For her leadership in the areas of teacher quality and educational equity and reform, the Learning First Alliance has named Stanford professor and accomplished author Linda Darling-Hammond as our 2013 Education Visionary Award winner.
By Debbie Silver, Ed.D.
Studies on motivation theory have taught us that the most effective feedback for any learner is that which actually helps a student get better. Value judgments and labels (both affirming and negative) do nothing to help the learner long term and are often counterproductive. Overwhelmingly research argues that learners acquire improved self-efficacy and make greater achievement gains when their adult advocates focus feedback on things the student can control rather than on their innate talent, skills, or other externally controlled factors.
As a middle grades teacher it was hard for me to consider that my perpetual cheerleader style of teaching with a barrage of compliments was not the best method. However, I finally decided to modify my feedback practices to more closely align with what I came to believe would provide the best long-term outcome for students. Part of the problem for me in altering my praise reflex is that I had developed the habit of making a pronouncement about everything kids did. In my well-intentioned effort to show the students I was paying attention, I felt the need to make a judgment statement about every aspect of their progress (e.g., “Looking good!” “I like that!” “That is great!” “You’re so smart!”). I think this is true for a lot of us perpetual affirmers at the middle level because we know how important it is to connect ...
By Betty Edwards, Chair of the Special Olympics Project UNIFY® National Education Leaders Network
The film “Cipher in the Snow,” a true story written in 1964 by teacher/guidance counselor Jean Mizer, tells the story of an ostracized teenager, Cliff, who has no friends and becomes a withdrawn "cipher" or nonentity. (Cipher is the mathematical notation for zero—something without weight, importance, or value.)
One day, Cliff asks to get off the school bus, collapses, and dies in the snow beside the road. Cliff’s math teacher is asked to write the obituary but realizes that hardly anyone recalls the student. When he tries to get a small group together to attend Cliff’s funeral, he can’t find 10 people who knew the student well enough to feel comfortable going. He vows to never let another student in his class feel unimportant and be unknown.
We wish we could say that this story could not be written today, but that’s not true. Many students in our schools feel insignificant, disengaged, and ...
New technologies are dramatically changing how people learn. Unfortunately, many schools are moving far too slowly to adopt them, with classrooms today organized in much the same way they were in the 1950s. We in public education must do a better job incorporating new technologies into teaching and learning to prepare students for success in the changing world that awaits them.
But what does it look like when schools step into the digital age? And what can school leaders do to ensure students are learning in new ways?
We recently had the opportunity to hear about these issues from an expert, Ryan Imbriale, Principal of Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in Baltimore, one of NASSP’s 2013 Digital Principals and a PDK 2013 Emerging Leader. In an e-mail interview, he shared his thoughts on how school leaders can promote digital learning and the challenges they face in doing so, as well as specific examples of what it looks like in his building.
Public School Insights (PSI): Before we discuss your school in particular, I want to ask a couple overarching questions. You were recently named one of NASSP’s 2013 Digital Principals. What exactly is a “digital principal”?
Imbriale: Well, a digital principal is actually real – it’s not some sort of virtual person. That’s been the running joke at my school since my staff found out I won the award. The award is designed to recognize principals who exhibit bold, creative leadership with new technologies.
PSI: In general, what is the role of a school leader in digital learning?
Imbriale: The school leader must be willing to fostering an environment of innovation, exploration, experimentation, and trial and error. When a school’s culture is student-centered and driven by a collaborative spirit it’s really amazing what can be accomplished. But I will also say that the leader must also be a user. It’s impossible to get buy-in if you are not modeling effective use. I try hard to continually model my own personal and professional use of technology, whether it’s social media or flipping professional development.
PSI: Now tell me about your school. What is your vision for it?
Imbriale: My vision for Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts is to provide students with quality comprehensive educational experiences that enable them to develop the productive habits of life-long learners. Our students will be able to think critically and creatively, learn independently and in collaboration with others, value ethical behavior, and develop skills needed to function in a technologically changing and ...
By William D. Waidelich, Ed.D., Executive Director of the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE)
It wasn't that long ago. Students sat in rows and watched, glassy-eyed, as the teacher lectured in front of class. Lectures were very common in teaching and learning. In those days, student success was measured by homework turned in on time, neatly penned; posters created with markers and colorful snippets from magazines; and book reports teachers could use to measure if a student actually read the book.
Today's modern educators know better. Middle grades students can be found addressing the city council, building a prototype city that generates its own electricity, developing a smart phone app, creating a marketing plan for a local business, and writing or illustrating a self-published book. Students who are engaged in their own learning are productive, motivated, and ...
In the work that the Learning First Alliance (LFA) has undertaken over the past months in gathering data on public attitudes and perceptions of public education, one common assumption among the general public becomes clear:
- Student success and teacher effectiveness are related to a single quality - caring
So, the public and educators alike believe that if teachers care about their students and the students with whom they work believe their teacher cares about them as individuals, the likelihood of learning taking place is high. This doesn’t imply that subject level knowledge and pedagogical skill aren’t important, it just states that those two characteristics don’t work effectively if the educator doesn’t care about the students he or she is working with. ...
To close out the 2012 calendar year, the Learning First Alliance is pleased to bring you the five most viewed success stories from our collection of more than 160 stories housed on our site. Criteria for inclusion is relatively straight forward – the story must show that a school, district or state identified a challenge, addressed it and produced positive results through their efforts. These results are measured in a variety of ways, from increased graduation rates or decreased dropout rates, to improved standardized test scores or positive outcomes in student health and behavior. Other indicators may revolve around parent engagement or improved classroom performance.
These stories were selected based on our Google Analytics numbers that reflect our audience views from the past year. We wish you happy reading and a Happy New Year!
If you are ever curious about the nuances and challenges of local policy-making and governance, look no further than the U.S public education system. When you consider the statistics and actors – nearly 14,000 school districts, 95,000 principals and more than 90,000 school board members – it is no wonder that public schools see higher levels of success when local leaders come together to collaborate and develop solutions.
The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) represents the state boards of education that govern and design education policy at the state level. These bodies set the tone, agenda, and overall vision for their state. One area in which their leadership is urgently needed: education technology. To that end, NASBE recently commissioned a study group, whose core composition consisted of 18-20 state board members, that produced Born in Another Time: Ensuring Educational Technology Meets the Needs of Students Today – and Tomorrow. This report puts forth a vision for education technology in our nation’s public schools, along with key recommendations on how to get there. In essence, it takes a big, bold vision for 21st century learners and ...
Education reform debates increasingly belong to a relatively small number of very loud voices. Hundreds of thousands of other voices get lost in the din. They belong to students and teachers, and their vision for our nation’s high schools varies dramatically from the content in mainstream education reform discussions.
The College Board recently released a supplement to Phi Delta Kappan that highlights key thoughts from students and teachers on both school reform and student engagement. The results are worth summarizing and repeating mostly because the takeaways are remarkably uniform with regard to recommendations and advice for education reformers. The main message is that we need a long-term commitment to a well-rounded, multi-pronged approach to school improvement. ...
While a college education is acknowledged to be the pathway into the middle class, getting into the higher education system requires an understanding of the application process. For many first generation college students, especially those who are from low-income families, the process is daunting with an overwhelming amount of information and countless choices. My own experience, with significant support from my high-school guidance counselor and an involved parent who did the financial aid forms, was stressful and at times confusing, and not everyone has the type of support I had. ...
Editor’s Note: Our guest blogger today is Ann Meier Baker. She is President and CEO of Chorus America, the advocacy, research, and leadership development organization that advances the choral music field. Her 25-year career has included several leadership positions in the arts and in education.
Students composing songs about chaos theory, tessellations, and the Fibonacci Sequence is just the beginning.
March is Music In our Schools Month and this annual celebration is a wonderful opportunity for people to sing (pun intended) the praises of outstanding school music programs that are an important part of a comprehensive and competitive education. Today, while there is an enormous amount of compelling evidence about the value of these opportunities for young people, the reality is that school music programs are being cut at an alarming rate, leaving some of us wondering if it’s more appropriate to sing a dirge this month, rather than a song in celebration.
For example, in national research commissioned for Chorus America’s Chorus Impact Study, more than one in four educators surveyed said there is no choral program in their school and, of the educators who said that their school has no choir program today, 31 percent said their school used to have such a program. And yet these same educators also agree that choir participation helps make students better team players, develops stronger social skills, leads to better emotional expression and management, improves overall academic performance, and helps instill self-discipline. These are the very skills and strengths students will need as they come of age in the 21st century—as a society, we cannot afford to ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
On this website, educators, parents and policymakers from coast to coast are sharing what's already working in public schools--and sparking a national conversation about how to make it work for children in every school. Join the conversation!