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Is A Solid Curriculum a Constraint on Teacher Creativity?

Education Next – Kathleen Porter-Magee

“In education we have been conditioned to believe that mandating curriculum is akin to micromanaging an artist. That’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous. And, as Robert Pondiscio has persuasively argued, it simply makes “an already hard job nearly impossible [for teachers] to do well.” Yet study after study has demonstrated that requiring teachers use a proven textbook or curriculum to guide their teaching is one of the surest ways to improve outcomes for students. In 2009, Cory Koedel and Morgan Polikoff published results from a study comparing the effects of mathematics textbook choices on student achievement in California. They found that “non-trivial gains in student achievement are attainable simply by choosing more effective curriculum materials.”(more)

What Teachers Must Consider When Moving to Flexible Seating

KQED news Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“Flexible seating in classrooms has become popular over the past few years as educators try to make school feel like a welcoming place with different kinds of spaces for different types of learning. Frustrated with static rows of clunky desks, some teachers have taken to rearranging their rooms, bringing in furniture from home, and generally trying to shake up the way classrooms feel by paying attention to lighting, color and clutter. Educators who have followed this path insist there are some serious considerations to keep in mind.”(more)

Making Teacher Reflection Meaningful

Education World – Keith Lambert

“Teacher reflection: You remember being forced to do it at university and in your teacher certification programs. You certainly take a moment or two daily, or innately throughout the day, to reflect upon your practice, make adjustments, and better prepare for the next day’s adventure. But how often do you earnestly sit with focused reflection and clearly prioritize and synthesize your thoughts in writing? Some of us have integrated it actively into our practice. Yet many of us struggle to find the time and energy.”(more)

Refocusing professional development to make good teachers great

Education Dive – Dr. Brent Raby

“Research shows that an effective teacher can have a tremendous impact on a child’s learning. Therefore, to truly improve education, it is vital to focus on the classroom teacher. In West Aurora School District 129, we knew we needed to improve our professional learning program. In student achievement, our district ranked in the bottom 25% of Illinois districts. Sixty-seven percent of our students are economically disadvantaged, and many require additional programs, resources, and support. Our community had experienced a large influx of immigrants, and many of these children had no formal education. Our schools were serving a growing number of English language learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities. At the same time, we were losing teachers certified to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) and special education. In addition, statewide curriculum changes demanded that teachers have more specific certifications, exacerbating the teacher shortage.”(more)

California defines ‘effective’ and ‘ineffective’ teachers, and why it matters

Ed Source – John Fensterwald

“Intern teachers in programs like Teach for America who earn their preliminary credential while on the job will not have the scarlet letter of being labeled an “ineffective teacher” in California. In adopting the state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act on Wednesday, the State Board of Education resolved a remaining contentious issue: the definition of an “ineffective teacher.” It decided not to include teachers with intern credentials in the definition after much testimony from former intern teachers and districts that readily hire them. All teachers with a teaching credential — including the standard “preliminary” teaching credential through a traditional teacher preparation program or an intern credential — will now meet the definition of ‘effective.'”(more)

Research: Principals don’t give teachers the truth about performance

Education Dive – Linda Jacobson

“A study by Matthew Kraft of Brown University and Allison Gilmour of Temple University shows that some principals are reluctant to tell teachers that they need improvement based on observations and that observing, documenting and helping unsatisfactory teachers grow can become “overwhelming.”(more)