By Diana Knudson March, 2015
“How Do We Get There from Here?” is an article in Ed Leadership, Feb. 2015, that throws out a bold statement. Not an untrue statement but one that is often questioned. The author Karin Chenoweth says, “We know what works to improve schools.” Do we always feel that way? If solid research points us in a direction, we should surely consider the tenets of that research.”
According to Chenoweth, research and experience have identified five practices that yield improvement. Are you ready for this?
· Have a laser-like focus on what kids need to learn
· Collaborate on how to teach that content by unpacking standards, mapping curriculum, designing lessons and constructing assessments that measure whether students master those lessons.
· Use the results of classroom and district formative assessments to see which kids got it, and need enrichment, and which ones didn’t, and need additional help
· Find patterns in data and use them to improve instruction (My students haven’t learned as many sight words as yours. What do you do that I should try?)
· Build personal relationships so that students trust teachers and so that parents, teachers, and administrators trust one another.
This list is consistent with the research of Edmonds, Rutter, Bryk, Leithwood and Marzano to mention a few. Yet the l00,000 schools in the United States have not sufficiently carried out those five practices or even some version thereof, to create the kind of change needed (Chenoweth, 2015). Take an informal look at the practices in your school. Where do you soar? Where do you feel an uncomfortable lump in your stomach? I did not write this article but should have. These huge, encompassing points summarize the vision I have had for Golden Triangle schools since I took this job. We have to make change to prepare our children and young adults for a world we see in the future but do not understand because so many things about our world are changing so quickly. My advice—Take action and take a personal inventory of your school life as compared to the five practices that yield improvement
Our winner of the Golden Triangle Teacher Appreciation prize of a $100 gift card is Margie Chinadle from North Star High School.
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