October 30, 2015

The Educational Star Wars

The Star Wars Saga in Education Continues

I have shared with you many ideas from educational researchers such as Michigan's own Larry Lezotte and Mike Schmoker as well as Robert Marzano and others. In many years in education, I have learned a great deal about "how" we get things done in a school. I've also learned the vast importance of making sure people understand "why" we do what we do. Also, recently, you have probably had the opportunity to check out the trailer for the new Star Wars movie coming out in a couple months. It will certainly be interesting to see what the new movie brings — and if there is an appearance by the great Jedi master, Yoda. Yoda was a great teacher himself and held true to some basic beliefs. Educators must truly believe in high expectations for all. That doesn't mean that you expect every single student to achieve at the highest expectation, but that each child should have that possibility in front of him/her. One of my professors told our class (years ago), "A 'C' is a most honorable grade." High expectations only make schools better.

The CIA 

Within the curriculum, instruction, and assessment "system" led by the principal, ensure that students have enough time to do their school work and that teachers are embracing that time and allowing what is called "time on task" by Lezotte and others who have worked on creating and studying effective schools and identified the "seven correlates." Ensure that the aforementioned culture is sound and that the school is a safe and orderly environment for all — students, teachers, families, etc. The factors that play into this include the school calendar, the daily schedule, and a focus on making sure that students are engaged in excellent instruction every day. One superintendent I know suggests that we build our systems around "response to instruction" moreso than "response to intervention." Furthermore, there should be regular and systemic checks for understanding of student learning.

Make a Difference Time

It's imperative that teachers remember that they went into education to make a difference in kids' lives. It's been my experience that we go through so many different processes in education, always finding the latest and greatest flavor of the week. We must create a focus on the classroom, the school — with the background of the district. Education is simple, but every time a principal goes to a conference and brings home a new "flavor," we take so many steps back. Education must be simplified and we know how to do it.

Face it, as Yoda may say, "There is no longer 'try,' we must do."

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