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Thanks for a fantastic 2013 ASCD Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois!
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Register for the Whole Child Virtual Conference: May 6–10, 2013
Join ASCD for its third annual Whole Child Virtual Conference. This free online event offers thought leadership discussions; presentations from leading authors and experts; and an exploration of the steps outstanding schools, communities, and individual countries take as they move along the continuum of a whole child approach—from implementation to sustainability to culture. No matter where you are on this continuum, you’ll find lessons you can learn and questions you can ask to improve and grow your schools.
This year the conference will include 24 sessions over 7 days between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. eastern time, with sessions on May 2 and 3 specifically for Australasian and European audiences. This year’s conference speakers include authors and experts Thomas Armstrong, Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves, Eric Jensen, Wendy Ostroff, William Parrett and Kathleen M. Budge, Pasi Sahlberg, and Yong Zhao.
Sessions will also feature presentations from ASCD Emerging Leaders, ASCD’s Outstanding Young Educators Award winner, the recipient of Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award, and members of ASCD’s Whole Child Network of Schools.
Registration is now open. Go to www.ascd.org/wcvirtualconference to sign up.
ASCD Nominations Committee Applications Open in May
ASCD is seeking ASCD leaders who are interested in serving on the 2013–14 ASCD Nominations Committee. More information—the committee’s charge, qualifications for service, and time commitment—will be available starting May 1 on www.ascd.org. ASCD will be accepting applications May 1–31. We invite ASCD leaders to consider their interest in this opportunity over the next few weeks before the application becomes available.
ASCD Leaders in Action: News from the ASCD Leader Community
ASCD Student Chapters Help Chicago’s Hungry During ASCD Annual Conference
On March 15, 46 ASCD Student Chapter members volunteered to make a difference in the fight against hunger in Chicago. Working together the Friday morning before ASCD’s Annual Conference, the students packaged more than 15,000 pounds of food to help feed the nearly 678,000 people who rely on emergency and supplemental food from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Thank you and congratulations to our ASCD Student Chapter volunteers! Read the full Conference Daily article.
ASCD Forum Session at ASCD Annual Conference Gives Educators a Voice on Teacher and Principal Effectiveness
On March 17, ASCD Past President Debra Hill facilitated a discussion of the ASCD Forum topic “how do we define and measure teacher and principal effectiveness?” Ten ASCD leaders stepped forward to help lead the discussion:
· Jason Flom, ASCD Emerging Leader
· Ben Shuldiner, Position Advisory Committee Member
· Amy Vanden Boogart, ASCD Emerging Leader
· Jeffrey Lofthus, Alaska ASCD Executive Director
· Daina Lieberman, ASCD Emerging Leader
· Mamzelle Adolphine, Professional Interest Community Facilitator
· Laurie McCullough, Virginia ASCD Executive Director
· Alice Wells, Arizona ASCD Executive Director
· Matthew Cotton, ASCD Emerging Leader
· Torian White, ASCD Emerging Leader
Session attendees stepped up to the front of the room to share their thoughts and also posted tweets to the #ASCDForum hashtag. Many thanks to the ASCD leaders who participated to make this session a success!
Congratulations to ASCD Affiliate Recognition Award Winners
Please join ASCD in congratulating the ASCD Affiliate Recognition Award Recipients:
Two affiliates were recognized for the 2013 Overall Excellence Award: Iowa ASCD, for its increased focus on integrating technology into professional learning opportunities and their influence and advocacy work with ASCD, and New Hampshire ASCD, for its work to increase membership and provide increased professional learning opportunities, such as Common Core workshops.
In addition, New Jersey ASCD received the Area Excellence Award for Programs, Products, and Services for their leadership in their state as a trusted source for professional learning. Texas ASCD received an Exceptional Progress Award in Influence and Policy, and Alberta ASCD, Ohio ASCD, and Vermont ASCD were all recipients of the Exceptional Progress Award in Programs, Products, and Services.
Welcome to the “Educating Beyond Disabilities” Professional Interest Community
Please join ASCD in welcoming our newest Professional Interest Community, facilitated by 2011 ASCD Emerging Leader Christina Yuknis. Please join her group on ASCD EDge.
Tennessee ASCD Featured in ASCD Inservice Blog Series
Weasked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states. In the sixth post of the series, Tennessee ASCD President-Elect John Combs writes about the challenges and successes that Tennessee has had with CCSS implementation.
Meet ASCD President Becky Berg
Becky J. Berg is from a family of educators. "My dad was a school board president; my mom was a career educator; and my sister, my grandmother, and my great-grandfather were educators," she says. Despite the genetic pull, Berg wasn't completely convinced she would follow in the family's footsteps until her experience as a summer camp counselor while she was in college. It was then that she realized how much she loved working with kids. Read the full Conference Daily article.
Congratulations to the 2013 Outstanding Young Educator Award Winners!
ASCD salutes a new generation’s passion for education excellence through this year’s selection of two Outstanding Young Educator Award winners: Joshua Garcia, deputy superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools (Wash.), and Parkville High School (Parkville, Md.) teacher Ryan Twentey. Twentey teaches art, photography, and interactive media production and also serves as the school’s technology liaison. Read the full Conference Daily article.
Interactive ASCD 2012 Annual Report Features ASCD Leaders
Check out the ASCD 2012 Annual Report, entitled “Creating Solutions: The ASCD Revolution in Motion.” This interactive report features videos footage of ASCD leaders, including ASCD Emerging Leader Steven Anderson, Florida ASCD President Alina Davis, Alabama ASCD Executive Director Jane Cobia, ASCD Board Member Harriet Arnold, and Connecticut ASCD President David Cormier.
Throughout April at wholechildeducation.org: Principal Leadership
Principals are the key players in developing the climate, culture, and processes in their schools. They are critical to implementing meaningful and lasting school change and in the ongoing school-improvement process. Principals who have a clear vision; inspire and engage others in embracing change for improvement; drive, facilitate, and monitor the teaching and learning process; and foster a cohesive culture of learning are the collaborative leaders our schools need to fully commit to ensuring each student—and school staff member—is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
What qualities do principals in today’s (and tomorrow’s) schools need to fulfill their roles as visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leaders?
There are two episodes of the Whole Child Podcast in April for you to download and share. The first episode, “Leveling and Raising the Playing Field,” features school staff from Oregon’s Milwaukie High School, winner of the 2013 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award, and is available now. On April 11, the second episode will be available. It will focus on principal leadership and include guests Kevin Enerson, principal of Whole Child Network school Le Sueur-Henderson High School in Minnesota, and Jessica Bohn, ASCD Emerging Leader and principal of Gibsonville Elementary School in North Carolina.
The Best-Case Scenario
As we review and reinforce our schools’ safety measures, we aren’t planning for the worst-case scenario that might happen; we are working to make sure the best-case scenario—where schools are learning environments that are physically, socially, and emotionally safe for students and adults—is an everyday occurrence that does happen. Read more on the Whole Child Blog.
In February and March, we looked at what we, as educators, believe is crucial to making our schools safe—not just physically safe, but also safe places to teach and learn. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Joseph Bergant II, superintendent of Chardon Schools in Ohio; Howard Adelman, professor of psychology at UCLA and codirector of the School Mental Health Project and the Center for Mental Health in Schools (a whole child partner); and Jonathan Cohen, adjunct professor in psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and president and cofounder of whole child partner National School Climate Center.
Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read the latest newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Something to Talk About
Capacity building is one of the buzz phrases in education due to the complex nature of how society defines student success: “academic achievement; engagement in educationally purposeful activities; satisfaction; acquisition of desired knowledge, skills, and competencies; persistence; and attainment of educational objectives” (Kuh et al., 2007, p. 10). Capacity building within schools could not focus on only one aspect of development within the school because a single group within the school community could not possess all of the capacity necessary to fuel student success. Research indicates that capacity building increases student achievement (Cooter, 2003). All educators in effective schools take responsibility for improvement and professional capacity (Eaker, DuFour & DuFour, 2002; Chu Clewell & Campbell, 2007). Capacity builds as schools focus on learning and getting resources into classrooms to directly benefit students (Machtinger, 2007; U.S. Department of Education, 1998).
Many authors have tried to articulate a definition of capacity. Ervin, Schaughency, Goodman, McGlinchy, and Matthews (2006) simply define capacity as skills, know-how, and available resources. Gewertz (2007) describes capacity as “building the school’s and community partners’ skills to improve, securing the resources to do it” (no page #). Fullan (2006) focuses on marginalized students when he articulates that
capacity building involves any policy, strategy, or other action undertaken that enhances the gap of student learning for all students. Usually it consists of the development of three components in concert: new knowledge and competencies, new and enhanced resources, and new and deeper motivation and commitment to improve things…all played out collectively (p. 28).
Knowledgeable education leaders understand that capacity building relies on the mission and vision of the local context which probably does not include academic achievement as primary to the futures of marginalized students (Schutz, 2006). Low performing schools do not have the capacity to turn themselves around in academic achievement when principals and communities are simply trying to survive concentrated poverty, low expectations, weak courses, burnt out teachers, run down facilities, overcrowding, and poor student behavior (U.S. Department of Education, 1998).
Narrowly focusing expectations of schools in the form of AYP for all students as measured by one unattainable and not always relevant standard, when schools were on the brink of realizing the importance of participation by marginalized populations and opening up the possibility of class mobility of these populations, deflected attention away from what should be the true purposes of education (Noddings, 2006). By focusing attention on education’s inability to teach 100% of children to read and calculate on grade level in grade three through eight and the resulting distrust and dissatisfaction of the school community, schools have an even harder time building the capacity necessary to reach a critical mass in affecting true educational reform to create a truly powerful school-community coalition that could realize greater economic support for low SES schools, more democratic decision-making within low SES communities, and ultimately, better informed and equipped citizens of the future from all classes that might disrupt the status quo of the dominant class (Noguera, 2004). Low SES schools that were led by forward thinking and steadfast administrators continued this course of building the capacity of the school community to ensure truly unlimited opportunity for their student populations where the resources were available to students to be successful academically, socially, and culturally (Nesbit, 2006).
The problem for meaningful and sustainable school reform is not attributable to a lack of energy, ideas, or a willingness to change in education. Fads, competing priorities, and unreasonable mandates deluge leaders immobilizing efforts to sustain and expand promising initiatives (Henig et al., 1999). As funding resources shrink, efficiency and capacity building become more and more important (Kezar, 2006). Teaching specific practices to families over making the effort to build capacity may result in advantages in certain times and places, but a “right way” approach causes action to lose its distinctive character providing the advantage (Lareau, 2000). “We need to reframe our entire reform strategy so that it focuses relentlessly and deeply on capacity building and accountability—a difficult but…doable high-yield strategy” (Fullan, 2006, p. 28).
Capacity building is closely related to organizational learning. Knowledge and understanding moves from tacit to explicit back to tacit. “Teacher change, like most human change, must emanate from within” (Bonner, 2006, p. 41). Education becomes more than parents deferring to teacher professional judgment and only being involved to the extent that teachers value (Henig et al., 1999). By understanding capacity, the “lonely teacher… reaches out to and joins the community and family [as] school is a network with permeable boundaries connecting it to the other institutions comprising society” (Musial, 1999, p. 120), instead of “erect[ing] barriers with one hand while reaching out with the other” (Schutz, 2006, p. 726). Often, in unsuccessful schools, agents simply “do not know how to improve it, or they do not believe it can be improved” (Fullan, 2006, p. 60) when collective efficacy holds the potential for a better future (DuFour & Eaker, 1998). Authoritative leadership is not sustainable; but collective, collaborative, distributed leadership can build capacity and commitment to changing school culture in marginalized communities successfully through cooperating and competition, boundary conversations, dialogue, and productive conflict (Barr & Parrett, 2007; Copland, 2003; Patterson & Rolheiser, 2004; Stacey, 1996).
As part of capacity building, principals actively build leadership capacity in others by “broad-based, skillful participation; a shared vision; established norms of inquiry and collaboration; reflective practice; and improving student achievement” (Lambert, 2003, Chapter 1, p. 1; Copland, 2003) and by developing learning communities where staff growth expands their capacity to provide for students (Eaker, et al., 2002). School reform rooted in the efforts of individuals and dependent on individual academic success cannot be sustained and will fail; working class learning is determined by the cultural context in systems dependent on sociocultural capital as opposed to individual capacity (Livingstone & Sawchuk, 2005; Musial, 1999). If capacity relies only on relationships or only on structure, capacity will be too soft or too rigid. Capacity is essential. “Because social systems are uncertain by their very nature, schools are fragile places (Lambert, 2003, Chapter 10, p. 1).
Many factors interact to determine educational capacity (O’Day et al., 1995). Yet, education experts agree, capacity building “must become a core feature of all improvement strategies” (Fullan, 2006, p. 104). Education has progressed to the point where discussion about capacity involves lists whose discussion centers around lines of responsibility versus lines of authority. These discussions describe capacity as built through clear accountability, relevant data available for analysis and application, and high expectations for staff with support of professional development (Walk, 1998). O’Day and colleagues (1995) feel “interdependence of organization and individual capacity” contributes to an understanding of instructional capacity (no page #). These authors list the five dimensions of organizational capacity as vision and leadership, collective commitment and cultural norms, knowledge or access to knowledge, organizational structures and management, and resources.
McREL (Dean et al., 2005, p. 5) defines capacity in three ways:
Complex descriptions alluding to practices evident in High-Performing High-Poverty Schools (HP2S) get past the tendency to create lists and begin to open the door to envisioning improving instructional capacity in schools as an interaction of multiple elements to “produce worthwhile and substantial learning” (Cohen & Ball, 1999). Capacity building efforts result in “adoption, sustainability, and evolution of innovation” to allow HP2S to emerge (Schaughency & Ervin, 2006, p. 162).
Recently a colleague asked me a question that made me pause and reflect. “How successful is PBL, really?” He’s an advocate for PBL, like I am, so the question wasn’t designed to nitpick or argue against PBL. He was reflecting on his own experience, and asking if mine had been similar.
I began to look back on the nearly 175 workshops I’ve presented and the large number of schools I’ve coached that have taken on PBL in hopes of changing the culture of teaching and learning. All of them wanted to move toward more depth and inquiry, and away from direct instruction, pacing guides, coverage, and the general lethargy that pervades schools as they labor under outmoded rules of engagement. Most of all, they hoped to sustain PBL year over year to power their school into 21st century learning.
How successful have they been? There are two answers to the question. For schools designed from the ground up to support integrated instruction, an inquiry-based culture, and a relentless focus on 21st century skills, the answer is clear: Extraordinarily successful. When the organizational philosophy supports student-driven inquiry, the natural outcome is great projects. These schools are the lights across the land—the Envision Schools, High Tech High, or the New Technology High Schools—that have become well known , as well a growing number of similar schools in every state. The students at these schools perform at world class levels, in some cases leading the world.
I’ve worked with many teachers, principals and superintendents who have toured leading-edge schools. They return to their own campus, wanting the same results. So they plunge into PBL. How successful are they? The answer, unfortunately: Not very.
Mostly, the schools start well. A core number of teachers implement projects that begin to show results. Students get excited; teachers feel satisfied; principals report a turning point. But that’s the first year. By the second year, typically after a strong start in the fall, PBL fades. The effort is not sustained. Why? It’s the well known rubber band effect. The industrial system can stretch to accommodate new viewpoints, but over time the constraints—mainly in-the-box thinking about tests scores and the lack of a collaborative culture committed to change—take their toll. Everyone settles back down into the routine.
This same dynamic, by the way, now drives the debate over the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Will they transform schools or become a new and improved laundry list? Here, the lessons of PBL are instructive. More than anything, it tells me that grafting an inquiry-based culture onto an industrial framework is an impossible dream, unless the effort is accompanied by a innovative focus on organizational change and high performance. This is a holistic endeavor, requiring a crucial brew of synergistic elements that work together to create a seamless system for sustainable change.
What are the key ingredients? For those schools that did transition successfully to PBL, I can think of six essentials that enabled them to power through tough barriers and emerge at the other end of the tunnel. I suspect the list for the CCSS will be the same:
Thom Markham is a psychologist and author of the Project Based Learning Design and Coaching Guide: Expert tools for Inquiry and Innovation for K-12 educators and the forthcoming book, Redefining Smart: Make your mind bigger than your brain. Download tools for project based learning on his website, www.thommarkham.com, or contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Attending ASCD Annual Conference?
We hope to see you in Chicago this weekend at ASCD’s 2013 Annual Conference: Our Story, Our Time, Our Future. Here are a few tips as you head out for St. Patrick’s Day weekend:
Can’t make it to Chicago? Attend the ASCD Virtual Conference instead!
Join the ASCD Forum Conversation
For the first time, ASCD is hosting a forum to focus on a topic of importance to educators across the globe. Nations, states, and provinces all around the world are grappling with the issue of educator effectiveness. ASCD invites all educators to make their voices heard in an ongoing discussion of the question, “How do we define and measure teacher and principal effectiveness?” The current discussion theme (March 3-16) is:
Educator Evaluation Systems: What research and evidence support the validity of existing evaluation systems?
Upcoming themes include:
The ASCD Forum concludes April 12. We invite educators to join the conversation by blogging on the ASCD EDge®social network, commenting on other blog posts, taking a survey, and attending a live session at ASCD Annual Conference. Results from the ASCD Forum conversations will inform the ASCD Board of Directors’ position development process. To learn more about the ASCD Forum, join the ASCD Forum group on ASCD EDge or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newest Policy Points Highlights Teacher Evaluation
ASCD’s newest issue of Policy Points (PDF) spotlights the association’s original 50-state analysis of educator evaluation systems as outlined in states’ NCLB waiver applications and other resources; it features a series of maps for easy comparison of key evaluation system components across the states. The resource provides graphic depictions of the frequency of state teacher evaluations, the rating levels used by states to rate teacher performance, and the extent to which states use student learning data in teacher evaluations.
Save the Date! ASCD Whole Child Virtual Conference: Moving from Implementation to Sustainability to Culture
May 2–10, 2013
How can schools implement and sustain a whole child approach to education? ASCD invites you to participate in the free, online Whole Child Virtual Conference from May 2–10, 2013.
· Hear from renowned speakers, including Pasi Sahlberg, Michael Fullan, and Andy Hargreaves.
· Learn from educators, authors, and experts who have successfully implemented a whole child approach in schools around the world.
· Discover the steps taken by ASCD’s Vision in Action award-winning schools and Whole Child Network schools to implement comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provide for long-term student success.
· Discuss how you can bring a whole child approach into your schools.
Twenty sessions will be broadcast live over five days, May 6–10, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Eastern time, with additional sessions on May 2 and 3 for Australasian and European audiences.
No matter where your school falls on the whole child continuum, be it the early implementation stage or well beyond, the Whole Child Virtual Conference provides a forum and tools for school sites and districts that are working toward sustainability and changing school cultures to serve the whole child.
Register Now! Go to www.ascd.org/wcvirtualconference
Throughout March at wholechildeducation.org: Reducing Barriers and Expanding Opportunities
Addressing students' needs levels the playing field. Or rather, addressing students' needs is only leveling the playing field. If a child is hungry, then schools can address the need by providing breakfast, lunch, and assistance as needed. The same applies if the child is unwell. Many schools have made great strides in addressing students' needs, but some schools have gone further. They have taken an issue that was initially a need and used it to enhance and improve what the school offers.
Join us throughout March as we look at schools that have taken a deficit and turned it into an asset. Some schools have used connections formed into and across the community to enhance and build on what they first envisaged. Other schools are forming alliances to improve a specific situation and have then used those same alliances to improve the entire school. How has your school or community taken a challenge and turned it into a win?
We are taping this month’s Whole Child Podcast in front of a live audience at ASCD’s 2013 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show, on Saturday, March 16, in Chicago, Ill. Joining hosts Sean Slade and Donna Snyder of ASCD’s Whole Child Programs team will be representatives from the winning school of the 2013 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award as they discuss this month's topic and what works in today's schools. The podcast will be available for download on Monday, March 18.
ASCD Leaders in Action: News from the ASCD Leader Community
New Jersey ASCD Featured in ASCD Inservice Blog Series
ASCD asked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states. In the fifth post of the series, New Jersey ASCD Executive Director Marie Adair writes about the challenges and successes that New Jersey has had with CCSS implementation.
Join the ASCD Forum Conversation
The ASCD Forum has begun, and you’re invited to be a part of it! Check out these ASCD EDge posts on teacher and principal effectiveness:
Use Emotional Intelligence as an Effectiveness Tool and Both Sides of the Scale by Professional Interest Community Facilitator Mamzelle Adolphine
The Road to Principalship and Beyond by 2012 Emerging Leader Dawn Imada Chan
Making Teacher Observation Matter by Virginia ASCD Executive Director Laurie McCullough
Conversation is also taking place in the ASCD Forum group on ASCD EDge, and the #ASCDForum hashtag on Twitter. You are also invited to join us for a live face-to-face session at Annual Conference that will also stream live via Virtual Conference. For more information, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
ASCD Leaders to Ignite ASCD Annual Conference
With the tagline “Enlighten us, but make it quick,” Ignite presentations are a fast-paced, breathtaking, and inspiring way to share stories. Each presentation is 20 slides long, and each slide automatically advances every 15 seconds; this format keeps the presentations moving quickly. The following ASCD leaders will present their Whole Child stories in Ignite session format at ASCD Conference on Saturday, March 16:
Please join us for an exciting Saturday afternoon session from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.!
Welcome to the new Common Core Professional Interest Community
We are pleased to announce the newest ASCD Professional Interest Community: Common Core in the Classroom facilitated by Suzy Brooks of Massachusetts ASCD! The group will share ideas and resources for implementing the Common Core State Standards in instruction. Please join the group on ASCD EDge.
Congratulations to Matthew Cotton
2012 ASCD Emerging Leader Matthew Cotton has been selected to serve as a reviewer for the music standards by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Matthew was identified from among hundreds of applicants and nominees nationwide as an expert in an area of music education who can contribute to this process. Congratulations to Matthew on this exciting achievement!
Check Out These Great Pieces by ASCD Leaders
Something to Talk About
This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do we define and measure teacher and principal effectiveness?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
I have recently been reading Sustainable Leadership by Andy Hargreaves and Dean Fink. They note that there are three challenges to creating change. Change must first be desirable, then doable. The most challenging aspect of change is making it durable and sustainable (Hargreaves and Fink, 2006, p.2). These components came to mind as I was reflecting on the role of effective teacher preparation programs. (I humbly note that I do not have a background in developing teacher education programs, this merely reflects my personal experiences and observations in the field as an educator.)
Educators are individuals who have chosen this field because of their desire to positively impact students’ lives. In choosing to be a part of this extremely challenging and rewarding profession, the desire component of change is easily fulfilled.
Making change doable is the role of educator preparation programs. It provides prospective teachers with the necessary foundation for their chosen practice. Two considerations are:
How are effective preparation programs structured?
An educator preparation program must have practicing teachers, especially in curriculum development and pedagogy courses. Although I currently reside in Canada, I received my teacher preparation in the United States. I was very fortunate to have professors who were also currently practicing in local elementary or secondary schools. Prospective teachers need practice putting the theory into action. My professors had practical and relevant classroom experiences to share with me. They were able to help me dissect and reflect on my practice because they too were doing so with their own classrooms.
Integrate teachers into the classroom right away. The program I was a part of did this, much earlier than many other institutions at the time. In the first year, we participated in observations of various classrooms, which then moved to assisting the teacher in classroom duties. In years two and three, we then created a lesson to present within our supervising teacher’s unit, then constructed and implemented an entire unit of our own. We also were assigned to work with one struggling student in our supervising teacher’s class for an extended period of time.
Give prospective educators the space to understand the work is about students, not just your content area of interest. In my early years as a prospective science teacher, I was so nervous about creating the perfect lesson plan and making sure I understood my material perfectly. I had not yet understood how to effectively address the socio-emotional needs of my students. My assignment to work with a struggling student forever changed my interactions with future students. In that time, I learned how this student’s struggles at home impacted her ability to focus in school—it was no wonder that she could have cared less about labs and demonstrations. Over our time together, we devised a plan and met regularly. I carefully modified my work in response. In the end, she was able to both increase her grade significantly, improve her overall attendance and we had forged a stronger teacher-student relationship. Most importantly, she taught me the importance of taking the time to slow down, listen, be flexible and understand how to truly connect with students.
What other voices and experiences should prospective teachers be exposed to?
Give educators the opportunity to spend more time in the classroom than “required.” In my fourth year, I participated in the standard teacher practicum that is the norm in many schools. The education department at our university had close ties with the local school board and would inform us of upcoming teaching training opportunities. In my last two years, I opted to apply and participate in an optional two-year internship that this school board offered. This required me to be in the classroom for additional hours beyond my teacher education classes. Having this additional time in the classroom provided me with opportunities to learn from other practicing teachers, participate in the life of a school, receive feedback and refine my practices. It gave me a much clearer sense of what my life as a future teacher would look like.
Teachers must understand and learn how to integrate social justice issues into their work. Later in my educational career, I had the opportunity to work in a school that focused on social justice education. It was evident in the mission, diversity in the faculty and staff, as well as the culture we tried to create. The voices and experiences of our students were reflected in everything from the curriculum and teaching practices, to what hung on the school walls. I became a better educator through this experience. In our global society, our success as educators is dependent upon our ability as educators to reach, influence and engage ALL students. Prospective educators must feel comfortable speaking and responding to issues of equity and diversity. Thoughtful integration of social justice issues into one’s curriculum takes practice to ensure that they are addressed appropriately and in an inclusive manner. Therefore, preparation programs across the board must help foster a strong foundation by integrating this within course requirements, not merely making it an add-on component.
Encourage experienced teachers to continue to grow throughout their educational careers. Finally, what about the sustainability of learning in our profession? My practice as a teacher changed and further developed when I decided to leave the United States and move to Canada. In doing so, I was challenged to learn a new curriculum and had to adapt my programming, while also exploring new classroom practices. I have always been the type of person that is eager to learn new things and reflect on my work, but a complete change in school systems forced me to become a “new teacher” again and learn valuable lessons to reinvent my practice. Obviously it is not viable for individuals to move to different schools to seek this type of growth. However, I do see the value of new experiences in that they can positively disrupt and shape us to grow even further.
So it leads me to question: Who is responsible for that work? Providers of Teacher Preparation Programs? School Districts? Administrators? Teachers? All of us? The growing use of PLNs (Professional Learning Networks) is an essential piece of this growth, but these are largely driven by individual educator efforts on one’s own time. I am currently pondering how we can invest in teacher leadership programming. I am not referring to administration programs for those who are looking to becoming a principal, vice-principal or curriculum/department leads, though such teacher leadership programming could certainly include similar topic areas.
My rationale is this: If we believe that creating change in our schools is based on the work of effective leaders, then we must consider that leaders must be present at all levels of our schools. We must invest in the leadership capacity of all educators, not just those in the traditional leadership roles. The question again is what does this effective programming look like and who is responsible? The answers are critical to sustaining a culture of leadership and learning in our schools.
Hargreaves, A. & Fink, D. (2006). Sustainable Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Have you have ever wondered how some schools get grant funding? The answer is simple... School administrators and teachers who invest time into finding and writing proposals are likely to receive funding eventually, even if not on the first try. Those who keep trying are more likely to secure funding, as the writing team learns how to write a proposal that matches the goals of the solicitation. Here are a few quick tips for school leaders who wish to obtain grant funding for their school.
1. Stay tapped into common sources of funding.
You can sign up on many websites to be notified when new funding opportunities are released. Government agencies (both federal and state) are common sources of funding. However, there are many large corporations which invest a lot into grants for public education. It's a good idea to make a list of major contributors, as well as potential local corporations that have contributed to schools before. Foundations and organizations with local ties are sometimes more willing to contribute to a cause that will impact the local population, which provides their sales base.
2. Develop a grant committee.
Identify and recruit teachers who have an analytical approach to problem solving and who are good teacher leaders. Once a month they can meet to discuss needs and potential funding sources, and even write parts of proposals. With teachers vested in the process, proposals are sure to be implemented well if funded. Of course, if you are a school administrator, you will want to do some of the writing yourself also. Funding organizations want to know the leader of the school is fully vested in ensuring successful implementation.
3. Become knowledgeable about what kinds of things make winning proposals. Some of this knowledge will come with practice, but there are a few simple guidelines that can be helpful. Here are a few:
- Write the proposal to match the solicitation, if you are writing a grant. Don't be ashamed to even use their own solicitation language in your proposal description.
- Be sure to address every possible requirement or question mentioned in the solicitation.
- Make sure you address how the efforts will last beyond the funding timeline (called sustainability).
- Keep in mind potential extras you could throw in that would further the goals of the funding agency or bring positive press to that organization.
- Make sure that your scope and scale of your proposed project are appropriate and explicitly mention the scope of impact in your writing. For example, a $10,000 project that would impact five students might be less likely to get funded than a $50,000 project that would impact 500 students.
- Partnerships with external organizations look great in grant applications. Partnerships provide sustainability, vested interest and a broader scope.
There are plenty of workshops available to assist with additional tips for writing winning proposals. Also, keep in mind that grants are not the only sources of external funding. Donations made by local or even national organizations often do not carry the same stipulations and regulations as grants.
My sense is that most educators are viewing the Common Core State Standards as another inconvenience, yet another requirement to be met in our classrooms. However, I would argue that the CCSS presents us with an incredibly unique set of opportunities, if we choose to embrace them as a collective “opportunity.” Knowing that we may have to restructure what we do and how we do it, we have opportunities to truly re-examine our practice and adjust it accordingly in order to better meet the academic needs of our students. Additionally, and perhaps more critically, we don’t necessarily need to limit our focus on our students’ academic needs.
Since the CCSS are not simply an “upgrade” to what we’ve been doing, but rather a whole new approach, we have an opportunity to also address more comprehensively the needs of the Whole Child. In a sense, we’re developing new unit plans, new ideas for instructional reinforcement, new plans for formative assessments, etc. This will offer us the chance to critically re-examine--in an extremely reflective manner--our own practice and, therefore, our own effectiveness as professional educators. ASCD’s Whole Child initiative states that all students should be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. A reorganization of our approaches to instruction provides us with the opportunity to integrate these five aspects into our instruction. Further, as professional educators, these are things that we should not do occasionally, but rather we should strive to integrate them every day and for every child.
But, how can we do this?
* Data-driven educational decision making -- adding the science of teaching to the art of teaching; this is the systematization of a decision making process that incorporates action research as a cyclical process of planning, acting, developing, and reflecting
* Data, data, and more data -- using a wide variety of data to help inform this systematic decision-making process; nothing should be “off the table;” vary the types of data you use in order to inform decisions about your students, your teaching, your curriculum,...
* Thinking differently -- consciously choosing to do things differently; not just thinking outside the box, but actually living outside of it; this needs to become a regular, daily part of the way we do our job of educating the entire child
* Professional collaboration -- we need to abandon the “egg-crate” mentality of teaching our students; we are capable of accomplishing so much more through collaborative teamwork, where we share common problems, goals, and vision; incorporating collaborative action research and professional learning communities can be an excellent means of fostering this type of collaborative work
* Professional reflection -- constant and critical examination of your own practice fosters on-going professional learning that is meaningful; doing so also provides you with a mechanism for customizing your own professional development
As a final thought, the Whole Child initiative stresses that sustainability is a key in focusing on the needs of children and families. I am a firm believer that collaboration, especially in terms of creating professional learning communities (PLCs) or teams (PLTs), infused with action research, can not only enable teams of professional educators to lead and sustain vitally important efforts that meet the needs of the total child, but will actually foster and promote these kinds of professional activities and endeavors. To me, this is the true example of teacher leadership.
I implore you to use the Common Core State Standards as an opportunity to integrate the aspects of the Whole Child initiative into your daily classroom instruction. Teacher leaders utilizing an action research approach to meet the Standards, as well as the needs of the Whole Child--this just may be the perfect storm (for school improvement, that is!) that we’ve all been waiting for.
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
OYEA Winners and Honorees Featured in Educational Leadership for 10 Year Program Anniversary
This month, in honor of the 10th anniversary of ASCD’s Outstanding Young Educator Award (OYEA) program, we invited past winners and honorees to share their stories about the first time they felt like a real teacher “Tell Me About…” column for the May 2012 issue of Educational Leadership themed “Supporting Beginning Teachers.”
From “Air Quotes and Empowerment” to “Resilience in Response to Tragedy,” these stories are funny, powerful, moving, and inspiring. Read their stories online and in pages 92–95 of your print copy of EL.
New Jersey ASCD Executive Director Shares Reflections From Common Core Symposium
As a result of the successful recent symposium entitled The Common Core Standards: Implications for Higher Education (PDF), New Jersey ASCD Executive Director Marie Adair wrote a white paper synthesizing the ideas and concepts presented during the symposium.
The document, Re-Envisioning the Teaching Profession: A Collective Call to Action (PDF), provides challenges for K–16 educators in determining the changes and the innovations that will need to be created in teacher preparation programs to advance our profession.
Other resources from the symposium are available on the New Jersey ASCD website.
· California ASCD is hosting an Educator Appreciation Day on May 11.
· Hawaii ASCD is collaborating with the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and the Hawaii Department of Education to cosponsor a two-day conference at the end of May with Art Costa on “Habits of Mind.”
· Tennessee ASCD presents “Professional Learning Communities: What are They and How do They Work?” with Bob Eaker and Janel Keating.
California ASCD welcomes Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for Central Unified School District Laurel Ashlock, and Program Manager for CTAP Region 10 Dennis Deets to the affiliate board of directors.
OYEA Honoree Co-Authors Book on the Common Core State Standards
2011 OYEA Honoree Maureen Connolly and Vicky Giouroukakis of Molloy College have recently co-authored the book, Getting to the Core of English Language Arts, Grades 6-12: Meeting the Common Core State Standards with Lessons from the Classroom. In this book, they discuss the benefits of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for the teaching of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, and they provide lessons from the field for grades 6–12 that effectively guide students in meeting these standards.
“The CCSS have the potential to allow divergent thinking among teachers and students alike because they are not about prescribing instruction, but rather they are about ensuring that our instruction and students’ learning experiences are rigorous and purposeful,” said Connolly. “ Vicky and I designed our book with a combination of theoretical and practical perspectives to guide and inspire teachers as they plan for instruction.”
OYEA Honoree and Emerging Leader to be Baltimore County Superintendent
Dallas Dance, 2009 OYEA Honoree, 2010 Emerging Leader, and chief middle schools officer in the Houston school district, has been chosen as the next superintendent in Baltimore County.
“We were extremely impressed with Dr. Dance during his interviews, with his poise and his maturity. His answers showed a depth of understanding. His references and prior experience were stellar,” said Baltimore County School Board President Lawrence Schmidt.
In an open letter published in the Baltimore Sun, Dance pledged his commitment to the new position:
“Education is my calling, not just a career. I've always known that this would be my life's work, and it has been professionally and personally rewarding. To quote one of my heroes, Teddy Roosevelt, “Far and away, the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” As your next superintendent, I pledge to the residents of Baltimore County to devote every waking minute to your children and giving them the excellent education they deserve.”
Congratulations to Dallas!
Director of Constituent Services Publishes Third Book
Director of Constituent Services Walter McKenzie has just published his third book, Intelligence Quest: Project-Based Learning and Multiple Intelligences. The book, published through the International Society for Technology in Education, offers a fresh look at multiple intelligences theory and how it can be applied to successful implementation of technology in teaching and learning.
