All Children Can Learn And Be Successful!

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In the last 300 years western society has evolved from an agricultural base to an industrial base to a now evolving digital base. Education is still trying to catch up as we continue to aim for that most laudable of aspirations, the conviction that all children can learn and be successful. If we agree on that core value and strip away all of the clamor that is being created by special interests, the single question we need to answer is this: how do we transform our public education system to reach that place where all children learn and grow to become thriving, productive citizens?

Peel away the societal issues, labor relations, and economic concerns; they will always exist. The single focus that can answer this question is our own humanity; meeting the needs of our children regardless of who is their teacher or where their school is located. If children’s needs are met, they can thrive and learn and grow. Children need to be rested, nourished, healthy, safe, secure, loved, supported, challenged and engaged to be successful. We know this from our own experience. When children have these needs met, they flourish. The amount of money spent, the amount of data collected, the amount of technology used are all distractions if these basic requirements are not met for achieving human potential.

Given this single powerful truth for taking education to the next level, what are our concrete next steps? Renegotiating teacher contracts? Changing funding formulas? Year-round schooling? National standards? Business models?

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Listen closely to who is speaking and what they are saying; there is a distinct difference between being a stakeholder and being a special interest. The latter acts in their own self-interest, not the best interests of children.

There’s a comical Steven Wright observation: “Why do you turn down the radio when you’re driving lost?” The humor lies in the fact that it hits close to home….there is some truth in the question. You turn down the radio to rid yourself of the noise and distractions on focusing where you need to be. It’s time to turn down the noise and focus on our destination: all children can learn and be successful.

Sackstein: End of Year Self-Assessments after a Year Without Grades

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Reposted from Starr Sackstein’s Blog:

After a year without grades, a new solution for final grade submission was in order.

For each semester, students and I met to discuss their progress and a grade they felt appropriately represented their level of mastery.

For the first time ever, the end of year grades will rest in the students’ hands.

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Questions For Which No One Knows the Answers [VIDEO 12:08]

Part of a TED-Ed series designed to catalyze curiosity, Chris Anderson’s video shares his boyhood obsession with quirky questions that seem to have no answers. Imagine a multiverse in which we are one-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillionth of all the universes therein. “Holy Stephen Hawking!” A great conversation-starter for divergent thinking as we come down the homestretch of this school year!

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Encouraging a Team Working Environment [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Here are 27 ways to put an end to the Red Pen mentality in education. What is Red Pen mentality? It is one of those people always walking around pointing out the flaws and never having a solution. Often in education, and in other team work environments, team members are quick to criticize. Team members either prefer their way or are insecure about their way. The easiest response is to point out the flaws of others, to gossip, or engage in other destructive behavior. This breaks down the team and destroys the cooperative environment. Mia MacMeekin offers this infographic on how to foster a positive team working environment.

View the original post here.

6 Ways to Learn Anything Faster

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Reposted from Entrepreneur:

For many of us, there are more things we want to learn than we have time for. And as information becomes more readily accessible online, the number of things we want to learn has only increased. That means that the only variable we can actually control is the time we spend learning them.

Shortening the learning curve is a topic that’s been studied for many years, and this guide will cover the fundamental core principles of learning faster. Were these principles perfectly in place, you could leverage them to push yourself to learn faster and master any category of learning, including languages, business skills, musical instruments and more. To quote Tony Robbins: “One skill you want to master in this day and age we live in, if you want to have an extraordinary life, is the ability to learn rapidly.”

So, here are those principles…

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Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

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Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Educators everywhere!

Whereas, Memorial Day is a time to reflect and recommit to our common purpose; and

Whereas, an opportunity to define the future is within our grasp; and

Whereas, our current ways and means are not getting it done;

Be it resolved that this Memorial Day weekend we adopt a new professionalism as educators. It is the next step in transforming education.

To do so, we must:

  • Redefine “educator”
    Give up how we were trained and how we have allowed ourselves to be defined. Extract ourselves from this uncomfortable pigeonhole and align our efforts with the new age in which we live.  Yes we can keep those attributes which continue to serve children well. But everything else must go.
  • End the inertia
    Be the change, push the envelope, lead the transformation. No longer allow ourselves to be seen as impediments to progress. No longer allow outside interests to spin their version of our reality. Put ourselves in motion and stay in motion, serving as agents of change and advocates for the future.
  • Present our best professional selves
    Walk with a tall stature of lofty ideals. Proactively smile, engage, and seize opportunities. Stand elbow-to-elbow with decision makers and stakeholders. Model openness, transparency, and flexibility in our thinking, offering clear questions and straightforward answers. And keep the focus on children.
  • Divest ourselves from any influences that compromise our integrity
    Give up the entanglements preventing us from freely embracing education transformation. Be purely motivated to lead education without self-interest or influence from outside the profession, especially commercial interests offering enticements to increase their access to education dollars.
  • Exchange perceived security for professional growth
    Let go of the Industrial Age notion that stability is security. We can no longer be perceived as stewards of the status quo. Dare to look outside ourselves and discover the greater rewards of contributing to the education transformation already happening…. it is moving forward with or without us.
  • Model the values, skills and attitudes of the Information Age
    Talk the talk. Walk the walk. Build learning and leading communities. Demonstrate trust, risk-taking, experimentation, and innovation. Become proficient with a variety of digital tools that promote learning and productivity. Network with colleagues worldwide. In short, live the life our students live.
  • Define and inform the issues
    Fill the leadership vacuum. Be intelligent, strategic and well-spoken. Take back the issues surrounding education and own them. Insist on being at the table for substantive discussion. Push back on any agenda that runs counter to what we know is best for children. And do it with energy and passion.
  • See and believe in infinite possibilities
    It’s time to stand back and appreciate the big picture. We are in the human potential business, and human potential is an unlimited resource. Remember why we chose education as a profession and reclaim our ideals. Stop fighting for our slice of the pie and see the potential for a world full of pastry chefs.
  • Craft a dynamic, generative vision
    Delineate the issues, identify the solutions and take action. Make certain this new vision has the capacity to embrace all children as successful, contributing learners. Be sure it is inclusive of all stakeholders and their input. Wherever you see limits being put in place, break them down and be a champion for expanding the conversation.
  • Proactively build alliances
    Be seen as a connector in an age of connections. Partner with stakeholders at all levels, especially those who most challenge our thinking. Make alliances that serve the best interests of children and learning and the future. Be known as an uncompromising proponent of the promise and power of education transformed.
  • Build a new public education
    Achieve our ultimate goal of transforming education, coupling the long-standing ideals of a free public education with the opportunities of a global information economy. We may not know exactly what it will look like, or all the details of how it will work, but it is time to make it a reality.

Let the word go forth from this place (my blog!) and time (Memorial Day!) that there is important work left to be done…that we as educators resolve to claim for ourselves a new professionalism!

Addressing Poverty as a Sector, as a School and as a Classroom

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Reposted from ASCD In Service:

On Wednesday, May 5th, ASCD sponsored its most recent Whole Child Symposium on the topic of poverty. Convened at the Newseum in the heart of Washington, D.C., and streaming online to educators everywhere, we assembled two panels of educators to explore the impact and implications of poverty in preparing children for their future.

“It’s a national problem. If public education in this country fails, the nation fails,” stated Steve Suitts, senior fellow of the Southern Education Foundation. “The trend of impoverished majority has been accelerated by the great recession. Even in suburban America, more and more students are low income. Poverty cannot become the new normal.” And yet that is the reality we are facing.

Poverty2ASCD Executive Director Judy Seltz agrees. “At the beginning of the War on Poverty there was a
national commitment to make life better for poor people. But over time there was a shift and it became OK to change the dialog from the supports people needed to blaming them: it’s their fault. This 50 year mark is an opportunity to look back, do this again, do it differently, do it better.” It has become too easy to select media and news sources that only reinforce our existing belief systems. To fight poverty is to fight ignorance and belief systems of “us” versus “them.”

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