The first speaker of the Superintendent’s Onward and Upward Speaker Series, Dr. Frank Worrell, held the audience in rapt attention for 90 minutes on the evening of November 1, as he presented a range of the educational and psychological contexts that promote high achievement and academic talent. He began by placing Berkeley’s 50 years of public school integration and the achievement gap in a historical and global context and shared a series of stories to illustrate the research he has been leading on how race, culture, and ethnicity play out in educational contexts and the key factors that support academic talent development in every classroom.
In one example of his research, Dr. Worrell shared the finding of his studies that African American and Latino students who had a “high ethnic identity” and “high other group orientation” rated highly on several positive success factors:
- Attitude to teachers
- High belonging
Students who exhibited high ethnic identity and were skilled at interacting in diverse groups (termed “high other orientation”) developed positive relationships with teachers, had a sense of belonging in the school community, and achieved higher academic outcomes. He suggested that addressing these factors can have an impact on student achievement for all students.
He also shared a few slides developed by Dave Stevens (Teacher on Special Assignment in the Berkeley Research Evaluation Assessment office) to illustrate that children and young people have complex and developing identities and experience their education through many filters.
As an expert in gifted education and talent development, Dr. Worrell shared elements of the “Talent Development Megamodel” that, while designed with the highest performing students, artists, and athletes in mind, have implications for every classroom setting. The model is built on a foundation of “Teaching for Falling in Love,” which promotes a love of learning and a sense of belonging while developing student potential. Once a child learns to love learning, the model suggests that the “Teaching for Technique” phase begin in the middle and high school years with a focus on developing skills, knowledge, and achievement. Ultimately, the model leads to a period in which gifted individuals are mentored and trained for expertise and eminence.
In closing, Dr. Worrell talked about the power of hope and, in the context of Barack Obama’s ascendence to the U.S. presidency and what he has found in his research, suggested that a winning strategy for all educators would be to “treat everyone in front of you like they will become president someday.”
Following the talk and slide presentation, Superintendent Evans asked Dr. Worrell a range of follow-up questions from the audience.
The full set of the slides from Dr. Worrell’s presentation is available on the district website.
The next speaker in the series is Dr. Prudence J. Carter, Dean of Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, and the event will be held on December 11, 7pm, at Longfellow Middle School (1500 Derby St.). Please visit the Onward and Upward webpage for more details.