Notes from the Backpack


Notes from the Backpack

A Podcast for Parents, by Parents

PTA is working to ensure our public schools provide a high-quality and equitable education for every child to reach their full potential. Notes from the Backpack is a PTA podcast designed for millions of parents and the decisionmakers they influence.

Through the unique combination of expert, parent and educator guests, each episode features engaging conversations that offer real-life advice and ideas on how to support children’s learning and development—all in parent-friendly language.

 

Real Experts. Real Parents. Real Conversations.

Notes from the Backpack features real conversations with real parents, experts and educators who offer real-life advice, ideas and strategies parents can use to help their children succeed in and out of school.

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Current Episode

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


How to Handle Bullying

32 | How to Handle Bullying


Dr. Deborah Temkin
VP for Youth Development & Education Research, Child Trends

What can families do to address bullying and how can schools act proactively to prevent bullying altogether? We talked with Dr. Deborah Temkin, the vice president of Youth Development & Education Research at Child Trends to get answers....
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Previous Episodes


Get Inspired by Your Young Artist

31 | Get Inspired by Your Young Artist


Julian Bass
Filmmaker & TikTok Sensation

We interview Julian Bass, a two-time PTA Reflections winner, who has gone on to make a name for himself as a filmmaker and visual effects artist. He shares how his own parents supported his artistic journey and how families can encourage their children to follow their dreams....
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Exploring Learning Differences during COVID-19

30 | Exploring Learning Differences during COVID-19


Amanda Morin
Writer & Senior Expert, Understood.org

We speak with Amanda Morin, writer and senior expert at Understood.org, to learn strategies for supporting students with learning differences during online and hybrid learning. She offers advice on helping your kids stay organized, read social cues, manage distractions and more....
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Raising Lifelong Voters

29 | Raising Lifelong Voters


Congresswoman Jahana Hayes
U.S. Representative for Connecticut's 5th congressional district

How are you talking to your kids about civic engagement? U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes offers wisdom from her experience in the classroom and on the Hill. She shares how families can help kids become active citizens and lifelong voters by encouraging them to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways....
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Prioritizing COVID-19 Relief & Recovery

28 | Prioritizing COVID-19 Relief & Recovery


Ralph Smith
Managing Director, Campaign for Grade Level Reading

We spoke with Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading to get his perspective on the impact COVID-19 is having in the hardest hit communities. He offers suggestions for parent leaders looking to support the most vulnerable learners and their families during this challenging time....
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Navigating Online Resources During COVID-19

27 | Navigating Online Resources During COVID-19


Merve Lapus
Vice President of Outreach & National Partnerships, Common Sense Education

Are you overwhelmed by all of the online resources available to your child but not sure where to start? During this unusual school year, we need to help our children find online resources that meet their needs. We turned to Merve Lapus of Common Sense Media who shared how families can set students up for success this school year. Listen to discover helpful learning resources and tips for establishing healthy online habits....
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Talking Race & KidLit

26 | Talking Race & KidLit


Kwame Alexander
NYT Bestselling Author

How many books on your children’s shelves feature Black and Brown characters? We spoke with Newbery Medal award-winning author, Kwame Alexander about the importance of representation in kids’ literature. He shared about his own writing process, how to inspire your kids to write and some of his favorite books....
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Lo que necesitas saber para apoyar la educacion de sus hijos

25 | Lo que necesitas saber para apoyar la educacion de sus hijos


Amalia Chamorro
Associate Director of Education Policy, UNIDOS US

Hablamos con Amalia Chamorro, Directora Asociada de Política Educativa de UnidosUS para obtener más información sobre el impacto de COVID-19 en nuestros estudiantes Latinos y su impacto potencial en el regreso a la escuela....
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COVID-19 & Back to School

24 | COVID-19 & Back to School?


Amalia Chamorro
Associate Director of Education Policy, UNIDOS US

As the school year wraps up virtually, families around the world are wondering, what comes next? We spoke with Amalia Chamorro, Associate Director of Education Policy at UNIDOS US to learn more about COVID-19’s impact on our children and its potential impact on the back-to-school season. She reflects on the drastic changes families have faced these last few months and how schools and families will continue to have to adapt moving forward....
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Keep Your Cool: Tackling Behavioral Issues

23 | Keep Your Cool: Tackling Behavioral Issues


Dr. Ross Greene
Founder, Lives in Balance

How can we work with our kids to create less stress and conflict around daily routines? We talked with Dr. Ross Greene, psychologist and founder of Lives in Balance, about how to address a child’s toughest behaviors. Greene shares how to improve relationships and bring peace to your home....
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Raising Curious Kids

22 | Raising Curious Kids


Dr. Carol O’Donnell
Director, Smithsonian Science Education Center

Our kids seem to have endless questions. Encouraging this curiosity is good for their development. We spoke with Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center, who shares how families can find science in the world around them and fun activities you can do at home....
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Growing Great Readers

21 | Growing Great Readers


Dr. Rebecca Silverman
Associate Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education

We talked with Dr. Rebecca Silverman, professor at Stanford University, to learn how we can raise lifelong readers. She offered strategies for fostering a love of reading and guidance on what you should expect from your child at each age....
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Interview with National Teacher of the Year

20 | Interview with National Teacher of the Year


Rodney Robinson
2019 National Teacher of the Year

We spoke with National Teacher of the Year, Rodney Robinson, in front of a live audience at National PTA’s Legislative Conference. Rodney offered his insights into the teaching profession, issues of equity, school discipline and the importance of recruiting more black educators....
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Online Learning During COVID-19

19 | Online Learning During COVID-19


Dr. Natalie Milman
Educational Technology Professor, George Washington University

Online learning during COVID-19 presents unique challenges. We talked with Dr. Natalie Milman, professor of Education Technology at George Washington University, to get her insights into emergency remote teaching and learning, education technology, strategies for supporting your child and more....
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What’s Going on in My Kid’s Brain?

18 | What’s Going on in My Kid’s Brain?


Dr. Brandi Kenner
Senior Consultant, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Sometimes you can’t help but wonder, what is my kid thinking? We spoke with Dr. Brandi Kenner, senior consultant at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, about how a child’s brain works. She shared helpful strategies for teaching them how to manage their emotions and behavior....
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Supporting Our Kids: Special Education 101

17 | Supporting Our Kids: Special Education 101


Debra Jennings
Co-Executive Director, Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN)

The world of special education can be overwhelming for families—especially right now, as families are navigating learning from home. We talked with expert Debra Jennings, from the Statewide Parent Education Network (SPAN), to ensure your child is supported during these trying times....
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Tackling COVID-19 Anxiety Together

16 | Tackling COVID-19 Anxiety Together


Dr. Erlanger “Earl” Turner
Psychologist

COVID-19 has drastically changed our daily lives. We talked with psychologist, author and professor Dr. Earl Turner about how to stay happy, healthy and learning during this difficult time. He shares tips for setting routines, managing your mental health and coping with uncertainty....
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Money Talks: School Finance 101

15 | Money Talks: School Finance 101


Dr. Marguerite Roza
Director of the Edunomics Lab

We spoke with Dr. Marguerite Roza, Director of the Edunomics Lab to learn about the mystery of education finance. She offers practical guidance on how families can stay informed about their school district’s financial decisions and how they can advocate for the priorities they care most about....
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How to Talk to Your Kid about Gun Violence

14 | How to Talk to Your Kid about Gun Violence


Edith Bracho-Sanchez
Director of Pediatric Telemedicine, Columbia University

We turn to expert Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez who shares how to have open and honest conversations with children of all ages about lockdown drills, school shootings and all of the emotions that come along with these topics....
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Don’t Break a Sweat: Navigating Youth Sports

13 | Don’t Break a Sweat: Navigating Youth Sports


Jon Solomon
Editorial Director, The Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program

With hyper-competitive leagues for kids as young as six years old—and hours of practice even during the off season—youth sports aren’t just fun and games. We talked with Jon Solomon, former sports journalist and editorial director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society program, about how families can best navigate this aspect of their kids’ lives....
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Beyond Academics: Preparing Your Kids for Life

12 | Beyond Academics: Preparing Your Kids for Life


Linda Darling-Hammond
President & CEO, Learning Policy Institute

Is your child’s school preparing students for success in life? Linda Darling-Hammond shares what signs you should look for to see if your child’s school is fostering their holistic development, and what you can do at home to raise well-rounded lifelong learners....
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How College Ready Are You?

11 | How College Ready Are You?


Sekou Biddle
Vice President of Advocacy, UNCF
Nya
Student at Old Dominion University

The college application process can be intense and complex—with many financial challenges for students and their families. We sat down with Sekou Biddle, vice president of advocacy at the United Negro College Fund to get concrete strategies and essential information to help. We also explored the student perspective by chatting with Nya, a junior at Old Dominion University, who shares how she managed the college process....
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¿Está su Hijo Recibiendo los Servicios que Necesita?

10 | ¿Está su Hijo Recibiendo los Servicios que Necesita?


Lorena Mancilla
Director, WIDA Early Years

In this special episode of Notes from the Backpack in Spanish, we will talk to the language development expert, Dr. Lorena Mancilla. She demystifies the support given by American schools to students who learn English and also shares advice so that families can support language development at home....
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Partnering with Your Child's Teacher

9 | Partnering with Your Child's Teacher


Karen Mapp
Senior Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Karen Mapp joins us from Harvard Graduate School of Education to offer best practices for improving family-school partnerships. Listen in as we discuss strategies to partner with schools to support your child and to engage other families in building trusting relationships within your community...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

Asking the "Right" Questions

8 | Asking the "Right" Questions


Luz Santana
Co-Director of the Right Question Institute

We turn to Luz Santana, co-director of the Right Question Institute to learn how to prepare questions that will produce meaningful and helpful answers. She shares how parents can go beyond the typical, “How is my child doing?” to spark more in-depth conversations. We also get her advice on common issues families have and how asking the right questions can improve these situations!...
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How to Handle Homework: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

7 | How to Handle Homework: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Steve Sheldon
Associate Professor, John Hopkins University School of Education
Shaneeka Moore-Lawrence
Principal, Bethesda Elementary School

Steve Sheldon, a researcher at John Hopkins University, offers the information and strategies you need to make homework time more successful in your household. We also hear from elementary school principal and PTA leader, Shaneeka Moore-Lawrence on the benefits of homework and what really is the “right” amount per night...
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How to Raise Confident Kids

6 | How to Raise Confident Kids


Jennifer Miller
Author of Confident Parents, Confident Kids

How do you raise a confident child who can overcome communication challenges and be a good friend to others? We turn to author and parenting expert Jennifer Miller to explore how you can build these social and emotional skills with your child, and how to know if your child’s school is helping them develop in this important area...
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The Myth of the Uninvolved Parent

5 | The Myth of the Uninvolved Parent


Kwesi Rollins
Vice President of Leadership & Engagement, Institute for Educational Leadership

Kwesi Rollins from the Institute for Educational Leadership gives us a realistic view of the barriers families face when trying to engage with their child’s school and shares how school districts are making family engagement more meaningful and inclusive for families who aren’t involved in traditional ways...
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Recess: Is it Just for Play?

4 | Recess: Is it Just for Play


William Massey
Assistant Professor, College of Public Health and Human Services, Oregon State University
Angie Gallo
Florida PTA Leader and School Board Member

We discuss why recess is important for students’ physical health—as well as their social and emotional development—and take a look at what schools and families are doing to protect and enhance recess time at school. Researcher and dad, William Massey, explains the benefits of recess, what high-quality recess looks like and how parents can get involved in recess. PTA leader and school board member, Angie Gallo, also shares how you can become a recess advocate in your community...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

Middle School: What Every Parent Should Know

3 │ Middle School: What Every Parent Should Know


Phyllis Fagell
School Counselor and Author of Middle School Matters

We dive into parents’ top concerns about middle school with Phyllis Fagell—school counselor, therapist, author and mother of three. She gives us a deeper look at what is going on with middle schoolers developmentally and how families can address adolescent friendship issues, social media use and bullying. We also offer practical tips and ways both families and schools can best support our tweens...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

How is Your Kid Really Doing in School?

2 │ How is Your Kid Really Doing in School?


Bibb Hubbard
Founder and President of Learning Heroes
Liz Goshorn
Mother of Four Children

We sit down with Bibb Hubbard—a mother and founder of Learning Heroes—to explore what families and kids think about student academic achievement, how schools and districts can improve the way they share information with families, and what families can do to gauge if their child is on track and advocate for a more accurate picture of their progress. Liz Goshorn gives a mother’s perspective on how you can better understand your child’s academic progress in school and identify their academic strengths and areas for growth...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

The Truth about School Discipline in America

1 │ The Truth about School Discipline in America


John B. King, Jr.
President and CEO of Education Trust and former U.S. Secretary of Education

Get the inside scoop on school discipline in America from former U.S. Secretary of Education and President of the Education Trust John B. King, Jr. We discuss the dangers of policies that keep children out of regular classroom learning, and what approaches schools can use to help students become responsible, thriving adults. King shares lessons learned from his personal and professional experiences and gives us insight into how disciplinary actions can affect self-esteem and bias and speaks to how we can build more “windows” and “mirrors” to help all children succeed...
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Notes from the Backpack Hosts

0 | Introducing... Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast

Find out what Notes from the Backpack is all about! Hosts LaWanda Toney and Helen Westmoreland give listeners a preview of what they can expect when they tune-in to the podcast series...
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Support for Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast was provided by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.