Stock PhotoI tend to be one of those educational risk takers.

As a K-12 administrator, I loved nothing more than to visit classrooms where there was a buzz of student learning, where you could stand in the doorway for minutes before anyone even knew you were there, where a room was a hive of student activity, where the teacher was lost in the swirl of investigation and collaboration, where classroom management stemmed from an intensity of engagement rather than the enforcement of rules.

Not surprisingly, I am an unreserved proponent of blended learning.

Creating an environment that fosters collaboration, respect and passion — that thinks outside of the educational box — reaps so many rewards for student engagement and embraces the dynamic nature of education. We regularly challenge the teachers we work with to commit to reinventing their approaches with technology and to intellectually rejuvenate their spirit.

For years, we “early adopters” have been advocating the many advantages of blended learning — the predominant one being that it naturally allows for differentiated instruction. (read more…)

classroom 2How do we ensure that we have the best teachers in all of our schools? We’ve already taken the first step by acknowledging that our best teachers aren’t drawn to serve in our highest needs schools. We also know that these schools and teachers need significant additional support in order to begin to make a difference. We haven’t yet defined what the additional support must look like and what it will cost. To date, many band-aid solutions have been put into place. It is time to make a major commitment to enacting real change for our most needy children. We must also commit to developing excellence in each and every teacher.

This type of change happens at a grassroots level and must be tailored to local needs. This means that school districts, schools and teachers must be empowered and supported to create learning environments that will maximize learning, growth and development for each and every child in their care. (read more…)

professional developmentToday’s school leaders face a new education landscape, one fraught with challenges and new expectations. Smart leaders are realizing the benefits of applying business principles to school practice, as they navigate this tricky new terrain. Executive coach and former educator Naphtali Hoff shares eight leadership skills 21st century school leaders can borrow from their corporate brethren.

It’s been four years since common core burst onto the scene — and tossed the U.S. educational system on its ear. The standards ushered in an era of reform, marked by increased accountability, new forms of instruction and a change in roles for students and teachers.

And new demands for school leaders. Today’s schools now have to teach all students to high standards. School leaders must now adjust their operations and adopt new practices in order to support emerging pedagogies and ensure deeper learning, according to Naphtali Hoff, president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting. Hoff spent more than 15 years in education, as a teacher and school administrator. (read more…)

leadershipAs a principal awaiting the start of school, I knew one thing for certain: There would be a lot problems in the year ahead. Most educators ironically are too busy solving problems to find time to reflect upon the nature of their relationship to problems. Since reflection is essential for learning, I offer some of mine, based on a career of living with problems.

Here are the stages of my evolution of attitudes toward problems:

I wished they were few and far between. At the start of my career, I still held onto the hope that problems would be the exception to the plans that I made as a teacher. I worked under the illusion that “things were supposed to go according to plan” and that problems should be minor events along the way. This attitude however often led me to complain about them or wish they would go away as quickly as possible. (read more…)

tablet on white background. Isolated 3D imagePersonalized learning is the latest buzzword in the field of education technology. At the recent ISTE conference, it was clear that with the rapid amount of technology adoption in the past three years, the ability for companies to impact student learning in new and innovative ways is growing exponentially as technology truly becomes a ubiquitous partner in the educational process.

For those of us who work in this dynamic space, it’s clear that we are working with a new paradigm altogether. This generation of digital natives responds less favorably to the old drill and kill, one-size-tries-to-fit-all approach to learning, while gravitating toward the personalization that technology fosters.

Focusing on the gains in literacy underpins the entire educational spectrum — and using personalization can truly help every student become a proficient reader. Not only does technology facilitate personalization for each student, it allows educators to play an active role in individualizing instruction for their students, regardless of their unique abilities or learning styles. (read more…)