Reinventing Principal Preparation

One can’t throw a kettle ball these days without hitting upon some discussion about teacher preparation, the need to reform teacher preparation, or the desire to eliminate it all together. But it can be much harder to enter a meaningful discussion on school leader preparation.

Even though all those teachers need good administrators supporting them, even though we know that school leaders are second only to classroom teachers when it comes to impacting success, we seem to shy away from public discussions of leader development.

Fortunately, Education Week recently came out with a series, Who’s Ready to Be a Principal?, that does a deep dive into how we currently prepare school leaders, how we can support the 90,000 or so currently in the profession, and what we can do to improve both.

I’m particularly proud to be working with one of the programs that gets a shout-out from EdWeek. In Niche Training for Principals Aims to Fill Skill Gaps, Arianna Prothero writes of the Woodrow Wilson MBA in Education Leadership, a program developed by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and currently offered in three states (Indiana, New Mexico, and Wisconsin).

The entire series from EdWeek is certainly worth the read. If we are serious about improving our schools, ensuring all teachers have the supports they need, and giving every child a high-quality education, we must include principal preparation in our priorities.

 

Seeking the Teachers to Succeed in Today’s, Tomorrow’s Schools

Over at Forbes magazine, Dr. Arthur Levine – the president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and president emeritus of Teachers College, Columbia University – has a provactive piece on the need to better prepare educators for the challenges of both teaching in schools today and leading the creation of the schools of tomorrow.

In it, Levine looks at five important shifts that need to come to teacher education, including:

  1. A shift from teaching to learning
  2. A shift from classrooms to learning environments
  3. A shift from planning to learning design
  4. A shift from instruction to facilitated learning
  5. A shift from professionalism to leadership

 The full piece is here, and it is definitely worth the read. At some point, the preparation programs of tomorrow will be completely insufficient for the needs of today. Better to prepare for the future than to have it thrust upon us.

 

Transforming Teacher Education 

When we talk about the future of education, it can often be challenging for many of us to truly understand what the “tomorrow” actually looks like. We just can’t stop seeing things through the lens of the now, and thus can’t conceive what true reinvention or reimagining might look like. 

For the past three years, I’ve been fortunate to work with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation on its efforts to transform teacher education. We are doing little things, like collaborating with MIT, replacing credit hours with content mastery, using assisted reality to enhance the clinical experience, and actually build a new graduate school for prospective educators unlike any before it. 

These meager undertakings can often be hard to digest. So to aid the process, I helped produce a short video outlining our work. Give it a watch. Let me know what you think. And if you want to be involved in the process, let me know that too. 

You can find the video here — https://youtu.be/pqt58H8EY4A. 
Happy viewing!

The Quest for More Engaging History Instruction

Ultimately, fostering each student’s curiosity and sense of agency leads to habits of mind that support lifelong learning and civic engagement—and it is never a bad outcome when mastering required curriculum is exciting and fun. Teachers are also happily about the ease with which games can be tied into curriculum and standards and used to enliven content delivery and assessments while maintaining academic rigor. They are also committed to taking the lesson back to their colleagues—teachers teaching teachers, to make learning more dynamic throughout their schools.

– The Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s Stephanie J. Hull, writing about the importance of gaming in social studies instruction in The “Great Game” of Teaching History for GettingSmart.

Improving #TeacherEd for Today … and Tomorrow

Imagine if teacher preparation programs were focused on the doing, instead of just on time served. Educators already know the best learning happens when it is rooted in real-world problems and real-world engagements. So why aren’t prospective teachers learning in programs that are designed in the form of such challenges and that mirror the real work of real teachers?

Imagine if teacher preparation programs embraced individualized instruction. Educators already know that their young students arrive at the classroom with different levels of knowledge, different experiences and different preferred learning styles. Prospective teachers are no different than those they will one day teach. So why aren’t more teacher education programs focused on the learner, with programs based on the needs and preferences of that adult learner?

From my latest at US News & World Report, looking at how competency-based learning may be the future in teacher preparation

Let’s Mess with Texas Teacher Ed

Over at the Houston Chronicle, yours truly has a new commentary on the challenges of teacher retention both across the United States and specifically in Texas and what the Lone Star State can do to improve the teacher pipeline.

As I write:

When it comes to many of the major factors driving teacher shortages, Texas is no different than most states. The politics surrounding teaching and the demands on teachers aren’t too different in Texas than they are in other states, particularly since Texas isn’t part of the day-to-day, vitriolic churn of Common Core. Yet retention problems seem far more significant than in other states.

One reason is teacher preparation. Texas currently has a higher percentage of inexperienced teachers than other states. And with high turnover rates, that percentage of new teachers continues to climb. In its zeal to address teacher shortages, the state has opened its doors to a range of low-quality, new, and alternative teacher preparation efforts, resulting in vast discrepancies as to the rigor of teacher prep here.

I also highlight three things that Texas can do to boost teacher education and teacher retention, including creating a clear set of performance measures for pre-service teachers, better root teacher education in clinical practice, and invest in strong mentoring for new teachers.

Give it a read. I promise it’ll be worth your time. You can find it here.

 

A Diverse Group at #EPNL2016

Over the weekend, Eduflack wrote on the personal value I found in engaging and learning from a group diverse in its thinking and its experiences. In the coming weeks and months, I’m sure to reflect here on some of the specific lessons I learned at the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders (EPNL). But I wanted to share some of the demographics on the program and its range of views.

In terms of participant citizenship,  we had 31 from the United States; nine from Australia; two each from Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, and Singapore; and representatives from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Peru.

Industries represented included 16 from social services, eight from education, six from both art & culture and healthcare, three from energy/environment and investing/philanthropy, two from food/agriculture, and representatives from economic development, government, media, and technology. Also a huge number (7) who simply claimed they represented “other.”

Five represented organizations with annual budgets less than $500k, 13 from orgs with a $500k-$1M budget, 14 in the $1M to $5M range, 20 in the $5M to $50M range, and three with annual budgets of more than $50 million.

Age was also interesting distributed. Eight were under the age of 35, with 12 between 35 and 39. Twelve of us were between the ages of 40 and 44, with another 8 between 45 and 49. And 15 were over the age of 50. Women comprised a (slim) majority of the group.

For those curious, here is the 2016 EPNL2016 class. I’d suggest we play Where’s Waldo, but it seems pretty easy to find dear ol’ Eduflack in this pic.

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