Join the conversation

...about what is working in our public schools.

Professional Collaboration

Blog Entries

Earlier this month the Learning First Alliance (LFA) hosted our annual Leadership Council meeting for LFA member organizations’ executive directors, senior staff, and elected leadership.  This year’s meeting brought 100 education leaders together under the theme Setting a Bold Agenda for Collaborative Leadership in Public Education, and working groups were charged with outlining the focus for the LFA coalition’s work in the coming months. With background information provided by Warren Simmons, executive director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University; Saul Rubinstein, Associate Professor, School of Management & Labor Relations at Rutgers University; and Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University and 2013 recipient of the LFA Education Visionary Award, attendees outlined two major action items for our collective efforts.

The first day’s small group discussions centered on developing a common vocabulary and message approach that emphasizes the success that public schools have achieved individually and collectively throughout our country’s history.  Attendees were reminded that critics of public schools, who call themselves “reformers”, have a simple, straightforward message about public education that ...

By Joellen Killion, Senior Advisor, Learning Forward

Establishing more time for collaborative professional learning is only a first step. Using the time effectively and efficiently is also essential. Four simple processes can focus the interactions that occur in teams and connect what team members learn with student learning.

Establish a clear purpose for each meeting. At the beginning of each session or at the end of the previous session, team members commit to a clear purpose for the meeting that specifies the learning goals for educators and the outcomes they expect for students when their learning goals are implemented. Establishing a purpose also means being clear about what the non-purpose of the session will be. This trick of non-purpose is a powerful tool for maintaining a laser-like focus on the identified purpose and ...

By Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, Assistant to the President for Educational Issues, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

Last month, AFT president, Randi Weingarten called for a moratorium on the stakes associated with Common Core-aligned assessments. Let me be clear, the AFT has long been a supporter of higher common standards and expectations for all students, regardless of ZIP code.

From the outset, we've maintained that the standards themselves would only be as good as the system that supports them: aligned curricula and classroom resources (including state-of-the-art online tools); meaningful, sustained professional development; time for teachers and other staff to adapt to the new standards; aligned and timely assessments that support college and career readiness and inform instruction; and participation of family and community stakeholders in the awareness-building, advocacy and support needed for the standards to truly change teaching and ...

While we live in a market-driven economy, where winning and wealth accumulation are desired outcomes, education advocates on all sides of the political aisle currently assert that public schools are failing our children, especially minorities and low-income students.  Education is a common good; it is the stepping-stone through which students can make something better of their futures. Therefore, we should not be setting up a system to create winners and losers. ...

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

AACTE's recent report The Changing Teacher Preparation Profession: A Report From AACTE's Professional Education Data System (PEDS) tells of the rapidly shifting work of preparing U.S. teachers. The report finds the academic prowess of college students entering teacher preparation is strong, with programs attracting students with GPAs that exceed minimum entry requirements. We also see that preservice programs are designing alternative routes to licensure, integrating technology to meet the needs of distance learners, and working to incorporate capstone performance assessments such as edTPA.

The report's findings also indicate that more work is needed to make extended clinical experiences a central component of preparation. Although virtually all programs incorporate supervised field experiences, only 5 percent have a full-year residency program. One-year residency programs are required for eligibility for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Grant Program and they are championed in recent reports, such as those from NCATE's Blue Ribbon Panel and the National Research Council, as well as in AACTE's PEDS report. Further, we know that candidates who engage more regularly in actual classroom activities are more likely to remain in the profession and have a more positive impact on student learning than ...

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. ...

Syndicate content