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Recent Articles by Dr. Nicole Patton Terry
For the Episode 24 Transcript, Click "Read More" below
0:00:11 Tiffany Hogan: Welcome to See Hear Speak Podcast Episode 24. In this Episode I talk with Nicole Patton Terry, Professor at Florida State University in the Florida Center for Reading Research. Nicole and I discuss bidialectalism, school - research partnerships, and working with children who live in poverty.
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0:01:04 Tiffany Hogan: Welcome to SeeHearSpeak podcast. Today we have Nicole Patton Terry, and I will have her start by introducing herself.
0:01:14 Nicole Patton Terry: Hi, my name is Nicole Patton Terry. I am a professor in the School of Teacher Education at Florida State University, and the Associate Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research.
0:01:22 Tiffany Hogan: Well I'm very excited to talk to you today, Nicole. We have known each other for a very long time, probably longer than we want to admit, and...
0:01:30 Nicole Patton Terry: Certainly, longer than we want to say on this video.
0:01:32 Tiffany Hogan: That's right. That's exactly right, but I am so excited to share your very cool research with the listeners, and I'm just gonna jump right in with some heavy topics here. You said in one of your recent papers, and I'm gonna quote, "There is evidence that, when provided with rich and robust language interactions, bidialectalism and bilingualism can be leveraged as strengths to support literacy learning." And I was wondering if you could tell us more about these two terms, bidialectalism, that's hard to say, and bilingualism, in the context of that paper? And how you came to this conclusion, which might be a surprise to some of the listeners.
0:02:11 Nicole Patton Terry: Well, the reason we wrote that paper is because there has been this suggestion of the parallels between kids who are growing up speaking multiple dialects of a language, and kids who're growing up speaking multiple languages. So, one of the big questions out there, and I think it's an empirical question, worthy of continued investigation, is how much are they the same and how much are they different? And so what we were trying to help folks understand are the ways in which they might be the same, which would lead research in one direction, and ways in which they might be different, which would lead research in a different direction, and would also mean that the instructional and clinical implications would be different as well. For kids, often people are, I think, sometimes more aware of bilingualism, because it's a little bit more, easier to digest, cause we're talking about two languages, right?
0:03:05 Tiffany Hogan: Yeah.
0:03:06 Nicole Patton Terry: Or more languages. And it's a little clearer how those languages might be different, either in their phonology, or morphology, in their semantics, and all the parts and aspects of language. And so we're a little further ahead, I think, in understanding how it is that kids who are growing up speaking multiple languages develop language and literacy skills. And often, the core issue there is about proficiency in the language that you are speaking and the language you're learning literacy skills in, whether it be reading or writing, and whether or not they are same or different, as well as how proficient you are, based on your experience.
0:03:41 Nicole Patton Terry: When it comes to kids who are speaking multiple dialects, we know less about that. In particular, the challenge there, I think, for us as adults, but also for kids who are growing up speaking multiple dialects is, typically, we're talking about one language where speakers can understand each other, and so it's not always easy to notice the differences, and then if you notice the differences act upon those differences for reading and writing. So, how do kids come to become aware that they might be speaking multiple dialects, and does that awareness facilitate the learning of reading and writing skills? Does it matter at all? Maybe it doesn't matter at all, especially if we are to understand that everyone... Certainly when talking about American English, everyone is speaking a dialect of American English to some level of density.
0:04:33 Nicole Patton Terry: And so, if we're all doing it, then why are these kids different, and what is it that's so different about them that might matter for their reading and writing ability? So really, in that paper, what we were really trying to ask those hard questions. If everyone's doing this then why are they different, from a sort of scientific perspective but also from a more contextualized perspective about their lives and their growing up in these conditions in US schools, can dialect differences, can language differences be leveraged to support them?
0:05:06 Nicole Patton Terry: So I think in that quote, one of the things we wanted to really impress upon folks is kids need rich and robust language experiences to develop reading and writing skills. All kids do. And it doesn't matter if you speak a different dialect, it doesn't matter if you speak a different language, it doesn't even matter what your level of proficiency is in that dialect or that second, or third, or fourth language. The fact is kids need rich and robust language experiences. Thus far, that's what the research tells us, and if kids are provided with that, then maybe many of them will learn to read and write, and these language differences, and dialect differences won't be the primary thing we're talking about.
