The HOPE Foundation has designed an effective formula for transforming schools. Their premise is leadership capacity and school culture are critical to implement any policy or structural change. Teachers embrace their work because it is respectful of them, and it empowers teachers and principals to drive student achievement. Our friends at HOPE Foundation asked me to share the contest they have developed. I like a contest that discovers best practices, educates what a winning school would look like, and recognizes the hard work of transformation that educators are doing. Please share this with those who are interested in improving the ...


When I was the executive director of the National Education Association, I often said to the staff that I took full responsibility for their morale. I thought about it every day and with every decision I made. I appointed a design team to assist me with ideas and activities to drive a positive culture and work environment. I periodically conducted surveys called "temperature checks" to assess our success. This work of improving staff morale was not easy and took time, but I firmly believed that, as their manager, I had a lot of responsibility for assuring the work satisfaction of ...


Note: Alan Blankstein, president and founder of the HOPE Foundation, shares some of the work he has been doing to transform public schools with a guest post today. Building relational trust with school staff is a precursor to sustainable success. In the HOPE Foundation's work in thousands of schools and districts, this trust has been built by the leader using the following approaches: 1. Listen First. The new-leader syndrome, however, often entails changing things quickly to establish authority. Many veteran leaders, on the other hand, may feel they already know what is best and may move forward without building consensus. ...


It is no secret that I think the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards(NBPTS) is the best hope for building and sustaining a true teaching profession for the United States of America. I support the proposition that National Board Certification should be the norm for teachers, not an elite status. Can we make teaching a profession like all others? Yes, if we are willing to embrace and pay for needed changes. Last week I learned of two NBPTS partnerships that I think are game changers for teacher quality. Even better, they are game changers for student learning, and I ...


At a recent institute sponsored by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, I heard a well-known researcher and thought leader give his definition of 21st skills. His definition had three parts: the curriculum and pedagogy of the most prestigious, elite schools of the world, like Eton College; information technology (IT) skills; and, access to these skills and strong teaching by every student. His definition made me think of the critics of 21st century skills who insist that we have always taught critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. The truth is that we have taught these skills in the most prestigious, ...


It has often been said that changing the National Education Association is like turning around a large battleship, but that has not stopped Dennis Van Roekel, the current president, from working to forge a consensus around changed policy among his constituents. In the face of declining membership, Democratic reformers who push an agenda that teachers find hard to embrace, and Republican governors who have gone after NEA affiliates with a vengeance, NEA has reached a point of change or perish. Well, that may be a little dramatic. Let's say this instead: NEA must reinvent its mission and vision to align ...


First, let me say right up front that I celebrate any school that provides a child a first class education. I do not care whether it is a magnet school, traditional public school, charter school, or private school. I do not believe that public funds should be used for private schools, but I do believe that every child should have access to a great public school. This year has been the worst year I have ever witnessed for attacks on public schools. Politicians and reformers who believe they are helping children by providing vouchers, tax credits, closing public schools, or ...


Last week, I attended a special celebration on Capitol Hill to recognize the 25th anniversary of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), the independent board that certifies accomplished teachers in the United States. Yes, it has been 25 years since the board was created in 1987 by the Carnegie Foundation. This longevity is a testament to thoughtful, research-based reform that respects teachers and challenges them with high expectations. It was inspiring to see and hear the architects and champions for this gift to the teaching profession. Former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, Founding Chair of the National Board, ...


I know the teachers and education support professionals in Wisconsin are discouraged after the recall election of their nemesis, Governor Scott Walker, was not successful. I, too, have been on the losing side of elections that consumed my time and energy and left me exhausted. I know the inclinations are to point fingers, cast blame, question strategies, and declare your hatred for politics. Wisconsin educators are better than that. They will do what all good teachers do: reflect, learn, and make course corrections. In that spirit, here are my reflections. First, money matters. Wisconsin saw up close and personal the ...


I have had the pleasure of working with some great teachers who happen to be registered Republicans, and they've been pretty loyal to their Party's nominees in the past. They have let me know how disappointed they have been with the current administration's preoccupation with using student test data for everything from employee evaluations to salary increases. This has been their "talk to the hand" response when I have tried to persuade them with other arguments that favor this administration. It's been a tough sell up till now. But low and behold, their party's candidate has come forth with an ...


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