Virtual School Meanderings

October 1, 2022

The Most Important Words Bill Gates Wrote In The Goalkeepers Report

This one appears to be their more generalized newsletter…  But either way, it’s still from the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Check out this month’s highlights from the Christensen Institute.
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September 30, 2022

Athletics and Physical Education in K-12 and Higher Ed

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 8:09 pm
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An item from a neo-liberal…  This one is an item from a business professor with little direct experience in education, but who believes free market economic principles are the answer to education’s (and pretty much all other society’s social) problems.

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UCLA and USC dropped some bombshells in college athletics this summer when they announced they’d be bolting from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten in two years. Many think this latest edition of athletic conference realignment in higher ed has nothing to do with the wellbeing of students, and it’s all about the money for their institutions.

That’s why Jeff Selingo and I invited reporter Matt Brown, publisher of Extra Points, and Arizona State University sports historian Victoria Jackson, to join us on Future U. We wanted to understand why the conferences have so much power over the historical foundations of American higher education and start to explore the impact on student success and wellbeing. You can check out the episode here.

At the same time, far beyond varsity athletics lies the topic of fitness, which has a huge impact on every student’s success—in school and in life. Physical education should be a core part of every student’s day, but not in the way P.E. class has evolved. Instead of focusing on developing athletes, the focus should be on developing individuals capable of pursuing fitness over their lifetimes to improve their wellbeing—as well as their academic performance. It’s a core argument in my new book, From Reopen to Reinvent. In this podcast episode with Ken Reed, the sports policy director of League of Fans, we talked about my book and the importance of moving to a positive-sum experience rather than a zero-sum one in P.E.; how quality P.E. improves student attention and focus in other school subjects; and how good physical activity habits developed in the K-12 years lead to adults who prioritize lifelong physical fitness, among other topics.

In my view, the trend of schools dropping or deemphasizing physical education is the exact opposite of what we need right now. You can check out the podcast with Ken Reed here. For those curious, League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity, and civil right in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.

Reinventing Schools

On the topic of reinventing schools, Jeff Selingo was also generous enough to take me out of the host role on the latest episode of Future U. and put me in the hot seat to talk about my new book. Although From Reopen to Reinvent is a book about K–12 education, Jeff delved into the implications for higher ed institutions. This turned into one of the most in-depth conversations about the book, with some great pushes from Jeff along the way that caused us to explore some interesting nuances.

I can’t recommend this episode enough. You can listen to it here.

Staying on the topic of my book, a number of reviews of it have been published in the last couple weeks.

Christian Talbot, the new president of the Middle States accreditor, wrote a review titled, “Michael B. Horn’s From Reopen to Reinvent: A Must Read for School Leaders.”

And Mark Siegel, assistant head of the Delphian School, reviewed the book here in “From ‘We Should’ to ‘Here’s How,’ The Rise of Mastery Learning in Schools.”

For those who have read the book, a reminder to please leave a brief review here at Amazon or Goodreads. And thank you in advance.

Reporter Chelsea Sheasley also wrote a terrific piece on how the pandemic has changed learning for the Christian Science Monitor. You can read the results of her reporting here at “School 2.0: How Has the Pandemic Changed Learning?”

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And lastly, I had the honor to speak in Abu Dhabi a couple weeks ago at the Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed, the president of the United Arab Emirates. They recorded my lecture, titled “Positive Progress Together,” and the Q&A that followed, which you can view here:

Future U. Live in DC

Finally, if you’re going to be in Washington, DC November 3, the Chronicle for Higher Education is hosting an in-person leadership forum, “Chronicle Festival: Reconnecting the Campus.” Jeff and I will be on site recording a Future U. podcast as part of the conference agenda. You can learn more and register to attend here.

Until next time, thanks for reading, writing, and listening.

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© 2022 Michael Horn
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

September 28, 2022

The Role of Parents in Recovering from Learning Loss and Literacy

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 11:58 pm
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An item from a neo-liberal…  This one is an item from a business professor with little direct experience in education, but who believes free market economic principles are the answer to education’s (and pretty much all other society’s social) problems.

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I spoke recently with Alejandro Gibes de Gac. He’s the CEO and founder of Springboard Collaborative. Alejandro and I first got to know each other through a series of conversations about innovation in his own organization, but I’ve become quite compelled by his broader message around the importance of schools consciously supporting and leveraging parents in the education of their children. It’s also a perspective that all too often gets lost in the narrative around how best to engage students, how best to build literacy, and in the current moment, how to recover from all the devastation and learning losses that we’ve seen out of the pandemic.

With that as backdrop, enjoy the conversation, which you can read, watch, or listen to below.

