School Reform (Taking Action): Establishing Academic Advisory Panels

via School Reform (Taking Action): Establishing Academic Advisory Panels

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January 23, 2020 · 3:42 am

Adapting Instructional Mechanisms to Accommodate Students with Special Needs

Well, our discussion regarding this topic is dependent upon your subject matter -AND- the nature of the needs being considered!

Given the topic (i.e. Adapting … to Accommodate … Special Needs), I shall convey an example that is based on my experience as a Career & Technical Educator while I was employed at a maximum security facility (for incarcerated youth).  This portion of my career was extremely challenging because of the context in which I had to implement my curriculum(s).  As such, some youth were only in my classroom for a few weeks/months; others had more extensive exposure to my teaching.  Furthermore, I had students entering and exiting my program almost weekly.  This scenario gives new meaning to the concept of differentiated instruction!

It is the intent of this post to illustrate the concept of adapting “your process” to address student needs.

Accordingly, the following context applies to our … ; I was initiating a graphic design project with students.  The curriculum involved a multi-stage (i.e. sequential) process that required students to produce a series of components which were based on a concept that I introduced via a short play/dialog.  Our topic: “A Discovery of Technological Systems” required students to develop multiple logos that would be combined into a master illustration of all constructs (i.e. manufacturing, communication, transportation, energy & power, construction systems and bio-technologies).  Each logo required students to “brainstorm” concepts (in the form of sketches) that could be refined and … combined with other logos to be assembled into a final “mock-up” which served as the template for — a screen printing activity — that would represent “mastery of the process”.

Note: Mastery of the process is not the same thing as mastery of the skill set!

Ok, now that you have an adequate illustration of the context in which the learning experiences occurred; I can finally convey the concept as described in the title of this post.  Well–one student in particular had not been to school (enough to complete …).  It was discussed at “our team” meeting that the extent of truancy (in this case) may have been six years.  It is sufficient to say that “our” … was a special needs student!

So, each day when “my” students arrived, we brought out their materials (generated from the previous sessions) and continued toward our goal.  (Are you following?)

Great, because I want to take this opportunity to tell you that “you” are responsible for the “safe keeping” of all work — “You must collect” & “You must distribute”.  This is essential  because “special needs” students may … the work of others (and they “may” sabotage their own efforts because of … fear of success … or a belief that they cannot possibly succeed).

So, you must control the flow of ALL resources pending/completed and/or utilized!

Back to the topic at hand–My special needs student came to class each day “scribbled out a logo” and told me — “that’s it”; it’s my design for …! I responded, let’s try another system. He (always) replied! That’s all I’m doing today!

How would you respond?

I simply stated: Ok, if you sit there quietly, without causing … (a disturbance), I will not force you to continue.  He probably thought he had this sucker wrapped around his finger.  But I had a longer range goal in my sights: HIS SUCCESS in fulfilling the requirements that were established.  Yes, he would screen print his design and wear his t-shirt (with pride); although he had yet to discover that fact.  This scenario repeated itself daily. Since I was collecting the work of all students (and securing it); some of my students had no idea that they were making progress!

Getting to the point:  This student finally developed all of the required sketches; when I said let’s refine them, he said nope that’s good enough for me!  So, I adapted my expectations (of success) to align with his expectations of failure.  NO WAY was I going to let this kid manipulate me; (SO HE COULD PROVE that HE WAS A FAILURE). As far as I was concerned; he was ready to print his haphazard collection of sketches — (after “pasting” them together into a final mock-up).  Subsequently, this student successfully “burnt” a screen template and prepared it for use on the “press”.  Finally, we slipped a t-shirt on the apparatus (after securing the template) and then, he stated he could not continue.  So, I placed my hands on top of his and “we” pulled the squeegee across the template.  Then, we gently lifted the press (i.e. template) and the image was perfect.  Wow, I don’t think I will ever forget the look on his face!~The Special Needs Student was just like all the other students in my class; HE WAS A SUCCESS. –AND– I had succeeded in guiding him toward that success!

At this point (in our story), I “almost” have a tear in my eye (and this interaction occurred over 20 years ago).  Perhaps being a scholar has “many” disadvantages?

Read my “free” white paper (About Systemic Educational Reform) @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Facilitating Action Oriented Research to Improve Our Schools

Consider the impact we may have on our environment “if” all citizen began to recycle most of the materials that are discarded in their trash bins?  Added value (i.e. enriched soils, healthy plants) may be expected if composting became a secondary habit!  Our lack of prowess in this matter results in the perpetuation of wasteful habits and squandered opportunities.

Think about this analogy as you consider the potential impact practitioners in the field of education might have “if” more faculty and staff were inclined to initiate Action Oriented Research.  The paradigm is most appropriate when examining what is happening in our classrooms and schools and in determining what may be done to improve learning in these contexts.  The results of such studies are not generalizable. As such, researchers often have no formal hypothesis.  Thus, exploratory studies (i.e. descriptive research paradigms) are frequently employed in the field of education because “the number of variables entailed in describing educational systems is so enormous that any hope of controlled experimentation, or of scientific modeling, must be suspended” (Gardner, 1993, p.332).  Accordingly, we may examine constructs relating to “student outcomes, the curriculum, instruction, school climate, or parental involvement” (Glanz, 1999, p.302).

Ok, remember our analogy regarding the potential benefits of recycling–think about that concept for a moment!  Do you have strong feelings about squandered resources (and opportunities)?  If so, consider the resources that are likely being wasted (in your school district) and the potential to enrich learning environments for successive “crops” of students.  Enriching the fertility of our educational programs via Action (oriented) Research is an opportunity we ought not to squander!

Learn more about Becoming A Reflective Practitioner and Conducting Action Research? @ http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/312599

Now facilitating Action Research Initiatives.  Interested in program options?

Contact: K. Fetterman & Associates @ P. O. Box 22 – Millersville, PA 17551

e-mail: kfetterman2013@yahoo.com

References

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind (2nd ed.). New York: Basic Books.

Glanz, J. (1999). A primer on action research for the school administrator. The Clearing House, 72(5), 301-304.

