Sunday, September 20, 2015

We Are a Community of Learners

       Teaching students is not like like building a model airplane.  We don't have distinct steps to follow that will lead to a completed project in the end.  Students learn differently; they come to school with different experiences and different abilities.  Good teaching requires an understanding of the learners in each classroom and daily lesson plans that are designed to help those learners.

       Good teachers understand the difficulty of reaching each individual student and they seek out the best strategies from experts in the field of education and from the teacher across the hall.  We (educators) are a community of learners.  We have to be.  We can't learn everything from experience and we can't figure out everything on our know.  We can't be experts in child psychology and special education and mathematics and English Language Learners and student engagement and formative assessment and ....  We need each other to be the best teachers we can be for our students.

       After more than 25 years in education, I am still learning and improving by listening and reading and following other educators just like me who have something great to share.  Here is my short list of excellent sources of information for educators who strive to make a difference with their students and who seek to improve their abilities every year:
  1. Annie Murphy Paul - The Brilliant Blog
    1. Her recent writings on how to using testing as a learning tool (aka - formative assessments) are informative and eye-opening to those who only see testing as an end-of-unit assessment.  She has also recently released an e-course that will show parents, teachers, and school leaders how to implement testing strategies as opportunities for student learning and growth.
  2. Robert Marzano - Marzano Research
    1. Great professional development information for teachers and for whole schools on topics ranging from Student Engagement to Assessment and Grading to Instructional Strategies to Teacher Effectiveness.  Don't let the "research" part scare you; Marzano provides effective tools and ideas that are simple to understand and to implement.
  3. Doug Lemov - Teach Like a Champion
    1. Excellent tips that any teacher can use to improve student learning and student motivation.
  4. Starr Sackstein - Changing the World, One Mind at a Time
    1. Great ideas and thoughts from a National Board Certified Teacher
    2. Lots of great recent blog posts about emphasizing learning and de-emphasizing grading

       And teachers don't have to go online to find excellent educators to collaborate with; look to your administrators, and district and state-level leaders.  Find ways to collaborate with teachers in other school buildings in your school district.  There is great value in learning from other professions.  I would say that it is a necessary element for teachers who strive to improve year after year.

     We are a community of learners.

Public Schools and Choice

       Is it true that public school kids and their public school parents don't have choices?  I'm sure that I will expose my igno...

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