For the multiple decades that I have been an educator and even before, we have tried to help students catch up by remediating learners or going backwards to go forward. This is the usual approach to help students overcome learning loss especially for those students who are far below grade level in reading, writing, or mathematics. Although this may help to fill some of a student’s learning gaps it does not help them to reach grade-level knowledge and skill proficiency fast enough for the majority of students to catch up with their peers. Unfortunately, this school year has truly exacerbated learning loss for almost every student. If this situation is not fully addressed or simply a case of remediation or going backwards to go forward, the sheer number of students who do not learn at grade level or beyond will increase. In addition, as each school year and course marches on students get farther and farther behind creating a cycle of remediation that is hard to escape. In fact, it can seem like a life sentence for most students. The gap between those students who are achieving grade level learning and those that are not gets wider and wider as a student matriculates through each school year. We cannot continue to go backwards to go forward. It widens the achievement gap and inequities in our system become even more pronounced. Read more
Sharon V. Kramer
Sharon V. Kramer, PhD, an author and a consultant, is a former assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She has taught in elementary and middle schools and was a principal, director of elementary education, and professor.
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We all know that teachers are the most impactful factor contributing to student achievement. No one would disagree that teachers are the defining factor in raising achievement levels in each classroom. Over time we have also discovered that the most important factor in improving whole schools or districts is the leader. We have heard the mantra over and over again, Leadership Matters. I agree. But not just any leader can improve a school or district particularly an underperforming or priority school. It takes a leader who understands that their role is to build the capacity of the staff to effect positive change. This leader also understands the need to harness the power within to raise the levels of achievement for all students. In other words, it takes a leader who can harness the power within to improve their school. This most often means accelerating the learning of both staff and students.
PLC is not a meeting. It’s a way of being!
As I work with schools across the nation and beyond, I often hear statements like these: “Our PLCs are meeting on Tuesday.” “We will be ‘PLCing’ on Wednesday afternoon.” “PLCs happen here every other week.”
When I hear this, I know that there is not a clear understanding of what a PLC actually is. Read more
What If Our Actions Spoke Louder Than Our Words?
I have been a student of professional learning communities for well over two decades. I remember reading the first book that Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker wrote (Professional Learning Communities at Work) and being intrigued by the reasons that they chose the phrase professional learning community. It turns out that their choice of words was a purposeful decision, as they described in the breakthrough book that served as a call to action back in 1998. Read more
I have the good fortune of working with teachers and administrators across the nation and beyond. I am in awe at the work ethic and dedication to students seen on a daily basis. I believe in my heart that everyone comes to school with the best of intentions each and every day. And yet, despite this hard work, students still struggle. I’m left to wonder, why? It certainly is not for lack of trying. It is not about insufficient skills or knowledge. Does teaching take superhuman power? What can be done to propel all students to higher levels of learning?
The task of increasing student learning can be daunting, in part because it often requires change beyond first-order change. Second-order change is needed. Read more