Time and Money

Matt Renwick:

“It’s about more than just time or money. It is about treating educators as professionals striving to always become better in a very complex profession. Only in an environment that honors the nonlinear path that learning sometimes takes can this occur.”

Originally posted on Theory and Practice:

The Art of Giving and Receiving Advice by David A. Garvin and Joshua D. Margolis (Harvard Business Review, January/February 2015)

Two Harvard business professors explore the two roles that oftenplay out in professional settings: Advisor and advisee. This article relates well to teachers, administrators, and instructional coaches. They identify the many hurdles involved in giving and receiving advice, includingan inaccurate assessment of one’s own knowledge, dismissing ideas because they don’t fit with one’spredetermined line of thinking, and surrounding oneself with poor advisers.

When you pick your advisers, you pick your advice.

For advisors, the best wayinhelping those looking for support and ideas is being an active listener. This includes providing ample time to ask open-ended questions in order to determine the role one should play as the advisor. It is ultimately about helping the advisee become independent as a leader in their organization, as the advisor won’t be there forever…

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Social Identities

Matt Renwick:

Being a member of a group is an essential part of who we are as people. Many benefits derive from these associations. But when these influences also cloud our thinking about important topics that might butt up against current beliefs of the group, how do we respond? With thoughtfulness, or defensiveness? Comments are always welcomed.

Originally posted on Theory and Practice:

I teach only the truth – but that shouldn’t make you believe it. – Martin Fischer

Source: Sean MacEntee via Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/8WnyVB) Source: Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Why Your Customers’ Social Identities Matter by Guy Champniss, Hugh N. Wilson, and Emma K. Macdonald (Harvard Business Review, January/February 2015)

Three business professors and researchers explain the importance of social identities. This concept can be defined as the personas people take on and the decisions they make based on the community or group in which they are associated with or represented by at that time. When a social context changes – for example, a couple of famillies installing solar panels in a community – this action influences other people’s behaviors that reside in this neighborhood (they are more likely to buy solar panels, too).

This phenomena relates to all communities and groups, online and otherwise. Individual interviews about how a person feels about a product or service…

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What is a big misconception about technology in education? 

I posed this question to the many members of a Google+ Community I host, related to my book I published last year. Below are a few replies.

What statements might you add to this list? Please share in the comments.

That it can replace good teaching or even a teacher.

That it replaces conversations (oral communication) in the classroom, that it is a ‘fad’ that will pass, and that kids don’t need it because I (elder teacher / parent) didn’t have it when I was in school, and I did just fine…

That learning can become turn-key.

$750,000 in proposed cuts to Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools

Today, I wrote this post on our school’s blog. It will also serve as the front page for our school newsletter next week. We need to advocate for what’s right for our students, families and staff. To not advocate is to concede our authority as the experts in our profession.

Before sharing details regarding the state’s proposal to reduce school funding, consider the following:

• Wisconsin has the highest high school graduation rate of any state in the U.S. (Source: National Center of Education Statistics)

• There is a correlation between increased funding for public education and higher achievement for students, especially for students living in poverty. (Source: Education Policy Analysis Archives)

• The longer a student stays in school correlates not only with a longer life span for that student, but also for that student’s parent(s). (Source: Washington Post)

Knowing this information, why would any state leader propose to reduce funding of a successful institution that not only improves students’ learning outcomes, but their family’s own health and happiness? This is a question that needs to be answered by our local legislators. To be able to ask this question, we need to understand how funding for public education is being cut and why.

The How

Cuts to public education are happening in a couple of ways. First, this year’s proposed state budget calls for a $150 decrease in per pupil funding. That means that for every student in Wisconsin Rapids, the district would receive $150 less than we normally have in the past. Second, there is a request to expand the school choice and voucher program throughout the state. Specifically, some government officials are asking that the cap on the number of vouchers be lifted. This would allow even more families to enroll their child(ren) into private schools using public dollars.

