After years of recession-related layoffs and hiring freezes, school systems in pockets across the United States are in urgent need of more qualified teachers.
Teacher Shortages Growing Across The Country.
The AP (9/14, Armario and Leff) reports Sierra Sands Unified school district in California began the school year with four substitute teachers teaching classes because of four remaining vacancies. The district’s human resources department worked hard over the summer to recruit new teachers, but still managed to come up short. The small district’s problems are part of a growing national trend of teacher shortages. In some places, the shortage is confined to a small district, but there are also shortages in large cities like Las Vegas and whole states like Georgia and North Dakota. Some experts say the recession created the shortage because budget cuts and layoffs made the field unattractive, while others say a failure to retain teachers is to blame.
Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that the lecture is not generic or neutral, but a specific cultural form that favors some people while discriminating against others, including women, minorities and low-income and first-generation college students. This is not a matter of instructor bias; it is the lecture format itself — when used on its own without other instructional supports — that offers unfair advantages to an already privileged population.
OAKLAND, Calif. — By 9 a.m. on August 19, the first day of work for teachers in Oakland, California, Kilian Betlach had already been busy for hours. Betlach, the principal of a small middle school called Elmhurst Community Prep in a neighborhood residents refer to as Deep East Oakland, had just finished a meeting about …
Every one of the 42 states that has a waiver applied for renewal, and most have already gotten the green light to hang onto their flexibility for at least one more year. Still waiting in the wings: Colorado, Louisiana, and Texas.
Mel Riddile's insight:
"Every one of the 42 states that has a waiver applied for renewal, and most have already gotten the green light to hang onto their flexibility for at least one more year. Still waiting in the wings: Colorado, Louisiana, and Texas. (Illinois got its waiver late, so it's a special case, on a different timeline.)"
"But, first, he says he will scrap Georgia’s teacher pay schedules.
In recent years, local anti-tax groups, conservative politicians, and proponents of performance-based pay systems have attacked the single salary schedule for teacher pay, such as we have in Georgia — portraying it as an anachronism and an impediment to advancing student academic performance. Such claims have no basis in fact.
The single salary schedule is an objective method for determining teacher compensation and has been our law for more than 50 years. It removes biases associated with grade level, race and gender. It recognizes the contributions of all teachers irrespective of the subject matter taught. And it guards against subjective and inconsistent evaluations of performance.
Teachers have always been devalued in the United States and, in the past several years, the pace and intensity of the attacks has escalated sharply."
You can bring innovation to your school by identifying and engaging the early adopters who share your excitement about new tools and practices.
The Social Mechanics of Change
For decades, social scientists have been studying how change happens, and you may find the implications of that research useful in endeavors to implement transformational teaching changes in your school with colleagues, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders. A central theory that describes the pace and path of acceptance of new ideas and innovations was put forth by Everett Rogers (PDF). Rogers described how the diffusion of innovation takes place in a social system as people undergo a five-step process to assess the impact of change on their work and lives:
In the knowledge step, they become aware of a new idea and begin to develop their understanding of the function of this innovation.
People are then persuaded to form either a favorable or unfavorable attitude about this change.
They decide whether to adopt or reject the innovation.
They implement the new idea.
They confirm their decision by evaluating the results of the implementation.
You are what you do every day. Simply put, the habits of an excellent educator are that they have positive habits, and students are usually the central focus. When I become intentional about my own habits, I level up my performance. The Power of Habit says that habits power excellence. Taking this to heart, I’ve used apps like 30/30 to build routines until they are automatic.
Lexile by Chapter Guides explore the text complexity within a book by providing Lexile measures for every chapter in the text. Each guide includes a graph and table displaying the Lexile information to help educators, parents, and students better understand where the peaks and valleys of complexity reside within a text.
