October 2010 Archives

Last month we wrote about teacher preparation and what colleges may consider doing in an effort to better prepare teachers for the workforce. This blog entry examines options for districts to explore through an explanation of the orientation that takes place in our district.


by Justin Baeder | @eduleadership I'm convinced that we need a little bit of firing in public education. Some principals, teachers, and other educators simply aren't cutting it, and are harming kids as a result. Some of us need to be fired. Not too many - just some. But what role should firing play in improving education, and how should we go about it? Results Now...Or Else A popular, yet still entirely theoretical, strategy for improving public education in America is to simply make it clear what results people are to achieve, and fire them if they fail to achieve ...


While on the plane from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) airport to Raleigh last month, I got the chance to sit next to Steve, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army. We talked about children, sports, and rivalry between UNC and Duke in basketball and how it compares with Texas and Texas A&M in football. I asked him after a bit to share a piece of wisdom that he had learned in working with the young enlisted men and women. He thought for half a second, then mentioned, "The biggest piece of wisdom I got in terms of working ...


Last month I wrote the article, All Systems Go, about how spelling out rituals, routines, and clear expectations for student conduct during the school day leads to a safer, more productive learning environment for all. I explained how empowering teachers to be the guiding force behind the change in school culture would lead to fewer behavior problems in the classroom, and hopefully, to the greater goal of improved student achievement. I also expressed how the systems were working well, and that the order created by the scripted expectations for conduct on behalf of the teachers and the students have been ...


by Justin Baeder | @eduleadership I've been trying a few different methods for doing walkthroughs and giving feedback to teachers using my iPad. I used a paper log and paper notes for feedback in previous years, but now that I have an iPad, it's time to go paperless. I've tried a few different solutions for organizing walkthroughs and giving feedback via iPad, and here's what I've come up with. Trial and Error Chris Lehmann developed a great form using Google Spreadsheets, which I tried and found very easy to use (for entering feedback, at least). You create a form and enter ...


by Justin Baeder | @eduleadership Yesterday I spent the day at another elementary school in my district as part of our district's Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for principals. The five of us spent the morning identifying a problem of practice and visiting classrooms, and spent the afternoon debriefing and identifying implications for our work. It's always stimulating to talk with other principals and learn how they lead their schools. I got great ideas for what I could do in my school. At the end of the day, though, I was exhausted by possibility. There is so much I could be doing, ...


As an administrator of a K-8 school, one of many responsibilities is to measure and report student progress to the larger community and particularly to the parents. I am not referring here to high stakes testing but to the individual learning taking place with individual students. Seeking answers to the following question form a central part of my work each day. “How are students learning? What are students learning? How do we know that they are learning?” Over the last two or three years, the question of assessments and grades has been a critical piece of my personal reflection and ...


Seattle Principal Justin Baeder argues that the teacher and principal evaluation process doesn't have to be perfunctory, and is more productive when it focuses on rigor, relevance, relationships, and results.


by Justin Baeder | @eduleadership In an op-ed in the Washington Post today, a bevy of urban superintendents (including Klein, Rhee, and Huberman of NYC, DC, and Chicago, respectively) offer their manifesto on "How to Fix Our Schools." Puzzlingly, rather than celebrate their accomplishments and boldly commit to the next steps in their ambitious agendas for change, they promote charter schools and technology-based learning as promising solutions to America's education woes. Not only does the editorial obfuscate the superintendents' actual plans for improving their districts; it tosses red herrings in front of a national audience hungry for tough talk about education ...


by Justin Baeder | @eduleadership In his recent post on Reality Check, Walt Gardner rightly points out that accountability for teachers must be matched or exceeded by accountability for principals: Unless principals are blatantly incompetent, they tend to remain in their jobs. Nevertheless, principals can be evaluated using multiple measures. The most obvious is the progress that their students make on standardized tests from year to year. They can also be assessed by their own faculty. Every year, United Teachers of Los Angeles uses principal surveys for this purpose. Parents can be included in these surveys. Finally, the ratings of those ...


With a whirlwind of action greeting me at the door, I entered the classroom unsure of what I was getting myself into with these scientists. Within moments of being in the room, the learner-centered feel of the room became clear as the students engaged deeply with their explorations into the world of material science. Nearly an hour later, I left spinning with excitement about the energy, engagement, and learning that was taking place in the classroom. I left excited about how empowered the students were with their explorations and how connected they were to their peers. I left reminded of ...


by Justin Baeder | @eduleadership We have long believed that there is a link between school leadership and student performance; many studies (such as those conducted by Kenneth Leithwood) have explored this relationship and have found principals to be second only to teachers in their impact on student learning. Schools are provided with principals with six-figure price tags on the basis of the logic that schools need instructional leaders in order to have a positive impact on student achievement. Indeed, virtually every discussion of the role of the principal in recent decades has centered around instructional leadership. What's surprising, though, is ...


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