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About Kenneth Fetterman Ed.D. Author of A Definitive White Paper: Systemic Educational Reform (The Recommended Course of Action for Practitioners of Teaching and Learning)

Dr. Fetterman has developed the most comprehensive and feasible (research-based) professional development strategy available.  He has taught at the junior and senior high school levels, established vocational/technical education curriculums in a juvenile justice facility, and served as an instructor of Mechanical Engineering Technologies at several community colleges.  In addition to these experiences, the author of works which are relevant to educational reform, teacher education and educational administration has served as an instructor (i.e. Field-based Teacher Educator) and faculty consultant at Temple University in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.  His works are a must read for anyone that is passionate about initiating systemic educational reform in the United States and abroad. Learn more @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

Source: A Definitive White Paper: Systemic Educational Reform (The Recommended Course of Action for Practitioners of Teaching and Learning)

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A Definitive White Paper: Systemic Educational Reform (The Recommended Course of Action for Practitioners of Teaching and Learning)

This (free) manuscript addresses the need to bring about more effective teacher training and propagate innovative schools in the United States (and abroad).  It is intended to serve as a policy statement and position paper which will enable political forces to rally behind a comprehensive strategy that will rectify the shortcomings of our educational system.  The constructs described may also be utilized by training and development professionals employed by corporations, governmental agencies, and social service providers to advance educational initiatives in these contexts.

A report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) authenticates the reality of “massive teacher shortages … in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab States and South Asia …” that may impede goals “to provide every child” in these regions “with a good quality primary education”….  Even in countries such as China, Brazil and India which will need “fewer teachers” … because of “declining school age populations”, UNESCO recognizes the potential to improve education quality by investing more resources to train teachers and improve working conditions in target regions (UNESCO, Institute for Statistics, 2006, p.3).  UNESCO identifies only 33 of the 194 sovereign nations that are recognized by the U.S. State Department.  Their report lists 32 countries outside of the U.S. with a current or expected teaching force that exceeds 50,000 teachers (Teachers and Educational Quality: Monitoring Global Needs for 2015, UNESCO, Institute for Statistics, 2006, p.44).  Excluding primary educators in the United States, the UNESCO study reveals a need for more than six million teachers in these (32) nations.  Imagine the potential numbers of secondary practitioners that must be trained across the globe in the coming decades (as many nations have yet to systematize these levels of formal schooling).  Honestly, given the need for teacher training at all levels in the U.S. and remaining 160 or more nations not considered by UNESCO; the potential to sustain political, economic, and social development initiatives in target regions via “our” straightforward “research-based professional development tutorials” is pragmatic.

The content of this publication includes: information regarding the problems which must be addressed to reform our educational system, the change parameters which are relevant, the reflection and instructional design components (i.e. tutorials) that are so essential to perpetuate innovation in our schools, and concluding remarks that describe the promise of fulfilling goals outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act.  For more information regarding the subject matter described and/or the products and services that shall be provided to …, please visit the link below to read the entire (free) manuscript @

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Every Student “must” Succeed

Promising legislation (The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015–ESSA) brings much anticipation that our educational system(s) will improve “dramatically”.  I am pleased that states have been given more autonomy in deciding the parameters (i.e. framework) for initiating educational reforms in our classrooms, school districts and (hopefully) university teacher-preparation programs.  A word of caution:  “We” must have accountability measures in place or “failure is certain”!

We need a comprehensive framework which will permit all stakeholders to develop reform measures that align with “our” collective vision for initiating change.  Without a collective vision, I fear that yet another round of piecemeal (let’s try this) reform strategies will burden hardworking practitioners.  “Mandates” are ineffective regardless of their origin (i.e. Federal or State).  Therefore, we must initiate school reforms via an interconnected (Democratic) framework of “local” and “regional” advisory (i.e. steering) committees that can inform policy makers employed by the Department of Education in each state.  Learn more about this concept; sample/purchase: “Becoming A Reflective Practitioner” @ http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/312599

Furthermore, initiating a greater variety of student-centered learning while ensuring that students acquire the competencies required to “succeed” in a 21st century village compels stakeholders to move beyond the use of standardized assessments as the sole measure of accountability for student learning.  In addition to employing “traditional” assessment devices to verify the acquisition of fundamental competencies, practitioners and policy advocates must give adequate consideration to evaluating higher-order thought processes via portfolio assessments.  Prior to implementing such reforms, “we” must examine “our” established curriculum to bring about a “collective vision” regarding how each component within the curriculum ought to be implemented.

The evaluation process is relatively simple!  Is the nature of this curriculum (regardless of the subject matter) technical or non-technical?  When the curriculum is technical in nature; teacher-centered instructional paradigms ought to be initiated.  However, non-technical curriculums are conducive to the implementation of student-centered learning.  Evaluation (i.e. accountability) mechanisms including the standardized measures and/or projects that were employed to verify specific competencies may be included in the portfolio of each student.  The variety of materials that may be exhibited within the unique portfolio that is created by each individual can only be imagined by those with vision.  Learn more about initiating student-centered and teacher-centered curriculum; sample/purchase: “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @ http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/314098

Much work has yet to be accomplished!  Practitioners must be nurtured in communities where action research is being conducted to perpetuate innovations in teaching and learning.  They must be provided with opportunities to examine their use of instructional practices and they must be continuously provoked to induce philosophical perspectives that result in innovative outcomes.  The manuscripts suggested above will provide practitioners with the means to bring about the promise that our recent legislation offers.  Cease the Day!

 

 

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Evaluation Criteria for Portfolio Assessments

While quantitative measures may be applied to assess competency-based outcomes via “standardized” instrumentation (i.e. testing, performance checklists, etc.); qualitative outcomes (which vary among individuals) can only be assessed via documentation mechanisms that are indicative of the unique characteristics (and higher-order thinking abilities) exhibited by each pupil.  Higher-order reasoning occurs when humans engage in learning experiences that compel them to conduct research, complete “personal” works, communicate via written and oral presentations, and evaluate the works of their peers.  Thus, practitioners (and society) must move beyond our reliance upon standardized assessments as the primary means of evaluating what (and how) students are learning.  Accordingly, portfolio assessments ought to be employed to exhibit the higher-order outcomes (i.e. products and processes) that are acquired by practitioners and their students.

The following criteria may be applied when assessing the specified requirements for (your/student) portfolios:

  1. Evidence of Reflective Analysis (Excellent; Average; Needs Improvement).
  2. Professional Appearance (Excellent; Average; Needs Improvement).
  3. Adherence to Content Requirements (Excellent; Average; Needs Improvement).

Criteria of Excellent: (Maximum points available may be awarded)

  • A well organized and useable portfolio;
  • Work is neat, indicative of mindful thinking, and well written;
  • Creativity and unique perspectives/constructs are exhibited.

Criteria of Average: (Maximum points will not exceed 90 percent of the potential)

  • A well organized and useable portfolio;
  • Work is neat, indicative of mindful thinking, and well written;
  • Creativity is kept to a minimum and examples (samples) address only the minimum requirement(s) associated with each section (i.e. component) exhibited in the portfolio.

Criteria of Needs Improvement: (Maximum points will not exceed 80 percent of the potential)

  • Portfolio contains examples of work but lacks adequate organizational structure, it requires additional effort to become useable (i.e. functional);
  • The documentation (i.e. examples) included in the portfolio appears inconsistent and/or not aligned with the requirements specified;
  • The portfolio shows that the practitioner (or student) has demonstrated little creativity and mindfulness when considering the overall appearance of the compilation.

Portfolio Requirements: (Additional components may be determined by participants)

  1. Title Page;
  2. Table of Contents;
  3. Presentation of Materials (via distinct sections with a description of contents that follow);
  4. Reflective Analysis (i.e. descriptive information including the significance of each component);
  5. Concluding Remarks (i.e. identify at least 3 components that are most significant);
  6. An Appendix Section (containing selected articles and/or relevant information).

Learn more about “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Higher-Order Thinking (Analysis; Synthesis; and Evaluation)

Fundamental learning experiences (i.e. Competency-based Paradigms) culminate when students are capable of applying knowledge and skills.  However, higher-order cognitive processes are indicative of three progressively more complex “hierarchical” classes of behavior (i.e. reasoning outcomes).  As presented in the “original” (1956) Taxonomy published by Bloom et.al.; these outcomes are described as follows.

Analysis emphasizes the breakdown of … [the integral] into its constituent parts and detection of the relationships of the parts and of the way they are organized.  It may also be directed at the techniques and devices used to convey the meaning or to establish the conclusion of a communication….  [Analysis entails] … the ability to distinguish fact from hypothesis …, to identify conclusions and supportive statements, to distinguish relevant from extraneous material, to note how one idea relates to another, to … [recognize] unstated assumptions …, to distinguish dominant from subordinate ideas or themes …, to find evidence of the author’s techniques and purposes, etc. (p. 144)  Analysis … may be divided into three types or levels….  [i.e. Elements, Relationships, and Organizational Principles].

Synthesis is … defined as the putting together of elements and parts so as to form a whole [i.e. to constitute a pattern or structure]….  Generally this would involve a recombination of parts of previous experience with new material, reconstructed into a new … integrated whole.  [The] category … provides for creative behavior [i.e. produce and organize original ideas] on the part of the learner.  However, … the student is expected to work within the limits set by particular problems, materials, or some theoretical and methodological framework.  [Although] comprehension, application, and analysis also involve the putting together of elements and the construction of meanings, … these [constituent levels] tend to be more partial and less complete than synthesis in the magnitude of the task. (p. 162)  Three relatively distinct types of products are identified as sub-categories within this class of behavior [i.e. the production of a unique communication, the production of a  planned/proposed set of operations, and the derivation of abstract relations].

Evaluation is defined as the making of [quantitative and qualitative] judgments about the values … of ideas, works [e.g. artifacts, performances, etc.], solutions, methods, material, etc.  It involves the use of criteria [including values] as well as standards for appraising the extent to which particulars are accurate, effective, economical, or satisfying….  Evaluation is placed at this point in the taxonomy because it … involves some combination of all the other behaviors of Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, and Synthesis…. [The process] … is not necessarily the last step in thinking or problem-solving.  It … will in some cases be the prelude to the acquisition of new knowledge, a new attempt at comprehension or application, or a new analysis and synthesis. (p. 185)  Two types of (judgment) are considered (i.e. those in terms of internal evidence and those in terms of external criteria)  Both types must be made in accordance with “distinct” criteria.

Learn more about “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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A Reflective Questionnaire for Practitioners of Education

So you have decided to … May I suggest that you write a paragraph (or more) to address each of the questions that are … Reflect upon your statements; revise them when deemed appropriate!  May you be inspired to take action … to inspire your peers … to enhance the context of your professional practice.

Consider:

How much time per week do you spend on planning to initiate learning experiences?

Would you describe your classroom supplies as being adequate/inadequate? Why?

What are some of the most pressing concerns you have regarding the problems that are occurring in your school/district?

What suggestions might you convey to improve instructional mechanisms in your school/district?

How often do you discuss problems that are occurring in your classroom/school (with peers)?

Have you participated in planning or initiating any (action-oriented) research/studies during the past 5 years?

What is the nature of your philosophical views about teaching and learning?

What instructional methods are most frequently employed in your classroom/school?

Identify (at least) two professional goals that you want to realize!

Remember, the more you write about something; the more proficient you will become.  As you reflect upon your perception/reality; perhaps the sparks required to stimulate professional development and innovative processes will be perpetuated!

Best Wishes; My works (i.e. Professional Development Resources) are published via smashwords.com.  I encourage you to sample/purchase: “Becoming A Reflective Practitioner” & “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

Visit/Follow my Blog @ https://kennethfetterman.wordpress.com

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Developing (Dynamic) Instructional Programs

As Frymier (2001) has indicated:

Thirty different textbooks would be more appropriate than 30 copies of the same book. Three Thousand articles on geography … would be … [more enriching] than one geography textbook….  Big pieces of material … [with] numbered pages, tend to force teachers and students to accept a given sequence of limited amounts of information….  If curriculum materials are small in size, … superb in quality and great in number, teachers and students have an opportunity to create various patterns of sequence and use of materials.  Such variety increases the likelihood of meeting … [the needs of all students]. (p.62)

Original source material: Frymier, J. (2001). After thirty years of thinking about curriculum. Theory Into Practice, 25(1), 58-63.

The complexity of coursework (i.e. curriculum) and the type of learning that is expected are primary determinants of precisely how “dynamic” your curriculum may become. In cases when a technical objective (i.e. competency requirement) is identified as the intended outcome; your ability to formulate a dynamic strategy (as described by Frymier) is restricted by the structural mechanism (i.e. lesson plan) that you establish. Therefore, we must recognize that “non-technical” curriculums (which ought to be aligned with student-centered outcomes) are most conducive to employing “dynamic mechanisms” and facilitating “applied” learning.

The cognitive nature of applied learning is described by Bottoms, Presson and Johnson (1992) as follows:

Applied learning is actively student-oriented, characterized by lively … discussions, absorbing group projects, meaningful homework assignments, laboratory experiments, live and video … presentations, and other hands-on activities. The purpose of applied learning is to create an environment that actively engages students and teachers in a collaborative learning process. (p.50)

Original source material: Bottoms, Presson & Johnson (1992). Making high schools work. Georgia, Southern Regional Education Board.

Want to learn more about initiating dynamic instructional programs/curriculum? Sample/Purchase “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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The Potential of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain) “Surprise” Educational Reforms are Possible

The excerpts that follow may be found in the original source material.

Bloom, B. S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals–Handbook 1 [the] cognitive domain. New York, NY: David McKay, Inc.

