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Leadership and the Power of School Relationships

In the last few weeks I've visited five schools in four states. Each of them educates large numbers of students from low-income homes and students of color, and each is either high-performing or on an impressive improvement trajectory.

The schools are different in lots of ways, but one thing characterizes them all: Teachers, principals, and other administrators work hard at building trusting relationships that help create a sense of agency and purpose.

Here are three examples of what I mean:

For a Boost of Optimism, Read (and Watch) This

"I don't think there's a child out there who doesn't want to learn and be the best they can be."

Those are the words of Barbara Preuss, a veteran educator with more than 30 years of experience.

That is to say, she is no bright-eyed novice about to be confronted by reality. She is confronted by plenty of reality, every day. And yet she retains her belief that even the kids who act out and misbehave still want to learn and still need to learn.

She retains this belief because she has seen it again and again, in all the schools where she has worked.

Why I'm Not Impressed with Effective Teachers

I was making a presentation about how to raise reading achievement. I was taking my audience through research on what needed to be taught and how it needed to be taught if kids were to do as well as possible. I was telling about my experiences as director of reading of the Chicago Public Schools at a time when my teachers raised reading achievement.

When I finished, a teacher approached me. “What do you think is the most important variable in higher reading achievement?”

My answer was, “The amount of teaching — academic experience — that we provide to our children.”

8 New, Nearly New Dyslexia Resources Support Struggling Readers + Teachers Who Serve Them

Teachers, parents, and students should be seeing subtle and obvious changes in how dyslexia is identified and how educational services are delivered in schools.

9+ Idea-Packed Resources to Prime Staff Development So All Learners Progress in 2016

There is no single best way to grow professionally. Here are some "finds" that educators and related services personnel can add to their 2016 professional development toolkit. 

1. Reading for All

How to Mix Oil and Water So that Nearly Everyone (including '1 in 5' with poor reading skills) Learns to Read by neuropsychologist Tim Conway at TEDxOcala on Dec. 15. Decide if his "highly effective" science-based approach can impact current approaches to reading instruction. 

Inclusion: Advice, Keys to Educating Diverse Early Learners with Dual Language + Disabilities

The Iris Center announces a new IRISSTAR Legacy Module, Dual Language Learners with Disabilities: Supporting Young Children in the Classroom. It is free online and offers ideas for serving diverse early learners in a classroom where instruction must take into account multiple languages, cultures, diverse learning needs, and backgrounds.

Lindamood Bell Reading: Effects Are Potentially Positive, Mixed, Says US DOE Clearinghouse

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences describes an update for the Lindamood Bell approach to reading instruction (LiPS®). Findings show some potentially positive effects and some mixed effects.

Can Be Important

Identify, Intervene as Early as Kindergarten for Students with Dyslexia, Researchers Say

In research just published by the University of California at Davis and Yale University, educators can find advice to heed now about promptly identifying and intervening with students who are dyslexic.

20 Questions/Answers about Dyslexia That Teachers Can Use to Reshape Instruction

Dyslexia often is confusing for parents and teachers as the manner in which it presents can differ widely among children and youths. Dyslexia can go undetected for a long time, but it is neurologically based, known to be inherited, and will not be outgrown. Once students fall behind, their problems connected with reading, writing, and spelling can become complicated by negative feelings that affect their self-esteem.

Be Like Sherlock: Use PAR/uPAR Data to Determine Who Needs Reading Accommodations

The popular fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes said,“it’s a capital mistake to theorize before you have the data.” Ben Johnston makes the same point when schools seek school success for struggling readers. He offers a solution for improving decisions whenever questions about providing reading accommodations seem more like a game of chance than a science. 

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase