Search ASCD EDge
Last week we hunted down five travel and professional development opportunities for educators and this week we’ve got three more. Even if money is tight, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that those listed below are completely (or almost completely) funded by non-profit grants. While you may have missed some of the 2013 deadlines, we’re hoping that you have a little more time this summer to prepare your applications for 2014!
Become a cosmopolitan educator: 3 more ways to see the world for free
The Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program offers one-to-one exchanges for primary and secondary teachers. Seven countries (including the United States) participate in the program with the goal of helping educators develop an increased understanding of the language, culture and academic field of the country. Although you’ve missed the application deadline for 2013, you have until October 15 to apply for the 2014-15 deadlines.
The Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program offers educators the opportunity to spend three to six months taking classes at an international university, observing classes, offering seminars in local schools, or even undertaking a project of your own design. This program is open to all:
The Transatlantic Outreach Program Study Tour sends educators to Germany every summer on all-expense-paid two-week study tours, exposing them the government and education systems, large and small businesses, and various examples of culture.
Your part of the bargain is that once you complete your tour, you are expected to write a unit of learning as well as conduct two in-service training workshops. Eligible applicants include the following from the United States and Canada:
Be sure to check back at the site often as the 2014 study tour application form will be updated in the fall.
The first day of school is still a ways off, but many teachers—especially those of us who just received our fall assignments—are already beginning to think about it. The day usually begins the same way: Our new students trickle in and find a desk where they can carefully guard their tongues for the next week. We feel for our students not only because we’ve been there before, but also because we always have some nervous energy ourselves. To ease the first-day jitters, we started using icebreakers. Below you will find five of our favorites.
Preparing for Opening Day: 5 of the best icebreakers for teachers
The only thing you’ll need for this activity is a big ball of string. Here’s how it works: The teacher stands at the door with two handfuls of string ends. As you welcome your new students give each student an end. Alternate hands as you pass them out: The first student gets a string-end from your right hand; the second from your left; the third from your right and so on.
Once everyone has arrived and has a string-end, they must start to follow the course of the string they hold (you got to class early and created a trail for each piece of string). Some pieces wrap around chairs, run through the coat closet, under and over desks and around your podium, or become tangled with other pieces of string. Your students will have to follow this trail—wherever it may lead them.
Eventually your students will be startled to discover that they are face-to-face with another student who is holding the other end of the same piece of string! Once each student has found his or her partner, it’s time for them to make their introductions.
Put on a new jacket
The covers of our most-popular books often become torn and dirty. Direct your students to the classroom library and have them select books with damaged jackets or book covers. If you don’t have enough damaged books, allow them to choose a book with their favorite cover they’d like to protect.
Offer a variety of craft materials (paint, pens, random ephemera and fabric) so that students can create their own covers and book jackets. If you’d like instruction books or kits for slipcases, stop by Hollanders.
This idea comes courtesy of Bonnie Kunzel’s and Constance Hardesty’s book, The Teen-Centered Book Club: Readers into Leaders.
Start a time capsule
Type up a handout that includes questions like:
Feel free to get as crazy and creative as you like with these questions. Once your students are finished, collect the handouts and put them in a secure place.
When I was in third grade, my teacher received permission from the principal to dig a hole and bury our class time capsule (which also included an item belonging to each student) in the playground! At the end of the year, we dug up our time capsule and discussed how much our interest, tastes and height had changed over the course of a year.
Know your orange
We got this idea from Christopher Willard’s book, Child’s Mind: Mindfulness Practices to Help Our Children Be More Focused, Calm and Relaxed.
If you’d like to take this activity a few steps further, you might have your students journal about mindful tasting. Try giving them the following prompts:
Spill the Skittles, not the beans
Pass out five or ten Skittles (M&Ms work too) to each student and explain that for each piece of candy the student has, s/he must tell the class something about him/herself. Here’s the tricky part: each color corresponds to a category. An orange Skittle represents a scary memory; green ones represent a favorite outdoor place; blue ones represent their favorite place to swim and so on. This is an easy way to get students talking—and when was the last time kids turned down free sweets?
There are a number of variations on this activity. For a slightly different spin, check out Katie’s idea on her blog, live.craft.eat
As the school year comes to an end at New Milford High School, I can’t help but begin to think about sustaining the many changes that have taken place over the past few years as well as identifying other areas where change is needed. My school is a shell of what it once was when one looks at how far we have come in terms of effectively integrating technology, re-envisioning learning spaces, and providing a foundation for a more relevant and meaningful learning experience for all of our students.
Below is just a quick list of some of the many changes that have been successfully initiated and sustained over the past three years:
Together we have the power to improve all of our schools and mold them in ways to maximize the potential of our students, teachers, and administrators. It is time to realize that social media, technology, and the change process are not the enemy. Once you get past this, you will quickly discover your own niche as a change agent and it is here that you can receive support and guidance to make any initiative successful. When moving to initiate sustainable change that will cultivate innovation acquire necessary resources, provide support (training, feedback, advice), empower educators through a certain level of autonomy, communicate effectively, and implement a shared decision-making practice.
In collaboration with my staff and the support of District leadership, my efforts have laid the foundation for an innovative teaching and learning culture that focuses on preparing all students for success. We have learned to give up control, view failure as not always a bad thing as long as we learn from our mistakes, to be flexible, provide adequate support, and take calculated risks if we are to truly innovate. To this end, teachers and students are now routinely utilizing social media and other various Web 2.0 tools on a routine basis to enhance and promote essential skill sets such as communication, collaboration, media literacy, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, global awareness, and technological proficiency. It is not uncommon now for classes to be Skyping with students in other countries, using Twitter as a learning tool, constructing QR codes for artwork, blogging, or creating multimedia projects using a variety of interactive web tools that are blocked in many schools across the country.
One of our most successful initiatives has been the establishment of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program mentioned briefly above where we are harnessing the power of student-owned devices to increase engagement. Instead of viewing student-owned technology as a hindrance, it is now wholeheartedly embraced as a mobile learning tool. Teachers have the students text in their answers on their cell phones using web programs such as Poll Everywhere, conduct research on the Internet, take notes using Evernote, or organize their assignments. Students can also opt to bring their personal computing devices (laptops, tablets, iPod Touches) to use in school and class.
What might separate us from other schools where change has not taken hold is that we, as a school community, have decided to forge ahead no matter what mandates are thrown at us at the state and federal levels. We needed to take a hard look at, and seize upon numerous areas of opportunity, to create a better school for our students that focused on the whole child using their interests and passions as catalysts for learning. The change process never sleeps. During the summer months my administrative team and I will continue to work with all stakeholders to forge ahead by doing what we have done for the last three years and looking for solutions to problems instead of excuses. This might be the single most important element of a successful change initiative. That and being digitally resilient.
What do you plan to change this next year and why?
Originally published in May, 2012
I feel like I need to share some really good news with you. And I am not alone. See, I was just like you!
During these past few months I have opened myself up completely to the 21st century. I went full board, having never created a blog, wiki, uploaded a video, nor participated in ANY social media prior to this year. I have never been a techie, or desired to acquire the newest gadgets (Honestly, I held out for a long time from buying compact discs).
I will admit it… I was scared. I had nothing good to say about facebook, twitter, google, blogging, and I too felt that I had learned all I needed to know about the computer (Hey, I was a wiz at the Microsoft office suite). As long as I could get on the internet, I was fine. I knew how to search for things. I could find articles, and resources, or so I thought. As an educator, my mind was made up: we are not allowed to participate in this new found social media stuff anyway. It was all “trouble” and the “devil’s playground.”
I was good. All good. I knew a lot more then my predecessors. I have worked with administrators in the past who didn’t know how to turn on a computer. They couldn’t text, or had no idea what a url was. They were just fine, and some almost reveled in their learned helplessness.Let’s face it, I thought, there were hundreds of thousands of effective principals since the beginning of time who never even wrote an email.
Then a strange thing happened on my way to being comfortable. I found out that as a 38 year old first-year principal, who was a self-described progressive in education, that I was already a dinosaur (insert dinosaur sound). I have called educators dinosaurs before. Gulp. We all know how that story ended: Extinction! Well, I didn’t want to be extinct. And I don’t want you to be either! I had ask myself some tough questions: Am I modeling 21st century skills for my teachers and students? Am I really progressive? Do I really know where education was going? The answers were clearly, NO. So I DID something about it. I TOOK a LEAP. I got off of the comfortable road!
So, this is your homework assignment for the summer. You need to start something. Depending on where you want to grow, there are plenty of resources. And I am willing to help, and so are all the connected educators near you, and thousands more are just a click away. Actually, we are all just a click away from you!
We are not trying to keep anything from you. We want EVERYBODY to be connected. This is not a competition. Rather, it is a privilege that you are in the position you are in. With the gift of being an administrator, there is a responsibility to your teachers, parents, students, and most of all, to yourself. Now, what are you going to do with this precious gift?
Ask yourself these questions….Here are some resources for you.
I want to know how to access the cutting edge information on education. Where do I start?
Twitter.com - It is free, and you will have access to Professional Development at your fingertips 24/7. I recommend to start with the following educators:
@NMHS_Principal, Eric Sheninger, High School Principal
@stumpteacher, Josh Stumpenhorst, Teacher
@PrincipalJ, Jessica Johnson, Elementary Principal
@web20classroom, Steven Anderson, Technology Supervisor
@gcouros, George Couros, Principal and founder of Connected Principals
Justin Tarte, Life of an Educator
Dave Gentile, The Road To Excellence is Always Under Construction
Pamm Moore, Learning to Lead
Spike Cook’s RM Bacon School Site, RM Bacon Weekly
Curt Rees, I know this much is true
How will I be able to do all this? You have to make time. Just like the teachers you are frustrated with, you can’t punch in and out. You have to be willing to put in the time, and be committed. The more you are connected, the more you will become inspired by what folks are doing.
How can I learn all of this? Like the famous book by Anne Lamott Bird by Bird you have to start small and take it one bird at a time.
I guarantee that you have a teacher in your building or an administrator in another building that can help you out with your transition to being connected. You just have to open yourself up to the possibilities.
For those of you who are reading this because you are connected, my challenge to you is to print, email, forward, or even read this to another administrator that you feel could benefit.
Remember, I was just like you!
My Prezi on Social Media in Administration:
Great Article on the Power of the Principal:
Twitter accounts for Technology:
Here are some questions you might use for reflecting on the year past, on how you might productively use your summer respite, and how you might plan for changes that you might wish to make to your teaching next year:
These are only some of the questions that you might ask yourself. Don't hesitate to add to, modify, or change these.
Once you have answered these questions, here are some things to think about over the summer and the coming year:
What might I examine and explore this summer to identify new ideas and rethink my teaching and student learning?
What might I work on this summer to improve my teaching and my students' learning?
I hope you had a productive and rewarding school year, that you have a restful, relaxing, rewarding, and productive summer that also provides you with an opportunity to learn and grow from your current year, and that you use some of your time to learn about and find new ways to become a better teacher in the future.
Elliott Seif is an educational consultant, author, and volunteer in a number of Philadelphia public schools. He is a former social studies teacher, Professor of Education at Temple University and Curriculum Director for an Educational Service agency in Bucks County. You might find his website, www.era3learning.org of interest as a follow-up to your answers to these questions.
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Watch the “Getting Social with Your Lawmakers” webinar. Almost every member of Congress uses a toolbox of social networking channels, from Twitter to YouTube, to communicate about their work and connect with constituents. Listen to the recording to learn how to leverage these tools to sustain relationships with your lawmakers, share your expertise, exert your influence, and join grassroots movements for change.
What Does “ASCD” Stand For?
What do you say when people ask you what “ASCD” stands for? Since ASCD no longer uses Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, sometimes that question can be difficult to answer, and we’re here to help. This ASCD Inservice blog post takes on the challenge of explaining the history behind our name.
