February 2011 Archives

@eduleadership The recent anti-union turmoil in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and New Jersey has many commentators wondering about the fate of public-sector unions in the U.S. Teachers seem to be the primary target of Gov. Scott Walker's proposed changes in Wisconsin, but as NPR notes, anti-union sentiment is on the rise across the board as private-sector workers question the compensation, benefits, and job security of public-sector workers. While I am sympathetic to the cause of pro-teacher protestors in Wisconsin and elsewhere, it's wrongheaded to approach good pay and benefits for teachers as a "worker's rights" issue. Educators are not "workers" ...


@eduleadership Last in a series of posts about curriculum pacing guides Over the course of my past few posts on curriculum pacing guides, the issue of monitoring has come up several times. If we want all students to have equal access to rigorous, high-quality curriculum, it follows that some degree of monitoring will need to be in place to ensure that teacher autonomy (which I believe is a good thing) does not turn into curricular chaos, with everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. The bible uses the phrase "everyone did what was right in his own eyes" ...


@eduleadership In my recent post on curriculum-based assessments, I noted the value of having articulated, aligned curriculum with clear pacing guides: In the best-case scenario, rigorous state standards (and soon, national common core standards) are mapped closely onto a well-articulated, district-wide curriculum supported by robust instructional materials and professional development. The strength of such a system is that it actually specifies when and how each concept and skill will be taught. The realities of schooling may prevent students from experiencing exactly this scope and sequence of instruction, but it's better than a system in which a patchwork of individual decisions ...


@eduleadership Part of an ongoing dialogue with Steve Peha—see my original post, Steve's initial response, my first reply, and Steve's latest follow-up. Dear Steve, I think you're right to point to competence as a key issue in motivation, as Dan Pink explains in Drive. Certainly, increased competence should result in increased autonomy, in education as in any other profession. (I would add that feeling competent isn't enough, so I'll assume in this post that we're talking about actual—not just perceived—competence.) From a management perspective, failing to provide increased autonomy to your most competent people is foolish on...


@eduleadership Part of an ongoing dialogue with Steve Peha—see my original post, Steve's initial response, and my first reply. Steve writes: Justin, You had some great thoughts today. Looking for parallels with other professions is always worthwhile. And I love, of course, that you brought up Dan Pink's book and his ideas about Deci and Ryan's Self-Determination Theory. I think, within your analogies, there's a an interesting perspective--if we dig a little deeper. In Deci and Ryan's theory, autonomy plays a role but probably not the fundamental role. Before "autonomy" comes "competence." People need to feel "good" at their...


@eduleadership Dear Steve, Thank you for your thoughtful response to my recent post on curriculum-based assessment. You make a compelling case that over-standardizing teaching may have the unintended consequence of making it a less appealing profession: Imagine that you are a talented principal in Seattle and that your job consists of little more than doing what the state has written in a book for you to do. Everything that is important in your work is specified in such a way that you know when and what to do; your job is effectively standardized and is no different than the job ...


@eduleadership Reader Steve Peha emailed me today with a great response to my previous post that I will share (with his permission) in its entirety: Mr. Baeder, I enjoyed reading your piece today on curriculum. But something you said struck me in a rather visceral way and I wonder if you would consider it here: The strength of such a system is that it actually specifies when and how each concept and skill will be taught. The realities of schooling may prevent students from experiencing exactly this scope and sequence of instruction, but it's better than a system in which ...


@eduleadership Remember the phrase "guaranteed and viable curriculum" from Mike Schmoker's book Results Now? Curriculum matters—what we actually teach students day to day and over their years of schooling has an enormous impact on what they learn. This is obvious on its face, but I'm concerned that the recent focus on accountability and standardized testing is drawing attention away from the importance of curriculum, and of assessment within curriculum. In the best-case scenario, rigorous state standards (and soon, national common core standards) are mapped closely onto a well-articulated, district-wide curriculum supported by robust instructional materials and professional development. The ...


@eduleadership If you were worried that we're running out of proposals to fix education by taking it out of the hands of educators, rest easy. Washington House Bill 1593 would establish alternative routes to certification for principals, purportedly to address the shortage of qualified school leaders. However, a quick read of the bill reveals that it would place managers from other fields in principal positions with no required teaching experience. While I am sympathetic to the logic that leadership in other sectors should translate to successful leadership in education, experience does not bear this out. Over and over again, I ...


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