Teachers need a safe space to take risks with ed tech and test these new tools in their classrooms for successful implementation. That was one of many take aways from our recent Twitter chat. Read more....
By Tracy Crow, Director of Communications, Learning Forward
If school districts relied on Craigslist to build effective learning systems, the search would be simple: "Passionate learner seeks same." While the reality of building learning systems and teams is more complex, the principle is the same--committed learners at every level of a system are the key to improving teaching and learning for students every day.
Passionate learners in today's schools aren't optional. And yet, of the five beliefs that undergird Learning Forward's work, here's the one most likely to make educators do a double-take: All educators have an obligation to improve their practice.
The word obligation gives pause here. Are we willing to say that every educator MUST improve his or her practice? ...
This piece was co-authored with Dean Vogel, President of the California Teachers Association. It first appeared in the Sacramento Bee. View the original here.
The new school year brings one of the biggest transitions our state’s elementary and secondary education system has ever experienced. As students settle into new classrooms, our teachers are adjusting their instruction to help students meet expectations of the new Common Core state standards. It’s our job – as parents, business leaders, students, community members and educators – to look beyond both the hype and hysteria to ensure that students benefit from thoughtful, locally driven implementation.
Part of the challenge we’re facing is a lack of clear information about what the standards are and aren’t. They emphasize critical thinking, problem solving and inquiry-based learning – what students need to thrive in college and in today’s global economy. Far from prescribing what should be taught or how, the new standards outline what students should know while giving teachers the flexibility to decide how to help each student get there. Under Common Core, there are actually fewer standards, allowing teachers to slow down and students to explore each topic in depth. ...
By Amber Chandler, American Federation of Teachers member and 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts Teacher at Frontier Middle School in Hamburg, NY
Religion. Politics. Sexual Orientation. Breastfeeding. Abortion. Homeschooling. Salary. Buy or lease. Immigration. Organic. In no particular order, these are some of the topics of conversation that I generally avoid talking about with complete strangers or getting in to verbal duels on Facebook about. Sure, if you are in my inner circle, you might know how I truly feel about these issues. That is not to say that I don’t have an opinion, but that is to say, I’m not generally the type to try to indoctrinate anyone, and I’ve been known to play devil’s advocate to make the conversation more interesting. It isn’t that I don’t have conviction, I do. I just try to intellectually consider the other side. To some people, this makes me interesting. To others, infuriating. If you would fall in to the later category, you have my permission to stop reading, no hard feelings.
In the last year, I’ve added the words “Common Core” to my inner radar of “let’s not go there unless you have an hour” topics. I have heard and read so many ideas about this topic that I am certain we are not all talking about the same thing. The conversations have stopped being healthy debate, but rather devolved in to lines in the sand with picketers on both side, and politicians handing out tracts and gathering email addresses. The machine is at work, and despite most people’s best efforts, we’ve been sucked in ...
By Hayes Mizell, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Learning Forward
National education reports often have difficulty getting attention, but that was not the case when the Gallup polling organization released State of America's Schools. Rather than prescribing technocratic approaches for improving education, the report focused on the "human elements" that drive student achievement.
According to Gallup, the factors of engagement, relationships, collaboration, hope, and trust are essential for learning and high performance. This is true not only for students, but also for teachers.
In fact, the report's headline grabber was that nearly 70% of teachers "are not emotionally connected to their workplaces and are unlikely to devote much discretionary effort to their work." Among reasons for teachers' lack of engagement, two stand out. In a Gallup survey of employees in 14 different occupational categories, K-12 teachers "were dead last ... in saying their 'supervisor always creates an environment that is trusting and open.' " ...
A recent meeting hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education on Improving the Effectiveness of Beginning Teachers brought back memories of my time teaching many years ago. And it seems that though my experience happened long ago, I fit right into the profile of today’s teaching force: I left the profession after four years of teaching. The difference is that today attention is focused on the problems posed by a work force that overwhelmingly turns over in the first five years and provides an essential service not only to the health of our education system, but to our country. What was true then and is now being identified through research and increased attention is that to retain and develop a highly skilled teaching force, we need to provide support and continued learning opportunities for all our beginning teachers.
At the Improving the Effectiveness of Beginning Teachers event, Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, shared his research on the demographics of the teaching profession and how that’s dramatically changed over the past twenty plus years, with the result being that the majority of the current teaching profession have fewer than five years’ experience in the classroom. Dr. Ingersoll’s research has looked at the kinds of new teacher induction practiced with this novice work force and the effect that induction has on teacher turnover in the first five years of employment. Percentage of turnover ranges from 41 percent for those teachers who received no induction support to 18 percent for those who were supported in significant ways in their first year on the job. ...
Principal Thomas Payton has spent several years as an assistant principal and principal, following his classroom teaching, in schools across the country from New York City to Clark County, Nevada. He is currently a principal at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School in Riverhead Central School District, NY. Principal Payton is also a National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) State Representative and recently served as a member of the NAESP/NASSP Teacher Evaluation Committee. The committee put together a set of policy recommendations aimed at supporting principals in implementing teacher evaluation systems.
As a school leader, Principal Payton is working to create a building wide understanding of the Common Core - in both ELA and math - with teachers across all grade levels to better facilitate student learning in accordance with the new standards. In a recent e-interview, he took the time to discuss the specifics of this work. He also shared his thoughts on effective teacher evaluation systems and the importance of creating individualized professional development opportunities for classroom teachers. ...
Mark White is the incoming President of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). He began his career as a principal 25 years ago, after serving as a classroom teacher for six years, and he is eminently qualified to share best practices and recommendations as a long-serving building leader. Mr. White has been the principal of Hintgen Elementary School in La Crosse, Wisconsin, since 1990. He has served as President of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators and held a variety of positions with NAESP, including State Representative and Federal Relations Coordinator. He is in his third year on the NAESP Board of Directors, representing Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Public School Insights (PSI): You’ve been a principal for 25 years. How have principal needs changed in the past decade or so? And what advice would you give to newer principals who are starting out?
White: The role of the principal has shifted dramatically in the past decade. The need for a refined set of leadership skills by principals has never been more important. The expectations by the community, parents, and staff point directly to the principal’s office. With those high expectations comes great responsibility and resulting possibility. The education community has never been more open to innovation and creativity on the part of principals. Along with the openness comes increased expectations and accountability ...
By Joellen Killion, Senior Advisor, Learning Forward
Research supports the value of educator collaboration. A recent report from the Rennie Center confirms that when teachers collaborate, students benefit. Too often, however, professional learning within communities of peers is merely a label.
Professional learning communities (PLCs) are hijacked in multiple ways, usually under the pretense of facilitating or supporting the collaboration. Administrators who dictate the content of collaboration are some of the biggest offenders. Teachers who fail to engage responsibly as professionals with colleagues in collaboration are also offenders. When educators at any level arrive late, break commitments, seek to maintain the status quo, or remain within their comfort zone, they are subverting the core principles of professional learning communities.
Within authentic professional learning communities, members determine their content and process for their continuous improvement. While they may benefit from skillful facilitators who offer processes and protocols, the community commits to learning as a means to improve practice and results. A key distinction exists between a community of professionals who engage in learning for continuous improvement and a gathering of professionals who conduct routine work together ...
By Dr. Helen Janc Malone, Director of Institutional Advancement, Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL)
The Institute for Educational Leadership is a non-profit organization whose mission is to equip leaders to work together across boundaries to build effective systems that prepare children and youth for postsecondary education, careers, and citizenship. The work of IEL focuses on three pillars required for young people and their communities to succeed:
- Involving the broader community with public education to support the learning and development of young people.
- Building more effective pathways into the workforce for all young people and supporting the transition to adulthood.
- Preparing generations of leaders with the know-how to drive collaborative efforts at all levels.
The year 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Institute for Educational Leadership. Fifty years yields many lessons. IEL’s broad network of leaders—superintendents, principals, policy leaders, academics, public officials, private funders and community-based practitioners—shared what they have learned about effective leadership as a part of IEL’s 50th anniversary celebration. Ten powerful lessons emerged from our review of their advice. We are grateful for their contribution.
- Leaders are anchored in a commitment to equity and the pursuit of social justice. They mobilize partners and ...
By Jessica Medaille, Chief Membership Officer, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
There’s a lot of talk right now about leadership across many professions. As leaders in education, we have long recognized that to effect change, we must look to and listen to our colleagues as well as to voices from other professions and communities. That way we can hear points of view that may differ from ours, expand our thinking and view issues from a new angle.
As we approach the ISTE annual conference, we’re excited about the unique range of opportunities participants will have to hear about new strategies, build leadership skills and to learn what works. Stories of triumph and perseverance are what make the ISTE community, and our annual conference, a unique experience.
In reflecting on the leaders we’ve invited to speak at this year’s conference, I’m inspired by their collective work. Leaders like Ashley Judd, who during a recent TEDx talk carried a powerful message about empowerment, lending her voice to those whose voices are not heard and telling stories to inspire others in the hopes of changing policies. Or Dale Dougherty, founder of Make magazine, creator of Maker Fair and coiner of the phrase Web 2.0, who brings the do-it-yourselfer mindset to everyday technology, celebrating the right to tweak, hack and bend any technology to your own will ...
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!