The Chester School District in Chester, New Jersey is an amazing K-8 school district dedicated to providing all students with a well balanced education in both the physical and virtual worlds. Each day, students are engaged in meaningful and relevant learning experiences that not only provide a solid foundation in the present, but prepare them for what they will encounter in the future. Here are 100 ways the Chester School is #FutureReady...
As you can see the "future ready" list is quite comprehensive and could easily eclipse the 200 mark. We are really proud of the diverse and innovative experiences that students take part in on a daily basis here in the Chester School District. Our teachers take great pride in being "risk-takers" and exhausting all options to ensure that students have a great day every day.
Check out Brad’s new book titled Tech Request: A Guide to Coaching Educators in the Digital World. Found wherever books are sold.
Reflecting on an article I keep seeing on social media about the teacher getting fired for supposedly not abiding by the school’s grading policy. As a student, did I ever get a zero? Sure. Was it right? I guess. As a teacher, did some of my students receive zeros? Probably. Was it right? Probably not. As an instructional leader do I support the idea of students receiving zeros? In most cases, the answer is no. The bottom line is that we must exhaust all options to promote the success of each and every student regardless of how much they are driving us crazy or might seem too lazy to complete any work. I can remember as a teacher and team leader working with a small group of 7th grade students during my lunch. They had lost their way and learning was not a top top priority due to extenuating circumstances at home. They would come into my classroom and complete work that was way overdue in several of their classes. Over time they started to catch up and realized that we were not going to let them dig a deeper hole for themselves.
Often I think we as educators believe it’s easier to teach students a life lesson by giving them a zero because we need to prepare them for the real world. When in fact we need to think about building supportive and engaging learning environments that not only show students that we care about them but also holds everyone accountable. I can remember as a student sitting out the first half of a basketball game because I was not holding up my end of a bargain. You know what? I deserved it. In more recent years, both as a teacher and administrator, there were a few occasions where students were not being responsible and they needed to be held accountable. Did that mean I got a zero? No. Something that meant so much to me was taken away for short while. I still needed to make up the work and learn the material.
The whole zero thing is an easy way out for all parties involved. Now, if there is a point where all options have been exhausted and nothing has changed than we can have a discussion about who deserves what grade. The research is very clear in this area of education. John Hattie tells us that that a teachers estimate of student achievement has a 1.29 effect size. Additionally, Hattie tells us that teacher credibility has a .90 effect size. The research makes it abundantly clear that if teachers believe their students can achieve desired learning outcomes they will. On that same note, students know if you as a teacher are legit and subsequently will either rise to the occasion or not really care about learning. Students also know if you as an instructional leader are legit as it relates to keeping a pulse on what is or is not going on in school.
The important thing here is to keep having these sorts of conversations with your colleagues, school stakeholders, and most importantly students. Take a look at my friend Eric Sheninger’s blog post on a similar topic from back in 2013:
Keep fighting the good fight my friends!
Brad has been an educator for more than 18 years as a coach, teacher, and administrator. He currently serves as a Director of Planning, Research, and Evaluation for the Chester School District in Chester, New Jersey. Brad is the 2017 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year and part of the ASCD Emerging Leaders Class of 2014. He is the co-founder and co-moderator of a weekly Twitter discussion for educators called #satchat. Brad has authored five books including the newly released Tech Request: A Guide for Coaching Educators in the Digital World. He presents nationally on leadership, teaching, and learning in the digital era. Brad currently serves as an adjunct professor in Drew University's Graduate School of Education. He also is a Google Certified Trainer and supports districts in implementing Google Apps for Education. Connect with Brad by following him on Twitter @thebradcurrie or visiting his company website at www.evolvingeducators.com.
Recently, I attended a Visible Learning Plus Foundation Day Institute that featured two tremendous speakers, Peter Dewitt and John Almarode. For several years, I have been studying the work of John Hattie and Visible Learning to truly understand what impacts student learning. It was an honor to dig down deep into the various effect sizes and strategies that speak to promoting the success of all students during this two day event. There is no doubt that I will continue to embed this important research into future experiences for our own staff and students.
Several years ago Peter Dewitt focused me on Hattie's work and for whatever reason it really resonated with my philosophy of education. So much so that I wrote a blog post for Corwin Connect in 2016 titled Visible Learning in the Digital World. Fast forward to the present, I became inspired again after attending the Foundation Day Institute that I created a matrix of sorts that marries Hattie's effect sizes with best practice web applications and technology. Look below to access this matrix and please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with recommendations of various "tools of the trade" that can be added in the future.
Brad Currie is the 2017 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year and a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader. Currently he serves as a K-8 Director of Education and is a Google Certified Trainer. He has authored 4 books including Hacking Google for Education, 140 Twitter Tips for Educators, Personalized PD, and All Hands Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities. Brad consults and presents nationally on leadership, technology integration, and innovation. Reach out to Brad via email at email@example.com or via @thebradcurrie.
About 6 months ago the New Jersey Department of Education went through some leadership changes as our new Governor came on board. The Commissioner and various department heads then went on a listening tour as way to engage stakeholders about what needs to change with our educational system. They also gave citizens a chance to email their thoughts. So I put my parent hat on and sent an email which you can read below. They thanked me for my thoughts and I went about my life as an educator and parent. I am happy to share that over the summer we received word that student seat time for standardized tests would be cut. Then, last week we received word that test scores tied to a teacher’s overall evaluation would be drastically cut as well. As a taxpayer, parent, and educator it’s nice to be heard and actually see issues be addressed. Many thanks to the New Jersey Departnent of Education.
I can't believe I am saying this, but please do not get rid of PARCC. Trust me, as a parent and taxpayer I’m not in love with the countless hours that key district personnel spend on ensuring that these online tests go off without a hitch. It drives me crazy to see my children’s school schedules potentially turned upside down for weeks at a time to accommodate the implementation of these online tests. I also respectfully disagree with the way my children’s math teachers, language arts teachers, and school leaders are rated based on how well or poorly students perform on these once a year assessments. I am also perplexed at the amount of energy people spend comparing districts when scores are released to the public. Fortunately there are many districts that downplay test scores and see them as just on piece of the puzzle as they look to make their great educational institutions greater.
So with all this being said, lately there has been much chatter about how New Jersey should do away with PARCC. Given the reasons listed above it would seem like a no-brainer. But why would we do this to ourselves? Why get rid of PARCC? Finally we are used to an online assessment that is somewhat manageable and give us some guidance on addressing student learning gaps. Instead of getting of rid of PARCC, let just make some adjustments. Here is what I propose...
All we need to do is change the perception and narrative of PARCC testing or any standardized assessments that are being used throughout the country. They should be used for diagnostic purposes only. We need to keep it simple and by that I mean open up your computer, sign in, take the assessment, and log out. I think over time we would see students, and all stakeholders for that matter, under-react to the thought of testing season.
What are are your thoughts on this matter?
Brad is the 2017 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year and the 2017 NJPSA Visionary Leader of the Year. He is the father of two children who attend public schools in the state of New Jersey. Interact with Brad on Twitter @thebradcurrie.