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Critical Window Podcast


Critical Window is the Alliance for Excellent Education’s podcast on how research from the science of adolescent learning can inform middle and high school design and the practice of school leaders. It explores the rapid changes happening in the body and the brain during adolescence and what these changes mean for educators, policymakers, and parents.

You can also subscribe to Critical Window on Apple Music, Stitcher or wherever you find podcasts.

Listen to Critical Window:

Navigating Literacy Development During Adolescence

What factors contribute to the development of literacy skills in 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.

The Health Paradox of Adolescence

Too often people think stereotypically about the period of adolescence as a time of vulnerability, risks, and problems. But the reality is that adolescence is the healthiest period of the lifespan. This week, Ronald Dahl, MD, a pediatrician and developmental scientist, 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.

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.

The Importance of Sports to Students’ Social-Emotional Development

With the help of good coaches, young people can learn more from playing sports than physical skills. This week, 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.

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.

Exploring Racial and Ethnic Identity Development During Adolescence

How does racial and ethnic identity development impact students and their learning environments? This week, Dr. Joanna Lee Williams, associate professor in the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia, unpacks how young people begin exploring the “who am I” question in the context of their racial and ethnic identities.

How the Opioid Crisis Is Affecting Students

How can educators help support students that are impacted by the opioid crisis? This week, Dr. David Patterson Silver Wolf, professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, unpacks how young people are affected by substance abuse and shares his personal story of overcoming addiction.

The Impact of Trauma on Student Learning

This week, Michael Lamb, executive director of the Washington, DC office of Turnaround for Children, dives into how students experience trauma, the impact it has on mental health and learning, and what educators can do to create an environment that effectively supports students affected by trauma.

When Students Trust Their Teachers

How do students look to teachers and school leaders for support? What can a positive relationship between students and teacher do for students’ motivation? This week, Dr. Kathryn Wentzel walks us through the process of building positive student-teacher relationships and how it affects student engagement and learning.

Navigating Student Activism in an Era of Parkland

How can teachers and school administrators navigate the waters of student activism? This week, our guest, Dr. Ben Kirshner, dives into what student activism is, its role in student development, and the challenges educators can experience when faced with student activism.

The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain

Did you know that adolescence is the second most active time of neurodevelopment in a human’s life? In this meeting of the minds between Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, cognitive neuroscientist and author of Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, and Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise, learn about the workings of the teenage mind and what this means for educators and school leaders.

Subscribe to Critical Window on Apple Music, Stitcher or wherever you find podcasts.

Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.