Tagged “Getting Back To The Real Basics”

Klea Scharberg

The Educator’s Essentials

In this era of school reform, turnaround, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. Usually when we talk about "getting back to the basics," the conversation is student-focused, if not always student-centered. These basics of learning vary from the 3 Rs (reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic) to STEM to 21st century skills.

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Kevin Parr

Back to Basics: From Quick Fixes to Sustainable Change

School improvement conversations usually focus on quick fixes, those strategies thought to make immediate improvements to student achievement. While this model may work well for some, kids (and their teachers) remain unconvinced because their needs were never really considered to begin with—just their test scores. Even so, schools are encouraged to implement these overly simplistic strategies in spite of the fact they contradict most everything great teachers know to be true and effective.

Teachers know effective teaching connects students to their learning by creating purpose, meaning and enjoyment. They also know effective teaching allows students to feel a sense of accomplishment by using their learning to affect the world around them. At best, quick fix models are short sighted. At worst they are negatively affecting the school experience for large groups of kids who yearn to be motivated, engaged, and have purpose for their learning. In this way, the cycle of disengagement, low test scores, and new quick fixes is perpetuated. To remedy this, we need to replace quick fixes with long-term, sustainable changes aimed at teaching kids in their entirety, not just their data profiles. In short, we need to get back to the real basics of education.

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Sean Slade

Improving Schools: Back to Basics—Struggling with Semantics

"Back to the basics." It's a phrase that's tossed around much but has varying definitions depending on the speaker and audience. For some, "back to the basics" means focusing on the 3 Rs—reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic—before (and sometimes instead of) anything else.

We have to get back to basics in education, like ensuring that our children are developing the reading and writing and math skills they need to effectively compete in a very tough and increasingly global job market.

—U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) in "Getting Back to Basics in Education"

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Getting Back to the Real Policy Basics

Post written by Howard Adelman, PhD, and Linda Taylor, PhD, codirectors of whole child partner Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA.

The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model provides another opportunity to get back to policy basics.

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.

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Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Glowing, Growing, and Getting Back to the Real Basics

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Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child AwardIn 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?

The Whole Child Podcast is one of the many ways we share stories, insights, and discussions about what works in today's schools to achieve these goals and ensure that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. And this episode, taped in front of a live audience at the 2014 ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles, features very special guests from Washington Montessori School, the 2014 winner of our Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. You'll hear from

  • 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:

 

Klea Scharberg

Insights on Writing: A Core Skill

Writing: A Core Skill - ASCD Educational LeadershipApril 2014 issue of Educational Leadership examines the many ways to help students grow as writers. Articles in this issue look at some of the central skills involved in the complex act of writing—and how educators can get past students' too-common resistance to writing.

In her "Perspectives" column, Editor-in-Chief Marge Scherer notes the struggle teachers have between setting high expectations for students while also convincing them that writing can be a useful, a joy, and even an art. She asks,

"So how are teachers of all subjects going to meet the challenges of teaching students to be effective writers who don't hate to write? How are they going to prepare students to engage in all kinds of writing that they will need in the future—academic discourse, report writing, journalism, personal narrative, and even tweets? Today, social media of all kinds provide us outlets to share our personal ideas like never before. In the blogosphere, however, the highly structured five-paragraph essays rarely are those most clicked on. Come to think of it, which of your favorite books do you remember for their great sentence combinations? A new kind of literate writing is called for."

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Klea Scharberg

Throughout April: Getting Back to the Real Basics

Each day, as educators, we make decisions that make a difference in the lives of our learners, propelling them into the world as beacons of success and hope. All students deserve engaging and focused experiences that amplify their brains and hearts. Preparing learners to be creative, critically minded, and compassionate is our moral imperative. 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? Join us throughout April as we discuss 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?

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