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Monday, July 17, 2017

Empowered Educators Leads Us Ahead

Please note that the post below cites direct quotes from Empowered Educators - the quotes have been chosen w/relation to the vision I have for my teaching/learning context. I recommend that you read this book with your specific educational context, mission or vision in mind. 

At the recent @NBPTS NB Academy, the book, Empowered Educators by Linda Darling-Hammond, Dion Burns, Carol Campbell, A. Lin Goodwin, Karen Hammerness, EELing Low, Ann McIntyre, Mistilina Sato, and Kenneth Zeichner, was recommended. I ordered the book since I want to know what the research says about empowered schools, empowered teachers and the policy that creates these positive situations.

As I read the book, I am affirmed as what I long for does exist in successful schools. I long for better communication systems, greater share, collaborative research, more thorough/targeted/deep use of data to inform our work, and dedicated professional learning that relies on reflection, research, and individual/collective data-driven/research-supported professional learning.

It's not that none of this exists in my broad and specific teaching/learning environment, but I know we can do better by redesigning the way we do school to create more modern day teaching/learning communities that prepare students with the skills the book outlines as future-ready skills and knowledge including the following:
  • make sense out of complex information and events
  • think creatively to solve novel problems
  • work well with others
  • engage effectively in cross-cultural contexts
  • manage many forms of media and quantitative data in sophisticated ways
  • ability to find, analyze, synthesize, evaluate and apply knowledge to new ideas, answers, and solutions
  • communicate in multiple forms
  • use new technologies
  • be able to learn on their own throughout life
Not only are we preparing students for the new skills they will need for the unimaginable jobs of the future, but teachers also need to update their skill set with the following skills and abilities:
  • understand content more deeply and flexibly
  • understand the science of learning -- how children learn and develop in cultural contexts generally and individually, within and across distinctive subject areas
  • how to support language acquisition and use for native and nonnative students
  • develop teaching strategies that foster analysis and reasoning
  • incorporate appropriate technologies into their teaching
  • engage students in applied learning
  • collect and analyze a range of assessment data 
  • provide differentiated teaching
Also, as mentioned in the book's first chapter, students who bridge the opportunity gap are better supported through government policy, and teachers that work collaboratively to utilize and develop new skills are general given the time they need to do this work. Teachers from top-performing countries earn competitive salaries, meet high standards and are carefully recruited for their academic abilities, interpersonal skills and personal habits.

Countries that succeed in education "invest in knowledgable practitioners who can make sound decisions about how to shape education for the specific clients they serve." They create policy that leads to a teacher work force that is highly educated and empowered. They maintain that teachers are accountable to students, families, and each other--similar to @NBPTS teachers support other teachers in developing the profession, a profession that is successful when guided by good policy systems.