Educators throughout the United States convened in Washington, D.C., last week to attend ASCD's legislative conference. Attendees gathered to tell their elected officials that it is time to shift from a narrow reliance on high-stakes testing in determining student and educator proficiency to a broader, more meaningful vision of success that supports each student from early childhood through graduation.
Personalizing learning* will not truly take place in our schools unless we understand and act on three key things. Until then we will continue to tinker, adjust, and tweak a fundamentally non-personalized system to suit each person. We will continue to mean well but ultimately underserve most of our students.
A top priority for early childhood educators is to teach children to read. Using developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) while incorporating foundational concepts into lessons help teachers differentiate instruction, engage students in the learning process, and increase achievement of all children. While students are treated as unique individuals, all practices should be appropriate to the child's age and developmental stage and build on previously taught concepts. The purpose of this article is to explore teachers' experiences as they implement DAP into their literacy instruction. It also examines obstacles they face as they implement their practices.
A little over two years ago I sat down with two primary (elementary) school teachers to have a conversation with them to discover what had them be so successful with developing their students to learn. It was one of those conversations that connected certain "dots" for me about what I had been reading about the findings of neuroscience and setting up powerful learning environments.
People say that life is like a marathon, not a sprint. I believe a students' pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education is similar—it's a marathon, not a sprint. As students evolve during their educational careers, they are taught to leverage strengths, use specific strategies that often lead to success, and internalize their learning.
A couple of years ago my daughter tried out for the cheerleading team. As part of the process, the girls were required to wear their hair in a long ponytail with spiral curls plus a bow. Although there is nothing surprising about these expectations, it caused me to pause. My daughter is African American with very thick hair (think The Lion King). In order to style her hair in a ponytail, there is a lot involved. There is hair washing, drying, and straightening. In addition, there is holding gel, curling tools—and this is just the beginning! Although with time, sweat, and effort, we could accomplish this ponytail ideal, I began to think about the other African American students that did not have the natural hair length needed in order to create a long ponytail with spiral curls. Wow. I could not believe that something as simple as a hairstyle could serve to separate students from one another. More importantly, it seemed that something as simple as a hairstyle could separate the opportunities afforded to particular students.
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.
I remember the moment clearly when it clicked for me. I was sitting on the couch with my three-year-old two weeks ago. We were both happy. Him watching Toy Story 2. Me sitting next to him. He reached out and grabbed my hand. For the next three minutes, he held it. We didn't say a word. We didn't need to. We just shared a blanket, enjoying each others' proximity and what was on TV.
As an often nervous parent, I am prone to overanalyzing situations involving my children. I will run through a litany of questions, chief among them: Are they happy? Are they safe? Am I doing the right thing as a parent? These, and a multitude of other questions, often blind me to what's in front of me—two healthy, happy little boys, eager to experiment with the world and all the things within it. It is my neurosis that gets in their way.
ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. Recently, the ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll asked readers about tasks that can be achieved by employing essential questions.