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OF NOTE

How Evaluation of Teachers Fails Us All
The Widget Effect, by Weisberg, Sexton, Mulhern and Keeling

Effective teaching is widely recognized as the most important variable in student achievement, yet, as the authors of this two-year study found, teachers are treated like interchangeable parts. The authors surveyed teachers and principals in four states and examined over 40,000 teacher evaluation documents. They conclude that: 99% of all teachers are rated great or good:  thus truly exceptional teachers are not recognized; novice teachers are largely neglected; and, teachers are not helped to grow. The findings of this provocative report on public school evaluation raise questions that have implications for independent schools, since they also struggle with best ways to evaluate teachers, develop a due process, and seek to improve the performance of faculty.

http://www.widgeteffect.org/

Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, NY
  The New Teacher Project, 2009  
   September, 2009 VOL 5

EDITORIAL BOARD

 

PETER HERZBERG
Coordinating Editor, Associate Head of the Brearley School, New York, NY

CHRIS LAURICELLA
Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY           
STEPHANIE LIPKOWITZ
Academic Coordinator, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM                                            
ELIZABETH MORLEY
Principal of the Child Study Institute, University of Toronto, Canada

ERIC TEMPLE
Head of the Carey School, San Mateo, CA                                                                
PEARL ROCK KANE
Klingenstein Center Director


The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers.
ARTICLES, BLOGS, AND OTHER MEDIA
Leadership   More Rationales for Teaching and Assessing with the Creative Brain
Why Creativity Now? A Conversation with Ken Robinson, by Amy Azzam

This brief conversation followed by a video of same in the recent ASCD Magazine serves to summarize and refine Robinson’s claims about teaching creativity as a 21st century skill. While many of us are familiar with the Dan Pink/Ken Robinson theories, the most important points here remind us that creativity can be both taught and assessed in all disciplines and by all teachers, even those who do not consider themselves “creative” in the misguided way most of us use that term.


Peter Herzberg,  Brearley School, NY
  ASCD Educational Leadership, September, 2009  
AmericanScholar   Why Bother with the Humanities in Higher Ed?
The Decline of the English Department, by William Chase

In this recent edition of  American Scholar, William Chase, seasoned college professor and president emeritus of Emory and Wesleyan universities, takes on the precipitous decline in humanities majors, especially English, in higher education. Arguments include the impact of pragmatic financial concerns, lack of curricular coherence, and turf wars. Klingbrief’s readers all work in college preparatory schools, often with four year English requirements; our English departments often play central roles in our schools; our students often enter higher ed from schools with firmly entrenched notions of liberal arts. This article, therefore, is a sober reminder of a problem up the road that might inform our considerations.


Peter Herzberg, Brearley School, NY
  American Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, Autumn, 2009  
StudentDiscipline   Spare the Rod
Student Discipline: The Case Against Legalistic Approaches by Peter Lake

This short article, written by Peter F. Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education and Law and Policy at Stetson University, lays out a case for why broad legal approaches to student discipline can be problematic for colleges and universities. His observations about what the legal system expects from colleges in terms of due process and adherence to the policies that the school sets for itself are pertinent to secondary schools as well. Lake also reflects on the ways that millennial students differ from baby boomers and outlines some approaches that center on core values and advising that may be more effective in responding to student disciplinary infractions than one size fits all legalistic school policies.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, NM
  The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 17, 2009 (by subscription only)  
ImportanceDiet   Jeffrey Sach’s Website—Sustaining Your Teaching and Your World
The Earth Institute, Columbia University

The Earth Institute at Columbia University makes its exceptional environmental and world-shaping work accessible to readers of its blogs and websites. Here is the opportunity to watch renowned political economist Jeffrey Sachs, the UN's choice to direct The Millennium Project, deliver compelling lectures on globalization, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and responsibility. Recommended lectures:

Sachs at Columbia at http://www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/1775, and at Haverford at http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/. While you are on the site, there are blogs, news items, invitations to action and high impact resources which will support students and teachers exploring the state of the planet.

