Not So Special Ed?

We at ShiftED frequently highlight concerns regarding the achievement gap and socioeconomic discrepancies in the US education system. What the casual edu-observer may be surprised to discover is that the system’s well-intended special education structure can be a primary perpetrator in this inequity.

https://edlaw80205.wordpress.com/short-guide-to-special-education-in-ontario-schools/This week on the EdWeek blog, educator and administrator, Dr. Doug Green, takes a deep dive into the United States’ special education system structure. In this in-depth reflection, Dr. Green shares his own experiences as principal, comparisons between American and Finnish approaches to special education, and his suggestions on ways the system can be improved to be more effective for students, teachers and schools’ budgets.

Agree? Disagree? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughtful comments below.

Another Argument for Holistic Approaches to Learning

Today on KQED’s Mind/Shift, Katrina Schwartz shares results from a study by the Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) called “Beyond Academics: What a Holistic Approach to Learning Could Look Like.”

“The CCSR report makes the case for better integrating aspects of a child’s development using a compilation of developmental psychology, neuroscience, sociology and education research perspectives. By combining insights from each of these areas, the report’s authors strive to paint a clearer picture of how to support development of the intangible qualities underlying both the cognitive and non-cognitive skills emphasized in school, clubs and at home.”

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The Hard Road Ahead for Teachers

Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, recently gave an amazing commencement address at Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York, where he outlined the challenges facing teachers today. But this was not a negative speech. It clearly outlines the issues and gives a call to action, one that is powerful and succinct.

He starts by highlighting the extraordinary nature of teachers:

With courage, you have chosen to enter or advance in the nation’s most critical profession, at a time when selfish and misguided elites have made public education, and its teachers, scapegoats for the unacceptable racial and economic inequality that those elites have permitted, indeed encouraged, to persist and grow in America.

Then he poses the difficult questions that he proceeds to tackle:

This leaves you, the graduates, with a burning question you will spend your teaching careers, at least for the foreseeable future, pondering: How do you do the good work for which Bank Street has prepared you, within a system that may undermine your efforts and thwart your students’ education?

The call to action is short and sweet:

Dedicated teachers devote a lot of attention, and anguish, to considering these ethical dilemmas. They do so mostly in private, sometimes with their colleagues, sometimes only with their spouses or partners, sometimes only to themselves. If I can summon up the arrogance to make any recommendation to you, it is to consider how you can make your anguish more public.

It is important for teachers to be part of the public conversation, have open dialogue and speak truth to power. Join the conversation below in comments, or contact us at avoleti@lumentouch.com.

The full transcript of the speech was published by the Washington Post.

Word of the Day: Teacherpreneur

If you spend much time hanging out on the Edutopia.org websiste, you’re probably familiar with the series on Teacherpreneurs. If you’re not yet familiar with this concept, this introduction is for you! It’s exactly what it sounds like: teacher + entrepreneur = teacherpreneur. But what does that look like in practice? Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher on Twitter) shares seven ways to inspire as a teacherpreneur. We like the ShiftEDdian nature of her premise:davis-teacherpreneurs-stw-bravo

“As a teacherpreneur, you’re the coach, not the commander. We are providers of resources, not the ultimate source of knowledge.”

Are you a teacherpreneur? We want to hear your story. Email us: rfadenrecht@lumentouch.com or leave a comment!

Change for the Better

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we love sharing school success stories! Being a catalyst of change is an overwhelming task, and taking on a failing school system is no exception. Read this success-in-progress story of one struggling school in Massachusetts that was recently highlighted in a New York Times post.17wed2-blog427

And we would love to hear YOUR success stories. We know there are many school leaders working tireless to bring about positive change in their communities. Tell us your story and you could be featured right here on ShiftED! Email us at rfadenrecht@lumentouch.com

What We Don’t Know

Effectively integrating technology into a learning environment is never as easy as it seems. Last week ShiftED highlighted an article about why ed tech is not transforming the way teachers teach. This week, we take a look at the effects this “ed tech gap” will have on young people’s earning potential and on the workforce of the future. Head over to the study by Change the Equation for the hard hitting facts and some practical solutions to get things moving in the right direction.

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The Ins and Outs of Teaching English Abroad

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Teaching English abroad is an amazing opportunity for educators to learn critical skills in culturally responsive teaching and we at ShiftED know many teachers in US classrooms who bring back a world of knowledge from their time teaching abroad.

There will be a feature on one such teacher later, but for those considering teaching abroad Amy over at teachertravelermoneysaver gives a great run down of the pros and cons of teaching abroad as a

1. Volunteer

2. Intern

3. and ELL Teacher.

However, regardless of path, teaching abroad is always recommended. It opens up the classroom to today’s global landscape. Read more for the full details. And if your passport is not yet ready to be stamped, try applying for the Lumen8 program instead, where you can broaden classroom horizons on a local level.

Have you taught abroad? What did you think? Let us know in comments or at avoleti@lumentouch.com

Hot Topic for a Hot Day

So, it’s finally hot outside.

94dd9c00-c8c2-45c3-bcf8-5b85774899db_463x347And, speaking of things that are hot: let’s talk about evaluating teachers. Almost every state is talking about how to do it right. We at ShiftED are all about empowering teachers so they can empower students. Like folks in any profession (and, not coincidentally, just like students), educators’ performances improve most when they are given thoughtful, constructive feedback and specific guidance based on classroom observations. Check out this article from the NY Times on a thought-leading professor from the University of Michigan who might just have a formula worth trying.

What do you think about the subject? We want to hear your thoughts on positive solutions for teacher evaluation. Comment below!