What ASCD Has Learned from Affiliates
As a director in Constituent Services at ASCD, Walter McKenzie works with the best and brightest educators leading our affiliates around the world. Read his Whole Child Blog posthighlighting some of what he has learned through collaboration with ASCD affiliates.
ASCD Leaders in Action: News from the ASCD Leader Community
Please Welcome the 2013 Class of ASCD Emerging Leaders
ASCD has selected 25 educators from across the globe to join the 2013 class of ASCD emerging leaders. Please join us in welcoming them to the ASCD community! For a full list of the 2013 class of emerging leaders, view the ASCD Emerging Leaders Directory. To connect with the 2013 class, follow them on Twitter.
See these news items featuring 2013 Emerging Leaders:
ASCD Leader Voices
Check out these great blog posts:
Whole Child Virtual Conference presentations by ASCD Leaders:
Your Summer PD: ASCD Whole Child Virtual Conference Archives
How can schools implement and sustain a whole child approach to education? The 2013 ASCD Whole Child Virtual Conference, entitled “Moving from Implementation to Sustainability to Culture,” was held in early May 2013 and, through archived presentations, offers educators around the globe strategies and learning to support your work. In these presentations, you will:
No matter where your school falls on the whole child continuum, be it the early implementation stage or beyond, the Whole Child Virtual Conference provides a forum and tools for school sites and districts that are working toward sustainability and changing school cultures to serve the whole child.
Reducing the Effects of Child Poverty
In today’s global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. The 2008 economic crisis became a “household crisis “ when higher costs for basic goods, fewer jobs and reduced wages, diminished assets and reduced access to credit, and reduced access to public goods and services affected families who coped, in part, by eating fewer and less nutritious meals, spending less on education and health care, and pulling children out of school to work or help with younger siblings. These “new poor” join those who were vulnerable prior to the financial shocks and economic downturn. Read more at the Whole Child Blog.
In May we looked at the implications of the “new poverty” for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Deborah Wortham, superintendent of the School District of the City of York, Pa.; Felicia DeHaney, president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute; William Parrett, director of the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies and professor of education at Boise State University; and Kathleen Budge, coordinator of the Leadership Development Program and associate professor in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies Department at Boise State University.
Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read the latest newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Something to Talk About
How Can We Help You? By ASCD Service Center Director Marilyn Whipple
To Infini-Pie and Beyond! By Walter McKenzie
ASCD Offers Resources for Educators Planning the School Year Ahead—As educators gear up to return to school in the fall, ASCD has compiled a collection of hard-hitting resources to enable educators to implement innovative teaching and learning strategies for the 2013–14 school year. Read the full press release.
ASCD Announces 2013 Class of Emerging Leaders—ASCD has selected 25 educators from around the globe for the 2013 Emerging Leaders Class. The Emerging Leaders program recognizes and prepares young, promising educators to influence education programs, policy, and practice on both the local and national levels. To view the entire list of the 2013 emerging leaders, visit the Emerging Leaders Directory. View the full press release.
New Acquisitions Editors Support ASCD’s Growing Publishing Unit—ASCD welcomes two new staff members to the association. Julie Scheina and Allison Scott were recently appointed acquisitions editors for the association, which produces the award-winning monthly magazine Educational Leadership, more than 40 books a year, and a variety of valuable newsletters and other print and online publications. Read the full press release.
In our last blog post, we suggested 10 things every teacher should do this summer. Looking back on it, we noticed that we forgot something: travel. Even if money is tight during the summer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that many of the travel and professional-development opportunities you’ll find below are actually funded by the U.S. Government. While you may have missed the deadlines for this summer, you now have the time to prepare your applications for 2014.
5 ways to see the world: summer professional development for teachers
Stop by the American Councils for International Education (ACIE) and you’ll find a list of State funded seminars and exchange programs for teachers and administrators. Here are two such examples:
Because most educators have commitments for most of the year, the exchanges are short term, taking place during the summer. While you won’t be able to take advantage of these opportunities this summer, make sure that you check the site often; the summer 2014 application deadlines will start to pop up in the early fall.
If nothing on the ACIE piques your interest, browse the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs. As with ACIE, the exchange programs offered on this site are state funded. Applications are accepted year round and programs are anywhere from two weeks to a year.
Discovery Student Adventures
For those interested in seeing the world with your students, Discovery offers a range of FREE travel experiences for teachers: The Arctic, China, Australia, Costa Rica.
Leave the meals, hotel booking and planning to Discovery. With an experienced guide at your side, you can do what you do best: teach and inspire.
More than 100 Bed & Breakfast discounts for teachers
Follow the link above and you’ll find a list of bed and breakfasts participating in the Travel for Teachers program. Some B&Bs offer free nights while others offer teacher appreciation packages that include discounted rates (25% off), free massages, wine and other amenities.
Educators Travel Network
How do we begin to explain ETN? It’s sort of like a time-share, but for teachers. Membership (a mere $36 a year) grants you use of thousands of homestays throughout the country. Depending on the location and availability, you’ll either be hosted ($40/night) by another member or stay in the member’s home while s/he is away ($50/night).
Click on the Destinations tab to view the ETN’s complete membership directory. This page introduces you to current ETN members, tells you a little bit about them and describes their accommodations.
For those interested in the path to becoming an education professional, the folks over at CertificationMap.com developed this awesome flowchart outlining some of the major steps. The flowchart is titled: How To Become A Teacher. Best of luck in your academic and professional pursuits!
Why do America’s children write so poorly? Writing instruction has seen a lot of innovation since I was a kid. Like many of my peers, I struggled with writing under the old system of the 3 A’s – assign, assume, and assess. My teachers assigned a topic, assumed we could write about it, and assessed our finished pieces.
Today's kids have it better. Yet there’s still a disconnect. Despite the advances in instruction since I was a child, most teachers still don’t teach writing well. On the last national writing assessment (the NAEP), less than a third of 12th graders, and less than a quarter of elementary students, could write proficiently.
How do we reconcile promising changes in writing pedagogy with this reality? That calls for a quick history lesson in writing instruction.
