Klingbrief April 2016
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Two Dollars a Day
Pearson's Quest to Cover the Planet in Company-Run Schools, by Anya Kamenetz

Private for-profit schools that serve the poor are one of the fastest growing education ventures in third world countries. Where governments have failed to adequately provide schools, for-profit organizations are finding a way to do good with the hope of also doing well financially. Pearson, for example, the largest education company in the world, has partnered with local conglomerates in the Philippines, Asia and Africa to set up affordable schools for the poor, now serving more than 360,000 students. Charging as little as $2 day, they locate in cheaply rented spaces and hire less experienced teachers for lower pay than government run schools, but they use digital technology to deliver standardized curriculum, and they test students frequently to track outcomes and guide instruction. Subjects are taught in English, a major attraction to parents, and students tutor each other. The growth of privatized education has ignited a global debate with teachers' unions and human rights organizations arguing that fee-payment schools leave out the most vulnerable children who can't afford them and reduce pressure on the government to improve schools. For-profit providers argue that low-cost private schools are superior to existing public schools, where buildings may be decrepit, teachers often fail to show up and graft in school funds is rampant. This debate raises an important question for non-profit independent schools to consider. Absent the profit motive, how might the independent school sector leverage its knowledge to improve the quality of education throughout the world?

Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, NY
Wired.com Business, April 12, 2016
Klingbrief is a free, monthly publication of recommended articles, books, research reports and media selected by and for independent school educators.  The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers. For information about submitting to Klingbrief, please click here.
April, 2016 VOL 61

Coordinating Editor, Assistant Head, Upper School, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

PK-12 Director of Studies, The Walker School, Marietta, GA

Klingenstein Center Director, New York, NY

Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY

Assistant Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

Visiting Scholar at the International Educational Research Centre at Kobe Shinwa Women's University, Kobe, Japan

English Department Chair, Windward School, Los Angeles, CA

Head of Lick-Wilmerding High School,
San Francisco, CA

Operations Manager, Klingenstein Center,
New York, NY

1.ShutUp Leadership, Inc.
Shut Up and Sit Down: Why the leadership industry rules, by Joshua Rothman

Much energy has gone into discussing the meaning, purpose, theory, and activity of leadership. What is it and how does it work? Is it management or inspiration? Visionary or pragmatic? There's no consensus answer to these questions, which is perhaps why the leadership industry - the subject of Joshua Rothman's article, "Shut Up and Sit Down" - continues to grow in size. Rothman pays specific attention to a dichotomy at the heart of leadership; is it a trait or a set of actions? Evidence points to the latter. Corporations, looking for a charismatic "tribal figure" to boost earnings, spend billions on leadership training, but very little evidence exists that these investments improve company performance. On the contrary, when we view leadership as an activity, more people have an opportunity to master the leadership process. The most illuminating part of Rothman's article is his analysis of Gautam Mukunda's theory of how organizations filter leaders. Gautam, a Harvard Business School professor, notes that in heavily filtered organizations, where everyone has to jump through the same hoops, leaders are more or less interchangeable. In unfiltered organizations, where potential leaders come from diverse backgrounds, choosing a leader is a riskier proposition. Rothman's article is a candid assessment of the leadership industry and leadership theory; his analysis is engaging, fun, and informative.

Roy Danovitch, Ed.M. candidate, Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
The New Yorker, February 29, 2016
2.OnlineGradebooks Managing Student Management Software
Why Online Gradebooks are Changing Education, by Laura McKenna

As technology continues its rapid expansion and evolution, incorporating and integrating the latest and greatest hardware and software innovations into schools is increasingly an expectation, not just an aspiration. At the same time, schools must balance the educational benefits of these online tools - such as their ability to foster increased collaboration, creativity and communication - with the potential pitfalls - such as their capability to distract attention, to lead to unhealthy online behavior and to detract from meaningful "offline" interactions. An increasingly powerful tool is student-management software or the educational management system. As Laura McKenna discusses, these programs increase student and parent accessibility to all manner of school-related information, but their biggest influence has been in the realm of real-time and rapid access to grades online. As new developments emerge, these systems have the potential to provide new feedback on additional facets of student performance. At the same time, constant measurement and continuous communication inhibits meaningful assessment, discourages growth mindsets and promotes e-hovering. As schools continue to look strategically at their use of technology and their systems of communication, they must develop guidelines that align with their institutional missions and the best interests of their communities.

