Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Deep Learning Support

Deep LearningScholarship, the concept that we as educators are forever learning, is one of the key pillars in the field of education.  It is a driver in the continued professional growth and development of certificated, administrative, and classified staffs.  Unfortunately, once the busyness of the school year takes over, deep learning become less common.  The concept of scholarship becomes difficult to maintain, and is replaced by quick snippets of activity with the hope of producing knowledge attainment, skills development, and academic language acquisition.  But given the capacity that is required, this approach fails to effectively support that learning.

Fortunately, the passion and commitment educators bring to their learning helps keep scholarship ever-present.  There are a number of online resources that can facilitate the learning, at a time and a place that is convenient to them.  And as technology continues to evolve and improve, it can better respond to the needs of educators in relevant and and meaningful ways.  In an article by Kristin Gray, Teaching Channel’s Deep Dives, she offers an example of efforts in supporting deep and continuous learning within the teaching profession.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Would You Pay For a Teacher's School Supplies?

TeacherSchool supply shopping has begun for more than 3 million teachers in our nation’s public schools. Stranger waiting in line behind Texas teacher pays for her school supplies.  As students return from their summer vacations, these teachers are digging deep into their shallow pockets for money to stock their classrooms with necessary tools and supplies for their students.  In a recent article,  Jennifer Earl wrote about a stranger who went out of his way to pay for a teacher's school supplies, 

So the next time you see a shopper walking around the department store with a cart full of student notebooks, pens, markers, paper, etc., it’s probably a teacher.  If you can, chip in.  If not, please thank him/her for choosing to impact the future.  You will be acknowledging the men and women who have dedicated their lives to a noble cause.

Friday, August 19, 2016

LAUSD's Girls Academic Leadership Academy

luis valentinoAs the new school year rolls out, over 650,000 make their way onto LAUSD school campuses.  But this year, a great opportunity has become available to middle school girls - a single-gender school. The Girls Academic Leadership Academy, or GALA, is a STEAM-themed school that will serve as a safe space for girls to immerse themselves in the sciences and the arts.

Research on the value of single-sex schools is mixed.  But for these students, single-sex schools are special places where they can be themselves, without the many distractions and pressures co-ed middle school environments create.

Reporter Kyle Stokes describes the district's celebration of the GALA opening in the newspaper article, LA Unified set to open California's 'first all-girls school in 20 years’.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Professionalization of Early Education

Historically, we as a country have invested little in early education, including pre-kindergarten.  And while not attending any pre-kindergarten programs might not have hindered students in the past, that is no longer the case.  The knowledge attained, the language acquired, and the skills developed in these early programs are critical to increasing student success in the K - 12 grades.

Several school districts have transformed their preschool programs by aligning them with their elementary schools through changes in curriculum, teaching methods, and student tasks.  Such changes require both a shift in mindset and a capacity to resource pre-k programs appropriately.  This shift includes creating conducive learning spaces, allocating sufficient resources, hiring and supporting highly qualified teachers, and compensating them accordingly.
A recent article by Lillian Mongeau, The Underestimation of America's Preschool Teachers: One City’s Attempt to Professionalize Early Education Could be a Model for the Nation, speaks to efforts at improving early education in the US.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Addressing America's Teacher Deficit

Teacher Preparation, Luis ValentinoIn 1904, John Dewey wrote about teacher preparation, and the role it should play in preparing teachers for the profession.  For Dewey, teacher preparation should focus primarily on preparing teachers to be learners, while they develop their capacity, and less emphasis on skills development that produces short-term gains (i.e., classroom management, lesson planning, etc.).

Teacher preparation programs that fulfill this vision is a tall order, considering the growing teacher shortage across the country.  The demand on school districts to find and hire new teachers places teacher preparation programs in the position of having to “boot-camp” candidates, then send them off to work in the most challenging school environment in the country.  These programs help teachers to survive their first several months of school, but will not necessarily help them to develop the necessary mindset for long-term success.

A more comprehensive model with long-term support can produce strong beginning teachers who can not only take on the challenges of teaching, but who can develop a growth mindset as a professional, a leader, and change agent.

But are such programs sustainable? Well, there are number of institutions giving it their best, looking at creating more comprehensive programs, with greater support, guidance, and accountability.  This approach will not only build stronger teachers, but will help to keep them in the profession.

In a recent article, Harvard's New Approach to America's Teacher Deficit:  The school hopes reshaping how young people enter classrooms will keep them there longer,  reporter Alex Zimmerman describes Harvard's efforts at developing teacher preparation programs that more effectively support teachers over time.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Technology in Education, a Cautionary Note

A great deal of energy, time, and resources have been dedicated to putting technology in the hands of the more than 50 million preK - 12 public school students, and to making it a legitimate teaching and learning tool.  And while we have all been exposed to the possibilities that technology can offer, there is research to suggest that those possibilities are not really translating into improved student engagement, or achievement. Recently, Anya Kamenetz reported on NPR, Caution Flags For Tech in Classrooms.

Given the investments that have already been made, and the increasing support from the education and business community, as well as the public, technology will continue to influence the institution of public education.  Therefore, we must ensure that we continue to keep the teacher, the student, and the content, the drivers of everything we do in education. Technology in schools and classrooms is relevant and valuable when it is in the service of the teaching and learning experience, but is not the driver of that experience.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Teacher Salaries Trail Salaries Of Other Professionals

Luis Valentino
Teacher pay in America continues to slide further and further behind other professionals requiring the same level of education, and the same amount of experience.  The salary disparity is felt more among teachers who have been teachers for several years.  And while job security and benefits are seen as compromises to higher salaries, it doesn’t make up for the disparity in salaries.

This should be a concern for for all districts, where teacher shortages are becoming extremely serious  across the country.  The high turnover among teaching faculties has made it difficult to fill vacancies to the capacity necessary.  Exacerbating the problem is the implementation of state and district priorities and mandates that require class-size reduction.  This will require additional cohorts of teachers to cover the demand.  A report by Sylvia Allegretto and Lawrence Mishel, of the Economic Policy Institute, The teacher pay gap is wider than ever: Teachers’ pay continues to fall further behind pay of comparable workers, sheds light on this serious issue.