New approaches for young writers emerged in the 1980’s when process writing made its way into American classrooms. The whole language movement had made its impact on reading, and now Donald Graves and Donald Murray brought a similar holistic approach to writing.
Rather than simply correcting errors and assigning grades, they focused on meaning. They encouraged children to write about what they knew. They celebrated their ideas. In a radical departure, process writing teachers accepted mistakes in handwriting, spelling, and grammar. Frequent writing would provide the experience kids needed to develop these now-secondary skills.
Process writing also introduced the pre-writing, writing, and rewriting approach. Further, the teacher now functioned as a guide, rather than judge. Instead of just grading students’ final product, teachers now modeled their own writing process and checked in regularly as kids composed their own pieces.
Writer’s workshop, which many educators today associate with Lucy Calkins, is an example of the process writing approach. The National Writing Project has also popularized process writing in summer institutes for teachers.
As process writing was incubating on the East Coast, new ideas were also percolating out West. In 1983, a committee in Beaverton, Oregon developed a new assessment rubric – The Six Traits – to improve assessment, a perennial challenge in writing instruction. The traits included: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.
Though the Six Traits were conceived as elements for a new assessment rubric, they proved a valuable teaching tool. Teacher Rhonda Woodruff discovered this with her fourth graders in 1986. It turned out that playing the role of evaluator helped students strengthen their writing process, and soon, Oregon teachers were sharing this new instructional approach in national workshops. In 1990, The Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory acquired a version of the original rubric and began selling traits-based instructional aids.
More good leadership emerged in the 1990’s. Teacher Marcia Freeman and later, Ralph Fletcher, built on the foundation of process writing with their ideas for teaching targeted skills such as writing leads and creating transitions.
Individual research studies have documented the advantages of these most of these approaches to teaching writing. Why then, has achievement remained flat for 30 years? Besides the fact that writing has not been given enough instructional time – which I hope the Common Core will cure – I think the biggest reason is that we’re dealing with a case of the blind men and the elephant.
In the old story, six blind men visit an elephant, but each one seems to meet an entirely different creature based on the part he has touched. Thus, one describes the elephant as being "like a spear" (tusk), another claims it’s "like a tree" (leg), and so on. The story tells us a person can have a piece of the truth even if he's still missing a big part of it.
Writing pedagogy is like this. Each instructional method offers teachers one piece of the puzzle, but none gives teachers everything they need. This is why two-thirds of our graduates can’t write. Few elementary teachers learn to teach writing as part of their training, and they simply don’t have time to pull all the pieces together once they’ve entered the classroom. They still have to teach reading, math, social studies, and science, too. Usually, their districts try to support them by offering either:
I chose my profession to become the teacher I never had. And perhaps because I made a D- on my first writing assignment in college (yes, it’s true), I set myself to become intimately acquainted with that elephant as a teacher. With the support of my principal, I studied every hair and wrinkle on the beast.
What I developed was pretty simple. I gave my students the best of the best. I fused best practices into a comprehensive approach, their success got attention, and I was asked to help my peers. Thus began my journey as writing coach and crusader.
What I hope to contribute to teaching in general, and to the pool of Common Core resources in particular, is akin to giving glasses to blind men. I don’t want any teacher, anywhere, tobe limited by an incomplete view of the animal. This is what Common Core writing demands. We can shorten the learning curve for teachers and help them befriend the elephant. I’ve seen what can happen when teachers and students grasp its totality. It is nothing short of magnificent.
For additional blogs visit http://WriteStepsWriting.com
North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mike Forest stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest. In this video, Forest vilifies the Common Core State Standards, which his state is now reconsidering.
I first learned of this from an intelligent blogger and educator, Steven Weber, who takes Forest to task in his post here. Then, fellow ASCD author, Mike Fisher, took the reins in his own response to Forest.
As much as I value the insights of both Weber and Fisher, inspiring and articulate educators, I must respectfully disagree with both and, as much as it pains me to side with a politician, I agree with most of what Forest says in his YouTube attack on the CCSS.
Readers of my book, Role Reversal, know I'm staunchly agains standardization of any kind. While many of my esteemed colleagues at ASCDEDge blog about the merits of the Common Core, I am more than willing to be the stentorian voice against it. While it's easy to join the masses, who fall in line with the district administrators and state bureaucrats who praise the Common Core as the answer to failing American education, I simply can't join this fraternity.
My issues are simple enough.
1. Standardization of education is just wrong.This is exactly why parents take their children out of public schools. They want something different, inspiring and unique for their children.
2. I already collaborate with teachers nationwide. The notion that the Common Core makes it easier for teachers to collaborate is ludicrous and insulting. Some of my best ideas for instruction have come from attending conferences and chats on Twitter and other social networks with smart, experienced educators.
3. Politically-driven education initiatives put private companies in charge. Not to be too cynical, but it's difficult for me to see the Common Core as much more than opportunity for education publishers and consulting firms to make more money. For years, workbooks poured in to our classrooms, all designed to help our students pass "The Test." Now, they must be discarded. Ah, not to worry though. There are plenty of new "Master-the-Common Core" books on the way and many consultants showing veteran teachers how to teach with new standards. (That last sentence makes me nauseous.)
4. The old way wasn't broken. What money-hungry bureaucrats don't want people focusing on is the fact that prior to NCLB and CCSS, education was just fine. Teachers used to focus on helping students become thinkers and problem-solvers. They collaborated, graduated, went to college and flourished. Now, we teach students how to pass a test, yet scores continue to decline. I'm not sure how the Common Core will change this. Some say with depth and rigor; I've seen the standards, and I just don't see this.
5. The problem in education is poverty. As noted researcher Stephen Krashen has alluded to for decades, the problem in education is that poverty-stricken children don't value school, so they don't regularly attend. Remove the impoverished from test scores, and America leaps to the top in the world, at least using this misleading barometer. Sadly, instead of trying to end poverty, we continue to give billions of dollars to organizations like Pearson, so it can churn out more workbooks.
