Inquiry-based learning means asking questions that demand students use evidence from the text to support their thinking. It means challenging students to respond to the differing ideas of their classmates. And it means pushing students to further their own thinking.
Research suggests a diverse teaching force can improve students’ learning experiences. That’s the goal of a three-year, $16 million program called NYC Men Teach, designed to add 1,000 black, Latino and Asian men to the city’s teaching rosters by 2018.
Teaching is losing its magic. Every year, the profession loses some of our most effective colleagues prematurely. Moreover, we fail to attract enough college graduates who have the talent and passion for teaching.
Many teachers find themselves isolated in classrooms without the right training or support. Others receive only one or two afternoons of PD per year. The need for more effective professional development for teachers is especially important right now, with new academic standards being introduced across the country.
Few teachers receive individualized professional development, though many are expected to personalize learning for students. Microcredentials—digital badges that teachers earn by learning a skill and demonstrating mastery through student results—offer a PD pathway designed to be highly differentiated and engaging.
The digital classroom is no longer a new concept—half of school districts nationwide believe they’ve completed their 1-to-1 initiatives and the infrastructure required, according to the annual Digital School Districts Survey from the Center for Digital Education, published in March.
Burdened by demands to show outcomes and achievement, early education classrooms are often reduced to scripted lessons and meaningless craft work that imparts little learning, Yale early childhood education lecturer Erika Christakis says in her book The Importance of Being Little.
In their book, Transforming Ice Age Schools: A Practical Guide for School Leaders, Leighangela Brady and Lisbeth Johnson argue that, beyond superficial “fixes,” little has changed in the underlying structure of education. The result: students unprepared for the complex challenges that await them after high school.
Teachers and administrators face tough challenges in education. Politicians are constantly trying to micromanage our practices, while accountability measures are abundant and budgets are tight. Coming to work isn’t always pleasant when it feels like the odds are stacked against us.