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By Stephanie Hirsh, Executive Director of Learning Forward

I was at a conference and during a discussion period had the opportunity to dialogue with colleagues — we were seating ourselves according to our interests as indicated by table tents. As I approached the table labeled "teacher evaluation," I cheerfully remarked, "Oh, I can't sit with you. You won't want to talk about professional learning."

Oh no, my colleagues cried — sit with us! That's all we want to talk about. I realized I was holding an assumption that was out of date. When the teacher effectiveness conversation heated up many months ago, the focus swiftly turned to evaluation, without much mention of teacher support or growth.

Fortunately, however, many (though certainly not all) participants in this conversation have moved in the direction of recognizing the importance of teacher support as part of evaluation systems. Advocates for meaningful evaluation systems acknowledge that attending to the development of teacher knowledge and skills is essential on ...

By Kwok-Sze Wong, Ed.D., Executive Director of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA)

When I tell people I work with school counselors, they invariably say something like, "My school counselor did nothing for me. He told me not to bother trying to go to college." And yet, they got a college degree. When I ask how they got into college, who coordinated the transcripts, recommendation letters and other actions required from their school, they admit their school counselor did have something to do with it.

School counselors are certified, specially trained educators who help students succeed by removing the barriers to learning. They collaborate with teachers, administrators and parents not just to counsel but also to coordinate, consult, and to create strategies to help students achieve academically, grow personally and socially, and prepare for meaningful lives beyond graduation. Yet they are often the ...

Learning the art of preparing effective teachers never ends for the teacher education community. Each day, we discover new ways to review, modify and apply the best methods that will ultimately address the learning needs of all students. But what are the core ideals and characteristics that serve as the foundation beneath this evolving knowledge? I asked Alison Hilsabeck, who leads a successful program at National Louis University, to answer the question, "What do we know about teaching teachers?" Her insightful response follows.

-Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., President and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)

The educational research community has devoted significant energies toward the goal of codifying the research on learning and teaching, and on translating that research into effective practice. Those efforts continue a legacy of scholarly practice extending back to Plato and Aristotle. Recently, there have also been a number of substantial reports (e.g. the National Research Council's Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education's Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers) that have informed the national dialogue about the mechanics and organizational arrangements of educating teachers. It would be presumptuous of me to even begin to summarize all of this work.

Instead, I write from the perspective of an education school dean, working to maintain a 126-year-old institutional mission to prepare teachers who actually know what to do on their first day as the teacher-of-record. At National Louis University (NLU), we are focusing much of our work on the preparation of effective and resilient teachers for low-performing schools. This has challenged us to rethink assumptions and build stronger and deeper field partnerships. Our experience suggests the importance of some key factors with ...

We have access to a lot of good sound research and information in today’s information age. Education practitioners, those working in schools and districts, are ultimately responsible for overseeing system-wide changes, but they rarely have time to sift through data and evidence to identify sound research that might offer guidance for their respective district or school. Therefore, those higher up in district administration are more likely to be the ones assessing available research and working to support struggling schools. Taking action on sound research requires strong networks and strong communication among system professionals to move the evidence and information down to the school level. Ultimately, even if the research is good, it does not guarantee change. The system must be prepared to implement the necessary steps to produce changes in student performance. In fact, research suggests that an emphasis on the technical aspects of improvements leads us to overlook the relational component to system-wide change. ...

Editor’s note: This post is from our partners at Special Olympics Project UNIFY. Each week in January, we will feature a new article on a topic related to the social inclusion of youth with intellectual disabilities. Through this effort, we hope to inform the public of the importance of such inclusion as well as offer educators and parents resources to implement it.

 Haylie Bernacki , the newest member of the LFA team,  is currently a student at American University in Washington, DC,  majoring in International Relations (focus on International Development)  with a  minor in Special Education. Haylie’s professional  goal is to work in international education policy, specifically special education.