So, with due respect to my colleagues, brilliant people with good intentions, I am against the Common Core and all that it stands for.
Follow me on Twitter, where we can continue the conversation.
Mark's new book, Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom is available in the ASCD bookstore here.
Great Teachers Using Daniel Pink’s Method “The ABC’s of Selling”
While reading about Daniel Pink’s new book “To Sell Is Human” I ran across what he referred to as the ABC’s of Selling.
A -- Attunement
B -- Buoyancy
C -- Clarity
Daniel explained these three qualities are essential whether you're trying to sell a computer or encourage your child to do his or her homework. I began to think of how they could be related to education and our ability to engage and excite our students in the learning process and promote added student success. I believe we can draw some parallels.
According to Pink, Attunement is the capacity to take another’s perspective, to understand their interests, and to see the world from their point of view. This skill is necessary because teachers need to make a connection to their students. They need to take a step back and truly understand how the lesson or instruction they are providing is relevant to the student. More learning will take place when the lesson is important and relevant to the students. To accomplish this the great teachers must practice Attunement.
Next Pink touches on Buoyancy. This pertains to the capacity to stay afloat on what one salesman calls an "ocean of rejection." This skill is also very important in education. Teachers work so hard to plan and deliver great lessons, create formative opportunities, and collect summative data that tells them if the student accomplished their learning goals. When a student fails or learning does not take place teachers must show Buoyancy in their practice. They must overcome the rejection of having their students produce failing grades and possible low student morale. When this occurs, great teachers look at their instruction as a possible problem and wonder if they could have taught the lesson or unit better. They will then explore new ways of instructing students to success. They show Buoyancy by continuing to stay afloat among the various redo’s and remediation and their students will benefit and learn because of their hard work. Great teachers are all about student learning.
Finally, Pink tells us that we must find clarity in things. Pink explains that clarity is the capacity to make sense of murky situations, to curate information rather than merely access it, and to move from solving existing problems to finding hidden ones. Why is the student tardy? Why does the student not do his or her homework? Why do they show proper levels of understanding on all formative work only to fail the properly aligned summative assessment? Teachers must use clarity to look beyond the obvious and explore the root causes of the student’s behavior. Many times the students school and academic success or failures have very little to do with their ability to learn. These behaviors come about mainly because of the problems and challenges they face away from school. Great teachers can recognize and help to combat these issues with clarity.
All three of the skills Daniel Pink refers to in his book “To Sell Is Human” can be used by great teachers and great school leaders. In reality we are always selling our lessons, our programs, our schools, or ourselves.
Dr. Scott Rimes
I found this checklist offered as the next "best strategy" on Pinterest the other day. And while I do love easy to use, clear checklists, I pondered what the teacher was actually assessing.
Out of all of the items on this checklist for a "thoughtful" log entry, only one (no. 8) actually entails any assessment of thinking. Everything else is...mechanics.
Of course, you might say that mechanics was the goal of the assignment. However, the title "Thoughtful Log" seems to belie that possibility. While we're wringing our hands at kids not being able to think critically, we need to stop and make sure that the assessments and evaluations we have designed actually promote that thinking.
From a student's perspective, as long as I have complied with most every item, I will feel satisfied that I have done a good job. And you can bet I'm going to do the easy stuff, first.
For example, the ability to integrate evidence from the text with context is certainly a skill that students need. However, checking off that they've "got" the evidence doesn't push their thinking. Rather, the item should offer something along the lines of:
I've integrated evidence from the text (avoided a "dropped quote").
I've clearly and purposefully contextualized that evidence.
These two quick revisions ask more of the student. They can still use Yes/No on the list, but they carry far more of a punch, cognitively speaking.
Not to be outdone, I also came across this gem:
To be fair, this chart is identified as an elementary anchor chart for standard one in K-8 classrooms. Further, the use of the overarching question "How do [I] know?" is relevant and helpful.
Nonetheless, I have to wonder if it is absolutely necessary to have students use "said/says" when referring to text. Why can't we teach them a little bit earlier that text doesn't "talk"? Further, how difficult would it be to avoid having them write in past tense? Especially since the moment they hit high school, they have to use literary present?Consider the student who uses phrasing such as:
1. On page ___, the author writes..
2. The author argues/asserts/states/discusses...
3. The graphic shows/reflects/conveys...
4. An example of ___is...
5. I know that ____because...
One thing that's going to happen is the student will most likely be compelled to write more in-depth; literary present does that. Further, the student will be much more aware of the author's role, which is crucial in helping them make the step "up" in analysis.
Or maybe I'm just grumpy, today. What do you think?
Mirror Site: Joyful Collapse
Students aren’t the only ones in countdown mode—but once we’ve finally said our goodbyes, submitted grades and packed up the last of our personal belongings, we’re usually left with mixed emotions. Sure, we’ve been pining for a break, but there’s also a faint, lingering feeling of “Now what?” To help teachers decompress and find their footing after a long and successful year of teaching, we’re offering a list of 10 things every teacher should do at the end of the school year.
10 Things Every Teacher Should Do at the End of the School Year
1. Thinking about getting a head start on the fall curriculum? Not so fast. Take off your teacher cap for at least two weeks. Walking away often brings clarity, enthusiasm and a renewed sense of passion once you return.
2. We spend a lot of time at the dollar store during the year because it’s loaded with cheap stuff we can use in the classroom. The next time you’re there (or at any store for that matter) don’t drop a penny on anything for your classroom—don’t even look! Go about your business and stop thinking about your students!
3. Once you have some physical and emotional distance from the school year, take time to reflect on it. Ask yourself,
4. Set up a blog and tell your students (both past and future) about it. They’ll enjoy reading about your summer and seeing that you have a life outside of the classroom. If you’re looking for a free blogging platform, we recently started using Weebly: Not only is it free, but it’s one of the most user-friendly blogging platforms we’ve used yet.