LISTEN NOW · 33:06

Michael Horn:   It is so good to see you. Thanks for being here.

Alejandro:        Great to see you. Thanks for having me, and thanks for the kind intro.

Horn:                Yeah, you bet. I probably did a terrible job of outlining what Springboard itself actually does in the organization.

Alejandro:        You nailed it.

Horn:                Why don’t I give you a few minutes just to lay out what is Springboard, what’s the work that you have been engaged with, with schools and districts over the last many years?

Alejandro:        Sure. Yeah, you got it. The beating heart of Springboard’s work is parent engagement, so I’ll start there with my parents. I’m half Chilean, half Puerto Rican. My parents escaped political persecution after my dad in 1973, he wrote a play in protest of the dictator Pinochet. As you can imagine, Pinochet was less than amused, so my dad became one of many political prisoners during that time period. He was luckier than many of his friends to make it out alive, even luckier to meet my mom. My mom is my Puerto Rican half. She’s one of 12 siblings and the first one in her family go to college.

Anyhow, my parents immigrated to the US like so many, so that my sister and me could have better educational opportunities. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long in Carlton, Georgia for them to realize that not every public school delivers on the promise of educational opportunity. So new strategy was, we’d rent the tiniest house in an affluent community with a highly rated public school in New Jersey. They figured, well, that’s got to be the ticket. It’s a great school. But it didn’t work. My sister and I excelled in spite of the school, not because of it.

My teachers growing up, they only ever treated my parents like pushy immigrants that didn’t belong in the school system, frankly, the same way my classmates treated me, and the school just systematically put hurdle after hurdle in front of my family all the way through junior year. I’m poised to be the valedictorian and the high school guidance counselor tries to convince me not to apply to Harvard to avoid the disappointment of rejection. Later that fall, she seemed disappointed to see my acceptance letter.

I share that all, because for me, the experience of going to school was that my parents were the only people who were consistently in my corner, who believed in me and my sister, who saw our potential and helped us to set and achieve one goal, then the next and the next and the next. The school system never saw any of that value in my family. I carried that with me into the classroom. I joined Teach for America, became a first grade teacher in North Philly teaching in a Puerto Rican neighborhood where I saw myself in my students and I saw my parents in theirs. But the same thing was playing out. I felt like my school and our system was approaching Black and brown parents like mine as liabilities rather than as assets. People thought of a kid’s home life as a risk to be mitigated rather than a resource to be cultivated.

I knew from my lived experience that that was a missed opportunity. And then I learned from the research that shows that parental involvement in their children’s learning is a more powerful predictor of academic success than any other variable, including race, including class. Families, not schools, are the biggest determinants of their children’s learning, and our system isn’t doing enough about that. So very long story short, that’s why I founded Springboard 10 years ago now, to close the literacy gap by bridging the gap between home and school. We do that by coaching parents and teachers to team up and accelerate student learning. There is actually a formula. I don’t think it was a bad word to use…

 

© 2022 Michael Horn
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

September 23, 2022

Connection over content: A new era for edtech

As I say each week…  From the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Check out this week’s highlights from the Christensen Institute. 
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Teachers Want to Quit Because They’re Unhappy and Unfulfilled. Here’s One Fix

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:09 pm
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An item from a neo-liberal…  This one is an item from a business professor with little direct experience in education, but who believes free market economic principles are the answer to education’s (and pretty much all other society’s social) problems.

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Teachers Want to Quit Because They’re Unhappy and Unfulfilled. Here’s One Fix

Team teaching can create a more sustainable, gratifying profession

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This piece appeared originally in The74. It’s based on a chapter in my new book, From Reopen to Reinvent, which you can learn more about here.

It’s not news anymore that schooling during the pandemic took a serious toll on teachers,with the latest figures from a RAND Corporation survey suggesting that about a third of educators have an intention to leave their jobs by the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

The Future of Education is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

But even before the pandemic, 30% of college graduates who become teachers typically leave the profession within six years. That ranks as the fifth-highest turnover by occupation, behind secretaries, childcare workers, paralegals and correctional officers — and higher than policing and nursing.

Creating a more sustainable and gratifying teaching profession is critical.

To deliver on this goal, in my new book, From Reopen to ReinventI argue that the traditional one-to-many teacher-to-student model must change. The teaching profession needs to be rethought to create a web of support for children — not just single, isolated strands. And it needs to be rethought so that teachers can work more with each other, advance in their areas of expertise, and shed the tasks that bring them less joy and fulfillment.

Understanding what motivates employees

A key problem in today’s teaching model is that it ignores a significant body of research on how to motivate employees.

In 1968, psychologist Frederick Herzberg published what’s known as the “Two-Factor Theory,” an influential body of research showing that it’s possible to both love and hate your job at the same time. This is because two sets of factors affect how people feel about their work.

The first set, called “hygiene factors,” affects whether employees are dissatisfied with their jobs.

The second set, called “motivators,” determine the extent to which employees love their jobs.

To help eliminate one’s dissatisfaction, Herzberg found that it was important to address hygiene factors, such as an employer’s policies and administration, an employee’s relationships with their supervisor and peers, the working conditions, salary and so forth.

Making someone satisfied and excited about a job, however, requires motivation. Doing that means recognizing employees for their achievements, offering intrinsically rewarding work, and granting employees greater responsibility and the ability to advance and grow in their profession.

The traditional teacher job today lacks many of these motivators.

Teachers often work in isolation from other adults, which means there is little or no opportunity for recognition for their efforts. There is also no real career track for teachers in traditional schools and districts.

Opportunities for increased responsibility and career advancement are slim. Aside from becoming the head of a department, the only other way for most teachers to move up in this line of work is to stop teaching so they can be promoted into administrative roles.

Team-Based Co-Teaching

Making teaching a team activity is one way to create more of these opportunities for motivators.

That doesn’t mean assigning teachers to teams but still having them remain in their separate classrooms, only gathering to meet during collective planning periods or off-hours. Schools have done that for decades.

What’s instead needed is co-teaching, in which groups of teachers actively work together as they support large groups of students.

Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is at the forefront of this thinking. The College is working with 30 schools to create new co-teaching models as part of its Next Education Workforce Initiative.

For Mary Lou Fulton Dean Carole Basile, creating a more motivating, sustainable profession is a design challenge.

“Let’s think about a group of kids and how we actually could build the right kinds of adults and the right kind of expertise around those kids,” she said.

For example, if an elementary school has100 students in one grade, the school should also know how many of those students have special needs and how many are second language learners, and then assess the different social-emotional learning supports they may need.

From there, Basile said, a school should start thinking about the roles and skill sets of teachers and what they must specialize in such that a school can create a team with distributed expertise, so that every student has a dedicated team of live resources to meet their needs. That, in turn, allows for more flexible entry, specialization and advancement pathways for teachers, which aligns with Herzberg’s motivation research.

What that starts to look like on the ground differs from school to school, Basile said, but it results in more professionalization for educators that is cost-neutral.

“We said to schools and to districts, you’ve got X amount of dollars,” Basile said. “You’ve got a grade level of kids. Today, you have four professional teachers. One has been a teacher for 12 years. They’re terrific in teaching math and reading. … They don’t particularly like teaching science. You have another one who just came in a couple years ago, who was an engineer who came in as an alternative pathway. You have another one that was hired because you needed somebody and they’ve got a degree. But… they really don’t have teaching experience. And you’ve got somebody somewhere in the middle…

“Then let’s look at the [paraprofessionals] that we have. … They’ve been under-prepared, so can we upskill them in some ways around literacy, around special ed, so that they come in now in sort of technician roles. Then you think about who in the community do you need? So there are people who have, maybe they’re educated, maybe they’re undereducated, but they have skills in teaching literacy, and culture…. But we upskill them in some ways, and we bring them into the team. Now you’ve got a team of people around 100 kids that are all now working together in this dynamic way. They’re grouping, they’re regrouping. They’re thinking about what kids need.”

Allowing educators to specialize in this variety of ways allows them to master the areas of teaching where they have passion, be that tutoring, facilitating projects, using data, math, reading or something else. They can also spend less time on those areas in which they are less excited or less talented.

The Next Education Workforce Initiative is also working with the American Association of School Administrators and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education to act on this vision.

Rethinking Schooling

Although having larger learning environments of more students and teachers has echoes of the failed open classroom movement, there are key differences today.

In the 1970s, there was an assumption that any learning activity could occur anywhere. In other words, you wouldn’t need to design specific spaces for specific modalities of learning. In trying to be all things to all modalities, however, the spaces were suboptimal for any activity.

On top of that, in the absence of any technological advances, the dominant model of instruction was still a teacher talking to their class, which produces noise that could disturb a neighboring lesson or silent learning activity. The use of technology today changes this dynamic, however, because it can eliminate whole-class instruction.

From Summit Public Schools to the implementation of Teach to One in Elizabeth Public Schools in New Jersey, as well as Montessori schools, which for decades have had at least two educators working together with multi-age students in a classroom, more schools are rethinking the job of teachers to create a team environment that is more motivating and sustainable.

The Future of Education is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

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© 2022 Michael Horn
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

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