Tag Archive for 'professional development'

Brit neuroscientists ding learning styles

In a March 2017 letter to the Guardian, a group of prominent neuroscientists from Great Britain argued expressly against basing instruction on learning styles. They contended that not only are there too many so-called styles to form a coherent framework for guiding instruction and not only is there little evidence supporting benefits from teaching according to learning styles, but also, using resources to follow learning-styles approaches wastes valuable instruction time. Here’s a link to the original letter and another link to an accompanying article by Sally Weale. Continue reading ‘Brit neuroscientists ding learning styles’

ECF: Misdirected Teacher Training has Crippled Education Reform

In the summary for a recently released policy analysis, John Stone of the Education Consumers Foundation argued that developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), the widely promoted approach to early childhood education, has effectively prevented struggling students from achieving what educational policy makers have sought since 1983: The chance to close the gap. In the statement, Misdirected Teacher Training, Mr. Stone details the ways that DAP has hindered young children’s progress.
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A few questions for Joel Klein

According to widespread reports, in your just-published book about your time as chancellor of the New York City Schools, Mr. Klein, you wrote that firing a teacher “took an average of almost two and a half years and cost the city over $300,000.”

I’d ask you to consider a little context, please…. The reasons we have teacher unions and tightly worded contracts in the first place is because teachers historically were mistreated and they lost confidence in their employers. And what of the “incompetent” administrators—you fail to mention them. It takes two to tango. One more thing—you hired these people. Instead of deflecting blame to Ed Schools (I’ll get to them in a second), why don’t school districts and boards take responsibility for those they hire? The union did not make you hire them. The union did not make you neglect proper induction, good supervision, mentoring, effective programs of professional development. And the union did not create the pool of low SAT/GRE applicants. You and your board did that by not paying a professional salary or offering professional working conditions for professional work. What’s that? Better compensation requires higher taxes? Well then, what exactly have you and the board done to educate the voters on this issue instead of playing the politics of union confrontation. And by the way, maybe the value-adding abilities you tell voters you want can not be had at the price voters are willing to pay. Have you told them that?

As for Ed Schools—hang on a moment—let’s talk about state licensing boards and commissions. Your state, with support of your legislature, issued licenses to these teachers. Have they met labor market demands at the expense of quality? Who told them to do that? Not the unions. With legislative consent, are they setting the licensing bar low because the salaries we pay will not draw better candidates into the field? Have you lobbied your legislature on this issue or are you just writing books about the problem and running for-profit companies to sell products to the same schools you once administered? By the way, do you really feel the problem is we have too few commercial products or that commercial products have a hope of solving the systemic problems you describe.

UOh, and Ed Schools…. Why do you persist in thinking that you are small colleges of letters and sciences? Why have experimental stations filled with scientists to solve agricultural problems produced increasing yields (anyone use a split plot ANOVA recently?). Does growing crops require science but growing children require philosophy? And about those SAT/GRE scores, Mr. Klein, have you considered that training standards are set by accreditation bodies that respond to market demand which are created by salaries that you, your board, and your voters are willing to pay.

Thank you, Mr. Klein, for listing these problems, although some serious solutions for the system in which teachers do their work would have been more edifying.

Mike Gerber

Michael M. Gerber, Ph.D.
Professor, Gewirtz School of Education
University of California, Santa Barbara

Free gift from Education Consumers Foundation!

partial image of cover of Clear Teaching

Isn’t it unusual to get something for free that is actually worth a lot? The good folks over at Education Consumers Foundation (ECF) are giving away a small book that is quite valuable, and I encourage readers to download it, read it, and tell their friends to get it, too.

What are they giving away? It’s a book called Clear Teaching: With Direct Instruction, Siegfried Engelmann Discovered a Better Way of Teaching by Shep Barbash. As one can tell from the subtitle, it’s about Zig Engelmann’s work on education. I talked with Mr. Barbash as he worked on the manuscript for the book, read an earlier version of it, and am very impressed with this finished product. It’s even more impressive that the book is now out in the wild for free. Kudos to Mr. Barbash, John Stone, and all the others at ECF who made this happen.

Clear Teaching – The Book
Written by veteran journalist Shepard Barbash over a period of 10 years, Clear Teaching is a well-researched, highly readable introduction to Direct Instruction (DI), a systematic teaching approach which for more than 40 years has dramatically improved learning outcomes for students of all abilities and from all walks of life. The book looks at the development of DI through the early experiences of its creator, Zig Engelmann; explains the principles that underpin this approach; and looks at DI’s reception in the world of teaching, where it has been effectively shunned despite a formidable research base and example after example of transformative success.

The image at the top of the post is hot, but readers can also click here to go to the ECF page where they can download the PDF.

B. Cook on evidence-based practices

Over on SpedPro I have a post about an up-coming Webinar on evidence-based practices presented by Bryan Cook. A product of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and and CEC’s Division for Research, the session is billed as helping educators answer questions such as these:

  • What exactly does evidence-based practice mean for practitioners?
  • How are evidence-based practices different from “best practices” and “research-based practices”?
  • Where can you find them?
  • How should you select them?
  • How can you use them?
  • How can you evaluate them?

I haven’t seen the syllabus, but I bet this will be a worthwhile session. For one small fee, one can register as many folks as you can gather around a computer and a projector; and then you get a copy of the Webinar to review later, as well. It’s like a ready-made, re-usable staff-development program. To read the SpedPro post, follow this link. Alternatively, simply follow this link to register for the session!

Teach like a rockstar, legend

Mr. Hal Bowman is advertising professional development opportunities for US teachers. They’re promoted with the lead, “Teach Like a Rock Star.” Here’s the main content of two e-mail messages I received:

Principals from coast-to-coast are sending their teachers by the boatload to attend Teach Like A Rock Star.

Is it unconventional? Definitely.

Entertaining? Absolutely.

Effective? Beyond belief.
Continue reading ‘Teach like a rockstar, legend’

McNergney: Small teaching

My colleague, Robert McNergney has a post on Education News entitled “Small Ball: Small Teaching” that captures an important idea: Pay attention to the details. He based his brief essay on an enquiry from a student about whether he had read a well-known book about baseball, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael M. Lewis, about the Oakland Athletics. Mr. Lewis documented the success of an approach to assembling a team that was predicated on systematic analysis of less-glamorous achievements rather than the flashy, headline-grabbing statistics; in place of subjective judgements about players’ talents, the Oakland general manager, Bill Beane, employed modern statistical methods to find players whose achievements were correlated with higher numbers of wins and fewer losses.

Professor McNergney argued that, indeed, the analogy applies to teaching as well.
Continue reading ‘McNergney: Small teaching’

Looks like a winner!

Explicit Instruction, a new book by Anita Archer and Charles Hughes, sure gives the appearance of a winner. I’ve only had the chance to read the first chapter, but that and the knowledge that these two authors know their way around both the research about and practice of instruction are enough to convince me to place an order.
Continue reading ‘Looks like a winner!’

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