5. Redefine professional development by taking a class that interests you. Maybe you teach math, but have a secret passion for ceramics. We see no conflict between art and science: Artists, like mathematicians, are problem solvers; they know how to improvise with raw materials, and look at their environment and their world in new and innovative ways. Both must be able to communicate, collaborate, think critically and approach their palate from perspectives other than their own. Go ahead and take that ceramics class and find a way to bring your new skillset into the classroom.
6. Take “guilty” out of guilty-pleasure reading. We know you’ve got a stack of books you should read this summer, but let them gather dust a while longer. Don’t let anyone judge you for reading Dean Koontz or gossip magazines. You earned it.
7. Join a community group with people that share your interests. If you don’t know where to start, stop by Meetup where you’ll find the world's largest network of local groups. There’s a group for just about any interest you could possibly conceive of.
8. Get coffee with a colleague you’d like to get to know better—or one you don’t get along with very well.
9. When you finally get your hands on the class list for the fall, give each student a call and introduce yourself—and don’t forget to tell them about your new blog!
10. Learn at least five new pieces of technology that you can bring into the classroom in the fall. We can help you get started with two of our free guides: Surfing for Substance I and Surfing for Substance II.
While many of you are planning for summer vacation, or may already be on summer vacation, remember to incorporate the 3R's!!!
Relaxation is oh so very important for us all. We are often bogged down with work and taking care of the family, and forgetting to take care of ourselves. That's a no no! You MUST absolutely take the time to relax by clearing your mind and doing something for yourself that would make YOU happy. As we all know, there is plenty of research to back up the claim of people being more productive when they take breaks and vacation/staycation.
This is imperative for an individual to grow. Many times we continue to conduct business as usual without taking time out to reflect on the work that we did, could do or could have done. Bottom line is, you will never be an effective educator or individual if you're not reflecting personally and professionally. I highly encourage you to take an adult development course if you haven't done so already. It will change your perspective on life, relationships, and self- awareness.
What's the point of reflecting if you're not revising, right? There's nothing wrong with change, when it's done for positive and effective reasons. Based on your reflections, you should be planning on how to make revisions to your work throughout the school year. I can't tell you how often I become sadened by educators who tell me they've used the same lesson plan for the last 5 years... YIKES! Year to year, students change, technology changes, expectations change, etc. Therefore your lessons and activities should change based on student needs. Revise not only your lesson plans and goals for students, but revise goals and expectations for yourself. After all, that might be your child sitting in that teacher's classroom one day.
Things that make you go hmmm.
For students, there are essentially two opening days every year: The first day of school and the first day of summer. In an earlier era, principals and students may have shared similar schedules, but according to a 2008 study by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, more than 70 percent of its members now have an 11 or 12-month contract. Those of you who are currently principals may find yourself envious of your predecessors: A half-century earlier, only 12 percent of principals worked year-round!
We know that a principal’s summer is a bustle of activity that includes anything from planning workshops, scheduling and recruiting to meeting new students and preparing for opening day in the fall. Before you dive into a new, but equally busy summer schedule, we want to offer a few tips to help you wind down the school year.
Winding-Down the Academic Year: 5 Tips for Principals
Send Your Senior Ambassadors on a Mission
Recall the day you crossed the border from middle school into high school. Even if you were one of the lucky ones who adjusted quickly, there was still a learning curve. Since many of your seniors end the academic year earlier than the rest of the school, most of them will be available to meet with future students who are finishing up their final days of middle school. Recruit your senior ambassadors and send them to a partnering middle school where they can speak with the same students who will be walking your hallways in the fall.
Don’t become complacent
When we were kids, often the last week of school was spent watching film strips and hanging out. We loved every minute of it, too. Looking back, of course, it’s easy to see that this was not a productive use of time. There may only be a few days left in the school year, but it’s important to maintain high expectations. Every day is an opportunity to learn. Expect teachers and students to use each day wisely.
Put that data to good use
You’ve spent the year collecting data about academic success, student attendance, college admittance, disciplinary actions, and student/faculty awards for excellence. You may not have reached all of your goals, but certainly your school has succeeded in noteworthy ways. Even if test scores aren’t in, take time to highlight other successes. Thank teachers for their effort and let them know that it paid off—you have the data to prove it.
Give yourself time to reflect
We can’t move forward without looking back. Take time for introspection: What did you learn about yourself this year? Where did you succeed? How have you changed? How have you grown? Reflect on these questions and write down your thoughts.
Introduce new faculty
If you’ve already hired new teachers or staff members, chances are they’ll be around the school throughout the summer, but most students won’t be. Instead of waiting until September, use the last week of school as an opportunity to welcome new teachers and introduce them to your school.
The position of education thought leader is not a job that someone applies for. There is no “thought leader certification”, nor is there a license required for the position. It is also not a job that one applies for. It is a title bestowed upon someone by other educators. For many years the quickest path to become an education thought leader was to become an author on an education topic. There were also speaker bureaus that would, for a fee, supply education thought leaders as inspirational, or keynote speakers at conferences or schools. Administrators attending large conferences would often return to their districts with the names of thought leaders that they had met or listened to for the purpose of bringing them into their own district to inspire or teach their faculty.
The process was fairly simple and understood by the people who controlled the policies and purse strings that secured the thought leaders for their speaking gigs. This was the way it was done for a long time until the computer slowly replaced the publishers’ self appointed position as the “determiner” of the thought leaders. The leaders group was not a large group, and very slow to grow. Consequently, it was possible to see the same thought leaders several times, not because he or she was outstanding and highly sought after, but available and affordable. The way to get to know the thought leader was to read the Speaker’s Bio in the program, and the author’s book.
Although some of that process is still in place, today’s thought leaders come to us from many different paths. Technology and social media has connected educators in ways and in numbers that were never before available to us. Educators are reaching out through social media and sharing their experiences and their ideas with other educators for examination, as well as their own reflection. The ideas of individuals are the focus of the collaboration, and not the titles or credentials of the contributors.
