Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed passage with you?
US poet (1819 - 1892)
Monday, September 01, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
When I was researching assessment and how to assess the quality of teaching, I ran across these wonderful presentations by Gilda Lyon, a career science teacher in Tennessee. They are definitely of value for anyone who thinks that pre-assessment is a waste of time. She also gives some wonderful suggestions for performing informal formative assessments to help students identify what they know and what they still need to learn. I'd appreciate knowing what you think of her presentations.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
We keep trying to even the playing field so schools like UT Austin don't end up with such low percentages of blacks or others from low socio-economic backgrounds.
We need more research on effective assessment and qualitative evaluation. Predictors of success cannot always be reduced to numbers.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Every once in a while I need inspiration to continue in my chosen path. This list acquainted me with some unknown names and included some well-known figures I don't often think of as teachers.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Below are some of my other favorite quotes about teaching.
The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards; and curiosity itself can be vivid and wholesome only in proportion as the mind is contented and happy. – Anatole France
If you plan for a year, plant a seed. If for ten years, plant a tree. If for a hundred years, teach the people. When you sow a seed once, you will reap a single harvest. When you teach the people, you will reap a hundred harvests. -- Kuan Chung (d. 645 B.C.)
Learning without thinking is labor lost; thinking without learning is dangerous. -- Chinese Proverb
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It is the object of learning, not only to satisfy the curiosity and perfect the spirits of ordinary men, but also to advance civilization. – Woodrow Wilson
Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.
-- Thomas Szasz (b. 1920), U.S. psychiatrist. “Education,” The Second Sin (1973).
A teacher can but lead you to the door; learning is up to you. – Chinese Proverb
The teacher’s task is not to implant facts but to place the subject to be learned in front of the learner and, through sympathy, emotion, imagination and patience, to awaken in the learner the restless drive for answers and insights which enlarge the personal life and give it meaning. -- Nathan M Pusey, President, Harvard
Saturday, April 26, 2008
How do we measure quality teaching? Through principle-based assessment rather than scores-driven regulation.
Self-assessment (what used to be called reflection) is key to improvement.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Austin has a graduation rate of 58.2%. The surrounding suburbs have a rate of about 71%. The ethnic rate stats at the end of the article are interesting and may be more reliable, since they are nationwide averages. It would be interesting to compare the ethnic make-up of AISD schools compared to those same suburban schools.
The sad fact that these statistics highlight, even though the article is silent -- No child left behind has resulted in children failing out of the public education system. Students who cannot meet the standards are more likely to drop out, and less likely to be encouraged to remain in school. The stakes (withholding of federal funds) are too high for the schools, and the measures too focused on scores (narrowly interpreted), rather than growth in student achievement.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Teaching Policy to Improve Student Learning: Lessons from Abroad, by Lynn Olson, Education Week (2006). http://www.aspeninstitute.org/atf/cf/%7BDEB6F227-659B-4EC8-8F84-8DF23CA704F5%7D/Ed_Lessons_from_Abroad.pdf
Human Capital Framework for K-12 Urban Education: Organizing for Success, The Aspen Institute, Program on Education and Society, January, 2008. http://www.aspeninstitute.org/site/c.huLWJeMRKpH/b.3416305/k.B7A2/Elements_of_a_Human_Capital_Framework_for_Education.htm
Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job, Robert Gordon, Thomas J. Kane, Douglas O. Staiger, The Hamilton Project (2006) http://www.brookings.edu/views/papers/200604hamilton_1.htm
Performance Pay for Teachers: Designing a System Students Deserve, a Teacher Solutions Report, http://www.teacherleaders.org/teachersolutions/TSreport.pdf
Sommers, Rhoda C. “Real” Middle School Teachers, The Qualitative Report Volume 8 Number 4 December 2003 530-538 http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR8-4/sommers.pdf
Schools to Watch, Freeport Intermediate School. http://www.schoolstowatch.org/freeport/
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS:
Most of us use subjective criteria to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Based on our own experience, we know an effective teacher when we experience one, either in our own learning or that of our children. Effective teachers motivate their students to learn, foster students’ self-esteem and their students’ belief in their own ability to master a subject or skill. Effective teachers model their own passion for learning and curiosity about their subject matter. Effective teachers set clear expectations for their students and challenge them to achieve not just the minimum, but their best. Increasingly, teachers must model life-long learning for their students to meet the challenges of our rapidly changing world.
