Teacher Leadership Today
Where to find teacher voice in the Teacher Leaders Network:
TLN site-based bloggers:
Dan Brown, Get in the Fracas
Bill Ferriter, The Tempered Radical
Renee Moore, TeachMoore
Ariel Sacks, On the Shoulders of Giants
TLN bloggers at Teacher Magazine:
Anthony Cody, Living in Dialogue
Susan Graham, A Place at the Table
TLN-authored essays at Teacher Magazine
Visit our 2009-10 index of articles
Search among more than 200 articles since 2007
The TLN Teacher Voices blog
Nominated twice for Group Blog of the Year
Teacher reviews of professional books
at the Center for Teaching Quality
Teaching 2030 - A TeacherSolutions book
Other popular blogs by TLN members
21st Century Collaborative
Bill Ivey at Stoneleigh-Burnham
Book Whisperer (at Teacher Magazine)
Elena Aguilar at Edutopia
Engaging Parents in School
Future of Teaching
Leading from the Classroom (at Teacher Magazine)
Middle School Day by Day
Reflect to Redirect
Reflections of a Techie
Teacher in a Strange Land (at Teacher Magazine)
teacherken at Daily Kos
The Dream Teacher
The Jose Vilson
Walking to School
At Huffington Post/Education
They're still NSDC to us (smile) but we're beginning to adjust to the new name of the National Staff Development Council: Learning Forward. At their annual conference in Atlanta this week, the professional development association honored TLN charter member Bill Ferriter and co-author Parry Graham with their award for Staff Development Book of the Year.
Building a Professional Learning Community at Work: The First Year is — as Bill says in this blog post commenting on the award — "a practical book designed to support schools in their first year of PLC implementation by sharing stories, approachable research and a heaping cheeseload of handouts." And that's so true - the book is supported by 30 reproducibles that any teacher or principal can download free from the website. You don't even have to buy the book.
Bill, by the way, is a middle grades teacher in the Wake County (NC) Public Schools, where he and his principal Parry Graham led the development of a high-functioning professional learning community at newly opened Salem Middle School. The resulting book from Solution Tree (publisher of the DuFour series on PLCs) grows out of that authentic experience. Or, as Bill might say, it has cred. The folks at Learning Forward obviously thought so.
Our fellow Teacher Leaders Network member Heather Wolpert-Gawron has been writing for some time about what she calls the "Equation of Student Success" – some simple but profound math that goes like this:
Family + Student + School + Policy = Student Success.
Heather currently blogs at three locations: Edutopia, The Huffington Post, and her own teacher blog TweenTeacher. This blogging trifecta recently provoked "this crazy idea" to address the various elements of her equation in posts at her various blogs.
She somehow managed to have all three go live at about the same time (no small feat since HP has to approve and post, on a secret schedule).
She instructs us to start at TweenTeacher with a post about the Top 10 Ways Teachers can Help Avoid Student Failure.
Embedded in the article are links to Edutopia's post which covers the "Top 10 Ways Students Can Avoid Their Own Failure" and to the Huffington Post article covering the "Top 10 Ways A Family Can Avoid Their Student's Failure." Each article includes links to the others, and each post ends in a call to action about what voters and policymakers can do to hold up their end of the equation.
Is there an EduBlog award for this? If not, how about next year?
In a bold new report describing the conditions in many high-needs schools that interfere with student and teacher success, 14 accomplished teachers are proposing a policy and practice framework they believe will move America beyond the achievement gap "blame game" toward meaningful and sustainable school reform.
Drawing on the latest research and their own experiences in urban schools across the nation, this TLN TeacherSolutions team has put together a dynamic blueprint that runs counter to the narrowly focused, test-driven reform strategies that currently control efforts to educate an increasingly diverse student population in undersupported schools.
The report, Transforming School Conditions: Building Bridges to the Education System That Students and Teachers Deserve, is the product of more than a year of close study and debate, including virtual conversations with leading scholars representing a variety of perspectives. It is the latest in a series of TeacherSolutions reports supported by the Center for Teaching Quality that showcases reform proposals developed by outstanding teachers.
An e-magazine version of the report, with embedded video and audio commentary by the teachers, can be accessed here. Or download the PDF version here.
The teacher-authors include: Eldred “Jay” Bagley (Philadelphia); Glenda Blaisdell-Buck (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC); Mitzi Durham (Clark County, NV); Larry Ferlazzo (Sacramento, CA); Brian K. Freeland, Jr. (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC); Lori Fulton (Clark County, NV); Leona Bost Ingram (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC); Kristoffer Kohl (Clark County, NV); Mona Madan (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC); Kathie Marshall (Los Angeles); Delores Maxen (Charlotte- Mecklenburg, NC); Susan “Ernie” Rambo (Clark County, NV); Taylor Ross (Birmingham, AL); and Gamal Sherif (Philadelphia).