Elizabeth Morley, Institute of Child Study Lab School, University of Toronto
  The Earth Institute at Columbia University  
StudentEvaluations   Will Textbooks as We Know Them Become Obsolete?
Six Lessons One Campus Learned about E-Textbooks, by Jeffrey Young

This excellent article about Northwest Missouri State’s noble experiment with using a Sony e-book (very similar to Amazon’s Kindle), is a great place to start if your school is considering moving to electronic textbooks. It seems very possible that within the next five years some kind of electronic device of this sort will be part of every student’s set of school supplies, since the cost savings and good features (e.g., direct, immediate access to a dictionary and to wikipedia) are very alluring. However, the article points out some of the very real pitfalls for using these devices as teaching and learning tools, rather than just a convenient way to do casual reading.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, NM
  The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 4, 2009 (by subscription)  
EdWeek_Chat   Beyond The Jargon about Differentiated Instruction
Exploring Differentiated Instruction, (transcription of an on-line chat)
by Carol Ann Tomlinson


Readers here are offered virtual presentation/chat with Carol Ann Tomlinson - author and authority on differentiated instruction, hosted by Education Week. In this interactive piece, Professor Tomlinson claims that we need to make a distinction between differentiated instruction and individualized instruction. She sees classes of students as smaller, grouped in varied ways. She is also wary of placing too much emphasis on differentiating assessment, since the end goal needs to be uniform. She suggests that a few assessment mechanisms can fit all the small groups effectively. Her main point is how critical it is to identify really essential knowledge, understanding and skill so we can focus on what matters most. In response to participants’ question, she tries with some success to correct misperceptions about this technique that arouse skepticism in some and great passion in others.

Carol Ann O’Connar
  Education Week, May, 2009  
BOOKS
Immunity
Is Death Preferable to Change? A New Study of Impediments to Change
Immunity to Change, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

In the vein of Robert Evans’ The Human Side of School Change and John Kotter’s Leading Change, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey’s new book is a powerful addition to the library of literature on change. Kegan and Laskow Lahey, both professors at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, are world-renowned scholars in the field of adult learning, and the anecdote guiding the book is a simple one: in a study recently released on heart patients who are told by their doctors that they will die unless they alter their life habits, only one person in seven was capable of making the necessary life changes to extend their lives. In short, even when people are faced with death, they are resistant to change. Kegan and Lahey explore the powerful psychological mechanisms that impede change on both a personal and an organizational level, and they offer practical tips for educators and leaders who are responsible for leading change efforts.

John Lewis, The Ranney School, NJ
  Harvard Business School Press, February 15, 2009  
BeingCertain
  Reason May Be Less Reasonable than You Think
On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not, by Robert Burton, M.D.

In an age when news by assertion has supplanted news by verification, Oliver Wendell Holmes’ line that “certitude is not the test on certainty” has never seemed so relevant. Now, along comes neurologist Robert Burton’s book which contends that “knowing” is nothing more than a set of feelings (involuntary brain mechanisms, he argues) which derive not from rational thought, but are “sensations that feel like thoughts.” A book that plumbs the unreliability of the brain and the kind of thinking we attribute to reason will certainly challenge those of us trying to teach the difference between subjective belief and objective proof to classrooms of students! For faculty and students alike, an examination into the nature of our thinking and the meaning of knowledge will at least get us to review some basic assumptions about learning.

Duncan Lyon, Bentley School, CA
  St. Martin’s Press, February 5, 2008  
NurtureShock
  The Art and Science of Raising Children in a New World
NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This important book debunks much conventional wisdom about child development, education, and parenting. Using cutting-edge social scientific research, Bronson and Merryman offer a series of paradigm-shifting chapters about the lasting consequences of how kids and grown-ups interact. NurtureShock features more than ten chapters about “the new science of parenting.” One of these—“How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise”—was among the most frequently emailed articles in the history of New York Magazine (where it first appeared in 2007). Drawing, in part, on Carol Dweck’s seminal work on mindsets, Bronson and Merryman take on topics like the self-esteem craze, sibling rivalry, and the impact of chronic sleep deprivation on children’s growing brains. Some of their content is as provocative as their chapter titles. “Why Kids Lie” and “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race” should catch many readers’ attention. And their informative, accessible prose should hold it. NurtureShock delivers on its title’s ambitious promise.

Mike Pardee, Kinkaid School, TX
  Twelve Publications, September, 2009  
MosaicOfThought
  Creating Committed Readers
Mosaic of Thought: The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction, by Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann

Authors Keen and Zimmermann’s second edition of their thoughtful exploration of the teaching of reading comprehension is a stimulating revamping of their original text. Through the power of anecdotes from teachers in grades kindergarten through twelve, this important work helps us to understand the strategies necessary to help students become life- long committed readers. In an age where students and adults spend less time each year reading, Keene and Zimmerman remind us of the most salient qualities of good reading and innovative reading instruction.

Eric Temple, The Carey School, CA
  Heinemann Press, 2007  

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