Change school culture by altering the conditions in which they operate

Baltimore City Public Schools superintendent Andres Alonso has worked to change the culture of schools by altering the conditions in which they operate. In this case, by affording more control to the schools themselves, and holding them accountable. Conditions matter, for innovations small as well as large.

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Instead of cell phones, ban disruption

One school has found that the best way to think about the presence of cell phones in school is to rethink the problem. Instead of banning cell phones, the students elected to instead ban disruptive behavior.

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Before targeting teachers, look at the system

Ken Futernick, director of the School Turnaround Center for the California-based organization WestEd, recently had a keen insight on why teachers behave as they do—bargain collectively, resist accepting certain frameworks of accountability, become frustrated with management. He turns attention from the people, to the structures in which they work.

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Technology is for learning, before teaching

In this video for an Ed Week forum Chris Lehmann, principal of Science Leadership Academy high school in Philadelphia, describes the need to expand technology use beyond teaching so that it serves students and the processes of learning. Otherwise, he says, you end up with a smart board and Power Point slides: Merely a ‘digitalized blackboard.’

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How to determine teacher pay?

Bill Gates gave a speech in Louisville last week to the Council of Chief State Schools Officers (CCSSO), where he argued a need to address school financing problems by rethinking teacher pay. Instead of seniority and education level, what could be a mechanism for effectively determining teacher pay? In some schools, teachers set it themselves.

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For foreign languages, economy of scale has gone to one

A small high school in central Wisconsin recently lost its Chinese language program, despite a trading relationship with China that goes back a century. That did not need to happen.

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Guest post: Alternative assessment methods in Alberta better enable personalization

Superintendent of schools in Edmonton, Alberta describes how schools in that district have begun adopting alternative assessment programs that do not rely on regular grades to determine student performance. By eliminating the impact of daily performance measures on a student’s final grade the learning processes become more personalized by releasing the pressure for every student to produce the same end product.

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Teacher-leadership of schools is a means for improvement

Teacher-leadership is a way of managing a school that can allow for more flexibility and inventiveness. In a time of financial constraint and the need for improved performance, that responsiveness is important. Our imagination should not stop at teacher-leadership, but begin—considering what can come from it.

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Describing teacher-run schools in a Teacher Magazine interview

Teacher-run schools continue to appear in the news. In this interview in Education Week’s Teacher Magazine, EE partners Ted Kolderie and Joe Graba describe characteristics that begin to emerge in schools that are run by teachers.

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Guest Post: Big things often start small — the Florida Virtual story

Julie Young, President and CEO of Florida Virtual School, describes the appeal of online learning, and the dramatic growth the organization has sustained over the past 15 years. It is a cogent reminder that substantial innovations often start small—in the case of FVS, with 77 students.

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