Let's K12 Better

Let's Talk About Education, Play, and Equity with Karyn Allee, PhD

April 20, 2022 Mom Of All Capes Season 3 Episode 5
Let's Talk About Education, Play, and Equity with Karyn Allee, PhD
Let's K12 Better
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Let's K12 Better
Let's Talk About Education, Play, and Equity with Karyn Allee, PhD
Apr 20, 2022 Season 3 Episode 5
Mom Of All Capes

How does chronic stress impact the brain? How does play support pro-social behavior in kids? What are misnomers about Title 1 schools? How can we better equip new teachers working in high-challenge schools so they can meet the needs of the students in their communities? How do we tell the difference between poverty stressors and brain function and learning disabilities or ADD, ADHD?

Grab a pen and get ready to take notes! In this episode, we sat down with Dr. Karyn Allee, veteran educator and Assistant Professor of Education at Mercer University to discuss education equity, increasing play in schools, and shifting our mindset around how we help schools in communities that are experiencing more challenges. 

Connect on Social Media:

Check out Dr. Karyn Allee’s publications on ORCID or her Google Scholar Page!

Resources mentioned in the episode:

Send us your community letters!
Are you saddled with a troubling situation? Curious to hear what we think about a certain issue? Send us your questions! Your query may end up on the Let’s K12 Better podcast in our community letters section.  Send your celebrations and questions to this form or email us: LetsK12Better@gmail.com

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter: https://bit.ly/LetsK12BetterMail!

Love our podcast? Rate. Review. Share!

Music written and produced by Garvey Mortley

The Let’s K12Better podcast is written and produced by Amber Coleman-Mortley, Garvey Mortley, Naima Mortley, and Sofia Mortley.

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How does chronic stress impact the brain? How does play support pro-social behavior in kids? What are misnomers about Title 1 schools? How can we better equip new teachers working in high-challenge schools so they can meet the needs of the students in their communities? How do we tell the difference between poverty stressors and brain function and learning disabilities or ADD, ADHD?

Grab a pen and get ready to take notes! In this episode, we sat down with Dr. Karyn Allee, veteran educator and Assistant Professor of Education at Mercer University to discuss education equity, increasing play in schools, and shifting our mindset around how we help schools in communities that are experiencing more challenges. 

Connect on Social Media:

Check out Dr. Karyn Allee’s publications on ORCID or her Google Scholar Page!

Resources mentioned in the episode:

Send us your community letters!
Are you saddled with a troubling situation? Curious to hear what we think about a certain issue? Send us your questions! Your query may end up on the Let’s K12 Better podcast in our community letters section.  Send your celebrations and questions to this form or email us: LetsK12Better@gmail.com

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter: https://bit.ly/LetsK12BetterMail!

Love our podcast? Rate. Review. Share!

Music written and produced by Garvey Mortley

The Let’s K12Better podcast is written and produced by Amber Coleman-Mortley, Garvey Mortley, Naima Mortley, and Sofia Mortley.

Support the Show.

Let's Talk About Education, Play, and Equity with Karyn Allee, PhD


cognitive development, school readiness, executive function, prefrontal cortex, educational research, kindergarten, early childhood education, Title 1 schools, educational equity, play, recess, parents, poverty stressors, COVID-19/pandemic


Amber Coleman-Mortley
Garvey Mortley
Naima Mortley
Sofia Mortley
Karyn Allee, Ph.D. 


Amber Coleman-Mortley  00:07

Hi! Welcome to the Let’s K12 Better podcast. This podcast is a project between me, MomOfAllCapes, and my kids.

Group  00:19


Garvey  00:23

In our podcast, we will cover a variety of subjects involving K12 education and family life.

Sofia  00:28

We will talk about the ways that parents, kids, and educators can improve K12 Education and family life. 

Naima  00:35

Hit subscribe to get alerts when new episodes drop; and follow us on social media @LetsK12Better 

Sofia  00:40

Let’s jump into Season 3, Episode 5 of the LetsK12Better Podcast 

Garvey  01:02

In this episode, we sat down with Dr. Karyn Allee, Assistant Professor of Education at Mercer University, where she teaches graduate students in the Tift College of Education

Naima  01:12

Dr. Allee’s research focuses on how poverty affects cognitive development, executive function and self-regulation as predictors of school readiness and achievement. Her work also covers instructional strategies, including play and physical activity, to reduce academic achievement gaps. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  01:38

We're delighted to have Karen Allee-Herndon, Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Mercer University, and education consultant with us today. Welcome to the podcast, Karyn!

Karyn Allee, PhD  01:52

Thank you so much for having me.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  01:53

Awesome. We are so excited to get this party started. So we have our first questions, we can jump right into it with Sofia. Sofia, here we go...

Sofia  02:03

Let's start by having our listeners get to know you. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to understanding how play impacts early childhood development in the brain? What drew you to this area of study?

Karyn Allee, PhD  02:15

Sure. Well, it's kind of hard for me to even wrap my head around. But I have been in the education field for 30 years now. So when I was a fresh faced young graduate from my teacher preparation program, my first job was at a Title 1 school. And I'm a little bit embarrassed even still to admit that at the time, I didn't know what that meant, I probably should have. But Title 1 is part of federal legislation that provides extra resources to students who don't have as many. And so Title 1 students, students who qualify for the program or Title 1 schools, schools that qualify for the program, because they have a certain percentage of students who qualify; tend to have a few more challenges, as far as, more of the students are from low income homes or experiencing poverty. Some maybe even experiencing homelessness or food insecurity. And the other kinds of things that come with poverty. They often have other demands on parents time. For example, if you are working a third shift job and two jobs to make ends meet and you are taking the bus because you don't have reliable transportation, then it can look as though you may not be as involved in your child's education, but it's simply because you can't get to school. So there's one advantage that you know, Zoom has created for families who had a hard time getting to traditional parent-teacher conferences or open houses. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  03:49

And so from that very first experience and throughout my education career, all of the schools where I worked were high-challenge Title 1 schools. So they varied in the in the type of racial ethnic makeup and linguistic diversity and cultural diversity, but they were all Title 1 schools with high degree of challenge and high... Students had a lot of needs that needed to be filled. And I fell in love with it because I felt like what I was doing each day was really important. These kids really needed me they you know, they weren't going to be okay in spite of me, they really needed me to be there, which is not to say that their families did not care about them or care for them. But they were just dealing with a lot more family-wide, culturally-wide, community-wide student base that took a demand on their cognitive load and made it harder for them to kind of look like they were ready for school. So that was my teaching experience. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  03:49

When I moved into district level professional development, school-based coaching, and then professional development at the corporate level... I did a lot of work with struggling schools, struggling districts, usually schools do not hire or districts or states do not hire consultants to improve things they're doing well. So that just kind of continued my trajectory and afforded me the opportunity to see some really fantastic schools and classrooms and teachers and educational leaders, and then some really fantastic non examples of people in those roles. And that broadened my perspective, more than I think would have been able to do if I had stayed in my district or my school the entire time. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  05:34

And so when I went back to pursue my PhD, when I started it, I just kind of had this vague sense of, I want to focus on equity in education. I know that's always been important to me, but I couldn't really articulate what I wanted to do. And it was early in my first semester, when I kind of had this really pivotal class that kind of introduced me to A- what the PhD was going to be like, and B- gave me language to articulate what I wanted to do with it after. And one of the tasks I had in that class was to do a systematic literature review, which was one of my first publications. And it got me kind of diving deeper into the literature where I stumbled across terms like "executive function", that when I read about them made a lot of sense as an educator from a practitioner standpoint, but at the time, I was unfamiliar with those terms. And so the more I dug into it, I thought, "Okay, yes, I want to focus on neuroscience and how the brain develops, and how poverty impacts that". And then the more I dug into that, the more I found that there was a lot of evidence supporting kind of going back to the way I first started teaching in the mid 90s, with a lot of play and language development and, and things that we're not seeing as much of in elementary classrooms these days, especially in early elementary classrooms. And so that kind of really directed my work. And the more I found out, the more it resonated with my practitioner side, the more it resonated with me as a parent, the more it resonated with me from a social justice standpoint, which I really believe education is an act of social justice, if you're doing it well. And then, you know, the more I researched and became a researcher, so it not just was consuming research, but it was contributing to it, that became my focus. And so that's kind of my big, overarching, giant career goal is to finally find some kind of strategy, that's not a product people have to buy, but just kind of training for teachers and educators to really look at poverty related issues in the classroom, and teach to support those, to mitigate the risks that kids have when they come to school, so that we can really level the playing field. I don't know if I can ever do it. But that's the big goal.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  07:48

Yeah, no, that no, that's you're spot on, right on. Like, I'm just like nodding and nodding. I do want to say, and I really want to pull this quote forth, that you just said that, you know, EDUCATION IS AN ACT OF SOCIAL JUSTICE, IF YOU'RE DOING IT WELL. So just want to make sure that folks heard you say that. I have a follow up question just on your experience with, you know, teaching in Title 1 funded schools. You know, what are some misnomers about the schools and communities that, you know, you would kind of like to clarify for people that clear up or, you know, just set right?

Karyn Allee, PhD  08:25

That's a really great question. When I was in my Ph. D. program at UCF, one of the things we did with our teacher candidates was work with the local district, Orange County public schools to get kind of field trips for these students to Title 1 schools to demystify the schools for them, because they were also under a lot of impressions that many of which were not true. And so it got them into schools and seeing communities like this, because the reality is, many new teachers go work in high challenge schools, because that's where we have the greatest turnover. And if we don't support them in teacher preparation programs, and then through mentoring, when they are in their initial, you know, placements and classrooms, it can be a really hard job harder than just teaching in general, which seems to be under attack these days, and increasingly hard. So one of the things we did was bring them into schools. So we'd hear feedback from these students like: 

Karyn Allee, PhD  09:21

"I thought all the kids would be big behavior issues". 

Karyn Allee, PhD  09:25

Or "I thought none of the parents really cared about their kids". 

Karyn Allee, PhD  09:29

Or "I thought there was..." a lot of they/othering language. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  09:33

"I thought THEY would would, you know, look a certain way or act a certain way". 

Karyn Allee, PhD  09:37

"I thought the school would be rundown and dirty". 

Karyn Allee, PhD  09:39

And "I thought the teachers there just didn't care and weren't really there to support kids". And so there is a lot of that especially since Title 1 schools with more challenges tend to also be lower performing schools. So maybe not causation, but definitely correlation. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  09:58

And when the media and The general public kind of report out like we do in Florida, that schools get graded, there's just you know, this very surface level understanding of what that means. And so you're looking at a school that's a D, or an F school, or even a C school, and then you're comparing that to an A school, which incidentally, all goes back to redlining and housing discrimination, and drawing boundaries, and all of all of that systemic racism stuff. But the impression is that it's just, there's a bad education there, my child will not be safe there, my child will not get a good education there, my child will not have good teachers there. And that could not be farther from the truth. It is true that we have a lot more new teachers in that environment, because there is more attrition, in that in those kinds of schools. They are more challenging, and they need more support, and the educators in them need more support. And the communities may need more kind of wraparound support. But it is not true that families don't care about their children, it is not true that teachers aren't working really hard. It is not true that these schools are kind of desolate, depressed, rundown kind of places, even though they may be in neighborhoods that are like that, especially in urban centers. But many of these schools are in suburban or rural environments also. So I think that's just kind of the general perception that is wrong for the general public.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  11:30

Yeah. Thank you so very, very much for just laying that out there. I think it is just really important for us to continue to dismantle bias, you know, and all of us have them, all of us, carry them with us. So just super thankful that you just shared that bit of information to help us all, reframe how we're thinking about these children, or these students and their families, and even the teachers in these environments. So thank you, thank you. Thank you.

Karyn Allee, PhD  12:00

Oh, you're welcome. It's it's a journey. It is not a destination, it has been something I have been actively working on for years, being actively anti bias, actively anti-racist. And I don't think it's something that you ever can check off and say, "I'm done. Now. I'm good. I don't have to work on that anymore". But you know, being intentional about reframing your thinking when you catch yourself thinking, a thought that is biased, you know, and reframing that thought is, is part of how we start to dismantle that.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  12:29

Awesome. So let's move into our next question, you know, a bit more into like your research and the work that you're doing. So Garvey..

Garvey  12:42

Can you break down for our listeners, the ways that chronic stress impacts developing brain architecture in young children?

Karyn Allee, PhD  12:50

Yes, and there is a fantastic resource, not to point people away from your podcast, but the Harvard Center on the Developing Child has a podcast and it's aimed more, I think, at families than at educators, although educators can benefit from it. And they're short little chunks, and they really break down a lot of the brain science, with experts from pediatrics and from social services and those kinds of places. So I might point them in the in the direction of...

Amber Coleman-Mortley  13:20

YES! Folks go there, we want people more knowledgeable, more empowered. So yes, yes, yes, we'll have a link to that in the show notes.

