August 2013 Archives

Note: Michael Bromley, founder and president of School4schools.com, is guest posting this week. In an earlier post this week on PD, I proposed four core teacher functions of planning, application, assessment, and feedback. Today I'd like to focus on teacher feedback to students. Of all the core teacher functions, feedback is the most elusive, difficult, and under-utilized. It is by nature: there can never be enough, and it can never be as timely as needed. Earlier this summer I called over to the Beckman-Friedman Institute (BFI) at the University of Chicago, and two of the researchers were most kind ...


Note: Michael Bromley, founder and president of School4schools.com, is guest posting this week. Every year that I taught high school social studies was my best year ever. Even after my first, which I wrapped up as, "it can't possibly be any worse," I pledged to do better the next. Things got better, but every year was both the best and the next to worst. One of the best teachers I ever met also had an annual ritual of self-emulation: "Next year I'm gonna suck less," he'd say. It's an odd profession, built of Charlie Brown optimism. It's part dedication ...


Note: Michael Bromley, founder and president of School4schools.com, is guest posting this week. Had a New York moment this holiday. Trying to find some green, or at least brown, space in Midtown Manhattan for our two suburban pups, my wife and I came upon a doggie section in Madison Square Park. We entered the small dog area, and a Doberman bounded up to us through the gate to the big dog area that had been left open. Nice doggie, actually, but it had no business being with the small dogs, and he started a slight snarl. "Take them off ...


Note: Jennifer Medbery, founder and CEO of Kickboard, is guest posting this week. I've been loosely following the Internet chatter about the demise of Google's popular and longstanding policy of allowing employees to devote 20% of their time to projects and interests outside the scope of their day job. The argument goes something like this: distributed innovation produced some remarkable breakthroughs (Gmail, Adsense) in the company's early years, but became more of a distraction later on, creating a litany of half-baked ideas that couldn't be supported at scale. Hence the more recent decision to centralize innovation around an elite group ...


Note: Jennifer Medbery, founder and CEO of Kickboard, is guest posting this week. "Parents are constantly telling me that they fear they are losing the war of values. Their children - our scholars - are barraged by competing messages from television, music, and older kids in their neighborhoods. One of our primary responsibilities [as a school] is to combat these forces by introducing a competing cultural force." - Ravi Gupta, in his post "In Defense of Swagger." Mr. Gupta is the principal and founder of Nashville Prep in Nashville, Tenn. He advocates the important role schools play in fostering a ...


Note: Jennifer Medbery, founder and CEO of Kickboard, is guest posting this week. It's mid-August, and here in New Orleans that means this week is the first week of school for most students. Specifically, I've got Kindergarten on the brain. Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch 75 six-year-olds step off the school bus and, with pride and a bit of hesitation, follow their teachers into bright and welcoming classrooms to begin their formal academic journey. As a former high school teacher, I couldn't help but think about the skills these young people would be practicing throughout the year ...


Note: Jonathan Plucker, a Professor at the University of Connecticut, is guest posting this week. Thanks again to Rick and his assistant, Max Eden, for letting me pinch hit this week. Before jumping to today's topic, I'd like to reflect on the responses to this week's posts. My thoughts on the Bennett and Daniels kerfuffles received some strong responses, but the post on creating true education markets to promote innovation in teacher preparation (Tuesday's post) surprised me with all the insightful comments from across the political spectrum. Some doubt that such a system can truly be win-win-win, providing a boost ...


Note: Jonathan Plucker, a Professor at the University of Connecticut, is guest posting this week. A truism among ed reformers is that poverty is a problem, but we can't do much about it, therefore we can't let poverty be an excuse for poor learning results. I bought into this for many years, but no longer, for several reasons. First, recent data on income and wealth disparities has stunned me. Such monumentally huge gaps between rich and poor are never good for a society's long-term health. Second, I do much of my writing in coffee shops, cafes, and bookstores. Many people ...


Note: Jonathan Plucker, a Professor at the University of Connecticut, is guest posting this week. Before one of my students once took a specific course, I pulled him aside and suggested he moderate his expectations, as those faculty held some pretty extreme political views. I noted it would be a good experience to engage with those ideas, and off he went. Upon his return, looking a little stunned, he said, "When you said extreme, I didn't think you meant Communist. They're literally Communists." This lead to a discussion about the value of having extreme views - left, right, and center ...


Note: Jonathan Plucker, a Professor at the University of Connecticut, is guest posting this week. I often ask groups to raise their hands if they know some fantastic public school teachers (every hand goes up), then to raise their hand if they know a teacher they wouldn't want their child to have (almost every hand goes up). This flies in the face of many policy discussions where some critics imply that all teachers are not good, while others take the "the profession is fine as it is" approach. On balance, the U.S. has good teachers compared to other countries, ...


Note: Jonathan Plucker, a Professor at the University of Connecticut, is guest posting this week. I appreciate having the opportunity to pinch hit again for Rick. I planned to talk about the education-industrial complex, what other countries are doing to reform schools, and the welcome change in attitudes toward neo-liberal education policies. But then, as I was starting to put these posts together, all hell broke loose in Indiana and Florida. Most scandal commentary has been reasonable, but those perspectives strike me as lacking, because, well, most of those commentators weren't there. For the last 10 years, as the director ...


Now, with the dog days of August here and Congress safely on the lam, I'm going to take a few weeks respite from blogging.


Caught Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring a couple weeks back, and been meaning to share a few thoughts. For those who missed the whole deal, this is Coppola's take on the Calabasas, California, teens who burglarized the homes of a bunch of Hollywood celebrities in 2008 and 2009, stealing around $3 million in cash, clothes, and property. The flick is slow-moving and there's not much in the way of conventional plotting (it'll feel familiar to anyone who's seen Coppola's Lost in Translation or The Virgin Suicides). That said, it's an unflinching look at these teens and their banal fascination with ...


The wheels on the Common Core bus have developed a visible rattle of late. Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah have withdrawn from assessment consortia. With Tony Bennett no longer state chief in Florida, there's an excellent chance that Florida will bail. The unexpectedly high cost of assessments has sparked complaints. Florida senator and Tea Party icon Marco Rubio has come out against the standards. Jeb Bush is getting slammed by some Tea Party columnists for backing the standards. (The first rule of coalition politics: It's not good when supporting your bipartisan cause puts crucial backers at war with ...


I just spent a terrific few days out in Denver with AEI's Ed Policy Academy. We had twenty promising doctoral students from a slew of disciplines and institutions out, along with some of my favorite scholars and thought leaders. A pretty good way to spend four days, if you get the chance. One of the topics that came up repeatedly, as intended, was the relationship of researchers to policy and advocacy. For my broader take on all that, see my Harvard Ed Press book When Research Matters. In the moment, though, I found myself repeating several points that I often ...


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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