Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Call To Action

Until now, I have blogged about innovative ideas that we have actually implemented in our innovative fully unionized public school years ago.  I present many ideas with the hope that one or two are accepted.  And to accept them you must make them your own, for your school because every school is different.

There are however, some things that affect all schools.  I've talked about the current system of education that needs fundamental change.  As with many educators I am outraged at the direction education is heading.  As an optimist, I do see a little tiny light at the end of a long long tunnel.  I see hope in reviewing and revising Common Core to be realistic and to be general guidelines for success rather than the current deadlines for failure.

To accomplish this, using the words of Randi Weingarten, we decouple the test from the Common Core. Over the last several years I have heard many complaints and concerns about the current education policies. And most of these are justifiable.  We have picked apart current policies quite effectively.  I have seen finger pointing at everyone and the rhetoric that if this person said something it must be bad. We have rallied and marched with our slogans and have given speeches with details all of which have set the table for the main course.  The time to decouple is now!

Now is the time for the main course to be served.  Now is the time for action.  Now is the time to design an assessment that truly does drive the real time education of children.  An assessment that takes kids from where they are, utilizing their individual backgrounds as a jumping off spot, preparing for their future.  Now is the time to make learning real, yes with teacher accountability and yes under a system that that allows assessment throughout the year as students are ready and uses demonstrated learning to get away from the bubble tests.  Ask your colleagues, ask the students ask the parents and dive deeply into everyones minds to get a quality assessment and accountability system.

Begin in your school.  You probably have your own assessment for kids already as the current one seldom reaches the kids.  Show how students have gained skills in your school, individually through pre and post assessments as well as those built into your daily activities.  Do it now and connect with those who have the bully pulpit to get your ideas heard.  Send your results to Dianne Ravitch, Randi Weingarten or anyone else to show what teachers can do.  No more talk, it's time for action.  

If you want to respond to this blog, I don´t want to hear "yea butts"  Respond with your ideas.  Anyone out there have a plan?  What is the crucial part of your plan?

Connected to a good assessment is a quality accountability plan for teachers.  This is essential.  Good teachers are not afraid of quality and fair accountability, in fact they embrace it.  Here are some aspects of a quality assessment:

The teacher is well planned; The teacher uses good teaching strategies;  The teacher demonstrates good communication skills;  The teacher is able to take kids from where they are recognizing diversity as well as the recognizing growth and development of the student;  The teacher innovates on a regular basis; The teacher uses strategies to support an environment conducive to learning;  The teacher uses a wide variety of assessment tools; Through a parent survey, the teacher communicates well with parents;  And yes, students show progress based on time spent in the specific class and from teacher assessments of in dividual students gains taking them from where they are, forward.

Share your ideas and got to our website for our books and more thoughts.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Get out of my classroom and don't come back until you've learned something

Instead of my usual rant, it's time to let kids and partners do the talking.  Thanks to Dr Howard Fuller who was Superintendent of Schools at the time and allowed us to do this as a public school.  Also to Vel Wiley from MATA media who filmed this and partnered with us.  Listen closely to our partners like Will Allen of, Black Health Coalition, Readers Choice Book store with Carla Allyson and many other partners.

So much for me, now for them