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In a recent post, Personalizing Professional Development, I shared our plan to personalize an upcoming professional development day by having teachers indicate which target goal they wanted to focus on and what activities they would like to engage in to further their learning outcomes in that area. The experience proved largely successful and respectful of teacher autonomy and specialization. When we anonymously surveyed teachers to obtain their feedback, we were able to reflect on the effectiveness of the day and were even able to learn more about our individual team members. Here’s what we learned…
100% of teachers found the experience at least as enjoyable or more enjoyable than a more traditional professional development experience, with 85% of teachers reporting a more enjoyable experience. Many expressed gratitude for the ability to customize the day with comments such as this one: “Thank you so much for the opportunity to tailor the PD to our individual goals. The time allowed me to really focus and make progress on the goals I set earlier this year. It felt positive and productive.”
100% of teachers found the experience at least as valuable or more valuable than a more traditional PD day, with 78% of teachers indicating a more valuable outcome.
Preparation was key for the greatest outcome. One teacher shared the benefit of pre-planning, “I feel the planning for the day went well. We were able to meet prior to our trip off campus, allowing us to set goals for the day. We also met after the experience to discuss the experience and work on putting a plan in action” while another pointed to the need for more pto maximize the experience, “The only change to our experience could have been a little (30-minutes) pre-planning so we could have hit the ground running.”
Some teachers indicated the value of both types of experiences in reflections such as, “The reason I chose "about the same" is I think our PD's this year have been very good!” A few even suggested that having an option of a more traditional workshop as a learning path on a choice-based day would be helpful “in case plans fall through” or simply because they enjoy shared learning, “It would have been nice to have one topic/ article to discuss and learn together as a team.
As an leadership team, we are very grateful for the reflective feedback. It was clear that teachers put in a great deal of thought into their responses, and we plan on incorporating some of the great ideas into our next professional development day.
I’m inspired to continue searching for innovative, personalized approaches to professional development. It seems that the more validated people feel in their professional endeavors and the more opportunity they have to engage in meaningful, passion-based learning, the more invigorated about their profession they feel. For teachers, as winter endures and the year grows longer, energy is especially precious!
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedic play by William Shakespeare that chronicles two pairs of lovers: Benedick and Beatrice (the main couple), and Claudio and Hero (the secondary couple). By means of "nothing" (which sounds the same as "noting," and which is gossip, rumor, and overhearing), Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into rejecting Hero at the altar on the erroneous belief that she has been unfaithful. At the end, Benedick and Beatrice join forces to set things right, and the others join in a dance celebrating the marriages of the two couples. (Much Ado About Nothing. Captured from Wikipedia. February 28, 2014.)
What is currently taking place across the United States regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Much Ado About Something, does not bring to mind a comedy; rather, it brings to mind a tragedy. Before I continue, I must state that my post is not an “I’m on this side or I’m on that side” commentary. It is simply a personal and professional reflection based on working intimately with the CCSS and scores of teachers K-12 across this country and overseas coupled with what I have observed regarding those who are making “much ado”. My hope is that I mirror Benedick and Beatrice’s desire to set things right.
Whether it be politicians, parents, or people in educational circles commenting, I most-often hear them not making comments about the standards themselves – the basic, no-frills standard statements that convey what students need to know and be able to do. For example, let’s take a Reading Literature standard for Grade 7:
CCSS.RL.7.7 Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).
This standard, here as it appears in the CCSS ELA Progressive Continuums App I created to aid teachers in collaboratively designing systemic curriculum that uses italic font to represent learning from a previous grade or grades and boldfaced text to indicate new learning in a grade, speaks directly to 21st-century (modern) learners needing to not only become literary literate, but media literate as well, as my colleague, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, promotes in her new book, Mastering Media Literacy (Solution Tree, 2013).
Before one can compare and contrast, one must know these two literacy forms as stand alones, which generates interesting conversations with teachers I work with as we develop content and skills because they were not taught media literacy when they were growing up (even younger teachers). Our conversations usually result in the seventh-grade teachers realizing they need to become deep learners themselves to best design content and skills associated with media literacy. And, as you can visually see represented in the standard above, comparing and contrasting written works to media is in italics, which means this process and learning about media-based versions has been learned in at least one previous grade (actually, starts in Grade 4 and is expanded on in Grades 5 and 6). Therefore, not only do seventh-grade teachers say they need media-literacy professional development, but fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teachers share they want to be included as well.
Common Core State Standard RL.7.7 is not saying specifically what must be read, what must be watched, or what the focus must be when read and watched, which is what I find many unhappy-with-the-CCSS commentators are up in arms over (excuse the film pun). While myriad companies and non-profits have developed recommended reading/media lists, units of study, and lesson plans that “are align to” the CCSS, these resources are not the standards. These aligned documents, programs, textbooks, etc., are how tos (instruction and assessments) based on someone or some group’s interpretation of the standards. For example, based on this standard, groups can have a wildly different take on what is an appropriate text versus movie/staged production for seventh graders – one group choosing a very liberal text and film and another group select a very conservative text and staged production.
Regardless of the selections, it is not the standard that is making a selection, human beings are. If studied closely, standard RL.7.7 is asking students to be critical thinkers and reason deeply regarding the nuances in a selected text and audio-visual representation, which is exactly what 21st-century students need to be doing – critically thinking and problem solving as well as reasoning and providing text and media evidence for their claims (e.g., requirements also found in standards RL._.1, RI._.1, W._.1). And, if we are truly trying to engage learners and wanting them to own their own learning, how about allowing students to select the text and film or staged production they will analyze?
What I often find interesting is that if you ask someone who is knocking the CCSS (let’s say in reference to a unit of study that is for some reason “inappropriate”) to tell you specifically what standard or standards he or she does not like (e.g., W.7.1a. Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.), the person will hem and haw and can’t state the standard. And, when shown the aligned standard he or she most often comments that the standard is fine, it is the reading or film selection, the activity, or assessment item or task that is not liked. Evidence once again that it is not the standards themselves that is truly the concern.
With this said, I need to make one comment at this juncture: the CCSS are not perfect. There are definitely some flawed standard statements, but the flaws are minimal when compared to the total number of CCSS K-12.
The bashing or knocking of the CCSS, which is getting louder in some states with each passing month, is frustrating to me as a curriculum-design consultant who has worked extensively with the CCSS since they were in draft form and officially adopted in 2010. I know the standards inside and out from Kindergarten to Grade 12. I have spent hundreds of hours of meaningful conversations with teachers concerning the vertically articulated standards. These teachers care passionately about their students’ learning as they develop collaborative, systemic curriculum.
My passion and work has been, and will continue to be, dedicated to aiding teachers in designing curriculum maps with the students’ best interests in mind. The CCSS are our curriculum-design building “codes”, much as an architect uses codes to design blueprints, which Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Jay McTighe, and others have used as an analogy for many years. For the first time ever the largest number of independent United States have chosen to have the same building codes. This does not mean that each state, district, or school has to build the exact same home – one can choose to design a modern two-story, another a log cabin, another a green home, and another a ranch-style hacienda. The point here is that the infrastructure of the home design remains the same regardless of where the home is built. I grew up in the military and lived around the world before I was 15 years old. Today, given our ever-growing mobile society, chances of having a similar (and thankfully not exact) blueprint-based curriculum for a K-12 education is better than it ever was when I was in my formative years.
Academic standards are not the curriculum (Concept-based curriculum and instruction for the thinking classroom. Erickson. Sage, 2007. p.48). I whole-heartedly believe this is true. And while it absolutely takes time and commitment to develop a worthwhile systemic curriculum (oftentimes two to three years to fully develop and implement), I remind myself and others that curriculum mapping is a verb and the deep conversations and collaborations across grade levels immediately impact student in positive ways through teachers who are reconsidering the learning, teaching, and assessments while embracing what is new in the CCSS content and process standards. This immediate and on-going process validates why I have been involved in this specific field of work for over 15 years. Designing CCSS-based curriculum involves a two-phase process: studying and breaking apart the standards systemically to first develop learning based solely on what the standards (and critical ancillary documents, such as the CCSS Math Progressions) explicitly and implicitly require; and secondly, develop meaningful units of study that combine the learning, teaching, and assessment tasks based on a current program or encouraging teachers to create their own program.
Well, I may have not set things right, but hopefully a little bit right, in that it is not the CCSS themselves that are the problem; instead, it is CCSS-based interpretations made in the form of instructional choices and assessment practices, as well as one area I chose not to get into here: teacher evaluations.
As I previously mentioned, I will continue to work diligently with districts and schools who have a like passion – looking collaboratively and critically at the CCSS and systemically designing curriculum that aids their students in experiencing meaningful learning journeys K-12+.
I keep reading the “dreadful” news that American students don’t compare well to students in many other countries on test scores, that our scores are woefully behind students in other countries, and that our students are not being prepared for the future as compared with students in other countries!
I find this a strange way to think about America’s educational system. In other spheres, we rarely compare ourselves to others. Is our medical system as good as others? Of course! We think of ourselves as unique and the best in the world in developing and using technology! We tend to think of ourselves as “special” and “different” in most areas, and make very few comparisons to other countries. We generally look at our own strengths and problems as a way of making judgments about how well we are doing. We most often find our own unique solutions to the problems that we face.
In this context, how should teachers, educational leaders, parents, and the general public think about American education? Should we all use a single set of standardized tests to compare ourselves to others at home and throughout the world? Or should we develop a unique concept of American education focused around American ideas, values and strengths? If we were to consider the “specialness” of America, its unique qualities, and build an educational system around those areas, what would it look like? How do we make our educational system “fit” with our unique qualities? What would we expect from teachers and our leaders? How would we know if we were succeeding?
Let’s take a stab at it. Here is my list of many of the unique qualities of American society and what I think are the implications of these strengths for building a strong American education system:
The importance of knowledge and “understanding”. From its beginnings, knowledge and understanding have been a critical part of American society. Benjamin Franklin set a high standard in developing, disseminating, and searching for knowledge and understanding. The American system of mass education for all Americans assumed that it was important for everyone to become literate and build a basic knowledge base. Andrew Carnegie promoted the development of public libraries so all could have access to knowledge and information.
Educational Implications. Access to and a focus on broad-based knowledge and understanding for all Americans should be an overall goal of American education. In today’s “knowledge explosion” world, a significant knowledge base should be coupled with the lifelong learning skills that will enable all Americans to continually learn and grow in their knowledge, information, and understanding.
Constitutional government around democratic values. The development of American democratic values – separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, one man, one vote – are one of the most unique characteristics of American society. We take these rights seriously and have over many years developed strengthened and improved them.
Educational Implications: A primary educational goal in today’s world is to insure that all our students understand the Constitution, its development, and its role in American society. All students should understand the conflicts that developed around it, changes and adaptations that have been made, related court cases, and its primary role in American society today.
Active Citizenship. A corollary to Constitutional government and democratic values is the role Americans play in the American political system. Americans today rarely sit back and accept government’s role in American society at any level. We tend to keep up with issues and problems and form strong opinions about what should be done (or not done) to solve them. We join a variety of groups and organizations dedicated to actively pursuing what we believe in – from environmental protection laws to a strong military. We actively engage in improving government, and expect a certain amount of honesty and competence among our government officials. We also expect basic services – safety, road repairs, security, and the like – to be provided efficiently.
Educational Implications: When studying American history, students should learn how in all eras a variety of individuals, groups and organizations promoted different causes and advocated for governmental policies to support them. Through a strong current events program, students should have the opportunity to continually examine and analyze the many issues that confront us today. Students in their high school years should be encouraged to become involved in causes that they believe in, discuss and write about their diverse views, debate issues that face us, and listen to, read about, and analyze the varied views and arguments of others.
Pragmatic problem solving. America has always been a land that has prided itself on pragmatic, practical problem solving. This “roll up your sleeves” characteristic began with the Colonists, was demonstrated when the Constitution was written, and is an important value throughout American history. Today it can be seen in the way businesses collect data and solve problems[i]. While our National government today is more ideological and less pragmatic, pragmatic government has always been an important thread running through governmental policies. Even FDR’s New Deal consisted of a lot of very pragmatic efforts by government to solve the problems of the Depression!
Educational Implications: Students should practice pragmatic problem solving in order to develop alternative solutions to the issues that face us. Developing classroom rules is one way. Conducting interviews to collect data is another. Conducting scientific experiments and building scientific problem solving skills is another. Providing students with authentic performance tasks that require hands on problem solving is also an excellent way to promote these skills.
Upward mobility, success, a better life. The Declaration of Independence focused on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as an ideal for all Americans. Millions of Americans came to America’s shores to search for a new life free from persecution and filled with opportunity. Education has always been one of the most significant vehicles for reaching the “American dream” and for upward mobility.
Educational Implications: “Equal opportunity” education as a route to “success” and achievement has played and today plays a very important role in American society. Schools are asked to create a culture of high and challenging expectations, share knowledge and information, and develop skills and attitudes that will help to improve the lives of Americans and develop individual talents and interests.
This means that we should commit ourselves to insuring that ALL schools – urban, suburban, rural – should provide quality services that include a full and complete curriculum in all subject areas, small class sizes, up to date technology, strong extra curricular programs, quality professional and curricular development, counselors and libraries, and so on. Additional services should also be available in those areas with high poverty levels and strong needs.
Individual development, growth and responsibility
America values individuals who take personal responsibility for their lives! We admire individuals who overcome obstacles, work hard, continue to improve and learn, don’t give up on themselves. We expect people to persist, show “grit” and determination, and overcome failure. We support the idea that everyone should have the opportunity to develop individual talents and strengths, and encourage difference among students.
Educational Implications: Schools should figure out ways to help students develop individual personal responsibility over time. Helping students learn to be persistent, learn from failure, stay on track, and see effort as important for success should be an important part of the curriculum at all levels, especially in those areas where children need this type of help and support. Students should have the opportunity to participate in multiple types of experiences that enable them to discover and develop their interests and talents.
Invention and creativity
America has always been a society that supported new ideas, innovation, and creative thinking. Americans invented a whole new way of thinking about government in the formation of its Constitution. Consider just the latest manifestations of this thinking – social media options, the desktop computer, mp3 players, tablets, search engines, hybrid and electric cars, solar energy, just name a few.
Educational Implications: Schools should be places where students learn to think creatively, come up with original solutions to problems, invent. Special elective courses might be developed that examine the role that invention, innovation, and creativity played and plays in American society. Students at all levels might learn creative problem solving strategies and techniques. Project based learning strategies might be used to encourage students to solve problems creatively.
The promise of science and technology
Throughout American history, science and technology have been thought of as a way to improve people’s lives. Science and technology achievements have dramatically changed our lives for the better, and will probably continue to do so in the future. Agricultural science thrived in rural America and paved the way for huge increases in crop yields, better water management, and so on. Inventions such as the cotton gin, the electric light bulb, the steam engine, and mass production techniques were critical to the prosperity and improvements in American society. Nobel prizes are regularly bestowed on America’s scientists.
Educational Implications: Science and technology should play a much greater role in educating American students. Strong high quality programs in these areas should begin in pre-school and include an understanding of the scientific method, core concepts and theories in science and the evidence that supports them, involvement in science competitions, and opportunities to creatively think about scientific and technical achievements. A big push should be to integrate science and technology with math and engineering throughout the curriculum, as in the STEM subjects
American artisans, from individual craftsmen to the design and building of the Model-T ford, have been a stalwart factor in American society.
Educational Implications: “Craftsmanship” should be emphasized in American schools. Craftsmanship is not doing well on tests – rather, it is focused on high performance levels, whether it be for writing an essay, participating in a discussion, creating a mural, doing a presentation, or acting in a play. [ii]
Tolerance for diversity, difference, pluralism.
One of America’s unique strengths is its continuous movement towards greater tolerance, diversity and respect for difference. Hard work and effort by many courageous Americans has resulted in the collapse of slavery, the significant reduction of anti-semitic, ethnic and racial prejudice, increased civil rights, and the movement for gay and lesbian rights.
Educational Implications: With the world’s boundaries shrinking through instant worldwide communication, global travel, global trade and multicultural corporations, educational programs that explore cultural diversity and tolerance both within and outside of America are important for living in a multicultural world. Student self-development programs that promote tolerance and reduce prejudice towards others should also be a critical part of the educational experience.
Competition and Collaboration
Both competition and collaboration are important values in American society. Competition is at the heart of the American capitalist system, and our competitive economic system has created products of excellence at relatively low cost. Collaboration is also important, especially within corporations and businesses, in order to bring together the best minds to maintain and develop economic success.
Educational implications: Our educational culture should support both competition among students to be the best, as well as cooperative ways to learn and grow together.
Voluntary service to others.
CNN has created a process to discover and share information about “heroes” that provide voluntary service to others; this yearlong process, culminating in a two hour program rewarding the ten best “heroes” for their work, correlates closely with American values. Many Americans freely give both their money and their services to help others – this is part of the great American tradition.
Educational implications: Schools should promote this American value by organizing opportunities for students to provide community service to others, and to learn from their service. Many schools already have community service opportunities for their students.
What teachers, schools and districts can do…
When education is based on America’s unique qualities, values and strengths, a paradigm very different from one based on improving standardized test scores emerges. Based on these qualities, here are some things that teachers, schools and districts can do:
We need to begin to measure our success in educating our young by how well we implement educational practices and programs based on America’s unique qualities and strengths, not by comparing American student’s standardized tests scores against other country’s scores. Teachers, schools and the outside community can judge success by how well students “understand” and apply content, read widely, write and communicate well, learn how to do research and problem solve, develop an understanding of American democracy and what it means to be a good citizen, learn about current American and world-wide issues and challenges, become interested and engaged in STEM subjects, think creatively, develop an interest in many activities and their talents through participation in both core and extra-curricular programs, complete high quality work, develop individual responsibility traits, volunteer for community service, and so on.
These criteria suggest that individual schools, teachers, and educational leaders might want to think differently about what makes for successful educational experiences, and build alternative activities and programs into classrooms and schools to support American excellence. They also suggest that governmental policies, built around standardized test scores, are currently headed us in a very limiting and wrong direction as we try to improve education and prepare our students for living a 21st century world. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go in creating an educational system that builds on what is unique about and important to American society, and in using appropriate assessments to judge when education is successful.
[i] For example, see a recent article in the New York Times, February 15, 2014, Intel’s Sharp-Eyed Social Scientist, that examines how Intel fosters research and collects data for improving product development.
[ii] For further insights into the role of craftsmanship in American education, see Ron Berger (2003), An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann publishers.
Elliott Seif is a long time educator, Understanding by Design trainer, author, consultant, and former Professor of Education at Temple University. Many of his commentaries can be found on ASCD Edge. If you are interested in further examining ways to improve teaching and learning and help to prepare students to live in a 21st century world, go to his website: www.era3learning.org
This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do we cultivate and support teacher leaders?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
Teacher leadership is the topic of ASCD's ASCD Forum this year. When I think about the question 'how can teacher leaders be utilized', I offer the response 'how can they NOT be utilized?' Truly, as a principal in a building with no Assistant Principal, my teacher leaders are vital in school improvement.
I have heard many administrators (both as a former teacher and as a current administrator) say to teachers something like "the train is leaving the station... You should climb onboard or get left behind." The truth is that your teacher leaders determine how many train tickets you sell as the conductor. Teacher leaders can help folks understand how to board the train, how the train operates, what its passengers are like and even whether they want to board the train.
In short, teacher leaders sell your school. They sell the school to new hires, interviewees, parents, substitutes and even your students. Some days, I think my teacher leaders are more important than I am. Don't get me wrong... Strong leadership is fundamental to school improvement. But teacher leaders who believe in you and your vision can accelerate efforts, and those who don't can decelerate the change process tremendously.
