10 Ways to Recognize a Learning Organization
by James Ellsberry, CEO, The Dewitt Institute for Professional Development
The absence of certain characteristics may point the way to professional development needs in a district. You know you're in the presence of a learning organization if:
1. People ask each other a lot of questions.
2. People listen to one another.
3. People cue in one another, explaining their thinking as they share ideas with others.
4. People have access to relevant, timely and accurate information.
5. People are aware of what's going on, what other departments and individuals do in the context of the whole.
6. People embrace the rites, rituals and traditions that define the culture by using shared metaphors and a common vocabulary.
7. People take improvement seriously, with performance monitored, data recorded and results assessed.
8. People approach conflict in an open, straightforward manner.
9. People are self-motivated, with external rewards and punishments seldom being factors in driving performance.
10. People are open and honest in assessing current reality through accurate, truthful feedback.
Adapted from The Superintendent's Fieldbook ($39.95), by Nelda Cambron-McCabe, Luvern L. Cunningham, James Harvey and Robert H. Koff. Corwin Press/American Association of School Administrators, 2005. Also new from Corwin Press is The Superintendent as CEO: Standards-Based Performance ($35.95), by John R. Hoyle, Lars G. Bjork, Virginia Collier and Thomas Glass.
Testing Student Learning, Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness
Ed. by Williamson M. Evers and Herbert J. Walberg, www.hoover.org, $15
It's not the testing--it's the tests. Taking a look at the professional, technical and public policy issues surrounding student achievement and teacher effectiveness, this book from the Hoover Institution argues against common objections to testing and shows how tests can help. It presents specific constructive uses for tests, such as for diagnosing learning difficulties and assessing teacher strengths and weaknesses. An examination of the NAEP science and mathematics tests and the TIMSS Observational Study, as well as detailed case studies for two states, are also included.
Teachers College Press
The Culture of Education Policy
by Sandra J. Stein, www.teacherscollegepress.com, $26.95
Social and educational policy can shape, if not constrain, the work of educating students, argues Stein, academic dean of the New York City Leadership Academy for aspiring and current principals. The book provides a historical overview of education policy since 1965 to show how underlying assumptions of policymakers and bureaucratic red tape can interfere with both educational practice and the goals of the legislation itself.
Gender in Urban Education: Strategies for Student Achievement
by Alice E. Ginsberg, Joan Poliner Shapiro and Shirley P. Brown, www.heinemann.com, $21
This book focuses on the relationship between the needs of boys and girls, offering 38 strategies on how to create gender equity in urban middle and high school classrooms. The ideas include everything from organizing staff and community discussions to helping educators in specific subject areas move beyond the concept of "add women and stir" to make the curriculum more gender balanced.
Teaching Toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom
by William Ayers, www.beacon.org, $23
An educator and activist, Ayers shares his vision that the core of teaching is ethical work. Drawing on examples from literature, history and film, he depicts the classroom as a natural state of ethical action and argues that educators must work to create classrooms where all opinions can be heard and equally valued, so that students realize the importance of self-education and become creators of their own lives.