Karyn Allee, PhD  13:28

Absolutely. But what I want to say on the very, very front end is that this is not a sentence, this is not a predetermined outcome for children. So there are children living in households that are experiencing poverty, or other kinds of financially related stressors or other kinds of social emotional related stressors or physical stressors that do not have this kind of outcome. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  13:57

However, children who are living in these households are more likely to experience these kinds of effects. And when I talk about that, I'm saying that when you're in a toxic stress situation, that's different from being in a in a positive stress are a temporary stress situation. And so people might think positive stress, okay, but if you think about the last time you had to take a big exam, that was really important, or you were on a job interview, that was really important, you really wanted that job, you get a little anxious, and your endocrine system starts to you know, kind of flood your body with, with some hormones that help ramp up your heartbeat rate and your your, you might start to sweat a little bit, but it is enough to help you focus more so in that sense, it's temporary and it's kind of positive. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  14:44

Unexpected stressors like a grandparent dying or a parent being in a car accident or maybe a child fell off the monkey bars and broke an arm. Those are stressful, but with supportive, caring adults around to model for that child how to manage stress and to reassure that child and to be really supportive in that space, that child learns how to manage that stress. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  15:10

When toxic stress comes into play, for example, in the in the situation of the research that I'm interested in doing, it is when families are really just kind of struggling all the time. And we've seen an increase of this with the COVID 19 pandemic, so many people who were kind of making it work paycheck to paycheck before everything kind of shut down, suddenly, really, really struggled after that, especially when schools were closed, that were providing breakfast and lunch. And when, you know, other kinds of services were shut down. And when many of the families who are in this position lost jobs, the jobs that you know, you don't get to work from home for are the jobs that tend to be lower wage earning jobs with less security. So if you can't go out to eat, and I'm thinking, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic shutdown in early 2020, there's no income coming in, I was fortunate enough to be able to keep working, but not everybody was able to do that. So that exacerbated things. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  16:16

But if you can imagine that, for example, you might be a single mother, that is disproportionately higher in low income households. And perhaps I might not have a large degree of education, maybe I didn't finish high school, or I didn't get much past high school, which is also statistically more likely, for families living in poverty. Maybe I have multiple children, maybe I'm worried about money, maybe I have to make decisions kind of all the time about how to spend the resources, I have, like, do I pay the light bill? Or do I buy food? And if I buy food, then what happens with, you know, the choice that I made? What are the unintended consequences of that? That creates a constant kind of cognitive load on the adults in the household? Understandably. When the adult is so stressed out, worrying about all of these things, it is much, much harder for that adult who don't get me wrong, loves their child, to be able to say, "I'm here with you. And I'm able to engage in this reciprocal kind of back and forth". If you think of a tennis match, kind of interaction with you, I'm here to model healthy stress management skills, I'm here to, you know, kind of do the things that help build that child's brain and reduce their stress. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  17:30

So while the parent's under stress, it tends to create an environment where the child is therefore experiencing more stress; they pick up on much more than we give them credit for. And when we're under stress, as I mentioned, our body has an endocrine response. And that's what triggers our fight or flight or freeze, and now they've added fawn, to that. But if you think about it, like all the time, so if you think about it is like a siren going off. There are times when that siren is important because it helps us survive. But if that siren's going off all the time, the body really can't tell what is urgent and what is not. And it's just flooding our system with these, these stress markers and these stress hormones and these high alert kinds of signals all the time. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  18:15

What neuroscientists have discovered is that this takes an effect on developing brains, especially in early childhood. So the the damaging potential outcomes of poverty are increased when children are very, very young. And there is a significant number of children in this country who are living either at low income, or at the federal poverty level, or even half of that which is considered high poverty. And disproportionately children of color are living in this situation, children of immigrants or refugees, children whose parents do not speak English as a first language. So they have all these conflating kinds of characteristics that tend to occur in the same kinds of places. When that child is in this place, it actually affects the developing brain size, the gray matter size. And it also tends to, or has the potential to delay the development of the prefrontal cortex. So when we're talking about the brain, if you think about what's at the back of your head at the base of your, at the base of your skull, at your neck, that's kind of your reptilian brain, that's your fight or flight place. And then you know, you have your middle brain but that front of the brain part that prefrontal cortex behind your forehead, is where all of these higher level thinking skills come into play. And obviously, the average two year old or five year old is not really good at those anyway. But it's even more amplified with children who are experiencing delays in the development of that prefrontal cortex. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  19:58

So in that prefrontal cortex or things like self regulation and executive function. And the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, they're one of their their main researchers is Dr. Jack Shonkoff. And they talk about it as like the air traffic control center of the brain. So that's where you think through things like "If I make this choice, what will happen?". Or "I'm going to wait to move my hand or to get up and walk around until it's time to do it." Or "I'm going to remember the steps that I was given in the directions." And if you don't have that, it looks like a child who is intentionally misbehaving, or a child who has inappropriate social emotional skills. It impairs the development of preschool readiness, academic skills, and so on and so forth. To the point where it's actually visible in MRIs and things like that, just the decreased gray matter size. And it's evident in the behaviors that perhaps there is a prefrontal cortex delay happening. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  21:00

So the good news is children's brains, our brains are very, very plastic, it's called neuroplasticity. And just like there is risk on one side of the coin, the other side of the coin is that there are things we can do to buffer that stress for children, even if it's already occurred. So we can prevent it certainly to the extent that we're able to, but if it's already occurred, we can buffer that and mitigate that stress. And we can do that through that serve and return kind of interaction. If you think about babies, for example, many of us who who have the mental and emotional bandwidth to do it kind of instinctively, make faces at them and coo with them, and talk back to them and repeat their sounds and pointed objects and that kind of thing. So that's that serve in return, where you're really making a lot of eye contact, and you're responding back and forth. If you can reduce the stress in the environment, that can help mitigate some of this stress and this risk. If you can teach kids strategies for how to manage stress and how to self-regulate and how to practice things like decision making, and focus and attention, so that they have some kind of control on their inhibitions. That's called "inhibitory control". Or they have "cognitive flexibility", they can shift gears when they need to. Or they have working memory. So I can remember multiple steps to a direction. If I need to, for example, how to solve a multiplication problem, the procedure for that. That can help build brains up. So the you know, we want to be aware of the risk. But we also want to be aware that there are ways that we can mitigate that risk, and we can help that child build up those skills and feel safer. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  22:46

I just have a couple questions. Right? Well, actually just have one question. Understanding that, you know, a child is going through this experience with these stressors. And also parents, you know, especially parents who are living check to check or parents who are experiencing other forms of stress... What are some indicators or signs that parents, caregivers, and even educators who are supporting these students, what what are some of the signs that they can look out for? And maybe even some tools or strategies or suggestions to help?

