National PTA President Otha Thornton discusses why his organization supports the Common Core, dispelling myths and sharing resources to help parents learn more and support successful implementation of the standards.
By Richard L. Valenta, Ed.D., Board Member for the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) and Director of Personnel Services for Birdville ISD
Several researchers have affirmed the importance of both the engagement of people at work (for example, see several meta-analyses and surveys done by scholars at and/or for Gallup) and the impact of talented teachers on meaningful school outcomes, specifically student achievement. Based on this research, it is appropriate to acknowledge the importance of creating great schools for educators to work and be engaged in. Likewise, it is paramount that students are taught by talented teachers who are effective in providing instruction that significantly and consistently affects achievement gains.
In a 2006 book, Gary Gordon proclaimed a need to ensure that teachers in this country work in environments that promote their engagement in order to fully tap students' potentials. Teacher engagement refers to the individual teacher's involvement in and enthusiasm for teaching students in schools and reflects how well teachers are known and how often they get to do what they do best. Gordon also expressed the importance of valuing ...
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 I realized I was holding an assumption that was out of date.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 ...
We're over a decade into the 21st-century and schools across the country are working tirelessly to ensure students are prepared for whatever lies ahead. Rapid changes are afoot in demographic shifts and in the continuing development of new technology and social media platforms. These realities are presenting schools with new challenges and opportunities - sometimes in concert.
Dr. Mary Amanda "Mandy" Stewart has taught and researched English learners, and her recent research highlights how social media use and other out-of-school literacies are boosting language acquisition in this population. The winner of this year's PDK International Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award for her work on Latino/a immigrant students and literacy, her findings lead to several questions.
How can schools support the integration of social media in classrooms as an instructional support? How can homework assignments utilize social media? How can principals and districts support wider use of such platforms and other out-of-school literacies to support their English Language Learning population?
We recently had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Stewart about her research and its implications. In an email interview, she provided advice and insights from her perspective as a researcher and practitioner, emphasizing the importance of expanding our definition of 21st-century learning to include bilingualism and biliteracy.
Public School Insights (PSI): Would you mind starting off with a little background on your research and the study? What led you to research this topic, and what questions were you interested in answering?
Stewart: I began my career teaching newcomer adolescents at the International Newcomer Academy, a public school for new immigrants in middle and high school in Fort Worth, Texas. All of my 6th graders were in their first year in the U.S. I saw the great resources my students from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East brought with them into the class, but also how the effects of NCLB in Texas pushed the students' linguistic and cultural resources out of the academic curriculum. I feared that their linguistic and cultural resources would be ignored, devalued, and underutilized as they went to their home schools.
During my doctoral studies, I became interested of the idea of "whose literacy counts?" Through a pilot study with a 2nd-generation high school student of Mexican origin and reading about other studies of immigrant youth, it became apparent that immigrant students do possess valuable and sophisticated literacies they use out-of-school. However, most schools do not ...
In the past, teachers needed training in the mechanics of e-mail and PowerPoint, just like today many need training in the basics of social media and tablet use. But these trainings are not necessary for everyone. Most of those entering the teaching force today never knew life without a computer. They grew up with e-mail, Facebook and YouTube. They operate easily on PCs, Macs, tablets and phones, and they adapt quickly to technological changes.
Young teachers instinctively incorporate ICT (information and communications technology, for those not familiar with the lingo) into their work to the extent that they are often hindered by school, district and/or state policies around it. But their ability to use new technologies is useless if ...
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 ...
Part of my job as executive director of the Learning First Alliance (LFA) is to attend meetings here in Washington, DC, where new K-12 education reports or projects are released or introduced to policymakers, educators, parents, and interested stakeholders. Over the past week I attended two such meetings, which provided a stark contrast to approaches used by education leaders and researchers in addressing changes that could benefit both the US public education system and the students it serves.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report authored by Allan Odden titled Getting the Best People into the Toughest Jobs: Changes in Talent Management in Education. The underlying assumption on which this report’s recommendations are based is that the current workforce in public education is not very talented, should be held accountable for their poor performance, and removed from classrooms and schools. Indeed, Odden points out what we know is true: the effectiveness of the teacher and ...
Ask practitioners and administrations on the ground in the education system about state education agencies (SEAs), and you may encounter skepticism. SEAs need not be considered antiquated bodies, as they are the heart of leadership in a state’s education system. SEAs monitor compliance and accountability, but they also provide support for policy design and implementation. These entities are well positioned to use high quality research in policy and practice, but there is variation in efficacy and capacity for doing so among states; an understanding of how SEAs use research provides useful insights when it comes to best practices. ...
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 ...
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. ...
As we look ahead to what we hope to accomplish in education in 2013, it behooves us to also reflect on 2012. We reelected a president whose administration is committed to the issue (but whose policies we do not always agree with) and has granted many states waivers to key aspects of the nation’s top education law, No Child Left Behind. We moved closer to a vision in which students in Mississippi learn to the same high standards as those in Montana and Massachusetts as we worked to implement the Common Core. States and districts across the nation navigated new terrain in teacher evaluation and tenure. Educators continued exploring how to best take advantage of new learning technologies – flipping classrooms, starting one-to-one iPad initiatives, preparing for a shift to online assessments and more.
With all that happened in 2012, what garnered the most attention from you, our readers? Here are our top five posts of 2012 (as indicated by our trusty Google Analytics tracking system). Enjoy!
5. Rethinking Principal Evaluation. Principals are second only to teachers among the in-school influences on student success. Yet we don’t hear much about how to measure their performance – and the little research that exists on the issue suggests that current evaluation systems are far from adequate.
4. Can Arts Education Help Close the Achievement Gap? Research suggests that arts education can help narrow the achievement gap that exists between low-income students and their more advantaged peers. But ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
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