0:05:47 Tiffany Hogan: What are some examples of dialect differences?
0:05:50 Nicole Patton Terry: I study, or have had experience studying, African-American children, who often speak African-American English. And in that particular dialect you will see a lot of phonological and morphological differences. You might see substitutions of grammatical endings. Not substitutions, omissions of grammatical endings. So, dropping your G’s, kids might see a past tense ending. So "Yesterday"... Instead of saying, "Yesterday, he walked to the store," you might hear children say, "Yesterday, he walk to the store." You see...
0:06:30 Nicole Patton Terry: Big grammatical changes, like the contextual "be", for example, like "He always be running fast," instead of saying, "He always runs fast." Phonological differences, you might see final cluster reduction. Instead of "fast," you might hear "fass," but these sort of phonological and morphological differences are very much so rule-governed. They're systematic. You can listen to a child's speech and you can see when these substitutions or deletions happen, and notice that they are very much so tied to the grammatical structure of the dialect, or phonological structure of the dialect that they're speaking.
0:07:08 Nicole Patton Terry: What makes it sometimes challenging is that I think it's rare that you will find children who are 100% dense in using a non-mainstream dialect. And so their use of these forms is variable. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not, and so that can make it difficult sometimes for folks to know whether or not children are speaking with a certain level of density that might then get in the way of reading and writing skills.
0:07:34 Nicole Patton Terry: But it could also complicate whether or not you're trying to figure out if a student has a language impairment, because often some of those variable uses of some of these same features are indicative of a language impairment. On the written language side of that, for example, the omission of grammatical endings is common as young children learn to spell. So you'll see children do that through first, second, third, sometimes even to fourth grade. Well, if you're using that dialect often, sometimes kids will omit those endings for longer periods of time. Or it may seem indiscriminate when they're doing it. And so the challenge for the teacher is how much of that is related to the dialect and how much of that is just related to whether or not they really understand how to use grammatical endings in print.
0:08:21 Tiffany Hogan: Is there a pervasive view that, depending on the dialect, it should not be used in school? Is there this view of... How does the... So you mentioned everyone has... Let me say this differently, so everyone has a dialect, that's just part of it, and it comes from your culture, your background, and maybe what's spoken in your home environment. And so, how do teachers... What is the view in terms of using dialects in a school system and how is that affected by the mainstream education kind of philosophy?
0:08:58 Nicole Patton Terry: Yeah. So, in the US there's considerable debate around whether or not you should encourage children to use their home dialects in schools, right? Some of that is absolutely tied to awareness, whether or not teachers are aware that children are using these non-mainstream dialects, which are not bad English or poor English or incorrect English, they're just differences. And so depending on the teacher or those in that school, their knowledge base for some of them, this might seem like an error. For some of them they may be fully aware that these dialect differences exist, and so now they're more concerned about risk. They're concerned that children are using language features that might put them at risk, so they want them to change it, right? And that has a lot to do with what they think people's perceptions of those children will be if they use those non-mainstream forms. There are others who think, "You know what, let's use it. Language is diverse, so let's use it freely in school." So, there is no one... I don't think there's any one sort of statement, position statement on that.
0:10:04 Nicole Patton Terry: But you see a lot of people doing a lot of different things. The empirical evidence thus far is not sufficient for us to say that absolutely 100% we should be using dialect-informed instruction in schools. If we do that then children's dialect differences will not impact their reading and writing. We simply don't have enough research to tell us that. So, it takes me back to that initial quote, which is we do have significant evidence, empirical evidence to suggest that children's reading and writing benefits from their robust, enriched language experiences with adults in their environments, at home and at school. So, for me, we know that evidence is there so let's make sure, at a minimum, we're doing that. And if we do that we reduce the risk of having reading and writing problems.
0:10:53 Tiffany Hogan: That makes a lot of sense... Yeah, go ahead.
0:10:56 Nicole Patton Terry: I was gonna say, and I think that part of that is being informed about language differences, right? So, as you would about any other aspect of language, you're gonna be informed about that child's language use and use that information and leverage it to provide appropriate instruction in schools. So, this is, to me, this is another indicator that we can use to support children, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's one that we need to teach, it doesn't mean it's one we don't need to teach. We just don't know the answer to that yet.
