At the recent ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles, Calif., ASCD Executive Director and CEO Dr. Gene R. Carter convened an international panel of education leaders from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Canada. Although their contexts differ, they share many of the same challenges as U.S. educators, and their global perspective provided a new lens for considering common themes in education. Here were some of the panel's responses.
I must begin this post by stating one fact; I am so very appreciative and do not take for granted the number of hours spent in Washington Montessori School on a daily basis by our volunteers and community partners. We partner with local businesses, agencies, city offices, and so many others. Some of our partners help provide food for our back-feeding program for the weekend (where students discreetly get to take home food to eat), clothes for our clothes closet, and healthy snacks for the school day. For example, West Market Street United Methodist Church helps us celebrate birthdays each month and provides supplies for students and staff throughout the school year as well as providing a week-long free summer enrichment camp for students.
What do we need from education? How are we preparing students for the world they will enter?
This spring, ASCD is launching its inaugural Whole Child Symposium, a series of discussions to tackle these important questions. Through a town hall discussion, a live event, and a series of virtual panels, the symposium aims to push and expand conversations about effective education and education systems around the world. The 2014 theme is "Choosing Your Tomorrow Today," in which we explore how what we decide today regarding education policies, processes, and practices influences our children, societies, and economies tomorrow.
Like most teenagers, Sir Ken Robinson had no idea what he wanted to be when he grew up.
"Life is a constant improvisation. How many of you, at the age of 15, accurately anticipated the life you've had?," he asked at his ASCD Annual Conference general session presentation last month.
"Your résumé conveys the myth that this was all planned. The last thing you want to do is convey the actual chaos you've been living through."
The path through your life appears as you take it, he explained, and finding your element implies tuning your ear to that inner voice that guides you along the journey. "It requires looking both beyond yourself and more deeply inside yourself to plot a course through your own talents and interests," Robinson noted.
Join Leslie Grant and James Stronge, authors of the new ASCD book West Meets East, in an exciting, free webinar as they discuss what teachers in the East (China) can learn from their counterparts in the West (United States) and vice versa.
A fundamental societal need is to end the marginalization (and ongoing fragmentation) of efforts to transform how schools address barriers to learning and teaching and re-engage disconnected students. To this end, our work emphasizes embedding all specific initiatives into a broad school improvement framework that can guide development of a unified and comprehensive system of student and learning supports. Such a framework enables using the growing interest in the "whole" as a catalyst to effectively weave together the full range of existing school-home community resources.
As a curriculum designer who advocates for project-based learning, I strongly believe that curriculum plays a major role in the school culture but can often go unconsidered when developing a vision around that culture. At first glance, curriculum and culture may seem to be separate issues, but when you look deeper, curriculum can be a foundation for the culture because it's representative of how students are interacting with learning on a daily basis. To that end, creating a positive school culture requires that students play a part in curriculum design and implementation.
"The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul."
Being with Guilford County Schools since 1998, my heart and soul has been dedicated to teaching here at Washington Elementary School, now known as Washington Montessori School. I love Washington because of the dedication that we as a school have to children. I have taught at one other school and have done many observations at other schools, but when you walk into Washington, the love draws you in and stays with every student, staff member, and parent. As our school's care of students statement says, "You can't get this everywhere, you can only get this Right Here!"
"What do we want our children to be like? Think of that child, that teenager, that young adult and describe them. What words do we use? ... What do our children want to be like when they are 25? How would they describe themselves? Are they content with an education system which at times seems more designed to sort, test, and label students than develop, educate, or prepare them?"
We live in a global economy that requires our students to be prepared to think both critically and creatively, evaluate massive amounts of information, solve complex problems, and communicate well. A strong foundation in reading, writing, math, and other core subjects is still as important as ever, yet by itself is insufficient for lifelong success. For too long, we have committed to time structures, coursework, instructional methods, and assessments designed more than a century ago. Our current definition of student success is too narrow. It is time to put students first, align resources to students’ multiple needs, and advocate for a more balanced approach.
In this era of school reform, turn around, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. These aren't the typical basics—reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. Rather, these are the "real basics" of learning: developing a sense of belonging, instilling a sense of purpose, and expanding each child's potential for what the future may hold.
How do we get back to the "real basics" of education? What are the fundamental elements and habits that bring us together and set the stage for lasting, comprehensive—sustainable—school improvement? How do we assess where we have been, where we are now, where we want to go, and what strategies are necessary to get us there?
Shanta Buchanan, literacy impact facilitator and dedicated educator who values the process of learning. She has been an advocate for children with hearing loss and early intervention since the birth of her daughter Brooke who was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss.
Erin Deal, a teacher who has enjoyed working with a variety of grade levels during her 10 years in the classroom, including five years in a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade Montessori combination class. She values the Montessori methodology of teaching and embraces the inquiry-based learning techniques.
Gillian Hill, a veteran educator with more than 20 years of classroom experience as an elementary teacher and curriculum facilitator. She has supported the school and community and assisted in facilitating in the transition from the traditional style of teaching to the Montessori philosophy.
Sharon Jacobs, a public school educator with more than 20 years of experience and the founding principal of Washington Montessori School. She is passionate about the learning process and committed to service, change, social development, and above all, children.
Paulita Musgrave, K–5 math impact facilitator who provides support and guidance to the staff, students, and parent community. A talented community activist, she is the founder of The Legacy House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap, where she directed a federal program that had a 93 percent achievement rate.
Eileen Martin, a veteran educator of more than 20 years in various capacities; from bus driver where she earned Bus Driver of the Year, cafeteria cashier, teacher assistant, to now one of the most energetic classroom teachers you will find. She coined the frequently shared statement about Washington Montessori School's care of students, "You can't get this everywhere, you can only get this Right Here!"
What are the "real basics" of education?
Washington Montessori School is the fifth recipient of the Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. Listen to previous award-winning schools as they share their stories and how they ensure that each child in their community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged: