Indiana Citizens for Public Education represents a collection of educators, parents, and community members deeply concerned about the state of public education in Indiana and the larger United States. We are pro-public education, anti-school privatization, pro-teacher, pro-democracy, and, at the core, invested in supporting good public schools that help all of our children.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Focusing on Learning in School Reform
Hey! How about some good news. Here's an effort to really to work on instruction that values the expertise of teachers and gives them the time to work together on strategies for learning. So much of reactionary, politicized efforts at school reform do the opposite: blame the teachers, pile on more paperwork, test & test again. What we know works is giving teachers the space and time to work as the professionals they are. The DOE could take a lesson.
This week more than 300 teachers and administrators from Indiana and beyond are participating in a project-based learning (PBL) workshop at Ben Davis High School. PBL reflects a reform effort coming from the efforts of educators, not politicians. Unfortunately, when politicians use the term "reform," they often mean increased competition and entrepreneurial schools. When educators use the term, they mean an increase in the quality of student learning.
IUPUI and CELL have taken a lead in providing the opportunities for educators to make meaningful changes in classrooms that address 21st century skills. PBL promotes rigorous projects that also engage community members in reviewing the work students create. My institution, University of Indianapolis, is focusing on PBL at the college level in teacher preparation, the medical professions, the arts, and the sciences. In particular, the UIndy Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship Program is preparing beginning teachers to teach with a project-based approach. Teachers at Tech High School, Decatur Central High School, and Ben Davis High School have made this commitment to more rigorous learning standards and are mentoring beginning teachers to do the same.
We educators understand that the quality of student work needs to become more rigorous. We know what needs to be done. It sometimes appears that educators are making little to no effort to reform schools. This initiative demonstrates that, despite the ongoing negative critique of teachers and schools, educators are looking at their methods so as to improve academic learning for all students.