0:11:24 Tiffany Hogan: Yeah, and I think it's also related to this value judgement, right? So it's like, regardless of what the dialect is, this idea that it's less than or somehow less educated, and now we need to use this somehow mainstream. And I think that goes back to a lack of understanding of the changes that occur in language, and the fact that you can use different dialects depending on the culture and people you're with. And that that can also be something that you consider. Because I also think of, from growing up in the Midwest, we had our own dialect as well that we used. And then there's the... I know another one that gets a lot of attention it seems like is the Southern, like the Creole kind of Louisiana, right, like the approach there. So, it's... There's dialects everywhere, but it's trying to understand, I think, promoting less value judgment on one being better than the other as opposed to just... Right? That they're just language variation.
0:12:21 Nicole Patton Terry: Yes. So just like... And this I think is also true when we talk about kids who are bilingual. There are high prestige and low prestige dialects. Right?
0:12:30 Tiffany Hogan: Yes. Absolutely.
0:12:31 Nicole Patton Terry: And so, I often, in my class, use the example that we, depending on who it is, if you talk about Southern American English, which shares a lot of its features with African American English, depending on the person, the perception, we can view Southern American English as being a very endearing dialect. Anybody who watches the Food Network and looks at Paula Dean, and she just feels like your grandma in the kitchen making biscuits for you, and we just love her and we wanna give her a hug. But her language use, from a pure language standpoint, we should all be concerned about her reading and writing if dialect is in the way, right?
0:13:10 Tiffany Hogan: Right.
0:13:11 Nicole Patton Terry: And I doubt we have had any conversations about her literacy skills or her children's literacy skills or her grandchildren's literacy skills. But her dialect use is very dense. Right? So why are we not giving that same level of concern to her as we are to all of these African American children who are doing the exact same thing?
0:13:27 Tiffany Hogan: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.
0:13:28 Nicole Patton Terry: And that is the part about this, that the context of language that we often ignore in our research, but absolutely matters to how it's enacted out there in the real world. And we need to make sure we attend to that I think.
0:13:45 Tiffany Hogan: Well it does seem like there's some misperceptions that the African-American dialect is indicative somehow of children living in poverty, or there's some type of impoverished environment somehow, whether it's an English environment or something that has to do with resources. So, in the work you're doing what are some of the big misconceptions about working with children who live in poverty and how does this relate to minority culture and bilingualism and bidialectalism?
0:14:13 Nicole Patton Terry: I just try to avoid saying that word. I say "multiple dialects". [laughter]
0:14:17 Tiffany Hogan: I'm gonna do that, or I'm gonna get it right by the end. [laughter]
0:14:22 Nicole Patton Terry: So I think you hit the nail on the head there. And I think that we do have a lot of these mis-perceived notions about individuals who are growing up in poverty. I really think it is this notion of "at risk."
0:14:44 Tiffany Hogan: Yes.
0:14:45 Nicole Patton Terry: Which, at the end of day, is a term that is about stats, right? It's about whether or not you are, "more likely to," in any category, right? But over time I think we've used that term so much it's almost become watered down in it's version and our understanding of it and it's become misconstrued with "at risk," means you don't have it.
0:15:03 Tiffany Hogan: Right.
0:15:04 Nicole Patton Terry: And how there's this one large group, that all African America children are "at risk," all poor children are "at risk," all bilingual children are "at risk." And that term, although I get it, I get the stats behind it, but what it ends up being is a birthright. It ends up being that these risks are now determinants, and I don't think that was the original intention, but that's where we are now, right? Which for me is extremely problematic, because that means that all my kids are now "at risk". And I wanna be clear, my kids are gonna be okay. So, I think that we have to move away from this notion of "at risk" being a determinate.
0:16:00 Nicole Patton Terry: There are many, many children who are growing up in poverty, who are achieving well and have everything they need to achieve well in school. There are many kids who are bilingual, there are many kids who are bi-dialectical who are growing up with all that they need to do well in school for reading and writing. So, I think what we have to move away from is taking these indicators of risk and talking about them as if they exist outside of some context that makes it a risk. It's the context in which these things exist that makes it a risk. And if we can start to think about it that way then I think we would do better by how it is we're trying to serve our kids, right?
0:16:44 Tiffany Hogan: Yeah.
0:16:45 Nicole Patton Terry: I think that... Yeah, I mean, now don't get me wrong, it's difficult, I'm not saying it's an easy thing to do. But the reality is, for many kids who have these risks, our interventions or our ways of supporting them don't look very different than kids who don't have these risks, right? So we do know a lot about how to support kids who have these first risks. What we maybe know less about is how to create conditions where these risks don't emerge in the first place, right?
0:17:15 Tiffany Hogan: Yes.
0:17:16 Nicole Patton Terry: So we focus... And I think it's inherently a part of who we are as clinicians. I was trained as a person to work with kids with learning disabilities, so we're always in "fix it" mode. Kids are struggling, they're not doing things that we expect to see for them, so we wanna fix it, right? Without forgetting that these kids are just developing, and they're developing as we would expect one to develop in the context in which they're growing up, right? So, I tend to now... I'm trying... I'm playing around with and trying to understand notions of vulnerability. And what are these... What makes a child more or less vulnerable to doing well in school? Poverty can create vulnerability, but disability can create vulnerability, right?
0:18:03 Nicole Patton Terry: Language differences can create vulnerability, there are multiple conditions that create vulnerability. But if you start to think about it in terms of vulnerability and instead of in terms of risk, it means you have to consider the context in which that makes this thing a vulnerability, right? And that means you have to think about things that are outside the individual, you have to think about factors like access, factors like quality, you have to think about factors that maybe predispose certain populations to risk, or factors that maybe enable certain risks. And how it is that these issues that are in the individual child as well as issues within their context kind of work together in the real world to create what we see, which is under-achieving in school.
0:18:53 Nicole Patton Terry: And then, if you can understand that, then the solutions become things that you focus on the individual but things you also focus on in the context of which they live. So, I think thinking about it as vulnerability instead of thinking about it as risk might help us disentangle some of these notions that are really... It's just uncomfortable to figure out how to... It's uncomfortable to talk about, it's difficult to tease apart, but I think that a lot of that we do to ourselves because we just focus on these individual risk factors based on stats, instead of thinking about these numbers. These numbers are people in context.
0:19:31 Tiffany Hogan: Yes. I love how you're thinking about this, too. Because when you think about the vulnerabilities and you start to think about what you can change, it makes it less pre-deterministic, as you said. And I think it also helps us to confront biases. Because I think that sometimes these risk factors, even in the most well-meaning person, can come out as confirmation bias. Like, "Well, that child's not doing well, that child lives in poverty", "Oh, that child's not doing well, that child doesn't speak the mainstream English". Like it becomes almost this deterministic and also bias of, "Well they can't do well. And look what they're up against".
0:20:06 Tiffany Hogan: And it creates this lack of actually changing or helping to change. But when you think about vulnerabilities, and let's say you say, "Oh okay, a child's in poverty, what could be a vulnerability?" They could have food insecurity, how are we gonna then solve that in our school system, as opposed to, "Oh well, they're in poverty, I don't know that I'm gonna really be able to make a dent in what they're doing. How can I be up against, as a teacher educator, how can I really even help the child? Because that's an environment I can't change." Whereas there are lots of things you can do to help, but then focus on that context. I think it does make us confront some of the biases that we have and think about how we can actually help to help children, not just say, "Oh that's just... That's how it's gonna be."
0:20:51 Nicole Patton Terry: Yeah. And I also think though it's gonna take us out of our comfort zone, but that means we've now got to start collaborating and working with folks in different fields than we're used to working with, right?
0:21:05 Nicole Patton Terry: If you're gonna talk about nutrition, there's a whole field for that. There's a science to that. There are people who know that and understand that. And maybe those folks aren't working with the reading researchers of the world who understand the reading element, but I'm sure they both can agree that if kids are coming to school malnourished or without a meal from this weekend, that may have something to do with their learning in the classroom. So how can we, if we take both sources of knowledge, both powerhouse fields of research and figure out how to put them together, then could we get better bang for our buck in all of the work, the intervention work, that we've done? Cause I, make no mistake about it, I think we've done phenomenal research in the field of reading, but I think that research-to-practice gap that we see, part of it may be due to the fact that we are still working with the same usual suspects. And maybe it's time to break outside of that.
