How to get started

Change #5 drf

What Does It Take To Improve Schools?

Thomas Hatch

DRAFT

5/16

 

Module #4: How to get started

 

This module provides an overview of some of the key elements that need to be taken into consideration when creating learning experiences and learning environments. The goals include:

 

  • Developing an awareness of the variety of different kinds of designs for learning and school designs that are already being developed
  • Fostering understanding of the different elements of learning organizations (particularly curriculum, assessment, professional development, and community engagement)
  • Developing abilities to reflect on and craft connections between the purposes for learning, the goals for learning, and the elements that support learning

 

While the focus of this module is on creating schools, the goals include raising questions about the need for schools (and the many conventional structures that go with them). The key questions addressed in this module include:

 

  • Why learn? What is the purpose of learning/schooling?
  • How do organizational cultures help to they shape learning?
  • Who is the community and how does a school/learning design serve that community?
  • What role do educators play? What do they need to know and be able to do? What kind of support and resources do they require?
  • How will you know if your purposes are being accomplished and your goals are being addressed? How will the community know?
  • How are the different elements of a school (curriculum, assessment, professional development, community engagement, etc.) related to one another, to the purposes and to the learning goals?

 

In order to facilitate efforts to develop, examine, and pursue designs for learning, this module provides a brief introduction to the process and elements that go into design in general and designing schools in particular and it considers questions about the purposes, values, and cultures that are particularly relevant for school designers. It also introduces central concepts and theories of action that are reflected in recent approaches to three of the critical elements of schools today: community engagement, professional development, and assessment and accountability. Note that all of the materials and ideas in this module warrant further examination and this module is not meant as a replacement for other courses that address any of these topics.

Assignments

 

Assignment #1: What goes into designing a school?

            What do new schools look like? What can they look like? What goes into creating a new school?

 

            Required:

Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking, Harvard Business Review, 86, 85–92.

Darling-Hammond, L. (1997). “Structuring learner-centered schools” and “Staffing schools for teaching and learning.” In The right to learn. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 148-210.

Hatch, T. (2009). “Key practices for managing change.” Introduction to Part II in Managing to change: How schools can survive (and sometimes thrive) in turbulent times. New York: Teachers College Press. (Note: This introduction can be found at the end of Chapter 2 “Changing conditions, changing times”)

 

Selected school designs and models

 

For a quick introduction to some key ideas related to the design process, read the Brown article. In order to explore some of the key design considerations when attempting to develop schools and school-related learning experiences, read the Darling-Hammond and Hatch chapters. As you read, note the many different considerations that school designers have to take into account (e.g. budgeting, staffing, curriculum, assessment etc.), but pay particular attention to how and in what ways these different elements can come together in a coherent, powerful design.

 

Assignment #2: Purpose(s) & Culture(s)

Why have a school? What purpose does it serve? Who does it serve? What kind of culture(s) will reflect/support your purposes and values? (How) can culture(s) be influenced/shaped?

 

            Required:

Hatch, T. (2009). “Developing common purposes and shared understanding.” Chapter 3 in Managing to change: How schools can survive (and sometimes thrive) in turbulent times. New York: Teachers College Press.

Berger, R. “The radon project.” In A culture of quality. Providence, RI. Annenberg Institute for School Reform, 13-51.

Stoll, L. (1998). School culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin, 9.

 

Recommended:

Evans, R. (2001) “The culture of resistance.” In L. Iura (Ed.), The Jossey-Bass reader on school reform. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Meier, D. (1999). “Habits of mind: Democratic values and the creation of effective learning communities” in Common schools, uncommon futures: A working consensus for school renewal. New York: Teachers College Press.

 

These readings address issues of purpose and the challenges of trying to develop school culture(s) that are consistent with and support those purposes. While you read these articles, consider the relationship between purposes, practices and culture: What practices support the development of shared purposes and a productive school culture? What lessons and strategies do these readings suggest for school designers? Take note particularly of any ideas that you might be able to use to change or shape the culture in an organization with which you are familiar. In order to begin to apply what you are learning, reflect on your own or with colleagues on how the ideas in these readings may help you explain the culture(s) of schools (or other organizations) you have been a part of.   What contributed to productive cultures? What factors contributed to dysfunctional cultures? What (if any) strategies were successful in changing cultures?

 

Assignment #3: Key elements of school/learning design

This section of the module provides an introduction to several different approaches (and, at least implicitly, theories of action) related to community engagement; professional development; or assessment & accountability. Students are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with all the required readings to get a sense of both some of the critical functions that need to be accomplished by schools and some of the predominant ideas/theories about how to fulfill those functions. However, students are only required to read the articles associated with one of the topics. After reviewing the articles, choose one of the topics and sets of readings to explore in depth. Each topic includes at least two readings that reflect at least two different ways of approaching the relevant issues. Once you have read the articles, note your responses to several key questions and prepare to share your responses with your colleagues.

