I stared at the stack of bus discipline reports on the corner of my desk. Well, there goes my day, I thought. Another day of trying to translate the bus driver’s comments in a way that makes sense to misbehaving elementary school students. Another day of listening to explanations and excuses from students. Another day of knowing that nothing I do seems to change behavior and make the problems go away.
I have had several people contact me about how to approach teacher evaluation in a Quality Learning context, so I decided to make it the subject of a newsletter. This is a hot topic, especially in the United States, since state and federal grants and funding are now requiring teacher evaluation. I don’t have any quick fixes to this dilemma, but I do think there are three concepts to consider when…
Often when I hear educators discussing problems related to school improvement I want to shout, “Stop the madness!” Undoubtedly, everyone in education, both in K-12 schools and higher education, feels pressure to improve.
We are often faced with changing or getting rid of something, but not knowing what to do differently. Most educators I meet agree that grading and ranking systems are a destructive force in learning. However, when asked what to do instead, they go blank.
In the early 90s, the LISD administrators had agreed to ask—and be asked—one simple question of each other: How do you know? As we struggled to apply what we were learning about making decisions based on data, we needed that question to serve as a reminder to gather data and challenge our assumptions..
I often hear teachers and administrators complaining that they have given students laptop computers, smart boards, new textbooks, science equipment, language parties, new tardy bells and gym equipment, and the students don't seem to appreciate any of it. In fact, students frequently abuse these materials — deflating basketballs, vandalizing walls, and scratching equipment. Have we simply bred a generation of apathetic scallywags? Or is there something else going on?
Improvement of any system or process requires some degree of change for if we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to get what we have always gotten. Australian educator Caroline Press said it well, “If you want things to change; change something!!”
As a Continuous Improvement consultant for schools, districts, colleges and universities, I continually encounter the same common systemic problems no matter the size of the organization, nor its location in the world. One of these common problems is the idea of goal setting to improve performance either within the class-room or the organization.