0:22:01 Nicole Patton Terry: I've been reading a lot in public health, a lot in translational science, trying to think about how can we take the advances that we've had and leverage it to push us to the next level. And I think one of the things that's keeping us from doing that is that we're still just working together to solve the problem. We have the same great minds in the room, which are phenomenal minds, but I think if we understand the complexities of vulnerability then it can't just be us. There have to be other fields that we're gonna have to get to, to inform these outcomes.
0:22:36 Tiffany Hogan: And I know you and I share this view of the child as the whole and thinking about context and one view I think we also share is getting the stakeholders in the room, too. So a lot of times there's been this hierarchy like, "Oh we need to solve a reading problem, so then we're gonna get all the top reading researchers in a room and they're gonna talk about how to solve it, and then they're gonna disseminate to schools how to solve it". But what's lacking there, almost always, is actually someone from the school system, someone from the context. Can you talk a bit about how you're trying to think about in your research and your partnerships how to make that change too?
0:23:13 Nicole Patton Terry: Yeah, I 100% agree with you. Of course, preaching to the choir here. But I do think some of the greatest minds of reading research have never been teachers.
0:23:25 Tiffany Hogan: Absolutely.
0:23:26 Nicole Patton Terry: And that doesn't mean they can't inform the field of teaching, at all. That doesn't mean they can't inform what's happening in schools. But it is a significant proposition to ask someone to do some of the things we want them to do based on the science and the realities of being in a classroom or in a school building or in a school district, which exists in a state that is governed by lots of policies and lots of... So, it's not an easy proposition to just say that the science says this, so let's do it.
0:23:59 Nicole Patton Terry: There are many reasons why people make decisions about what it is that they do in any field. We can talk about climate change, we can talk about agriculture, we can talk about all these different places, and in particular these hot button spaces where there's a lot of uproar around what the science says. But at the end of the day, people don't just make decisions based on knowledge. So there's a way, I think. There is an actual field about communicating science.
0:24:36 Tiffany Hogan: Really?
0:24:37 Nicole Patton Terry: There are people who do that. There are people who research that. The National Academies of Science just recently released a report called "Communicating Science Effectively", and in there we talk about, and it certainly hit home for me, this notion of this deficit model of science communication and it's the widely held idea that non-scientists aren't doing what we think they should do on a topic simply because they don't know. So, if they don't know then our job as scientists, maybe what we need to do is figure out how to tell them, right? And if you think about it, and particularly in the field of reading, we've been doing that for a while. We've had a National Reading Panel Report, which is almost... That's almost 20 years now.
0:25:23 Nicole Patton Terry: And what followed from that was an amazing attempt to get the science into practice. We had funding initiatives, like Reading First. We had a gazillion websites with all kinds of... To put out the information on the Big Five. We had webinars. People were going to conferences. We did a lot to try to push it out there in the world, and 20 years later, at least according to NAEP, reading scores are going down. They're not going up.
0:26:00 Nicole Patton Terry: And if you look, dig deeper in the numbers, what you find is it's not the highflyers. The highflyers are either going up or at least they're flat. It's the kids who struggle the most, for whom these benefits are not being seen. So that, to me, says there's something with the way that we're communicating science that isn't getting through and we've gotta figure out how to do that, in what is now a very noisy field to talk through. We're not the only ones out there communicating science. There are lots of people out there who are, I guess, mediators of the message and their messaging isn't always the way that we would like to message things. Even if they agree with us, it's not always the way they like to message things.
0:26:49 Nicole Patton Terry: So there's a space in here where we got a noisy field of people talking about what science says. We've got people who do science, who maybe are not well-equipped to communicate the science, because it's not like there's a class on that in graduate school, right? And then you've got the general public, which even if presented with the facts, doesn't necessarily have to make a decision based on the facts. So, I think it is a much more complicated proposition than we thought it was 20 years ago when, if the proposition is to close the research-to-practice gap, we just need to give people the information, make them more knowledgeable and they will certainly do what science says. I think we have enough evidence to suggest that's not the case. So, I do think we've gotta figure out a different way to communicate sciences to the masses, but we've also gotta figure out a different way to get the masses to engage with us around this science.
0:27:45 Nicole Patton Terry: I think there's a two-way street in that. This notion of much more robust public engagement. It can't just be where it's a one-way street and we're communicating information. Robust public engagement means you are out there in the world, on street, making sure that people understand this evidence and how it can be actionable in their space. And that is not comfortable, but I think it's where we need to start figuring out how to be. Because it is very clear that if we don't hold that space others will.
