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Critical Window Podcast

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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:

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.