Todd Whitaker says that we should base most decisions on our best teachers. I believe that one of the most powerful ways to utilize teacher leaders is to help cultivate change in teachers who may need guidance in the improvement process. For more on that, please check out my article in this month's ASCD Express, Turning Resistant Teachers into Resilient Teachers at http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol9/910-toc.aspx?utm_source=ascdexpress&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=express910
ASCD Emerging Leader 2012
9. But this is Social Media. I'm afraid to post. Yes it is Social Media (SM) but a rule of thumb is this, anything you post whether it's on Twitter, Facebook or a blog or a comment on a blog is a footprint. Just think of it this way, do I want my parents of students, staff and my family reading this, then you will be safe. Also, be kind - it is okay to agree to disagree in chats, but we are here to learn. Be nice. Diane Ravitch has a great post about posting comments on her blog. Rules to follow! Edutopia has a great page about creating Social Media guidelines here: http://www.edutopia.org/how-to-create-social-media-guidelines-school
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Action Items for ASCD Leaders
ASCD Nominations Committee Selects Candidates for ASCD Board of Directors
In January 2014, the 2014 ASCD Nominations Committee selected five candidates to run for two open positions on the Board of Directors in the next General Membership Election. Those five individuals are Tony Frontier (Wisc.), Josh Garcia (Wash.), Patrick Miller (N.C.), Lorraine Ringrose (Alberta, Canada), and Anne Roloff (Ill.). The election process will open on April 1 and will run through May 15.
ASCD Releases 2014 Legislative Agenda
The key priority for ASCD in 2014 is to promote multimetric accountability so that standardized test scores are not the sole measure of student achievement, educator effectiveness, or school quality. Multimetric accountability systems must
The 2014 Legislative Agenda (PDF) contains four policy recommendations:
ASCD Educators Connect the Classroom to the Capitol
Educators throughout the United States recently convened in Washington, D.C., to attend ASCD’s legislative conference, the Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy (LILA). Attendees had the opportunity to meaningfully network with colleagues, build knowledge to expand their personal influence, and hear from top education thought leaders including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who urged attendees to “seize the day.” Duncan also commended ASCD and its members for “walking the walk when it comes to professional development,” helping classroom teachers and schools leaders commit to a “rich, well-rounded, rigorous education.”
If you were unable to attend this year, see LILA’s storify collection—which brings together your colleagues’ pictures, tweets, and reflections. ASCD Emerging Leader alum Hannah Gbenro also shared her reflections in an ASCD EDge® post Educational Advocacy: Why and How.
Other conference highlights:
Access follow-up resources from the conference, including more detailed policy recommendations and an overview of the legislative agenda.
ASCD Emerging Leader is Facilitator of New Professional Interest Community
Congratulations to ASCD Emerging Leader Jill Thompson, facilitator of ASCD’s newest Professional Interest Community on the topic of personalized learning. Please join the Personalized Learning group on the ASCD EDge platform to stay connected on this important topic.
Join the ASCD Forum Conversation on Teacher Leadership
The ASCD Forum is the chance for educators to make their voices heard on a topic of worldwide importance. From January 15 to April 11, ASCD invites all educators to explore the question through online and face-to-face discourse, “How do we cultivate and support teacher leaders?”
To learn more about the ASCD Forum:
To join the conversation:
Join the ASCD EDge® group and respond to the comments from other educators.
Read and comment on these blog posts:
Follow the conversation on Twitter at #ASCDForum.
Write your own blog post on the topic of teacher leadership. Here’s how.
Join us at ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles at session #2124 hosted by ASCD President Becky Berg on Sunday, March 16, 8:00–9:30 a.m. pacific time.
As the most active leaders in the association, you are integral to the success of this conversation. Your leadership helps set an example for others to make their voices heard. Please join the discussion on teacher leadership!
ASCD Leader Voices
ASCD Releases 2014 PD Online® Course Catalog for K–12 Educators—ASCD announced the release of the 2014 PD Online course catalog. The new catalog offers more than 100 user-friendly courses developed by ASCD authors and experts available anytime, anywhere to educators, including 21 new PD Online courses. PD Online courses are developed to help educators increase their knowledge and discover best practice methods. Read the full press release.
ASCD Announces Expanded On-Site and Blended Professional Learning Services Offerings—ASCD announced the new ASCD Professional Learning Services, enabling more school districts nationwide to receive greater customized professional development from the association. The ASCD Professional Learning Services offerings are customizable based on the needs of a district or school and are available in on-site or blended solutions. Read the full press release. Read the full press release.
2014 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show Set to Host Sessions Focused on Technology, Leadership, Common Core Implementation, and More—ASCD announced the full schedule of events for the upcoming 69th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. The upcoming conference will be held March 15–17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, Calif. Attendees will learn ideas and best-practice strategies that drive student achievement while unlocking ways to boost teacher and leadership effectiveness. Read the full press release.
ASCD Releases Four New Professional Development Publications to Transform Learning—ASCD announced the release of four new professional development titles for educators. As educators face new standards and classroom challenges, they will find solutions for prioritizing school improvement efforts, working with difficult students, bringing joy into teaching and learning, and teaching vocabulary effectively in these new professional development publications. Read the full press release.
ASCD Brings Spring and Summer Common Core Professional Development Institutes to New Cities in 2014—ASCD announced the lineup of one- and two-day Professional Development Institutes for the spring and summer. Expanding to eight new cities, ASCD’s institutes are designed to provide greater support to educators nationwide as they continue to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), while meeting educators where they are. Read the full press release.
ASCD Releases 2014 Legislative Agenda, Calls for Increased Multimetric Accountability—ASCD released its 2014 Legislative Agenda on Monday, January 27th, at the association’s Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy in Washington, D.C. Developed by the association’s Legislative Committee—a diverse cross section of ASCD members representing the entire spectrum of K–12 education—the 2014 ASCD Legislative Agenda outlines the association’s federal policy priorities for the year. Read the full press release.
I recall seeing a recent Facebook post by ASCD asking teachers to finish the sentence: Professional development should be…. Not surprisingly, relevant and personalized were top responses. At some point, each of us has sat through a well-intentioned and/or even brilliant PD experience wondering, What does this have to do with me and when can I get back to work?
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Teacher Leaders are critical to the success of a school. Recently, I wrote about some of the examples of teacher leadership (Weber, ASCD SmartBrief) I observe in our school each day. A teacher leader does not need to have superhuman power or be a leader in all areas of the school. As a matter of fact, I believe that some teachers shy away from leadership roles because they feel like the principal will ask them to serve on every committee and create professional development for early release days. Let's look at some of the ways a teacher can serve as a teacher leader.
