9. Short item: Funded travel for educators
“We speak different languages, we come from different cultures, we keep different traditions. No matter who we are, or where we are, we are not responsible for the past, but we are responsible for the future.”
A high-school poster quoted in “Abby as Ally: Argument for Culturally Disruptive
Pedagogy” by Timothy San Pedro in American Educational Research Journal,
December 2018 (Vol. 55, #6, p. 1193-1232), https://bit.ly/2DXlslL
“A diverse teaching corps should be a goal of every school not because it may raise the test scores of some students, but because it will help all students understand that our country is made up of many different kinds of people and that this variety is one of the strengths of our democracy.”
Jeremy Glazer (Rowan University) in a New York Timesletter, September 23, 2018,
“[T]he deeper reason that technology so often disappoints and betrays us is that it promises to make easy things that, by their intrinsic nature, have to be hard. Tweeting and trolling are easy. Mastering the arts of conversation and measured debate is hard. Texting is easy. Writing a proper letter is hard. Looking stuff up on Google is easy. Knowing what to search for in the first place is hard. Having a thousand friends on Facebook is easy. Maintaining six or seven close adult friendships over the space of many years is hard. Swiping right on Tinder is easy. Finding love – and staying in it – is hard.”
Bret Stephens in “Plato Foresaw the Folly of Facebook” in The New York Times,
November 17, 2018, https://nyti.ms/2zeVvKj
“Personalized learning has a big problem,” says Benjamin Herold in this Education Weeksupplement. “Inside America’s schools, the term is used to mean just about anything… a little bit of everything, and nothing in particular.” Thousands of schools claim to be doing personalized learning, but it comes in many flavors:
“Personalized Learning Still Means Whatever People Want It to Mean” by Benjamin Herold in Education Week, November 7, 2018 (Vol. 38, #12, p. 4-7), https://bit.ly/2yW4JuN
(Originally titled “Spreading the Practice of Video Reflection”)
In this article in Educational Leadership, principals Steven Lamkin (Salisbury Christian School and Salisbury University, Maryland) and Todd Nesloney (Webb Elementary School, Texas) describe how teachers in their schools use video for guided reflection. At first, watching oneself on video can be emotionally challenging, which led Lamkin and Nesloney to take a step-by-step approach to introducing the idea:
•Normalize videos. Both schools used videos to send announcements and other communications to colleagues and families, sometimes using Facebook Live (on snow days, they taped bedtime stories). They also used Flipgrid, a video response platform, for exit tickets from staff meetings and to gather and share shout-out videos to celebrate colleagues.
•Model.Both principals made videos of themselves teaching lessons and solicited comments.
•Start small. The authors suggest identifying a small group of teachers who are genuinely interested in using video and encourage them to experiment with recording lessons and using the videos for reflection. If the experience is positive, these teachers can be encouraged to spread the word in faculty and team meetings.
• Make it safe. Teachers were reassured that classroom videos would not be part of the performance evaluation process, and they had full control of their videos.
•Make evaluation an option. Interestingly, some teachers found a camera in their classrooms less intimidating than an administrator; they chose to share videos for evaluations because they believed the videos captured daily reality more accurately than a principal taking notes, and there was more potential for reflection and helpful suggestions.
•Keep it simple. Lamkin and Nesloney purchased Swivl mounts for classroom videos, allowing teachers to tape their lessons without the need for someone to operate the camera (Swivl units mount a tablet, camera, or smartphone and robotically track teachers as they move around their classrooms).
•Support reflection. Teachers could keep the classroom videos they recorded to themselves, but were prompted with questions like, “What did you notice that went well?” “Did anything on the video surprise you about yourself or your students?” Principals also suggested watching a video more than once, focusing on a different component each time. Even if principals didn’t view the videos themselves, they sometimes asked teachers what insights they derived from the process.
•Accentuate the positive. Because teachers tended to be their own worst critics, Lamkin and Nesloney required teachers to identify the most effective parts in a video. “Intentionally helping teachers to identify positive aspects of their recorded lesson and instructional delivery,” they say, “is essential to building a positive experience that results in lasting learning.”
•Focus on students. One way of getting past teachers’ self-consciousness viewing their videos was to encourage them to pay close attention to what students were doing. This provided valuable insights about student engagement, misconceptions, struggles, and pedagogy.
• Encourage co-viewing. Lamkin and Nesloney suggested that teachers view their videos with a colleague or with their teacher team. Some teachers said that sharing their videos was “absolutely terrifying,” but the rewards almost always outweighed the risks.
“In both of our schools,” conclude Lamkin and Nesloney, “teacher-led video reflection has been a catalyst for both instructional and cultural change. Teachers have implemented new instructional strategies and used video to hold themselves accountable for monitoring the effectiveness of those techniques with their students.”
In this article in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Morgaen Donaldson and Sarah Woulfin (University of Connecticut) report on their study of the ways that principals in 13 Connecticut districts implemented new teacher-evaluation policies. The state’s System for Educator Education and Development (SEED), launched in 2012, was similar to those in many other states, using: teacher-developed student achievement goals (45 percent of teachers’ ratings); classroom observations using the Danielson rubric (40 percent); parent or peer feedback (10 percent); and student feedback or whole-school measures of student performance (5 percent). SEED required six observations of every teacher per year, three formal and three informal. A district algorithm combined ratings on all the components and calculated teachers’ summative ratings.
In addition, there was a change in the state’s teacher tenure law that explicitly included “ineffectiveness” as a reason for dismissal. This reflected SEED’s emphasis on accountability as well as instructional improvement.
Donaldson and Woulfin conducted in-depth interviews with 44 principals and found that during SEED’s pilot year, school leaders “exercised substantial discretion” in the way they implemented the new policies – everything from tinkering to “going rogue.” School leaders were supportive of SEED’s aims, but their discretionary actions were aimed at (a) making the process more manageable for very busy school leaders, and (b) emphasizing instructional improvement over accountability. Most of the tinkering took place in the parts of the policy that carried more weight for teachers: student-achievement measures and classroom observations; there was less discretionary activity in the other components, including parent and student input.
Donaldson and Woulfin meticulously catalogued the ways principals exercised discretion with classroom observations, feedback to teachers, midyear conferences, rubric ratings, goal-setting, professional development, and summative conferences. Here are the overall percentages for each kind of adaptation:
“From Tinkering to Going ‘Rogue’: How Principals Use Agency When Enacting New Teacher-Evaluation Systems” by Morgaen Donaldson and Sarah Woulfin in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, December 2018 (Vol. 40, #4, p. 531-556), available for purchase at https://bit.ly/2r51n4q; the authors are at [email protected]and [email protected].
“Observational Evaluation of Teachers: Measuring More Than We Bargained For?” by Shanyce Campbell and Matthew Ronfeldt in American Educational Research Journal, December 2018 (Vol. 55, #6, p. 1233-1267), available for purchase at https://bit.ly/2r4GoPc; the authors can be reached at [email protected]and [email protected].
“While the term ‘chronically absent student’ brings to mind a teenager cutting school, propensity to be chronically absent actually begins to emerge early in kindergarten and is often as prevalent in early grades as it is in middle and high school,” say Carly Robinson (Harvard Graduate School of Education), Monica Lee (Stanford University), Eric Dearing (Boston College), and Todd Rogers (Harvard Kennedy School) in this American Educational Research Journalarticle. “As it stands, we know absenteeism robustly predicts many consequential educational outcomes, but much less about how to effectively improve attendance.”
The researchers led an initiative in ten West Coast school districts (urban, suburban, and rural) targeting the following mistaken parent beliefs: undervaluing the importance of elementary school attendance (compared to middle and high school); underestimating the total number of days their children are absent; and thinking that other children’s attendance is worse than their own children’s. Each parent in the treatment group received six mailings over the course of the year with (a) the total number of days the child had been absent up to that point (excused and unexcused); (b) a cartoon showing a child moving from kindergarten through high-school graduation; and (c) these messages about the importance of school attendance:
(Originally titled “Let’s Get Jigsaw Right”)
In this article in Educational Leadership, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey (San Diego State University and Health Sciences High and Middle College) say they have seen jigsaw teaching misused in classrooms and PD presentations, leaving out important components. Jigsaw was first developed by psychologist Eliot Aronson in 1971 to get diverse and contentious groups of students working collaboratively. It was evaluated by John Hattie as having an effect size of 1.20. Here’s how Fisher and Frey believe jigsaw should be implemented:
• Students sit in groups and silently read different sections of a single text.