 

Key questions

  • What are the goals of the two approaches?
  • What are their key strategies?
  • What do you see as the advantages, challenges of each?

 

Community Engagement:

Who is your community? How does a school/learning design serve that community?

 

Required readings:

Hatch, T. (1998). How community action contributes to achievement. Educational Leadership, 55(8), 16-19.

Warren, M., Hong, S., Rubin, C. & Uy, P. (2009). Beyond the bake sale: A community-based relational approach to Parent Engagement in Schools. Teachers College Record, 111 (9), 2209-2254.

Epstein, J. L., & Salinas, K. C. (2004). Partnering with families and communities. Educational Leadership, 61(8), 12-18.

Sanders, M. G. (2003). Community involvement in schools: From concept to practice. Education and Urban Society, 35(2), 161-181.

 

Recommended readings

Center for Education Organizing (2012). Getting started in education organizing: Resources and strategies. Providence, RI.: Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

Parent Power: Education Organizing in NYC, 1995-2010 (Film, guide and resources). Providence, RI.: Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

Mitra D. L. (2006). Youth as a bridge between home and school: Comparing student voice and parent involvement as strategies for change. Education and Urban Society, 38, 455-480.

Hatch, T. (2009). “Managing the external environment.” Chapter 6 in Managing to change: How schools can survive (and sometimes thrive) in turbulent times. New York: Teachers College Press.

 

The Hatch & Warren articles describe a community organizing approach to improving schools while the Epstein approach describes a parent/community involvement approach and the Sanders article describes some of the theoretical background behind that approach. Read the four articles, paying particular attention to the roles and activities that parents and families are asked to take on in different approaches and the different theories of action these approaches suggest.

 

Professional Development:

            What role do educators play? What do they need to know and be able to do? What kind of support and resources do they require?

 

Required readings:

Elmore, R. & Birney, D. (1997). “Investing in teacher learning.” National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. http://www.nctaf.org/publications/Elmore.pdf

Aldeman, C. & Chuong, C. (2014). Teacher evaluations in an era of rapid change: From “unsatisfactory” to “needs improvement.” Sudbury, MA: Bellweather Education Partners.

 

Recommended readings:

Leana, C. (2011). The missing link in school reform. Stanford Social Innovation Review. http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/the_missing_link_in_school_reform

Heneman, H.H., Milanowski A. M. & Kimball, S. (2007). Teacher Performance Pay: Synthesis of Plans, Research and Guidelines for Practice. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Hatch, T. (2009). “Working on hiring and turnover” and “Creating a productive work environment.” Chapters 4 & 5 in Managing to change: How schools can survive (and sometimes thrive) in turbulent times. New York: Teachers College Press.

 

The Elmore and Birney article and Aldeman and Chuong discuss two different kinds of approaches to staff/professional development and building the “human capital” necessary for schools to make improvements. As you read, pay particular attention to the kinds of activities staff are engaged in each approach. What theories of adult learning and development do they suggest?

 

Assessment and Accountability

How will you know if your purposes are being accomplished and your goals are being addressed? How will the community know?

 

Required:

Darling-Hammond, L. & Snyder, J. (1992). Reframing accountability: Creating learner-centered schools.” In Ann Lieberman (ed.), The changing context of teaching, Ninety-first Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, 11-36. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Abelman, C. & Elmore, R. (1999) “When accountability knocks, will anyone answer?”

Hatch, T. (2013). Responsibility and accountability in (a Norwegian) context. In M. Kornhaber & E. Winner, E. (Eds.), Mind, work, and life.

 

Recommended for December 3rd:

Furman, S. (1999) The new accountability. Consortium for Policy Research in Education, University of Pennsylvania.

Hatch, T. (2009). “Managing the external environment.” Chapter 6 in Managing to change: How schools can survive (and sometimes thrive) in turbulent times. New York: Teachers College Press.

McDonald, J. The dilemmas of planning backwards. Providence, RI: Coalition of Essential Schools.

 

First read the Darling-Hammond and Snyder article to get an overview of some different kinds of accountability and accountability mechanisms. Then read the Abelman and Elmore discussion of accountability in schools in the US and Hatch’s discussion of the accountability-related systems in Norway and elsewhere and think about how those different accountability mechanisms are used in each approach. Note as well the key distinctions that Abelman and Elmore make between “internal” and “external” accountability and that Hatch makes between “answerability” for individual tasks and goals ad “responsibility” for broader goals and collective purposes. What different goals and theories of action are suggested by these distinctions?

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