In the recent issue of Educational Leadership (March 2012), Richard Allington and Rachael Gabriel wrote an article called Every Child, Every Day. They laid out six simple steps that all educators can do to get students reading. These action steps take very few resources but they do take the effort of the teachers in the classroom, which ultimately involves a supportive administrator who will look past test scores and focus on what students really need. In our present high stakes testing dominated culture, more and more teachers are turning to test-prep. In a few states, test scores count for 20% ...


Teachers give tests to students all the time. It's been a standard educational practice for decades, perhaps even centuries. In some educational circles there is a push to complete formative assessments with students to get a true measure of their progress in the classroom. Most educators follow the progress of students and change their teaching according to the results they receive from testing results. Any teacher worth their weight in salt will adapt their lessons to student understanding. Whether they are doing observation, quizzes, progress monitoring or summative assessments, teachers are able to receive instant feedback on how their students ...


Over the past decade, there have been many issues in education. Some of these issues were actually created to make education better but they did nothing more than make it worse. After seventeen years in education, first as a teacher and then a principal, I have come to a crossroads in my career. According to the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, that sounds very "Oprah" of me. When I began teaching I remember more seasoned teachers stating that if you stay in education long enough you will see the pendulum swing from one side to another. It is my hope ...


Communication is one of the most important things we do everyday. It's done formally through great teaching practices, emails and one on one conversations we have with parents and professional conversations with colleagues. Formal communication is a part of our careers, and it is something we learned how to do at a young age and we have an obligation to do the same thing for our students. We, adults and children, have informal conversations about what we do in our private lives, which are just as important as the formal conversations we have in our careers. When having informal conversations ...


Sometimes parents want to help their children with homework but may not know the "right" way or newest way of doing it, which could be counterproductive to getting it done correctly. Why do teachers believe that homework is so important? Is it really important at all? Do teachers believe that whatever they teach is so extraordinary that students must continue to work on assignments at home as well as school? Or, are administrators making top-down decisions that homework must be a part of a student's nightly practice? Is homework being used to teach students time management techniques? Whatever the reason, ...


"Each person has something to contribute to the group, and the group is diminished without that contribution" (Tomlinson et al.p.30). They walk into our schools mid-year. Sometimes it's the beginning or middle of a random month. Long after teachers have created bonds with their students and begin to feel like a family, the transient student enters the roster. Depending on the school, the teacher may roll their eyes at the thought of a new student or the principal fights with central office to find out why they are getting the student when the other schools in the district ...


A few weeks ago I grabbed my trusty notebook off my desk and walked into a classroom to do a teacher observation. As I sat at the back table to get a better view of what was going on around me, I watched the teacher prepare to use her Smartboard. Unfortunately, the internet went down and she was not able to complete the lesson that she had planned. Fortunately, she is a seasoned teacher and was able to come up quickly with a back-up plan. I started thinking about people who complain about the internet and our over focus on ...


"Education, of course, is overloaded with programs and data. The growth of digital power has aided and abetted the spread of accountability-driven data-adequate yearly progress, test results, for every child in every grade, common core standards, formative and summative assessments galore" (Sharratt & Fullan. P.2). Imagine for a moment that data isn't becoming a dirty word. Let's imagine that when done correctly, and with integrity, data can provide useful information about students. Jonathan Cohen from the National School Climate Center once said, "Educators are now used to data being used as a hammer rather than a flashlight." What if we ...


Educators may be teaching students to have a math phobia rather than teaching them to love the subject. On Monday our school celebrated the 100th Day. If you have ever spent time in an elementary school you know how excited primary students get about the 100th day of school. It's right up there with Halloween and Valentines Day (which happened to be the next day). The masked super hero, Zero the Hero (Dr. Jean) came to visit with students. Zero, who is a high school student (Shh...don't tell anyone) taught our kids about the importance of math. Our K-5 ...


"We underestimate students when they fall short of expectations because they don't understand the school game and we determine that they lack motivation. " Carol Ann Tomlinson Recently, I read another great article in Educational Leadership by Carol Ann Tomlinson. Carol co-authored the article with Edwin Lou Javius which focused on teaching up in the classroom (Teaching Up). Teaching up is about providing high quality educational experiences to all students, not just the ones that teachers feel excel in school. Their concern is that many students who enter the classroom can learn more than they are expected to. Often teachers have ...


The opinions expressed in Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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