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.
In the United States, historically, the purpose of education has evolved according to the needs of society. Education's primary purpose has ranged from instructing youth in religious doctrine, to preparing them to live in a democracy, to assimilating immigrants into mainstream society, to preparing workers for the industrialized 20th century workplace.
And now, as educators prepare young people for their futures in a world that is rapidly changing, what is the goal? To create adults who can compete in a global economy? To create lifelong learners? To create emotionally healthy adults who can engage in meaningful relationships?
The ASCD Annual Conference took place in Los Angeles from March 14–17. It was consistently thrilling to be among a diverse group of 9,000 educators. Everyone had stories to tell, aspirations to share, and good work to do. You just had to sit down next to anyone and say, "Where are you from? What do you do?" and an hour later you had another colleague.
I heard competing narratives about our students and the schools they need. One narrative concerns poor kids of color who come to school from the earliest elementary years already behind in basic skills. They need schools structures and teachers who are strong enough and sensitive enough to stand with the kids, and who have a pedagogical skill set attuned to their students' particular needs—especially in reading, writing and the traumas of poverty. If we don't provide a more rigorous and high-end curriculum of health care and basic skills for these kids, they'll never catch up; the lack of resources to more predictably turn these communities around is further proof of the institutional racism we still must fight. There is much call from these communities for longer school days and longer school years to bridge all the gaps.
Teachers are increasingly embracing leadership roles that allow them to use their skills and expertise outside of the classroom. Yet many schools are facing challenges in implementing distributed leadership models that empower teachers to become influencers and decision makers. ASCD's latest Policy Priorities examines teacher leadership and the obstacles practitioners face from the classroom to the central office in cultivating programs that expand and enhance professional growth and leadership.
If our goal is a "whole child" education for every child, here are some essential questions: How should a modern school be managed and led in a world where the ground keeps constantly shifting? How can a single educator piece together a coherent vision of "school today:" management, leadership, curriculum, teaching, tools? Does "21st-century learning" have any real and special meaning? What's certain is that the schools we're striving to create today are not your father's (or your mother's) schools.
I am not a huge fan of posts that start with a number and proceed to a command: "83 Things You Must Do To Be The Teacher You Want to Be;" "Thirteen Cs Your School Can't Survive Without." In general I find these overwhelming, dispiriting, and ultimately pointless; add them all together and you wind up with an infinitude of impossibility and a guilt-trip headache. I have used this pitch a few times, and I'm rather sorry I did.
I find my thinking on education and learning fragmented enough without reducing its elements to lists. When I've actually tried to do this, I wind up with a mental construct that looks like the Strategic Directions to Hell, a road paved in bullet-points of noble intention.
An independent school leader and public school parent, Chris Thinnes (@CurtisCFEE) is the head of the Upper Elementary School and academic dean at the Curtis School in Los Angeles, Calif., and founding director of its Center for the Future of Elementary Education. He is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools' advisory council on diversity, a member of the EdCamp Foundation's public relations committee, and a fellow of the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence.
I just returned to Los Angeles after the honor of participating in one of the great conversations about the future of education, sitting around a table of district leaders engaged in writing what some have called a "third narrative" of public education in the United States. For days we collaborated in an effort to generate a theory of action, and made concrete commitments to a series of initiatives, that will have an impact on the experience of 2 million children in EdLeader21 member schools and districts in the coming years.
The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is underway and millions of people are tuned in to root for their favorite team or more likely, to earn bragging rights via the office betting pool. No matter the reason, the fate of these fans' success rests in the success of the teams they are rooting for.
Conventional wisdom would tell us that the secret to a winning basketball team is simple; they have the best players. Although having skillful players does help, it seems that the skills and attitude of the coach plays an even more significant role in predicting the success of a team. The proof lies in the fact that great coaches turn losing programs into winning programs and they do it wherever they go.
If you could change one thing about education, what would it be? How do you engage other educators? Are you ready to lead?
ASCD Emerging Leaders are accomplished educators with 5–15 years of experience who are highly involved in ASCD and the education community as a whole. The two-year program is designed to prepare younger, diverse educators for potential influence and ASCD leadership. ASCD now enrolls more educators in each class than ever before and includes an Emerging Leaders grant opportunity that will award selected participants in their second year of the program with grants of up to $2,000. All emerging leaders in the program are provided with opportunities to pursue various leadership pathways, including serving on committees, hosting networking events for educators, advocating for sound education policy, and contributing to ASCD publications.
Are you or someone you know interested in becoming an ASCD Emerging Leader? Applications for the class of 2014 are open until April 1. Learn more at www.ascd.org/emergingleaders.
The decisions we make today—for our systems, our schools, and our classrooms—will affect what all of our tomorrows will look like tomorrow. This month ASCD launches its inaugural Whole Child Symposium—a conversation about the future of education comprising three events over eight weeks that includes not only some of the leading educators and thinkers, but also you and your voice.
Choosing Your Tomorrow Today: What does this phrase mean to you? What do you think is most important? What word has the greatest impact, the greatest potential, and the greatest need?
The Future of Schooling: Where are we? Each idea sounds plausible and is probably in the midst of coming true somewhere in the world. Has it or is it coming true? Is the writing on the wall? What can or should we do?
Resistant teachers can have a profound effect on the school climate and culture in both positive and negative ways. In the book Leading in a Culture of Change (2007), Michael Fullan says resisters deserve respect both because they present ideas we might otherwise miss and because their influence is crucial to navigating the politics of implementation. By using situational leadership, the ability to fluidly interchange among a variety of leadership styles as the situation demands, administrators can shape teacher resistance into resilience and develop powerful partners in school initiatives. Goleman (2004) says situational leadership can mitigate the negative and enhance the positive forces influencing school climate. Effective school leaders know when to use a different leadership approach based on the behaviors and personalities of their teachers.