Monday, June 22, 2009
From Jefferson to Obama and Beyond: Essential School Leadership for the Next Generation of Engaged and Thoughtful Citizens (NLA, Tuesday Session)
She is the author of numerous articles and books including Teaching Culturally Diverse Gifted Students.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Please share your thoughts and reflections about this National Leadership Academy session in the comments space.
Alan November, author of Web Literacy for Educators, engages participants in a laptop journey modeling 21st century learning tools. Before tractors and combines, more than 60% of the population in North America was involved in farming. Today that number is less than 2%. Farm children made vital contributions to the family with real chores. While technology eventually eroded the meaningful work of children, we can now focus its use to restore the dignity of real work in school. All of our students can use collaborative online tools and research and global communications skills to add value to the learning community.These contributions include:
- Tutorial Designers
- Official Scribes
- Tool Developers
- Collaboration Coordinators
- Curriculum Reviewers
- World Relations
Please share your thoughts on November's National Leadership Academy session in the comments section.
Academic Leadership: Creating a Climate of Success for All Students (National Leadership Academy, Monday)
Implementing Response to Instruction/Intervention (RtI) in Our Schools (National Leadership Academy, Sunday Workshop)
Participants will be able to:
- Compare policy mandates of Response to Instruction/Intervention with current school and classroom implementation of school improvement processes, data-based decision-making, professional learning communities, and action research;
- Describe the policies and processes of Response to Instruction/Intervention;
- Describe and facilitate instructional problem solving process using data; and
- Develop an action plan for implementation of the RtI process in schools and districts.
Please share your experience in the RtI workshop at the National Leadership Academy in the comments section.
Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy. Use the comment option to share your experience in the 2009 National Leadership Academy workshop.
Friday, June 19, 2009
My most recent “find” was yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article, “The Terror of the 10-Foot Putt More Golf Events -- Especially U.S. Opens -- Come Down to the Lightest Stroke; Less Than a Joule.” The article struck me as clip-worthy for possible use in an unit on energy. A post-it note serves as a reminder as why the article was clipped as sometimes looking back at a newspaper clipping months later makes me wonder why I liked the piece.
In this case, the article is about golf and how the exertion of a relatively small amount of energy has an impact on the outcome of the game. Given the popularity of golf stars such as Tiger Woods and that students are taking up in increasing numbers so for some students, the article would catch their attention.
I could see the article being used as part of an introduction on energy and work. The use of the word “joule” in the subtitle could be a hook for students to start them reading to learn more. A borrowed putting green and a putter could be in the classroom for demonstration and experience. As a student modeled a putt, we could talk about the use of energy and how it is measured. The article basically builds a case that golf the putt which requires the least amount of energy of the strokes has a tremendous impact. A couple of scientists are quoted with their input on science and the sport (one a bit glib and the other a balance of humor and science).
Reading more about the article, students can be reminded of the role of friction and resistance as they read about the affect rain has on the greens as the grass has grown very thick this year resulting in dense roughs. If joules aren’t in your curriculum, the article provides fodder for designing an investigation as it specifies some variables that influence the accuracy of the shot. This could be an avenue for a guest speaker or the inspiration for a science project.
So let the clipping begin (or electronic saving of articles) for summer school or next year!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Across the United States, the school year has ended or will end soon. Field days, graduation ceremonies, cumulative folders, final report cards, and summative teacher evaluation conferences mark the end of the school year along with a host of other activities. Unfortunately, teacher evaluation in many systems is a “check the box” event as opposed to a process.
On Monday (6/1/09), The New Teacher Project released The Widget Effect: Our National Failure to Acknowledge and Act on Differences in Teacher Effectiveness in which the teacher evaluation practices in 12 school districts in four states (AR, CO, IL, OH) were examined. Over 15,000 teachers and 1200 administrators were surveyed. Documents were analyzed and 130 interviews were conducted. The school districts ranged in size from serving 4,450 students to 413,700 students. The Widget Effect “describes the tendency of school districts to assume classroom effectiveness is the same from teacher to teacher. This decades-old fallacy fosters an environment in which teachers cease to be understood as individual professionals, but rather as interchangeable parts” (p. 4).
Teachers are you treated as Widgets? Administrators, does the evaluation system you use suffer from the Widget Effect? Common characteristics of the Widget Effect are:
- All teachers are rated good or great. In evaluation systems with satisfactory, unsatisfactory, and not applicable choices for each item, most teachers are going to be rated satisfactory as bar for unsatisfactory is too low and/or required documented effort of work to address teacher weaknesses during the year raised performance just above unsatisfactory, but there is no middle ground. In systems with multiple ratings, the report found that 91% of teachers received the top two ratings and less than 1% were rated unsatisfactory. An behaviorally-anchored performance rating scale for each performance standard that defines what performance for each level looks like and consists of is one way to increase the use of ratings that do discriminate between great, good, needs improvement/developing, and unsatisfactory performance.
- Excellence goes unrecognized. In many school systems, an effective teacher who gets gains with students, but only has four years of teaching experience makes less money than the 15-year mediocre teacher in the next classroom. While many school systems have a teacher of the year program, this only recognizes one “great” teacher while many more dedicated an effective teachers go unrecognized for their work. Often evaluation systems perpetuate this problem by failing to acknowledge excellence when it exists in areas such as instructional delivery, planning, assessment, classroom management, and content knowledge, professionalism, and student interactions.
- Inadequate professional development. Often teacher evaluation is disconnected from professional development. Seventy-three percent of teachers surveyed in this report said that their most recent evaluation did not identify areas for professional growth.
- No special attention to novices. Teacher evaluation systems that treat everyone the same are failing to acknowledge that new to the profession teachers benefit from additional support during their first few years in the classroom.
- Poor performance goes unaddressed. The majority of administrators (81%) and teachers (58%) surveyed indicated that there was a poor performing teacher in their school. Further 43% of the teachers indicated that the teacher’s performance warranted dismissal.
The report offers four recommendations for addressing and reversing the Widget Effect. Better teacher evaluation is a component. A more difficult challenge is changing the mindset of people who say that teacher quality matter, but do little to recognize, promote, and improve effectiveness. The recommendations are:
- Have a comprehensive teacher evaluation system that provides a means to rate teacher performance according to factors associated with effective teaching. The evaluation should be linked to professional development. Teachers should receive frequent feedback.
- Evaluators need to know how to use and use the evaluation system effectively. Training needs to be provided so that the system is implemented in a fair, legal, useful, and consistent manner.
- Teacher evaluation needs to be linked to critical policy and action items within the school system (e.g., teacher hiring, compensation, reduction-in-force, dismissal).
- Have dismissal policies that “provide lower-stakes options for ineffective teachers to exit the district and a system of due process that is fair but efficient” (p.8). This report recommendation may have state law implications as some states have codified the process for dismissal.
NOTE: the green text is directly taken from page 6 of the report.