Haylie presently works at Special Olympics International in the Project UNIFY division. Project UNIFY works directly with students in K-12 to enhance school climate and create school communities of acceptance and inclusion for all students regardless of ability level. She  also serves as  a board member for the National Coalition for Academic Service Learning (NCASL).  NCASL  supports state education agencies and education professionals by providing leadership and resources that lead to the intentional and sustainable use of academic service-learning as an engaging pedagogy in the instructional setting. ...

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A Step in Time

When implemented well, expanded learning time (lengthening the school day, school week and/or school year) has led to impressive results in schools around the country. And U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has long called on more schools to embrace the policy, both because he believes that American students spend less time in school than students in the nations we are competing with (though some evidence suggests that might not be the case) and because he believes that the hours between 3pm and 6pm are the peak hours for juvenile crime (which evidence supports).

The Secretary was on hand yesterday at the introduction of the TIME (Time for Innovation Matters in Education) Collaborative, a partnership between the National Center on Time in Learning (NCTL) and the Ford Foundation that will allow participating schools in five states (Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee) to add 300 hours of instruction and enrichment for all their children. To be a part of the collaborative, states and districts had to agree to use a mix of federal, state and district funding to cover the costs ...

Each generation has a personality, characteristics and preferences that define their behavior and their views of the world. Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, are no different. Their arrival in the professional world has significant implications for the workplace, across sectors but including – and perhaps especially – education.

The October issue of Learning Forward’s JSD features “Boomers and Millennials: Vive La Difference,” an article by Suzette Lovely that examines ways to blend different generational styles in the learning environment. The article poses five suggestions for creating a generationally friendly culture. They pay homage to the distinct differences between generations in the same workplace. What’s more, they aim to foster a more collaborative learning environment, helping ensure that an older, more experienced generation of teachers can pass on their knowledge to a new energetic teaching force. This new generation of professionals, in turn, must feel embraced by their older colleagues and respected for their ideas, innovation and energy. ...

By Nora L. Howley, Manager of Programs, NEA Health Information Network 

The fourth-grade class at Shadyside Elementary is having a birthday party. Selena just ate a cookie brought into the class by parent of one of her classmates.  All of a sudden she notices a rash and gives on her arms. She begins to feel short of breath, so she lets Pam the Paraeducator know that something is wrong  

Next week is Halloween. For many classrooms, it is the first celebration of the year.  But for approximately six million children in the United States who have one or more food allergies, this party could be a life-threatening experience. Is your school ready? 

Food allergies are abnormal immune responses.  In a person with a food allergy, the immune system mistakenly responds to a food as if it were harmful. Sometimes these reactions are life-threatening.  While many foods can trigger an allergic reaction, eight foods are responsible for 90% of reactions. 

So what should school leaders and staff do to be prepared for food allergy reactions? 

First, managing and preventing food allergies requires a team approach.  It involves all school staff, parents/guardians, health care providers, and students themselves.  It involves ...

Toppenish High School, in south central Washington State, is a rural high-poverty school with 99% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch and a 95% minority student body. The community’s economy rests primarily on agriculture and tourism, two sectors suffering from the recent downturn.

Schools with such profiles in such communities are often ones that grapple with inadequate funding, find student groups struggling on standardized tests and have lower graduation and college-going rates. But proving that great school leadership is a key component of beating such odds, Principal Trevor Greene has set high goals and invested in key improvement strategies that are showing amazing results for Toppenish High School. He was recently recognized as MetLife/NASSP’s 2013 National High School Principal of the Year. ...

It seems everyone has an opinion about the teacher strike currently taking place in Chicago.  I do too, but it’s not about who’s to blame.  There’s plenty of that to go around.  What I do know is that regardless of how this strike ends, nobody will have won—

  • Students will have missed valuable learning time
  • Teachers and their union will be vilified for selfishness
  • The mayor and school board’s judgment will be suspect
  • Parents will be disappointed and frazzled with child care challenges
  • The President’s “reform” agenda will be questioned
  • The citizens of Chicago will be embarrassed and dismayed for their city

While I have followed the events as they’ve unfolded in Chicago between the mayor, the school board he appointed, and the teachers’ union, the facts I’m able to glean from public sources only raise questions in my mind as to what’s really going on.  I do know that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are under-resourced and that ...

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