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160 Search Results for ""professional growth""

  • Push to Talk PD Push to Talk PD

    • From: Brad_Currie
    • Description:

      This past week #Satchat extended it's Twitter conversation to a mobile app called Voxer. It has been an amazing experience for participants who are now able to share their insight through voice messages. Once downloaded on your mobile device, Voxer enables users to hold individual or group chats in real time or at their own pace. In terms of professional growth, over 75 educators from around the world have shared their perspectives and insight on a plethora of topics. More specifically this week our group is discussing the trials and tribulations of being a new school leader. Educators from all walks of life including teachers, vice principals, principals, supervisors, superintendents, and other stakeholders have provided tremendous guidance.

      The great thing about this experience is that participants, including myself, can hear the emotion that others bring to the discussion. It's one thing to read a tweet and a whole other thing to listen to someone speak to a particular topic.. That's why Voxer is so unique. Users can listen and learn on the own time, whether it's in their car or during a lunch break. Need to have a more specific conversation based on something that was brought up in a particular group chat? No problem. Send a direct voice or text message to that person within the application. Pictures, links, and other resources can be shared during a conversation as well.

      Are you intrigued by this whole Voxer rage in the educational community? Send me a direct message on Twitter or via email with your Voxer handle and I will add you to the #Satchat group. Or better yet, try starting your own group. The options are many as it relates to the impact Voxer can have in the school setting. For example, it could be used as an assessment tool or during a time of crisis to communicate with staff. Currently I am apart of a Voxer book chat on digital leadership and participate in a administrator group that shares best practices. Over the past few weeks I have recommended Voxer to some of my PLN members from around the country. Although at first hesitant to see the true value of this web tool, their minds quickly changed after conversing with other like-minded educators.

      So what do say? Take that leap into the Voxer world and see your professional growth be stimulated in a way once thought unimaginable.

       

    • Blog post
    • 3 days ago
    • Views: 69
  • 14 ways to think about good te 14 ways to think about good teaching: A useful PD exercise

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:

      Much of my educational career has been spent in teaching or observing teachers. I also had the incredible opportunity of attending many wonderful professional development sessions with outstanding presenters, and working with some amazing educators over many years.

       

      As a result, I have compiled a synthesis of some of the most important things that I have learned about effective teaching along the way. Here are fourteen ways of thinking about teaching that, when part of true self-reflection, can change much of what is being done in the classroom for the better.

       

      These fourteen ways of thinking can be explored with individuals or groups of teachers to raise issues about teaching and learning, focus professional development around some important issues and challenges, and help provide a framework for professional growth over time. They may also be useful as a framework for thinking about teacher evaluation.

       

      Read the descriptions below of my fourteen “ways of thinking” about teaching and learning. Get familiar with them. When you are done, consider doing the exercises at the end of this commentary, or sharing them in PD sessions, in order to better apply them to teaching and learning.

       

      1.     Get to know your students, especially how they learn and think.

      Teaching is about relationships. Getting to know students helps with planning, motivation, interest, discipline, and effective communication. It is about knowing how students learn, how they think, what blocks their learning, what’s on their minds.

       

      As much as possible, get to know students as individuals, with all their variety of thoughts, passions, ideas, backgrounds, humor, unique qualities. This is especially hard for middle and high school teachers, who have so many students to teach. But it is important that all teachers, whatever their level of teaching, whatever their situation,  take some time during the school year to do activities that build relationships and help to learn about students. There are many ways to both formally and informally do this, such as get-to know-me activities, written self-reflections, observing how students go about solving problems, observing groupwork discussions, making sure students know to ask for help when they are having problems, meeting with students informally after school, or talking with other teachers about specific students (not always problem students).

       

      2.     Plan goals for both the long term and the short term.

      Long term planning should be the force behind short term planning. In other words, plan for what you want your students to accomplish in the long run, and then plan each day so that your students can get closer to your goal. For example, a long-term goal might be to help students become better writers, while the short-term goal is to improve their grammar and vocabulary. A long- term goal might be a unit goal, and each daily lesson plan contributes to the goals of the unit. A long-term goal might be a yearly understanding-based goal, and a unit goal might contribute to the year-long goal.

       

      As most teachers know, this is not easy. There are many obstacles, changes, and detours along the way, depending on what happens each day. The variables are tremendous. But it is always important to consider what you want your students to accomplish over a long period of time (the big goals), and figure out how each day helps them get there.

       

      3.     Include social-emotional learning goals as well as academic goals.

      With the emphasis today on standardized test score success, learning academic content and skills become the most important focus for achievement and success. But much recent research suggests that “social-emotional” learning qualities are critical for long term success. Students who don’t see a connection between their effort and learning, are unable to be persistent, lack curiosity and resilience in the face of challenges, cannot work well with others, lack self-responsibility, are unorganized or unable to plan their time well, or lack the ability and willingness to ask for help and support when needed will have a great deal of trouble both in learning and in life. So it is important for teachers to assess these “soft” skills as well as academic and cognitive learning to help students achieve long-term success.

       

      4.     Translate learning goals into meaningful, interesting questions and challenges.

      According to several sources, Richard Feynman, a world-renowned physicist, was “heavily influenced by his father, who encouraged him to ask questions to challenge orthodox thinking”… “[His father] never taught facts so much as questions. He encouraged young Richard to identify not what he knew, but rather what he did not know… What's most important for knowledge is the well asked question”.

       

      Today, in my view, too many teachers have lost the art of helping students focus their learning around meaningful questions. My observations indicate that teachers still most often focus learning around imparting specific subject matter or stating goals in terms of “behavioral” objectives. But what if we thought about our teaching in terms of exploring open-ended questions that are interesting and meaningful to our students? What if we put “essential” questions on the board at the beginning of units and lessons, discussed with our students why they are important and meaningful, and then referred to them throughout the unit? Designed core questions that extended throughout the year? Created meaningful open-ended challenges as starting points for learning? Asked our students to develop essential questions?

       

      One of my favorite questions, used by Kathy Davis, a first grade teacher, is the following:

      What writing is worth reading? Imagine studying different kinds of writing over a long period of time with that question in mind? Another set of questions, worth studying in an American History course, is the following: “What is the American Dream? Where did it come from? Does it still exist?

       

      So here’s something to think about: How can you translate your learning goals and objectives into important, interesting, meaningful questions? How can you use these questions as starting points for learning? For skill development? For making content relevant? How can these questions repeat and recur over time? Become the focus for many learning activities over time?

       

      Much, if not most, important learning and growth starts with curiosity around questions, or perplexities around challenges. Teachers need to reinforce that type of learning, and begin student learning with questions and challenges that stimulate curiosity and interest, and motivate students to learn.

       

      5.     Teach reading (and other forms of literacy) as inquiry, exploration, and research.

      Textbook activities often are treated solely as reading assignments (e.g. Read chapter seven and answer the questions at the end of the chapter). But what if teachers thought of textbooks and other reading materials, especially non-fiction reading, as sources of information designed to help answer questions, build understanding, explore interesting topics, and help find answers to challenges. What if the reading of literature was built around some interesting, significant questions, conflicts and issues? What if students had a chance to choose some of the literature they are asked to read based on their own curiosity? Treating textbooks, literature and other reading resources as a form of inquiry, exploration, curiosity, or research to answer questions helps put reading in an important context, not as a chore.

       

      One simple textbook-non-fiction reading strategy that helps support this approach is the simple SQ3R strategy and its variations. First, students survey the material to be read, looking at headings, key words, difficult passages, pictures and other ancillary materials, and the like.  Next, students turn headings into questions or bring into play previously developed questions to begin to find answers in the materials. Finally, they read and highlight key points, recite learning from the text that answers key questions, and then review and summarize the information that relates to the answers to each question.

       

      6.     Frequently use writing as a key instructional tool.

      Asking students of all ages to continually write in many formats helps them formulate their ideas, organize their thoughts, think clearly and cogently, draw conclusions, self-reflect, and learn how to write position papers, among other things.

       

      Most teachers don’t provide students with enough opportunities to write and reflect on their learning. Opportunities include writing at the beginning of a unit to determine what students know and how they think, daily short written reflections summarizing what they have learned at the end of a class, position papers around an issue discussed in class, research and project reports, analyses and interpretations from reading, frequent self-reflections, and end of unit essays in place of or complementary to traditional tests. Not all writing has to be graded, but carefully choosing writing to provide feedback provides students with significant opportunities for improvement.

       

      7.     Develop “deeper learning”.

      I have always felt that many teachers try to teach much too much content and therefore do not have enough time for getting deeper into subject matter and skill development. Teachers need to think about priorities so that content is most likely to be limited and remembered. For example, the period of history in which the Constitution was developed is a very good time to concentrate on a few key points about the Constitution: the Bill of Rights, the Organization of Government, and the Constitutional “compromise” on slavery. While there are many other issues and facts that might be learned, these are key.

       

      “Deeper learning” also results from analysis, interpretation, or doing something with (applying) the information learned. What if students ended this American history unit by developing their own Constitution for their classroom or school? Or created a new and better Constitution for America? Or simulated the Constitutional Convention and developed a Constitution based on the interests of each of the thirteen states?

       

      8.     Involve and engage ALL students in learning.

      It is surprising how often teachers, especially in middle and secondary teachers, spend little time thinking about how to engage and involve every student on a daily basis. All too frequently, I have observed teachers who ask questions and involve very few students in giving answers; allow students to put their heads down on their desks during a lesson; stand in front of the class instead of walking around to engage students. Many students learn that it is OK to “tune out” of the lesson, and that they will be rewarded just for coming to school that day. Beginning teachers are especially likely to make the mistake of letting students “tune out” of their lessons. Here are some ways to avoid student passivity:

       

      Don’t just stand in front of a group of students. Walk around the room. Catch the eye of students. Watch what they are doing. Gently shake a student who has his or her head on the desk. Call on students who you think are not paying attention.

       

      Begin each class or new learning experience with an engaging “To Do” Activity that students must respond to as they enter your classroom. For example, a “To Do” Activity might begin with writing a short summary of what they were asked to read the night before or finding the answer to a math problem based on the work they did the previous day.

       

      Use “think-pair-share” strategies to involve everyone in exploring significant questions. Here’s how it works. Ask an open-ended question. Then ask each student to write down an answer. Then students pair up with another student to discuss their answer. Finally, teachers call on individual students to share their answer and hopefully begin a discussion.

       

      9.     Bring the outside world into the school and classroom, and the school and classroom into the outside world, and help students apply learning.

      Here’s how I think about schools and the surrounding world: The school world is for learning - the outside world is for living. People don’t live in a school. They go to school to learn. They live in their homes, in their offices, in the environment around them, in the world outside of school. Too often, school becomes an isolated entity unto itself, with little or no connection to the way people live in the outside world. As teachers, we need to remember this and, as often as we can, bring the outside world into the school and the school into the outside world.

       

      How do we do this?

       

      I remember watching Ms Tolliver, an excellent elementary math teacher who made some wonderful professional development tapes, take her fifth grade urban students on a walk through the school neighborhood looking for mathematics concepts and creating mathematics problems (Math Trail). They developed problems and found mathematics around park benches, playgrounds, subway trains, parking meters, building blocks and shapes, maps of the neighborhood, and seven step staircases in Central Park. The math that they were learning in school became real and relevant. Another example: in a local comprehensive urban high school I recently visited, a counselor organized talks in the school by local community members to help students see the variety of careers and lives led by those with similar ethnic backgrounds. Finally, new technologies provide new tools for bring the outside community into the school and the school to the outside community. There are currently many examples on the Internet and on websites of how teachers use Skype and other Internet options to bring in the outside community and world into the school and classroom.

       

      10.  Know when to maintain a strong structure for students and when to “let go”.

      Good teachers know when to provide students with significant learning structure and when to give students greater freedom and self-direction. For example, when students are first learning how to do research, they need more structure – a step-by-step process, good explanations of how to conduct research and use research skills, models of good research products, and guided practice opportunities. Once they have learned and practiced the basic components of research, then they can be given more freedom to work on their own independently. In other words, sometimes students need strong structures, especially when they are first learning how to do something. But, eventually, we need to “let go” and give them freedom to work on their own and make their own mistakes in order to keep getting better at what they are doing. One of the most difficult decisions about teaching is knowing when students need significant structure and when to let go and give them more self-direction.

       

      “Letting go” may also mean giving students greater choice and more options. Giving students the right to select their own books to read should be an important part of a good comprehensive reading program. Allowing students to select their own research question, sometimes within the parameters of a subject area, also gives students greater interest in and responsibility for their research.

       

      11.  Help students to improve, make progress, and get better.

      What does it mean for students to get better at doing something? Understand in a deeper way? What are the most critical changes you would like to see in your students over time? What does it look like when they improve? How will you know when your students have a better understanding of core content? How can you build a student culture of “craftsmanship and understanding” that supports and encourages gradual improvement over time?

       

      Unfortunately, traditional tests and quizzes don’t easily lend themselves to demonstrating improvement and progress in understanding and skill development. Seeking gradual progress and improvement is more likely to occur when students frequently do tasks related to what needs improvement, such as writing, making presentations, conducting research, performing experiments, and organizing learning for understanding. Specific feedback that provides students with specific guidance on what they need to do better is important. Showing models of good work to strive for is very helpful. An approach to teaching and learning that savors and supports gradual progress and improvement can lead to the development of a culture and way of thinking that promotes craftsmanship, deeper understanding, and improvement over time.

       

      12.  Check for understanding - often.

      When I taught many years ago, I was unaware that I needed to frequently check for understanding. This was not good for student learning. This way of thinking has been getting much more play lately, and rightly so. Teachers need to check in frequently with students to see if they are “getting it” – really understanding what they are learning. Many strategies are available for this purpose, such as application oriented math problems, end of lesson summary strategies, such as 3-2-1 (three things I learned from this lesson, two things that were the most interesting, one question I still have); and 10-2 lectures (10 minutes of lecture, 2 minutes of reflection and questions).

       

      13.  Create strong culminating experiences and assessments.

      Unfortunately, end of unit culminating experiences are often multiple choice-short answer tests. What could be less interesting for a student? What could be less relevant? Should the traditional test be the culminating experience of student work and learning?

       

      Consider developing alternatives to traditional tests, even for just some units. How about a field trip to an art museum at the end of a unit so that students can analyze and write about a specific artistic period in greater depth? Perhaps students should write a position paper about a controversial topic in American History or design an experiment as the culmination of a science unit? How about giving students two or three (or more) essay questions several days in advance of a test time to give students time to prepare outlines of answers, from which one or two are selected to be written during a two hour class period? How about giving students interesting open-book (or even open-research) essay questions? Or what about completing an authentic performance task that demonstrates the ability of students to apply their learning to a new situation? These are much more interesting, relevant, and meaningful culminating assessments.

       

      14.  Appropriately use technology as a learning tool.

      There is a tendency to talk about using technology today as if it were something to be automatically incorporated into the learning process. The reality is that technology is often hard to use or apply easily to teaching situations. Technology usage often requires a good deal of staff development, and is costly to implement and maintain.

       

      However, technology, when used appropriately, can be an extremely valuable tool that enables teachers and students to learn more efficiently and effectively. For example, simple technologies, such as Microsoft word and powerpoint are useful for encouraging and editing writing and making presentations. The Internet is a wonderful tool to support research, but students have to learn how to use it carefully, skillfully, and wisely for this purpose. Some of the more complex technologies are useful to promote “gaming” and simulations. “Flipping” uses technology to help students learn basic information outside of school so that teachers can focus on “deeper learning” when students are in class. Some technologies that promote individualized learning through highly structured, engaging learning situations are very helpful to students.

       

      Any of these technology tools, and others, should be used when appropriate to the teacher’s goals and to the learning situation. Technology tools should be used for specific goals when they make learning more efficient, but not when they might deter students from using their minds, thinking through a problem, or reading texts carefully.

       

      Teaching is very complex, much more complex than it is made out to be in the press, in government initiatives, and even in State Departments of Educational directives.  Good teaching is a moving target – goals, children, cultures, teachers,  and conditions vary from state to state, school to school, and even classroom to classroom.

       

      These fourteen ways of thinking about teaching suggest both the complexity of good teaching and the potential common core components that measure good teaching and help teachers improve on what they do. Learning about students, creating a positive learning environment, focusing on both academic and social-emotional goals, building curiosity by focusing on questions, focusing on less content and deeper learning, figuring out ways to engage and involve students, planning both long and short term goals – all of these and more are important elements of an effective teaching-learning process. I hope that an exploration of these components will help teachers and school leaders understand what they must do to improve schools and suggest a way to build a framework for evaluating teaching and improving teaching and learning in the classroom.

       

      An Exercise to Share and Learn from These Fourteen Ways of Thinking

       

      Now that you have read and learned about the fourteen ways of thinking, here is an exercise you can do to help you examine these in greater detail and apply them to your own teaching situation.

       

      Here are the fourteen ways of thinking listed without commentary:

       

      1.     Get to know your students, especially how they learn and think.

       

      2.     Plan goals for both the long-term and the short term.

       

      3.     Include social-emotional learning goals as well as academic goals.

       

      4.     Translate learning goals into meaningful, interesting questions and challenges.

       

      5.     Teach reading (and other forms of literacy) as inquiry, exploration, and research.

       

      6.     Frequently use writing as a key instructional tool.

       

      7.     Develop “deeper learning”.

       

      8.     Involve and engage ALL students in learning.

       

      9.     Bring the outside world into the school and classroom, and the school and classroom into the outside world, and help students apply learning.

       

      10.  Know when to maintain a strong structure for students and when to “let go”.

       

      11.  Help students to improve, make progress and get better.

       

      12.  Check for understanding - often.

       

      13.  Create strong culminating experiences and assessments.

       

      14.  Appropriately use technology as a learning tool.

       

      Some questions to consider: 

      • Do these all make sense to you? What would you add or subtract and why? How would you change the wording to increase clarity and meaning? 
      • Which to you are most important for effective teaching? Least important? 
      • Consider how you apply these to your own teaching situation? Which areas are your strengths? Which are challenges?  
      • If you could pick one or two areas that you currently do really well, what would they be? Which one or two do you need to work on the most? 
      • Can you share what you do well? What do you specifically do that makes one or more of these “ways of thinking” work well for you? 
      • Can you take some time to think about which areas do you most need to work on? Find out what other teachers do who are strong in those areas? Do some research on effectiveness in these areas? Consider one or two changes to your routines that might improve them?

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 2 weeks ago
    • Views: 5950
  • Change Requires Moving From a Change Requires Moving From a Fixed to a Growth Mindset

    • From: Eric_Sheninger
    • Description:

      For many years New Milford High School was just like virtually every other public school in this country defined solely by traditional indicators of success such as standardized test scores, graduation rates, and acceptances to four year colleges. These indicators have become so embedded in the minds of those judging our schools and work that we, like everyone else, worked hard to focus only on initiatives that would hopefully produce favorable outcomes in those areas. If we were doing well we continued down the same path allowing the status quo to reign supreme.  The mentality of if it isn't broke than why fix it resonated so profoundly with us that we would not have even considered changing our ways.  If results were not what our stakeholders wanted this would then trigger meetings leading to the development of action plans to get us back on course. 

       

      For so long schools have resembled a hamster running on a wheel doing the same things over and over to improve sets of numbers.  We were no different and had succumbed to a fixed mindset. Every excuse in the book was at our disposal not to change and continue down the same path year after year. Heck, our education system has become so good at maintaining the status quo and enforcing compliance throughout that we and many others have been brainwashed into thinking any other course of action would be foolish.  If education is good for one thing it is making excuses not to move forward. There is still an innate desire to sustain a school structure and function that has remained relatively unchanged for well over a hundred years. This is a problem. It was a huge problem for us. We were in a rut and didn't even know it. Luckily change came in the form of a little blue bird that gave me the kick in the butt that I desperately needed back in 2009.  Being blessed with an amazing staff, student body, administrative team, and community provided the necessary support needed to move us forward.

       

      As another school year comes to a close I can't but help reflect on the many successful initiatives that have been implemented this past year.  It is even more gratifying to see numerous other initiatives that were implemented over the past couple of years flourish.  Moving from a fixed to a growth mindset and feeding of the daily inspiration that connected learning provides gave me with the fuel to create a shared vision that eventually became a reality as a result of action. For change to be successful it must be sustained. As leaders we must not only be willing to see the process through, but we must also create conditions that promote a change mentality. It really is about moving from a fixed to a growth mindset, something that many educators and schools are either unwilling or afraid to do. The essential elements that work as catalysts for the change process include the following:

      • Empowerment
      • Autonomy
      • Ownership
      • Removing the fear of failure
      •  Risk-taking
      •  Support
      • Modeling
      • Flexibility
      • Collaboration
      • Communication

      What I have learned is that if someone understands why change is needed and the elements above become an embedded component of school culture he/she or the system ultimately experience the value for themselves.  The change process then gets a boost from an intrinsic motivational force that not only jump starts the initiative, but allows for the embracement of change as opposed to looking for buy-in.  We should never have to "sell" people on better ways to do our noble work nor rely on mandates and directives. These traditional pathways used to drive change typically result in resentment, undermining, and failure.

       

      This gets me back to the main point of my post and that is reflecting on the many changes that have been implemented and sustained at NMHS.  Even in the face of adversity in the form of education reform mandates, Common Core alignment, impending PARCC exams, new educator evaluation systems, loss of funding, and an aging infrastructure we have not only persevered, but proven that positive change can happen with the right mindset.  If we can overcome these challenges and experience success others can as well. Throughout the past couple of years we have also seen improvements in the "traditional" indicators of success by mainly focusing on creating a school that works better for our students as opposed to one that has always worked well for us.  Here is a short list of some of the changes that have been implemented and sustained:

       

      ·        Social media use as a communications, public relations, branding, professional growth, and student learning tool implemented in 2009. So many of my teachers are making the choice to integrate social media as a learning tool that I just can't list all of the examples:

      • Online courses through the Virtual High School implemented in 2010. Students now have access to over 250 unique courses that cater to their interests. 
      • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) implemented in 2011.  The success of this initiative has hinged on our ability to ensure equity, give up control, trust our students, and provide educator support in the form of professional growth opportunities. Charging stations for the students were purchased this year and placed in all common areas.  The three guiding tenets of our BYOD initiative are to enhance learning, increase productivity, and conduct better research. See what CBS New York had to say.
      • The Academies @ NMHS implemented in 2011 as part of my superintendent's vision. These are a means to allow students to follow their passions in a cohort model of learning based on constructivist theory. The Academies are open to any and all students regardless of GPA who what to pursue more rigorous and authentic coursework and learning opportunities. This initiative compelled us to add over 20 new courses to our offerings to better meet the learning needs and interests of our students.
      • Independent OpenCourseware Study (IOCS) implemented in 2012. Students elect to take OpenCourseware and receive honors credit once they demonstrate what they have learned through a non-traditional presentation.
      • Google Apps For Education (GAFE) implemented in 2012 empowering students and staff to learn collaboratively in the cloud.
      • Flipped classroom and instructional model implemented in 2012. A variety of teachers have moved to this model consistently to take advantage of instructional time. The best part is that NMHS teachers themselves are creating the interactive content as opposed to relying on Khan Academy. See what CBS New York had to say.
      • Grading reform implemented in 2012.  A committee was formed to improve our grading practices that resulted in a failure floor and seven steps that had to be met before student can receive a failing grade. All student failures are now reviewed by me to ensure that the seven steps have been met. This was probably the most difficult change initiative I have ever been a part of. If you want a copy of this just add your email in the comments section at the bottom of this post. 
      • The Professional Growth Period (PGP) implemented in 2013.  By cutting all non-instructional duties teachers now have two or three 48 minute periods during the week to follow their learning passions based on the Google 80/20 model.  The rise in many innovative practices have resulted by creating this job embedded model for growth.  I love reviewing the learning portfolios my teachers develop each year to showcase how this time was used to improve professional practice.
      • Makerspace added to the library in 2013. I have written extensively about this space, which has transformed learning thanks to the leadership of Laura Fleming. See what CBS New York had to say.
      • Creation of a digital badge platform to acknowledge the informal learning of teachers implemented in 2013 by Laura Fleming.
      • 3D virtual learning implemented in 2013 using Protosphere. See what CBS New York had to say.
      • McREL Teacher Evaluation Tool implemented in 2013.  This required a huge shift from how we have observed and evaluated teachers for a very long time.  Google Forms were utilized to solicit anonymous feedback from staff members about the rollout, process, and value of the new tool.  This feedback was then used by the administrative team to improve the use of the tool.   

      I need to stop here, but I think you get the point.  We have transformed the teaching and learning culture at NMHS that begins and ends with a growth mindset.  The time for excuses, talk, opinions, and fear needs to end if our goal is really about improving teaching, learning, and leadership outcomes. Leadership is about action, not position or ideas that just get pushed around. We continue to push ourselves to create a better school.  So what's stopping you?

    • Blog post
    • 1 month ago
    • Views: 470
  • Five Ways for Teacher-Leaders Five Ways for Teacher-Leaders to Bolster the Effectiveness of Peers

    • From: Krista_Rundell
    • Description:

      This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “How to cultivate and support teacher leaders?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to http://edge.ascd.org/page/ascd-forum.html


      How many educators have “fallen” into a teacher-leadership role without intention?  As a high school social studies instructor, I continually strived to refine my skills both the art and science of teaching.  In my ninth year, I was encouraged to apply for a grant-funded position that would take me not only out of my classroom, but also out of my comfort zone.  However, I also knew that I would regret passing up this opportunity for personal and professional growth. 

      During my five years as a Curriculum and Instructional Technology Coach, my growth was exponential.  My most pivotal insights involved learning how to best move the district towards achieving its mission and vision through ongoing, job-embedded, collaborative, and supported professional development. 

      It is my hope that what I have learned can serve not only as a guide for other teacher-leaders, but for all educational stakeholders interested in building a climate and culture dedicated to staff development and student achievement.

      1.     Be a life-long learner: Model continuous learning alongside peers.

            Learning can be engaging, enthusiastically contagious, and invigorating.  Experiencing that “AHA!” moment-of-realization continues to be remarkable, even in adulthood.  Teacher-leaders share the joy of this adventure with peers, engage curiosity, and spark momentum for knowledge-seeking.  Similarly, they also recognize that everyone has valuable contributions that add to the collective learning of a group, and thus, encourage the facilitation of learning over the “sage on the stage” mentality.

      2.     Be a contributor: Build a Personalized Learning Network.

            Connecting with other dedicated educators opens doors for the permeation of new concepts, astute advice, and best practices.  Teacher-leaders exchange ideas with their network, then share these perspectives with peers in the district to help direct next course of action.  Better yet, teacher-leaders invite interested peers to join their online network (see #5 below).  These additional viewpoints can help direct the movement of initiatives forward or provide guidance when the path needs to be altered. 

      3.     Be a canvasser: Seek input and multiple perspectives when introducing, modifying, or deepening initiatives.

            Valuing the opinions of others, even those who disagree, builds character, collegiality, and a positive climate in which learning and growth can flourish.  Teacher-leaders suspend judgment, actively listening to and incorporating the ideas, concerns, and solutions of others.

      4.     Be an advocate: Create a communication bridge between administrators and teachers.

             Uniting stakeholders helps reinforce our common goal to provide a valuable, meaningful educational experience for our students.  Oftentimes, our own vision is limited by the constraints of our daily schedule, the pressures of external forces, and the determined focus on accomplishing our own tasks.  Teacher-leaders weave connections between administrators and teachers to address the “whats, hows, and whys” to create a deeper understanding between both groups.

      5.     Be a capacity-builder: Stand next to colleagues as they integrate their new learning into practice - and reflect with them afterward.

            Offering to co-teach with teachers integrating a new practice can alleviate feelings of uncertainty, promote confidence, and lead to fun, engaging collaboration.  Teacher-leaders spend time with colleagues reflecting on the effectiveness of lessons in relation to student learning, focusing what went well, and addressing what could be improved.  In addition to building capacity among staff, this interaction shows students that teachers work collectively to provide the most effective instruction in order to meet their varied needs.

      “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”  ― W.B. Yeats

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 620
  • Alternatives to Standardized T Alternatives to Standardized Tests: Building a Comprehensive Assessment Plan

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:

      As a high school teacher, I used an array of diverse assessments to measure and evaluate student achievement and success. Many varied components would go into each student’s grades and narratives – test and quiz results, the quality of projects, writings and self-reflections, observations of students, and judgments regarding effort, growth, and class participation. Given the multiple student cognitive abilities, attitudes, character traits, and strengths and problems, it would have been foolish of me to use only one type of measure to determine a students’ success in my class.

       

      Given that multiple types of assessments such as the ones I used above are used by most teachers, one would expect that appropriate, multiple assessment approaches would be also used to assess school and district success. Thus, it is surprising that “one size fits all” standardized tests, with their major emphasis on multiple choice-short answer questions, are touted as the major, and often the only way to judge school success, student achievement, and even teacher effectiveness.

       

      Unfortunately, the sole use of these traditional tests pose many problems for assessing actual student knowledge, skills, abilities, talents and interests. First, many educators and lay people suggest that standardized tests often do not do a good job of measuring the purported skills associated with them. For example, as recently pointed out by a New York State teacher in a NY Times op-ed piece, the New York English Language Arts test questions do “a poor job of testing reading comprehension”. A student’s answers to the questions on this test have “little bearing on [his or her] reading ability and yet [have] huge stakes for students, teachers, principals and schools”[i]. Some students also might be good readers but do poorly on the reading test because of their poor test-taking skills.

       

      Second, standardized tests have limited use in evaluating whether students have learned many of the most important skills required for college work or for living in a 21st century world, such as interest in learning, motivation to learn, research and study skills, coherent writing abilities, effective oral communication skills, project and problem-based development skills, problem finding and question asking, the ability to apply learning to authentic situations, scientific investigation skills, “deep” thinking, student “grit”, and the development of each individual student’s talents and abilities.

       

      In addition, the tests usually provide schools and teachers with limited, if any, feedback to help them figure out how to improve teaching and learning. And, unfortunately, they also have a number of negative side effects, such as increasing sterile test-prep activities, narrowing the curriculum, increasing student anxiety and frustrations, and reducing student interest in learning. Many of our best teachers write about how the emphasis on testing plays havoc with their curriculum, the interest and motivation of their students, and their joy of teaching. Some have even left the teaching profession altogether because of their school or district emphasis on preparing for standardized tests.

       

      As opposition to the use of these tests increases, and a greater understanding of their limitations and negative consequences develops, it is imperative that opponents to standardized testing suggest alternatives. In fact, there should be many varied assessments used to determine school and district success, just as there are many and varied types of educational goals, results, and students. This is a very different paradigm from the “one size fits all” standardized testing results model of measuring success. So, described briefly below are some examples of types of measures that might be combined into an assessment plan useful for judging district and school success, student achievement, and the school or district conditions that limit or reinforce success. The first number of measures are designed to measure output – achievement and successes of students, their involvement and participation in multiple types of activities, perceptions of stakeholders in how the school is meeting their needs, and so on. The second set of measures focus on input: characteristics of student population, conditions under which students learn, amount of resources available, the quality of curriculum and teaching, and others.

       

      Assessing Output:

      Achievement, Successes, Activity Involvement, and Perceptions

       

      Student graduation data

      What do students do when they graduate, where do they go and how successful are they both during their time with us and after they leave us?

      In analyzing school success, data should be regularly collected on the % of students who graduate and what they do after graduation (types and names of colleges and universities attended, financial aid obtained, military enlistees, technical school attendees, etc.); what % of those who attend college graduate and why do they drop out; college majors. Student data also should include surveys and interviews with graduates to find out their levels of satisfaction with their K-12 school programs;

       

      Mission-related achievement data

      How well do our students meet the mission of our school or district?

      Student data should be collected and analyzed that demonstrate achievement and success based on mission-related goals. For example, a school specializing in the visual arts might collect data on the type of artwork students complete and a sampling of student portfolios; a school with an emphasis on music may focus assessments around the types of student performances given by students and the skill level of its music students. Vo-Tech schools might collect data on the types of training received by each student, their post high school plans and career goals, their job placements and acceptance levels into advanced programs.

       

      Report card results

      How successful are our students, based on the results of their daily and yearly work?

      We know that the best predictors of student achievement and success lie with how well students do in their classes and in the recommendations of teachers and others in the school. We therefore need to make sure that each school or district develop specific, “standards-based” report cards, built around measures of 21st century goals, that reflect how well students succeed and grow in their classes and courses. Report cards should be broken down into specific cognitive and social expectations, with ratings that use levels of achievement as well as grades. Narrative comments convey specific information to parents-guardians about the strengths of individual children and areas that need improvement.

       

      Report card data can be summarized to provide a picture of how well the school or district is doing to meet the needs of its students. Randomly selected report cards, along with narrative comments, can also be collected and shared.

       

      Cornerstone-graduation project(s) results

      How well do our students complete “cornerstone” projects that both develop and assess core 21st century skills?

      Cornerstone projects consist of research projects and “authentic” performance tasks that culminate in presentations and exhibitions and demonstrate in-depth understanding of ideas, the ability to use 21st century skills, and the ability to transfer and apply learning. Students who are able to develop questions around their interests or suggested topics, conduct research, read and comprehend, write essays and research papers, and make presentations to others demonstrate an understanding of content and competence in using significant skills.

       

      Cornerstone project results at different school levels demonstrate progress towards the development of these skills as well as final mastery of them.

       

      Student plans for the future

      What are student plans for the future?

      Every student should be required to develop a plan for his or her future, indicating their next steps after graduating from high school and their more visionary goals for the future. Part of the development of a plan should include research about future educational goals, career options and choices. A summary of these plans is an important indicator of school and district success.

       

      Student portfolios

      What is the comprehensive nature of individual student work?

      Portfolios - collections of student work - help us to assess actual student work and incorporate “real learning” into the assessment process, not the artificial, “out of context” kind of learning assessed through standardized tests. Portfolios are also individualized and customized to demonstrate an individual’s nuanced and varied skill levels, talents, abilities, and interests. Today, with Internet capability, an individual student’s best writing and/or artwork, project results, tests, self-reflections, plans for the future, and other student work can be scanned and placed electronically into portfolios.

       

      Students should be asked to develop portfolios of their work throughout their K-12 experience. Sample portfolios, or parts of portfolios, can be used to illustrate the types of work students are doing within the school or district, and how well a school or district is helping students master key 21st century knowledge and skills.

       

      Survey-focus group data

      What do parents, students and teachers think about us?

      In this day and age of the Internet, it is relatively easy to develop, post, and summarize survey data. Every school and district should collect data from parents, students and teachers at least once a year, and then use the data to review its programs, applaud its strengths, and figure out ways to improve what it does[ii].

       

      What do graduates and dropouts think about us?

      Once students leave school and move on to colleges and other post high-school experiences, they have greater perspective on their experiences and can often provide valuable insights into the strengths of a school program and “needs improvement” areas. Data from graduates should be sought after, even if it is often difficult to collect.

       

      Attempts should be made to collect and analyze data from dropouts, even if this data might be difficult to collect, in order to indicate why they dropped out of school and therefore suggest ways to help other students stay in school.

       

      Student reflections

      How do students view our school? What do they see as our positive and negative features?

      Students who will be leaving one school to go to another school within the district (e.g. from elementary to middle school) or leaving a school to transfer to a school outside the district, or graduating from high school should be the focus of special attention when it comes to surveys and data collection. These students should be asked to reflect on their school experiences and focus on what they perceive as the strengths of the school they are leaving, the major learnings resulting from their school experiences, and suggestions for improving their learning experience. This data should be collected, analyzed and shared.

       

      Community service and field-based activities

      What are our students’ opportunities to connect with and apply their learning to the outside world?

      How do students provide service to the community? How do students connect with the outside world via field trips, career days, and so on? How do outside individuals and groups provide services to and work with students within a school? These and other similar questions should be part of data collection that is shared and used to provide feedback on connections to real world, outside resources.

       

      Extra-curricular, support, or enrichment activities

      What opportunities are there for students to participate in extra-curricular, support and enrichment activities? How much do our students take advantage of extra-curricula, support and enrichment activities?

      “Extra curricular” activities provide opportunities for students to explore and learn about a variety of options that are beyond academics. What extra-curricular activities are available? Data should be available that indicates which students are partake of which extra-curricular activities, and how often they do so.

       

      In a similar vein, are their support and enrichment activities available for students? Data should indicate which students participate in these and why.

       

      Assessing Input:

      Conditions, Culture, Teaching, Curriculum, Resources,

       

      School and district student population, resource availability and conditions

      What are the characteristics of our student population? What resources do we have available to support our teachers and students? What school or district conditions help or hinder us in meeting achievement goals?

      This data helps us to understand the characteristics of the school, district and student population, and resource adequacy, needs problems and challenges. The data include information about student populations, such as ELL, special education, identified gifted populations; the number of students on free or reduced lunch. Other data includes the % of students who drop out of a school or district before graduation and the reasons why they leave; % who are “lifers” within the same school or district, % of students who are absent 10 or more days a year, % of students given suspensions and other discipline data, and mobility rates.

       

      District and school information include, among other things, resources available for technology, supplies, materials and other needs; class sizes; adequacy of library-media centers, art-music, and extra curricular programs; and support personnel available (NTA’s, nurses, counselors, community laiasons).

       

      Curricular programs and instructional activities

      What are the common types of curricular programs and instructional activities used in classrooms?

      One part of a school or district assessment plan might include examples of the kinds of curriculum, teaching and learning experiences that are incorporated into classrooms and other activities. Suppose, for example, that the school or district promotes inquiry learning. Do teachers in the district use an inquiry learning model in their classrooms? If yes, what does learning look like? What are the essential features of the mathematical curriculum? The reading-language arts curriculum? Are there any special programs in place (e.g. leveled books, writing process, deep learning, competitions) that provide the opportunity for a different type of learning experience for students?

       

      School and program reviews

      How can we increase the amount of “objective” assessment data in order to determine our successes and improve our programs?

      When I was on the staff of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, an educational service agency in Bucks County, PA, we conducted a number of program reviews for our constituent districts each year. We would enlist a number of teachers, administrators, and experts from across the county and the area to spend three days in a district examining and analyzing all or part of the district’s program. Our final report would list the strengths and needs of the program, and also make suggested recommendations for improving the program.

       

      These types of reviews are extremely valuable for a school or district, especially since an outside agency is conducting the review. It provide a wealth of objective information and data, along with suggestions for improvement, that help to assess a program and provide the impetus for making changes.

       

      Building a Comprehensive Assessment Plan (CAP)

       

      Just as we should expect teachers to build a comprehensive assessment plan to measure student success and achievement in their classes, so should we expect schools and districts to build a Comprehensive Assessment Plan (CAP) that measures both output and input: a broad array of types of achievement, successes, involvement, perceptions, conditions, culture, and resources. The plan should both assess student achievement, growth, and development, and also be useful in improving school conditions and success in the future.

       

      The selection of a set of a core set of assessments, built into a Comprehensive Assessment Plan, may be best determined by each school or district, depending on its resources, options, and viewpoints. My own view is that a combination of student population and school and district conditions-resource data, strong report card and student portfolio data, cornerstone project results, and surveys of and reflections from current students and graduates will provide significant and important data on how well a school or district is doing as well as the conditions under which schools, districts and teachers operate.

       

      In today’s world of e-mails, Internet surveys, smartphones, computers, tablets, much of this data would be relatively easy to collect. Many of these measures, taken together, can become part of a holistic school-district annual report card, presented by a principal or superintendent to school boards and available to the general public. They can be used to identify problems that need to be addressed. They present a much more nuanced picture of how well a school is doing, the qualities of student graduates, what issues a school or district are facing, and what steps need to be taken to improve the results.

       

      Unfortunately, a broad, varied array of assessment data just doesn’t get collected and developed by itself. A school or district needs to assign someone who is responsible for the development, collection, and analysis of this complex data. The person responsible might even be part of a collaborative, regional effort. The development of this more comprehensive approach will also take time to develop, and a long-term goal should be to enable every school and district to develop a significant assessment process for judging success with students and the conditions and resources necessary for success.

       

      How Federal and State Officials Can Help This Assessment Process

       

      Here are some ways that state and federal officials can provide support for a the use of a much more comprehensive assessment process:

       

      • Encourage schools and districts to collect and synthesize a wide variety of data, provide funding, resources and examples to help them;

       

      • Provide examples and models of report cards, surveys, cornerstone assessments, portfolios, and the like. Provide the technical means for collecting and analyzing data from these examples and models.

       

      • Provide support for school, district, or regionally-based individuals to be hired to build assessment systems, organize data collection, and prepare summary reports around data.

       

      • Encourage schools and districts to develop their own mix of data alone or collaboratively with others, develop new measures, and share their methodology with others;

       

      • Forbid the use of a single number to describe a school or district’s success;

       

      • Encourage the development of data summaries that are easy to understand and posted for the community to see;

       

      • Encourage schools and districts to develop a wide variety of ways to use data as feedback and to experiment and find solutions to problems that arise from the data, including curriculum adaptations, community liaisons, ways to motivate students to stay in school, and so on.

       

      • Encourage high performing schools and districts to share what they do that makes them high performing, especially when they have a significant number of students that need special help and attention.

       

      • Provide support for professional development that enables staff to review and draw conclusions from data; encourage professional development to develop potential solutions to problems discovered through data collection.

       

      • Encourage school and district experimentation with potential solutions, even if they lead to failure (that’s how we learn).  

       

       

      Ultimately, a trust in a decentralized assessment process, a belief in the value of multiple, diverse assessments to measure school and district success, along with a combination of strong leadership at all levels, will provide the necessary impetus to move us away from the primary reliance on standardized tests to assess student, school and teacher success. We should be moving towards the use of varied sets of data that provide nuanced, helpful pictures of success and student achievement and help to improve the conditions of learning. Let us hope that we move in the right direction soon, because the current direction is leading us away from the kinds of education that our students need to prepare for living in a 21st century world.

       

      -------------------------

       

      Elliott Seif, Ph.D. is a long time educator, author, consultant, educational advocate, and trainer. 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, read more his blogs on ASCD Edge and go to:  www.era3learning.org

       

       

       



      [i] Elizabeth Phillips, We Need to Talk About the Test: The Problem With the Common Core, The New York Times op-ed page, April 9, 2014.

      [ii] A High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE) is available free of charge from the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University. Go to:

      http://ceep.indiana.edu/hssse/index.html

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 447
  • Pointing To Your True North Pointing To Your True North

    • From: Sandra_Trach
    • Description:

           Instructionally savvy educators know that personalized learning is the heart of student success.  As schools strive to customize education through instructional design, technology efforts and professional learning, highly successful schools know that these initiatives in isolation are not nearly enough to improve and sustain student learning.  Strong schools know that deep levels of personalization are found in an enriching and responsive system of teaching and learning, that stretches and supports learning in individual and flexible ways.  In order to achieve a truly personalized education for every student, one must articulate, architect and actualize practical ways to engage with such a system, and support the school to ambitiously strive toward a noble vision.  Strong leadership, clear school structures, continuous collaboration and monitoring processes are vital elements that help ensure personalized success for every student. When these essential elements are employed, they create directionality for a school to reach their instructional True North.

       

      Strong leadership


           A leader must have one foot in the vision and one foot in the reality.  She must hold an almost unattainably high vision for her school, while embracing the evident truths about the school culture, data and instructional practices.  An instructionally savvy leader knows how to continuously bridge the ground level reality to the top story vision in small and achievable ways.  Her steady direction and encouragement is essential to regularly point the way to the instructional True North.  It is widely accepted knowledge that if the leader does not believe and practice the vision, the endeavors needed to reach that vision will never take root, grow or flourish.  While the instructional vision may seem distant, the leader must model and maintain a laser-like focus, that this instructional work is our moral imperative.  At the same time, she is laying a solid instructional foundation and supporting schoolwide incremental footsteps toward the vision.  Coaching and feedback are essential leadership tools.  An effective leader uses every moment of everyday to indicate the True North, fostering the conditions for school success and celebrating visible learning.

       

      Clear school structures

       

           Clear school structures are the vertical frame on the instructional foundation.  It is imperative to establish collaboration time and structures within the school day.  Collaboration is the work of teaching and learning.  One cannot effectively reflect, strategize, design, analyze, implement and monitor alone.  Instead, educators must have time and structures within the school day to have continual conversations about the fine points of teaching and learning.  Professional learning communities, data teams and a school leadership team are requisite to ensure a highly effective school.  These particular structures are the column supports for learning; educators depend on them in order to personalize education for their students.

       

      Continuous collaboration

       

           Collaboration takes many forms, and it must be a goal, norm and value in the organization.  In establishing collaborative structures, it is a necessary first step to ensure the team norms, purpose, goals and process.  For example, a professional learning community may employ a protocol that helps them look at student work.  A data team may center on a progress monitoring procedure.  A leadership team may use problem-solving model.  Collaboration rests on clarity of structure.  The absence of a clear collaboration structure leads a team to chaos or congeniality.  Neither promotes learning.  It is important to highlight that conflict is a natural part of the collaboration cycle.  It has been said that one is not really collaborating unless there is conflict.  Professional discourse reveals different points of view, and is necessary when collaborating around personalized education for a student.  Often when teams fail to embrace conflict as a growth opportunity, passive forms of meeting take over, which do not result in instructional growth.  There is no question that highly effective schools are steeped in collaboration as an authentic means toward personalizing student learning.  In fact, highly effective schools will tell you they would not be successful without collaboration.

       

      Monitoring processes

       

           The success of schoolwide systems and routines depend on careful monitoring procedures.  The leader must blend formal and informal processes to continually ensure that instructional efforts are helping the school advance in measurable ways.  Effective forms of monitoring involve transparent efforts, such as classroom walkthroughs, data work, instructional conversations and professional reflection. Savvy educators participate in monitoring procedures for instructional feedback at the student, team, school and district levels. In turn, this helps them ensure that the student’s personalized learning is successful, while promoting their own self-reflection in the process.

       

      Personalization as a goal and an outcome

       

           Highly successful schools know that building and engaging in a system that adapts to students’ strengths and needs is critical in fostering personalized education.  Educators in highly effective schools ask themselves, “How can I foster the conditions for success?”  They embrace an ambitious vision through a shared leadership model, and actively collaborate within the school structures to design, implement, measure and monitor learning.  Strong leadership, clear structures, continuous collaboration and monitoring processes comprise a educational direction for every school, and when properly employed, will point to the True North of personalized learning for every child.

       

      Sandra A. Trach, Principal

      Lexington, Massachusetts

      Cross-posted from sandratrach.blogspot.com to Connected Principals and ASCDEdge         

      

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 1184
  • Shut The Front Door Shut The Front Door

    • From: Steven_Weber
    • Description:

      As an educator, I am often surprised by the things I hear other educators say. You hear these comments at conferences, read opinions shared on Twitter, overhear opinions shared at other schools, and possibly even hear one of these statements at your own school. These statements make me cringe. When we are working with students, it is difficult to understand the statements that some educators make.

       

      Ten Statements That Make Me Say, "Shut The Front Door!"

       

      "Those students can't go to college. We should just prepare them for a career, starting in middle school."

      In 1903, Saunders, a professor at the University of Mississippi, described the perspective of many Americans at the turn of the century.  He wrote, "College education is desirable and theoretically necessary for preeminence, but it is not for the masses, and it would be but a utopian theory to plan for the day when a bachelor's degree shall be a qualification for suffrage or a necessity for success and happiness" (p. 73).

       

      In 2014, several Americans still share this perspective. The recent move towards College and Career Readiness is a positive move in education. This movement does not guarantee that every student will enter a four year college. It is the idea that every student should be provided with the opportunity to learn (OTL) key skills and concepts. Furthermore, adults should not determine a child's plans after high school when the child is in the seventh grade.

       

      "Our seventh graders made a PowerPoint, so I would say that I am proficient with technology integration."

      I am not offended by teachers saying that they require students to make a PowerPoint. However, it should be a red flag to administrators if any teacher hangs their hat on one project that incorporates technology. Technology integration should become seamless. In other words student projects will require technology integration, but the focus is on student understanding, not the device or program. After all, did you ever hear a teacher say, “My students used a pencil and paper today?” 

       

      "The Common Core State Standards are not new ideas. I have always taught this way."

      Regardless of your stance (for or against) the Common Core State Standards, there are obvious changes in the way teachers should approach curriculum development, instruction, and common formative assessments. "These Standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business. They are a call to take the next step” (Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Introduction, p. 5). Be aware of teacher teams and administrators who claim, “This is how we have always done it.”

       

      The new standards will not fit into your state’s old standards like a jigsaw puzzle. The Common Core State Standards provide an opportunity to change how teacher teams communicate, collaborate, and reflect on standards. In the absence of ongoing communication, it will be easy to revert back to teaching in isolation and struggling to understand each standard. “Failure to understand the Standards and adjust practices accordingly will likely result in ‘same old, same old’ teaching with only superficial connections to the grade level Standards. In that case, their promise to enhance student performance will not be realized” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2012).

       

      "I require the gifted students to do double the work. They can handle it, because 'they are gifted.'"

      You do not hear this myth as often as you did at the turn of the century. However, there are still misconceptions about rigor and about homework for gifted students. Giving gifted students more work does not support student understanding. If you hear a teacher bragging about giving the gifted students double the work, you should refer them to resources such as (Edmonds, SERVE) and Rigor on Trial (Wagner, 2006).

       

      "How do you expect me to read a journal article or blog. There's no time for that."

      The field of education is changing and professional growth is not optional. Online journal articles, blogs written by teachers and administrators, Twitter chats, webinars, and teaching videos provide educators with a multitude of resources. As a professional, I grow frustrated when someone claims that there is no time for continuous improvement. As educators, we should continue to grow and seek to understand best practices. It is professional malpractice to claim that there is no time for learning.

       

      "Those aren't my students."

      Teachers in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) change from saying ‘those kids’ to ‘our kids’ (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008). If the goal is to prepare all students to graduate College and Career Ready, then the teachers and staff members in the school district must collaborate to support students. Principals within the same school district should share ideas and discuss instructional strategies. Competition is good when it comes to athletics, marching band, academic clubs, and science fairs. It is also appropriate to see which school has the highest graduation rate, lowest dropout rate, and highest number of students enrolled in advanced courses. The idea that “Those aren’t my students” should be a thing of the past. As adults, we should share ideas within our school district, across state lines, and even around the globe. When more students graduate prepared for college and careers, the world wins! These are “OUR” students!

       

      "Do we get credit for attending this meeting?"

      Have you ever heard a colleague whisper, “I hope they are giving us credit for this.” Most school districts require a number of credits over the course of one year or a five year span. If a teacher is more focused on receiving credit than learning, it is a red flag. Have you ever attended a meeting until lunch and then your co-worker goes to the mall, because the credit was given in the registration packet? It is a shame that some educators view the credit as the purpose for attending. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that educators should receive credit in order to renew their license. I also believe that more school districts should begin recognizing blogging, Twitter chats, and webinars as ways to earn credit. Asking for credit is similar to the following scenario:

       

      A high school basketball coach asks the starting five to run a play in practice, one day before the game. The starting point guard pauses before running the play and asks, “Will we all five get to start in the game if we run this play right?”

       

      Running the play several times is part of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is the reason for professional development, not credit or a certificate.

       

      "We are no longer teaching during the last nine weeks. We have started benchmarking and test prep."

      Test prep is one of the worst things that teachers can do during the last nine weeks. Did you ever try to cram for a test in college? It usually does not result in transfer or understanding. There are multiple approaches that educators can take which will virtually guarantee instant gains or increases in student achievement. Curricular reductionism is a test prep strategy that eliminates arts education, social studies, character education, and soft skills. If it’s not tested, then it’s not taught during the last nine weeks (or even semester in some schools).

       

      Taking shortcuts to improve the data at an individual school is akin to a professional athlete taking steroids. When our students graduate from high school, we do not want them to reflect on their K-12 experience and see that the shortcuts adults took created long-term detrimental effects.

       

      When educators choose to give students multiple assessments that look like the high-stakes test, eliminate subjects, and create a test prep boot camp atmosphere, then students lose. High-stakes tests have changed the way some teachers and administrators approach teaching and learning.

       

      "I would assign more project-based learning, but it interferes with the pacing guide."

      Pacing guides provide students with a ‘guaranteed and viable curriculum’ (Marzano), if the curriculum is implemented in each classroom. Pacing guides can support teaching and learning. Alignment in a school district is important and pacing guides can provide an outline of what should be taught to each student. Pacing guides should allow for flexibility in pacing and the readiness level of each student.

       

      The statement above is often overheard at high schools that teach on a block schedule. While there may be 90 minute periods, some teachers cannot overcome the fact that a one year course is taught in one semester. If student understanding is improved through project-based learning (PBL), then teachers should identify days of the week and units of study that provide students with time for PBL.

       

      I say, “Shut the Front Door” to this comment, because it is an example of putting the needs of adults in front of the needs of students. We are paid to prepare each student for the next level of learning. Some educators say, “Research be damned, I am going to get through the pacing guide and make sure that I cover the content.”

       

      "I believe that soft skills are critically important, but they aren't tested by the state."

      Soft skills include, but are not limited to, teamwork, decision-making, and communication (America’s Promise Alliance, 2007). “The goal of college and career readiness for all high school graduates is no longer a radical reform idea promulgated by a handful of states: It has emerged as the new norm throughout the nation” (Achieve, 2010, p. 23).

       

      Employers seek applicants who are problem solvers, communicators, team players, and have perseverance. These skills, sometimes referred to as soft skills, are needed by all high school graduates to ensure that they are college and career ready, regardless of whether they plan to complete an apprenticeship after high school or attend a two-year or four-year college.  While employers are seeking students with strong academic skills, they are having trouble finding applicants who can collaborate, create, think outside the box, and communicate. When educators focus on tested subjects at the expense of soft skills, students pay the price. If test scores are the reason for teaching and learning, then someone forgot to tell the employers who are seeking qualified applicants (Wagner, Seven Survival Skills as described by business leaders in their own words).

       

      Closing Thoughts

      I believe in instructional leadership, teacher leaders, the Common Core State Standards, curriculum alignment, professional learning communities, and College and Career Readiness. When teachers and administrators make statements that you disagree with, you should challenge the statement. As a professional, you owe it to students and to the profession to challenge broad statements or beliefs that are not in the best interests of students or the profession.

       

      Share your thoughts below:

      What makes you say, “Shut the Front Door?”

        

      Steven Weber is an elementary school principal in North Carolina. During his career, he has served as the Director of Secondary Instruction for Orange County Schools, High School Social Studies Consultant with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, K-12 Social Studies Specialist with the Arkansas Department of Public Instruction, and as a classroom teacher and assistant principal in the West Memphis School District. Weber blogs on ASCD EDge. You can connect with Weber on Twitter at @curriculumblog.

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 15789
  • EduEarthQuake EduEarthQuake

    • From: Michael_Fisher
    • Description:

      '080630-1010560' photo (c) 2008, Waifer X - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

      

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      I’m sitting in the Detroit airport waiting for my final leg home. There’s so much to think about after an ASCD conference and so much that impacts my professional practice and my professional partnerships. I love that environment--so much growth and collegial conversation over the course of just a few short days. There’s nothing like it!


      I was part-serious and part-joking this morning about the EduEarthQuake. While I was jolted out of bed, my first thought was to tweet out with the #ASCD14 hashtag versus any emergency decision I might have made. I guess that’s the power of being a part of something so awesome that you believe it can rock the world.


      I love that the entire mood across the conference was one of hope, one of appreciating others’ perspectives, one of discovering the best of what we can do for our students.


      So I’m thinking now about aftershocks. How are you going to continue the quake when you get back home? How are you going to rock your students’ worlds? How are you going to be so EduAwesome that everybody around you feels it?


      I hope all of you are feeling as empowered as I am tonight. I loved my time with you and am setting my sights on Houston in 2015, with a detour to Orlando for the ASCD Fall Conference in October.


      Rock the world, folks. Be an EduEarthQuake when you return!

       

      @fisher1000 on Twitter

    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 451
  • Check out these #ASCD14 Sessio Check out these #ASCD14 Sessions with ASCD Leaders

  • Top Ten Things to Remember in Top Ten Things to Remember in Times of Change

    • From: Victoria_Day
    • Description:

      

      (reprinted from Vicki's Rethinking Education blog)

      APPR has created a tremendous amount of change in our districts and buildings.  It has also increased the amount of work principals have to do on a daily basis, let alone the amount of stress. Staying positive is key to the success and survival of these demands.  As a 13 year administrative veteran, here are some top tens I would like to share (In no particular order!)

      1.  Keep Your Door Open and Be Visible:  Your staff, students and parents need to see you as the leader and you need to be accessible.  Keep your door open, listen, listen, and listen even more.  Give encouragement to your staff who are working hard to embrace a new curriculum and create engaging lessons for students.  Be in their classroom, the hallways, the lunch room and the playground.  Greet the buses and parents in the morning.  Get on the announcements daily and say the pledge, your school pledge and your belief statement.  It's powerful, it resonates, and starts the day on a positive note.

      2.  Use a Scheduler:  If you don't write it down on your schedule to do a walk through, be visible, or do that observation, then it will not get done!  I use Google Calendar and live by it.  I have shared the calendar with my secretary who schedules my observations and meetings with staff when needed.  Using an online calendar such as Google Calendar, iCal, or Outlook will help you organize YOU. The best part is that it notifies me of my schedule in the morning, and notifies me 10 minutes in advance.

      3.  Provide Mini-Observations: Teachers want feedback on how they are doing.  When you do a walk through or mini-observation give them honest, constructive feedback.  I like what Kim Marshall has listed in how to do mini-observations the right way:  Unannounced, Frequent, Short, Face-to-face, Perceptive, Humble, Courageous, Systematic, Documented, Linked to teacher teamwork and schoolwide improvement, Linked to end-of-year teacher evaluation, and Explained well. (Kim Marshall, Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, 2nd Edition, 2013.) Marshall suggests to do 10 mini-observations on each teacher, throughout the school year..  That would be 1 mini-observation per month.  In our district, we do 5 mini observations for tenured, 2 formal observations and 3 mini-observations for 1st year teachers, and 1 formal observation and 4 mini-observations for 2nd and 3rd year non-tenured teachers.  What it has accomplished for me is having powerful, professional conversations about what is occurring in the classroom, asking questions of the staff, and coaching best practice.  It is also building trust and it is so important to have those face-to-face conversations about what is working and what needs to be refined.  It’s about growth and should not be about a “gotcha”.

      4.  Share The Leadership:  I am the sole administrator/lead learner at East Side, with a student population of 463 and about 60 staff members.  There is no way I can do this job alone and I rely on the staff to help run the school.  Give leadership roles to your teacher's.  Give them opportunities to work together so they can manage the Common Core.  They are the ones in the trenches and will help boost school morale and provide great education for our students.

      5.  Be the Lead Learner:  Rather than being "the principal", be the Lead Learner.  Joe Mazza, Lead Learner of Knapp Elementary School in the North Penn School District, PA, coined this term and it means to talk the talk and walk the walk.  Say what you mean, mean what you say.  Join your teachers in professional development.  Share your learning and what you find.  Get on Twitter people!  (Social media networking is huge and you should be embracing this venue.)  Gone are the days of the principal sitting in the office, managing discipline and minutia. We need to be visible, be a part of what is happening in our schools, and be in the classrooms.

      6.  Your Hour of Power:  Tony Robbins says that we have to have a daily ritual of physical and emotional conditioning.  This means having time for you.  Are you experiencing an extraordinary life?  He also says to put in some type of physical activity.   I try to power walk the hallways of my school and examine student work displayed and in turn, see the pride in our students’ accomplishments.  This also gives me an hour to reflect on the day and plan.  Give yourself this hour to rejuvenate and reflect.

      7.  Stop Those Boring Staff Meetings:  Are you regurgitating information that can be shared via email or a blog?  Stop that type of staff meeting where it is you up there, giving information and share it with your staff.  Don't waste their time by giving unnecessary information that can be shared via email or better yet, flip your staff meeting as Peter DeWitt  shared in his blog Finding Common Ground.

      8. Climate and Culture:  How is the climate of your building?  Have you given a culture survey?  Are you dealing with lots of discipline issues that boggle you down?  Maybe it is time to implement a social and emotional curriculum such as Responsive Classroom or PBIS.  If you don't address the social and emotional aspects of students and get to know your kids, forget about the academics.  Programs such as these change the culture of your building not only for students, but for the adults.  The social and emotional curriculum is just as important as the academic curriculum.  Once you have the social and emotional curriculum in place, academics are a breeze.  It is about the relationships we develop not only with our students, but also with adults.

      9.  Celebrate:  Celebrate the joys of being a team, a school family.  We just finished our Holiday stocking stuffing exchange and what a hit it made for the staff.  We also celebrate baby showers, weddings, birthdays, you name it.  Again, as adults, it's about the relationships and working together to be the best we can be.  I always say to the staff, "You are the best of the best." You say it often, and it starts to become a part of you, and we show our pride.

      10.  It's People, Not Programs:  Todd Whitaker says it best that it’s about the teachers, the people, not the programs.  “We can spend a great deal of time and energy looking for programs that will solve our problems.  Too often, these programs do not bring the improvement or growth we need. Instead, we must focus on what really matters.  It is never about’ programs; it is always about people.”  (Todd Whitaker, What Great Principals Do Differently, 2003.) Yes we have new Common Core State Standards and those modules, but if you are not putting the time into your people, your staff and teachers, giving them time to plan, collaborate, reflect and giving them ownership, then it will be a tough road ahead.  Empower your teachers and your staff, and you will have a better school.  You know that if you have great teachers, you will have a great school.  “The program itself is never the solution nor the problem.”  (Todd Whitaker)

      In the end, it is all about teamwork.  As the lead learner, create those opportunities for collaboration, leadership, reflection and rejuvenation.  You are the lead leaner and remember to remain positive!

    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 284
  • Creating An Education that Bui Creating An Education that Builds on America’s Strengths

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:

      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

       

      “Craftsmanship”   

      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:

       

      • Offer a full and rich curriculum, one that engages students and builds a basic knowledge, information, and understanding in all subject areas.
      • Emphasize citizenship education as a primary goal of learning. This includes creating a quality American history core curriculum K-12,  making special efforts to focus on Constitutional and political issues, continual exposing students to current events - world-wide issues and challenges, and helping students to become active citizens.
      • Pay primary attention to creating high quality, integrated, engaging, motivating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs K-12.
      • Offer and encourage students to participate in a wide variety of extra curricular activities to all students.
      • Integrate the teaching of lifelong learning and pragmatic and creative problem solving skills throughout the curriculum. 
      • Help students develop individual responsibility traits and encourage students to develop their individual talents and interests.
      • Encourage “craftsmanship”. Give students regular, on-going feedback that will help them to continually improve their skills in writing, reading, communicating, presentations, the arts, and in other “performances”.  Expect improvement. Infuse research projects into the curriculum to support the development of  “craftsmanship”, as well as key lifelong learning and problem solving skills.
      • Create a climate of tolerance and diversity and develop a curriculum that supports students learning about others.
      • Emphasize both competition towards excellence and helpful collaboration and cooperation among students.
      • Create a strong selection of service learning-community service opportunities as an integral part of the educational experience.
      • Create conditions that support equal opportunity when appropriate, such as small class sizes, classroom and school libraries, adequate technology, counseling and other support services.

       

      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

       

    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 384
  • What I Learned Lately (WILL 13 What I Learned Lately (WILL 13/14 #16)

    • From: Joshua_Garcia
    • Description:

      What I Learned Lately (WILL 13/14 #16)

      2/26/2014

      @Garciaj9Josh

       

      “The Monster under My Bed”

      At this time of year, I often find myself cold, tired, and a little down.  Naturally my mind and body wants to retreat in order to cope.  My mind and body work together to do very little.  For me, little to no exercise, never enough sleep and always a pull towards a perceived warm fire or hot meal are the desired state.  These short term fixes to the day to day challenges never fill my bucket.  The more I attempt to sleep, the more “restfulness” eludes me.  Over the years, I have come to better understand my restless mind and soul.  For me this awareness is similar to the monster under my bed as a little kid.  Perceived to always to be there, but never really sure because I was afraid to look.

      In the past few weeks, I have relived a few days as a student.  My first day I was a 5th grader, the second an 8th grader and the third a 9th grader.  Personally, these were difficult grades for me the first time around.  I go into trouble, I was disengaged and I felt lost with the unknown.  From bell to bell I did my best this second time around.  Each of these days I worked to complete every assignment, live the respective schedule, unplug, be a part of the class and tried to fit in.  For me entering these days once again reminded me of the monster that lies under the bed, full of perceptions that I had made my reality.

      The monster under my bed is my friend.  He reminds me of the obvious, my fears are my own and created by my own reality.  In most of the classes that I attended, I got what I put into them.  However, some of my teachers were going to make sure that I didn’t settle for anything less than my best.  They were relentless, they had an organized plan, which they orchestrated with nimbleness and artistry.  They were clear on what they expected from me and my fellow students.  I was asked to explain, defend and cite my work.  I had to take notes and organize my thoughts in a structured manner, which was the same in other classes.  It reminded me of the same tempo and structure of my college wrestling and rugby practices.  We learned basic routines for stretching, warming up and moving through drills so that we could focus on the content/skill and not lose time.  In some classes, I was told I needed to stretch my muscles and mind, that we need to pick it up a notch, which we did.  I was never given “the answer” by these teachers aka “mind coaches”, only told to clarify my thinking with my neighbor, and asked where I could find the answer/s and why I thought I might need help.  At the end of each lesson, I was tired and I was fresh.  I knew I worked, I knew I learned and it felt great.  I was not alone in these feelings.  My other students were bright eyed and wanted more.  It was like we were all addicted to learning.  I was amazed that my presence as the new kid didn’t change the flow, we all knew what we were there to do, individual and collectively get better.  Not some of us, but all of us.

      In my other classes, we did very little talking or engaging.  The class was stopped if more than one person talked at a time, it felt like only one person could be fully engaged at once.  The lessons were jam packed with the teacher explaining the content and how they wanted us to give the answer, which was often given to us if we waited long enough.  The students had rules/norms to make it worse.  They would ask low level questions so we didn’t have to do anything, it was a filibuster approach that was masterfully orchestrated and implemented.  They knew and even told me, “If we wait long enough, “X” will just tell us the answer”.  The same students who were alive earlier or later in the day with energy and curiosity appeared in a comma like state.  In these classes there was no note taking, very little writing and a lot of worksheets with a one or two word answers.  As a student you could feel it when you walked in the room, cold, tired and a constant state of grey.  Fortunately, this environment was the exception and not the norm. As I write this, I am reminded on how cruel the truth can often be, however the living in delusion is not more consoling.

      Over these days, I learned that I do better when I am worked.  Our students can be challenged and trained for hours on end.  That is why they stay after school for practices, performances and extended learning opportunities with great zeal.  Our students can work harder than they do in their classes (they told me).  We have talent in our classroom seats, we have talent in many of our teachers/“mind coaches”.  We need to build better mental work outs for our students in all of our classes.  A mental workout with timed intervals, activities that are connected, routines that stretch our muscles need to be relentlessly practiced.  Some of us call these high yield or leveraged strategies, done with such fidelity that the students lead them with ease.  We need to stop believing that going slower or stopping is going to engage more.  This has to be matched with an environment that promotes self-competition on a daily basis.  This can create a new phenomenon of group consciousness, which can be responsible for not only individual growth but collective impacts across our system.  We have too much competing with another group or class when it comes to learning and not enough clarity on what it means to compete with yourself the “student”.  Match this with some the mind coaches/teachers that I had this past few days, the ones who were talking us up, cheering us on, and individual pushing us for more and I know we can create the inspiration that we dream about daily.  As school and community leaders, we must foster a belief system in all students, every day and in every class.  We must define these principles with clarity and relentlessly uphold them for the sake of unity and good order of our society, even though we may know that others do not believe it to be truth.

      The monster under my bed is there to remind me of who I am and when I am at my best or not...  The monster is not here to provide fear, unless we should fear ourselves.  The monster is just a mirror and when I look down, I see the “me” that needs to be worked.  Over the years, the Monster has become my friend.  Have you talked to your monster?

      Finally from Shana Abe, The Smoke Thief

      All that effort,” he mused, “merely to avoid me. How gratifying.”

    • Blog post
    • 5 months ago
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  • Using Teacher Leaders for Scho Using Teacher Leaders for School Improvement

    • From: Jessica_Bohn
    • Description:

      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 

       

      Jessica Bohn

      Principal

      ASCD Emerging Leader 2012

    • Blog post
    • 5 months ago
    • Views: 558
  • ECET2: We Are Family ECET2: We Are Family

    • From: Barry_Saide
    • Description:

      

      What is family?


      If you go by the dictionary definition, it’s people who are related to you by common blood and descendants. If you follow the lyrics of Sister Sledge, it’s based on friendship, commonalities, closeness. And, if you were at ECET2, you realize it’s the 350 people you laughed, cried, and shared stories with during a three day convening based on a common passion for being an educator.


      ECET2 is an acronym for Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching, a convening hosted and funded by the Gates Foundation (@gatesed). Each of the educators invited to attend were nominated by a professional organization to best represent them. These organizations put up their A-Team, their MacGyvers, their Shakespeares, believing within each nominated person’s DNA was a common trait: a desire to support the whole child and their families. These attendees were not superheroes. They were more than that: people whose only invincibility was their unwavering belief that all students had the power to learn, as long as we empowered them to do so.


      I was one of those 350 edustars. I was nominated by ASCD. Surprised that they chose me, smart enough not to question it, just thankfully blessed, I humbly accepted. (Didn’t want them to reconsider). I would find out later that this “Why me?” question was another commonality my new edufamily shared, because in our minds just doing our jobs got us here.


      Our role at home was to help raise and nurture the next group of societal leaders, using our classroom and subject matter as the forum to teach problem solving, questioning, active listening, collaboration, teamwork, and advocacy. As ECET2 attendees, we would model, rinse, and repeat these skills through three intensely thought provoking days, 8,000 feet above sea level, in Snowbird, Utah.


      The elevation in the ECET2 acronym meant raising our edugame through guided discussions, interactive presentations, Ted-style talks, and social downtime. We met in small, colleague circles, discussing chosen focus topics. We shared resources, asked questions, and actively listened, all under the agreement that the first rule of colleague circles was you don’t talk about colleague circles. It was the law of Las Vegas: what goes on in the circle stays in the circle.


      This respectful collegiality, this understanding that our takeaway from each colleague circle, presentation, and discussion was to learn from and with each other, signified the power of a phrase I learned from George Couros (@gcouros): the smartest person in the room is the room. Or, as my friend and ASCD co-presenter, Eric Russo (@erusso78) said during our presentation on EduCore, “Barry and I were geeking out before with our breakfast table. Talking growth mindset, special education, school culture, and problem of practice, sharing documents we created, all while eating bacon.”


      We all geeked out with each other by alternately learning, teaching, and leading so each member of our ECET2 family got better. So they could celebrate their new knowledge within their district, school, and student families. And, so we could all feel a little more effective in the process.


      Katie Novak (@katienovakudl) called ECET2 “a movement.” I love her thinking, but it runs deeper than that for me. Originally, I saw the nomination by ASCD and the invitation to ECET2 by the Gates Foundation as a sign that ‘I’d made it’. When I attended the convening, I realized the  ‘it’ was just the beginning of the journey. The real test to see whether I was worthy of my invite and had learned from my experience was what I would do next. How would I show my appreciation for my experience with my ECET2 family? How would I pay it forward to my edufamily at home?


      The underlying approach to learning at ECET2 was to challenge and provoke our thinking through honest dialogue. No one at the convening did this better than Rick Hess (@rickhess99), of American Enterprise Institute, and Maddie Fennell (@maddief) who co-presented on ‘Cage Busting Leadership’. I asked him if he was interested in collaborating on a weekly Twitter chat. I believe our extended education family needs to hear his voice, have an opportunity to interact with him, and grow from these discussions. Rick’s response: “Love the chat idea...will figure out a way to make this happen.”


      Challenging and provoking thinking comes from teacher activism. I touched base with Jessica Wright (@jessicampitts), Suzy Brooks (@simplysuzy), Chris Bronke (@mrbronke), Jen Orr (@jenorr), Vivett Hemans (@lotyssblossym), Emily Land (@eland1682), Tamera Dixon (mstdixon), and Dan Ryder (@wickeddecent). They are my pre-ECET2 family. We’d organized and led a Twitter chat the night before the convening began (http://storify.com/barrykid1/pre-ecet2-twitter-chat-on-2-16-14). We’re going to continue that discussion with a bi-monthly Twitter chat for all past and present ECET2 attendees, as well as any educators interested in Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers. We’ll expand and turnkey focus topics discussed in Utah, and globally extend our colleague circles. Maybe members of the Gates Foundation, like: Dr. Irvin Scott (@iscott4), Dr. Vicki Phillips (@drvickip), Nate Brown (@hnborown1), Amy Hodges Slamp (@amyslamp), and Isis Randolph-McCree (@isismccree) would guest moderate. (hint, hint).


      Teacher activism needs to be local, too. I connected with the three other New Jersey attendees at the convening: Peggy Stewart (@myglobalside), Michael J, Dunlea (@michaeljdunlea), and Katherine Bassett. With the help of our new friends from Pittsburgh (@ecet2pgh) who’ve previously hosted a regional ECET2, we’re going to figure out a way to do one too, to elevate and celebrate our effective teachers and teaching family in New Jersey. We’d love to collaborate with others on this, so if others in our area would like to pay it forward with us, let us know.


      I know Sister Sledge and the dictionary both have it right: family is bound by like DNA, commonalities, and a similar mindset. That is why we say our close friends are ‘like family,’ and certain friends are ‘my brother,’ or, ‘my sister.’ From my three days in Utah, my edufriends became edufamily. And with their help and support, who knows what we will achieve? Regardless of outcome, our journey will continue together as we elevate and celebrate each other, and make one another more effective in the process.


      Author’s note: to honor all who influenced me and helped make me better, I noted people’s Twitter handles. They’re great teachers, and even better people. Give them a follow. They’ll make you better, like they did me. And, you won’t have to go to Utah to do it.

    • Blog post
    • 5 months ago
    • Views: 1029
  • Personalizing Professional Dev Personalizing Professional Development

    • From: Tiffany_Della_Vedova
    • Description:

      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?


      As an administrator, I have been guilty of creating such situations for teachers despite intention to do otherwise. This time around, my colleague and I vowed to get it right. For our upcoming professional development day, we decided to let teachers control their own experiences and to structure them around personalized growth goals. Here’s a summary of our approach:

      image by dkmz.net
      Personalized Growth Plans
      A differentiated PD experience begins with a constructive and teacher-oriented growth plan for each person. Instead of rating tables, we used standard domains to generate reflection and goal setting by both teachers and administrators. Using a professional growth plan template, teachers reflected on their performance within each domain and identified target goals. We then met with each teacher to review his or her goals, contributing our target goals for teachers based on our observations as well. These goals then formed the cornerstones for observations and professional development.

      PD Day Proposals
      Using a Google form, we had teachers submit proposals for their personalized learning day. The following questions comprised the form:
      • Identify the target domain: professional responsibilities; planning & preparation; teaching; or class environment.
      • From your professional growth plan, list the goal to which your experience will correspond.
      • Describe the professional development experience in which you would like to participate.
      • Where will the experience take place?
      • Will you work collaboratively or independently?
      • Describe the task outcome (the deliverable from your experience). For example, will you be generating scheduling paradigms, producing integrated units, writing up a reflection from a school visit or workshop?
      • Would you like additional suggestions for experience?

      As teachers submitted proposals, we were able to synthesize the data in a spreadsheet and sort by various items, such as those working within the same domain or toward the same goal, to suggest collaborations where appropriate.

      Outcome
      Though the PD day is still on the horizon, we are all set with everyone having a plan for his or her learning. Here’s a sample of the variety:
      • groups traveling to various schools to observe other practices in action
      • scheduling brainstorming and analysis; discussions with another school with similar scheduling goals
      • robotics workshop
      • technology workshops
      • professional article writing
      • book reading and revision of planning based on learning
         
      As the experience wraps, teachers will share their learning in faculty meetings over the next few weeks. I will post a follow up with teacher feedback from the experience. Our hope is that teachers will not only feel the experience is relevant, but that through the process, they will feel validated. Further, in our goal to provide differentiated experiences to students, this form of personalized PD may prove beneficial as a model to those learning how to implement different paths in the classroom.

       

    • Blog post
    • 5 months ago
    • Views: 471
  • Three Ways Teacher Leaders Sup Three Ways Teacher Leaders Support School Improvement

    • From: Steven_Weber
    • Description:

      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?

       

      Mentor Leadership

      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.

       

      Conclusion

      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.

      

    • Blog post
    • 5 months ago
    • Views: 3012
  • Leader to Leader News: January Leader to Leader News: January 2014

    • From: Meg_Cohen
    • Description:

       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 constituentservices@ascd.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?

      Check out the live-streamed recordings of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Freeman Hrabowski III, and Maya Angelou from last year’s conference.

       Register for the 2014 ASCD Annual Conference.

       

      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

       

      Events

       

      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.

      Throughout the month, read the Whole Child Blog and tell us what has worked in your school and with your students. E-mail us and share resources, research, and examples.

       

       

      Something to Talk About

      Top 10 ASCD EDge blog posts of 2013

      Top 5 Whole Child blog posts of 2013

      Mostclicked stories from ASCD SmartBrief

       

      Association News

      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.

       

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 419
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  • A Call to Connected Educators A Call to Connected Educators - Lead the Digital Transition in Your School

    • From: Rebecca_McLelland-Crawley
    • Description:

      

      As the fireworks burst in the midnight air, I found myself making mental resolutions for the year ahead. Over my nearly 40 trips around the sun, some resolutions have been more meaningful than others. This year, I resolve to be fully present with my children once I am home from school. Professionally, I resolve to use my connected educator powers to help others build their own networks and grow. I am not seeking to bring anyone through my journey. They each have their own destination and road to travel, but I can help support fellow educators in their transition.


      Being connected is extremely powerful. As connected educators, we seek out resources and learning new technologies to help our students. We have been able to embrace changes with a growth mindset. As we seek to inspire and reach every child, we have responded by taking whatever steps necessary to be at the top of our game. We have expanded our search beyond the school walls to a vast, global arsenal of educators through our professional learning network (PLN). We adjust our sleep schedule and coffee intake times for Twitter chats. We restructure our time to allow for reading journals, participating in formal workshops or EdCamps, writing blog posts, and lead in professional organizations. We are fully plugged into the matrix and thriving. This new reality seems perfectly normal to us, but perhaps a bit scary to others who have not shifted. I am not about to pull the plug because others are fearful of the change. It is too important for our students that we stay connected, but if you are seeking to make real change happen, become a digital leader and help ALL students.


      We must be leading the charge as connected educational leaders, helping our colleagues, districts and states move forward into the new, and ever-changing, digital reality.


      How can we help our colleagues stay ahead of the digital curve?

      We show others the power of being connected educators and help them build their networks.


      As digital leaders, we need to stand with our brothers and sisters. We know that digital tools can help motivate students, provide them with opportunities to articulate their mastery of content and skills, and connect them to a world of experts to enhance the learning experience. It is time we help our colleagues see the value through modeling, coaching, supporting, and providing them with the tools to go on their digital journey.


      We can encourage other teachers or administrators to check out resources like Twitter, Edmodo, Edutopia, Classroom 2.0, and the Teacher Leaders Network to build an online community where they will be able to learn and share with other educators. Invite an educator to a professional organization meeting or share with them a Twitter chat archive at lunch. There are plenty of ways we can help our colleagues.


      The Alliance For Excellent Education's Project 24 website (http://plan4progress.org/) opens a world of possibilities with access to expert blogs, curriculum ideas, and tangible suggestions.


      One of the greatest tools available is access to the free massive online open course for educators: Digital Learning Transition: Massive Open Online Course for Educators (MOOC-Ed). If you are a digital leaders, or hoping to become one, the MOOC-Ed will provide you with the tools to help your entire school community forge ahead. The eight week course begins January 20 and will help you:


      • Understand the potential of digital learning in K-12 schools;

      • Assess progress and set future goals for your school or district; and

      • Plan to achieve those goals.


      Consider signing up for the MOOC-ed with a team of teachers, and administrators, and be a part of a learning community of thousands of educators learning and leading the way to help your school district plan effectively implement digital tools.


      Whatever tools you consider, start with empathy for your colleagues who need your support and patience. Remain focused on the ideal that we are in a digital world and our students require access to a variety of tools to be successful in the 21st century. Every single time you reach another educator, you will also be helping me achieve my New Year’s resolution. Let’s take this on together - for all of the students.



    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 761
    • Not yet rated
  • Growing a culture of innovatio Growing a culture of innovation

    • From: Jennie_Snyder
    • Description:

      What seeds do you sow to grow culture of innovation?

      Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a round table discussion with George Couros, the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Parkland School Division, at the Marin County Office of Education (@MCOEPD). George has been inspirational to me. He's challenged me to take risks in my own professional learning and provided gentle nudges to stick with the process. I was delighted to be able to meet him in person and talk about his ideas about how to grow a culture of innovation.

      With his personable style and passion, George focused our attention on a key question for educational leaders: How do we move from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation?  He provide much food for thought that is summarized very well by Eric Saibel, Assistant Principal at Sir Francis Drake High School, in his post, Stepping Beyond the Cage of the Unknown. George has also outlined these ideas in the Leading Innovative Change series on his blog, The Principal of Change.

      While I came away from the discussion and presentation with my head spinning -- lots to think about -- I'd like to focus on a few of the key ideas that resonate with my work.

      Like other districts, we are taking a close look at how we prepare our students for an uncertain future. An essential part of this process is inspiring and fostering adult learning to transform student learning. In the discussion, George emphasized the need for educational leaders to rethink our assumptions and approaches to adult learning. If we want our students to experience innovative learning, then we need to create the conditions that make it a reality for teachers. What are the seeds we need to sow to grow a culture of innovation?

      As George emphasized creating conditions for powerful professional learning must begin with a strengths-based approach. Just as we cannot adopt a deficit model of thinking when working with students, it is also critical that we focus on the strengths that educators bring to their work and build upon them.

      George also urged participants to think in terms of individual growth targets. Instead of focusing exclusively on moving the organization from point A to point B, we also need to consider how does each person move from his or her point A to point B. As Elena Aguilar points out in The Art of Coaching: "Meeting people where they are means exercising compassion, and it really is the only place to start when trying to make meaningful change" (Kindle location 1197). To cultivate a culture of innovation, we need to begin by supporting each person to move forward.

      One of the ways we can do this is to work one to one, learning side by side. George talked about a superintendent with whom he's work as being "elbow deep in the learning." I love this image as it reminds me that we are all learners and that we have an obligation to support each other in learning and growing.

      This part of the discussion reminded me of Atul Gawande's article, "Slow Ideas." In the article, Gawande asks "why do some innovations spread so swiftly and others so slowly?" In her blog post, Accelerating Slow Ideas, Kristen Swanson sums up Gawande's findings and applies them to educators: "Slow change speeds up when people learn from a trusted friend." What matters is the powerful combination of establishing relationships based on trust, meeting people where they are and helping them to adopt new practices.

    • Blog post
    • 7 months ago
    • Views: 431
  • Coaching with Glee Coaching with Glee

    • From: Kathleen_Sauline
    • Description:

      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.

    • Blog post
    • 7 months ago
    • Views: 344
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