Karyn Allee, PhD  23:22

Absolutely. So my area of specialization tends to be in that early childhood part of elementary. So while I have some knowledge on you know, kind of birth to four, I'm really in that Pre-K to third grade range is my sweet spot; although I do have a teenager and they also have potential for executive function issues. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  23:40

Yes, they do. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  23:44

But the things that you might want to look for, and it might be harder for a parent to see it, because they're kind of in that space with the child. But maybe a trusted family member has a little more objectivity or distance to be able to see these things. And it's possible the parent can too, but I'm thinking specifically from an education standpoint, it might look like a child who cannot handle stress or changes. So instead of saying something like, you know, "Amber, I don't like it, when you take my block, it's not your turn", they might hit you with the block. It looks like somebody who can not sit still like on the carpet, and is constantly getting up or touching things or touching friends. It might look like somebody who cannot retain information. So you've just said we're going to go to the center and you're going to get out this, this paper and your scissors and then they just can't follow that direction. They have difficulty following directions. It might look like they're easily distracted. It also appears from an education standpoint as a lack of academic readiness. So lacking is kind of foundational literacy skills, like phonological awareness, recognizing sounds and language or alphabet recognition. It might look like not understanding basic early math concepts like you know, recognizing shapes and colors and being able to count with one to one correspondence. Obviously, that's kind of in that kindergarten/Pre-K range. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  25:22

If they're younger, there is less of a focus on academics, and it tends to be more social, emotional. And if they're older, it tends to look like just really, really struggling in school, not having a lot of pro-social behavior. So pro-social behaviors are what we call the behaviors that we want kids to have. So I can follow directions, and I can keep my hands to myself, and I can solve my problems with my words, and I can do the things that really are going to make you successful at doing school. And so these behaviors, from the very get go, teachers kind of form an opinion about a child and their readiness and their aptitude. And they're telegraphed kind of quickly, that this child really struggles with X, Y, or Z. And what I want educators and family members and community members to start to try to think about is, is there an underlying reason why this child might be struggling with this, beyond this child is just bad, which is a word I hate to use, or this child is just, you know, intentionally disobedient, or this child just really is cognitively impaired? 

Karyn Allee, PhD  26:36

And in some ways, if it is an executive function issue, technically, it is a cognitive impairment. But that doesn't mean it can't be built up. So it just really kind of looks like a child standing out from their age appropriate peers as being even less ready or less capable of doing the things that their other peers are able to do. And all of that is relative, right? So a 10 year old is not going to be able to do what a six year old can do. But when you stand out among other two year olds, that tends to be a sign. So parents might see this at a playdate or at a faith based kind of thing like Sunday school where they're looking at other children and thinking "Hmm, okay, my child really seems to have difficulty with with something that the other children don't seem to have difficulty with". That might be an indicator that there is a prefrontal cortex issue going on. But at school, it tends to be behavioral and academic, that really is kind of the initial red flags for teachers.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  27:37

I have another question before we move on to our next one, because I really just want to continue to provide your expertise as a way for people to think a little bit more about what's happening around them with the young people in their lives. Is there, like you said that you said this question, sorry, you said,"IS THERE AN UNDERLYING REASON THAT THIS CHILD IS ACTING THIS WAY?" And I really liked the way that you frame that. You know, I guess, like how do we tell the difference between what I'm going to shortcut and say our poverty stressors on brain function, versus like learning disabilities Or ADD and ADHD? Like, how do we like, what is the moment where we're able to say, "No, it's not, it's not this poverty stressor on the development of the prefrontal cortex, it is actually a learning disability or ADHD"?

Karyn Allee, PhD  28:29

That's a really great question. And the the short and quick answer is they are often conflated and misdiagnosed. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  28:37


Karyn Allee, PhD  28:38

So you know, a lot of what looks like an executive function issue also can look like ADHD. A lot of what looks like academic lack of, quote, unquote, "readiness for school". And when we think about readiness for school, we're really talking about is the child able to kind of do school? Can they sit? Can they control themselves? But also, are they academically ready? Do they have these kind of early foundational skills and knowledge? And that at some point that may be identified as a learning disability. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  29:10

So one of the things that you can do if you're wondering, is there are a series of free resources like surveys or quick checklists. There are obviously some that are not nearly as free. And that tend to be more clinical where you have to go to a psychologist or some other kind of specialists, or you allow your child to be in one of my studies, and I can look at this information. But there are there are free resources that parents can look at, to look specifically for executive function issues that may help say, "Okay, we need to explore this further". The resources parents have access to can also help with this. So a pediatrician might be able to weigh in and say, "Hmm, okay, I see what you're saying. Let's take this course of action". 

Karyn Allee, PhD  29:59

Um, the challenge is, it comes from a place of privilege to assume that this child has a pediatrician that they see regularly. Many of my students didn't have a consistent pediatrician because they typically went to urgent care or an emergency room because of their family circumstances. So it's harder when you don't have somebody who really sees your child on a regular basis and keeps track of that chart. But medical professionals can help. Certain organizations in the community; it might be a school counselor, it might be the school psychologist, it might be faith based kind of therapy sources might also be able to look and say, "Okay, we might need to look at pursuing a more clinical diagnosis." But they could give the family members input and information. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  30:51

So it does often look a whole lot like other things. And prefrontal cortex delays can come from traumatic brain injury, they can come from all kinds of things, but we just know that poverty is one of the reasons that this might be delayed. But I would say that if parents and/or educators are wondering if this might be an issue, another thing that they can look at is the Adverse Childhood Experiences studies, otherwise known as ACEs. And what we know is that the more ACEs a child has experienced, the more they are at risk for global developmental delays and multiple risk factors that can last long into adulthood. So early intervention really is important. That's that kind of buffering neuroplasticity side of things. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  31:38

And so I would just say one of the things that I've noticed about my experience as a practitioner working in high challenge schools, is that those families did not necessarily know how to work the system, like a middle class family would. So they don't necessarily know to keep asking to keep asking. If the teacher is not responding, go to the principal, if the principal is not responding, find somebody else, you know, they they just navigating that system. It takes a certain awareness of the institution to be able to do that well. And a lot of my families didn't have that kind of foundational understanding of how to do that. But I would just say keep asking, keep asking, keep asking, if you think something might be going on, just keep asking. It may turn out to be something else. But trying to get people looped in, is probably going to help support both the child and the family who might be trying to look for solutions and look for support. Because it's tough parenting, parenting is not an easy job. Neither is teaching. All of these are really tough jobs with really important consequences.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  32:47

Well, so my daughters and I are like, like, "Wow, yeah. Oh my God".

