Are you invested in the state and future of public education? Do you wonder how the field of education in the USA has become what it is today? Well, understanding is the first step in advocating for systemic improvements. In her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, well-known historian and writer Diane Ravitch describes the movements and events that gave rise to the age of accountability that has so profoundly influenced our schools.
Early Childhood is a time of great growth and development. It is the foundation for building a successful future in school and in life. Young children are intensely curious and interested in the world around them. There is much that we, as teachers, parents and significant persons in the lives of these children, can do to enrich and enhance the development of the child to insure that they are the best that they can be now and throughout their life.
Do you feel confident about the way you grade students with atypical learning needs? Most teachers have some difficulty devising ways to grade students with educational disabilities, those who are struggling learners, and those who are still learning the English language. They want grades to be fair and accurate but are not sure just how to do that.
Do you feel like your school is working on the same things year after year with very little discernable progress or improvement? Is the question, "What's the process for that?" often answered with shrugs or "I think Mrs. Smith does a good job with that... why don't you go and ask her?" Do new teachers have to learn most of the expected practices in your school through teachers' room talk? If so, your school is not unusual.
In terms of this year's summer reading, Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn is a clear winner! Don't end your summer with a long list of books that you 'didn't get to'. Instead, focus your reading on one phenomenal book, and broaden your perspectives on teaching and learning in the context of current research. This book is guaranteed to make you think more deeply about practices in your organization, and will make you a stronger educator, leader, mentor or consultant.
Really! The book, Tap Dancing to Work: How a Small Group of Teachers Can Conquer the Common Core, provides the means for teachers to work together to enhance standards-based instruction, improve outcomes for students, and put the joy back into teaching. Authors Michael White, Bonnie Grimm, Lindsey Young and Bob Stark have developed a practical, systematic way for any group of educators to get better results for students.
The transition to standards-based education has been underway for years, so why has it been so difficult for school systems to implement standards-based grading? One reason, I believe, is that educators inadvertently underestimate the magnitude of the change in terms of tradition. Letter grades, and the traditional way in which most students are still graded, is deeply ingrained in our culture. Parents, teachers, community members... all of them, as students, were graded using traditional methods. Nearly all colleges continue to use traditional methods of grading.
We're only human! Regardless of our role or professional station, we are all subject to our human shortcomings. Even the most knowledgeable, caring and competent individuals make mistakes. In relation to this inescapable truth (the bad news), there is also some good news: Errors in judgment often follow patterns which allow us to use strategies that can prevent poor decisions or bring them to light before they can do significant or lasting harm.
We now live in a world where information is at our fingertips, but understanding is often superficial. It has never been more critical that our students acquire the literacy skills they need to create their own meaning from a wide range of complex texts. Perhaps this is why increased text complexity is so heavily emphasized in the Common Core State Standards. Students will be expected to read, discuss and write about texts at higher levels across the curriculum.
This book should be required reading for any school administrator new to your school system. It provides a very basic overview of special education in the context of the responsibilities of a school principal or assistant principal. While many have learned these concepts during their professional training, this book serves as a refresher and provides common language and understanding of essential ideas necessary for effective leadership related to special education.