Monthly Archives: August 2012

Empathy for a Teacher

In the airy, sun-filled space that will house my son’s foray into formal education, I watched as a tow-headed classmate named Thomas patrolled the edges of the room, choking back tears.

It was the first day of school – and my wife and I were already doing our best not to hover too closely over Leo, who was, thankfully, already hard at play in the newly discovered puzzle section. Leo’s co-teachers, Ms. Allison and Ms. Luz, were busy greeting (and consoling) parents, organizing materials, and helping the 28 children – each one their family’s own special miracle – find a way to feel comfortable amidst an unfamiliar world.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Learning, Teacher Quality

Tags: , , , , ,

2 Comments

Origins of a Dream

Every year, we pay tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with school assemblies, community programs and – to the delight of students and teachers alike – a national holiday. Yet how many of us directly connect Dr. King’s heroism and accomplishments to his faith in – and use of – the five freedoms of the First Amendment?

Consider the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the iconic rally that introduced King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to white America – he had delivered those lines to black audiences many times before – and produced the most memorable petition for a redress of grievances in the nation’s history. Nearly every American is familiar with King’s speech that day. Many of us were asked to memorize it as students. But few if any of us were also taught about that day – and the Civil Rights Movement – in the specific context of our founding principles as a nation.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Democracy, First Amendment

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The First Day

The morning of her first day as a first-year teacher in a first-year school, Cassie Hurst exited her small studio apartment in Dupont Circle and walked West, against the grain of her former colleagues and her former life.

They were there across the street to remind her, perpendicular to her path, walking North to South: women in fancy suits and flip flops on their way to K street consulting jobs. Cassie felt jubilant as she crossed New Hampshire Avenue and watched them disappear from view. It was one of those jobs that first brought her to DC, right after graduating from college. Her goal was to save the world, and environmental policy seemed like a good place to start. Yet after two years on the job, all she’d learned was how to make nice-looking binders, and how long it would take her to rise up the totem pole. She’d never been so unhappy. So she decided it was time for a change.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Book Projects, Learning

Tags:

Leave a comment

Numbers game

Twice in the same week, I’ve been named one of the top education activists/tweeters in the U.S! What does this mean? Nothing, of course. But it still feels nice. You can decide for yourself if there’s any merit to either list — the one where I’m #22, or the one where I’m #13. Either way, […]

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: News of the Weird2 Comments

Is this what a transformational school looks like?

If so, what are its core design principles? If not, where does the recipe run afoul? SMASH from SMASH on Vimeo.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Learning, Organizational Change

Tags: , ,

4 Comments

This is what a good summer school program looks like

(Actually, it’s just what a good school looks like, no matter the season.)

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Learning

Tags: , , ,

1 Comment

Reimagining Our Schools, NOW

It’s a presidential election season, which means we can all be sure of two things: conversations about education will take a backseat to more “pressing” issues like the economy and foreign policy, and Congress will once again do nothing to address our desperate need for a new federal education policy.

However, just because our elected officials can’t get the job done doesn’t mean the rest of us are powerless to be the change we wish to see in the world. In fact, local educators could do a lot to sidestep national policymakers by committing to do just three things this coming school year:

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Assessment, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Change

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

This is why physical space matters

Courtesy of a Baltimore high school that redesigned its physical building in response to this question: What would it take to make sure that every child was known, loved, and supported academically?

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Learning

Tags: , , ,

1 Comment

Hey Tom — When it Comes to Ed Reform, China is the Least of Our Worries

Tom Friedman has a new column abut education in today’s New York Times, in which he almost makes an important point about the state of K-12 schooling in America and what we can do to improve it.

The thing Friedman gets right is the easy part — the fact that despite the willingness of American politicians to keep beating the xenophobic drums and lead the chant for everything to be “made in America,” American businesses are already operating in the flat world of globalization and cost efficiency. Consequently, Friedman writes, “the trend is that for more and more jobs, average is over.”

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Assessment, Learning

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a comment

This is what student learning looks like

This movie was produced by five-year-olds as a culminating project for a study of butterflies and habitats. It’s worth noting that this happened at a first-year-school that had never done this sort of thing before. Just to underscore that this sort of thing is possible anywhere, as long as the community is committed to letting […]

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Assessment, Learning, Voice

Tags: , ,

2 Comments
  • Read Sam’s Books