Sofia  32:52

Are you enjoying this episode with Dr. Karyn Allee? We hope so! We’ll be right back with more of her wisdom in a bit. While you wait, hit subscribe or give us some stars on Apple Podcast.

Garvey  33:11

What’s on your mind? Do you have a question, an issue, or a celebration to share? Send it to us and we’ll discuss it.  Share what’s on your mind… the link is in the description, or send your questions to LetsK12Better@gmail.com.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  33:32

Alright, we are back. This has been an illuminating conversation with Karyn Allee-Herndon, Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Mercer University. We've covered so many very important topics already. Karyn, like you have laid it out for us. Obviously, you're working in academia, and so a lot of these concepts are very challenging for those of us who are not in that space. Right? So our next question with Naima is going to kind of cover that. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  34:08


Amber Coleman-Mortley  34:08


Naima  34:09

Often cutting edge ideas, or even academic research gets lost in translation or is conceptually inaccessible for the average person. How do you make cutting edge ideas and concepts meaningful and approachable in your work with schools and educators?

Karyn Allee, PhD  34:25

Oh Naima, you have articulated one of the issues that's really kind of challenging to navigate in academia. You may have heard the expression "publish or perish". So there is an expectation that we are researching and that we are publishing. And there are tiers to the journals and you want to get published in a top to your journal and, and all of that, but that's a very different writing style than the general public or even educators who are practitioners in K 12 Education typically read. It is a different language style it contains different information that if you are not a research methodologist, it might be hard to interpret. But that's what you have to write in to get published. So it creates this, this conflict because it's not easily accessible to even other people in the field who are not researchers and are not in higher-ed academia. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  35:23

So one of the things to make this research more accessible is being able to have the opportunity to speak in forums like this, where you can just talk and you don't have to use the style that the journals require. That's very, very formal and very, very scientific. And it makes it more accessible. I know that some of my colleagues use things like blogs, I haven't gotten that far yet. But just having opportunities to, for example, use social media to share information. I'm not sure how many K 12 educators follow me or how many parents follow me. But trying to put something very succinctly with a character limit forces you to be clear. To paraphrase Einstein, if you can't explain something simply you don't know it well enough. So you know, that's part of the goal is to be able to translate this very formal kind of jargon into more accessible language. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  36:19

While I haven't been able to get to schools very much, I moved to the Atlanta area right before the COVID pandemic. So I don't have really well established contacts here. And then I haven't been able to build them, but I'm working on it. But one way that I try to make this more accessible is the bulk of my teaching focus in this current role is to work with teacher candidates who are seeking initial certification. And they're wanting to be or are currently elementary teachers teaching on a provisional certificate. And so they're seeking this degree, to earn their certification so that they can be full time official legal teachers. And I infuse a lot of this research into my work with them, giving them really practical strategies and ideas for how to engage in this work from a trauma informed or a poverty informed or executive function, prefrontal cortex informed position in their classrooms, which to be honest, is a little bit hard right now, because there's a lot of top down in education right now. But teaching them how to do that in the hopes that they can go bring this to their classrooms is one way I get it out. Again, this podcast is really nice, because it just lets me have a conversation with you. And hopefully, you know, a few people hear it, and that'll be great. Another thing I do is really just I work with my own doctoral students who are interested in elementary, most of them have a kind of a social justice lens and an equity lens that they want to work on, which is why they're drawn to working with me. And I work on publishing papers with them and presenting at conferences with them, to build their experience, but also to make sure that not everything I do is super researchy, but that we're going to talk at a headstart conference, for example, that has a lot of practitioners, or an early childhood or elementary teacher or administrator conference that has people in the field to help translate this information. So I'm not requiring them to pick up a journal and read this really dense, heavy text. But to really kind of see it and hear it in a way that's more digestible.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  38:26

Yes to all of those things, and we will make sure that we link, you know, your social media so that folks can connect with you there and you know, any other information that you want linked so that people can get more of your awesome ideas. Alright, well, we're gonna move to our next question, which is about something I really love, which is play. Garvey...

Garvey  38:52

Let's talk about the benefits of play. Pre-pandemic, we were facing an epidemic where recess time was cut. Now with COVID-19. We're in a weird place with kids going outside, playing sports, and getting the playtime they need for healthy social and emotional physical development.

Garvey  39:09

Can you talk about play as a vehicle for pro social behavior, and mitigating deficits and closing gaps in childhood development?

Karyn Allee, PhD  39:18

Absolutely. And I'm so glad you brought up the pandemic. I know that for many children, at least, you know, children who have access to more resources, sports have come back into play. But what we're seeing in schools is that recess is still cut, and it was already kind of a major issue before the pandemic. Many of my teacher candidates or my doctoral students will come to me and say, "You know, we're getting messaging from our districts that say we really need to focus on social emotional skills, and we need to be aware of trauma", because we've got, I mean, nationwide, we've got 1000s of children who have lost somebody in the pandemic who are dealing with some kind of grief, whose trauma might have amplified because of family circumstances. So they're carrying this with, and we've got teachers who are in the same place. So we've got districts telling teachers, we need to focus on social emotional skills, but at the same time, we need to catch them up, because there's all this learning loss, and we're going to start bringing testing back, and they've got to be able to, you know, do well on the test. So there's this often kind of competing demand mixed message that classroom teachers are getting. And what's happening is that the children who are doing well, in spite of all of these challenges, maybe their families had access to tutors, or maybe they had technology resources at home, or they had parents who could interpret the, you know, physics homework for their high school or their, you know, middle school language arts homework, or space science homework for their middle school or whatever. They didn't experience as much of a learning loss. And so they're getting to do the cool stuff in school, again, because their school is higher performing, they get higher test scores, and so they can kind of get away with it. But as before, but now just kind of even more amplified. The schools that have large numbers of students who are not doing well, on these kinds of assessments, and that are perceived as having lost more learning, and are perceived as being more behind by this, let's face it kind of arbitrary standard or benchmark, we've set. There is this increased pressure to catch them up. And it often comes at the expense of recess. It comes at the expense of authentic, engaging kind of playful inquiry based learning in the classroom. It comes at the expense of doing kind of project based learning and things like that in favor of kind of a more didactic, skill driven, definitely test driven, drill and practice.

