Today's guest blog is written by Steve Constantino (Ed.D), Superintendent of Williamsburg-James City County School District in Williamsburg, Virginia. Traveling extensively as a speaker, capacity-builder and thought leader in the arena of family engagement has afforded me the distinct privilege of working in hundreds of schools in hundreds of districts on four different continents. Delving into the research and eventually conducting my own, the same set of facts continued to emerge. First, engaging families in the educational lives of their children supported better learning outcomes at just about every age. Second, there were specific strategies that could be employed ...


What is failure? In the media we hear about failing teachers, failing students and failing schools. Students who get retained, say they failed a grade, as much as the educators around them try to call it something else. There are so many ways we fail. Some of those failures are socially acceptable and others are not. If someone fails a test, they are encouraged to move on and try again. If they fail to get into the college of their choice they are persuaded to find another one that would be more fitting. When someone fails to make the basketball ...


"Students dislike writing because they often equate it with testing. Testing is stress, testing is not fun, and testing has taken over." Phil Bildner Educators are always looking for creative ways to inspire students to write. Too often students grow to dislike writing because they find it boring or they struggle with it and it's easier to give up and not write at all. In these days of modern technology it's easier for students to pick up a game that does all the creativity for them. However, writing can offer great experiences to students. It's how we communicate with one ...


We need to stop putting our expectations on our students and start helping them find their own. It's that time of year when educators continue the 3 R's but turn their attention to the 4th R, which is retention. Students who have struggled all year are now being put on the list of students who are in need of retention. Unfortunately, retention will not work for many of them and they will continue to struggle long after they leave the teacher who held them back. In a recent Education Week article entitled Data Show Retention Disparities by Erik Robelen, Caralee ...


"If we can't have fun in an elementary school, we have no business being there." Times are tough. School budgets are being cut, teachers and administrators are losing their jobs and state testing feels more like an interrogation than a tool to see how our students are doing. However, if we can't find a positive in a sea of negatives we have no business being in school. Kids did not ask for all of this and deserve better. Unfortunately, administrators are seen as the reason why all of these woes are hitting education. If administrators didn't have a strong bond ...


We all know what it's like to get on the computer and research a topic of interest. For some of us, it doesn't matter how many hours we spend or how much money we make when we complete the research. The journey and the final product are what we truly care about. As a writer, there are many topics that I find interesting. With the internet at my fingertips and a lifetime membership to my alma mater library systems (those pesky loans are worth something!), I can research what I want, when I want it. If it comes to presenting ...


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 ...


The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt's 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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