New Season of the MindShift Podcast Explores How Classrooms Are Adapting to COVID-19

"The series gives listeners an inside look at how schools are developing solutions to meet the needs of students in person and online."

The new school year is upon us, but how can teachers, students and caregivers adequately prepare for such drastically changed learning environments and so much uncertainty? Enter the MindShift podcast. One of the most popular podcasts for parents and teachers, the series gives listeners an inside look at how schools are developing solutions to meet the needs of students in person and online.

Social bonds are essential, but how do we develop and maintain them when we‘re forced to be physically distant? Hosts Ki Sung and Katrina Schwartz tell listeners [or investigate rather than tell listeners]how educators and students are working to strengthen these bonds to create a strong foundation for learning in person and online. Episodes also explore how educators navigated the first semester of the coronavirus pandemic, what they learned, what they’re holding onto and what doesn’t work. The episodes also feature the voices of young people, who share how this difficult time has affected their lives.

The new season started July 14 2020, with new episodes available every other Tuesday through September 8. Find the MindShift podcast for free on Apple Podcasts, NPR One or wherever you get your podcast, or visit

Season 5 Schedule

Episode 1: July 14, 2020

How Emotional Intelligence Can Help Boys Become Men

When Ashanti Branch started the Ever Forward Club, he was a high school math teacher trying to figure out why the young men of color in his classes weren’t succeeding. He found they were craving what he desired as a kid too — a safe place to be themselves, to show emotion and to get support without fear of judgment. When Ashanti gave them that, their success surprised everyone. It’s now his life’s work to support other educators to create spaces where boys can be vulnerable, share their feelings and feel supported by other boys. It’s such important work to those involved that they’ve continued it online during the coronavirus pandemic, with mixed results.

Episode 2: July 28, 2020

Prom? Canceled. Graduation? Canceled. High Schoolers Share Their Worlds with Us

Students have had to do just as much adapting as teachers during the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve struggled to find motivation, navigated taking Advanced Placement tests at home, sometimes with spotty internet, and have been overwhelmed by their families in new ways. Seniors missed out on prom, signing yearbooks, sharing the news of college acceptances with friends and teachers in person and walking across the graduation stage in front of their family and friends. Hear what students recorded in their audio journals as they adjust their expectations for this school year and the future.

Episode 3: August 11, 2020

Culturally Responsive Teaching During Distance Learning

When schools closed in March because of COVID-19, 150 teachers from around the country began creating a resource document to share ideas that would engage students in learning through the events happening in their lives. Students at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in New York City were at the heart of the worst outbreak in the country. AP English Teacher Anthony Voulgarides assigned pandemic journaling to his students, never imagining how crucial those assignments would become to students as they process their feelings and document the loss and isolation COVID-19 has had on their families and their community.

Episode 4: August 25, 2020

How Fan Fiction Inspires Kids to Read and Write and Write and Write

For many students, writing can be tedious, especially after years of boring grammar, spelling and structure drills. But for kids who have discovered fan fiction, writing about something they’re already passionate about can ignite countless hours of creative writing, music and art.

Episode 5: September 8, 2020

Why Being Taught How to Read the Right Way Is a Civil Right

As a child, Connie Williams learned to read using the “whole word” strategy, which has since been disproven as an effective technique. She graduated from high school in Oakland, California, but she was functionally illiterate. Since then, her children and grandchildren, all of them struggling to learn to read, have attended Oakland public schools. And it wasn’t just her family — the district is failing thousands of kids. Now Connie Williams is part of a movement of families advocating for phonics instruction, hoping that different teaching strategies will help their kids finally learn how to read well enough to access the rest of their education because equal access to education is a civil right.

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