0:28:18 Tiffany Hogan: Absolutely. I think, also just as scientists we're used to... We're trained of course to do the science, communicate the results. Do the science, communicate the results. And like you said, now we're trying to think about how to communicate it broader, but I think what we aren't trained in well is listening. And we need to do a lot more listening to the stakeholders. And that's uncomfortable, because I think we're often put in that position as the experts, and we go do professional developments, we tell people what to do, and here's all the science research. Every time I do professional development, if it was up to me, and I'm trying to think about how to do this, I would have a listening session first.
0:28:53 Tiffany Hogan: Or somehow as part of it, because I don't think just sitting there preaching what the science says is going to automatically get the science into practice. Because you have no idea of what the practice looks like, and the nuances, and the facilitators, and the barriers, and so... But it's uncomfortable to listen to these things, because we don't have the answers. And it feels so uncomfortable to say, "Here's what the science says." And then someone says, "Well, I don't think we're gonna be able to do that for X, Y, Z reason. And then you're just kind of sitting there like, "Uh... " You know?
0:29:24 Nicole Patton Terry: Yeah, yeah. And what we traditionally do in those contexts, and I think we do... We're guilty of it, because we set a very high bar for rigor. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't, right? Rigor matters, because if you really want to know the answer, you need rigorous research and design to tell you that answer. So we can move away from guessing based on our own anecdotal evidence or experiences, and get to knowing. So, I'm not saying rigor isn't a good thing. But often if those conditions for rigor can't be met, then we walk away.
0:29:54 Tiffany Hogan: Yes.
0:29:55 Nicole Patton Terry: We go find context for where we can get it met. But the reality is it's the very context in which rigor can't be met are the places that need the most help. So in walking away from those contexts we might get our scientific rigor, but we lose the ability to get that rigor back into those spaces, so...
0:30:13 Tiffany Hogan: It's almost like we lose impact with rigor.
0:30:14 Nicole Patton Terry: Yeah, yeah. Sometimes, yeah. And I think there's a balance. I think there's a balance, and I think that, to me, is the exciting part about the partnership work that we're trying to do, is that if you're doing really well in design partnership work, you're in it for the long haul, so you're gonna be there and you're gonna grow in your understanding and ability to support them. And they're gonna grow in their understanding and their ability to support you. So you might not be in a place of rigor on day one or year one, but you will get there if you all can hold on to each other, right? And that's a very difficult part of partnership. But if you can figure out ways to get that mutual collaboration and that trust and respect that comes from those kind of partnerships, I think that's where you get to see those positive outcomes from research or being on the ground with practitioners, and everyone has equal footing.
0:31:13 Tiffany Hogan: Tell us about, you're now at the Florida Center for Reading Research, can you tell us about one of those partnerships? Cause I know one was recently publicized. I would love to hear more about it, and how you believe that's gonna help, as you mentioned, bridge this gap between research and practice. And to help us meet the goals we have to help children.
0:31:31 Nicole Patton Terry: Yes. So we've just, as of like exactly I think one week ago today, got a formal signed partnership between FCRR and Leon County Schools, which is our local public school district. And it is just that, it is a research practice partnership, we're focusing on reading achievement and school success. Our initial areas of focus are the areas they identified as where they wanted support, which were specifically around reading instruction, early learning and special education, which is great cause we have people here who know how to do those things. [chuckle]
0:32:02 Tiffany Hogan: Yes.
0:32:03 Nicole Patton Terry: So that helps. But I will say what's also exciting, and uncomfortable and daunting, is there are other areas that they want support in. In special education they want support on tier two and tier three literacy interventions for secondary students. We simply don't have enough research right now to answer that question for them. But what they're excited about is the ability to partner with someone who's gonna help them figure it out, right? Which, we gotta figure it out, cause I tend to not work in the secondary world.
0:32:36 Tiffany Hogan: Right.