• Students regroup and sit with those who read the same passage (the “expert group”), summarizing key information, making connections, discussing the author’s intent, and analyzing the text, prompted by questions like, One important point was____ because____. I think one logical inference we can make is____. The evidence for this is_____.
• Students return to their home groups and go around, each sharing their understanding of the section of the text they read and answering questions. This piecing together of the whole reading might be prompted by questions like,In this part of the reading, the author’s main point was___. What’s critical for everyone to know from this part of the text?
• Students return to their expert group and discuss how their passage fits into the whole text, based on the discussion in their jigsaw groups. The teacher may or may not distribute the full text at this point.
The last part is what’s most frequently missing, say Fisher and Frey. “This process,” they say, “requires that students listen carefully to their peers and analyze the ways in which each part contributes to the entire text.”
In this article in Educational Researcher, Jordan Rickles, Jessica Heppen, Nicholas Sorensen, and Kirk Walters (American Institutes for Research) and Elaine Allensworth (University of Chicago) report their comparison of online and face-to-face credit recovery programs. They looked at downstream data from 1,224 Chicago ninth graders who failed Algebra I and were randomly assigned to online and in-person credit recovery courses, comparing the number of math credits students accumulated and their rates of on-time graduation.
The result: there were no statistically significant differences between students who took online courses versus those who were in face-to-face classes. This is surprising, given that the in-person classes used the same chalk-and-talk, whole-class pedagogy and content as the Algebra I courses students had just failed, whereas the online courses had interactive components, mastery-based pacing with students able to spend as much time as they needed on each topic, and two teachers interacting with students. But the outcomes were almost identical.
Funded travel for educators – There are hundreds of programs that provide teachers and other K-12 staff with free summer professional development travel in the U.S. and abroad. Many of these programs have applications that open in December, with deadlines in early 2019. This website (created by my daughter, Lillie Marshall) compiles educator travel opportunities, complete with links to apply: https://www.teachingtraveling.com/tag/grants/
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About the Marshall Memo
Mission and focus:
This weekly memo is designed to keep principals, teachers, superintendents, and other educators very well-informed on current research and effective practices in K-12 education. Kim Marshall, drawing on 48 years’ experience as a teacher, principal, central office administrator, writer, and consultant lightens the load of busy educators by serving as their “designated reader.”
To produce the Marshall Memo, Kim subscribes to 60 carefully-chosen publications (see list to the right), sifts through more than a hundred articles each week, and selects 5-10 that have the greatest potential to improve teaching, leadership, and learning. He then writes a brief summary of each article, pulls out several striking quotes, provides e-links to full articles when available, and e-mails the Memo to subscribers every Monday evening (with occasional breaks; there are 50 issues a year). Every week there’s a podcast and HTML version as well.
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If you go to http://www.marshallmemo.comyou will find detailed information on:
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• Publications (with a count of articles from each)
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Core list of publications covered
Those read this week are underlined.
All Things PLC
American Educational Research Journal
American Journal of Education
ASCA School Counselor
District Management Journal
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Elementary School Journal
Harvard Business Review
Harvard Educational Review
Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk (JESPAR)
Kappa Delta Pi Record
Literacy Today (formerly Reading Today)
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School
Middle School Journal
Peabody Journal of Education
Phi Delta Kappan
Reading Research Quarterly
Responsive Classroom Newsletter
Review of Educational Research
School Library Journal
Social Studies and the Young Learner
Teaching Children Mathematics
Teaching Exceptional Children
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Journal of the Learning Sciences
The Language Educator
The Learning Professional (formerly Journal of Staff Development)
The Reading Teacher
Theory Into Practice