Posts Tagged professional development
Richard Elmore, in this video clip and with the associated graphic, defines the best measure of how we should judge innovation and change in an organization. The data that we collect must come from the core if we are to determine with any degree of certainty that these changes have been implemented and whether or not they are sustainable.
High stakes testing does not accomplish this. Many have now written about test scores and continue to miss the point. The scores do not inform instruction and lack the “granularity” needed to affect real change. Teachers do not change based on either initiative nor incentive based reward. They change, in Daniel Pink’s words, because they want to master their craft, because they have always been an autonomous lot, and because they have a special purpose that stands them apart from other professions – nurturing the progeny of others. The talents that will change schools are those with unyielding drive that infects these other dimensions powerfully and without hesitation, as in Geoffrey Canada’s work in Harlem. These efforts will often come from the teachers themselves when they are effectively empowered to be leaders in their own organizations.
But, ultimately, systemic change will only happen when we keep our “eye on the ball” and that means the instructional core.
Under a grant from HP, the New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released the latest New Horizon Report for K-12 education. Not surprisingly, the two critical trends to take center stage are Cloud Computing and Collaborative Environments.
The critical issues surrounding the trends that this collaboration brings to the forefront is the degree to which we have failed to link student achievement to the technology that we are adopting and, further, the degree to which schools have been forced to miss the boat on one initiative after another due to lack of financial resources or insufficient political resolve. The Horizon Report lists five critical trends that are not disappearing any time soon:
- Technology is increasingly a means for empowering students, a method for communication and socializing, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of their lives.
- Technology continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate, and succeed.
- The perceived value of innovation and creativity is increasing.
- There is increasing interest in just-in-time, alternate, or non-formal avenues of education, such as online learning, mentoring, and independent study.
- The way we think of learning environments is changing.
With new devices (e.g. iPad), and new technologies descending upon us on a daily basis, we need to consider how to best approach the challenges that we now face since our prior efforts have been so stilted and restrained. While we see pockets of excellence throughout the world, the systemic and sustainable changes to educational systems still evade us.
I understand why. While we all recognize the import of technology on daily life, we continue to be circumspect because the research proving its efficacy lacks so far behind the intervention that new technologies have already replaced those originally reviewed. Our system of reflection and review is insufficient in its capacity to truly address the actual effects of these trends.
A recent presentation by adjunct professors at Pacific Lutheran University is a perfect example. Their research on purported unintended consequences of technology heaped upon young unsuspecting children was, in most cases, 10 years old. Can anyone remember what kind of computers we were using 10 years ago? Can you remember which devices didn’t exist a decade ago?
In Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement by John Hattie (2009), computer assisted instruction was considered using 81 meta-analyses that included 4,875 studies involving 3.9 million subjects. The effect size was approximately d=0.37, something just more than developmental effects – in other words an effect that was about equivalent to just normal growth and development. Despite my argument above, there was little change in effect size when broken down by year of study which Hattie believes counters the belief in increasing effect with increased sophistication. Like many, the only correlation was between the use of computers and increased student engagement. Hattie concludes that there is no necessary relation between having computers, using computers, and learning outcomes.
But, hold the phone – Hattie throws us a bone when he does further analysis of the data and proposes that the following conditions must be met.
Computers are used effectively…
- when there is a diversity of teaching strategies
- when there is a pre-training in the use of computers as a teaching and learning tool (min. of 10 hours)
- when there are multiple opportunities for learning (e.g. deliberative practice, increasing time on task, etc.)
- when the student, not teacher, is in “control” of learning
- when peer learning is optimized
- when feedback is optimized
These two pieces of literature coupled with our own sound judgment form a new approach to prudent thinking on deployment of technology resources. A formula based approach of developing infrastructure, providing training, and prudently purchasing equipment may lead to a best practices scenario for technology’s next horizon.
I’ve been impressed with my re-introduction to educational reform in Washington through my Superintendent Leadership Seminar (first in a year long series). The concept here is personalizing student learning and this is far beyond earlier concepts of differentiation or individualization. Personalizing has more to do with the involvement of the student in understanding the process of their learning through learning targets and meaningful, relevant learning episodes.
In this professional development series, there are 6 elements of positive impact on student learning:
- Student learning is structured for understanding
- Student learning experiences are designed to engage and support all students in learning
- Student assessment is used to direct learning
- Students participate in maintaining effective environments for learning
- Students prepare to live and work in a multi-cultural world
- Teachers develop the art and science of a professional educator and are active in the profession to positively impact student learning.
No rocket science here. Just foundational look at the continued development of best practice.
One of the things on every educational leaders “to-do” list should be addressing early learning. Similar to what Jeffrey Canada has taught us in the Harlem projects (see previous post), this project in South Shore School District is addressing this challenge. Consistent with this is a need to look at Birth to 3 programs that address the community and daycare component in addressing the key to the future of education – a comprehensive plan for kids from womb to 3rd Grade. This is all fully researched and connected to the latest work on brain research. Leaders must address this challenge as critical to sustainable change that has not yet been achieved.
Another version of the same old mantra –
If I know something, I can repeat it.
If I understand something, I can discuss it.
If I truly grasp something, I can create on my own.
Thus, students must be able to articulate their learning (not just products) in order to assess whether they truly grasp a topic or just understand it.
This is a piece from Dr. Marilyn Simpson’s work on learning targets and students articulating their learning.
Learning targets for students and what leaders look for in classrooms:
Consistent with our understanding of building to higher levels of meaningful processing, there is a connection that is developed between criteria and resources to achieve the incremental targets established by the criteria. For this reason, a student is guided to articulate their journey as well as their destination.
Washington State has done some exceptional work in linking pre- and prof- certification that forces close consideration of students understanding of learning targets. Written from student perspectives to achieve personalization of instructional processes.
Download and look closely at the “green book.” Powerful work.