Bandwidth Recovery For Schools Helping Pre-K-12 Students Regain Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Trauma, Racism, and Social Marginalization
Are students coming to your class lacking focus, having difficulty connecting with you and their peers, falling behind, or acting out when you instinctively feel they could do better? Do you sometimes feel like you don’t have the capacity as a teacher or school leader to give students the support they need to learn and thrive? This book makes the case that societal realities--such as poverty, racism, and social marginalization--result in depleted cognitive resources for students and for those who are trying to help them succeed. Each of us has a finite amount of mental bandwidth, the cognitive resources that are available for learning, development, work, taking care of ourselves and our families, and everything else we have to do. These “attentional resources” are not about how smart we are but about how much of our brain power is available to us for the task at hand. When bandwidth is taken up by the stress of persistent economic insecurity or the negative experiences of racism, classism, homophobia, religious intolerance, sexism, ableism, etc., there is less available for learning and growth. This is as true for young children and youth as for their parents and teachers. The first half of the book makes the case that poverty and these “differentisms” deplete the bandwidth of students, parents, and teachers. The second sets out concepts and strategies that help people recover the bandwidth they need to learn and thrive. Cia Verschelden describes strategies that can help students recover bandwidth, including acknowledging the “funds of knowledge” of students and their families, promoting growth mindsets, using reflective practices to build a sense of belonging for all students, fostering peer collaboration, and implementing restorative practices in lieu of punitive measures to deal with problematic behavior, as well as a rich selection of Ideas in Practice contributed by experienced teachers and school leaders. Cia recognizes that many teachers are working in schools with inadequate support systems and facilities and with scarce materials, and may be spending their often inadequate pay on school supplies for their classrooms and food for their hungry students. She offers practical ideas for creating moreteacher-supportive systems and addresses how principals and administrators can harness teachers’ ideas and energies to create inclusive and successful learning environments for all students. The book includes a case study of Rochester, New York – where the economy has been decimated with the closure of major employers – and how its financially strapped school system worked with colleagues at the University of Rochester to use the distributed leadership of its teachers, with the active support of principals and superintendents, to revitalize its schools to better serve its diverse and low-income student population.This book is for teachers, parents, school leaders, and members of communities who are interested in the well-being of children and youth and the education of all our children. All of us have a stake in a public school system from which students emerge as fully-formed learners and thinkers and who believe in their ability to affect what happens to them and their communities.
Foreword—Kofi Lomotey Acknowledgments Introduction Part One. Bandwidth Stealers—Students 1. Poverty 2. Belonging Uncertainty 3. Stereotype Threat and Identity Threat 4. Microaggressions and Bullying 5. Sexual Orientation, Gender identity, and Gender Expression 6. Focus on Racism Part Two. Bandwidth Stealers—Parents and Teachers 7. Parents 8. TeachersPart Three. Bandwidth Recovery—Students 9. Funds of Knowledge 10. Belonging 11. Certainty 12. Classroom and School Community. Restorative Practice 13. Growth Mind-Set 14. Communication Part Four. Bandwidth Recovery—Parents and Teachers 15. Parents 16. Teachers Part Five. Systems View 17. Case Study. Rochester, New York 18. Wisdom for Principals and SuperintendentsConclusion Epilogue. A New Normal Appendix. Benefits to Typically Developing Children of Learning Alongside Children with Disabilities References About the Author Index
From the Foreword:
“U.S. schools are not currently designed to work for many marginalized students; they only work for a few students. Indeed, this book is about the future of U.S. public schools, our children and our nation. It is about creating educational environs wherein all children can be successful. And Verschelden reminds us that—as currently constructed—schools are not capable of doing this. Verschelden’s message is one of extreme optimism—a critical need given our current circumstances. All of our children have such tremendous qualities and strengths; we just need to acknowledge them and (enable then to) take advantage of them."
Western Carolina University
"To solve a problem, you need to ask the right questions. In Bandwidth Recovery for Schools, Cia Verschelden is asking the right questions about the impact of poverty, trauma, racism and social marginalization on school children, their families, and their teachers. Most importantly, she is providing much-needed answers that can help students thrive even when facing adversity. Every educator should read this book!"
Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., Author, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations about Race
"A plethora of books point out the problems public schools currently face, but Verschelden, via a 'bandwidth recovery' blueprint, empowers readers to promote student success within their communities, especially among Black, Latinx, Asian American, and indigenous students who may have greater needs. The first half of the book identifies bandwidth stealers while the latter part identifies bandwidth recovery methods for students, parents, and teachers. A final section presents a case study, a chapter intended specifically for principals and superintendents, and an epilogue that discusses the COVID-19 pandemic. Recommended."