path to workforceAs part of SmartBrief Education’s coverage of Path to Workforce, we’ve teamed with the Association for Career and Technical Education to share CTE articles written by educators, for educators. In this blog post, guest blogger Leslie Bleskachek examines risk-taking and professional development.

I have had the great opportunity to participate in some wonderful professional development, particularly in the past few years. After talking with many students about their work aspirations, I am grateful for these chances to plan ahead for a career path of my own.

I find there are a couple of components that have really helped me focus my thoughts. The first is to choose a mentor, and maybe more than one. As I piece together the various experiences that have helped me succeed, I find that in many cases I had the guidance of a mentor. I usually sought people who had expertise in an area where I was not as strong. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by VSTE.

“I would go back to high school if it meant going to a school like this,” commented my companion as we toured the Warrior Tech Academy, a school within a school administered by Henry County Public Schools in Virginia. We were being led by four Warrior Tech students — sophomores Charquise Smith-Stultz and Kaitlyn Thompson and juniors Delinda Nguyen and Ana Caro — and the pride in their innovative learning space was evident. The Academy’s classrooms and hallways, carved out of a media center, have turned traditional classroom design on its head. Windows face into the hall so classrooms are bright and transparent. Classroom walls are whiteboards where students are encouraged to brainstorm and communicate. Chairs and tables in the classroom are portable and the hallways include comfortable small group planning areas with overstuffed chairs and small display screens.

The careful attention to space demonstrates the commitment to collaboration that underlies Warrior Tech’s project-based learning curriculum. (read more…)

path to workforceSmartBrief Education’s Path to Workforce content series brings you original content and events on the topic. Path to Workforce is our vision of college and career readiness, encompassing K-12, adult learners, career changers, non-traditional students and those who forgo a traditional four-year college experience.

As I continue to review, reflect and grow in this STEM era, my mind keeps going back to the same premise over and over again. As educators, we need to stop and think about this one very important question: What makes a great STEM school? Is it just a course, a particular pathway or subject matter, a group of teachers, a commercial program, extraordinary curriculum or something else that clearly defines and spells out success for a STEM school?

This is certainly not an easy answer because of the complexity that surrounds the definition of STEM. For educators, the definition is centered on the ability to show, to teach, to model and to produce a process or product that is more clearly refined than it has been in the past. (read more…)

SmartBrief Education editors and writers sift through thousands of sources each day, reading a variety of content, including blogs and commentaries written by you and your peers.

To recognize some of the innovative education bloggers in the field, our team nominates their favorite content each month from which we choose two winners for the Editor’s Choice Content Award. These award winners are in the running for our annual Educators’ Choice Award.

Now we need your input! Select the one original content piece from our survey that makes an impact on you, challenges you to think outside the box and inspires you. The two with the most votes will be named the Educators’ Choice Content Award winners of 2015. Vote by Dec. 9. Winners will be selected and announced in early January.

Cast your vote. (read more…)

classroom 2

It’s most educators’ least favorite four-letter word.

Even accomplished teachers struggle with it. At a recent workshop, teachers were asked to investigate the Ten Roles of Teacher Leaders and then select their “superpowers” and “tragic flaws.” Of 50 teachers, not a single one identified data as a “superpower.” Even more telling, over half of the teachers identified data as their “tragic flaw.”

Building effective long-term habits of mind that will outlast our time with teachers is one of the most important roles of mentors and coaches. A high-leverage habit we can help them develop is how to regularly, sustainably, and effectively use data to make instructional decisions.

Data can be formative or summative. Looking at each serves different purposes in our work.

Formative assessment

Highly-effective, ongoing data analysis utilizes formative assessments, including pre-assessments. This information guides us while students are still in the process of developing their knowledge and skill and, therefore, we still have opportunities to create the “just right” instruction for all of our students — to change our plans to meet their needs, create differentiated instruction and take learning beyond our initial plans when students are ready. (read more…)