ability for the thinking brain to
    suppress emotions.”



    Adolescents aren’t
    “just being impulsive.”



    Increasingly, adolescents seek sensation, something that
    Dahl describes as “having an appetite for, an inclination for excitement,
    arousal, novelty, bursts of unusual experiences and feelings.” This isn’t “just
    being impulsive.” This is what drives kids to learn and explore. “A huge number

    • 43 min
    Lessons in Equity from Gifted Programs

    Lessons in Equity from Gifted Programs

    Gifted programs are structured to cultivate and maximize the strengths of an individual. But shouldn’t these ideals be applied to all students? This week, Dr. Yvette Jackson, adjunct professor at Teacher’s College at Columbia University and a senior scholar at the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, returns to Critical Window to share her knowledge about gifted and talented programs, what they tell us about how we structure our education system, and what we can learn from these programs.

    • 32 min
    How Sports and Coaching Influence Social Emotional Learning in Young People

    How Sports and Coaching Influence Social Emotional Learning in Young People

    Sports provide a place for young people to grow, learn, and enhance
    their physical skills, but, with the help of good coaches, they will learn more
    than how to throw a pitch or perfect a layup.







    On this episode of Critical Window (audio link below) a podcast by the Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed), Jennifer Brown Lerner, deputy director for Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, explores how sports and coaching influence the social, emotional, and academic development of students, and what educators and coaches can learn from one another.




    Building Student Agency on the Field



    “While sports might be a unique arena, it's part of a broad array of places in which young people learn, grow, and develop,” explains Brown Lerner. “There's unbelievable opportunity to think about sports as a place in which young people can take ownership of their own learning.”



    Into early adolescence, students have “a unique opportunity for voice and choice on the sports field that they don't have in the classroom,” says Brown Lerner. This space, outside of the traditional learning environment, “is really allowing them to come into their own.”



    Sports as the
    “Ultimate Performance Assessment”



    “You could view sports as the ultimate performance assessment,” says Brown Lerner. “Every game, every practice is really an opportunity for young people to put on display a core set of physical skills and social-emotional skills that they're learning.”



    Not only are players demonstrating their skills, they are
    also receiving real-time responses of their performance. “There's instantaneous
    feedback right there, a win or a loss.”



    Coaches as Role
    Models



    Coaches play a significant role in modeling the skills they
    hope to see exemplified by their players.



    “Sports are a critical space in which [kids] get to both see modeled, and practice, this core set of competencies across the social, emotional, and cognitive domains,” explains Brown Lerner. “It's a really important opportunity in which young people can get, and create, a continuous feedback loop with their coaches and with other athletes.”



    A large part of this learning opportunity is dependent on relationships between coaches and their players. “One thing that great coaches do is really focus in on that individual relationship with each player,” explains Brown Lerner. “They also create a space and environment and a culture that honors the relationship that other players have with each other.”



    What Can Teachers
    Learn from Coaches, and Vice Versa?



    “If we truly believe that learning happens in relationships, we need to give all educators in the classroom, and on the sports field, the time, the tools, and the opportunity to cultivate the fire and passion within each student, which only happens when you have the opportunity to build a relationship,” says Brown Lerner.



    “There's a real opportunity to build a bridge between what
    educators do really well in terms of planning and articulating for young
    people, and how coaches create relationships and environments which are truly
    young people centered.” With this combined effort, “we can just see an
    explosion of growth of these core skills across all the places and spaces young
    people learn.”



    Listen to more from Brown Lerner in the episode below.







    Critical Window is a podcast from the Alliance for
    Excellent Education that explores the rapid changes happening in the body and

    • 37 min
    Believing All Students Can Learn

    Believing All Students Can Learn

    When you step into your classroom each day, do you believe that all your students can succeed? This week, Dr. Yvette Jackson, adjunct professor at Teacher’s College at Columbia University and senior scholar at the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, shares her concept of the “pedagogy of confidence,” and how can educators use this style of pedagogy to support adolescent learning.

    • 45 min
    Exploring Racial and Ethnic Identity Development During Adolescence

    Exploring Racial and Ethnic Identity Development During Adolescence

    Who Am I? Podcast Episode from @All4Ed Explores Racial and Ethnic Identity Development During Adolescence

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
4 Ratings

4 Ratings

AharonCharnov ,

Enlightening conversation from experts

This podcast is off to a great start. It has great conversations on how the science of learning is impacting educators and Ed policy. It’s great to hear experts discuss these issues, especially about agency and activism. It has given me a very new view of teens in general. Well worth listening to.

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