Posts belonging to Category Education Reform

Announcing new ebook available on Education Reform

I thought I'd share some exciting news with you.  I've begun a new series of books exploring tough topics in education and suggesting real, practical ways for solving them. The series is entitled "Education Reform and Other Myths" and the first book in the series "Examining the Stumbling Blocks in our System and What to Do About Them" is available TODAY on Amazon Kindle.  Education Reform Myths Stumbling blocks in the system and solutions

Through Amazon Kindle, you also have the opportunity to participate in their lending library -- I'm really excited about that part, although it's only going to be available for the first 90 days of the book's Kindle publication.

To check it out for yourself, visit Education Reform and Other Myths on Amazon!

I'm eager to see what you think of it. For the first 25 people who read this book and write a review of it, I'll give you a copy of the next book in the series "Breaking the Bully Culture" for FREE.  Drop me an email when your review is posted and I'll put you on the list to get your complimentary copy of "Breaking the Bully Culture!"

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Classroom Behavior Management: the big story no one wants to cover

I wish education professionals would have told us that behavior management is probably the most important and challenging issue you’ll face in the classroom. It would have been nice to have been given a variety of solutions, tools, books, and websites to use once you are working in a classroom.

Susan Jamieson

I came across this remark, and several similar, in a recent eSchoolNews article entitled "Ten things every new teacher should know.”  I think it's particularly interesting because, now that back-to-school stories are cropping up all over, there isn't much emphasis on this aspect of education. Right now, there is much being said on the impacts of budget cuts and how that's leading to larger classroom sizes, or how schools are considering lengthening the school day or year to help narrow the achievement gap, or how parents will have to chip in more this year because of tough financial times.

Yet, to actually discuss what goes on in the classroom and how that affects learning (never mind waste of time and dollars) just must not be a sexy enough issue to make the 6 o'clock news because you rarely hear about it.

Oh, sure...we hear about it when it's out of control. Last year, THE hot topic in education, bar none, was bullying. Certainly that is a behavior management and discipline problem, but at its extreme end. It was tragic and gut-wrenching to hear all these stories of kids harassed in person and through social media, often with tragic and fatal results. And, of course, the visuals were great, so it made for good news. But how about the everyday tragedy of what's going on too many classrooms across our country? Teachers who spend more time "babysitting" than they do teaching, or end the day frustrated again because they had too many kids who wouldn't sit down, be quiet and pay attention. (more…)

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School discipline: pay me now or pay me (more) later

Virtually everybody today has an opinion aboutwhat we need to do to improve public education in this country, and at the same time, a corresponding reason for why it can’t be improved under present circumstances. You can’t go a single day without hearing about how the economy is affecting funding to schools; or how classroom sizes are too large to allow for quality learning; or how we aren’t focusing enough on STEM; how teachers  are overworked and underpaid; or that our students should be in school for longer days, even a longer year.

These are all commonly debated topics on why education isn’t working, yet aren’t the primary reason our system is failing.  A recent article published in the NY Times got somewhat close to the issue, but didn’t go far enough. “School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions” discussed the impact of student suspensions and expulsions in Texas middle and high schools. The data shared in the article was troubling; one in seven students was suspended or expelled roughly 11 times in their upper-school career.  However, what the study didn’t discuss was the overall problem of classroom order and discipline. Suspensions and expulsions are on the extreme end of discipline. What else is going on in the classrooms before it gets to that point?

I can tell you. Classroom discipline and behavior is literally robbing our education system of productive time, energy, money, and results. When repeated studies show teachers lose, on average, 30/40/50% or more of what should be teaching time to managing student discipline and behavior, it’s no wonder Johnny can’t read. To put this in perspective, even a “modest” loss of only 30% of classroom time is the equivalent of 60 full days out of our average 180 day school year. If we only consider the financial impact of loss of productive teaching time, it  represents $100B or more of educational funding that goes out the window each year nationwide. It’s  consistently within the top three reasons for why teachers leave the profession, regardless of what they are paid, and it hurts the learning environment for everyone in it.

In spite of this massive impact on all aspects of the system, this issue receives precious little attention.  It is responsible for everything from the “ordinary” level of disruption and noise in the classroom; to issues of ethics,  integrity, cheating and plagiarism; to the extreme end of the continuum of bullying, harassment and school-based violence.  Our usual response is to deal with it once it’s a problem when it’s harder to fix and more costly. It may cost a school district $500 or more to suspend a student, but one suspension frequently leads to more, so clearly there’s no “fix” in that. And, in spite of the billions that are being spent on anti-bullying policies, procedures and legislation, bullying remains an epidemic in our schools today.

The typical solution proposed to fix this problem is for teachers to receive better training in classroom management. Yet, that only addresses half the equation.  (more…)

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