Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

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In today’s competitive and political atmosphere, school leaders often ask us about strategies and tactics to build trust and confidence in our schools — let alone how to enhance the reputation of public education.

We always offer solutions on a number of fronts, but we also ask leaders to think about all the touch points that are automatically built into the school year  —  those times when parents, teachers, and principals all interact with one another. Those face-to-face episodes often begin making or breaking the confidence that your critical audience of parents has in your schools.

Parent Conferences Give You a Time to Shine

Traditional open houses and parent conferences are now in full swing in many communities. Those of you who are parents or who have a bit of experience meeting with parents know how these events can serve as a great starting point to build confidence in your school and your teachers. ...

Bullying means many different things to different people, but one thing is certain: bullying hurts, and it can impact any student. Did you know the latest data shows that 24 percent of female students and 19 percent of male students report being bullied at school?

1. What is bullying?

Bullying is “systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt and/or psychological distress on another. Bullying can be physical, verbal or social. Bullying is not just child’s play, but a frightening experience many students face every day,” once every seven minutes. ...

On your marks . . . get set . . . TEACH!

I want you to think about those words. If you were in an interview, or perhaps planning your perfect lesson, how would you do it? What tools do you have in your utility belt that you can pull out at a moment's notice when you are faced with a difficult teaching situation? What strategies would you use? What if you were asked at the very last minute to provide a comprehensive, dynamic, user-driven learning session? Could you do it?

If you are reading this post, I’m sure you can. If you are reading this post, you already have the tools, you already have the knowledge, and you already have the ability to think outside of the box and beyond the walls of your classroom. How do I know this? Because this blog post isn’t found in your classroom. It’s a resource that you had to know about, or perhaps it was a link that you found on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. This blog post—and, in fact, the very website you are reading right now—is a resource you didn’t know you needed, until the time arrived that you needed it. ...

Following is a series of blogs by Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, as he travels with AASA's president and other U.S. education representatives through Austria to learn about that country's education system.

St. Polten, Austria – In Austria, children attend “Primary” schools for grades one through four. At the end of the fourth grade, when children are 10 years of age, a determination is made as to whether children will move on to the “Gymnasium,” an academic program, or a vocational school where they will learn a trade. Approximately one third of the students pursue the academic route, while the rest pursue vocational courses. This is typical of most European countries we have visited.

We were greeted at the St. Polten Gymnasium by Director Sylvia Klimek who runs the five-12 school. The lower grade (5-8) students take five classes, while the older grade (9-12) students take eight classes. The older students can opt to be in one of four tracks: languages, art, science or sports. ...

When “A Nation at Risk” was published more than 32 years ago, it sparked impassioned calls for reform to our irreparably broken education system. Like most sparks and passions, education reform eventually flickered away in a disappointing puff of smoke, leaving the education system no better, and in some ways worse, than it was before the report. Since then, we’ve seen a succession of education movements designed to finally fix the system. Standards-based education. Dropout prevention. School-to-work. Whole language. New math. Education reform has become a jumble of clichés. The only constant is change. But the more things change, the more they remain the same, and if you don’t like the education system, stick around, it’ll change in a few years.

No wonder experienced teachers, administrators and even parents are wary of the next new thing. They know it will come and go without making a real impact. So, why is it so hard to change a system that everyone agrees needs to be changed? After all, many of our current educational structures were already in place at the turn of the last century. Do we rely on anything else on a daily basis that hasn’t changed significantly for more than 100 years? ...

This post is part of a series on digital equity from Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking. Read Keith's introduction to the series here.

In this post, I will highlight data on the scope of the digital equity problem in the United States.

In the political world, digital equity has been framed as “closing the homework gap.” In other words, as education becomes increasingly digital, we must ask ourselves: do all students have the at-home tools they need to complete their assignments?

How big is the problem?

In 2009, the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband task force reported that about 65 percent of students used the Internet at home to complete their homework, a statistic that has likely increased given the growing trends of digital learning. Approximately 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires access to broadband. ...

When it comes to acts of violence, including suicide and threats to others, most are communicated in some way before the incident occurs. In fact, in four out of five school shootings, the attacker told people of his/her plans ahead of time and 70 percent of people who die by suicide told someone of their intention or gave some type of warning or indication.

Imagine how many of these tragedies could be averted if someone said something?

That’s the problem we at Sandy Hook Promise want to solve and we’re asking schools across the country to join us for Say Something Week, October 19 to 23.

Almost daily we are seeing the power that students have in preventing tragedies and saving lives when they exercise the actions behind two seemingly simple words, - Say Something. Recently a brave Colorado student prevented a possible school shooting in Phoenix. How? She saw a disturbing photo captioned, "Planning the school shooting” on the mobile messaging app Snapchat and Said Something to her mom and her school's safety resource officer, who alerted Phoenix authorities. The Arizona teen who had posted the chilling photo was then taken into custody. ...

By Stephanie J. Hull

In national efforts to improve schools and ensure that every child is on a meaningful path to college and career, many observers have seen classroom teachers as the linchpin of success. Research shows—compellingly—that the single most important in-school factor in student achievement is the teacher standing in the front of the classroom. That is one of the reasons the Woodrow Wilson Foundation has made it a priority to strengthen the pipelines of effective teachers for high-need schools.

The research is equally clear, though, as to the importance of school principals. In fact, principals account for at least 25 percent of a school’s total impact on student achievement, according to research conducted by organizations such as ASCD and the Wallace Foundation. Principals create the necessary conditions for teachers to succeed—the individual support, the technology, the facilities, the interface with parents and policy leaders. ...

What is needed to create sufficient student agency?

Shoichi Uchiyama is a famous, world expert Japanese chef that is obsessed in entomophagy cuisine. In other words, he is an expert on eating bugs. This can include hornet larvae and silkworm pupae to boiled spiders and cockroach soup.

According to some nutritionists, bugs are a high source of protein and nutrients...supposedly good for you! Insect eating is NOT commonplace in Japan and most Japanese would gag by even the thought of it. Imagine the faces of your kids in school opening boxes of different choices of piping hot pizza and toppings included roasted water bugs, caterpillars and adult hornets! I can almost hear the loud protests with crying and screaming from the students. ...

Common Core Takes Hold in Kansas

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LFA interviewed education leaders to learn about how they are collaborating around Common Core in Kansas.

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