The author process for many educator thought leaders now often comes in reverse. After sharing ideas and gaining acceptance on a large scale through social media these educators are encouraged to become authors. It is now the masses of the social media that bestow the mantle of education thought leader. Technology can put up, for any individual brave enough to share it, an entire education philosophy in the form of a blog. It enables person-to-person contact for more in depth scrutiny. It has increased the number of education thought leaders, as well as the audience of educators they may affect.
This is now all part of 21st Century education. Educators are far more aware of self-publishing and branding. The understanding of the digital footprint has become part of digital literacy. Gone are the days when educators could select whether or not to be involved with technology and its advance. Being an educator today requires us to be exactly what we want for our students to be; life long learners. Technology provides the tools to stay relevant and connected with our Education Thought Leaders.
In a video posted on June 4, 2013, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest discussed the Common Core State Standards. It is apparent that he is both not a fan and that he has not fully investigated everything about them and the implications they may have on teachers, students, and the entire educational system in his short tenure. This is in response to my colleagueSteven Weber’s post about an Educator’s Perspective on the Common Core, specifically in relation to his state’s actions.
We need less extremism and polarizing missives and more opportunities for collegial dialogue and specific plans of action that are based on collaboration and agreed upon goals around whatever it is we decide to do as a country. These standards are a foundation, not the aspiration of all students. What we grow from them is the art of teaching. Having standards and maintaining them is the science of teaching. The Common Core does not dictate curriculum anymore than your blood pressure number dictates a course of appropriate action. They are a standard, a level of quality, a point of reference to a mean. What we do to attain them and what we do to grow beyond them are more essential questions than how do we get rid of them. Getting rid of them means going back to previous standards that will have the same arguments, for or against, as to why they are good or bad.
What follows is a breakdown of my analysis of his comments. I very much think the Common Core Standards are a good idea. For the first time in the history of our country, students in Wyoming and Nebraska and California and New York and North Carolina are being held to the same standards. Assessment data in our country will be less skewed than it is in other countries (who have national standards) and we are thinking specifically about what it is that prepares students for going to college or moving into a career after high school.
The rigor of the new standards is greater, yes. Much of the conversations I have about them push teachers and administrators out of years old comfort zones. I believe this is a good thing. I believe that most teachers want to improve their professional practice and this is a step in that direction.
Beyond the standards, specifically with new teacher evaluations tied to them and canned curricula being created around them, I believe that there are wrong things being done in the name of progress. The standards themselves, in my humble opinion, are not evil. The hurricane of “progress” around them is what people should be paying attention to and questioning and determining the usefulness and economic viability of.
What follows is not meant to be personal. We, as educators, have an obligation to both invite and engage in public discourse about what we believe is best for our kids. I have a kid in public school already and another one joining the ranks shortly. I want this to work. I want my kids prepared well for the world they will graduate into. I want to have no regrets on graduation night (if graduation the way we know it stays in place, in the traditional sense) that I did everything I could do as a parent and an educator.
That said, what follows is a discussion of the comments and assertions made by Dan Forest:
Dan begins his video by blaming the previous administration.
Besides being in poor taste, it is juvenile and reflects negatively on his professionalism as a state leader.
It’s not about what happened before he came into the office, it’s about what he will do to improve things now that he is in office. That improvement should build from where things are now, rather than wasting more money, time, and resources on dismantling everything up to this point and starting over.
The previous administration did what they thought was best; as he is expected to do while he is in office. He may disagree and he may act differently, but laying blame paints a portrait of him as a savior from years of oppression. While I know that some will buy this shtick, my hope is that most will see through this and evaluate his statements and his actions with a critical eye, and not be persuaded by his claims without further investigation.
He is concerned by new standards.
This is a strange statement. In all states, standards evolve and upgrade every few years.
Because they have national media attention, this version of the evolution and upgrade is problematic? This seems more like a fraternity of rejection to join rather than a real concern about what our kids need to know and be able to do.
He is concerned about local control and parental involvement with standards.
If the common core wasn’t there, how much local control existed (with End of Grade high stakes testing?) and how much parent involvement was there?
Parent involvement is a huge missing component of the Common Core. Teachers are expected to do the best with what they’ve got, but what they’ve got is oftentimes dependent on the environment from which their students come, rather than a function of how the educational experience truly impacts their learning. Until this is addressed, the entire teacher evaluation system is flawed.
I agree that upcoming new assessments are in part narrowing the curriculum and making testing a cash cow. These are functions of vendors interpreting the Common Core versus the standards themselves and states agreeing to give them exclusive contracts to spend their Race to the Top money.
Local control is a good thing when it works. I believe that districts have distinct understandings of their populations and the systems within which they function, but if they use that as a scapegoat or excuse to explain performances that should be better, it’s a problem.
Mr. Forest says, “Standardization runs counter to the customization of the world we live in.”
Except when you check your blood pressure or cholesterol?
The world we live in (technology wise) is increasingly based on Google and Facebook analytics that customize our web experiences by finding commonalities in the way we search for information and interact in the real world based on our “customized” searches. Ultimately, these companies, including Google, are looking for ways to streamline experiences and de-individualize user experiences for the sake of what’s easiest and most economical for the masses. That’s why Facebook tells us what all of our friends are doing. Our commonalities are more important than our individuality.
He said that technology and the learning experience can be customized to the needs of the individual.
See number 4.
Technology should be the new paper or pencil rather than something we plan for or customize. Sure, we can customize learning experiences, but at what expense? All of these customizations cost money and public institutions have an obligation to the masses and the money is divided among the total population of students.
That customization is great in theory, but economically, won’t work for most students.
This is said knowing full well what my own expectations are for technology immersion and the sometimes utopian ways I speak about it. However, what I may say in theory is always tempered with the reality of what schools are dealing with financially and what their infrastructures and technology capabilities are.
Also of note is the publication of the 2013 Horizon report, part of which focuses on Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). College and Career readiness is not only about independence with content knowledge but also valuing evidence, strategic and capable use of digital media and the Internet and strong communication and collaboration skills. These MOOCs are going to transform education in the very new future and change our notions of how we “do” education, the places, the time constructs, the demonstration of learning. We still need a framework of anchor standards, checkpoints from which to grow and sophisticate from one year to the next regardless of how school and learning is accessed.