Most of the studies, I reviewed noted the difficulty both in identifying effective teachers using objective criteria, and the dangers in relying solely on performance data that can be easily manipulated. Moreover, teachers work in schools, and the conditions in which they work affect the quality of their teaching. As one school board director noted, “Put a good teacher in a bad system, and the system wins every time.” Our challenge is “not only to nurture good teachers but also to develop good schools in which teachers can be effective.” (Olson, Lessons from Abroad)
It is interesting to note that identifying effective teachers has become increasingly tied to efforts to quantify student achievement and provide a differentiated pay scale for teachers rather than relying on a single-salary schedule. AISD’s own strategic compensation plan is tied to TAKS improvement in reading and math and is targeted primarily to “high needs” schools. The difficulty lies in tracking performance of individual students over time and linking those students to their teachers, and accurately accounting for differences in varied student populations. Most of the studies I reviewed noted the need to “develop and implement longitudinal data systems” to provide objective information linking teacher performance to student achievement.
Some of the ill-fated efforts in places such as Florida and Houston can be attributed to narrowly focusing on short-term improvements in scores, and failing to support collaborative efforts to increase students and teachers improved performance -- instead establishing competitive measures based on rankings. Rather than encouraging the sharing of best practices among teachers and schools, this would seem to foster rivalries and manipulative practices that would in the end defeat the goal of raising the achievement of all students.
The studies I found most compelling placed a strong emphasis on teacher-developed criteria for setting performance standards and professional development goals, guided by the priorities and needs of the local districts in which they worked. We must reward experienced, effective teachers who mentor novice and developing teachers. “Performance-pay plans should encourage more teachers to document effective classroom practices and share them with their colleagues.” (Performance Pay for Teachers, p. 4)
Other ideas worth noting:
Establishing base pay systems with tiers of “novice, professional, and expert.”
Supplementing base-pay with performance-pay open to all teachers.
Demonstrated ability to improve student performance should be rewarded with leadership opportunities, such as mentoring novices and peers, sharing effective teaching strategies, and serving on advisory committees. Excellent teachers should not have to become administrators in order to achieve adequate compensation.
Offer incentives to teachers who work in high-need schools but only if they are adequately prepared to address the school’s specific learning needs.
Include accomplished teachers in establishing performance standards and developing compensation plans.
Encourage all teachers to open up their classrooms to formative evaluations by peers, expert teachers, and administrators. Teachers need feedback in order to improve their teaching skills.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Foster communities of life-long learning that are student-centered -- whether that student is a child or teen, parent, teacher, or administrator. This implies a need for building relationships that are multi-dimensional and on-going, including one-to-one, peer to peers, and expert to novice.
Monday, March 03, 2008
"People who love soft methods and hate iniquity forget this, that reform consists in taking a bone from a dog. Philosophy will not do it."- John Jay Chapman
This is so true. Change is hard. So hard that we often cling to the problems we know, rather than adopting new approaches.We are researching improving the quality of educators in our middle schools, WITHOUT increased funding. There is no doubt that budgets for AISD are already pinched.
Friday, February 22, 2008
We will develop, recruit, support, retain, and recognize high quality principals, teachers, and staff at every middle school to ensure that every student has a quality education.
Big job, right? Well, we're trying to tackle it in manageable chunks, so my focus is going to be on support and development. Still big, but hopefully an area where we can make some concrete suggestions that can be implemented w/o breaking the budget. If you have any links you'd like me to look at, please post them here.
Ask and ye shall receive. . . Time's Cover Story this Week.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
I always find Downes' take on things interesting. Here he takes to task someone who believes our constructivist theory of learning has failed. What constructivism brought to light that it's almost impossible to "design" learning that fits every novice.
I want to get back to this later.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Or as Henry Ford said:
"Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas."
When I was younger, my enthusiasm was often commented upon by my elders. Now I wonder, is enthusiasm a characteristic of the young? Perhaps, but I've met young people with little enthusiasm for anything. In fact enthusiasm is often labeled "uncool." But I believe it is still important to convey to students one's on love of learning about a subject.
How can teachers who aren't engaged in their subject, expect to engage others in it?