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"The first and most important step toward reducing risks is to acknowledge that the potential for an incident exists in any school district in the nation."

Kenneth Trump, "Proactive School Security and Emergency Preparedness Planning"


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PERSONAL LEARNING NETWORKS: Using the Power of Connections to Enhance Education


If you want to really challenge your thinking about the roles of teachers in the classroom, take a few minutes to watch Newcastle University (UK) professor Sugata Mitra talk about the research he's doing on providing technology to poverty-stricken kids in India. His "Hole in the Wall" experiment, in which he put a stand-alone, Internet-enabled computer, keyboard and mouse facing inward into a walled-off Delhi slum, shows that even children who know nothing about computers can self-organize to learn quickly and deeply on their own without any adult supervision.

On April 6, 2010, Jack O'Connell held a press conference to announce that California faced a teacher shortage. The state's superintendent of public instruction cited anticipated retirements over the next ten years, teacher attrition through layoffs, and a break in the supply line from teacher preparation universities as major factors in creating a critical shortage of teachers in the state. After a lull in the past five years, student enrollment in California is predicted to grow, creating a mismatch between supply and demand for teachers.

What a difference a year can make.

Social networking has become a quick and efficient way for K12 administrators to gain professional development.

Lyn Hilt, principal of Brecknock Elementary School in the Eastern Lancaster County (Pa.) School District recently had to create a new acceptable use policy for elementary student computer use. She posted on Twitter that she was looking for ideas, and within minutes she had dozens of examples from other districts' administrators, including a video that had interviews with students and an administrator discussing the rights and responsibilities of students.

As the profession of teaching continues to get more attention given recent events, a growing number of school districts from New York to California are adopting "value-added" measures of teaching quality to award bonuses or even tenure. And two competitive federal grants are spurring them on.

You can't walk away from the movie Waiting for Superman and not be convinced that public education in the United States is a dismal failure, that it's the sole fault of the teacher unions, and that the only solution to this obvious crisis is more charter schools. Wrong on all counts. The film depicts the classic "simple solution to a complex problem" by featuring a few examples of successful charter schools. It delivers a huge but unwarranted condemnation of the nation's public schools.

Alfie Kohn, renowned author, speaker, and progressive education advocate, continues his fight against traditional classroom teaching in Feel-Bad Education. Kohn's 12th book is a collection of essays detailing—as its title suggests—how conventional teaching, testing, praise and punishment methods create an environment unsuitable for learning.

Who would want to be a new teacher these days? Only the very hardy, that's for sure. Most of you can probably remember your first teaching assignment—the unruly student, the difficult parent, the office manager with the key to the office supplies just beyond your reach. New-teacher travails, mishaps and mistakes are a staple of lunchroom legend. It's much tougher now.