You can’t teach them if they’re not paying attention…

Yes, this is a basic statement and will likely cause several "yeah, duh" reactions, but it's surprising how overlooked this simple truth really is.  When we read about the factors influencing education, we hear so much about curriculum - whether there should be national standards or not, should there be more emphasis on STEM, etc. Or, funding -- there is a never-ending litany of schools/districts/states talking about how there isn't enough money to do what needs to be done.  Classroom size is another oft-debated topic -- our classrooms are still "over-crowded" yet on average they have been getting consistently smaller over the last 30 years.  Or how about charter schools are the better way to educate our children?

The one thing that gets VERY little attention, however, and has, frankly the biggest impact on education is student behavior. All of the above things I just mentioned are directly affected, for good or for bad, by how students conduct themselves in the classroom, yet this is virtually never addressed in any high-level discussions on how to improve education!

I know it's a problem, both from my direct experience in the classroom as well as from discussions and feedback from teachers and administrators. Take, for example, this comment on a recent posting of mine. Steve wrote (more…)

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“Change” requires DOING something different

Do you ever find yourself in a situation that seems like a never-ending circular argument?  Sometimes it seems to me that our schools are stuck in a permanent state of "Who's on First?"

There is so much talk about how schools want to improve their present circumstances.  They want their students to get better grades, achieve more in reading/math/science/technology. They want teachers to be happier and  more productive. They want bullying or other anti-social behavior to diminish. They want parents to be more involved and engaged in their children's education.  The schools are full of wants and objectives...but what do they do with that?

It's in the "do" that things fall apart.  You see, in order for things to be different in the schools, something has to change.  And, we all know that change is VERY hard. Even positive change.  And, for many schools, districts or administrations, change is virtually impossible. Here's what happens when you suggest change to improve their present circumstances:

Before I get too far down the road here with generalizations (anyone who has read this blog for a while KNOWS I hate rubber-stamping everyone with the same label), let me just say that I KNOW this isn't true of all schools, so please don't be offended if you are one of the enlightened and inspired ones who is honestly striving to make a difference. But this blog is directed at those for whom the following conditions ring true. (more…)

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Education: Finger pointing and blame placing is NOT a solution

Wanted: Enlightened school/district administrators, education experts, influencers wanting to fix our education system.

No, this is not meant to be a joke -- it's meant to be a call to action. If you meet that criteria, and take that seriously, we want to talk with you because we can help.

I was inspired to write this post because I think it's time we got down to the business of actually doing something about our education system rather than continue down the predictable, yet ineffective path of finger-pointing, placing blame, and searching for external excuses for why education is not meeting the needs of our children.

What do I mean?  Well, here's a sample of the "reasons" for why education isn't working:

  • School districts cite overly-restrictive teachers' unions for why they can't get fair teacher evaluation, hire good teachers/fire bad ones, keep salaries within reasonable levels, etc.
  • Teachers' unions blame the districts for not providing better working conditions, pay, benefits to their teachers. They blame the states for "underfunding" education and keeping teachers' pay so low that they can't attract and retain qualified staff. (more…)
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