McKenzie has been teaching and administering online communities of practice since 1997, through his work with Classroom Connect, Pepperdine University and the University of Mary Washington. He has developed and led online global symposia and conferences through the Capital Region Society for Technology in Education, and has served as the head of departments of technology and information systems for the public schools of Salem, Massachusetts, Northborough and Southborough, Mass., and Arlington, Va. McKenzie will have been with ASCD for two years this July; his previous published titles are Multiple Intelligences and Instructional Technology (ISTE, 2003, 2nd ed.) and Standards-Based Lessons for Tech-Savvy Students: A Multiple Intelligences Approach (Linworth, 2005).
Throughout May on www.wholechildeducation.org: Mental Health
A child’s mental health is influenced by her biology, social and physical environment, and behavior, as well as the availability of services. Good emotional and behavioral health enhances a child’s sense of well-being, supports satisfying social relationships at home and with peers, and facilitates achievement of full academic potential. Research shows that one in five children and adolescents ages 9 to 17 experiences symptoms of mental health problems that cause some level of impairment. However, fewer than 20 percent of those who need mental health services receive them.
But, being mentally healthy is not just about emotional and behavioral difficulties. It’s also about being mentally strong and resilient and having the skills and supports to deal with stressful issues when they arise. In a nationally representative survey of 12- to 17-year-old youths about their traumatic experiences, 39 percent reported witnessing violence, 17 percent reported physical assault, and 8 percent reported a lifetime prevalence of sexual assault.
Just as one can be physically healthy or unhealthy, one can also be mentally healthy or unhealthy. Join us throughout May as we discuss the importance of each child, in each school and in each community, being socially, emotionally, and mentally healthy.
Download the Whole Child Podcast to hear from Erica Ahmed, director of public education for Mental Health America; Jo Mason, acting national business manager and national professional product development manager for whole child partner Principals Australia Institute and MindMatters, Australia; and Philip C. Rodkin, associate professor of child development in the Departments of Educational Psychology and Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. As always, visit the Whole Child Blog to read posts from diverse writers, leave your comments, and get free resources on promoting good mental health for children.
Something to Talk About
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Leaders in Action: News from the ASCD Community
Hofstra University ASCD Student Chapter Helps Students in Kenya and Liberia
Hofstra ASCD University has already donated $4,800 to help build schools in Kenya and Liberia, and they’re planning to donate more. Read their story on ASCD EDge.
Spanish Speaking Educators Support the Whole Child
These Spanish speaking ASCD leaders know “toda la persona es importante.” Watch and share the whole child video.
Outstanding Young Educator Award Winners Announced
Liliana Aguas, teacher at Leconte Elementary School in Berkeley Calif., and Matt McClure, superintendent of Cross County Schools in Arkansas, are ASCD’s 2012 Outstanding Young Educator Award (OYEA) Winners! ASCD honored Aguas and McClure at the 67th Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in Philadelphia, Pa. The 2012 OYEA honorees are Tiffany Anderson, Daniel Kimberg, and Catherine Ousselin.
Learn more about the winners and the OYEA program at www.ascd.org/oyea.
Affiliate Awards Announced
At the Leadership Appreciation Luncheon on Sunday, March 25, 2012, ASCD honored ASCD affiliates for their exemplary service to the education community with Affiliate Excellence Awards.
This year, North Carolina ASCD received an Overall Excellence Award. Rhode Island ASCD and Virginia ASCD received Area of Excellence Awards. Read the press release on ASCD.org.
Colorado Common Core State Standards Summit
Nearly 500 educators attended ASCD’s Common Core State Standards Summit in Westminster, Colo., in early March. In addition to providing attendees with the latest information about the status of the state’s standards implementation efforts, school leaders gave feedback about their biggest challenges and needs in putting the standards into practice.
Learn more information about the partnerships and what was discussed at the Colorado Common Core State Standards Summit.
Debra Hill Takes Office as ASCD President
In Debra Hill’s career as an educator, she has worked at just about every level of education, from classroom teacher to superintendent to university professor. One thing she plans to focus on during her tenure as ASCD President is strengthening partnerships that support the Whole Child Initiative. “I believe the Whole Child Initiative can really help to refocus, reform, and revolutionize the conversation about education”, says Hill. Read more about Hill in the Conference Daily archive.
Emerging Leaders and Student Chapters Ignite ASCD Annual Conference
The afternoon of Friday, March 23, 2012, members of ASCD Student Chapters and Emerging Leaders presented at our first Ignite Session. With the motto of “Enlighten us, but make it quick,” this event was the first of its kind for ASCD. After watching a series of five-minute presentations on various topics, attendees participated in a fast-paced, hands-on networking activity. It was a unique opportunity for Emerging Leaders and Student Chapter members to meet and mingle together. Read the recap on ASCD EDge.
Legislative Committee Members Talk with U.S. Dept. of Education Representative about RESPECT
ASCD Legislative Committee members David Mathis, Marie Adair, Nick Dussault, Nancy Gibson, and Jeff Stephens (along with ASCD public policy staff) met with Gamal Sherif, a U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow, during an Annual Conference luncheon to discuss federal policy issues. Sherif was most interested in hearing ASCD’s perspective on the Obama administration’s new RESPECT initiative and was very responsive to Legislative Committee members’ concerns about the need to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as well as the importance of providing support for teachers and principals in this difficult economic climate.
Throughout April on www.wholechildeducation.org : Whole Child Network of Schools
In May, ASCD will select a small group of schools from across the United States and Canada to become part of our Whole Child Network (WCN). WCN schools will receive a $10,000 grant for the 2012–2013 school year and individualized support from ASCD in developing a plan to implement a whole child approach to education in their schools, including a needs assessment and implementation support to ensure a sustainable, comprehensive approach. The schools chosen for the WCN will commit to a comprehensive school improvement process that will use the Whole Child Tenets—healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged—and their indicators (PDF) as their sustainable approach. ASCD’s WCN is open to all schools (e.g., public, charter, private) of any grade level within the United States and Canada.
To apply go to www.ascd.org/wholechildnetwork Deadline: April 30th, 2012
ESEA Reauthorization: The Never-Ending Story
What will happen if our nation's leaders fail to reauthorize ESEA this year, and current law continues to operate on autopilot? ASCD’s spring edition of Policy Priorities examines this question, drawing on insight from education leaders from across the political spectrum and across job responsibilities. The policy newsletter succinctly captures NCLB’s deep, structural flaws; outlines the House and Senate’s current efforts to overhaul the federal education law; describes the Obama administration’s attempts to circumvent the trickiest parts of the law by offering states NCLB waivers with strings attached; and summarizes transition challenges states are likely to face as they implement Common Core State Standards within NCLB’s outdated framework.
Something to Talk About
· Preparing Next Generation Citizens with iCivics, ASCD Inservice
· Three Questioning Strategies for Any Lesson,ASCD Inservice
· Gaps Close When Whole Child Beliefs are Matched with Actions, ASCD Inservice
· ASCD Debuts Digital 2011 Annual Report—ASCD announces the release of the association’s 2011 Annual Report, entitled “Creating Revolution: The Next Chapter in the ASCD Story.” Designed to convey the perspective of real educators, the report details how each component of ASCD’s work in 2011 positively affected the education practice. The exclusively digital report is easy to access and share on Internet-ready devices anywhere in the world. Read the full press release on ASCD.org.
· ASCD and Pearson Debut New Principal Compass™ Online Professional Development Tool—At the association’s 67thAnnual Conference and Exhibit Show, ASCD and Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, debuted the new online, comprehensive leadership program, Principal Compass. Created in collaboration with Robert Marzano and the Marzano Research Laboratory, Principal Compass is a cloud-based program that helps increase leadership effectiveness for K— 12 principals and their teams. Read the full press release.
· ASCD Publishes Guidebook for Coming Out on Top Even When Teaching Gets Tough—ASCD is pleased to announce the release of When Teaching Gets Tough: Smart Ways to Reclaim Your Game, a new book by seasoned educator and school psychologist Allen Mendler. Read the full press release.
We can talk about merit pay, accountability and tenure. We can debate (endlessly it seems) students first, testing, failing schools, poverty and unions. We can go toe to toe over the value of choice, charters and vouchers. PISA, Finland, Arne and Rhee. Ravitch, Race to the Top and common core. All worthwhile conversations. And necessary.
And perhaps moot.
While we haggle over evolution and intelligent design, revisionist history texts and the best way to grade and fire teachers, there is a larger beast afoot: The increasing global instability caused by (and/or exacerbated by) climate change.
Were we hunter gatherers, this might not be much of an issue. We could simply gather up camp and follow the mouth watering scent of big, tasty mammals. A bit warmer here? A bit cooler there? No big deal. Heck, we might even appreciate a few more roasty-toasty days. "It's only the spring equinox and it's already time to break out my summer loin cloth, dear. And look, the ocean is closer than it was yesterday! Let's go nab some fish." But we aren't hunter gatherers. (Unless hunting for sales and gathering coupons counts. Which may explain why we are only peripherally aware of warning signs so large we almost can't see them.)
Black swan events have almost become routine. We practically don't even notice them anymore. "Another one hundred year flood of the Mississippi? Ho hum. Monster hurricane? Yawn. Obscenely enormous tornado devastates entire city? Been there, done that." And that is just here in the states.
Take a peek beyond our borders and the trend continues: droughts, heat waves, blizzards, monsoons -- all breaking records at an alarming rate. When athletes annihilate records at a break neck pace we suspect The Juice, and congressional meetings ensue. When the planet breaks meteorological records at the same rate, we implement standardized tests and line up to buy Priuses.
Unfortunately, the Purchase-A-Bunch-of-"Green"-Stuff Solution will not suffice. We can't buy our way to a more sustainable planet. We may have to go so far as to -- eek, eek -- educate our youth; and not just in how live more sustainably, but in how to assess and adapt in a rapidly changing environment. Or, more simply, how to: Learn. Apply. Repeat.
In an article in the New York Times, "A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself," Justin Gillis unpacks some of the myriad factors currently affecting the global food supply and hints at potential calamities coming to a destabilized ecosystem near you. It is not a pretty picture. In fact, for people in developing countries, it is absolutely bleak. With over 900 million people (NEARLY 1 BILLION!) already lacking access to clean water and adequate food, and the population set to hit 10 billion well before the end of the century, and more fantastically gigantic natural disasters sure to come, we must ready ourselves, or at least our students.
And our education system.
I'm a fan of reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. All are important. As is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics). I'm also a fan of standards. I like knowing what students should be able to do, as long as the standards don't limit learning and growth.
However, more so than the skill achievements quantifiable by a company's question bank and bubble sheets, I'm a fan of doing, engaging and tackling. I want to see my students wrestling with issues beyond them and larger than life.
When the Gulf Oil spill happened, we teamed with an FSU marine biologist to help conduct baseline mole crab surveys in the event the oil made it this far. We couldn't stop the spewing gas, but dag-nab-it, we could take the learning opportunity and squeeze it for all its worth.
Did we meet standards? You betcha. Did we read, 'rite and do 'rithemetic? You betcha. Did we apply the scientific method in a relevant context, analyze data and investigate systems? You betcha.
More important than all of that, however, is that students made connections between scholarship and the environment. They investigated a local ecosystem and increased their knowledge of the many dynamics at play while also sensing the unquantifiable value of an unspoiled stretch of nature. We need more of that. Students must become experts in the land we have and architects of the Earth they want.
This won't happen through test prep and bubble sheets, text books and number 2's, or sentence diagrams and grammar worksheets.
Students need to get their hands dirty. They need to experience where their food comes from, where their poop goes and what it actually means to live on a cup of rice for a day. They need to feel and learn about the profound connection between dirt and life. We need an education system that gives students transformative and empowering experiences that bring them face to face with the delicate balance between the environment and humanity.
If climate change predictions are correct (and I'm believe they are), oceans and temperatures will rise; droughts, floods and storms will increase; and lives will be disrupted.
People will suffer. People will die. One of them could be one of my girls. One of them could be one of yours.
Our children must learn how to live on this planet sustainably, with everyone, peacefully. Everything else is just blissful white noise.
Can Teachers Create Sustainable Environmental Education?
So.....according to Webster’s, the term sustainable is an adjective referring to a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged. What does that mean for you and your students? By creating real-world, engaging activities in your classroom and your school, you can create sustainable environmental education for your students, faculty, and staff members. Educating students and staff can have impacts that reach beyond the classroom and extend to the development of ones’ character, while establishing social and civil accountability and learning to be environmentally responsible. Develop activities using synonyms like supportable and maintainable, while also incorporating ecological terms such as biomass and carbon footprint, which are seen in the media and on the Internet daily. Implement new programs and share information not only in the classroom, but during daily announcements, at faculty meetings, PTA meetings, and at parent nights. Try creating sustainable environmental education in your school and community by putting into practice some or all of these ideas today!!!
1. Visit www.americarecyclesday.org and have your students “Take the Pledge” to recycle and keep America beautiful!
2. Have students and staff take a pledge to recycle more at home and at work. Go to your community’s web site for curbside recycling information and share that with your students, parents, and community in an email or on the school web site.
3. The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) supports “caps on” plastic bottles when they are recycled at curbside through local municipalities or when dropped off at recycling centers. Take a moment to visit www.plasticsrecylcling.org for more information. Help create positive change in the recycling industry!
4. Sign up for a recycling program such as Cartridges for Kids where students can recycle donated, old, inkjet cartridges, used cell phones, digital cameras, video games, DVDs, iPods, GPS systems, laptops, and video game systems. Your school can collect money and save these items from the landfill!
5. Start a school lunch recycling program. Set up a compost bucket in the lunch room and have students collect fruits and vegetables such as apple cores and banana peels, then put them into a compost bin outside at your school. Put students in charge of the compost bucket and bin. Have them turn the dirt daily!
6. Collect Household Hazardous Wastes (HHW), such as used batteries, and then take them to a permanent collection site in your community. Have students create a HHW bottle for old batteries by taking a used milk container and cutting off the top to create a wider opening for the batteries. Decorate and collect!
7. Create an after-school Environmental Club. Have students make recycling posters to decorate classrooms with a list of items that can be collected in each classroom recycle bin. Then have a school-wide recycle day each week to collect classroom recycling.
8. Plan a NO WASTE LUNCH day at your school once a month or once a quarter. Have students and faculty bring their lunch in reusable containers, then compost food scraps, and recycle paper bags, pop cans, and water bottles. Create a contest for the grade level with the most No Waste Lunches!!! Award them with pencils recycled from old paper money.
9. Promote a CARBON FREE DAY in your school district. Encourage students to walk to school with a friend or ride their bike. Inform parents about carpooling to school as well!
10. Encourage your students and staff to use both sides of the paper, turn off the lights to save energy, and bring a plant to school for their classroom for better air quality.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Follow me on twitter @lauramriley60 or check out my blog at http://laura-riley.blogspot.com/
Any time a societal transformation has occurred, young people have almost always been the driving force to bring about revolutionary change. Whether one looks at recent events in North Africa and the Middle East, at our own history in the U.S. through the Civil Rights Era, Otpor’s toppling of a Serbian dictator in 2000, or the past anti-apartheid struggles in South Africa; the common thread that ties movements for social and political change are that youth at all ages are at the center energizing the popular call for civic justice. Young people have always been capable and impactful in upsetting the status quo whether positively or negatively. When we don’t provide structures that make them feel connected, involved, trusted and respected in the making of society or community, we sometimes risk alienating and disengaging them and producing conditions that we consider puts kids “at risk.” It’s this vision for change, idealism, and energy that children, adolescents, and young adults possess that can be awakened, harnessed, and positively directed to not only make learning alive and relevant for students, but also firmly link educational preparation for future outcomes to students current lives, purposes, and goals.
It is quite common to expect the purpose of our education system is to prepare students for the workforce by transmitting a set of knowledge, skills, and credentials that will enable them in the future to be productive within our economic system. Now, as we tack on citizenship-readiness to this purpose, we run the risk of implying that citizenship, or youth participation in civic action, is something for the future. While we do want every child to graduate high school fully able and prepared to go to college, embark upon a career, enlist in the military, and be active citizens, we also want to ensure that students are connecting these objectives to their present lives and circumstances.
Civic education, financial literacy, health awareness and promotion, and education for entrepreneurship, for example, provide a hands-on framework that makes learning relevant, current, centered on the student’s interests and needs, and provide tangible outcomes that extend beyond the school walls or even the school year. These practical learning experiences have to connect to the stories relayed in history and current events, the inquiry and fact-finding skills of science and math, or the creative expression in literature and art, so that learners become more invested in their education, are able to see how it impacts them in the present, and become inspired to take part in their own personal development and enhancement.
Examples of schools that are using this approach to developing students’ capacities for social advocacy and community involvement are Northport High School in Northport, NY and West Village Magnet School in Bend, OR. These schools demonstrate how developing student voice is a significant part of the school culture and is being transplanted into the larger community. The students at these schools already understand the importance of their roles in creating the communities in which they take part and receive support and facilitation through essential student-teacher relationships.
For example, at West Village students’ passions and personal learning goals are integrated into the curriculum. One year, students learned about environmental and social issues, then held a community fair on sustainability where they presented various community-wide projects ranging from teaching water conservation to holding a Pennies for Peace drive. Some students still continue working on these projects long-term and local organizations have asked them to participate in their own outreach efforts.
Similarly, at Northport young people have many opportunities to be active leaders for social justice in the community. Students for 60,000 is a student organization at Northport that provides humanitarian assistance to those in need. Projects have included feeding and clothing the poor or homeless locally and internationally and teaching English to recent immigrants in their town. Also, members of A Mid-winter Night’s Dream, another student club, have testified before Congress on issues related to ALS disease. These students have been able to conduct research alongside scientists and have raised over $1.5 million dollars in seven years in order to support patients with ALS and further research.
In any movement for change, be it from the school level to the international level, it is important to recognize and guide the fresh perspectives and ideas of young people and ensure they know the social and political power they possess as individuals and as a collective. In doing so, we must empower them to understand their rights, responsibilities, capabilities, and opportunities to have just as much powerful input into their educational and civic experiences today as they will tomorrow.
It has become widely accepted that the public education system in the United States is broken. I've spent the last two decades working to improve the system. I've confronted the issue from many perspectives, worked in hundreds of schools and thousands of educators across the Nation. My observations are as follows:
1. Educators, especially teachers, are doing their best to ensure all students learn.
2. Teachers are willing to improve practices: when practical (doable), manageable (efficient), and improves results (effective).
3. Organization culture determines sustainable practices.
4. Organization systems and structures determine level of result or success.
5. Integrative structures and systems promote replication and scale (growth).
Success is possible, Sustainability is the greater challange!
Are you ready to think fresh about how we might conceptualize teaching Social Science to our students that will help them live, work, play and thrive in the 21st century? Get ready for a ride. This series of presentations was made to the Social Science Content and Assessment Panel for the state of Oregon a few years ago, and it surely rocked the boat. Let's remember that we need to provide students with tools for THEM to live in a global society and not just what we learned when we went to school. Most social science curriculum these days cover 90-95% of past concepts and projects 5-10% for future problem-solving. Isn't there something wrong here? Buckle your seat belts.
After two world wars, and the creation of the United Nations Organization, there have been many attempts at laying down the contractual framework for what appears to be a painfully emerging global society. By bringing together political, scientific, and socio-economic representatives from around the world to consult on increasingly relevant and urgent issues to the earth’s population (e.g. Rio Earth Summit, Socio-Economic Sustainability Conference in Copenhagen, Women’s Conference in Beijing, to name a few), a heightened awareness of our interdependence has become a platform from which to attempt to solve today’s complex problems. Yet, with all the reactive energies expended out of need, little has been done to proactively consider how we must prepare future generations for living, working, and thriving in an inexorably evolving global society - a future condition in which they are the protagonists.
For twenty-five years, the author has lived, worked and raised a family outside of the United States and participated in numerous international conferences and conventions in Central and South America, Europe and the Middle East. During that time, experience as an international educator and administrator led to an awareness of the need for foundational social and emotional skills and capacities in order to truly capture the spirit of living and learning in a world community. In attempting to analyze where to begin, traditional educational curriculum frameworks seemed to be lacking both the focus and the tools in order to meet such needs, yet the area of the social sciences seemed to be a good place to start. This led to the informational research undertaken for the current work as well as by simulation through the creation of a private educational facility which had as one of its core principles, the oneness of humankind.
After five years, the findings and implications far surpassed the intended original outcomes. In order to educate for transition toward a global society, there appears to be the need for an entirely new and inverse approach towards developing a curriculum for the social sciences - an approach which the writer has termed outside-in. The curriculum framework and proposed K-8 scope and sequence is based, therefore, on the premise that first and foremost we are all human beings, and that a wider loyalty exists to our species as a result of that predominant commonality. In other words, the unity of the species becomes the foundation for the study of the social sciences, the oneness of humankind becomes a given, and the diversity of its component parts are accidental and secondary but at the same time an enriching and colorful phenomena. Perhaps a good example to succinctly explain this in practical terms within the context of the culture of the United States, would be to claim that black history is part of our history, not theirs, and that we are only now talking and learning about what we have been deprived over the last century.
The implications of the application of such an educational concept are many, the greatest of which is the way in which the young generation of a particular societal culture views itself within the context of its global neighborhood. The spectrum of decision-making is broadened and the playing field is the earth itself. As we live and serve under such a paradigm, we truly become active parts of a whole the outcome of which essentially benefits us all, with far greater significance than any one of us could accomplish alone.