Karyn Allee, PhD  42:05

And according to my practical experience, my research experience my, you know, just kind of my intuition, from from 30 years in education and being a mom, the kids who need the most engaging learning the most play them the least stressful environment, the more the most supportive, warm, nurturing environment are the least likely to get it, which is why, you know, my kind of my pinned hashtag on Twitter is #PlayInSchoolIsAnEquityIssue. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  42:35

The kids who really, really could benefit from this kind of approach, because it would help build prefrontal cortex skills, it would help with pro social behaviors. We know that from many research studies, that movement helps build focus, it builds attention, it helps new learning get cemented in the brain better, all of these things, but we're depriving the kids who are perceived as being the most behind who are also perceived as being the most at risk from this kind of environment, because we've just got to, you know, kind of hammer it home with them. And I'm trying to find evidence that is compelling enough to support the idea that we might be cutting off our noses to spite our face by doing this, that if we release the pressure a little bit, and kind of let kids have free play and let them move into centers, and let them do kind of game based learning and discovery based learning that we would actually see greater gains on the test scores because we weren't really closing them satisfactorily before the pandemic. And now it's just even worse. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  43:37

And as you might imagine, the children who are in this situation are disproportionately children of color. They're disproportionately children from low socio economic environments. They're disproportionately English language learners, they're disproportionately children, who have been identified as needing special education services, which may also be a function of executive function issues that are misinterpreted as, as being, you know, a learning disability or something else. And so when we talk about benefits of play, they're not getting enough of it. And I understand that it's coming from a good intention of wanting to leave nobody behind and catch everybody up. But one of the things play does gross motor play for example, recess, running, jumping, sports, those kinds of things. The the movement, the gross the the muscle movement, the you know, the physical activity decreases the amount of sedentary behavior which has been shown in research to be correlated with lower academic achievement. As I said earlier, it does help increase children's focus, it helps increase their attention, it helps increase memory it helps increase the opportunity for them to make neural network connections to new learning so that it sticks better. And then when we shift gears into kind of a play based investment in the classroom, and obviously that looks different at different ages. So it's going to look different in kindergarten than it does in middle school or high school. But when we do kind of a play based kind of more open ended inquiry based approach, less seat time, less workbook time, less adaptive computer time, and more engaging, exploring curiosity, testing, designing, building, collaborating, all of those things help build free frontal cortex skills, because they require the use of language, they require the use of negotiation, they require the use of pro social behaviors, to be able to navigate in that space, they require waiting for your turn, they require sharing, they require coming up with creative and innovative solutions and problem solving, that just filling out a worksheet doesn't do. So we're in this kind of weird juxtaposition where, at least according to me, for whatever that's worth, the kids who need this kind of environment the most who are not going to just be okay, in spite of what we do to them at schools are the least likely to get it and the kids who already are set up to be more successful, as far as a school measure goes, are the ones who get to do things like with a 3D printer and with the the playground and the experiment and the building a solar oven for an engineering experiment. So there's a huge equity issue when it comes to movement and play and things like that in schools.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  46:31

Just really appreciate and was just caught by your hashtag, you know, #PlayInSchoolIsAnEquityIssue, and just this whole idea that if you are kind of passing tests, or hitting a benchmark, then you get to do all the things that kids are supposed to be doing anyway. So I just really appreciate you sharing that.

Karyn Allee, PhD  46:53

Yeah. And I think I think it comes sorry, but I think that there's this false dichotomy, that people with very good intentions, and some with less good intentions, we've got some bad actors in education now that are motivated, you know, not necessarily for children, but for profit, or, or whatever, 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  47:10

Real talk. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  47:12

But there's this this sense of a false dichotomy that we can either be rigorous, and we can be, you know, focused on learning and achievement and outcomes, or we can play and there's the sense that, you know, play is really loosey goosey. And it's unstructured. And we don't have time to waste on that. And my argument is, we can't afford not to engage in it. That's the kind of learning that hooks kids. That's the kind of learning that makes concept understanding deep and not just shallow, or deep and broad, where kids can practice applying new learning and novel situations and engage in much higher levels of cognition than simply filling in an answer or, or bubble can allow them to do so this gets to really rich Critical Thinking it gets the kind of behaviors that employers are looking for. They're looking for collaborators, they're looking for problem solvers, they're looking for, you know, you don't you don't do that when you're working by yourself at a desk. So yeah, it's this weird kind of false dichotomy. And then people think it's either or, and I'm arguing we can be both and we can still have standards, we can still collect data on how kids are doing. But we can also teach in ways that we have known for a long time, really are better for kids.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  48:26

Shout out to both and always, all the time. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  48:32


Amber Coleman-Mortley  48:33

Seriously, seriously. So we have our next question with Naima lets you know, as we think about innovating, thinking about best practices and the ways in which we can make education better, Naima, can you read our next question?

Naima  48:48

We'd like to close with the hope that we can collaboratively build a new way forward, allow innovative ideas will lead us, and support the holistic development of all children everywhere. How would you reimagine education and childhood or childhood development?

Karyn Allee, PhD  49:06

So, ironically, I imagine it going backwards a little bit getting a little retro. When I was working on my dissertation, one of the things that we struggled with my committee and I was how to what to call this current educational climate that is so hyper standardized hyper assessment driven. And they were, you know, people were calling it traditional kindergarten and I said, Well, I have an issue with that because when I first started teaching in the mid 90s, this wasn't what kindergarten looked like, you know, kindergarten had a kitchen and you cooked and it took naps and had a dramatic play center with housekeeping and hearing.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  49:46

Karyn I just interrupt you real quick because my kids all looked at each other, open their eyes wide... and we had amazing kindergarten teachers. But right, shout out to Ms. Zador. But like my youngest, who is going to be 11 this year, she sits up and she says, "Really?" (so sad)

Karyn Allee, PhD  50:05

Really? Yeah. So I mean, I struggled with calling what we're doing right now "traditional kindergarten", because to me, it's not traditional at all. You know, kindergarten historically was this bridge between, you know, kind of preschool, daycare, home childcare and formal schooling. And it used to focus on things like building social skills, and building fine motor skills. Let's practice cutting and writing. And let's play and, you know, let's explore. And, you know, there, there will be dressed up centers, and there will be blocks and puzzles. And, you know, it's not just your daughters because my teacher candidates, many of them are, most of them are young enough that they have never experienced this either. So when I talk about it, they don't have a mental frame of reference to draw upon from their own experience. And they're not seeing it in their schools right now. So they don't even have mentors or models in their building to look at and say, oh, okay, that's what it looks like when it's done well. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  51:07

