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The Best From “Interviews Of The Month” — 2010

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As regular readers know, last year I began a new series called “Interview of the Month.” In it, I interview people in the field of education. The main criteria is that I want to learn more about them, and I think they have something to offer to me and to readers of this blog.

I thought it might be useful to readers and to me to revisit these interviews and pick-out what I think is the best part of each interview.

You might be interested in The Best From “Interviews Of The Month” — 2009.

Here are my picks of The Best From “Interviews Of The Month”:

Lydia Breiseth

Lydia Breiseth is from Colorín Colorado, the popular resource site for teachers and parents of English Language Learners.

Colorín Colorado is a bilingual website with free resources for parents and teachers of English language learners (ELLs). We are based at the public broadcasting affiliate WETA in Washington, DC, and our resources include parent reading tip sheets in 11 languages, articles about ELL instruction, webcasts, podcasts, multicultural booklists for kids and teens, and bilingual author interviews.

Valerie Strauss

Washington Post journalist Valerie Strauss writes the increasingly well-known “The Answer Sheet” blog at the Post. “The Answer Sheet” is becoming the “go to” place on the Web for thoughtful pieces on educational policy.

It is understandable that people trying to bring about change become frustrated but they have to resist the urge to go nuclear. Very strident messages get ignored, and that doesn’t help anybody’s cause. The best way to get messages across is by being concise, using facts and never calling anybody a nasty name. Even if they deserve it.

Robert Pondiscio

Robert Pondiscio is the writer of the always thought-provoking Core Knowledge blog.

Ed reform worships almost exclusively at the altar of structures while ignoring teaching and learning. The idea seems to be that if you have the right pay structures, accountability measures, types of schools, etc. all will be well. In my experience, that’s completely backward. The structures don’t matter unless we’re clear on what quality instruction and curriculum look like. You end up with two different flavors of bad. I’m loathe to waive the bloody shirt, but I think there’s a certain short-sightedness that comes from education policy championed by people with no classroom experience.

Barnett Berry

Barnett Berry is the President and CEO of the Center for Teaching Quality. I guess you might call it an educational policy “think tank,” but what makes it so unique is that it actually works with hundreds of K-12 teachers from around the country to research and develop specific recommendations and then advocate for them (in the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the Teacher Leaders Network, one of the Center’s programs).

Over the last several years the vitriol directed toward university-based teacher education and unions has both fascinated and troubled me. I find very few journalists questioning the near uniform enmity against those who seek to professionally prepare teachers and those who organize them for collective action. Don’t get me wrong — there is a lot wrong with both preparation programs and teacher unions. But their shortcomings are pale when compared to those of administrators who seek to silence even the best teachers, ideological researchers who produce shoddy evidence about what works or doesn’t, and politicians who make decisions about the best interests of themselves and the lobbyists who influence them, and not about students and the teachers who serve them. I would suggest the pushback against teacher education and unions is more about those who do not want a well-educated professional workforce, filled with empowered teachers who will not necessarily comply with those currently in power.

David Deubelbeiss

David Deubelbeiss is the founder of EFL Classroom 2.0 which, in my opinion, is the very best resource on the web for teachers of English Language Learners. David also writes his own blog, and can be followed on Twitter.

There is way too too too much profit by companies in education. (think Kaplan, think Oxford – teachers should read their financial reports). Lots of effort spent to constrict the creativity of teachers and to make “product” and not enough spent on actually fostering teacher training. [oh yeah, they will always point to this project and that project or cry "poor" but it is a drop in the bucket and like BP talking about their investments in alternative energies]. It is a big negative – how institutionalized learning/education is and continues to be.

Renee Moore

Renee Moore has been teaching high school in the Mississippi Delta for over fifteen years. She is a colleague in the Teacher Leaders Network, a popular blogger, and part of a group of educators that have recently initiated a direct dialogue with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

My husband and I have raised 11 children; two of whom had special needs. No two of our children are alike. I’ve now taught thousands of students; each one different and precious. We as parents and educators must reject the attempts to standardize and restrict children in either curriculum or assessment. One reason parents have been shut out of the educational process in many ways is that schools were designed at the turn of the last century to make it convenient for adults to mass educate children efficiently. It’s time to redesign public education to make it effective for children and convenient for their families.

Mary Ann Zehr

Mary Ann Zehr is an assistant editor at Education Week covering, among other topics, English Language Learner issues. She writes a must-read blog for Ed Week titled Learning The Language.

I meet many English-language learners whom I find to be inspiring. I’m particularly impressed by students who have missed years of schooling and come to this country and take advantage of whatever opportunity they have to learn. I’ve met students who have learned to read for the first time IN ANY LANGUAGE when they were teenagers. That can’t be easy. I think their stories should be told.

Carrie Rose

Carrie Rose is Executive Director of the nationally acclaimed Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project. Our school works closely with Carrie and the Project, I’ve written a chapter about it in my book on parent engagement, and I also wrote an article about it last year for Teacher Magazine.

The real barrier to home visits working at a school is usually connected to the assumptions we hold. In other words, what does the staff already think is true about the students/families/community? What do the families already think is true about the staff and school? We spend a considerable amount of time in our training session addressing this barrier and offering a practical exercise we can all use to “check our assumptions”.

Sue Waters

Many know Sue Waters from her writing The Edublogger and her own personal/professional blog. Sue has helped enormous numbers of teachers get started in using blogs and other forms of social media to help with their own professional development and with using those tools with students.

When we talk about the state of the education blogosphere — in terms of using with students it is definitely growing. Educators are being more aware of online technologies and the importance of using them with their students. We’re seeing a continual increase in the use of blogs with students for an extremely wide range of purposes. Yet how educators are using blogs for their personal use is changing as social networking is evolving. Tools such as Twitter and Facebook are complementing blogs, helping their content reach a wider audience and changing how readers interact with the blogger. Once conversations with your readers were in post(s) comments or on other blog posts, now they are often spread from Twitter, Facebook, comments etc.

Marvin Marshall

Marvin Marshall is the author of the influential education book “Discipline Without Stress, Punishment or Rewards” and the newer book “Parenting Without Stress.”

Understand that no one can change another person. People change themselves. And that the least effective way to have a person want to change is by using commonly-used approaches such as relying on rules and using coercion.

Jim Burke

Jim Burke is the author of numerous books and founder of the popular English Companion Ning group.

Trust kids to help you improve. Admit your vulnerabilities whenever you can. Go public with your own learning. This transformed me. To admit that I really struggled with a poem or try a piece of writing they are doing and enter into the process you are imposing on them. You see things you would not have noticed, experience the world from their side of the desk. They appreciate it and see how it helps you be a better, more responsive teacher.

Look for more interesting interviews in 2011!

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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