Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 1, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Interview Of The Month: Ted Appel, An Exceptional Principal

As regular readers know, each month I interview people in the education world about whom I want to learn more. You can see read those past interviews here.

Ted Appel is the exceptional principal at the school where I teach, Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento. It’s the largest inner-city high school in the city, and over half of our students are English Language Learners. Ted has also been interviewed by Learning First, and he and I have co-authored an article titled The Positive Impact Of English Language Learners At An Urban School.

What led you to teaching in the classroom, and what prompted your decision to become a principal?

I had been working in outdoor programs for youth at risk for a few years, which was very rewarding and fun, but I felt like school had a overpowering impact on a child’s feelings about being a successful person. I also became interested in the experiential education movement and wondered how it could be applied to classroom learning.

I went into administration because I believed I had received some good training in strong instructional practices and I thought I could have a broader impact by training other teachers in some of those strategies. I eventually became a principal because I realized it was important to have influence over the whole culture of the school in order to really impact the practices in the classroom.

What are the three best things you think you’ve done since you’ve become Burbank’s principal, and what might be three mistakes?

I think the best thing I’ve helped to do at Luther Burbank is create an environment where teachers who are committed to making a difference in students’ lives, have an opportunity to do that work. We’ve created structures, in which everyone has a part, that have resulted in an environment that is orderly, consistent, respectful and dynamic. As a result, we’ve also been able to attract the kind of idealistic, talented, innovative, committed people, an urban school needs in order to make a real difference in kids’ lives.

The other thing I try to do is talk to a lot of people, a lot. The decision making/improvement process is ongoing. I put a lot of ideas out into discussion, hear a lot of feedback and alternative ideas. I think this dynamic leads to a positive professional culture and results in good decisions and creative experiments.

The first big mistake I made when I started was to allow students to use cell phones in the halls during lunch and passing periods. There was an incredible outbreak of organized fights including people from off campus. The hall monitors came to speak with me after three weeks and said, “change the policy or we quit”. What I learned wasn’t just about cell phone rules. I learned that if I think it may be a good idea to make some kind of change, I needed to involve the people who have different perspectives and or would be affected by the decision.

I understand that I make a lot of decisions every day and so I make a lot of mistakes, or don’t do things as well as I could or should. I approach the job like a constant job interview. You try to anticipate issues or questions and prepare with the best approach you know. You often need to think on your feet for what you perhaps did not expect. And you constantly analyze what you said or did and realize how you could have approached it better.

For principals who want to spend some reflective time on their own practice, what might be some important questions you’d recommend they might want to ask themselves?

I think principals need to consider who they talk to. Are they sharing ideas and listening to teachers and staff or just other administrators at the site and central office?

Are the structures, rules, and customs of the school currently necessary and relevant or do they exist for reasons that have disappeared?

Do you believe in the programs and practices of your school, or are you just managing and complying with rules and regulations that have been handed to you?

In looking at the beliefs of those who often self-described as “school reformers,” what do you think might be helpful ideas and unhelpful ones, and why?

It seems that the basis of the current school reform movement, is the belief that teachers and schools are not sufficiently motivated to get better. Thus, competition, punishment and rewards geared to outcome goals are their “innovations” for change and improvement. I believe this creates perverse incentives to manipulate outcomes rather than encourage know how and motivate sound practice.

I also don’t think it is helpful to refuse to acknowledge that some students come to school with intellectual, social, and cultural advantages to be successful in school environments. Acknowledging this fact is not a surrender to poor results. It is merely recognizing what anyone working in a classroom sees every day. It also helps when trying to honestly analyze what is needed, in terms of different approaches and resources, to help students to be successful. We have no problem acknowledging this in art, music or athletics. Why is there such fear in acknowledging it in academics?

I think it can be valuable to give students nationally normed tests. But these tests should not be used to label schools as good or bad. They should be used as a means to evaluate practice and examine ways schools can get better at helping students improve in the skills being assessed.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you’d like to share?

