Common Principles for Uncommon Schools

Horace Peer Coaching

‘Design Studios’ Foster Teacher R and D

How can a professional development event best stimulate and support teachers, administrators, parents, and students in making serious whole-school change, while connecting them with the work of colleagues in other schools? Teachers at the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (the Met) in Providence, Rhode Island and educators at the affiliated Big Picture Company think they have found an answer

Among Friends: Norms for Inquiry and Analysis

It isn’t easy to be both critical and friendly while working collaboratively to make schools better. The Bay Area Coalition of Essential Schools has developed these norms to help its members as they jointly inquire about and analyze their work: Describe only what you see. Do not try to describe what you don’t see; express what you don’t see in

Demographics, Regulation, Assessment: Who Teaches? How Well? How Do We Know?

Like many attempts to make schools better, teacher-education reforms have been complicated by an ill-defined emphasis on accountability-in this case, regulating who enters into the teaching profession and how. In an ongoing analysis, Columbia University professor Linda Darling- Hammond has explored how several intertwined issues affect availability, assessment, and regulation of teachers. State certification of teachers varies widely, Darling- Hammond

Essential Tools in the Trek Toward Change

Since its earliest years Essential Schools have used a professional development strategy they call the “Trek,” in which a core team of teachers from a school develops the skills and knowledge to further the whole school’s change process. But just what does that Essential school team need to know and be able to do if it is to succeed? California’s

How Friends Can Be Critical As Schools Make Essential Changes

When teachers regularly get honest, supportive feedback from valued peers, not only does their own practice benefit, but student achievement goes up, too. Across the country, Essential schools and Centers are finding ways to make and sustain these vital “critical friendships.” It was the end of a steamy May Monday in Houston, and the teachers gathered in the library of

Indicators of Classroom Thoughtfulness

In his 1991 article “Promoting Higher Order Thinking in Social Studies” (Theory and Research in Social Education 19:4), University of Wisconsin education professor Fred M. Newmann describes six key characteristics that can be observed in a thoughtful classroom, condensed with his permission here: 1. There was sustained examination of a few topics rather than superficial coverage of many. Mastery of

Making Great Teachers into Great Advisors: Advisory Training at Parker Charter Essential School

Many Coalition schools have incorporated advisories into their school structure to helping students find personal connection and opportunities for growth in school. Schools that find advisories essential to their success have learned that they need to devote thought, time, resources, and training to put advisories at the center of school life. Several years ago, to help each other bolster the

Horace: Peer Coaching Published: March 10, 2003 By: Jill Davidson Topics: Peer Coaching, Teacher Collaboration & Learning

Making the Good Essential School Better: The Essential Question of Rigor

When we put student work in the spotlight and ask hard questions about its quality, our standards and expectations for all students come into sharp relief. Essential schools that have been successful in many other ways are now reaching for new strategies to raise the bar higher. You are working in a Peer coaching situation that has paired you with

Sidebar: CES Network Sources for Advisory Development

The CES network, long infused by Essential schools’ early adoption of and commitment to advisories, is rich with resources to help plan and refine advisories. Connect with regional CES centers to find profession development opportunities in your area. As well, some Essential schools have collected their learnings about advisories and offer workshops and resource materials. Some examples from CES Mentor

Horace: Peer Coaching Published: December 10, 2004 By: Topics: Peer Coaching, Teacher Collaboration & Learning

Some Principles for Planning Effective School Visits

1. Build clarity around the purpose of the visit, among your critical friends and among colleagues, parents, and students in your school. What questions do we have and how will a visit help uncover them? What evidence will we ask our critical friends to look for or examine, to enable them to provide relevant feedback? What steps should the school

Suggested Readings/Information

Suggested Readings Linda Darling-Hammond et al., Model Standards for Beginning Teacher Licensing and Developm ent: A Resource for State Dialogue, developed by Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium. Available from Council of Chief State School Officers, One Mass Ave NW, Suite 700, Washington DC 20001-1431. Tel.:   202-336-7048    202-336-7048 . john GOODLAD ET AL., Teachers for Our Nation’s Schools; The

Support for Teachers As a National Investment

Keeping the teacher corps strong and well qualified will cost up to $5 billion annually, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future says in its 1996 and 1997 reports, but it will pay off handsomely. Among its points: Money spent on supporting and educating teachers pays off in student learning. Teachers who know a lot about teaching and learning,

Teacher Education in Essential Schools: The University-School Partnership

In a few rare programs, aspiring teachers are learning their profession not in university lecture halls but in the trenches of reform-minded schools. But how goes life along the deep fault line between theory and practice, the culture of universities and the world of schools? The last day of classes for seniors at Souhegan High School could have been any

Teacher Renewal: Essential in a Time of Change

As the student population grows, Essential schools are facing critical issues of teacher preparation, turnover, retention, and leadership. Four new and veteran teachers talk here about their own experiences of building a professional life in this time of change. They come from places as various as the earth itself, some still rough at their edges, some polished by the tumble

Teachers Choosing Peers as Leaders of Change

To launch a major new “critical friends project” in a dozen Michigan Essential schools, teachers filled out an unusual survey recently, which asked them to choose four peers from whom they felt they could learn most effectively. Developed by Fran Vandiver, a veteran Essential school principal who now heads Fort Lauderdale High School in Florida, the survey defines such a

The Other Side of the Fence: A Visiting Team’s Norms for Gathering Evidence

Before Michigan schools may join the Coalition, they must first compile a portfolio demonstrating the school’s learning about the Ten Common Principles; present an exhibition about that work to parents and community members; host Essential school colleagues from around the state as they visit classrooms and meet students and faculty; and present a dilemma to the visiting team for its

The Tuning Protocol: a Process for Reflection on Teacher and Student Work

What is it students are asked to do and what is the quality of the work they produce? The tuning protocol asks a teacher to present actual work before a group of thoughtful critical friends in a structured reflective discourse aimed at tuning the work to higher standards. In his essay Three Pictures of an Exhibition, the Coalition’s Joseph McDonald

What Do Essential School Teachers Want Most?

What matters most to teachers in an Essential school? Asked to reflect on how to improve the conditions and effectiveness of their daily work, the faculty of one of “Horace’s schools” came up with four common concerns: Knowing students well. To improve the quality of their teaching and assessment, teachers wanted a smaller number of students overall. To achieve this

What Should Pre-Service Education Look Like? An Atlas Community’s Answer

At a brainstorming session in spring 1993, members of the ATLAS community in Gorham, Maine (including faculty from the Gorham schools and the University of Southern Maine) generated a draft describing what features pre-service teacher education ought to have in an ATLAS community. What follows is excerpted and condensed from that description:   Apprenticeship model. Pre-service students learn the craft

Who’s Teaching What, and to Whom?

By 2207 our schools will enroll nearly three million more students than today, a total of 54 million youngsters. More than one quarter of all teachers are over 50, and teacher retirements are accelerating. Over the next decade, more than two million teachers will need to be hired to fill elementary and secondary teaching positions. Over half of these will

Work in Progress: A School”s “Mastery Guidelines”

In suburban St. Louis, Missouri, Parkway South High School”s Enrichment Coordinator, Anne White, offers these “plus, minus, and interesting” observations from the early stages of the school”s Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM), in which students may outline their own high-level performance to qualify for a “mastery” designation on their transcripts. PLUS Students want to be in charge of their own learning.