Early Childhood Advocate
Formative Assessment Queen
Gifted Education Advocate
High School Readiness Guru
Joker and Morale Booster
Key Skills and Concepts Identifer
Local Education Agency (LEA) Representative
Online Learning Facilitator
PTA Teacher Representative
Quality Assurance Team Leader
Response to Intervention Grade Level Representative
School Improvement Team Chair
Technology Integration Coach
Understanding by Design Coach
Virtual Professional Development Provider
XYZ.......Well, those letters are a little bit more difficult. If you can find teacher leaders to fill A-W, then I am sure X, Y, and Z can be filled by someone else in the school.
Teacher Leadership is a term that is thrown around by teachers, administrators, and central office staff. In the early 1990's, educational leadership was viewed as the principal, assistant principal, department chairs or grade-level chairs, and the school improvement team chair. Today, several schools operate as a professional learning community. In a high-functioning professional learning community, it does not matter who receives the credit. Implementing the Common Core State Standards, preparing more students than ever before for college and careers, and integrating technology with multiple devices will require strong leadership from school administrators and teacher leaders.
Teacher leaders play multiple roles in a school and they serve in leadership positions outside the school. Harrison and Killion (2007) described ten roles for teacher leaders in Educational Leadership. Teacher leadership is the fuel that drives high-performing schools. Who are the teacher leaders in your school? How can you leverage the existing leaders and multiply teacher leaders, rather than adding followers?
This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do we cultivate and support teacher leaders?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
New York Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson told the media he was "the straw that stirs the drink." As a principal, I feel the same way about teacher leaders. A teacher leader provides coaching, feedback, professional development, new ideas, professionalism, and more! I don't rely on one or two teacher leaders. As a leader, I try to develop new teacher leaders and I encourage our existing teacher leaders to do the same. School improvement is not a solo act.
3 Ways Teacher Leaders Support School Improvement
360 Degree Leadership
Teachers and administrators who want to understand the importance of teacher leadership should read The 360 Degree Leader (Weber, ASCD EDge). Maxwell (2005) wrote, "the reality is that most people will never be the top leader in an organization. They will spend their careers somewhere in the middle" (p. 17). Leadership author John Maxwell describes how [teacher] leaders can use their experience and voice to influence school board policy, curriculum development, vertical alignment, school planning, and important decisions made at the building level. Who are the 360 Degree Leaders in your school?
A teacher leader is a mentor to other teachers. This person sees leadership as a way to add value to others. When a younger teacher has a difficult parent-teacher conference, the teacher leader is there to offer support and listen to her colleague. A teacher leader also encourages professional development and growth through serving as a role model and lifelong learner. Unlike a teacher who closes the door and focuses on "my students and my classroom," the teacher leader reminds staff that great schools focus on "our students and our school." The Center for Creative Leadership has a video which highlights the importance of the Mentor Leader (also described in a book with the same title, written by former NFL Coach Tony Dungy). Leaders Develop Leaders outlines five questions to consider as you begin to develop leaders (Weber, ASCD Whole Child).
Inner Circle Leadership
As a principal, you need to have an Inner Circle. In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (1998), Maxwell described The Law of the Inner Circle. The Law of the Inner Circle states, “A persons potential is determined by those closest to him.” In some schools, this group of teacher leaders serve on the School Improvement Team. Sometimes, the inner circle consists of a group of individuals who carry out the role without a title or committee. If you are a school administrator, you cannot lead alone. You need the input and feedback from one or more teacher leaders.
If you have this type of teacher leader in your organization, then you will see his/her impact throughout the school. Teacher leaders are critical to a school’s success. The principal who tries to lead without teacher leaders will fail.
Who are the teacher leaders in your building? What are you doing to develop teacher leaders? What are you doing to help leaders grow? “Teacher leaders are most often the missing piece of education reform” (Ratzel, 2012). If you don’t have teacher leaders in these roles, there may be one or more teachers waiting for you to recognize their talents. Maxwell (2008) wrote, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I would argue that everything rises and falls on Teacher Leadership.
1. The School Learning Environment
2. The Student’s Peer Community and their own beliefs about learning
3. The Parental / Family Community
Schools tend to spend most of their time, money and energy working on the School-Student leg. Most of the professional development done in schools is based on pedagogy, curriculum or elements of student well-being and engagement. This is understandable as the people who are employed within the school need to be within a professional learning community that has a major focus on developing their capacity to do their job.
However there is a high leverage aspect leg of a student learning community that I believe that schools don’t do enough to empower and develop – the parental / family community. As a parent of two school aged children – one at primary school and one at high school - and an educational consultant who works with schools to improve their planning and learning environments, I find myself quite challenged by the way that parents are related to by schools. I find that there is, quite often, very little guidance from the school to be able to support my children in their learning.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - the organisers of the PISA tests used to compare education across countries – performed in-depth research on the factors underlying student performance within each country. What they found was the power of parental involvement in a child’s achievement.
“even when comparing students of similar socioeconomic backgrounds, those students whose parents regularly read books to them when they were in the first year of primary school score 14 points higher, on average, than students whose parents did not.”
As Franklin Schargel, a noted educator and expert in the area of school engagement, pointed out … it is the little things that parents do that makes a difference to student achievement. For example:
· Parents reading to and with their children
· Parents asking their child how their school day was and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring
· Parents telling stories to their children (not from books but from the life of the parent)
· Parents sharing about their day
· Monitoring homework
· Making sure children get to school
· Rewarding their efforts and talking up the idea of going to university
As Franklin reports, the OECD study found that “getting parents involved with their children’s learning at home is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending school board meetings, volunteering in classrooms, participating in fund-raising, and showing up at back-to-school nights. “
As teachers have shared with me, their experience shows that the mindset that a child has to learning is driven by the parents. If a parent had a poor experience of school as they grew up then it is likely they will pass on that mindset to their children. If the parents’ value education as a tool for learning and development then it is likely the norm that the child will come to develop will value education. It isn’t surprising that the higher the educational level the parents have attained the greater they value education.
So how can you support and encourage parental involvement in their child’s learning at home? Perhaps asking yourself that question as a teacher community within your school is the first stage. If you are aware of each child’s stage of development then there might be suggestions you can make to the parents on how they can support their child best. Perhaps:
· When / if you send homework home with the child you put a short couple of paragraphs to the parent on how they can support their child best to achieve the goals of the homework.
· Recommend that the parents not do the homework themselves (helicopter parents tend to do this) but what could be the factors and suggestions that might make the biggest difference to the child moving forward and grappling with the learning themselves.
· Provide clear learning intentions, success criteria and formative rubrics in work sent home for the child to do
· In the school newsletters continually provide short informative articles or guides for parents about learning. The default understanding about schools and learning for most parents is what they experienced. The more you can provide something for parents to read and grow as learners themselves the more it will make a difference.
· Invite parents to their child’s culminating events for rich learning tasks within the school
· Organise experts to come and talk to parents about aspects of child development or even recommend to parents to subscribe to the newsletters of people like Michael Grose (positive parenting), Barry McDonald (mentoring boys), Kathy Walker (play based and personalised learning), or even Intuyu Consulting amongst the many other educational providers.
· I have seen one school in a low socioeconomic area even organise sponsorship from a large book provider (e.g. Scholastic) so that they can send books home with children that they can keep and build up a library at home.
For more reading and research on this topic:
· Untapped Resource? Engaging Parents in the Learning Process (this article has some great ideas and links in the comment section)
I know that it is unlikely that the majority of parents have a similar attitude to learning as we do but I believe it is worth schools paying attention to how they can support parents better to be their own children’s learning partners. The more that schools build strong, learning partner relationships with parents the more they become involved. If we are to create a society that values life-long learning and encourages human beings who connect, and grow, and adapt to an every changing world, then we do need to spend the effort and time to empower everyone involved.
This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do we cultivate and support teacher leaders?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
I find myself at a stage in my career as a 3rd grade teacher where others are looking to me as a leader. Yikes!! To be perfectly honest, I'm still not convinced I'm any such thing. Seriously... between my shyness, anxiety and fear of conflict, there are many reasons I feel I don't even come close to fitting the description of a Teacher Leader. Even though I have a bunch of "followers", I'm not always sure where our little traveling party is headed... I need a map!
In a couple weeks, I'll be heading off to Snowbird, Utah for the Gates Foundation's ECET2 (Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers) Convening. The invitation reads: "The goal of ECET² is to celebrate effective teachers and to build a strong network of teacher leaders working together to elevate our practice and profession." I'm signed up for workshops to help me develop my skills (and confidence?) as a leader, with the expectation I will bring my enthusiasm back to my district. I am honored to be invited, and more than willing to step up to the plate and figure out where I fit in the whole "leadership scheme".
There is one thing I am sure of, walking into this experience... to feel like a leader, we must remain focused on our passions. My passions run the gamut from technology integration to Common Core implementation. However, the more I've listened to teachers? The more i realize the common denominator for me is Effective Professional Development. In order to integrate technology or implement curriculum, teachers need varied opportunities for engageing professional development. Moving forward, the map for my learning and development as a leader will be viewed from that perspective.
If time is one of the most valuable resources we have when it comes to supporting teachers for effective student learning, we cannot afford to waste a single minute, right?
This is the inside of the Custom House clock in Boston, MA. Time, from a different perspective… Photo by @SimplySuzy
From January 16 to April 11, ASCD invites you and your fellow educators around the world to focus on the topic, “How do we cultivate and support teacher leaders?”
This ASCD Forum discussion is an educator-driven conversation designed to give educators all over the world a voice on an important education topic, whether it’s online or face-to-face. For us (and we hope you agree), a discussion of teacher leadership goes to the heart of what it means to be an educator, the career potential of teachers, and elements of professional development essential to support aspiring leaders. In addition, the first-hand perspective of school administrators will be especially valuable in this discussion about the benefits of teacher leaders in relation to student, staff, and school improvement efforts.
Questions for Discussion
You are encouraged to join the conversation by addressing one of the questions below or addressing the topic of teacher leadership in your own way:
More discussion questions are listed on the ASCD Forum homepage at www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
How it Works
There are several ways to join the discussion:
ASCD EDge® social networking platform: ASCD invites you to join the ASCD Forum group on ASCD EDge and write one or more blog posts on teacher leadership, which may or may not address the discussion questions above. We ask that blog posts adhere to the following guidelines:
This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do cultivate and support teacher leaders?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
Continue the conversation: We invite you to comment in the ASCD Forum group to help us cultivate a deep and comprehensive conversation on teacher leadership.
Follow the conversation on Twitter with the #ASCDForum hashtag.
Join us for the face-to-face session (#2124) hosted by ASCD President Becky Berg at Annual Conference on Sunday, March 16, from 8:00-9:30 a.m. in Los Angeles, Calif.
The ASCD Forum can only succeed with widespread participation from educators all over the globe. Your voice is the content, and your participation drives the conversation forward. Please join us: we can’t do this without you.
Questions? E-mail email@example.com or find me on Twitter @megkcohen.
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-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. Copyright 2013 by ASCD. All Rights Reserved.
Action Items for ASCD Leaders
ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative Has a New Twitter Handle
ASCD's Whole Child Initiative switched its official Twitter handle to @WholeChildASCD. Themore than 15,000 followers of the old @WholeChildAdv do not have to do anything to keep following the initiative’s Twitter account; current followers have automatically been moved to the new handle. In addition, individuals trying to contact ASCD under the old account will be directed to the new Twitter handle: @WholeChildASCD. The initiative encourages whole child enthusiasts to follow the new handle to stay up-to-date on whole child issues and partner activities. Anyone who has questions about the twitter handle should contact Kristen Pekarek, ASCD’s whole child project coordinator.
Sign on to the Global School Health Statement
Schools have always played an important role in promoting the health, safety, welfare, and social development of children. Progress has been made in policy and program effectiveness. However, the trend of establishing initiatives as sector specific—or sector isolated—has affected long-term sustainability of approaches. The global evolution of education systems to suit the needs of the 21st century presents both a need and an opportunity for greater sector integration. Ultimately, there is a need to focus on the development and growth of the whole child and develop better ways to integrate health and social programs within education systems.
In response to the World Health Organization’s Health in All Policies (HiAP) initiative and recent HiAP statement (Helsinki 2013), education leaders invite representatives from the health and other social sectors to lead a revised partnership with education. This partnership uses a capacity-focused and systems-based approach to embed school-related efforts more fully into the core mandates, constraints, processes, and concerns of education systems.
ASCD and the International School Health Network are now inviting individuals and organizations to sign on to the global school health statement. Learn more.
Can’t Wait for #ASCD14?
How about some free sessions from the 2013 ASCD Annual Conference to tide you over?
ASCD Members Approve Proposed Changes to ASCD’s Constitution
ASCD members recently voted to approve several changes to ASCD’s Constitution: clarifyinga quorum for Board of Directors for voting purposes at the Annual Meeting; changing the start date for newly elected officers and members of the Board; and changing the ASCD membership requirement for applicants for Board positions. Contact Governance Manager Becky DeRiggewith any questions.
ASCD Emerging Leaders: 2013 Recap
Check out our recap of all the amazing things ASCD emerging leaders did in 2013. We’re looking forward to some great things in 2014 as well!
ASCD Leader Voices
Throughout January at wholechildeducation.org: Personalized Learning
How do we help each student succeed? One promising way is to personalize learning and put each student at the center of her learning experience. Broader than individualized or differentiated instruction, personalized learning is driven by the learner. Ensuring personalized learning for all students requires a shift in thinking about long-standing education practices, systems and policies, as well as significant changes in the tools and resources. To address students’ abilities, interests, styles, and performance, schools need to rethink curricula, instruction, and technology tools to support giving learners choices and schools flexibility.
Personalized learning has been described as learning that takes place “anywhere, anytime, and anyplace.” More importantly, it has the promise to ensure equity, engagement, ownership, and achievement for each child, in each school, and in each community so that she is college, career, and citizenship ready and prepared for success in our global, knowledge-based society.
Download two Whole Child Podcasts discussing personalizing learning for students—one is a special one-on-one conversation between professor and author Yong Zhao and ASCD’s Sean Slade, and the other podcast has a panel of educators featuring guests Jennifer Eldredge, a Spanish teacher at Oconomowoc High School whose district is a member of the regional Cooperative Educational Service Agency #1, which is committed to establishing personalized learning as the prevailing approach in southeastern Wisconsin; Andrew Miller, former classroom and online teacher and current education consultant, ASCD Faculty member, National Faculty member at the Buck Institute for Education, and regular ASCD and Edutopia blogger; and Beth Sanders, a high school social studies teacher at Tarrant High School in Alabama who is also the cofounder and codirector of Youth Converts Culture and was named an Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2013 and 2013 Teacher of the Year for Tarrant City Schools.
Something to Talk About
ASCD Invites Educator-Driven Conversation with the ASCD Forum and #ASCDEdSpace—ASCD announces two new ways for educators to shape teacher leadership. From now through April 11, 2014, educators are encouraged to participate in the ASCD Forum online via the ASCD EDge® social networking community and in-person at the 69th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. Read the full press release.
ASCD’s Newest Professional Development Publications Support Effective Instruction—ASCD announced the release of three new professional development titles for educators. As educators face increasing pressure on assessments and testing, they will find support for structured teaching, self-regulated learning, and assigning and assessing 21st century work in these new professional development publications. Read the full press release.
ASCD Announces Updates to Free EduCore™ Common Core Implementation Tool—ASCD announced new features available on its free Common Core implementation tool ASCD EduCore™. For the new year, the updated EduCore website features simpler navigation and expanded resources. Read the full press release.
ASCD to Live Stream 21 Sessions from 2014 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show—ASCD will live stream 21 sessions from the association’s 2014 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. The live stream option offers global educators an accessible and affordable alternative to attending ASCD’s 2014 Annual Conference. Read the full press release.
ASCD Joins Instagram as @OfficialASCD—ASCD has joined the social network Instagram under the username @officialascd. ASCD’s Instagram profile will show educators worldwide a behind-the-scenes look at ASCD, while providing free motivation and professional development through pictures and videos. Read the full press release.
ASCD Releases Four New Professional Development Publications for the New Year—ASCD released four new professional development titles for educators. In light of pressing issues facing educators today, such as improving stagnant Programme for International Student Assessment scores, implementing the new Common Core State Standards, and improving teacher effectiveness, these four new ASCD publications offer educators support with getting to the root of academic and behavioral issues, working with English language learners, developing effective school rules, and teaching effectively. Read the full press release.
ASCD Expands Emerging Leader Program to Serve More Young Educators—ASCD is pleased to announce the expansion of the ASCD Emerging Leaders program. The two-year Emerging Leaders program is designed to prepare younger, diverse educators for potential influence and ASCD leadership. The expanded program now enrolls more educators, inducting a larger membership class than ever before, and includes an Emerging Leaders Grant opportunity that will award selected participants in their second year of the program with grants of up to $2,000. Read the full press release.
We love traveling, but like most teachers, we’re not made of money! But even if money’s tight during the summer, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you may still be able to design your own travel and professional-development opportunities and actually have them entirely funded by Fund for Teachers.
Fund for Teachers: Application Deadline is January 30!
Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has invested $20 million in more than 5,500 teachers. What’s really cool about this organization is that it allows teachers to propose their own professional learning experiences.
To apply, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:
Teachers may apply for up to $5,000 in grant rewards; if you and your colleagues apply as a team, you may be eligible for $10,000 in grants.
Here are a few more specifics:
All applicants must apply online before 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 30, 2014.
In addition to completing the online form, applicants must:
We recently came across an article featuring Muriel Summers, an elementary principal who is perhaps best known for the Leadership Model Program she used to transform A.B Combs Elementary from a struggling school into the number one magnet school in the country.
You can read more about the Leadership Model she used by clicking here, but we’d like to share seven of the basic tenants of the program below. We have a feeling that both students and teachers could benefit from reading them.
Student Leadership and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Habit 1: Be proactive
I am a responsible person. I take initiative. I choose my actions, attitudes and moods. I do not blame others for my wrong actions. I do the right thing without being asked, even when no one is looking.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school’s mission and vision.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
I spend my time on things that are most important. This means I say no to things I know I should not do. I set priorities, make a schedule, and achieve my goals. I am disciplined and organized.
I balance courage for getting what I want with consideration for what others want. I make deposits in others’ Emotional Bank Accounts. When conflicts arise, I look for third alternatives. I look for ways to be a good citizen.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand
I listen to other people’s ideas and feelings. I try to see things from their viewpoints. I listen to others without interrupting. I am confident in voicing my ideas. I look people in the eyes when talking.
Habit 6: Synergize
I value other people’s strengths and learn from them. I work well in groups, even with people who are different than me. I seek out other people’s ideas to solve problems because I know that by teaming with others we can create better solutions than can anyone of us alone. I am humble.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
I take care of my body by eating right, exercising, and getting sleep. I spend time with family and friends. I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school. I take time to find meaningful ways to help others.
If some of Summers’ tenants sound familiar, it may be because they are based off of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a professional development series made popular by best-selling author, Stephen Covey.
We’re starting 2014 with big news here at ASCD. I’m so excited to share that we just launched ASCD’s official Instagram account! You can find us on Instagram under the username @officialASCD where we’ll be showing a behind-the-scenes look at ASCD while also providing free motivation and professional development through pictures and videos.
So what can you expect to see on ASCD’s Instagram account?
We’ll be sharing sneak peeks of ASCD events, motivational quotes from ASCD experts, a look inside ASCD’s headquarters, and even #throwbackthursday photos of past ASCD conference memorabilia and professional development materials and out-of-print publications from our archives.
Through our Instagram account, you’ll get an exclusive look into life at ASCD.
