So Few Students; So Much Time

Eve Rifkin Assessment, Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Mathematics, Parent Involvment, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership

Every single student, all 190 of them, have a 30-minute long, midyear conference to which they invite parents, guardians, peers, teachers, and other staff members. They share work from their portfolios, talk about their accomplishments and struggles, reflect on their growth in the Habits of Heart and Mind, and set goals for the short and long term. The advisor facilitates each conference, but the student is truly in the driver’s seat. It’s not strictly a time to show off, although that happens sometimes. The roundtable conference is a time for honest reflection and hard conversations too.

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Accomplished Teaching?

Alaina Adams Education, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Mentoring, National Board Certification, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership

by Alaina As 2010 comes to a close, many of us are reflecting on our accomplishments – and things we’d like to do better in 2011. In education, teachers are doing this same kind of reflection. What is it, though, that

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Why I Teach

Alaina Adams Assessment, Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Literacy, Mentoring, National Board Certification, Parent Involvment, Professional Development, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership

by Alaina  In a recent InterACT blog post, Kelly Kovacic gave a 90 second summary of why she teaches. In solidarity,  bloggers in Washington and Arizona are posting blogs to pay tribute to why each of us teaches. Why do

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Those Who Can, Make Movies

Eve Rifkin Assessment, Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Literacy, Mentoring, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership

At a Microsoft conference for educators last summer I got to take home a bunch of pink erasers (I was hoping for something sleeker). The erasers read “make mistakes”. The folks at one of the most successful corporations on the planet know that mistakes lead to great ideas and that they should be made regularly. We need to start rewarding innovation and risk-taking if we want good, or even great teachers. And those are the very things that will be punished if we think that a standardized test taken by a hungry or moody teenager can tell us everything we need to know about good teaching.

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if-i-had-a-film-crew

If I Had a Film Crew

Alaina Adams Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Mentoring, Parent Involvment, Professional Development, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership

I, rarely, watch movies about teachers – mainly because it drives my husband nuts when I yell at the screen because a teacher has pulled a karate move with inner city students, has placed chains on doors to lock out crime, or is connected

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Not-So-Strange Bedfellows

Eve Rifkin Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership

As co-founder of a small charter high school, I decided to interview Mike Klonsky, Chicago-based leader in the modern small-schools movement. Mike and I have a lot in common: we agree that small schools offer a more humane and functional alternative to big schools. We also share the belief, as evidenced by research and our own experiences, that small schools have lower teacher turnover, experience less violence, and allow for greater teacher autonomy.

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coffee-talk

Coffee Talk

Alaina Adams Books, Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Professional Development, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership

One of my favorite skits on Saturday Night Live was “Coffee Talk,” in which a Mike Meyers-inspired character, Linda Richman, praised the likes of Barbara Streisand, said everything “looked like butta,” and encouraged viewers to “talk amongst themselves” with a one-word command: “discuss.” Yes, the characters on this

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