People want school improvement to come from a simple fix. With variables as complex as society itself, there will be no simple solutions for all schools and all kids. We need to approach improvement in education not as a fix but as an ongoing dynamic that is achieved through consistent commitment to a common ideal; all children, through education, are entitled to the widest possible array of intellectual, cultural, social, political and economic opportunity. This goal is certainly not easy, nor can we ever really know if it is fully realized. That understanding, that we will never have the absolute answer should not be a source of frustration, should be a source of energy and pride.

Thanks, Ted!

June 20, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

My Ten Best BAM! Radio Shows In 2016 – So Far

bambambamddd

 

As regular readers know, I do a ten-minute weekly BAM! Radio show to accompany my Education Week Teacher columns.

I thought readers might be interested in my choices for the best shows I’ve done in 2016 – So Far.

I’m adding this list to All Mid-Year 2016 “Best” Lists In One Place.

You can see all my shows at All My BAM Radio Shows – Linked With Descriptions.

You might also be interested in My Twelve Best BAM! Radio Shows In 2015.

Here are My Twelve Best BAM! Radio Shows In 2016 – So Far (they are not in any particular order):

Epic Classroom Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them with Gianna Cassetta and Karen Baptiste.

Bridging the Cultural Barrier with Immigrant Parents with Rusul Alrubail, Anna Bartosik and Jordan Lanfair.

Ed Tech Problems: Avoiding Those You Can, Managing Those You Can’t with Anne Jenks, Larissa Pahomov, and Jared Covili.

Teaching: If I Knew Then What I Know Now… with Roxanna Elden, Dave Stuart Jr., and Julia Thompson.

The Look and Feel of Culturally Responsive Instruction with Django Paris.

The Best Principal I’ve Ever Seen… with Ted Appel and Cathy Beck.

How Great Principals Help Teachers Grow: They Do This, Not That with Mark Estrada and Diana Laufenberg.

Why the Death of Paper Books May Be Greatly Exaggerated with Dan Willingham and Kristin Ziemke.

Student Grades Are In, Time to Reflect on Them with Kristina Doubet and Myron Dueck.

What Are the Best Ways to Assess Student Work? with Andrew Miller, Suzie Boss, and Meg Riordan.

June 19, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2016 – So Far

The-Best-Articles-Videosdddd

It’s time for another of my mid-year  “Best” lists (you can see all 1,600 “The Best…” lists here).

I’m adding this one to All Mid-Year 2016 “Best” Lists In One Place.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2015 – Part Two

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2015 – So Far

The Best Articles, Posts & Videos On Education Policy In 2014 – Part Two

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2014 – So Far

The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2013 — Part Two

All My 2013 “The Best…” Lists (So Far) On Education Policy In One Place

All My 2012 “The Best…” Lists On Education Policy In One Place

The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2012 — Part One

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2011 — Part Two

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Polcy In 2011 — Part One

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy — 2010

The “Best” Articles (And Blog Posts) About Education Policy — 2009

The “Best” Articles About Education — 2008

The “Best” Articles About Education — 2007

Here are my choices for The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2016 – So Far (let me know what you think I’m missing) – these are not listed in any order of preference (I’m starting off with links to “Best” lists I’ve posted over the past few months that relate to ed policy):

The Best Resources For Understanding The Every Student Succeeds Act

The Best Resources On Student Absenteeism

The Best Resources For Learning About The Multilingual Education Act Ballot Initiative In California

The Best Resources For Learning About The Ins & Outs Of Reclassifying ELLs

The Best Resources For Learning About “Deeper Learning”

The Best Resources On Student Agency & How To Encourage It

The “Best” Lists Of Recommendations About What “Effective” Teachers Do

The Best Resources For Learning How The Every Student Succeeds Act Affects English Language Learners

The Best Education “Year-In-Review” Round-Ups For 2015

The Best Education Predictions For 2016

The Best Articles For Beginning To Understand Zuckerberg’s Announced $45 Billion “Charitable” Gift

The Best “Fair Isn’t Equal” Visualizations

Slate is published an impressive series of twelve long articles on race and schools – all in one week – and called Tomorrow’s Test. You can access all of them at the bottom of that introductory article.

Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? A Review of the Research is from The Learning Policy Institute. I’m adding it to The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Both Why Teacher Tenure Is Important & The Reasons Behind Seniority-Based Layoffs.

Why so many people are worried about teacher diversity, in two charts is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism.

Competing Strands Of Educational Reform Policy: Can Collaborative School Reform and Teacher Evaluation Reform Be Reconciled? is a new and important paper from The Shanker Institute. It raises more questions than provides answers, but they’re very important questions.

School Funding Maps:  Hot on the heels of NPR publishing an impressive interactive on school funding across the United States, The New York Times unveiled one that looks even more impressive. Go to their Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares page, pop in the name of your school district, and it will vividly demonstrate how students in that district compare with others in academic achievement, school funding, and ethnic make-up of the student population.

Advancing Deeper Learning Under ESSA: Seven Priorities is from Stanford. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About “Deeper Learning.”

When School Districts Get Deliberate About Desegregation is from The Atlantic. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About School Desegregation (& Segregation) – Help Me Find More.

Another Flaw In Using Value-Added Measurement For Teacher Evaluation is a post I wrote about an important recent study.  My blog post itself is not really worthy of inclusion in this list, but the study combined with the little context I give is important.

The Harvard Business Review – of all places – has published what I think is the most thorough and devastating critique that I’ve seen of performance pay – see Stop Paying Executives for Performance. It’s targeting executive pay but, with a few minor changes in wording, the article can be applied to teacher pay and evaluation, as well as student assessment. It’s short, and definitely worth the read.

“Throwing money at the problem” may actually work in education is from The Washington Center For Equitable Growth. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning That Money Does Matter For Schools.

A Community Organizer’s Definition Of Leadership – How Can It Be Applied To Education? (Part One) is a post I wrote that people might find useful.

Stop Humiliating Teachers is a great new essay at The New Yorker. I’m definitely adding it to The Best Articles Providing An “Overall” Perspective On Education Policy.

Comparing Paper-Pencil and Computer Test Scores: 7 Key Research Studies is an important article over at Education Week (Report: Kids who took Common Core test online scored lower than those who used paper is a similar one at The Washington Post).

Stop repeating nonsense about ‘bad’ teachers. Just. Stop it. is from Icing On The Cake. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

Chicago Public Schools teachers and students need more than loveis by Ray Salazar.

Help wanted: California school districts scramble to hire teachers is a nice article by reporter Diana Lambert appearing in The Sacramento Bee today. It features how our school supports student teachers (created by Jim Peterson and Ted Appel), and you can read more about it at thethree-part series at my Education Week Teacher column on…how to support student teachers.

Ranking Is Not Measuring is by Peter Greene. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

New Study Suggests That Teacher Observations Should Focus More On Teacher Inputs, Less On Student Outcomes is a post I wrote that is on this “Best” list primarily because of some of the context it provides to links in it.

New Report: Does Money Matter in Education? Second Edition is from The Shanker Institute. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning That Money Does Matter For Schools.

New Study Finds Big Results From Ethnic Studies Classes

Statistic Of The Day: How Much Do Teachers Spend Out Of Their Own Pockets For Supplies?

Video: Jonathan Kozol On Savage Inequalities

The Myth of Unions’ Overprotection of Bad Teachers: Evidence from the District-Teacher Matched Panel Data on Teacher Turnover is a new research paper I learned about through The Shanker Institute. Here’s an excerpt:

The data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.

Study Finds Teachers Whose Students Achieve High Test Scores Often Don’t Do As Well With SEL Skills

May 29, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Ed Policy Issues

Here are some recent useful posts and articles on educational policy issues (You might also be interested in The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2015 – Part Two):

Changing The Narrative: Leveraging Education Policy To Address Segregation is from The Shanker Institute. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About School Desegregation (& Segregation) – Help Me Find More.

Recycling Poverty, Segregated Schools, and Academic Achievement: Then and Now is by Larry Cuban. I’m adding it to the same list.