Author’s Note: September is Attendance Awareness Month
Attendance is to school what rebounding is to basketball—it is hard work, requires effort and persistence, and it often goes unrewarded and unrecognized, but schools cannot be successful without it. Improving school attendance is a matter of will. It requires a multi-pronged effort over several years to break the culturally supported cycle. Even the best schools have a significant number of students who are chronically absent.
Good school attendance, particularly in high-needs schools is more about attracting students than about promoting attendance. While having the right attendance laws and procedures in place are important in the short-run. In the long-run, a school must create a safe, orderly, and student-centered school culture that attracted students.
Our school had to become a place where students felt wanted and where they wanted to be.
We had to be a school in which every student expected to succeed every day.
We had to be the kind of school in which each and every student was both known and valued.
We had to be the kind of school that students wanted to attend and hated to leave.
We had to be a school that had to work to get students to leave the building at the end of the day, not one that had to work to get students to attend.
To be that school, we had to provide a safe, clean, orderly, warm and inviting school environment built on quality relationships. In addition, we had to create a culture of success in which students came to school expecting to succeed while knowing that their teachers would not stand bye and allow them to fail.
We learned from experience that when kids miss school they miss out, and when kids miss out, we all suffer. In our school, attendance, along with school wide literacy, was a priority. We served large numbers of under-resourced students who needed extra support and encouragement in order to attend school on a regular basis.
USA Today reports that research suggests that as many as 7.5 million students miss a month of school each year, raising the likelihood that they'll fail academically and eventually drop out of high school.
Based on my experience as a school leader in a career that spanned four different decades:
I agree that attendance is a key to student success and school effectiveness.
If students refuse to attend, we have no chance of raising achievement.
I have never found a high-performing school that had poor student attendance.
Attendance is not a rural or urban problem.
Balfanz provides school leaders with high-leverage research because it is both timely and it is relevant to our daily practice.
Regular school attendance is so fundamental and so basic that we often incorrectly assume that it is being adequately addressed.
Attendance is to school what rebounding is to basketball—it is hard work, requires effort and persistence, and it often goes unrewarded and unrecognized, but schools cannot be successful without it.
Attendance is a key indicator of school personalization. Students will attend schools that are 1) safe and orderly, 2) welcoming and inviting, and 3) success-oriented. If students feel comfortable and secure, they will attend. If students feel wanted, they will attend. If students can say “in this school, it’s hard to fail. The teachers won’t let you fail. They won’t give up on you,” they will attend.
In fact, from experience, I know, that not only will the students attend, but you will develop what I refer to as a “problem of success.” Where you previously heard complaints that students never come to class, you will begin to hear complaints that the students won’t leave the building at the end of the school day.
What School Leaders Need to Know About Absenteeism
Balfanz’s research indicates that students who miss 10% or more of school are on-target to drop out.
Create a safe, orderly, and inviting school environment that supports learning, encourages attendance, and promotes positive student behavior.
Poor attendance “costs schools money” in the form of lost state aid.
Even schools with good attendance--“95 percent average daily attendance is typically considered good”—could have a significant number of students who miss more than 10% of the days.
“Think about it like this: If you had 100 students in your school, and 95 percent showed up every day, you’d still have five absences a day. That’s 900 absences over the course of the 180-day school year, and that could mean as many as 45 kids missing 20 days of school.”
Action Steps for School Leaders
Know your school’s attendance rate by year, by month, by grade, by ethnicity, and by gender.
Develop a list of chronically absent (10% or greater) students and keep the list up-to-date. Review the list at every staff meeting.
Involve parents. Require chronically absent students to attend a parent conference each time the student is absent without a doctor’s note.
Use your roto-dialer or auto-call system to make wake-up calls each morning to your poor attenders.
Instead of suspending students for truancy consider an in-school alternative.
Show that you truly value instruction and learning by limiting interruptions and out-of-class time like assemblies, pep rallies, and field trips.
Because student attendance correlates highly with teacher attendance, stop taking teachers out of school during the school day for professional development. It sends everyone a message that school is not important.
The Bottom Line for School Leaders
Students will attend school when they feel wanted and when they believe that they can succeed. Most importantly, school leaders must build a culture in which all students are known, valued, and expected to succeed.
“Grit” is a huge buzzword right now that’s used to refer to perseverance and resilience. Many schools are rushing to adopt grit curriculums and character education programs so they can teach their students about how to put in the effort and determination that’s needed in order to be successful. But here’s the thing about grit.…
"Hear from Principal Ramiro Rubalcaba in this webinar about how two urban high schools in California committed to changing school culture and took suspensions off the quick fix menu. In place of suspensions, the schools and staff implemented School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and committed to prevention and intervention."
One of the bonuses of Kristina Rizga's excellent Mission High is that it shows what it would take to improve principal quality in high-poverty schools. Since principal leadership is so important, systems should require school leaders to have teaching experience with students similar to those who attend the school, as well as having served as a teachers union official. I'm kidding about the requirement that a principal must have union leadership experience; it should not be required, even though Mission High helps reveal why such a qualification should be highly valued. Had Eric Guthertz, the principal of Mission High, not had the ability to work collaboratively with the district, Rizga would have needed a different book title. In large part because of Guthertz's leadership and savvy, the subtitle is One School, the Experts Who Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph. As was so often the case under Arne Duncan's prescriptive School Improvement Grant (SIG) and his Race to the Top, Guthertz almost lost his job. Under the SIG, states had to agree to using test scores for teacher evaluations, ease restrictions on charters, and choose between firing the principal, ½ the teachers, closing...
But a lot of the training they get in school sure is.
By Dan Willingham
"Teacher Training Should Focus More On Practical Knowledge.
Daniel T. Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, writes in the New York Times (9/8, Subscription Publication), regarding teacher training, citing Education Secretary Arne Duncan as supporting the view that “the way to improve schooling is to lure top-scoring graduates into teaching,” but, he argues, “the problem is dumb teacher training.” Willingham maintains that America’s teachers are “smart enough,” but successful teachers know their subject and “how to help children learn it.” Research, writes Willingham, indicates that US teachers do not receive adequate training in their subject, specifically referring to findings regarding reading and math. He further argues that teachers recognize that their training focuses more on theory than on the practical knowledge they require.
Report: Poor, Black Students And Disabled Students Most Likely To Miss School In California.
The Latin Post (9/7) highlights the findings of a report by Attendance Works, a non-profit that advocates against chronic absenteeism in schools. The report found that in California chronic absenteeism was most common among poor black students and disabled students. The report also found that the chronic absences and truancies increased dropout rates and achievement gaps.
Does the growing focus on helping students develop a growth mindset paint over the fact that many schools aren't offering students engaging material?
It’s hard to be connected to the education field today and not have heard about Carol Dweck’s research on growth mindset. The Stanford psychologist has spent her career researching how adult messages impact the way kids think about their abilities. Working to teach a growth mindset has now become popular in schools, with teachers across the country working to praise students’ process, not their product and to celebrate productive failure. Still, as with any education theory that catches on like wildfire, there are those who believe changing student mindsets isn’t the panacea it has been made out to be.
When I'm presenting to teachers, we also discuss the importance of chunking information. One teacher asked me, "Why should I chunk? As students get older, they need to learn to do more on their own." I do believe there are times for them to handle larger amounts of material, but especially when introducing new material, we need to stop and chunk the information so they can reflect on it. There's more on that method in this article.
Attendance. We know that students can't learn if they aren't in school, but even though we send a stretch limo to pick them up each morning (That Big Yellow One), there are students who we struggle to get to school. This is a multi-layered challenge that is best served with a joint effort with school, parents and the community, but this week we focus on steps that you can take as the school's leader to impact attendance. We asked several principals what they are doing that's been effective in promoting student and faculty attendance. Here's what they shared.
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