I was in the middle of my lesson when the literacy coach for my building interrupted me. “Ms. Honnold?” she asked. “I wonder what would happen if you had a student write the steps on the board as you went over them. You know, to give the visual people in your class a way to access what you’re talking about.” As she spoke, the students in my class looked on, clearly unused to someone giving their teacher feedback.
It could have been mortifying. And I’m sure some of you, reading this, are reliving all the horrific teaching moments where someone called you into question in front of your students or undermined your authority in some way. But it wasn’t like that. Instead, it was exactly what I now think of as teacher collaboration at its best: two professionals working together, in the moment, to figure out what is going to serve students best. (more…)
I’ve recently finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Like his other books, the stories and subject matter are both engaging while at the same time wide-ranging. But in the end, I felt that this was his most passionate, and most personal, book to date. I admire his bravery and am also grateful to him for being willing to tackle a subject matter that has been staring us in the face for so long: Cultural legacy affects academic engagement, educational achievement, and lifelong “success.” If we want more of our growingly diverse society to be “successful,” then we need to face that head-on.
Although I thought he was brave for being willing to broach a topic that most policy-makers would avoid like the third rail, I was a little disappointed that Gladwell still falls short of offering much in the way of specific reform recommendations. He does call out the KIPP schools as being particularly successful with low socio-economic demographic kids, and cites personal discipline and hard work (from homework to keeping your shirt tucked-in) as main factors for students’ excellent results.
Perhaps what he offered is enough, however. It is up to our own local policy-makers to tackle the tough issues of what to do with the issues of cultural legacy. The question is: If our representatives take on these issues, will we support them?
Sen. Mark Hass, Chair of the Senate Education and General Government Committee, spoke to teachers about education funding on August 11th at Chalkboard’s Teacher Advocacy Training. We recently posted a video to YouTube of the senator speaking.
Watch Sen. Mark Hass Speaking to Teachers about Oregon’s budget
These comments were made before the recent release of the latest revenue forecast, which predicts another $373 million shortfall. What do you think of Sen. Hass’ statements in light of today’s news about the budget? What are your thoughts for sustaining education – supporting our students and our teachers – through the next difficult budget cycle?
This past week the LA Times revealed that LAUSD holds seven years of data about its 3rd through 5th grade teachers’ student test scores. The LA Times is planning to publically release a ranking of all LAUSD teachers based on whether, over the time period the data was collected, they advanced their students’ test scores or caused them to slide backwards within the course of the year (value added analysis). You can read the article at: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teachers-value-20100815,0,2695044.story
Most of the outcry has been, and rightly so, over the privacy rights of those teachers not to have their rank printed in the Times. Americans love lists and the LA Times is delivering to their readers a list that is provocative and sells papers. The real issue, as I see it, is the public cry for quality teaching at a time when public money is tight and every student/teacher interaction is at its most valuable.
Instead of focusing on punitive measures as the printing of such a list suggests, we should be moving forward to enhance the teaching skills of all teachers in a positive and collaborative manner. As stated in the article there were teachers with different styles; some delivering content in an effective manner, the others it seemed were ineffective. What struck me was that the “ineffective” teachers didn’t know that they were not as effective. Teachers, like all professionals want to be good at what they do. (more…)
Oregon has received $34.4 million for schools through the federal School Improvement Grant. The Oregon Department of Education is seeking public input as it weighs the options for moving forward with these funds. Specifically, ODE is considering applying for a waiver on the directive to carry forward 25% of the funds into the next year.
The Department’s call for public input states: (more…)
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” H.L. Menken
In his August 2 column in the Oregonian Leonard Pitts wrote “It is time teachers embraced accountability. Time parents, students and government did too.” In my previous blog I also urged teaches to embrace AND to take charge of accountability. Given the responses to Pitt’s column including the response written by an Oregon teacher, teachers and (I agree with Pitts), parents, students, and government are not quite ready to take the challenge.