In addition to following ASCD on Instagram, I encourage you to follow ASCD on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn. On each channel we aim to connect ASCD with educators while sharing unique content that is dedicated to learning, teaching, and leading.
Are you on Instagram? We’d love to connect and see your photos and videos! Please share your username in the comment section below, and we’ll be sure to follow you!
To follow us and view our Instagram profile, visit http://instagram.com/officialascd.
Conferencing lies at the heart of effective writing instruction. Why?
Because, unlike math or even spelling, writing offers no single correct answer. In some ways, it is like playing a sport. You have to put a variety of skills together to hit the target. As teachers, we demonstrate the “rules of the game” and then guide our students in strengthening their “performance.” It’s a step-by-step process. Like the coach who offers personalized advice to help each athlete improve, we give individualized feedback that helps students discover their power as writers.
In this three-part blog series, I discuss the most common conferencing challenges we hear about when coaching grade-level teachers on professional development days:
Let’s look at solutions for the first bullet point.
The Old-Fashioned English Teacher Mindset
Don’t take this the wrong way – English teachers aren’t the problem! The problem occurs when a teacher mistakenly corrects every single error on a child’s paper. Redlining papers like a high school English teacher does not serve K-5 writers! Why?
Just imagine this scenario. You are learning to play tennis. You’re a beginner who’s trying hard, and you’re proud of your efforts. Your coach offers feedback on your progress, and reports that you’re doing many things wrong. You need to: (1) follow through on your serves (2) use two hands for your backhand (3) adopt a different grip on the racket (4) plant your feet before every stroke, and (5) anticipate your opponent’s moves so you can hustle to the ball better. Sound overwhelming?
Solution — Don’t Try to Correct Every Mistake!
Nobody learns to play tennis like Serena Williams all at once. By the same token, children have a hard time maintaining motivation for the long haul if they’re faced with a long list of mistakes every time the teacher gives them feedback. In conferences, stick to one or two teaching points.
That’s all. Anything more, students will not absorb.
Tip: Your teaching points address writing weaknesses –but be sure to honor strengths, too! Just as none of us likes to hear a solid stream of criticism from colleagues or family members, students need their efforts acknowledged. When conferencing, compliment at least one specific strength for your two teaching points. WriteSteps students learn to analyze anonymous student writing samples this way, too, by looking for glows (what has the writer done well?) and grows (what could the writer improve?). The two must go hand-in-hand.
Did you find this conferencing tip helpful? If so, check back next week for part two of “Teaching Tips for Great Conferences with Elementary Writers” to learn what do to when you’re not exactly sure what to conference about! While you’re waiting for the next post, sign up for a free trial of WriteSteps, and discover why 1,000’s of teachers love our elementary writing program.
Like all holidays, Teacher Appreciation Day/Week officially comes once a year. While most teachers will graciously accept any appreciation they can get—even if it’s only once a week or once a year—we’d like to share a few simple ways that you can start recognizing teachers throughout the year.
10 Ways Principals Can Show Teachers Appreciation
So, a few months ago, I had an idea for developing an iPad app for educators (if you’re interested, I provide a description of and the link to the app at the end of this blog post). By design — and relatively speaking — this app was going to be fairly simple and straightforward; nothing too complex for me to develop. I sketched out my ideas, the whole time thinking to myself, how difficult can this be? I mean, I have a doctorate, I’m pretty tech savvy, and I’ve written an e-book that is available in Apple’s iBook store.
However, as I soon found out, I had no earthly idea what I was in store for. You see, developing content for my app was probably about 15% of the work involved in developing the actual app. The other 85% is pure computer programming. As you’ve probably guessed, I am not a computer programmer. Again overestimating my skills and ability, I thought — hey, no problem, I’ll get a book or two to guide me through the process.
Ha! Ha! Guess what? Programming language is very unique . . . and I don’t speak that language! I actually believe that the books — including one titled something like App Development for Dummies — actually made things worse . . .
I should not have been allowed to purchase and try to read these books; they were not on my reading level! ;-)
I was about ready to give up on the notion of developing the app; however, thanks entirely to the support of my wife, Kate, I did not abandon my idea. I did some research online and found a software company located in Pennsylvania to provide me the programming assistance that I so desperately needed. I must sincerely thank C. Scott Gilbert (a.k.a., Scotto) and Bill Hubauer of AG-Logic Creative Software Labs for helping me to finish my product. By the way, many of you are undoubtedly familiar with their work: they are the developers of Swackett (probably the greatest weather app EVER!).
My app, the Action Research Mentor, became available in the app store last week. As I reflected on the nearly 2-month experience of seeing this project through to completion, I realized so many things that I learned are the kinds of things that we try to instill in our students every day:
How incredibly humbling — as well as refreshing — that, even as adults, lessons from our childhood remain pertinent . . . and important.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
So, here’s some info about the app itself:
The name of the app is the Action Research Mentor (http://bitly.com/18QIkMA). The app, designed for the iPad, assists professional educators, as well as individuals in other professions, in designing action research studies for their particular settings. There are many important methodological decisions that must be made when designing and conducting action research studies. If these decisions are not made carefully and thoughtfully, there may be unexpected negative ramifications later in the study. What professional educators need is guidance to help them make sound decisions—before, during, and after conducting the action research study.
The Action Research Mentor provides guidance in making these decisions throughout various stages of conducting action research. Focused questions and prompts guide the user through this decision-making process. There are four stages of the action research process: the planning stage, the acting stage, the developing stage, and reflecting stage. Important decisions must be made during each of these four stages.
Once the user has answered the questions and addressed each prompt, “pages” can be printed or emailed (for example, to a professor, advisor, supervisor, or administrator). Download the Action Research Mentor today! Let it provide you the guidance you need to help you successfully conduct your action research studies!
Coaching with Glee requires that we filter our work so that we cultivate life balance and avoid becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed. It requires that we laugh together and celebrate one another as successful professionals. It requires that we take joy in our students’ small successes and engage them in their own learning processes. This blog will not represent my work alone as no true educator works in isolation. I have learned so much from so many teachers and learners. I hope you will join us on this journey.
Coaching With Glee
Kathleen O’Connell Sauline
West Branch Local School District (Ohio)
Professional Development, Coordinator
Coaching with Glee will reflect upon and share best practice professional development: job-embedded, ongoing, and teacher-led. Professional development that is focused upon recognizing, deepening and applying the strengths of teachers and learners to our daily work together in our classrooms and collaborative sessions. Professional development that is designed for the purposes of growth for each student and an increased sense of efficacy and job satisfaction for each teacher. Professional development that is implemented in a manner that models strong teaching and learning practice. Professional development that generates a network of support within and between classrooms, schools and districts.