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Showing posts from March, 2010

School Improvement is Simple

Todd Whitaker in his publication, What Great Teachers Do Differently, says school improvement is simple…. Either get better teachers or improve the teachers you have.What do you think?Is this too simplistic of an answer? As the professionals on the front-line, does improvement mainly rest on the teachers’ shoulders?

Having a Voice

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I recently had the great misfortune to contract tonsillitis. Out of the myriad of unpleasant symptoms, the one that was the most difficult was loosing my voice. It was frustrating not to be heard. There were a few situations, especially with larger groups of people, when I started to withdraw from the conversation. It was just too much effort.
This experience made me appreciate the value of Reading Apprenticeship, an approach to secondary literacy through the Strategic Literacy Initiative at WestEd. The Reading Apprenticeship framework focuses on students developing, expanding and building the confidence in their voice in discipline specific ways.
In a traditional secondary classroom, it is not unusual for the main modality of learning to be lecture. Students sit, listen and regurgitate on demand. The teachers do most of the work and students are peripheral to the learning process.
In converse, Reading Apprenticeship classrooms have students at their center. Students are viewed as comp…

Luau as a Metaphor for School Improvement

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The luau, once called the aha aina, was an event that was designed to unite the participants and foster good will, thanks and praise. The purpose of the luau could have been to celebrate accomplishments, honor heroes or gods, or commemorate important events. While some ancient foods represented strength or virility, other foods might symbolize virtues or goals the participants hoped to achieve (from To-Hawaii.com)


A luau, in other words, is all about reflection. What is going well? What are the next steps?

This is exactly what our school improvement teams did last week. They reflected on the level of implementation of their plan and the level of effectiveness. Participants spent the morning going through their plans goal by goal – looking back toward accomplishments and looking forward to next steps.

We over-laid these discussions with information on managing and effectively facilitating change. We read Implications for School Leaders Facilitating Change, which is from Hord and Hall’s