In the classroom at Kit Carson Middle School in Sacramento, Michal Kurlaender sits at one of four small desks pushed to face each other. The walls are papered in yellow, red and bright blue, and wavy corrugated borders frame a flutter of papers under the banner “AMAZING.”
Kurlaender is interviewing a teacher as part of her evaluation of the school’s teacher development program to improve students’ college readiness skills. The sudden, grating buzz of the class bell startles everyone. Kurlaender smiles. “It’s nicer when it’s the music instead,” she says.
In his lab by the freeway in Davis, Ross Thompson, a developmental psychologist, pulls a plush monkey puppet onto each hand and stands behind a cardboard “stage.” A red curtain hangs across a cutout in the front.
“We would normally have animated voices and all the rest,” he says. “If you do this in a way that is within the child’s capabilities, you will find that they have a much richer sense of themselves psychologically than we give them credit for.”
During Ariel Kalil’s visit in April as a Center for Poverty Research Visiting Faculty Scholar, snatches of conversation could be heard from her temporary office. One student asked about how to make his work more relevant to public policy. Another talked about what it was like being a first-generation college student.
“I guess in some part they wanted to find out more about the path that I had taken, because it is a bit unusual,” says Kalil.