William Forteith, Ed.M. candidate, Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
The Atlantic, March 10, 2016
3.Misconceptions What We Know About What We, and They, Don't Know
Understanding Misconceptions: Teaching and Learning in Middle School Physical Science, by Philip M. Sadler, Gerhard Sonnert

In this clear and compelling article, Philip Sadler and Gerhard Sonnert summarize their findings regarding the relationship between student learning in middle school science classrooms and their teacher's content mastery. Adding to the important work done in A Private Universe, these researchers also looked closely at the teachers' understanding of their students' misconceptions about the concepts they were teaching. Sadler and Sonnert meticulously created a comprehensive research protocol, whereby they could pinpoint the teachers' level of content knowledge and then they also distilled out the teachers' understanding of their students' misconceptions and how these impact the students' mastery and retention of the material. The teachers who were most aware of student misconceptions in areas where misconceptions are common were able to teach directly to those misunderstandings, thereby improving their students' test scores and mastery of the material. Though it may seem obvious that teachers must be grounded fully in their discipline to be effective instructors, this study reveals that many teachers have gaps in their content knowledge that have a clear effect on student learning and it outlines the strong positive effect of surfacing and then correcting student misconceptions. This research should galvanize administrators and faculty alike in terms of finding professional development in these areas, knowing that they have such a direct and immediate impact on student outcomes.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, NM
American Educator, Spring 2016
4.Maker The Making of a Movement
The Maker Movement in K-12 Education: A Guide to Emerging Research, by Benjamin Herold

This overview of recent books and articles about the vastly popular maker movement in schools helps synthesize "questions and tensions" borne of the fast-growing but little-researched phenomenon. Among other things, Herold's summary considers what the maker movement is, for whom (really and ideally) it exists and whether or not we know if it benefits learning. In his synthesis, Herold points to concerns about equity and access. For instance, he identifies both the privileging of white middle-class male students as makers and the potential pitfalls of requiring and standardizing "making," which is often described as optional, creative exploration. These resources explore maker spaces themselves, the hard and soft materials they contain (including 3D printers, laptops, e-textiles and power tools), as well as tensions around standardization. Herold's article helps to define the movement, including its contradictions and incongruences, to update educators on developments in the conversation about making and to distill some of the key questions to consider in our schools as we contemplate adding or growing maker spaces and programs.

Meghan Tally, English Department Chair, Windward School, CA
Education Week's blogs: Digital Education, April 11, 2016
5.Team To Team or Not to Team?
Team Spirit: Businesses are embracing the idea of working in teams. Managing them is hard, by Schumpeter

This short provocative piece in this month's The Economist reviews some recent research about the effectiveness of working in teams. As schools continually push team learning and leading, both mirroring and motivating the for-profit sector, knowing how to manage and use teams becomes ever more pressing. The article not only points out the strengths of effective teamwork, but also examines some of the challenges. One business professor notes that, "Teams are not always the answer - teams may provide insight, creativity and knowledge in a way that a person working independently cannot; but teamwork may also lead to confusion, delay and poor decision making." When you dig deeper into the lack of training that business executives receive - Deloitte reports only 12% of the executives they contacted feel they understand the way people work together in networks - and compare that to the way "millennials" have been educated to work in teams, there is a disconnect between expectation and lived experience in the work place. Perhaps independent schools can help, educating students about how to work in teams, how to manage teams and when to use teams to get the best results.

Eric Temple, Lick-Wilmerding High School, CA
The Economist, March 19, 2016
  Original Originals
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant

Adam Grant goes beyond encouraging us to understand the non-conforming student. He shows the reader how non-conformists and those who challenge conventional wisdom can be among our most creative leaders. Grant champions the willingness to take risks with ideas as a vital skill and he shows parents, teachers and business thinkers how to increase the likelihood of raising successfully original thinkers. With a combination of resourcefulness, creativity and comfort in going against the grain, "originals", says Grant, can be found everywhere, from early years classrooms to the business world. What they can teach us breaks some long-held beliefs. Of group work, Grant says, research points to the generation of ideas being more productive when done by individuals. The group experience comes into play as superior for assessing ideas for utility, critical thinking, compiling data to support ideas and gaining the skills of argument and listening. Grant brings wisdom to the question of how to teach students to rock the boat while keeping it steady. He makes promising and practical suggestions for using his findings in classrooms. For example, in his classes at Wharton School of Business, he invites the lively presentation of completely counter-intuitive ideas that are research-based. Grant takes special care to ground each chapter of his book in his purpose in writing it: to teach people how to make a difference by learning to meaningfully and responsibly question accepted wisdom and move towards original, even impossible, ideas that can change the world.

Elizabeth Morley, Kobe Shinwa Women's University, Kobe, Japan
Penguin Random House. February 2, 2016
Beyond "You Know It When You See It"
Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, by Sylvia Ann Hewlett

We have all met people who immediately grab our respect, not just our attention. These people exude confidence, speak with eloquence and draw others in without being arrogant or overly-charismatic. We know it when we see or feel it, but the exact trait that draws us in can be difficult to pinpoint. In her new book, Sylvia Ann Hewlett dives into three universal dimensions of what she calls executive presence: appearance, communication and gravitas. Although the book is written for the corporate world, the definition and deconstruction of these dimensions are applicable to those who work in education - specifically to educational leaders. In schools, teachers must have a presence that allows them to seem poised but also relatable to students. While many administrators are teachers by trade, they are challenged to walk the line between "relatable" presence that comes so naturally in the classroom and "authoritative" presence that is a necessary and sometimes overlooked component of establishing credibility. The book clearly articulates and defines tangible ways in which an educational leader can establish effective leadership presence.

Heather Robinson, Ed.M. candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
HarperBusiness, June 3, 2014

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