Note: Michael Bromley, a teacher in Washington, DC, is guest-posting this week. My first experiences teaching came as a substitute teacher in Montgomery County. It was useful work, flexible, and fun. It culminated in a long-term subbing job for the last months of the year for a government teacher on maternity leave. These two months led me into teaching as a profession. My college degree in writing (English Lite), prepared me none for teaching government, much less much of anything. My prior business experience gave me no academic credentials, although I did spend my million-plus miles on American Airlines reading ...


Note: Jeff Henig, a professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, is guest-posting this week. "Follow the money" can be good advice. Knowing who is footing the bill--for a political campaign, policy notion, or advocacy group--doesn't tell you all you need to know; candidates, policies, and organizational platforms need to be judged ultimately on their own merits. But you're right to put on your skeptic's glasses if Walton Family Foundation is sponsoring a conference on elected school boards; if the American Federation of Teachers is funding a study of charter schools; or if Eli Broad is ...


Note: Jeff Henig, a professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, is guest-posting this week. There is a satisfying solidity to the term "data-based" decision-making. But basing decisions on data is not the same thing as basing them on knowledge. Data are collections of nuggets of information. Compared with "soft" rationales for action--opinion, intuition, conventional wisdom, common practice--they are hard, descriptive, often quantitative. When rich and high quality sets of data are mined by sophisticated and dynamically-adjusted algorithms, the results can be powerful. Google's search engine is the prime example here. Google scores web pages based ...


Note: Jeff Henig, a professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, is guest-posting this week. A bit over ten years ago (December 2000), Mel Gibson--not yet the semi-pariah he's become due to his high profile breakdowns--starred in the movie "What Women Want." The premise was that men and women were so alien from one another and so unlikely to communicate honestly and directly that it takes a freak accident (giving Gibson's character the ability to hear women's thoughts) for any kind of real cross-gender understanding to develop. I think about this sometimes when I listen to ...


Note: Cole Farnum, a teacher in New York City, is guest-posting this week. As a beginning educator embarking on a career in schools, I am constantly reflecting on how I can improve what I do and, more deeply, who I am. My series this week was about exploring why I'm at risk of failure as a beginning teacher, the challenges I faced with colleagues in schools, and a shared mindset between early career educators like myself and my more-experienced colleagues that will help us challenge and support one another. In the process, I've outlined the basic elements of my philosophy ...


Note: Cole Farnum, a teacher in New York City, is guest-posting this week. As a beginning teacher, I've experienced times when communicating with my colleagues has been challenging. I've discovered that allowing alternative perspectives to inform my own, not just working harder as an individual, is the key lever to continuously improving my teaching. That's why my next steps for improvement are so ambitious: I'm relying solely on my colleagues to challenge and support me. And as I'll explain, experienced teachers committed to growing as educators (like the successful Zak Champaign) must also rely on beginning teachers like me. What ...


Note: Cole Farnum, a teacher in New York City, is guest-posting this week. On Monday, I introduced my central belief for this week: all teachers, regardless of their background experience or training, need one another to grow as an educator. Yesterday, I explained that regardless of the assets I had as a beginning teacher or my work ethic, I'm at risk of slowly failing my students by acting alone in my practice, as if I don't need my colleagues to replicate success. Now, I've been able to reflect on the times where my limits and need for alternative perspectives were ...


Note: Cole Farnum, a teacher in New York City, is guest-posting this week. Yesterday, I made the case that beginning teachers have an amazing potential to shape the development of their colleagues. Today, I want to begin by explaining what assets I felt I developed in my early years as a teacher and, later, the responsibility I now bear to hold on to them. Understandably, it's easier to see what a beginner like myself doesn't possess in a school: I've yet to experience student cohorts passing through K to 6, on to high school and then college. Three years in ...


Note: Cole Farnum, a teacher in New York City, is guest-posting this week. "Well, Cole, what do you think we should do next year?" an experienced colleague asked me regarding changes to the way our school approached behavior management. We were near the end of our school year, sitting together in my classroom and exploring out-of-class responsibilities in addition to my teaching role. This was a pivotal time for me as I tried to figure out my plans for the upcoming year as an educator in a high-performing school with a truly professional staff. I'd been thinking on my own ...


Note: Zak Champagne, an award-winning teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, is guest-posting this week. So I have spent my week guest blogging about a few topics that have been at the forefront of my mind during my career as an educator and I cannot thank each of you enough for your considerate affirmations and thoughtful critiques of my posts. You have confirmed that I am not alone in these thoughts and also challenged many of my existing ideas. I have one last topic that I'd like to comment on and it is one that is at the core of my existence ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up 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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