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Three takeaways from our podcast with Batsheva Frankel

Rhodes Branding was thrilled to have Batsheva Frankel, a podcast host, and educational consultant, on Productive Disruption this past week. As someone who has worked in education for numerous years, Frankel provided insight on the pitfalls of our education system, in addition to things she would like to see a change in the future. 

Going Gradeless

One suggestion Frankel provided to increase equity in education is to get rid of the traditional grading scale and standardized testing. 

A glaring downside to grades is that it puts a label on students, which often stays with them throughout their academic careers and limits how they see themselves as learners. Frankel believes every student has their own talents and interests, and grades only hinder their ability to express those. 

“What is a standardized brain? What is a standardized person?” Frankel said. “There isn’t one [because] every person is unique and has their gifts.”

Instead of grades and tests, students should work towards mastery.  They should be in an environment that fosters questions, collaboration, and interactive learning.

Engaging and Creative Learning

Once the grades and tests are put aside, Frankel laid out what learning should look like. She explained her ideas of asking great questions, mixing grade levels, and using authentic assessment methods.

Authentic assessments encourage students to use creative and critical thinking skills to showcase mastery of a subject or skill. For example, rather than having students take a formal exam, they record and produce a podcast on a specific topic or prompt. 

With learning comes questions. Instead of focusing on the literal, students should be encouraged to ask deeper questions. These will lead to a better understanding and retainment of the material. 

The learning process looks different for everyone. The best way to bring out the best in every student is to allow for creative freedom. Students can show you what they know through authentic assessments. Alongside authentic assessments, the mixing of grade levels can better help teachers evaluate their students further. 

This method of learning is not only for students but for teachers too. 

Developing and Paying Teachers

Frankel worked in the classroom for 23 years and saw firsthand what it meant to be a teacher. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers had to take on the various challenges that come with virtual learning. Now that everyone is back in the classroom, Frankel wants to see reform. 

Two changes Frankel wants to see for educators are higher pay and professional treatment. She believes that teachers are overworked and underpaid and if there is to be change in the education system, we must first reassess how our teachers are compensated and treated. 

Frankel made a point of providing better professional development opportunities. Workshops should be engaging and consistent. Teachers should come away with ideas they plan to implement and have time to reflect on how they worked in their classrooms. 

“Teachers are also students,” Frankel said. “If you want to teach them something, they have to be immersed in it.”

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