Teacher Kenneth J. Bernstein, better known to DailyKos readers as "teacherken", supplies our latest TLN contribution to Teacher Magazine, which is literally the story of his finding The Courage to Teach and finally meeting Parker Palmer, an important teacher in his own "student" life.
It's a good choice, we think, for the 200th article contributed by members of the Teacher Leaders Network as part of a partnership with Teacher Magazine and edweek.org. You can read a sample of other TLN contributions at this index page on the Education Week website. Congratulations and thanks to all the teacher-writers who've helped us reach what would have once seemed to be an impossible milestone.
[Hint for first-time visitors to TM: All the Teacher Magazine content is free, but you need to register once as a guest to access these articles.]
Education Week has a new special report on Professional Development, put together by teacher beat reporter Stephen Sawchuk and several of his colleagues. In introducing the report at the Teacher Beat blog, Sawchuk shares a story he heard more than once in his travels:
A man dies and goes to heaven. Passing the pearly gates, he notices that there are plenty of folks from all professions and walks of life standing around, but no teachers.
"Where are all the teachers?" he inquires of God.
"Oh, they're in professional development," God replies. "In hell."
Here’s a link to the report’s INDEX… We’ve just begun to browse but it looks like Sawchuk talked in depth with this selection of teachers. And there's also an interactive PDF version of the whole package.
Over at Get in the Fracas, TLN blogger Dan Brown is feelin' the November Blues and lookin' for a cure:
The changing weather and the diminishing daylight don’t help. Any trace of the back-to-school burst is utterly gone. The fruits of significant learning progress aren’t yet revealing themselves. Sometimes, towards the end of the day, I get this sandy feeling in my eyes, like dumbbells are attached to my eyelids, dragging them down.
I need an energy shot. And I’m not alone. Teachers I talk to are feeling the gears slow down, the momentum wane. We’re eyeing weekends with ferocity. What can we tell ourselves?
Each school year is a long term project. There are no shortcuts to satisfaction and growth. These are the vital months ahead, when classrooms can splinter into weariness and disorder, or push through to become havens of intellectual stimulation.
Writing at On the Shoulders of Giants, TLN blogger Ariel Sacks wonders about the promise of wireless classrooms, and some of the barriers as well:
My mind's been trying to imagine what a paperless classroom would look like and how it would run. I found a great post on the blog, teachone2one.com, called The Changes, that explains some of the major ways the laptops have changed practice and learning in the classroom.
One of Ariel's wonderings has to do with the affordability of 1-to-1 laptop schools and classrooms. While this may not be a solution in Ariel's situation -- an urban charter school -- I recently interviewed the superintendent of a small city district in Alabama that has gone completely wireless and completely one-to-one.
What's most intriguing about the Piedmont City Schools story is how the move is being conceptualized by school and community leaders as both a way to prepare their rural students for the 21st Century and a potential investment in economic development for a community that's suffering from the job losses so epidemic in the South.
On Halloween, Roxanna Elden celebrated the 9th anniversary of "my own first-year teacher breakdown, when I pulled into the parking lot of a Houston Burger King and cried in my car for several hours." She commemorates the occasion with this blog post at Public School Insights, aimed not so much at newbies themselves, but at the teachers who might do more harm than good unless they think carefully about the kind of help they give. Here's a sample -- click the link below to read all of her excellent advice.
“Be consistent.” / “Set high expectations.” / “Stay organized.”
It is seldom helpful to redirect rookies to the general principles served up in teacher training programs. Chances are, new teachers have heard these suggestions and are struggling to put them into practice. In mid-November, a rookie teacher’s most pressing question is not likely to be, “Should I set high expectations?” It is more likely to be, “How do I set an expectation of college readiness when, despite my best efforts, only two of my students regularly turn in homework?” To be truly helpful, suggestions should be case-specific and as realistic as possible.
Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: How Teacher Performance Assessments Can Measure and Improve Teaching, published by the Center for American Progress, is in part a response to frequent calls from advocates of student-test-centered evaluation for their critics to present viable alternatives. The report
...describes the ways in which assessments of teacher performance for licensing and certification can both reflect and predict teachers’ success with children so that they can not only inform personnel decisions, but also leverage improvements in preparation, mentoring, and professional development. It outlines progress in the field of teacher assessment development and discusses policies that could create much greater leverage on the quality of teacher preparation and teaching than has previously existed in the United States.
Darling-Hammond makes the case that large-scale school improvement will only come about when the United States catches up with nations that have "developed a national system of supports and incentives to ensure that all teachers are well prepared and ready to teach all students effectively when they enter the profession."
These nations, she says, have also created "a set of widely available methods to support the evaluation and ongoing development of teacher effectiveness throughout the career, along with decisions about entry and continuation in the profession."
Meeting the expectation that all students will learn to high standards will require a transformation in the ways in which our education system attracts, prepares, supports, and develops expert teachers who can teach in more powerful ways—a transformation that depends in part on the ways in which these abilities are understood and assessed.
The report is downloadable both in PDF format and from Scribd for mobiles and e-readers.