As potential teachers preparing for job fairs this spring, keep the following best practices in mind. And if you need help drafting resumes and cover letters that lead to interviews and job offers, contact TeachersBox at 914.K12.TBOX [914.512.8269] for an initial consultation! We’d love to put you in position to Optimize Student Achievement, One Child at a Time.
According to Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People “the way we see the problem is the problem.” Our circumstances are not our masters. Nor is our lack of time management. In fact, our main obstacle is our inability to recognize that our paradigms have conditioned us to incorrectly examine our time, lives, and very nature. Our best chance to solve the chronic problems that plague schools is to properly diagnose our paradigms, our character, and our motives. The first step in the process of improving instruction is to be proactive, to recognize that our students’ performance is a product of choices we make about curriculum and delivery of instruction rather than the circumstances of our environment. As you prepare to enter the profession, remember that:
- Proactive people “seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles, to get the job done
- Focus your attention primarily on those things that we can actually do something about, and to “begin with the end in mind.”
- Teachers spend a lot of time planning lessons and pacing charts to more efficiently deliver instruction. Yet, they may not achieve their desired results if their written and taught curriculum does not align to their tested curriculum. Said another way, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” The effective teacher ensures total alignment through backwards design.
According to renowned educational theorist Fenwick English, “Wealth predicts achievement unless you align.” In Deciding What to Teach and Test English argues that the primary determinant of student success is the parent’s level of education and the socioeconomic level of the student, and that poor students suffer the most when the curriculum is not aligned. English further notes that if the curriculum and the test are aligned, then the quality of teaching, of curriculum, and of administration can be assessed directly; and that the determinism of socioeconomic level is decreased as a predictor. The school then becomes the qualitative factor in explaining pupil achievement because achievement scores are directly related to what happens in them. Alignment improves testing practices because students now test on skills rather than on how well they answer test questions.
In Learning Driven Schools, Barry Beers critiques current trends that focus on how much students learn as opposed to how best they learn. In so doing, Beers encourages meta-cognition and feedback; emphasizes the impact of motivation, threats, and punishments; and establishes the importance of a challenging environment, students’ emotional investment; and providing meaning and relevance to increasing students’ attention. Perhaps most important, Beers echoes Fenwick English’s call for Backwards Design in which you begin classroom instruction with the end in mind.
Philipp Schlechty and Carl Glickman advocate for assessments that measure what students can do with their learning in authentic settings. Glickman goes further in creating a collaborative model of evaluating instruction based on the verbal and non-verbal behaviors of listening, clarifying, encouraging, reflecting, presenting, problem solving, negotiating, directing, standardizing, and reinforcing. Glickman’s goal is to enable teachers to take a more active role in the formative assessment process to increase their reflective practice, as opposed to continuing to operate in isolation.