The Learning Professional
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December 2018 Volume 39, No. 6

By

Teaching is an art – and a science

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Is teaching an art or a science? It’s a little of both. There is artistry in the way teachers connect with students and foster their understanding. At the same time, there is a science to teaching and learning, an evidence base on which to build our approaches to developing students’ knowledge, skills, and competencies. We…

Focus adult learning on high-quality instructional materials

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At Learning Forward, we are embracing an emphasis on the implementation of high-quality instructional materials. As always, our work centers on building the capacity of all educators to ensure all students experience excellent teaching and learning. Because research has helped to clarify precisely where teachers need to increase their capacity for maximum impact, we are…

Educators can pave the path to equity

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Whitney Oakley has worn many hats during her career in education, including some she didn’t expect. After her district began to focus on high-quality instructional materials and adopted new resources, she found herself not only overseeing curriculum decisions and professional learning, but driving a forklift loaded with lesson materials and serving as what she jokingly…

Stephanie Hirsh offers an example of leadership in action

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As I’ve served on the board of trustees for Learning Forward, and particularly over the last 12 months as president, I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to work side by side with our executive director. As you know, Stephanie Hirsh will soon be taking a transition step, so I’d like to share my gratitude for her…

Let’s get specific about how leaders can build trust

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School leadership literature repeatedly identifies trust as essential for creating high-gain schools — schools where student gain scores are more than one year’s worth of achievement at a given grade level. These are schools that get results beyond what their demographics would have predicted (e.g. Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Bryk, Sebring, Allensworth, Luppescu, & Easton,…

Engaging in science research changes teachers’ beliefs and practice

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Meaningful and relevant learning is just as critical for adults as it is for students. This is a central tenet of Learning Forward’s work and undergirds the Standards for Professional Learning. This is especially important when standards for student learning change and there is a gap between how teachers have been teaching and how they…

Keeping up with hot topics

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CURRICULUM REFORM  Curriculum Reform in the Nation’s Largest School Districts Center for American Progress, August 2018 A troubling number of U.S. school districts are failing to use highly rated instructional materials, according to this report. Researchers identified math and English language arts materials used by the nation’s 30 largest districts, then examined how those materials…

Materials matter

Instructional materials + professional learning = student achievement

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A number of research summaries over the last few years have brought attention to the impact that high-quality instructional materials have on student learning. The U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, which produces summaries of rigorous research, has identified a number of effective curricula with large effect sizes on students’ reading, math, and science…

Beyond buy-in

Teachers learn to evaluate and adopt materials

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In 2016, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in southern California began the process of adopting a new math curriculum. Teachers and community members were dissatisfied with the existing program because it wasn’t meeting teachers’ instructional needs or students’ learning needs. Public dissatisfaction made it imperative to involve teachers and the community in the process. We…

Strong materials in the hands of great teachers

A year of school visits highlights what makes curriculum work

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K-12 education has witnessed a sea change in attitudes about curriculum as a serious reform strategy. The movement gained traction in the wake of the Common Core State Standards, when newly created curriculum products emerged. Robert Pondiscio, senior fellow and vice president for external affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, called curriculum “the last,…

Step by step

Preparation and professional learning support implementation of quality materials

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Picture a school district where the majority of students read below grade level. The district adopted a new English language arts curriculum anchored in complex texts and analytical writing tasks, chose a curriculum, ordered the materials, and hosted a half-day training for teachers. As they began to teach with the new curriculum, teachers adapted materials…

Open source for opening minds

New OpenSciEd materials support science standards

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It is an exciting time for science education. Many states have adopted new standards guided by the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science (National Research Council, 2012), either the Next Generation Science Standards (Next Generation Science Standards Lead States, 2013) or standards developed according to these National Research Council guidelines. More than 60% of…

From theory to practice

Careful planning makes the difference in implementing effective districtwide secondary programming

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It is midyear. A high school principal calls a teaching staff meeting. The agenda has one thing on it: a new initiative the district has mandated. Knowing few details about the program and with no implementation plan from the district, the principal is brief. In reaction to the news, one hand raises in protest, then…

Building blocks of collaboration

A variety of coaching roles can strengthen teams

In our work with schools and districts across the country, we find there is a strong expectation that collaborative teams will improve student learning. Many districts also expect instructional coaches to be a part of these teams, although there is much confusion about what roles they should play within a team. We hear questions like:…

Learning Forward on Capitol Hill

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Photo by Melinda George. From left: Stephanie Hirsh, executive director, Learning Forward; Pat Jones, instructional coach, Woodland Public Schools; Paul Fleming, assistant commissioner, Tennessee Department of Education; Chad Sutton, assistant superintendent for academic services and school accountability, North Kansas City Schools, Missouri; and Alan Ingram, president, Learning Forward. Learning Forward’s Capitol Hill briefing on September…

Foundation partners with districts to explore innovation

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Teachers engaged in high-quality professional learning are akin to hikers venturing into unknown terrain. Experienced companions are invaluable as they negotiate the complexities of the change process. That is why members of the Learning Forward Foundation serve as guides for the educators we support with our grants. The trek of administrators in New Jersey’s North…

The value of instructional materials

High-quality instructional materials are linked with effective teaching and student success. But teachers and students have unequal access to them. Professional learning about selecting and implementing instructional materials can help close that gap.

Implementing instructional materials

A conversation

While the articles in this issue of The Learning Professional can offer readers a solid foundation in understanding the intersection of instructional materials and professional learning more deeply, considering how to adapt or apply this new understanding will involve team study, reflection, and collaboration. Purpose The following pages include a set of protocols for teams…

Evidence, evidence, evidence

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Evidence of impact is not optional. From a state’s ESSA plans to Title II to talking with the district superintendent, everyone wants to know when — or whether — professional learning is making an impact and what is the evidence that indicates impact. Learning Forward is here to help. We invite you to join your…

Through the lens of Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning

Many of the articles in this issue of The Learning Professional demonstrate Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning in action. Use this tool to deepen your own understanding of what standards implementation might look like and to explore implementation in various contexts. In this issue, we highlight three examples.  

Spotlight

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Call To Action

Topic: Uncategorized

Make the connection between Learning Forward’s standards
and ESSA.
A crosswalk demonstrating how they align will assist states and districts to see the similarities and accelerate the application of both. 

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Why Learning Forward is my professional lifeline

Topic: Uncategorized

When Beth Brockman transitioned from being a school leader to a district leader for professional learning, she reached out to Learning Forward for connection and support.

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A path forward for professional learning in India

Topic: Uncategorized

Sandeep Dutt is chairman of Learning Forward India, which he founded as an international affiliate of Learning Forward in 2015. He is a social entrepreneur, coach, consultant, and speaker focusing on school culture and school transformation. Since 2012, he has been chairman of the Bhadrajun Artisans Trust, which runs the Fabindia Schools Programme with the…

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Being Forward

Topic: Uncategorized

Highlights from the past year show strategic priorities in action.
These strategic priorities demonstrate how Learning Forward is responding to the needs of its members and stakeholders while also addressing issues in the field of education and professional learning.

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