Now is the time to experiment with inspections for school accountability is from The Brookings Institution and, as its written, is a terrible idea. However, our former principal, Ted Appel, and I have spoken about the advantages of the kind of “inspections” done by the WASC (Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association of Schools and Colleges), which has a group visiting over a period of days and which is combined with months of self-reflection by school faculty, administrators, students and staff as a potentially viable alternative for accountability.

“Transforming” Public Schools: Enough already with an Overhyped Word! is by Larry Cuban.

What Guides My Thinking on School Reform: Pulling the Curtain Aside is by Larry Cuban. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Providing An “Overall” Perspective On Education Policy.

Leaked Questions Rekindle Debate Over Common Core Tests is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

Lesson Study: When Teachers Team Up to Improve Teaching is from MindShift. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Professional Development For Teachers — Help Me Find More.
‘The idea that strong teacher unions impede education quality is ludicrous’ is from TES. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teachers Unions Are Important.

States that tie higher education funding to performance have it all wrong, report says is from The Washington Post.

I’m adding these next two resources to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments:

Teacher Evaluation That Goes Beyond Check Boxes is by David Edelman

REASSESSING TEACHER ASSESSMENTS is a series of five articles (of mixed quality) at Ed Week.

I’m adding these next two articles to The Best Resources On The No Child Left Behind Reauthorization Process (yes, I’ve got to update the title of that post):

Education Department proposes rules for judging schools is from The Washington Post.

U.S. Dept. of Education releases draft regulations for new federal law is from Ed Source.

I’m adding this Ed Week series to The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy:

Silver Bullets and Solutionism in Education Philanthropy

‘There’s an App for That’: Philanthropy’s Billion Dollar Bets

Getting In: The Challenges of Access to Elite Foundations

Into the Classroom: A Lesson on Philanthropy and Economic Inequality

February 1, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Sacramento Bee Story On Teacher Shortage Features Our School’s Student Teacher Support Program

4271653893

Help wanted: California school districts scramble to hire teachers is a nice article by reporter Diana Lambert appearing in The Sacramento Bee today.

It features how our school supports student teachers (created by Jim Peterson and Ted Appel), and you can read more about it at the three-part series at my Education Week Teacher column on…how to support student teachers.

If you go to the article’s link, you’ll also see a two-minute video the Bee asked me to do offering tips to new teachers, as well as seeing two photos of me, one of which was ridiculously outsized above the fold in today’s front page. It must have been a very slow news day…

I’m adding the article to The Best Articles & Posts About The “Teacher Shortage.”

January 24, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

New Study Suggests That Teacher Observations Should Focus More On Teacher Inputs, Less On Student Outcomes

There has been substantial evidence that – among many problems with the use of Value-Added Measurement – teachers of students who face many challenges are penalized (see The fundamental flaws of ‘value added’ teacher evaluation and The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation).

Now, a new study find that the same problem occurs in teacher observations (see Study finds flaws in teacher performance observations; Class Composition Can Bias English Teachers’ Observation Scores, Study Finds; and Classroom observations may hurt teachers more than they help, study says).

Since I’ve always had good experiences with being observed by my administrators (see The best kind of teacher evaluation), and have often heard from other educators with similar experiences, when I first heard about this study I figured it would be based on outside observers coming into classrooms who were unfamiliar with the students and the teacher. However, the data comes from the Gates MET project and it appears that they say “home” administrators and outside experts evaluated the teachers in the study and generally had similar assessments of teachers (see page 21 of the MET study).

Most teacher know that classes composed of students with high-needs are not going to look “as pretty” as classes with a different composition, and, based on this study, I guess I’ve just been naive to think that most administrators would know the same thing and would be able to account for that when doing their evaluations.

Another intriguing point in the study that doesn’t appear to be receiving the attention that I think it should is the authors’ recommendation about what to do about this problem. They seem to be suggesting that observers switch their focus to evaluating teacher inputs – the instructional actions that the teacher can control – instead of the student outputs and outcomes.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the articles about the report:

Garrett-and-Steinberg

Ben Spielberg, along with Ted Appel (my former principal) have written and spoken a lot about this idea of focusing on teacher inputs instead of student outcomes for teacher evaluation purposes. You can find links to my posts and radio shows about them here.

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

Skip to toolbar