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Mind the Gap – Episode 7 Featuring Principal Baruti Kafele

After the introduction, Episode 7 of Mind the Gap: Making Education Work Across the Globe, a video series presented by John Catt Educational, begins with “On Emma’s Mind,” in which co-host Emma Turner shares her thoughts on the importance of making mistakes and learning through the process (0:45). Managing change following a period of setbacks requires reflection. Instead of concentrating on the error itself, it takes an informative discussion around the error to bring about growth.

Next (5:18), Tom Sherrington presents his segment, “On Tom’s Mind,” with professional development insights from his recent publication Teaching Walkthrus. He points to the importance of establishing needs and challenges before deciding when to begin a new initiative. You start with what you can see and then match the environment to develop a successful program. It remains essential for teachers to take ownership in the early stages of the process to produce the best results.

Then, Baruti Kafele joins the show (10:14) for the “Mind Share” interview to discuss the linking of social justice with school leadership. Kafele, known as Principal Kafele, points to the early influence of Lewis Lomax’s book To Kill a Blackman on the parallels between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X as the inspiration to his teaching and leadership methods. It all comes naturally to Kafele, who makes it a point to tie in the classroom environment to the outside world. He shares pivoting during the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the ensuing civil unrest to message the importance of weaving real-life events into the framework of school culture, including the subject areas of math, science, social studies, and the language arts. 

It became essential to fully integrate the shifting realities into all aspects of school rather than sugar-coating the issues. Kafele adds the importance of teachers and staff staying in tune with the lives of the younger students, including the music, conversation topics, social media, and all areas that help with relating and connecting. The interview closes out with Kafele explaining the importance of instructional leadership, the assistant principal’s role, and the early development of his Saturday Morning Academy.

The interview is followed by “The Debrief” (37:23), with Emma and Tom sharing their reflections on the inspiring and fascinating interview with Principal Kafele. They highlight Kafele’s belief in teaching as a mission and his incredible ability to connect with kids while promoting social justice as an important element of school culture.

About the participants:

Baruti K. Kafele is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and Milken Award-winning educator who spent nearly 30 years as an urban public school teacher and principal in New Jersey. His books include Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life, Closing the Attitude Gap: How to Fire Up Your Students to Strive for Success, and The Teacher 50: Critical Questions for Inspiring Classroom Excellence. Follow Principal Kafele on Twitter @PrincipalKafele

Tom Sherrington is a co-host of Mind the Gap: Making Education Work Across the Globe. He has worked in schools as a teacher and leader for 30 years and is now a consultant specializing in teacher development and curriculum & assessment planning. Through his consultancy – teacherhead consulting – he is interested in working with educators to explore and implement contemporary educational ideas that deliver an excellent all-round education for young people. His books include Rosenshine’s Principles in Action and The Learning Rainforest Fieldbook.  Tom is a regular contributor to ResearchEd events and other conferences for teachers and policymakers. He regularly contributes to conferences and CPD sessions locally and nationally and is busy working in schools and colleges across the UK and around the world. Follow Tom on Twitter @teacherhead

Emma Turner is a co-host of Mind the Gap: Making Education Work Across the Globe. After 20 years in primary teaching, Emma joined Discovery Schools Academy Trust where she is currently the Research and CPD lead, devising and writing training for staff at all career stages, but specializing in continuous professional development (CPD) for early career teachers. She is the founder of ‘NewEd – Joyful CPD for early career teachers’, a not-for-profit approach to CPD to encourage positivity amongst the profession and help to retain teachers in post. Turner is author of Be More Toddler: A Leadership Education From Our Little Learners. She is an advocate of balance in leadership and family life and regularly speaks at events across the UK on how part-time leadership and flexible working can be a hugely successful model in organizations. Follow Emma on Twitter @emma_turner75

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