0:32:37 Nicole Patton Terry: But, the reality is we have a national and international network of people who do. That should be part of the resource that a partnership brings to the table, right? So I am confident that together we can figure out this challenge for them. But I am really excited about it, I've only been in Tallahassee for about 18 months now. What is, I guess, really unique and impactful I think about this partnership is Tallahassee is a college town. And college towns are notorious for their disparity. So they aren't unlike many other college towns, just like the research triangle in North Carolina, like Charlottesville UVA, like Evanston and Northwestern. I think that many really top-notch universities exist in towns where there are huge disparities between the haves and have-nots. Part of that, I do think, is just an unintended consequence, because universities are big. They are like their own little cities and they're like a very large business. And that means they have a lot of resource that they need to run efficiently and effectively.
0:33:51 Nicole Patton Terry: The good part of that is you bring all of this resource to a place. You bring this faculty, you bring these students, you bring excitement, you bring jobs, you bring all of this to a location. But at the end of the day often those resources aren't just directed at that community. And they really can't be, cause a really prominent successful university cannot devote all its resources to its local place. It wouldn't be prominent in research if it did. So there's a tension there, right? And with that tension means that sometimes your backyard doesn't look as good as it should, right?
0:34:28 Tiffany Hogan: Absolutely.
0:34:29 Nicole Patton Terry: In spite all of that resource being there. So, I am particularly excited because we... We're in this place, in this geographical space where this disparity exists. Where there's an abundance of resource if you view universities as being resources to their community, and I do. So there's an abundance of resource there, there's an abundance of disparity there, and there is arguably one of the greatest institutions for reading research sitting in their backyard, right? So if we're gonna figure out this issue of how to use research and innovation and engagement to solve these problems of practice related to reading, I don't know any better place to figure it out, right?
0:35:19 Tiffany Hogan: Absolutely.
0:35:20 Nicole Patton Terry: We've got everything here.
0:35:21 Tiffany Hogan: Absolutely.
0:35:22 Nicole Patton Terry: So, I am excited to try to figure out how to leverage this unique context, which really does not exist anywhere else. It doesn't exist anywhere else. How can we figure out the one-two knockout punch, right? So, take all of this resource and talent and bring... They are on these, very real… to do the science that's gonna be required to figure this out. But also do the engagement, this public engagement to try to figure that out. And also figure out how to be innovative. What's the new, what are the new frontiers that we need to push us forward? I think we can do all of it in this context. So that, for me, is very exciting.
0:36:10 Tiffany Hogan: I am so excited about it too. And I'm gonna be watching it, cause I have something kind of similar happening here with a school district. And, you know, many people also told me, "I don't know if you can really do that and still have the rigor as you mentioned", or, "How are you gonna get your NIH grant done in this context?" And actually it's been the opposite of people's concern. It's actually made my science 100% better, it's more relevant, it's more real. I think it will have a greater impact long-term quicker, and that's because I'm actually able to listen and engage in this way.
0:36:44 Tiffany Hogan: And then I think too, when I'm then in those rooms with scientists and I feel lucky every time I am, then I can convey, even though we often don't have the stakeholders, I feel like at least I can be a bit of a voice for the stakeholders. And I also feel like that happens too when, now I'm working with this district, and then they're in their meetings, they can be a voice of like, "Well, I was just talking, and this is some of the science coming down." Because you're right, it's really about creating this relationship, and relationships are hard. So I commend you and I think it will be, I'm hoping, a model that others will look to and say, "Wow okay, they're doing it". And like you said, you're setting up the stage and a framework that, maybe in thinking about it innovatively, that maybe others can do it. Because that's also been a real shock as I joined the academy, going to different universities and seeing the discrepancy between the university and then what's happening in the backyard. You put it so well. I gotta be mindful of our time, I think we've covered so many great topics. But I do want to make sure I ask you the final questions I always ask everyone. But you might have answered it, I'm not sure. So, what are you working on now you're most excited about?
0:37:52 Nicole Patton Terry: I think we just talked about it. [chuckle]
0:37:53 Tiffany Hogan: I think so too.
0:37:54 Nicole Patton Terry: Right. Yeah, that's what is super exciting. And I think, to your point, what you just said that... What I hope is that we figure out the way to create the model to do this, right? If you look at... There's an organization called The National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships. It's a relatively new group, about five years old, of folks who are doing these research-practice partnerships around the country, between universe... Sometimes it's universities and local communities, sometimes it's not. But what you often find in those meetings, and I enjoy them immensely, is that content people like us aren't there. That these are left to... These are partnerships that are often devised by people in policy. And I think that's a great thing. But I think we're missing a lot of this conversation around, "What do we do about teaching reading, and what do we do... " That's not in those conversations, right?
0:38:50 Nicole Patton Terry: And so I really am excited to try to figure out the way that folks like us can be engaged in these partnerships in more systematic and sustainable ways, right? That it doesn't just depend on "Tiffany who has decided to work in a certain way, knows this teacher or this principal or this superintendent. And therefore, it's gonna work as long as Tiffany is there. But as soon as Tiffany decides to not be there, then it goes away", right? Or for that matter, that person in the school district decides to not be there, then it goes way. We've gotta come up with ways that are much more sustainable to do this kind of work. And I think that means training the next generation of scholars to do that.
0:39:30 Nicole Patton Terry: So I'm looking forward to working with students, masters students, doctoral students, postdocs, junior faculty. If you get your senior faculty to set the stage, to create spaces where we can do this kind of work, and our big NIH grants and big IES grants or whatever it is, then we create pipelines for other people to work in this way, and you don't have to sacrifice your tenure to do it. So, I am really excited with trying to figure out how we can make this a model for how we do this work.
0:39:57 Tiffany Hogan: That's fantastic... I would say that's what you're most excited about, right?
0:40:01 Tiffany Hogan: Creating those models. I've never even heard of that resource and I feel like I've been doing this quite some time. So I'm excited to share that with the listeners too, and put it in the resources and...
0:40:09 Nicole Patton Terry: Absolutely.
0:40:10 Tiffany Hogan: Wow, that's really fantastic.
0:40:12 Nicole Patton Terry: We can even invite Paula, who's the executive director, maybe we can invite her on. She is a Florida State alum.
0:40:18 Tiffany Hogan: Oh, that's fantastic! Oh okay, then that's happening. That is happening.
0:40:23 Tiffany Hogan: Take two, with Paula. That sounds amazing. I would love that, that would be great.
0:40:27 Nicole Patton Terry: Absolutely.
0:40:28 Tiffany Hogan: Okay, so the next question is, what is your favorite book from childhood or now, or both? It's up to you.
0:40:34 Nicole Patton Terry: Okay. So when I was a child I think it was Where The Wild Things Are. I used to always love that book, and I read it over and over and over again. So I definitely remember reading that book. Now though, I have to say it's hard to say, because there are so many more diverse children's books out there that have diverse characters and authentic stories and the books are really representative of what their real lives are like. And, I mean, the Lola books for starting school, or Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o, or Hair Love is another one that's got a lot of power out there right now, about a father, African American father, is doing his daughter's hair. There's just so much more out there, so I will direct your listeners to a website called Maya's Book Nook, it is a website that has been created and curated by one of our own... Dr. Lakeisha Johnson. She is on faculty at the University of District Columbia, and she's also affiliate faculty here with FCRR. But what she does is is she reviews all of these diverse children's literature books.
0:41:42 Tiffany Hogan: Awesome.
0:41:43 Nicole Patton Terry: And she has an Amazon bookstore, so all the books that they look at, you can go to Amazon and find them so you can purchase them. It was really inspired by her daughter, she has a young daughter and she wanted to make sure that she was reading books that were representative of their lives, and now there are hundreds of books there. And we can do that so much better than we used to do it. So instead of one, all. Get them all.
0:42:08 Tiffany Hogan: Oh, that's fantastic. And what a great thing for the authors too, to have a spotlight on their work and really get it out there. Oh, I love that.
0:42:16 Nicole Patton Terry: Yes. I love it.
0:42:17 Tiffany Hogan: That's fantastic.
0:42:18 Nicole Patton Terry: It is.
0:41:20 Tiffany Hogan: Well, Nicole, what a fun conversation, thank you so much for joining the podcast.
0:41:23 Nicole Patton Terry: Absolutely, thank you for inviting me, I really appreciate it.
0:42:31 Tiffany Hogan: Check out www.seehearspeakpodcast.com for helpful resources associated with this podcast including, for example, the podcast transcript, research articles, & speakers bios. You can also sign up for email alerts on the website or subscribe to the podcast on apple podcasts or any other listening platform, so you will be the first to hear about new episodes.
Thank you for listening and good luck to you, making the world a better place by helping one child at a time.