Ta-da! This is my 100th post. I just finished my 99th, and was all set to close up shop for the day, when I realized that I could accomplish this little goal by just staying seated for a while longer. Actually, it takes me a rather long time to create most of my posts. I envy the bloggers that put out more than one a day. I started in November of 2010 and by mid-May, 2012, I have 100. Average of one every 5.33 days.
Anyway. If you follow this blog, or even if you occasionally drop by, I thank you. If you are one of the regular responders, I love you! If you read my posts, you have a picture of who I am and what I think. But, more that that, you probably understand what kinds of things are important to me. Here are a few details about a few things that continue to have my attention:
- teacher effectiveness: incredibly important; important from Day 1 in the classroom; hard for individuals to develop; takes 5-7 years to begin to master; easy to observe (if you know what you are looking for); very hard to measure; requires constant attention by ind. teacher as well as by group; must be operational all day every day–there is no time off, no day off; built from the ground up; can be learned; must be practiced, cannot be transferred.
- career ladders: both teachers and the profession deserve this; everybody deserves opportunities for career advancement–even the kid at the register at McDonald’s–so why not a teacher?; advancement should not require leaving teaching behind to move into administration, ed. policy, or ed. leadership; real benefits to be had from setting up in-teaching career advancement that could help unstick teacher evaluation, new teacher induction, and embedded professional development; the concept of teacher leaders can advance school improvement efforts across the board; time to move on this in Delaware!
- effective school and district leadership: it’s all about the right person in the right place at the right time; looking for genuine, powerful, on-target, charismatic leaders [I have known and worked with two such leaders: Phil Reed, Principal of Wm. C. Lewis Elementary in Wilmington, DE (from the mid-70’s to mid-80’s), and Rachel Wood, lead investigator in National Science Foundation grant project to revamp Delaware elementary and middle school science programs (1996-2003)]; stability is critical–the churn of leadership in schools and districts can be devastating–as bad as a long-time inadequate leader; ask the teachers if the leadership is effective–they know.
- teacher preparation: Yeah–it needs attention, but in my experience, it is not as bad as some have made it out to be; needs to be aligned with needs of modern classrooms, up-to-date teaching requirements, and changing populations of students; can never really “prepare” incoming teachers for the realities of being alone and 100% responsible for the learning of the 25-150 (or more) students assigned to you–no different in that respect from when I graduated in 1972; not just the responsibility of the institutions of higher education; needs to be as discriminating as to who is accepted as engineering.
- new teacher induction: Oy, vey! Needs everyone’s help, and fast; weaker link in the process, if you ask me; must become more comprehensive, more tightly monitored, and more in-depth; must require top-notch master teachers as mentors and models; must include exit strategies for those who just cannot cut it, and bridge programs for those who show promise but need additional time.
- teacher evaluation: tied directly to all of the above; if evaluation was really operative and well-implemented, then ineffective or incompetent teachers would never make it past the first year or two –> no more “bad teachers” upon whom to pin all the woes of public education; we are on the right track here in Delaware with a long-time statewide evaluation system currently based on the work of Charlotte Danielson; hung up on that need for quantitative data–that measurable–as the one true sign that Mrs. McGillicuddy is the effective teacher she seems to be by all other accounts.
Enough already. Of course, there are other topics that I think are important and interesting: early childhood education, graduation rates, parent engagement, common core standards, student motivation–just to name a few. I want to work on all of the above.