Episode 7: Inside the Institute with Dr. John J. Russell

Episode Summary 
This episode marks a significant milestone for the READ podcast and The Windward Institute—the six-month anniversary since The Institute’s official launch. In this interview, John J. Russell, EdD, the Executive Director of The Windward Institute, reflects on The Institute’s impact in 2020, particularly in a world of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Russell explains why The Institute was established—highlighting its work to "increase childhood literacy rates by disrupting the educational status quo to save more lives." He identifies key factors that contribute to decades of problems in reading education, including inadequate teacher preparation, lack of early screening and identification, and failure to utilize research-based instructional practices. He calls for “disrupting the status quo” so all students, especially students with language-based learning disabilities, receive the education they fundamentally need.

Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.” In this episode, the bookmarks relate to the pillars of The Windward Institute. 

1. Research - Through research partnerships, The Windward Institute actively engages in educational neuroscience, which provides teachers with evidence that research-based instructional practices change the way the brain functions, ultimately empowering educators and students. 

" The research that is the basis for research-based practices is not new… but that information hasn’t been translated into practical terms that teachers can understand."

2. Education - Teacher preparation programs have inadequately provided educators with the research-based foundations and tools to effectively teach reading. 

"As a profession, I think we need to do a better job of providing pre-service and graduate level courses in education… [to teachers] that are actually [grounded] in research-based practices."

The Windward Institute provides professional development and resources for Windward faculty and the broader education community. Professional development content includes early identification and screening for early childhood educators, multisensory reading instruction, expository writing, and language and literacy. 

Did you know? The WI provides professional development and resources locally, nationally, and internationally with relationships in Kenya, Jamaica, France, and several states across the United States. 

" Teachers need to know the structure of language… and they need to explicitly and systematically teach students about that language system."

 3. Advocacy - Advocacy for language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, focuses on “changing the rules” of legislation and educational institutions. Top issues include:  

  • Mandatory screening for all students and identification of at-risk students upon entrance to school 
  • Incorporation of research-based instruction and remediation in all schools 
  • High quality pre-service preparation and professional development for all teachers 
  • Consistency of accommodations for students with LBLD  

 “This country and our educational system cannot waste human capital as it has in the past.” 

Resources: 

The Windward Institute: Past, Present, and Future

Update on the Windward/Haskins Collaborative Project  

Resources from the Haskins Global Literacy Hub

National Council for Teacher Quality

View The Windward Institute Video Webinars

Register for Upcoming Courses & Workshops  

Or, download READ Podcast using your favorite podcast platform with direct links below:

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READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.
Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests.