After a round of districtwide budget trimming, principal Riley received some tough news: His school’s two instructional coaches would be reassigned to classroom teaching positions. Although Riley knew all along that instructional coaching could end up on the chopping block, he truly believed its positive record of improving teaching would guarantee funding. Sitting in his office, absorbing the implications of the change, Riley was initially gripped by a series of emotional reactions. From despair over the loss of support to key teachers who were just beginning to respond to coaching, to anxiety about having to break the news to the coaches themselves, Riley knew this change would be difficult for many to accept. Knowing that people follow his emotional lead, Riley thought about how he could acknowledge the loss yet respond with an appropriate amount of what he calls, “can-do-ism.” “After all,” Riley explains, “I can’t call myself a leader if I’m not helping people see challenges as opportunities.”
If your leadership experiences allow you to relate to principal Riley, you probably also recognize in him — and in yourself — the seeds of resilience. (read more…)
Why music education? UCLA professor James Catterall led an analysis of a U.S. Department of Education database. Called NELLs88, the database was used to track more than 25,000 students over a period of 10 years. Catterall conducted a study and found that regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students get higher marks on standardized tests. The study showed that students involved in music generally tested higher than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also reading proficiency exams. The study also noted that the student musicians scored higher, no matter what socioeconomic group was being studied. So why not music education?
Having visited several classrooms, it appeared to me that in many cases, music education tended to begin in the third grade, for those that were fortunate enough to have a music instructor. Even then, the instructor was often stretched thin, being shared by several classrooms, and even several schools within a given district. (read more…)
February has been designated Career and Technical Education Month. Which career paths are you preparing students for after high school?
Every day, I have students who reaffirm my love for teaching and my commitment to career and technical education (CTE). One young lady that comes to mind, is a full-time, seven-course student at Harrell Accelerated Learning Center where I teach in Wichita Falls, Texas. She works hard on her studies, spending two hours per day with instructors and the remaining time on individualized, self-paced online learning. Then, after school, she rushes to her retail job and puts in up to seven more hours there. That’s work ethic my friends.
One of her classmates is a half-day student with a full-time desire for success. She plows through her core and CTE courses with admirable aplomb. Some she does within the school walls, other work she completes when her busy schedule allows, behind the screen of her home computer. (read more…)
“I’m so stupid. I’ll never get this!” The message looped inside Kent’s mind, its echoes blinding him to any way forward. When his teacher came by, she assumed he was daydreaming and not giving the practice exercises any effort. A reprimand followed, Kent looked back at the work in front of him, and the audio loop returned. “I’m stupid,” it reverberated. “I’ll never get this.”
In addition to imagination, fostering students’ reflection abilities helps them develop resilience. We can equip students to think their ways out of defeat and into healthy mind states where learning — deep learning, in fact — can happen.
Reflection comprises the ability to monitor one’s own thinking — metacognition — and to engage strategies — self-direct — that make positive adjustments. It involves three phases.
Phase 1: What am I thinking now?
This seems basic, and yet this first step may be the most elusive. (read more…)
Those of us in education often think of leadership as the domain — if not the burden — of the privileged few. Individuals who sit on comfortable perches, such as heads of school and other organizational leaders, are tasked with the responsibility to guide and inspire their charges and advance the institutional agenda. The rest of us are simply here to teach.
In truth, whether we enjoy a large central office on the main floor or a corner classroom in the school basement, we are all leaders. Every teacher who enters a classroom is given the opportunity and privilege to lead. As teachers, we must select instructional content and determine what it is that our students need to learn. This includes the moral, ethical and social-emotional components of learning in addition to core content. We also determine how the information and skills are to be taught — whole class, cooperatively, flipped, etc. (read more…)