But what I would say, for education, we've seen and there are multiple studies that I've cited, you know, like, like Bassok, et all (Daphna Bassok, Scott Latham, Anna Rorem) talking about "Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? ". We're seeing that shoved down going into Pre-K now. The school where I was collecting my dissertation data had two Pre-K classrooms, and I happen to overhear in the hallway one day, the teacher saying that they couldn't let the children go out to the playground, because they were, they were behind academically, so they had to do more to catch them up. And I'm thinking these babies are four. We've got so much time for this, you know, and how are we going? We know that there's a dropout issue. We know we've heard about the school to prison pipeline, we've heard about the gap widening. So how is it so hard for people to get that if we make school painful and tedious and pedantic that we don't let kids experience joy or success, that we're going to have a hard time keeping them through graduation. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  52:03

So what I would say for home, if you're a family, if your family member or parent and you're looking for quality childcare, for example, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has standards for childcare centers. And so I would say look for a Gold Seal Standard childcare center, because they are going to be more holistically, developmentally appropriate. There may be some academics, but it's not going to be lots of flashcards, lots of worksheets, it's going to be very child centered. Understanding what three and four and five year olds can do what two year olds can do what one year olds can do. So try to find a quality kind of childcare environment. If you're looking for one, if you're not using home based care. One of the things I would look for is we're getting more and more evidence that trying to rush an academic environment with children to young hurts them long term. It you know, they're I think, most of the time, if not all the time, parents make decisions because they want good things for their children. I remember having a parent conference many, many years ago when I was teaching kindergarten with a mom who said, "You know, I sit down and I do flashcards with her five hours a night". And I said that "I love that you want good things for her. But can we talk about other ways to do that, because five hours of flashcards is not appropriate for anybody much less a five year old". But they just didn't she didn't know what else to do. So I would say if you're looking for a childcare center, and you're not sure where to go, NAEYC resources are helpful, but when you tour a facility and be concerned if they don't let you tour be concerned, if they don't have an open door policy. Obviously with COVID it's, you know, there are protocols in place, and security measures in place, which are understandable, but you should be able to see the classrooms. Focus more on play and joyfulness and singing and puppets and dress up and things like that. It will have a longer term impact, I promise. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  54:07

If you're doing home based care, you know, language as much language is possible every time you think you're talking enough talk more, you know, when you're at the grocery store. It's not just we need apples, but "oh, look at these apples. They're round and they're shiny. And you know, that one kind of looks green, but this one looks more red. Another word I can think of is, you know, Scarlet"... and just building vocabulary helps with future reading ability. So, knowledge of vocabulary, the amount of vocabulary a child knows, both receptive - what they can understand, and productive - what they can say, is strongly predictive of future reading. So play and climb and have conversations that kind of supportive back and forth serve in return environment I was talking about earlier. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  54:55

For schools. What I would say is we need to we need to breathe. We need to let kids breathe, we need to let teachers breathe. Right now, we're just in such almost an Orwellian climate, where, and we're seeing this more and more with legislation that's being proposed to really control teachers. Indiana just passed legislation that said teachers have to post their lesson plans a year in advance so that parents can review them and push back. Many states are trying to get cameras in classrooms, which is a complete violation of other students' privacy. But good teaching doesn't work like that good teaching, you can't plan out a year in advance what you know, what Naima or what Garvey, or what Karyn, or what Amber is going to need on this particular day. And teachers go through a lot of training to be able to make these decisions. And if you're concerned about a teacher, as a building level administrator, or district level administrator coach that teacher up, but what we've done is since No Child Left Behind, so the past few decades, we have kind of taught to the least common denominator of teacher, we've supported the weakest teachers, at the expense of letting good teachers do what they have been trained to do, which is support children. So give teachers more agency give them more breathing room to make some good decisions. It's great to collect data, sure, we can be both and but let teachers do what they've been trained to do. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  56:23

And then as far as an educational approach, I always tell my students, if you're bored planning it and you're bored teaching it, then they're going to be bored learning it. We need to go to what we know works. We have lots of evidence of what works as far as learning theory and student engagement. As far as making things more rich, making them more collaborative, making them go deeper, making them more interdisciplinary, meaning I'm not just doing science for these 15 minutes, and then I'm doing math for for the next 45 minutes. And then I'm doing spelling for 10 minutes. That we find ways to integrate things because that's how the real world works. And it's more interesting and powerful that way. Let's look to what other countries are doing, well. Education is a field where everybody has an opinion, because everybody's been to school. But not everybody really has enough background to be able to justify their opinion. But we know that there are things working and that a lot of the pushback we get is because it's inconvenient for adults. For example, we know start times for high school would be better off later. Because high schoolers circadian rhythms need them to sleep later. But we don't do it. We know that we should be able to, you know, add in more time or resources, but we don't because adults are making the decision. So if we center children, and we focus on their whole child development, and we focus on making learning richer and deeper and not just checking off, I covered this standard, I covered this standard, then I promise we're going to get deeper learning out of it. And that will be reflected in those test scores. And for high school and middle school. That's experiments. That's collaboration, that's projects. For elementary and especially early Elementary, it's play, it's an investigation. It's discovery. And that's just almost almost completely gone. And elementary schools, especially in high need schools.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  58:15

Okay, so Sofia says, "Yes, I agree". A couple of things that just came up because I wanted, I didn't want to interrupt you while you were sharing all of these just amazing, beautiful ideas, but also, like common sense things too. So like, you know, one thing I really hope people pull from this that I heard is this unfortunate continued adultification of kids. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  58:42


Amber Coleman-Mortley  58:42

Right. Where we're not allowing them the space, right to grow up and explore. And then also loved the supporting... Our legislation and a lot of the things that we're doing is focused on supporting the weakest teacher at the expense of the teachers who essentially they know what they're doing, right. And I also just want to say like, it seems like a lot of education is also not just the weakest teacher, but also keying in on driving it home with the students who need the most help. Right, rather than allowing, like, best practices to flow for ALL kids. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  59:18


Amber Coleman-Mortley  59:19

So thank you so much for all these ideas. Your reimagining of education and childhood, early childhood development, just is so inspiring. So thank you, thank you, thank you. And we...

Karyn Allee, PhD  59:29

I want all children to get to do what the kids at the high performing schools do. I want all children to get the teaching that the kids and gifted and AP and IB classes get. They get really great teaching all children should be getting that.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  59:44

We couldn't agree more. So we're here down. We're down here... Wow "we're here down". (group laughter) So that may stay in the show. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  59:56

So we are we are down to the final question, this has been just an again, just a wonderful illuminating conversation. I encourage folks to rewind and write notes down. This was definitely a seminar course. And I appreciate that. An accessible seminar course. Sofia, can you read our final question?

Sofia  1:00:22

Where can people find you? And what else would you like to share with our listeners?