He says that Common Core has not been field-tested.
Have previous iterations of evolved standards been field-tested?
The assessments that follow new iterations of standards usually re-inform instructional practice AFTER new standards have been put into place and are ultimately assessed a year or more after implementation.
He asserts that Testing standards have not been rolled out.
The General Item Specifications for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium were rolled out last April.
PARCC content frameworks have been available for 2 years. Additionally, many states have assessment guidelines that direct what any vendor, including Pearson, must consider for building new assessments. I found resources for assessment development in North Carolina on their website. And this one here for NC’s Next Generation Assessments. The process for developing new assessments are not going to be that much different—just set to new standards.
Sample assessment questions are also available from the PARCC website and multiple states have given access to sample questions on their state education websites: New York | Delaware | Other States
I am troubled with his questioning of the Common Core Standards themselves, rather than all of the hoopla around them.
Standardization is not bad: blood pressure, cholestorel, etc. He even uses a medical metaphor about launching a new drug without FDA approval—essentially, isn’t that what states do when they evolve standards and change curriculum or try new strategies that may or may not be researched based?
It’s not just Common Core, it’s every time the standards change. If you go back to previous state standards, aren’t you just going back to a previous version of what was “not vetted” and “not piloted?” (And without articulation of what was college and career ready?)
It takes time to implement anything new, navigating nuances, deciding what to cut or keep or create. What will be the cost in time, resources, money, and culture if the Common Core is ditched and we go back to what we used to do?
I think the more unconscionable acts are how the standards are the scapegoats for making decisions about what vendors deem to be “Common Core Aligned.” This could be curriculum materials, assessments, test prep materials—all things I think teachers are capable of creating well if given enough time.
The statement on Data Collection and what data will be collected and who the data will be shared with seems alarmist.
With all of the media attention from Opt Out organizations about the inBloom data product and the Data Driven frenzy that goes with the Common Core as a deliverable element, there is the need, for reporting and for teacher evaluations, to collect massive amounts of data on student performance. This is a function of the Race to the Top grant and states buy into this level of reporting. The amount of test data and the associated personal data is relative to individual states who are participating in Race to the Top but the data is not that much different, if at all different, than data that has been collected for the last two decades. Because of the backlash against associated elements with the Common Core, administrative leaders and those that are trying to undo the new system would have you believe that this data is a function of the times, when the truth is more along the lines “of same data, potentially new containment system.”
If that containment system is hosted on an internet based server, as it is with inBloom’s product (Amazon server) then there is the potential for the data being compromised or accessed by hackers and while there are multiple “what if” scenarios around the potential for compromised data and what could be done with it, I think the reality is that these are potential yet unlikely scenarios, as they are with our bank and credit card data. Breaches happen rarely and when they do, there is a quick scramble to re-secure the data as quickly as possible.
Mr. Forest says, “A third of the states in our country have either rejected Common Core or are seeking legislative action to back out of it.”
What evidence does he have for this statement? That’s a pretty strong claim to make without backing up with details.
While there is an occasional news tidbit about states that are considering giving the Race to the Top money back, a full third of the states participating in a collective mutiny seems like it would be more prominently discussed on the evening news.
Mr. Forest says, “I’ll be looking at the Common Core with a Critical Eye.”
What’s his background? What’s his level of expertise at looking at the standards and evaluating whether or not they are good for students? What’s so great about previous North Carolina standards, or any states’ standards that make them better, worse, or even with Common Core?
There has been a lot of good work done within the new standards framework. Teaching and learning have been upgraded to more rigorous levels that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Do we really want to go back to the way things were? Worksheets? Lectures? Resource/Textbook dependence? Computer lab Thursdays? (I hear that Oregon Trail software is pretty cool.)
It’s a little disconcerting to see political figureheads undo the Vision and Culture of education in a state where the teachers are under such intense pressure.
Would it not have been better to “look before he leaped” into a response until after he’d investigated?
Keeping people in turmoil seems more like a political strategy than an effective way to lead the state’s educational expectations. I hope that his constituents pay attention to what he is preparing to “undo” in order to “redo” around his own opinion.
A team/collaborative effort here is necessary. I don’t mean state level teams, I mean all stakeholders: state education, administrators, teachers, parents, and students.
I worked in North Carolina for years before moving to New York. What I’m saying here is representative of the fact that I have worked in multiple states around the Common Core standards and obviously, I'm a bigger fan of them than Mr. Forest. I’ve seen the positive changes that they’ve made in classrooms for both teachers and students.
When I think back to my time in North Carolina, there was always an emphasis on the End of Grade State tests. Teachers, at that time, and including me, had better ideas around what they’d always done and what curricular materials they used from year to year than the actual standards. It took me a while to un-marry myself from the materials and have a deep understanding of what the standards demanded my students know and are able to do. The Common Core, if nothing else, is helping teachers have intimate knowledge of the standards. North Carolina was one of the first states to break the standards down into actionable learning targets for the sake of helping teachers teach their students well.
I think the critical eye should focus less on the standards themselves and more on:
Ceasing expenditure of more money on curriculum materials until we have another year or two for publishers to have a better idea of what Common Core alignment means, particularly in terms of new assessments.
Time for teachers to work with the standards and plan for deeper instruction and assessment.
Building up infrastructures for Wi Fi and digital devices as always-available options for learning.
Looking at how we “do” school and thinking of divergent and creative ways to help students access and interact around their learning expectations both physically and virtually.
Ditching the mindset that what we’ve always done is still good enough. Growth comes from upgrading and reimagining what we know to be good, not sticking with the status quo. We’re preparing kids for 2025, and our schools should reflect that goal.
How do we do what must be done today to prepare kids for tomorrow? That’s our essential question. We’ve got a long way to go, for sure, and if not these Common Core standards, then what? How are we going to prepare our kids for the world they will graduate into, whether to go to college or to start their careers? How will we explain to our students tomorrow what our collective decisions are today? Now that we know better, we should do better.