Classroom Walkthroughs Can Improve Teaching and Learning
But you must plan them with patience and persistence
A Community of Learners
Developing strong learning communities for schools takes highly skilled leaders who are prepared to get the details right
Achievement by Design
Buildings and classrooms play a role in how students learn, but while amenities are nice, don't let the frills overshadow your district's instructional goals
College for All?
Should all high school graduates try to earn a four-year degree? It’s a complex question that carries strong opinions on both sides of the fence. But many critics question the wisdom of “college for all”—the philosophy that all high school graduates can and should go on to earn a four-year degree. Students who’ve barely scraped by in high school soon discover that colleges are not lenient about late homework and low test grades. Some find out college isn’t what they expected, and many fail.
What's Being Said About NCLB?
The No Child Left Behind Act is scheduled for congressional reauthorization this year. Exactly when Congress and the president will sign on the dotted line is uncertain, and some officials speculate a vote on NCLB will be postponed until after the 2008 elections. But that uncertainty hasn’t slowed a storm of reports, hearings, and intense lobbying seeking to modify the five-year-old law.
The Search for True Grit
Teachers agree that kids—from kindergarteners playing in the block corner to 12th graders conducting chemistry experiments—who have learned to cooperate and exert self-control are likely to succeed in school. In a 2003 study, Vanderbilt University’s Kathleen Lane found that teachers in all grades and subjects, with little exception, ranked cooperation and self-control as the top two social skills “critical for success.” A number of schools are removing unruly and unmotivated students from the classroom and teaching them in alternative settings. Is this how districts should encourage self-control?
A Line Item for Achievement
How much are school districts spending to improve instruction and student achievement? No plans are cost-free, of course, but I have found an encouraging and reasonably priced initiative that several districts are implementing—instructional coaching. Instructional coaching is an encouraging, reasonably priced way to improve classroom teaching and student learning.
Apprenticeships: A Tradition That Works
Teaching a trade may not be as popular as it once was, but apprenticeships remain useful. The best apprenticeships present students with compelling problems, time to come up with solutions, and opportunities to apply math, science, and English. The best mentors know when apprentices are ready to tackle new challenges. And they know when to walk away and allow their apprentices to own the problem.
A Vigilant Approach
Some federal and state agencies—and some school boards—are questioning the numbers of students funneled into special education, and with good reason. Many districts follow special education laws to the letter. But recent investigations revealed that some districts use shoddy practices and violate state and federal laws. As questions are raised about the effectiveness of child study teams, school districts should carefully monitor their special education numbers and referrals.