Teachers are, by nature, protective of their practice and their space. In this way, even before I enter a teacher's room, I must establish the requisite rapport to garner the invitation. From there, the teacher picks the class, the day, and the time. Then she gives me a sense of what she's doing, has just finished, or will be doing soon. Finally, I show up and get to work.
Ultimately, I had no idea if anyone would invite me in. Moreover, I didn't know if the lessons would work once I was invited. What I learned, however, is that only the former matters. Like an educational grandparent, if I show up and the lesson bombs, I get to leave and let the teacher move on without me. But the fact that teachers are willing to give up control of their rooms -- to an administrator -- without so much as a hint about what will happen when I get there, well, that's how I know the flashes are working.
For all but one, I admit to having only a Google-search-based knowledge of the content, yet teachers keep inviting me in
Too often, administrators leave the classroom and only return with a laptop and a framework. For many of us, leaving the classroom is really only a physical phenomenon because we never really leave. I confess that my flash lessons are motivated, in small part, by my own envy of so many amazing teachers who work in my district. But what I couldn't have counted on was the camaraderie, rapport, and trust that the lessons would create between administrators and teachers.
Ultimately, we need to remind ourselves of that immutable fact, to be as human as possible, and to look for, rather than to abandon, our own "flashes."
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
Every superintendent, or state commissioner, must be able to say, with confidence, ‘Everyone who teaches here is good. Here’s how we know. We have a system.
school-based administrators “don’t always have the skill to differentiate great teaching from that which is merely good, or perhaps even mediocre.” Another problem is the lack of consensus on how we should define “good teaching.”
We need consensus on how we define good teaching.We don't have metrics in place to determine good, mediocre and bad teaching.
Only about six percent of teachers are ineffective, she continues. For the remaining 94 percent, the emphasis should shift from ratings to learning.
And what do we know about professional learning? That it requires:
• Active intellectual engagement – That is, self-assessment, reflection on practice, and on-going conversations;
• Trust – “Fear shuts people down,” says Danielson. “Learning, after all, entails vulnerability. The culture of the school and of the district must be one that encourages risk-taking.”
• Challenge – “The culture must include an expectation that every teacher will engage in a career-long process of learning,” she says, “one that is never ‘finished.’ Teaching is simply too complex for anyone to believe that there is no more to learn.”
• Teacher collaboration – PD and supervisory suggestions rarely drive classroom improvements, says Danielson. “Overwhelmingly, most teachers report that they learn more from their colleagues than from an ‘expert’ in a workshop… or being directed by a supervisor to read a certain book or take a particular course.” Most often, classroom improvement comes from working with colleagues analyzing student work and planning curriculum.
a new system should include:
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->An emphasis on professional learning in a culture of trust and inquiry;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->A career ladder from probationary to continuing status after about three years; from that point on, the main emphasis becomes professional learning;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Differentiation in the evaluation system, with novice teachers getting support from a mentor and being evaluated every year;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Career teachers assessed periodically to ensure continuing quality;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Teacher leadership positions (mentor, instructional coach, team leader) for which experienced teachers in good standing are eligible to apply; these come with training and support, extra compensation, or released time during the regular school day;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->The ability to identify seriously underperforming teachers, support their improvement, and if sufficient progress isn’t made, deny them tenure or continuing employment.
“Former service members tend to be committed to their students and tenacious in their efforts to improve,” say Parham and Gordon. Some early studies suggest that over time, veterans are stronger in classroom management, instructional practices, and student results.
Veterans who have had life-and-death combat experiences “tend to have low tolerance for petty politics in schools or for initiatives that seem unrelated to educating students. Former service members may sometimes seem overly assertive in discussions with colleagues.”
Veterans entering the classroom may feel like novices and have to adjust to their students not snapping to attention when given an order.
Veterans who are used to explicit operating procedures have to decode the unspoken expectations on how to relate to colleagues, handle student discipline, deal with parent concerns, get supplies, and get help.
“Discussions of shared experiences, shared values, and shared goals can help veterans and other teachers begin to build relationships.”
This might consist of a well-chosen mentor (similar to their “battle buddy” in the military), a support team (perhaps a grade-level or subject team that meets regularly), and a support network with other veterans in the school or district.
Veterans need an especially thorough briefing as they enter a new setting, including policies, procedures (copying machines, grading, and more), formal and informal rules, and a map of the school.
up to speed on teaching priorities, curriculum breadth versus depth, dealing with student differences, lesson planning, instructional materials, and, of course, discipline.
Support for this common challenge can come from peer coaching, observing expert teachers, workshops, articles and books, and seminars.
Students learn new ideas by linking them to what they already know.
Effective teachers make content explicit through carefully paced explanation, modeling, and examples; present new information through multiple modalities; and make good use of worked problems.
Rather, the mastery of new concepts happens in fits and starts. “Content should not be kept from students because it is ‘developmentally inappropriate,’” says the report. “To answer the question ‘is the student ready?’ it’s best to consider ‘has the student mastered the prerequisites?’”
Effective teachers assign tasks that require explanation or require students to organize material in meaningful ways. Stories and mnemonics are also helpful in getting students to impose meaning on hard-to-remember content.
Practice is essential to learning new facts, but not all practice is equally effective.
Frequent quizzes with low stakes, and students testing themselves, help establish long-term retention through the “retrieval effect.”
Each subject has basic facts that support higher-level learning by freeing working memory and illuminating applications.
Good feedback is specific and clear, focused on the task rather than the student, explanatory, and directed toward improvement rather than merely verifying performance.
To transfer learning to a novel problem, students need to know the problem’s context and its underlying structure.
Explicitly comparing the examples helps students remember the underlying similarities. With multi-step procedures, students need to identify and label the sub-steps so they can apply them to similar problems. It’s also helpful to alternate concrete examples and abstract representations.
Motivation is improved if students believe that intelligence and ability can be improved through hard work, and if adults respond to successful work by praising effective effort rather than innate ability. It’s also helpful for teachers to set learning goals (e.g., mastering specific material) rather than performance goals (competing with others or vying for approval).
Intrinsic motivation leads to better long-term outcomes than extrinsic motivation.
It’s difficult to gauge one’s own learning and understanding. That’s why students need to learn how to monitor their own learning through assessments, self-testing, and explanation.
Students will be more motivated and successful when they believe they belong and are accepted.
Teachers need to recognize and dispel a set of incorrect beliefs about teaching and learning:
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Misconception #1: Students have different “learning styles.”
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Misconception #2: Humans use only 10 percent of their brains.
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Misconception #3: People are preferentially “right-brained” or “left-brained” in how they think.
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Misconception #4: Novices and experts think in all the same ways.
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Misconception #5: Cognitive development progresses in age-related stages.
having students work in groups for 30-45 minutes coming up with test questions that might be used (or reworded) in the actual exam. This is a two-fer, says Lang: it not only gives students a sense of control over their learning but also serves as an effective review session.
Open assessments – This involves leaving 10 percent of the syllabus for an assignment that students create with the instructor.
Class constitutions – Having students collectively come up with ground rules for a course gives them a collegial sense of working together toward a shared purpose.
“Teaching evolutionary theory is not in and of itself religious indoctrination.” That’s because evolution is not a religion. “How could a religion have no beliefs about the supernatural? No rituals? No moral commandments?”
ask students to learn about evolution without insisting that they believe it.
we shouldn’t push skeptical students to say, “Natural selection is one of the most important ways species came to be differentiated.” Better for them to say, “Most scientists think natural selection is one of the best explanations.”
“It turns out children are better able to cope if they understand what they’re going through is normal, that it affects everyone, and that it will pass,” comments Adam Gamoran of the William T. Grant Foundation. “How we think about a stressful situation influences how we feel and how we perform.” Studies like this, he says, “show how deeply intertwined are cognition and emotion.”
use of Twitter in his middle-school science classroom
Connecting students to reputable, relevant scientific people and organizations in real time
Twitter as authentic audience – Students constantly tweet ideas, assignments, projects, suggestions, and photographs to each other, broadening the reach of their thinking.
Twitter as embedded literacy – Students get plenty of practice with succinct writing as they share analyses and observations.
Managing students’ encounters with objectionable material from the outside world, including occasional use of profanity and sexually suggestive follower requests.
Comparing services – Proportional reasoning, equations, creating and analyzing graphs, and number sense;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Planning a budget – Organizing and representing information and number sense;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Determining the costs and payoffs of higher education – Percentages, compound interest, and rates;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Playing the Stock Market Game – Ratios, proportional reasoning, reading and analyzing reports and graphs, and algebraic thinking (e.g., gains and losses).
“The term generally refers to using a wide variety of hands-on activities (such as building, computer programming, and even sewing) to support academic learning and the development of a mindset that values playfulness and experimentation, growth and iteration, and collaboration and community. Typically, ‘making’ involves attempting to solve a particular problem, creating a physical or digital artifact, and sharing that product with a larger audience. Often, such work is guided by the notion that process is more important than results.”
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
To reflect means to look back at how something "went" in all of its available parts and patterns:
Causes and effects
Comparisons and contrast
Strengths and weakness
How close it came to expectations
reflection actually starts much earlier, alone, in your own mind after something happens. Then it often happens with a friend, colleague, loved one or maybe even a student. Then you're likely to reflect again, alone, now pushed farther in your thinking by that sharing. Writing about it again, and then sharing that with others, makes the reflection more complex and more personal.
"Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions marks the first time in history that a broad coalition of college admissions offices have joined forces to collectively encourage high school students to focus on meaningful ethical and intellectual engagement. The report includes concrete recommendations to reshape the college admissions process and promote greater ethical engagement among aspiring students, reduce excessive achievement pressure, and level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students. It is the first step in a two-year campaign that seeks to substantially reshape the existing college admissions process. "
Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissionsmarks the first time in history that a broad coalition of college admissions offices have joined forces to collectively encourage high school students to focus on meaningful ethical and intellectual engagement. The report includes concrete recommendations to reshape the college admissions process and promote greater ethical engagement among aspiring students, reduce excessive achievement pressure, and level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students. It is the first step in a two-year campaign that seeks to substantially reshape the existing college admissions process.
This article describes how Harvard GSE conducted a study among college admissions offices to determine what steps need to be taken in order to reduce personal achievement-oriented admissions procedures in order to focus more on service-learning, equity in admissions and empathy.
Kraft and his team found four attributes identified in schools that experienced consistently high achievement:
School safety and order
Leadership and professional development
High academic expectations
Teacher relationships and collaboration
Specific professional learning offerings for teachers include one-to-one instructional coaching and school leadership opportunities. Teacher retention and higher test scores have been the result of these efforts.
Educators can start reimagining instruction by asking ourselves what learning we experienced in our school careers that truly mattered in our lives. This reflection can lead to finding topics and themes from our current curriculum and assessing how well they fit within this mindset of lifeworthy learning. Four tenets of big understandings – opportunity, insight, action, and ethics – can serve as gatekeepers in this process.
Perkins closes this piece of identifying three national agendas (achievement, information, expertise) that may have had too much importance placed upon them.
Play-based learning should allow for the students to explore their passions and interests without an outcome necessarily in mind. “Play is not something you do to a child. If you have an agenda, if you are requiring them to do it, if you have to make it ‘fun’ to get them to comply, if they are not free to stop at any time, then it is not play.”
Play is self-chosen, enjoyable, inherently valuable, and unstructured.
“Improvement [in writing] starts with volume. Volume suffers if I have to grade everything. Grading doesn’t make kids better. Volume, choice, and conferring makes kids better.”
“Give students daily opportunities to leave tracks of their thinking, use those tracks to notice patterns, and adjust instruction on the basis of what kids know and what they need. Repeat cycle.”
“Pre-assessment without associated action is like eating without digestion.”
So far, says Sternberg, all the ways we’ve tried to measure raw intelligence haven’t worked.
No existing IQ or other test can separate past opportunities from test performance.
“If you understand the child’s knowledge and cognitive skills in a domain that is really meaningful to the child,” says Sternberg, “you will learn what the student is capable of doing in other domains, if only motivated to pursue those other domains.”
you cannot cleanly separate out measurement of intelligence from measurement of reading (obviously, a verbal skill). The same holds for other content domains.”
There are plenty of reasons for resistance to being “helped” by an instructional coach, she says, often manifested in shallow acquiescence, avoidance, or overt hostility:
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Teachers believing (not without reason) that they’ve been singled out as deficient;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Fear of being judged and exposed as ineffective with students;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Fear that deficiencies unrelated to the presenting issue will be revealed;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->A belief that the instructional coach may report on them to the principal;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Worries about being admonished by the principal;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Discomfort examining their own practice;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Anxiety about having to change.
Let the teacher “drive” the process.
the coach’s job in goal-setting is to search for points of agreement with the teacher and to direct her in ways likely to produce positive results.”
“The coach also needs to respect the teacher’s autonomy by offering feedback only on agreed-upon goals,” adds Finkelstein. “As tempting as it can be for coaches to identify areas for improvement, unsolicited suggestions can arouse defensiveness.”
The coach’s role, she says, “is not to fix lessons or teachers but to support teachers’ abilities to meet students’ needs.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
handwriting appears to focus classroom attention and boost learning in a way that typing notes on a keyboard does not, new studies suggest.
Students who took handwritten notes generally outperformed students who typed their notes via computer, researchers at Princeton University and the University of California at Los Angeles found.
Compared with those who type their notes, people who write them out in longhand appear to learn better, retain information longer, and more readily grasp new ideas
something about writing things down excites the brain, brain imaging studies show.
laptop note-takers tested immediately after a class could recall more of a lecture and performed slightly better than their pen-pushing classmates when tested on facts presented in class.
Any advantage, though, is temporary. After just 24 hours, the computer note takers typically forgot material they’ve transcribed, several studies said. Nor were their copious notes much help in refreshing their memory because they were so superficial.
those who took notes by hand could remember the lecture material longer and had a better grip on concepts presented in class, even a week later. The process of taking them down encoded the information more deeply in memory, experts said. Longhand notes also were better for review because they’re more organized.
The problem is a typist’s tendency to take verbatim notes. “Ironically, the very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing—the ability to take notes more quickly—was what undermined learning,” said Dr. Kiewra.
Computers and other pieces of technology are the medium through which instruction passes and have no more influence on student achievement than a grocery delivery truck has on our nutrition.
Situations where researchers have found positive effects from technology (blended learning is one) can almost always be traced back to how teachers use the technology to supplement or amplify their pedagogy.
Multimedia providing students with autonomy and control over instructional sequence – Very few students get this benefit; for most students, it has a negative effect.
“the medium seldom influences teaching, learning, and education, nor is it likely that one single medium will ever be the best for all situations.”
When students are polled about classroom preferences, there’s surprising support for traditional structures with only moderate use of technology. Given a choice of digital and real books, most students prefer the latter. Students advocate for regular access to human interaction and being able to work with a smart person at the front of the classroom.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.