The Why

While some suggest that public schools have enough money and that the competition created by school choice/vouchers helps improve education for all, the evidence shows otherwise. In fact, research from Public Policy Forum has shown that in Milwaukee, public school students outperform private school students. This is a startling fact, especially since public schools have to enroll all students regardless of poverty, behavior, or ability level. Private schools have and use discretion on who they enroll in school.

What you can do

This is not an issue with private schools per se, but with how the system is being (mis)used to defund public education. As parents, the best thing we can do is to contact our representatives and ask them why these harmful proposals are being considered. Thank you for advocating on behalf of our kids!

A New Theory and Practice Podcast – Connected Leadership

Originally posted on Theory and Practice:

Principal PD (4)

Tomorrow morning (Saturday, February 21, 8 A.M. CST), I will be joined by Spike Cook, Jessica Johnson, and Theresa Stager to discuss connected leadership. The title references Spike’s book from Corwin, part of the Connected Educator series.

During the podcast, we will discuss three articles I summarized from a previous post here at Theory and Practice. This podcast will be broadcasted live, either by clicking here or the embedded video below. In the meantime, leave a comment on this page to possibly win a free copy of Spike’s book!

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What’s wrong with this picture?

Every night, my wife and/or I read aloud to our kids, ages six and eight. One text we can all agree on to read is Highlights Magazine. Their motto is “Fun with a Purpose”.


We recently graduated from High Five, a junior version of Highlights, but the tenets of this publication remain the same. There are narratives, nonfiction, visuals, jokes, questions and answers, original poetry and artwork submitted by other kids and, what they may be best known for, hidden pictures puzzles. There is one hidden picture puzzle titled “What’s Wrong?”. The reader is supposed to find all of the silly things appearing in the illustration.

In the Q and A section of the most recent issue, a reader asked why Highlights never provides the answers to the “What’s Wrong?” puzzles. Here was the magazine’s reply:

We don’t provide answers for these scenes because what seems silly to one person may not seem silly to another. For example, a person wearing a space suit on the subway may seem wrong to one kid, but another might say, “That could be a person on the way to a costume party!”

Is this not the most brilliant answer to everything that is wrong with accountability in public education today? I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the editors and writers of Highlights to take the reins of the Department of Education. This ridiculous focus on standardized assessments as the primary focus on student achievement has led to school leaders and teachers teaching to the test and forgoing what they know is best for kids.

Like Highlights motto, we can also have fun with a purpose. There is no reason to wait for the political climate to change to make this happen. Teach with intention. Bring in authentic texts. Avoid cookie cutter curriculum that assumes some random publisher or expert is a better teacher than you. Ask open-ended questions and celebrate divergent thinking. Speak up to your school leaders and ask how the current district initiatives are benefiting students now and in the future, both academically and as people. Even though I place blame on the powers that be, I refuse to use it as an excuse for not teaching well.

I’ll end this rant with how Highlights closed out their response to the young person who wondered why the answers weren’t provided for their puzzles:

Look closely at the “What’s Wrong?” puzzles, compare what you see to what you know, think creatively – and have fun! What’s silly is up to you.


Matt Renwick:

Is education ripe for disruption? It depends on which areas and who you ask. While eBooks and online portfolios have gained a strong foothold in schools, MOOCs and BYOD continue to have their ups and downs in the K-12 environment. Why do some innovations make an impact on student learning and others do not? Consider sharing your response to this question in the comments.

Originally posted on Theory and Practice:

disrupt, dis-ˈrəpt, verb: to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way : to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something) – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Vince, a pianist with Orchestra for the Young, uses an iPad to house all of his music. Vince, a pianist with Orchestra for the Young, uses an iPad to house all of his music.

Disruptive Innovations in Reading Research and Practice by Susan B. Neuman and Linda B. Gambrell (Reading Research Quarterly, January/February/March 2-15)

The editors of this literacy research journal explore the concept of “disruption”. They compare the corporate world’s definition of this idea, which focuses on the bottom line, with education’s understanding, which “is to promote lifelong learning”. Neuman and Gambrell do not see education as a problem that needs fixing, but rather encourage subtle changes that can agitate the status quo. Both feel this is a necessary step in teaching reading and writing today.

If we are to participate – no less compete –…

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