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student outcomes don't change until adult behaviors change


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Everything Has Changed... Except This


Below, I posit nine different instructional models that school systems might choose to pursue while their school buildings are temporarily closed.



Enrichment

learner expected to lead their own learning using educator provided tools/materials
Homeschool

parent expected to lead their student's learning using educator provided tools/materials
School

educator expected to lead their students' learning using educator provided tools/materials
Offline

less than 25% of instruction occurs in real time between learner and educator



Blended

26-74% of instruction occurs in real time between learner and educator



Online

more than 75% of instruction occurs in real time between learner and educator




Pop Quiz:
  • Which of these nine describe the most ideal instructional model your school system wants to pursue while buildings are closed?
  • Which of these nine instructional models most describes where your school system is today?
  • If your answers to the above are different, what are the most significant barriers between the two that need to be overcome?

As I've visited with students, parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members nationwide over the past month, I hear a nation's worth of people working hard and working collaboratively to confront the daily realities imposed by a global pandemic. In that regard, almost everything that we know to be normal about school systems has operationally changed. But in those same conversations, what I have yet to hear is anyone make a strong argument for why our aspirations for our students should be any lower today than they were two months ago. While everything circumstantially has changed, our collective desire to see improvements in student outcomes has not. Our collective expectations for what our students should know and be able to do at the culmination of their PreK-12 experience remain unaltered.

I take from these conversations two things (shared in reverse order). Second, the next big challenge for school systems will be surrounding how best to prepare for and make appropriate modifications for the return to in-school instruction. There will likely need to be significant changes made and planning for that should be ongoing right now. But first and more immediately, school leaders need to confront that how they address instruction today largely determines the circumstances their return to in-school instruction will face. And that if your ideal or realized instructional model today is anything other than blended schooling or online schooling, you are likely setting your students up to fail.

Unfortunately, most of what I'm seeing right now is neither of these two.

Blog Posts:  

    Not a time to fear; a time to adapt

    This is not something to panic over or fear. It is simply change that we can confront and will overcome. The first step: understanding and accepting what we're facing.

    Regarding Society: It sounds crass to say in the face of such a massive tragedy, but we got lucky this time and we've gotten lucky every time before. Mother nature is a creative murderer; imagine if this had been 5x more virulent or if it had been fully airborne. We'd be counting losses in another order of magnitude. This is our chance to learn how to be a 10B person species. I've long believed that some solutions emerge from a sufficiently critical mass of human power (if coronavirus requires a 7B-mind solution, imagine what a 14B or 21B-mind human species can solve!). But to experience them, we have to figure out how to do our species at scale. This is mom taking off the training wheels. It's on us to embrace our teetering and from it learn balance.

    Regarding Education Systems: Hinging on our willingness (because I know we are fully capable) to adapt is the educational welfare of a generation. We are entirely up to this challenge -- of figuring out what a no longer pre-Covid globe does to keep it's children safe while educating them effectively. It kinda puts the struggles of before into stark perspective. But if there's anything I have experienced to be true of our species, it's that when we come together, when we pray together, when we work together, we can cause tremendous blessings for our loved ones. That is now at stake for our children. Take a few minutes to grieve yesterday, certainly. But remain not in pining for a past that will not return; seize the new possibilities for our children that circumstance will challenge us to create.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615370/coronavirus-pandemic-social-distancing-18-months/



    Blog Posts:  

      Ideas for Online Instruction

      In the days and months ahead, educators nationwide are likely to be called upon to adapt some of their instruction to an online format -- many for the first time. While this won't always be ideal, there are ways to try to improve that experience both for the educator and the learner. Here are some ideas that may help with the journey:

      https://teachremotely.harvard.edu/



      Blog Posts:  

        Science of Early Learning

        Deans for Impact is at it again, this time with a wonderful (and updated) primer on developing agency, literacy, and numeracy in early learners. As it turns out, there is both art and science to early learning. Here's some of the science:

        https://deansforimpact.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/The_Science_of_Early_Learning.pdf



        Blog Posts:  

          School Boards Can Make A Difference!


          Educational policy leaders, philanthropic leaders, business leaders, and more often suggest that school boards can't make a difference regarding student outcomes. Increasingly, however, the academic and professional literature disagrees with this notion. There are behaviors that school boards engage in that can create the conditions for improvements in student outcomes. Of course, the behaviors suggested only work if school boards implement them with fidelity, so many boards will need support and coaching. But my experience suggests that most boards are willing to change if they see an opportunity to improve student outcomes. Here's a sampling of the growing evidence base:
          • Factors That Influence School Board Actions to Support Student Achievement: A Multi-Case Study of High-Achieving Rural School Districts, Colleen Timm (2012): https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED549096

          Blog Posts:  

            TEI + ACE Showing Improved Student Outcomes


            Quality of instruction is the single most important factor school systems control relative to improving student outcomes. So identifying/developing/retaining the most effective teachers must be among the highest priorities of school/district leaders. A strong strategy for improving schools is ensuring our most effective teacher teams are working with our students with the greatest needs. Dallas ISD has taken aggressive action on these fronts through its Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI) and Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) work. These are not always popular efforts as they break with the usual adult behavior of many school systems and change is often uncomfortable. Acknowledging that teachers are not one-size-fits-all widgets, that they bring varying levels of effectiveness to the classroom, and that we should structure compensation in a way that helps keep our most effective teachers and that incents them to serve where student needs are the greatest are all controversial ideas. But the student outcome improvements born of these adult behavior changes speak for themselves in Dallas.
              



            Blog Posts:  

              Outcome Goals, Education Policy, & Public Incentives

              A working group of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance has been meeting with the goal of surfacing solutions for improving student outcomes. Their white paper and recommendations supply data and rationale for focusing in three areas: improving 3rd grade literacy, placing our most effective teacher teams with our students with the greatest needs, and improving career/college/military readiness.

              Much of the data quoted is easily verifiable; the issues they describe are real challenges that demand real solutions. The solutions put forth, however, offer to upend education policy orthodoxy and to apply public incentives in ways that have only been deployed in limited use -- though, as described in their materials, often with stunning result.

              Is broader adoption wise? Are these the best solutions? Do better ideas exist? Is the urgency described in the paper warranted? Is it worth it if these ideas risk upsetting systems that have been in place for years? None of these are easy questions. What say you?

              Outcomes Working Group - White Paper
              Outcomes Working Group - Recommendations Presentation

              Blog Posts: