In this episode, National PTA President Otha Thornton shares efforts undertaken at the local, state and national levels to ensure parents have an understanding of the Common Core.
Aaron Bredenkamp currently serves as the dean of students at Westside High School in Omaha, NE, a position he's held for two years. Prior to this role, he worked for five years in a variety of capacities (including mathematics teacher, curriculum developer, technology director and building representative for the local teachers union) at Westside Career Center, an alternative setting. He began his teaching career in Chicago with Teach for America, and he is currently a doctoral candidate with an emphasis on school finance at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Mr. Bredenkamp was recently honored as a 2014 PDK Emerging Leader. In 2012, he was named a U.S Department of Education classroom fellow.
He recently took time to offer his insights on issues he cares deeply about, including approaches to school discipline, the importance of providing support to teachers and staff, and the valuable role of personalized learning as a tool for student engagement.
Public School Insights (PSI): First, let’s start with a little of your background. How long have you been dean of students at Westside High School, and where were you before that?
Bredenkamp: This is my second year as the dean of students. Prior to that I taught at Westside’s alternative setting for 5 years. I began my career teaching in alternative education in Chicago, IL, as a part of Teach for America, before returning home to use the skills I learned in TFA to contribute to the community where I was raised.
Public School Insights (PSI): You have a strong commitment to engaging all students. Would you discuss the role of personalized learning in this effort?
Bredenkamp: My commitment to personalized learning began as a teacher in the alternative setting. I quickly learned that students who were previously unsuccessful, and who often had behavioral issues, did not have their educational needs met in the standard academic environment. After I adjusted my own instruction in order to meet their learning needs, behavioral incidents decreased and academic success increased. Quickly these students developed a love of learning. ...
By Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association
I thought I had died and gone to education heaven. Principal Carolyn Marino greeted me as we were getting off the bus in front of her school by asking me why in the world we were visiting a school in total disarray because of major construction.
“Uh oh,” I thought. “Did somebody make a scheduling error?”
The fear was compounded when we saw a barefoot woman functioning as a crossing guard who turned out to be the assistant principal.
Nevertheless, we followed Carolyn into the school to discover one of the most wonderful learning environments we had ever seen.
Westmere is a K-6 elementary school that is multi-aged and ability grouped with team teaching. In New Zealand, youngsters start school at the age of five—exactly at the age of five, on their birthday, regardless of when the birthday falls ...
By Aimee Rogstad Guidera, Founder and Executive Director, Data Quality Campaign
This article will also appear on The Huffington Post.
“My child is not a number!”
In the era of so-called big data in education, you’re likely to hear this refrain. Education data are, after all, mostly numbers. (I would argue that more anecdotal information—such as classroom observations—should also be considered part of a full picture of student “data,” but that’s a whole blog post in itself.) No child’s experiences can be reduced to a set of numbers on a spreadsheet, and no data policy should be about limiting a student’s options or reducing her experience. On the contrary: effective data use should expand a child’s horizons by providing more information about individual students to help guide the people making decisions about their learning—parents and educators. ...
While the ‘digital divide’ is well documented, studies show mixed results when trying to document technology’s influence on learning for at-risk students. In part, this is because the digital learning ecosystem is so complex. The academic realities for at-risk children, many of whom live in poverty, are also well known. More than half of all students enrolled in public schools today meet this designation. They are more likely to start school less academically prepared than their peers, fall behind throughout the summer due to learning loss and less likely to have access to technology, including computers, at home. ...
By Jill Cook, Assistant Director, American School Counselor Association
Most parents think their children are exceptional. My oldest daughter, Kate, is doubly so.
Considered intellectually gifted, she also has ADHD, anxiety and bipolar disorder, a triple whammy that has impeded her ability to reach her full academic potential and has left her vulnerable to severe depression as well as intense periods of mania.
Throughout Kate’s school career, my husband and I have sought to be her biggest advocate and source of support. With each transition – grade to grade, elementary to middle to high school – we have communicated with her teachers, school counselors and other student support staff about the academic and emotional challenges she faces. ...
Our frequently stated goal is for all US students to graduate from high school prepared for college and career. The current emphasis on standards-based education reforms reflects our belief that there are things students should know and be able to do that will help them in that endeavor. While one of the main purposes of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was to better identify and support struggling students, the law ultimately resulted in an overemphasis on high-stakes standardized testing and school performance (though fortunately, some policy leaders are beginning to take steps to reduce the emphasis on testing, particularly as many state transition to new academic standards). Ironically, educators, businesses and parents generally agree that test scores are a poor indicator of future success. ...
By Jill Cook, Assistant Director, American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
School counselors matter. Those of us close to the profession know and recognize the work our nation’s preK–12 school counselors do every day to enrich students’ academic and social/emotional development.
But in recent weeks, as federal officials look for ways to expand college access for all students, the role of the professional school counselor has taken center stage in ways not seen in a half century.
First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the American School Counselor Association conference this summer in Orlando, praising the work of school counselors as part of her Reach Higher Initiative promoting college enrollment. At the conference, Mrs. Obama announced plans to recognize that work by honoring ASCA’s School Counselor of the Year at the White House. ...
As a child, I was told never to say that I was bored. Being bored meant I wasn't able to find something interesting or engaging to do, which was not acceptable. “The world is big and full of opportunities, do something!”, as my mother would say.
Boredom, as highlighted in the May issue of the Kappan, a PDK International publication, "is a mismatch between wanting intellectual arousal but being unable to engage in a satisfying activity." The above description of boredom, from the article "Neuroscience Reveals That Boredom Hurts," suggests that students who seem to willfully defy urgings to focus on school assignments and work may simply be experiencing an involuntary brain reaction. ...
Students who fail to graduate – dropouts who perhaps more appropriately should be described as over-age and under-credited – exemplify the significant hurdles that come with the commitment to educate all students. These young individuals have fallen through the cracks, and once they’ve left the school setting, it’s difficult to re-engage them. Yet some efforts to find, support and ultimately prepare these students for future success in the postsecondary environment are showing impressive results. This work is an important reminder that it takes a village – and committed collaboration among key groups of stakeholders – to create a truly comprehensive system. ...
By Kwok-Sze Wong, Ed.D., Executive Director, American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
Like most parents, my wife, Beverly, and I asked our son Tyler to call regularly when he went away to college. A few weeks into his first semester, Tyler started talking effusively about his classes and social life, topics he never discussed with us when he was in high school. We soon realized something amazing, almost miraculous, had happened. Tyler was excited about learning again. He told us the college structure was what he had wanted in high school. He was finally able to control his own education. He chose his own classes and his own schedule. He no longer had to sit through classes that held no interest or purpose for him.
We had another realization; Tyler didn’t do adolescence well. Tyler was generally happy in elementary school, but sometime in middle school, he became the dreaded teenager. For the next four years, he longed to fast-forward to the next stage of his life. Tyler was 13 going on 21.
In their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath suggest that change can only occur when someone behaves differently. But what happens when change happens to a person and not because of that person? As adults we constantly contend with unexpected and sometimes unwanted change. Circumstances require ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
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