Karyn Allee, PhD  1:00:27

Oh, that's a great question. Okay. So I mean, I have publications that people are welcome to read, some are probably a little more accessible if you're not an academic than others. But I'm happy to share those. I'm on Twitter (@karynallee), and that tends to be more of my professional site. And LinkedIn, obviously, and there is a site called ORCID that many of us use. It's basically a curated list of your publications. My Facebook and my Instagram tend to be more personal and social, but you're welcome to find me there too. Just know that, you know, all opinions are my own. You're welcome to email me. I mean, really if you're interested in doing this work, if you're interested as a parent, if you want to set up opportunities for me to be able to work more directly with the, you know, kind of end user, so to speak, parents and teachers and that people who are not necessarily reading academic studies, I'd be happy to do that. I'd be happy to do you know, kind of workshops or virtual things. But I'm also if you're an educator, and you want to work with me, I would love more opportunities to do research with children and teachers in schools. I'm so excited that we're hopefully getting back to that soon. And then if you're an academic who's interested in this, I would love to collaborate.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:01:52

Yes. Okay. So we will link all the things in the show notes. Yes, right. This has been just, again, really amazing conversation. Karyn, we are so so glad that you joined us and so thankful that you took time out of your schedule to hang out with us and to just share your life's passion and your wisdom with us. Gang. What do we say? [rowdy gratitude and cheering] Alright, alright. Alright. [screams and cheers] Welcome to us. 

Karyn Allee, PhD  1:02:29

It was my pleasure. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:02:32

Thank you so much. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:02:39

All right, as you can tell from the excited goodbye, you know, we were really, really happy with our conversation with Dr. Karyn Allee. Two key takeaways from this episode. Number One: "Education is an act of social justice. If you're doing it well." Oh my god, that should be written everywhere. And then the other one, please check out her hashtag. #PlayInSchoolIsAnEquityIssue. You know, we cannot afford to not engage and invest in the power of play for children everywhere, especially children, from marginalized backgrounds, especially children in poverty. Please meld these ideas into your mind as you move in your own advocacy for your own child's education. Or as you move in the advocacy for the education of children in your community, however, you may define that.

Naima  1:03:36

If you enjoyed this conversation and you want to learn more, we encourage you to check out Dr. Karyn Allee and her work.  We’ve linked everything you need in the show notes. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:03:52

Alright, so we have a pretty long episode this week, which means we have cut out the "What's on your mind?" segment. But we want your community letters. So fill them out and send them into us either using the form that's linked in the show notes, or email us at LetsK12Better@gmail.com. They are anonymous. We do not share who you are. We love to discuss whether it's a grievance or a celebration or a question for us. You know, do you guys have a family dispute that you want someone else to help out with? Or do you have a question about education as an educator that you want, you know, us as a family to talk about. We love your letters, and we thank you guys for sending them in. So please keep them coming. We will come back to them next episode which gives many if not all of you, time to send us letters. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:04:53

Alright. So before we leave, we always like to close out with what we hope for our listeners. Garvey, what is your hope for our listeners until the next time, we're with them again?

Garvey  1:05:08

So I hope everybody enjoyed the episode. And I also hope people try to apply it to their life as usual. And because going outside to recess is very important in the child's life, especially since they sit in a classroom for hours. And speaking of going outside for recess, it's up and coming Earth Day. So try to 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:05:30

Shout out to planet Earth, 

Garvey  1:05:32

...try to go to marches or listen to environmental speakers and activists. And yeah,

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:05:40

all right, awesome. Thank you so much. So incorporating play into our lives, and making sure we are respecting the Earth as Earth Day approaches. Thank you so much for that. All right, Naima, what do you hope for our listeners until the next time we're with them again?

Naima  1:05:56

I hope that they make very conscious social, economic, and not just because Earth Day is coming up, um, shout out to Planet Earth and Mother Nature, by the way. They should make also very smart economic, not economic, environmental choices. Because not lots of people like talk about it on podcasts like this and like spaces like this, but it should be said that it's not just social justice work, or equity or equality. It's also we need to love our planet. And you know, it's not really happening that much right now.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:06:39

You know, a lot of people think that environmental work is part of the whole social justice work. So, you know, you're right on there. Thank you. Alright, Sofia, what do you hope for our listeners, until we're with them, again?

Sofia  1:06:58

For many people's Spring Break has like, today is the last day of spring break for children and adults. Like if you're off of work in school, I hope that like going into this fresh week of work that everybody just like, you know, has some time for themselves. Work hard, but not too hard, where you reach your limit. And I hope that everybody has just a great week, and going into Earth Day hope everybody like concerns, like don't don't use a lot of paper, don't like print a lot of stuff out, maybe like, like, try to pick up some plastic bottles on the ground, or just the little things, because the little things, have big impacts.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:07:46

I really appreciate that. Thank you so much. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:07:48

What do I hope for you listeners until the next time we're together again? Honestly, an allergy free week. Like I am really congested. And I'm sure you can hear it, and I'm trying to fake it. But this is crazy. So shout out to the trees. I love trees. So yay, do your thing. But I'm hoping that all of you who suffer from allergies, just have some relief, drink some water. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:08:16

I also yes, it is Earth Day. Just want us to think about the systemic issues that impact us not being able to be kind to this planet. As much as people want to travel into space and live on other planets. That's beautiful. But there's water and environments here that we would have to terraform elsewhere. And so you know, really thinking about being kind to this planet, making sure that we're doing our part but also holding our politicians and even like the companies we buy things from a little bit more accountable in the products and things that they offer us. So that's what I that's what I would say. Also just thinking about, again, like how do we create systems that are sustainable for the environment, which means that if it's sustainable for the environment, it'll be sustainable for life. And even just thinking back to two years ago, in the pandemic, when it was first starting, and all the "people" weren't walking around. There was so much healing that happened to the Earth that I think we forgotten about. Animals coming back out in places and just quiet and silence. So I hope that for, for all of us that we, not necessarily go back to a state like that because that was crazy, but that we appreciate and try to find opportunities for us to be a little less "human being" and a little bit more connected to the Earth and letting the Earth do her thing and letting nature do its thing around us. Yeah, that's what I hope. I hope you think about that.

Sofia  1:10:13

Thank you for listening to the Let’s K12 Better Podcast.

Garvey  1:10:16

You made it to the end… Please like, subscribe, and share.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:10:20

We want to hear from you. Connect with us on social media @LetsK12Better on all social media platforms. Or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Clubhouse @MomOfAllCapes. The Let’s K12 Better podcast is available on every podcasting platform; so if you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to rate and review our podcast. This is a family project and your feedback helps us grow. Thank you so much for listening. 

Naima  1:10:54

See you next time.

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