Over the course of the last few years, I’ve been working hard at developing a system for keeping kids posted on the essential outcomes for the units that I’m required to teach at school. While I know that’s a pretty basic practice, it is also an essential one. Most experts — think Hattie, Reeves and Marzano — will tell you that kids are more likely to meet your expectations when they know just what those expectations are.
William M. Ferriter
William M. Ferriter is a sixth-grade science teacher in a professional learning community near Raleigh, North Carolina. A National Board Certified Teacher, he has designed professional development courses for educators nationwide.
This post is part of a series on In Praise of American Educators (And How They Can Become Even Better).
Let’s start with a simple truth: As a full-time classroom teacher, I have spent the better part of the past fifteen years wrestling with failed policies, frustrated by the suggestion that practitioners are to blame for everything that is wrong with American schools, and paralyzed, waiting for meaningful change that never seems to come.
Every year, Project Tomorrow — an education nonprofit dedicated to “ensuring that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world” — conducts a survey of students and stakeholders designed to gather input and opinions on education, technology and 21st Century skills.
In a recent article titled Meeting the Challenge of Infusing Relevant PD in Schools, Lyle Hamm and Kevin Cormier argue that professional learning communities — which encourage colleagues to relentlessly question their practice together in service of student learning — often fail as a professional development strategy primarily because they require peers to come together for weekly face-to-face meetings with one another:
Imagine being an educator and getting up each week during a Canadian winter and travelling into a PLC session for a 7:00 a.m. meeting prior to preparing to teach all day. Or perhaps even more exhausting for educators is attending a session for one hour each week after they have finished teaching all day. This adds minimal value to the pedagogy of the educator; instead, it potentially creates mild to major anxiety and toxicity among staff and affects the school culture negatively.
One of the questions that I’m often asked is, “What blogs do you think are worth following? If I wanted to start learning right away, what should I be reading?”
That question is REALLY hard to answer simply because there are SO many people who are sharing ideas in online spaces that you can literally find TONS of content on any topic that motivates you. No single list of “blogs worth following” will ever accurately represent the wonderful diversity of thought and voices available to today’s motivated learners.
That being said, here are five guys who have had a sustained impact on my thinking over the years: