A presentation I listened to last week by Kim Gibbons, Executive Director of the St. Croix River Education District, brought me back to a great synthesis of education research that I wrote about in a 2011 post. Her main argument was that the best thing we can do to better serve our students with special needs is to improve core instruction – what happens in our classrooms to meet the needs of all students. She presented John Hattie’s research with polish and focused on a simple question and my ongoing soapbox – how do we better align our practices with what research says is best practice?
12 years after leaving the classroom to serve in school and district leadership roles, the awful feelings tied to being unable to reach every one of my students still haunt me. I remember long nights in my early teaching years spent developing plans for small groups, large groups, and individual activities designed to address a wide spectrum of ability levels and interests. I passionately searched for resources and lesson ideas that might engage reluctant learners, and I worked hard to forge a positive relationships with each child. While I believe I reached more students than the average teacher, I did not reach them all and I believed there had to be a better way to “do school.” There simply had to be a way to structure our work that would increase the engagement and learning of each student. But how??? Read more
“Leadership is getting others to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” Dwight Eisenhower’s simple quote defining leadership sets a high bar but one that rings true in the challenges of leading in public education. Michael Fullan’s April 2011 article “Seminar Series 204; Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform” offers a 30,000 foot view of how some nations are implementing effective nation wide reforms to increase student achievement and close persistent achievement gaps. Read more
Photo from Flickr by Mike Gifford
Illinois superintendent Michael Smith’s post this morning called “Dumbest Education Thing Ever. At Least Since Duck and Cover” took me a bit off guard, but as good blogging does, it pushed me to consider some of the why behind decisions I make. His post is rooted in the frustration most or all administrators have to deal with in March – particularly in economic times like this. In this business, March is the season of figuring out enrollment and budget projections and nailing down the list of possible layoffs and budget cuts. He’s simply calling the question – why is it a formula of last hired = first to go in the cutting process? It’s a fair question after all and one a principal or superintendent that has any sense of feelings will wrestle with. We all understand and empathize with the feeling that years of service should account for something, but should Read more