Historical Perspective 

The idea for this classification system was formed at an informal meeting of college examiners attending the 1948 American Psychological Association Convention….  This meeting became the first of a series of informal annual meetings of college examiners.  Gathering at a different university each year and with some changes in membership, this group … considered the problems involved in organizing a classification of educational objectives….  [Although the members of this cohort (including Benjamin S. Bloom) have accepted responsibility for producing the taxonomy], ‘credit’ for ideas, suggestions, and sound criticism should be distributed more widely among all those who have attended one or more meetings of the group. (pp. 4-5)

[As indicated], this Handbook is truly a group product.  It is the direct outgrowth of the thinking of over thirty persons who attended the taxonomy conferences.  It is based on the work of … test constructors, curriculum workers, and [practitioners].  Several hundred readers of the preliminary edition [i.e. 1000 copies] … contributed criticisms, suggestions, and illustrative materials. (p. 9)

Therefore, “we” ought to think — long and hard — before we reinvent the wheel!  In recent months, I have read several posts which convey an array of confusing alternatives to the “classic” framework (i.e. classification schemes for developing curriculum and subsequent … learning experiences).  It is doubtful that a few misguided (ouch) individuals have conceptualized a more rational approach to enhance the learning experiences of “all” children.  In addition to many misinformed practitioners, I am sure that few political operatives (including those pressing for more testing) possess a fundamental understanding of how the classic framework (i.e. Blooms Taxonomy) may be applied to maximize the outcomes of schooling in a global society.  As described above, many dedicated people worked (for several years) to construct a classification system that “remains” relevant as the 21st century unfolds.  Out of respect for the innovators whom contributed to the 1956 framework, “we” ought to (re)examine the original material “before advocating alternatives”.

The rapid pace of technological change and the growing interconnectedness of communication systems throughout the world necessitates that dynamic curriculums materialize in our schools.  Dynamic instructional programs are considerate of global affairs, indicative of social and workplace requirements and responsive to the needs of students.  Such programs maximize the potential of students by providing them with multiple pathways to success.  Therefore, “we” ought not place an emphasis on prepackaged curriculums (or standardized tests).  Shifting our focus away from “canned” learning by placing our sights (i.e. goals) on educational reforms that perpetuate dynamic instructional programs can be easily accomplished when “all” stakeholders are properly informed about the applications associated with the taxonomy developed by Bloom et al.

Still Reading? — That’s Great!  I shall strive to overcome my weariness and begin framing “our” conceptual doctrine.

We must not rebel against all testing; testing is most appropriate when measuring those outcomes that are associated with knowledge, comprehension, and the application of “essential” knowledge and/or skills (i.e. competencies).  These fundamental tiers of Bloom’s 1956 hierarchical taxonomy are essential pre-requisites to three additional and progressively more complex outcomes (i.e. analysis, synthesis and evaluation) that comprise the classic framework.  Outcomes which align with the latter categories are indicative of “higher-order” thought processes which are enhanced when students engage in independent and/or socially charged learning experiences (which are not conducive to standardized assessment strategies).  Each of these “six” hierarchical categories are composed of several sub-categories which are also organized as hierarchical pre-requisites to those that follow.

Accordingly,

… simpler behaviors may be viewed as components of the more complex behaviors….  [So], behaviors of type A [Knowledge] form one class, behaviors of type AB [Knowledge and Comprehension] form another class, while behaviors of type ABC [Knowledge, Comprehension & Application] form still another class [etc.]. (pp. 16,18).

It is essential that “we” conceptualize the taxonomy as being comprised of two distinct (i.e. Dichotomous) halves if we are to comprehend the potential of establishing a contemporary framework for teaching and learning.  As such, the lower three categories of Bloom’s Taxonomy are indicative of learning experiences which are fundamentally Teacher-centered (or Competency-based).  While the latter three categories of this framework are … aligned with Student-centered learning.  Therefore, assessment strategies (including the utilization of performance-based instruments such as procedural checklists) that are aligned with the acquisition of “fundamental” knowledge and skills ought to be employed “until” students can demonstrate that they are capable of “applying” the target competency.  However, “if” our society intends to perpetuate and evaluate higher-order thought processes (which are indicative of progressively more complex applications of knowledge and skills); then, we must sanction strategies for learning (and assessment) that are aligned with the unique characteristics “being developed” by individuals.  Thus, the stage has been set!  We ought to consider the potential of applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to perpetuate a Dichotomous framework for teaching and learning!

Want to learn more about initiating a Dichotomous Instructional Paradigm?

Sample/Purchase my work(s) @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

Follow Me/Read more posts on my Blog @ https://kennethfetterman.wordpress.com

 

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Perpetuating Reforms in Education (via Democratic Principles)

As Requested; I have reposted this classic! Enjoy, KEN

Kenneth Fetterman

The traditional mechanisms set in place many decades ago to administer educational programs in the United States are being overwhelmed by the burden to reform our public schools.   As such, a top down administrative hierarchy of controlling entities continuously demands accountability for the haphazard distribution of resources and the implementation of capricious policy mandates (dispensed by “outside” experts with little or no standing in your community).  When I think about “no child left behind” or “the race to the top” — my heart weeps!  These concepts are fundamentally flawed because they originate from the TOP (usually in Washington, D.C.).  Each year, the pace of change seems to accelerate–while burdens and responsibilities are (exponentially) placed upon our educators.  I am reminded of the saying “taxation without representation”.  Unless we reorganize our system of administering resources, training practitioners, and establishing reform initiatives; it troubles me to say that we can expect little success in the coming decade(s).

Oh, now don’t…

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Practitioners Must Be Prepared To Fight — (for Public Schools)!

In defending public education “against corporate take over initiatives” — We must establish Democratic Organizations in our schools/districts. The power to make decisions (about all aspects of schooling) ought to mirror the democratic frameworks we have established to maintain our freedoms and perpetuate Democracy in government. So! How do we go about moving toward this goal (i.e. independence)? Educators must conduct (site-based) action research, learn to apply theoretical constructs in their classrooms/schools, and keep their philosophy of education relevant. Practitioners must also continue to improve their instructional techniques (i.e. craft).

I am in agreement with “most of the comments” posted on various Blogs about the “motives of corporate entities”! However, I believe that in many ways EDUCATORS have taken the “poor me” position. May I encourage all practitioners to “fight” for their freedom (against mandates), and for the PUBLIC SCHOOLS that have blessed our nation (with strong independent thinkers) for decades.

Has anyone considered the significance of preparing (to fight)? I spent more than TEN years developing the means (i.e. mechanisms) required to “prepare” practitioners. However, I cannot force them to “prepare” for the battles ahead. I shall make a declarative statement to “BOTH” sides (i.e. public and private entities)–PREPARE TO DEFEND YOUR INTERESTS!
Sample/Purchase my books on educational reform/teacher training @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

THOSE INDIVIDUALS THAT STUDY (i.e. PREPARE) WILL PREVAIL …

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Portfolio Assessments: Authenticating Student Learning “and” Program Outcomes

Measuring student achievement (and the quality of educational programs) via standardized testing that is aligned with homogenized curriculums (i.e. common core mandates) is “pointless”.  Since ignorance is “bliss” — I shall direct my comments to those “agencies” perpetuating standardization.  –STOP– the madness, you are wasting time, precious resources and another generation of “potentially” productive beings.

Authentic learning varies among individuals; therefore, “authentic assessment strategies” must accommodate for differences among practitioners (and their students).  Portfolio mechanisms are technologically and economically feasible.  So, we must move the policy debate forward–How can we initiate these measures ASAP?

Consider the following rationale!

Portfolios represent a self-selected and reflective documentation of achievement (i.e. growth in understanding and skill).  They may materialize as a collection of professional and/or student work that is placed in a folder, or as a more comprehensive and structured production.  Realizing that advancements in computer technology have made e-formats feasible; they may include a broad range of artifacts, discourse, and video recordings (i.e. performances) that represent the on-going development and verification of competencies realized by educators and/or their students.  Usually such collections include a brief introduction to the contents that follow; a summary component that communicates how the products were assembled, and a reflective caption that conveys why each piece is significant.  The compilation process requires practitioners/students to engage in introspective acts (i.e. self-evaluation and reflection).  As an on-going documentation of development, the [evolving] process provides a means to actively engage practitioners (or their students) in constructing knowledge and evaluating their performance.  It also “becomes the basis for conversations and other interactions among students … teachers and parents” (Murphy, 1998, p.7).

When teachers (are required) to develop professional portfolios; we shall have the means to evaluate teacher effectiveness and program outcomes in an “authentic” context.  Likewise, portfolios created and maintained by students will authenticate the unique characteristics of all students!  Read more? http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Comments About Loss of Special Education Teachers (in B.C.) & Increases in # of SN Students

Thank You–for posting my comment A.C.! View original post @ http://andrewchernoff.wordpress.com

I commented: I’m not sure we should label (many) students as “special needs” (i.e. S.N.).  Let me explain; all students ought to be treated equal!  When we label children (for life) — then, we actually perpetuate their needs.  I taught in a maximum security, juvenile justice setting and my students definitely had special needs.  How did I respond (as a vocational/technology education instructor)?  I treated all of my students just like I would a student at the college level. –(that is to say)– I had “high” expectations for their success.

I think that (in many cases) — once the SN label is applied to students “our” (collective) expectations for their success in the world decreases.  Thus, “they” are doomed to fail as productive members in our society.  LET ME CLEARLY STATE: I am not saying  that “some” students will not succeed in overcoming their disadvantages!  I am making a general statement regarding the harmful effects of setting low expectations for special need students.  OK!

Then, there is the issue of funding SN students; (with budgets tightening) most administrators cannot afford the loss of funding for “their” special needs population (and that is a problem).  Before I made this declarative statement, I checked out the facts.  Source: http://www.ehow.com/facts_5962286_financial Under the section: Cost per Student–it is stated that: “States vary in the amount of funding per student.  In the state of Washington, each school [district] receives over $3,500.00 per general education student and more than twice that amount for each special needs student.”

There are no incentives to remove students from SN programs into mainstream classes within the “general” student body (and society).  Yes, I know many of these students do succeed via mainstreaming “policy initiatives”!  However, I believe that — the incentive to declare “more” individuals as having special needs — “is tempting”.  Let’s reconsider the term special needs and focus on educational reforms that take into account the needs of all students.  My recent post dated Nov 21st-2013 (“Adapting Instructional Mechanisms to Accommodate Students with Special Needs”) is available @ https://kennethfetterman.wordpress.com

I believe that all educators ought to become proficient at adapting their instruction to accommodate students with special needs.  We don’t always need a “special education” teacher to address this need. $$$  I shall not even go into the role that poverty has played in the lives of (otherwise normal children).

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Public Education (at the crossroads): Authoritative Mandates – OR – Democratic Principles

Recent reactions to “Common Core” principles indicate that many parents, teachers, and visionary scholars are not in support of these mandates.  I have no desire to waste my time criticizing such initiatives because … are posted.  If you desire to look into the matter further (which I do not); you shall discover that concerns have been raised in regards to “the business” of common core initiatives, the content and implementation criteria of “core” principles, and the dissemination of “standardized” assessment rubrics.

I believe that the primary objections directed at these initiatives stem from a legitimate belief that the constructs are too prescriptive (and that financial and/or political motives may be in play).  So, regardless of the intentions of those involved with the production and distribution of such materials – I must support proponents on the side of Democracy.  Democratic principles are based on the concept of “E PLURIBUS UNUM” (i.e. “out of many we are one”).  Since, many oppose the fundamental precepts of these initiatives and few are …? I shall assume the majority of voices are “instinctively” opposed to any agenda that is a threat to “our” democratic traditions.

I worry (as many others have) that homogenization (i.e. standardized mandates) will stifle creative thinking and innovation!  My experiences as an independent scholar have given me reason to “doubt” that change will occur if we all get on-board.  The changes I propose in education (and teacher training) will foster innovation from within; my conceptual framework includes a set of “common” recommendations for curriculum.  However, I believe that communities of practitioners must be given the “freedom” to decide what is relevant in their classrooms and schools.

For example: If we took the concept “students ought to learn about aquatic environments” as one of our core principles and allowed local agencies to determine “how” that core principle would be addressed; we would perpetuate Democratic principles in our schools.  Accordingly, in the state of DELAWARE we might address the concept via curriculum(s) that are centered around the CHES. BAY.  However, practitioners in IOWA may want to address this “core” principle via curriculums that incorporate aqua-culture or pollution from agriculture.  Freedom (not mandates) is the only way to continue the process of transformation that began more than a century ago.  DO NOT abdicate your responsibilities as citizens (and practitioners of education) to determine “what is best” for our Nation (and our public schools)!

We must build a strong network of practitioner communities and ensure that teachers are provided with adequate training before we can expect democracy to become … in our schools.  Want to learn more about Becoming a Reflective Practitioner and/or The Dichotomy of Instructional Design (i.e. student-centered and/or teacher-centered learning)?  Sample/Purchase my books which are available at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Adapting Instructional Mechanisms to Accommodate Students with Special Needs

Well, our discussion regarding this topic is dependent upon your subject matter -AND- the nature of the needs being considered!

Given the topic (i.e. Adapting … to Accommodate … Special Needs), I shall convey an example that is based on my experience as a Career & Technical Educator while I was employed at a maximum security facility (for incarcerated youth).  This portion of my career was extremely challenging because of the context in which I had to implement my curriculum(s).  As such, some youth were only in my classroom for a few weeks/months; others had more extensive exposure to my teaching.  Furthermore, I had students entering and exiting my program almost weekly.  This scenario gives new meaning to the concept of differentiated instruction!

It is the intent of this post to illustrate the concept of adapting “your process” to address student needs.

Accordingly, the following context applies to our … ; I was initiating a graphic design project with students.  The curriculum involved a multi-stage (i.e. sequential) process that required students to produce a series of components which were based on a concept that I introduced via a short play/dialog.  Our topic: “A Discovery of Technological Systems” required students to develop multiple logos that would be combined into a master illustration of all constructs (i.e. manufacturing, communication, transportation, energy & power, construction systems and bio-technologies).  Each logo required students to “brainstorm” concepts (in the form of sketches) that could be refined and … combined with other logos to be assembled into a final “mock-up” which served as the template for — a screen printing activity — that would represent “mastery of the process”.

Note: Mastery of the process is not the same thing as mastery of the skill set!

Ok, now that you have an adequate illustration of the context in which the learning experiences occurred; I can finally convey the concept as described in the title of this post.  Well–one student in particular had not been to school (enough to complete …).  It was discussed at “our team” meeting that the extent of truancy (in this case) may have been six years.  It is sufficient to say that “our” … was a special needs student!

So, each day when “my” students arrived, we brought out their materials (generated from the previous sessions) and continued toward our goal.  (Are you following?)

Great, because I want to take this opportunity to tell you that “you” are responsible for the “safe keeping” of all work — “You must collect” & “You must distribute”.  This is essential  because “special needs” students may … the work of others (and they “may” sabotage their own efforts because of … fear of success … or a belief that they cannot possibly succeed).

So, you must control the flow of ALL resources pending/completed and/or utilized!

Back to the topic at hand–My special needs student came to class each day “scribbled out a logo” and told me — “that’s it”; it’s my design for …! I responded, let’s try another system. He (always) replied! That’s all I’m doing today!

How would you respond?

I simply stated: Ok, if you sit there quietly, without causing … (a disturbance), I will not force you to continue.  He probably thought he had this sucker wrapped around his finger.  But I had a longer range goal in my sights: HIS SUCCESS in fulfilling the requirements that were established.  Yes, he would screen print his design and wear his t-shirt (with pride); although he had yet to discover that fact.  This scenario repeated itself daily. Since I was collecting the work of all students (and securing it); some of my students had no idea that they were making progress!

Getting to the point:  This student finally developed all of the required sketches; when I said let’s refine them, he said nope that’s good enough for me!  So, I adapted my expectations (of success) to align with his expectations of failure.  NO WAY was I going to let this kid manipulate me; (SO HE COULD PROVE that HE WAS A FAILURE). As far as I was concerned; he was ready to print his haphazard collection of sketches — (after “pasting” them together into a final mock-up).  Subsequently, this student successfully “burnt” a screen template and prepared it for use on the “press”.  Finally, we slipped a t-shirt on the apparatus (after securing the template) and then, he stated he could not continue.  So, I placed my hands on top of his and “we” pulled the squeegee across the template.  Then, we gently lifted the press (i.e. template) and the image was perfect.  Wow, I don’t think I will ever forget the look on his face!~The Special Needs Student was just like all the other students in my class; HE WAS A SUCCESS. –AND– I had succeeded in guiding him toward that success!

At this point (in our story), I “almost” have a tear in my eye (and this interaction occurred over 20 years ago).  Perhaps being a scholar has “many” disadvantages?

Read my “free” white paper (About Systemic Educational Reform) @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Classroom Management: Practical Applications of Behavioral Psychology

Teacher-centered instructional paradigms are steeped with traditions emanating from behavioral psychology.  A stimulus-response (S-R) paradigm is most frequently associated with the concept of behaviorism.  This paradigm has been referred to as the tenet of contiguity.  The notion of contiguity (i.e. classical conditioning) is especially relevant as teachers strive to effectively manage activities in their classrooms and schools.  Take a minute to consider one or more instances where the tenet of contiguity (S-R paradigm) may be relevant in your practice.  Suggestion: It may be helpful to think about rule governed behaviors (e.g. fire drills, etc.).  When you establish rules–have students participate in a discussion about the significance of each rule/behavior.  Specifically, where/when does a rule apply?  Identify as many applications of each rule as possible.  Now let’s consider the influential legacy of reinforcement contingencies (i.e. the relationship between a response and various schedules of reinforcement).  B. F. Skinner conceptualized that by controlling the consequences of behavior as it evolves; it can be “shaped and maintained via a process of selection among variations…. [that is analogous] to the process at work in biological evolution” (Richelle, 1993, pp. 26-27).  He realized that successful traits are strengthened and undesirable behaviors can be minimized via positive and negative reinforcement; a concept referred to as “operant conditioning”.  Flora & Pavlik (1990) state that: “positive and negative refer only to the presentation or removal of stimuli in the environment, not some inherent quality of the stimuli”. (p. 122)  When the presentation or removal of a stimulus increases the probability or rate of a specific behavior, it has reinforcing consequences.

Want to learn more about “Becoming a Reflective Practitioner”? http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Student-centered or Teacher-centered Instructional Paradigms (A Strategic Choice)

Most practitioners lack the essential knowledge and skills required to optimize their instructional programs.  Yes, that is true!  As was suggested in my previous posts, the dilemma is perpetuated by a top down administrative hierarchy which sanctions the use of generic textbooks (and standardized assessments).  Furthermore, teacher training initiatives are too frequently based on capricious schemes that fade into distant memory–sooner, rather than later.  Yes, that statement is also true! Harsh words, ouch!

Given ideal conditions (and essential knowledge) it is likely that most practitioners would initiate a dichotomous framework of learning experiences in their classrooms.  So what does that statement imply?  Imagine a “light switch”–when you enter a room and flip the device–light appears.  When you leave the room, another flip and the room darkens.  When we initiate the process of instructional design our strategic “choices” can be that simple.  However, I must stress that such choices are often made when developing a curriculum.  So, it really is not that simple!  When “we” rely upon pre-packaged curriculums (such as textbooks) and the means that are associated with these materials, “we” perpetuate failing schools.

Practitioners ought to be given the freedom to develop curriculums (and instructional mechanisms) that enhance the educational experiences of all students.  They should be provided with opportunities to “flip the switch” that determines when student-centered paradigms are employed and/or teacher-centered mechanisms (including texts) are initiated.  Practitioners must be provided with information about the usefulness of both strategies and be trained to initiate each of these paradigms.  The decision-making process involves determining if a component of your curriculum is “technical” or “non-technical”.  When constructs are technical in nature, practitioners ought to employ lesson plans which enable them to demonstrate (technical) procedures or convey concepts and principles.  However, non-technical curriculums are best administered via student-centered mechanisms which compel students to develop higher-order thought processes (i.e. analysis, synthesis, and evaluation).

Want to learn more about initiating a dichotomous framework in your school (district)?  My works are published via smashwords.com: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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A Dichotomous Approach to Assessment & School Reform

Many pathways could be taken in traveling from coast to coast.  Oh, the rich stories we might convey given an opportunity to do so.  It is likely that many of us would choose a well worn path in planning our journey.  Some individuals would be a bit more adventurous, while others may seek a route that aligns with their unique interests.  In so doing, we may expect a diverse population of travelers to enrich our lives with colorful accounts of their experiences.

Now, imagine an alternative scenario!  A bus tour that all must endure regardless of interests or previous travel experience(s).  Furthermore, travelers in your “group” must complete a mandatory survey (at periodic intervals) to verify what they have learned.  If you have not been attentive–consequences may be expected.  You will have little interaction with your peer group as they will likely be fixated on the tour guide and the events unfolding. 

Given a choice, which scenario would you choose?  Both of these learning experiences are acceptable to me.  However, I prefer the richness of diversity when contrasted with conformity.  Unfortunately, the majority of students (in our schools) are not given the freedom to choose what they will study.  They must learn X and record their accumulated knowledge via standardized measures.  If “we” desire all students to make the transition from school to a productive life after graduation (i.e. to journey from coast to coast); we must compliment the implementation of standardized testing with the widespread utilization of formative assessment mechanisms.  We must provide students with multiple pathways to success.

Efforts to move beyond traditional forms of assessment continue to gain support.  However, norm referenced summative assessments remain the key component in satisfying our public desire for accountability.  Although standardized tests have evolved to include written essays, explanations, and descriptions of procedures that were utilized to solve problems; such evaluations are not directly related to the curriculum or instructional methods employed by teachers (and that remains the primary problem that must be addressed in education).  Therefore, standardized testing ought to be “coupled” with performance-based (i.e. formative) experiences such as portfolios so employers and college admission specialists can verify the unique qualifications of each applicant.  If the future unfolds as described, we shall witness changes in public policy; changes in the professional development programs that are provided to pre-service and in-service practitioners; and changes in the nature of student learning.  In the wake of competing philosophical positions (about student learning); the time has come to establish a participatory (communal) dialog that is based on a recognition of the need to employ more aggregated combinations of instructional practices (i.e. methodologies) in our schools.  Moving beyond traditional approaches to teaching and learning requires a periodic examination of the transactions that are occurring between teachers, students, materials, and tasks.

Want to learn more about examining your use of resources, teaching methods, and assessment tools?  My comprehensive manuscripts (i.e. Becoming a Reflective Practitioner; and The Dichotomy of Instructional Design) are published at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

                 

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Facilitating Action Oriented Research to Improve Our Schools

Consider the impact we may have on our environment “if” all citizen began to recycle most of the materials that are discarded in their trash bins?  Added value (i.e. enriched soils, healthy plants) may be expected if composting became a secondary habit!  Our lack of prowess in this matter results in the perpetuation of wasteful habits and squandered opportunities.

Think about this analogy as you consider the potential impact practitioners in the field of education might have “if” more faculty and staff were inclined to initiate Action Oriented Research.  The paradigm is most appropriate when examining what is happening in our classrooms and schools and in determining what may be done to improve learning in these contexts.  The results of such studies are not generalizable. As such, researchers often have no formal hypothesis.  Thus, exploratory studies (i.e. descriptive research paradigms) are frequently employed in the field of education because “the number of variables entailed in describing educational systems is so enormous that any hope of controlled experimentation, or of scientific modeling, must be suspended” (Gardner, 1993, p.332).  Accordingly, we may examine constructs relating to “student outcomes, the curriculum, instruction, school climate, or parental involvement” (Glanz, 1999, p.302).

Ok, remember our analogy regarding the potential benefits of recycling–think about that concept for a moment!  Do you have strong feelings about squandered resources (and opportunities)?  If so, consider the resources that are likely being wasted (in your school district) and the potential to enrich learning environments for successive “crops” of students.  Enriching the fertility of our educational programs via Action (oriented) Research is an opportunity we ought not to squander!

Learn more about Becoming A Reflective Practitioner and Conducting Action Research? @ http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/312599

References

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind (2nd ed.). New York: Basic Books.

Glanz, J. (1999). A primer on action research for the school administrator. The Clearing House, 72(5), 301-304.

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School Reform (Taking Action): Establishing Academic Advisory Panels

Advisory panels are being maintained by practitioners of Career and Technical Education!  These panels are essential to ensure that training programs address the need for workplace competencies (i.e. changing knowledge and skill requirements).  As such, Career & Technical educators have an opportunity to audit their curriculum and/or modify their certification requirements (annually) to address innovations (i.e. changes) in the workplace.

We must establish similar mechanisms to perpetuate “innovative” academic programs in our schools and colleges.  Students graduating from high schools (and colleges) in the advancing century must be capable of adapting in a rapidly changing, increasingly more demanding, and technologically interconnected world.  Contemporary (as opposed to stagnant) instructional paradigms must prepare students for life-long learning and employment in the high tech world.  Therefore, academic educators must strive to develop an understanding (and be capable of providing their students with examples) of how the curriculum is relevant to various social and workplace contexts.  Efforts to systematically change how students learn (i.e. to initiate applied academic curriculums) are dependent on the expertise and involvement of technical educators and representatives from business/industry and/or social service organizations.  These individuals may be directly or indirectly associated with the development, implementation, and/or management of curriculum in our schools.

Advisory panels can enhance (and assist) academic programs in a variety of ways.  Committees of business and industry leaders can conduct needs assessments, review proposed changes in the curriculum, consult with teachers and administrators, host groups of teachers and students [e.g. workplace tours], and perform other important roles [e.g. mentoring] in assuring that students … [are prepared for life after graduation] (Bottoms, Presson & Johnson, SREB, 1992, p. 149).

Our capacity to establish high performance schools necessitates a fundamental shift in how society conceptualizes schooling–“the ends” that are desired.  Although feasible, changing curriculum and assessment frameworks to facilitate “applied academics” remains challenging because educational psychology accommodates a spectrum of differences in philosophical beliefs among practitioners.  Learn more about school reform and teacher training via my manuscript(s) published at smashwords.com.

Becoming A Reflective Practitioner.  (link below)

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Strategic Planning: Establishing Innovative and Dynamic Schools

What is strategic planning?  Without question; it requires knowing the outcome(s) that are desired, and it requires discernment of the conditions (i.e. context) upon which implementation of our plans will occur.  Now, I need not lecture practitioners about the procedures upon which the constructs mentioned above ought to unfold.  I shall assume that there are many approaches to strategic thinking which have merit. 

Strategic planning occurs at regular intervals.  Goals are established, policies are adopted, and implementation follows; thus the cycle of planning is perpetuated.  So, why do you think that a continuous stream of educational reform initiatives have not brought about the “changes” we desire?  Given the reality of systemic constraints; perhaps our goals are unrealistic!  Wow

Are the conditions (i.e. contextual frameworks) under which students and teachers interact and the mandates placed upon an outdated model of schooling negating the change process?  I believe so!  It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over with the expectation of achieving different results.  So, what can be done to break the cycle of perpetual dismay?  I am not sure that anyone can answer that question with a definitive position statement; but, I shall convey my thoughts on the matter at hand.  I ask, why do continuous rounds of strategic planning (i.e. school reform initiatives) fall short of expectations?  I believe the problem is rooted in our (lack of) “vision” which perpetuates the establishment of capricious goals via policy experts.  More money; Let’s try this!  Wow

That’s a bold statement, so let’s consider this matter “objectively”.  The fact is that our earliest schools were establish to provide “basic skills” for life long employment within a narrow band of occupations.  These bands included a variety agricultural, industrial, and unskilled contexts (e.g. gas station attendant).  As such educational programs were fashioned upon an administrative framework setup to “manage” pools of industrial labor.  Society changed very slowly over the decades prior to the second world war.  However, by the mid-twentieth century, the focus of education shifted dramatically toward the widespread emphasis on developing (and expanding) access to secondary and postsecondary schooling.  The later decades of the last century entailed the most social and technological changes in the history of our world.  I shall not go into greater detail about the exponential rate of change which is occurring each year.  For a more in-depth analysis regarding the evolution that occurred in society and schooling in the United States during the twentieth century; I suggest that you examine a manuscript written by the great scholar and educational historian Lawrence A. Cremin.  His book entitled: Popular Education and Its Discontents (Harvard, 1989) offers readers a brilliant perspective regarding the evolution of schooling (and society) in America.

Let’s return to the matter being considered!  Although much technological and social change has occurred in this world; the administration of schooling has changed very little since those early years.  The enterprise remains a top down paradigm-and-there lies “our” problem!  Our schools are failing for the simple reason that students are compelled to “memorize” a body of pre-determined facts.  Continuing calls for standardization (i.e. testing) and professional specialization in an era where adaptation is the key to success; will ensure that schools fall short of our expectations. 

For more information about establishing innovative and dynamic learning environments; you may sample/purchase my manuscripts which are published via Smashwords.com.  http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman   

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Perpetuating Reforms in Education (via Democratic Principles)

The traditional mechanisms set in place many decades ago to administer educational programs in the United States are being overwhelmed by the burden to reform our public schools.  As such, a top down administrative hierarchy of controlling entities continuously demands accountability for the haphazard distribution of resources and the implementation of capricious policy mandates (dispensed by “outside” experts with little or no standing in your community).  When I think about “no child left behind” or “the race to the top” — my heart weeps!  These concepts are fundamentally flawed because they originate from the TOP (usually in Washington, D.C.).  Each year, the pace of change seems to accelerate–while burdens and responsibilities are (exponentially) placed upon our educators.  I am reminded of the saying “taxation without representation”.  Unless we reorganize our system of administering resources, training practitioners, and establishing reform initiatives; it troubles me to say that we can expect little success in the coming decade(s).

Oh, now don’t despair! Reverse your thought processes.  Reject the top–down administration of dictatorial mandates and grasp for a brass ring of democratic principles.  The “race to the top” must be nurtured from the bottom up!  We must establish an interconnected framework of autonomous learning communities that are comprised of personnel with expertise which is relevant to the challenges “we” are experiencing.

Autonomous communities of practitioners (comprised of individuals with disciplinary or interdisciplinary expertise) are limited in their ability to influence the development of policies that emanate from beyond their primary networks. Therefore, each communal grouping must select at least one associate as their representative to a building level steering committee. In smaller schools, a single grouping may encompass all of the practitioners in a building (e.g. elementary practitioners). As a logical progression of the concept, one or more members from the steering committee in each school building should be nominated to serve on a district-level steering committee. Moving beyond the establishment of Democratic frameworks at the local level, representatives from various school districts ought to be organized into “influential” region and/or state bodies that contribute to the development of public policies. Such an effort will require a fundamental shift in how we conceptualize our system of schooling. It will also require changes in how we train practitioners. Accordingly,…

Learn more about Becoming A Reflective Practitioner at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Domestic & International Concerns About Teacher Training

Domestic Considerations

Despite decades of subsidizing educational reforms in the United States, there remains an on-going yearning for effective results.  The limitations associated with funding change strategies to address specific populations (or issues) have been compounded by inherent disparities among service providers.  Such problems are exacerbated by variations in the attributes of pre-service teacher education programs among institutions and across disciplines within specific institutions.  Unless “we” address the issue of differences among teacher training systems in our schools and colleges, future attempts to bring about educational reforms are likely to be doomed by successive waves of novel proposals that have no significant impact upon realizing our goal of systemic change.

Furthermore, educational programs in the United States have been plagued by a continuous stream of authoritative legislation such “no child left behind” and the “race to the top” mandates which affect the professional behavior of practitioners.  Thus, a top down administrative hierarchy of federal, state, and local stratum have continuously endorsed round after round of policy initiatives “without” input from practitioners who must implement proposed reforms.  These shortcomings are being perpetuated by an over-reliance upon textbooks and/or teacher-centered instructional mechanisms (i.e. lecture, tutorials, standardized tests, etc.) that do not give adequate consideration to the socially dynamic contexts students encounter outside of school. As such, pre-service training programs are skewed toward mastering subject specific knowledge, while less attention is given to developing the professional competence of teachers.

International Considerations

A report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) authenticates the reality of “massive teacher shortages … in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab States and South Asia …” that may impede goals “to provide every child” in these regions “with a good quality primary [school] education”….  Even in countries such as China, Brazil and India which will need “fewer teachers” in the coming decades because of “declining school-age populations”; UNESCO recognizes the potential to improve education quality by investing more resources to train teachers and improve working conditions in target regions (UNESCO: Institute for Statistics, 2006, p.3).  Unfortunately, many countries have yet to establish a framework of fundamental schooling.  Given this fact, imagine the potential number of secondary practitioners that must be trained around the globe!

For more information about training teachers and revolutionizing educational programs in the 21st century; you may sample/purchase resource materials via my author page at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Filed under Blooms Taxonomy, Classroom Management, Curriculum and Instruction, Education, Instructional Design, professional Development, School Reform Initiatives & Professional Development Strategies, Teaching, The Common Core