A Reporter's Guide to Adolescent Learning and Well-Being

Overview

A Reporter’s Guide to Adolescent Learning and Well-Being
Hotel Shattuck Plaza • Berkeley, CA
February 27–28, 2020

Recent scientific advances have changed our understanding of the powerful role the adolescent years play in setting life trajectories. This critical period, the bridge between childhood and becoming an adult, is frequently misunderstood.

“Although adolescence is often thought of as a time of turmoil and risk for young people, it is more accurately viewed as a developmental period rich with opportunity for youth to learn and grow,” declared a sweeping 2019 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Recent scientific advances have changed our understanding of the powerful role the adolescent years play in setting life trajectories. This critical period, the bridge between childhood and becoming an adult, is frequently misunderstood.

“Although adolescence is often thought of as a time of turmoil and risk for young people, it is more accurately viewed as a developmental period rich with opportunity for youth to learn and grow,” declared a sweeping 2019 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

What are the implications of this evolving mindset for the education, health and well-being of tweens, teens and emerging adults? How are new findings informing efforts to shape settings for adolescents that are racially and culturally inclusive and equitable? This two-day seminar will offer journalists a primer on the brain research and springboard to an exploration of these questions and others facing the education and health sectors.

Likely topics to address include:

  • How are schools responding to the physical and mental health needs of young people?
  • What’s going right — and wrong — in fostering school climates conducive to the needs of tweens and teens? How does social and emotional learning fit into this?
  • What does cognitive science say about the best ways to teach adolescents? How does this square with common practices in schools?
  • What does “authentic” engagement with youth look like?
  • How are schools adapting to address the well-being of LGBTQ students?
  • Are teenagers getting enough sleep? What are the educational and health impacts, and how are school systems responding?
  • Where can reporters turn for reliable and compelling data on youth behaviors, such as exercise, smoking and e-cigarettes, alcohol and drug use, and birth control?
  • How is heavy exposure to digital screens affecting the teenage brain? How are some educators tapping video games and other digital tools to foster student engagement, health, and learning?

Participants in this journalists-only seminar will come away from this event with a deeper understanding of the issues, practical story ideas, and knowledge of how to find and use valuable data sets to inform their reporting. They also will have the chance to network and build relationships with fellow journalists, as well as experts and educators speaking at the event.

Eligible journalists may apply for scholarships to cover registration and reimburse expenses for lodging and basic travel costs.

Registration for this event is now closed.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Keeping Up With Brain Science Is a Tall Order for Many Teachers
Teacher training often fails to reflect current research, experts say

When teacher Eric Kalenze introduced a new book or reading passage to his students, he used to allow them to explore it on their own, following an approach he learned in teacher training.

Now, armed with a better understanding of the science of learning, he believes leading with this type of student inquiry is ineffective. Instead, he front-loads crucial context and factual information he thinks students will need to understand the text.

Tip Sheet

EWA Tip Sheet: Using Data to Improve Your Stories About Adolescents

Stories about adolescents present the opportunity for a variety of compelling characters, from parents and teachers to the teens themselves who feel passionately about the issues. But data can also be a powerful tool in crafting such narratives, as it provides vital context for the audience. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teen Mental Health: Barriers to Treatment, Tips for Nuanced News Coverage
Don't leave your reader, viewer 'reeling' from your stories

When Nygel Turner was 5 or 6 years old, he would wake up in the middle of the night unable to breathe, with a lump in his throat.

He’d run to his father, who would put Vaseline on his chest. Turner’s father had written “breathe cream” in Sharpie on the Vaseline jar. It would calm Turner down every time.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Adolescence: A Prime Chance to Invest in Learning
Youths are wiring their brains for the rest of their lives during this time

In popular culture, the teen years are a worrisome period when kids can spiral downward, developing anxieties and addictions. But Ron Dahl, who directs the Institute for Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that adolescence is a second opportunity to invest in children because of the enormous brain development taking place.

“It’s a perfect storm of change,” said Dahl, speaking before education reporters at an Education Writers Association seminar on adolescent learning and well-being in Berkeley, Calif., in late February.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Talking With Teens: Tips for Interviewing Adolescents
How finding, and elevating, teen voices enriches reporting

While reporting on a school in a neighborhood with a high homicide rate, Los Angeles Times reporter Sonali Kohli stressed to students she interviewed that they were empowered to control the conversation. 

Many teenagers view a professional journalist as an authority figure and might feel pressure to give “correct” answers, Kohli said. That’s why she starts each interview with the premise that a student can end the conversation at any time or ask their own questions.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Responsible Reporting on LGBTQ Students
Tips for coverage of youths' mental health, well-being, and more

Editor’s note: This post was updated on June 15, 2020, to reflect the U.S. Supreme Court decision that protects LGBTQ employees from being fired.

The news media must do a better job of covering the challenges faced by LGBTQ youths, a trio of advocates and educators told journalists attending an Education Writers Association seminar on adolescent learning and well-being in February.