The responses to both Pitts and the blog writer ranged from the defensive to the vituperative with two people offering more nuanced analyses. Bob Bath in the above blog explains the very real difficulties in assigning responsibility to just one teacher for a student’s OAKS score in a given year. “Skybeaver” in response to Pitts draws a useful analogy to illustrate how knowing the relationship between a beginning and ending score on a test makes the end score more meaningful but also more difficult to reward. Both responses have within them the seeds for developing a more sophisticated and valid way to hold teachers (and students) accountable for learning: (more…)
For those of you in the Portland Metro Area, next Monday, August 23rd, the Mobile Portland Users Group is hosting a conversation about mobile technology in education.
Thank you to ChalkBlogger Heather Penner for letting us know about this event!
Here are the details and description from Moblie Portland:
Mobile Technology in Education
Monday, August 23th, 6 pm
Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE)
1227 NW Davis St
Portland, Oregon 97209
My first year of teaching was at a West Linn middle school in 1996. That year a delegation of educators from Singapore visited our school. I found that odd, since I recalled reading that Singapore was leading the world in student performance on math and science assessments, while the U.S. was languishing low on the list amongst industrialized nations. I said to one of the Singapore visitors, “Shouldn’t we be visiting Singapore?” His response went something like this: “Our students are great at taking tests, but they don’t know how to think. When they leave school and enter the work world they struggle with solving problems, innovating and creating. They are marvelous at following instructions, but they need a supervisor to tell them what to do. We want to learn how you educate children.”
I remembered this conversation when I read a July 19 article in Newsweek titled, “The Creativity Crisis: For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong — and how we can fix it.” It describes the work of Indiana University’s Jonathan Plucker, who analyzed data suggesting that, “The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.” (more…)
The genesis of this blog comes from many conversations that I have been having with friends and colleagues about education reform. Some of these have been difficult conversations and I often find folks with very similar passions and desires for our schools feeling like they are on different “sides.” For me, I have tried to stay away from absolutes like I have heard both from education pundits and politicians on both sides of the political aisle. I don’t look at Race to the Top (RTT) and other similar reform efforts and jump to them being an attack on teachers or a push to privatization or other absolutes. I see them as an entrée to opening a discussion about making our public schools better – especially for kids who are being lost through the cracks (and actually putting some federal $$ towards it).
There is a huge amount of rhetoric around how we might “fix” our schools. There are many things that I don’t know – these are some things I think I know:
- Our system is failing many of our kids – that has to change;
- Our system is adult-centered rather than kid-centered – that has to change;
- It seems that many or most of our political and education leaders do not have the will to have the difficult conversations and then take meaningful action to make a difference for our kids. Rhetoric is old and cheap and isn’t doing a damned thing for us – in fact we’re losing many of our kids before our eyes; (more…)
The recent congressional passage of the “edujobs” bill was positive news this week as were the recent federal I3 – Investing in Innovation grants also just announced. We are pleased that some of Oregon’s revenue shortfall can be offset with federal funds but still very concerned about building a long-term and stable funding system for our public schools.
We are also strongly supportive of federal dollars incentivizing “innovations” across the country and want to applaud the Beaverton School District for their successful I3 application for the Arts of Learning Lessons Project in the amount of $4 million. Beaverton has partnered with Young Audiences of Oregon and Southwest Washington, Young Audiences Arts for Learning National Office, and the University of Washington, to develop, implement, and evaluate the Arts for Learning Lessons program (A4L) - an academic program that integrates standards-focused, text-based content and arts strategies to improve students’ achievement in literacy, learning, and life skills. The purpose of the grant is to: (1) develop and enhance A4L for students in grades 3-5, (2) implement A4L in grades 3-5 across the district, and (3) conduct comprehensive evaluations – both formative and summative — to continuously monitor the implementation of the program as well to rigorously evaluate the impact of A4L on student achievement.
Next we hope that Chalkboard receives good news on behalf of its CLASS districts in our pursuit of federal TIF (Teacher Incentive Fund) grant to implement CLASS in six school districts in Oregon. Educational leaders in Bend-La Pine, Redmond, Crook County, Lebanon, Oregon City and Salem-Keizer school districts want to move forward with designing and implementing new career models in their districts that offer career ladders, strong professional development, effective evaluations and alternatives to seniority-based compensation. Chalkboard is competing against 15 other applications from across the country for federal dollars to both implement and evaluate these locally-developed new models. Stay tuned for what we hope is a great outcome for Oregon!