See sidebar, as well as Horace In each case, the school must pose its own question for assessment, framing a cycle of continuous inquiry that will continue long after the visitors say their goodbyes. But how does a school even get to the point where it can ask such a question, and ask it well? To address that question, Coalition staff in Providence in the late s designed a process called the Trek-used still by Centers in California, Florida, Indiana, and elsewhere-in which a team of teachers and admin-istrators learns to diagnose the work of its school and manage the change process through which it might be improved.
"We have a motion on the floor": Montclair High School and the Civics and Government Institute
See sidebar. How is AMY preparing students for high school, according to the outcomes stated in our learning plan? Using questionnaires, focus groups, classroom observations, and other means, the school study team began gathering the kind of ethnographic data that reveals patterns of school culture underlying student achievement.
As a school draws in such ways on new kinds of information from more kinds of people, it can develop new habits of collaboration and reflection in the midst of the action of everyday life, observe Jolley Christman and Frederick Erickson, the CUE researchers. Such self-scrutiny takes courage, they add, because it makes barriers to open communication more visible and more openly painful than before.
Critical Voices in School Reform: Students Living through Change - Google Books
In that situation, ongoing work with friendly outsiders-both from the university and from other schools-helps keep the momentum for change going, they conclude. Many Essential school teachers have used avenues other than the university to learn the habit of gathering and analyzing data with an eye to improving their schools. The group tries to articulate what constitutes good teaching and learning, calling on both outside sources and their own experience.
Some compile portfolios to demonstrate and reflect on that evidence; others meet with groups from different schools to share insights and dilemmas.
So when Federal regulations insisted that they report out student reading scores in some standardized form to qualify for Title 1 funds, these teachers worried about subjecting their students to a testing experience they believed demeaned the painstaking progress they had already made. They laid out the dilemma and brought it to a recent institute of similar teams focusing on using data to improve schools.
Our whole school sent us here to ask you that! After two hours of carefully structured discussion, they got their answer from the two other school teams around the table-but it came in the form of a new question.
See sidebar Many Essential school critical friends groups take a whole year of building understanding in other ways before they have the trust to open their doors to each other. Several of these are described in Horace These carefully structured formats for response, facilitated by someone trained in such discussions, aim to create a sense of emotional safety for the presenter, at the same time encouraging the new perspectives and probing critiques of their peers.
Typically they require the presenter to remain silent at some point, while the respondents talk among themselves about what they have seen. Or they may build a year-long conversation around readings that inform their practice. If they choose texts around a key theme, such as equity, this can provide a framework for later discussions based on classroom experience and the work of students.
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Because such sessions intend to enlighten, not to evaluate, at their best they take on the air of professional seminars-like a group of doctors, lawyers, or architects puzzling over a case together, or like an independent graduate seminar in which teachers could explore their deepest concerns and interests.
As group members push toward a deeper reading of the evidence before them, their learning extends beyond addressing the question of the hour, to sharpen the inquiry skills of every participant.
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- Sanitarium Magazine Issue #2: Bringing you Horror and Dark Fiction, One Case at a Time.
- American Journal of Education;
- Placing Students at the Center: The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model.
Students -- Attitudes. School improvement programs. Student participation in administration.
Rubin and Elena M. Notes Includes bibliographical references and index.
Critical Voices in School Reform: Students Living through Change
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