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.”
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