Common Principles for Uncommon Schools

Horace Teacher Collaboration & Learning

‘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

“Our Schools Have So Much to Offer Each Other”: Strategies and Structures for Effective School Visits

To investigate powerful teaching and learning, we could inundate ourselves with stories and research about Coalition and other like-minded schools. Phone conversations, emails, books, magazines, web sites, conferences, videos: all add detail to the diverse and constantly evolving possibilities. But for all of us, time is limited and we need to make the best of the little time that we’ve

Horace: Teacher Collaboration & Learning Published: January 10, 2004 By: Jill Davidson Topics: Teacher Collaboration & Learning

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

Creating a Network of Schools as Critical Friends: The Fifty Schools Project

Since 1992 the Coalition’s Fifty Schools Project has worked to bring together small clusters of exemplary reform-focused high schools and support them in sharing resources and solving problems. The effort could easily serve as a blueprint for how any like-minded group could structure a network: 1. Four to eight schools, preferably within easy reach of each other but possibly linked

Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms

Multicultural education isn’t a specialty; it’s how teaching and learning should happen in all schools, with all students. Gloria Ladson-Billings, education professor at the University of Wisconsin, studies the habits of mind required of beginning teachers who are prepared to support diverse classrooms. Drawing on her own memories of her start in teaching and the experiences of eight students participating

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

Elements of a Successful Network

A review of the writings of Ann Lieberman and Maureen Grolnick, Andy Hargreaves and others suggests these elements of a successful network:   Building trusting relationships through inquiry and work initiated or chosen by members because of their own needs and carried out together over time. Establishing norms of reflective practice and shared decision making, which provide internal avenues by

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

Looking Collaboratively at Student Work: An Essential Toolkit

Looking closely together at student work can unveil a treasure trove of insights to guide school communities as they reflect on their purpose, assess their progress, and plan strategies for reaching all children better. It’s scary work, though, and respectful protocols can help. The New York Times Science pages recently told the story of the heart surgeons in Maine, New

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

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

Making the Whole Student Visible: The Descriptive Review of a Child

At the Prospect Center for Education and Research in Bennington, Vermont, Patricia Carini developed one of the earliest and most influential processes for reflecting on students and their work. As the Center began to archive examples of student work from the Prospect School, an independent school founded in 1965, Carini and her staff recognized the potential for teacher learning through

Notes on this Issue

The perspectives offered here may seem less inclusive of student voices than those that generally appear in Horace. But all the authors included in these pages – all CES network educators and school leaders – describe professional learning communities that “walk the walk,” using the CES Common Principles as their guide for inquiry and mastery. For CES veterans, some of

Readings About Networks

Ann Lieberman and Maureen Grolnick, “Networks and Reform in American Education.” New York: National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST), 1996. Ann Lieberman and Milbrey McLaughlin, “Networks for Educational Change: Powerful and Problematic.” Phi Delta Kappan, May 1992. Milbrey McLaughlin and Joan E. Talbert, Contexts that Matter for Teaching and Learning. Stanford, CA: Center for Research on the

Regional Centers: A Larger Link, A Stronger Voice

The Coalition’s Regional Centers provide many of the same benefits to affiliated schools that clusters do: a milieu in which to work together on common concerns, to build critical friendships, and to locate helpful resources. In fact, many began as smaller networks or clusters of schools engaged in critical friendships. But as nonprofit organizations with governing boards and position in

Sampling a “Vertical Slice” of Student Work

What might one learn by examining all the student work produced during a narrow time period by a broad sample of students in a particular school or district? In a 1996 project of the Bush Educational Leaders Program at the University of Minnesota, one Minnesota district agreed to capture such data in a “vertical slice” that would gather one day’s

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

Some Guidelines for Learning from Student Work

In “Learning from Student Work,” Eric Buchovecky of the Atlas Communities project has described a collaborative process adapted from the work of Mark Driscoll at Education Development Center and that of Steve Seidel and others at Harvard University’s Project Zero. The piece lays out useful reminders for how participants can stay focused on the evidence before them and on listening

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,

Surfacing the “Opportunity to Demonstrate” Factor

In six urban school districts, Dennie Palmer Wolf’s Performance Assessment Collaboratives in Education (PACE) at Harvard University has focused on portfolios as a means to look at learning over time. When PACE teachers come together to look at their students’ portfolios, however, they often focus not only on whether substantial learning has taken place over a span of, say, one

Sustained School Partnerships: Mentoring, Collaboration, and Networks

No two schools are ever alike, but lots of good schools share the same convictions.” – Ted Sizer The truth about how to create sustainable conditions for powerful teaching and learning is bred in the bones of schools rather than the brains of researchers or policy-makers. Motivated by this belief, new and restructuring schools that aim to incorporate the CES

Horace: Teacher Collaboration & Learning Published: January 10, 2004 By: Jill Davidson Topics: Teacher Collaboration & Learning