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Why Teachers Need to Become Leaders

If more educators develop leadership skills, it might be the best reform solution we could hope for.

There are plenty of business books written about leadership, but not every employee (or CEO) is a great leader. Likewise, although every teacher stands in front of a classroom of students, they're not all leaders in their schools. But they should be. With their newly released Teacher Leader Model Standards, the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium wants to jump-start the conversation about "the knowledge, skills, and competencies that teachers need to assume leadership roles in their schools, districts, and the profession."

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Superb Idea: Hire Teachers for Public Schools the Way We Hire Them for Private Schools

Districts like Washington D.C. are changing their hiring practices to ensuring only the most talented applicants get in front of kids.

Teacher hiring might be moving beyond just ensuring applicants have a few transcripts and a Department of Justice background check. Districts like Denver and Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. are shifting their focus away from whether an applicant has a complete file in a central office to determining if prospective teachers truly have the knowledge and skills to be effective in the classroom. It's a change that's reminiscent of the thorough approach many elite private schools take when it comes to hiring, and the districts hope it'll ensure that only the most talented and promising teachers are actually hired.

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Why Teachers Shouldn't Be Expected to Talk About Bin Laden's Death

My fourth-grade son's teacher didn't talk about the killing of Osama bin Laden in class—and that was a good decision.

One of the first things my 10-year-old fourth grader said on Sunday night after we finished watching President Obama announce the killing of Osama Bin Laden was, "I wonder what my teacher will say about this at school tomorrow." I'm not surprised he thought that. After all, students spend most of their waking hours in classrooms, and teachers, and their opinions, are huge influences on them.

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Is the Education Reform World Filled with Too Much Jargon?

What does "authentic, inquiry-based learning" even mean? It might be time for a moratorium on meaningless edu-speak.

Have you ever wondered what it means when a school district official says they're "drilling down" into "student achievement data"? If so, you're not alone. With education reform hitting the mainstream, more edu-speak is out there than ever before—and it makes understanding just what is or isn't working in education reform confusing for everyone. Thankfully, on his Learning Matters blog, well-respected veteran education reporter John Merrow calls for a moratorium on the overuse of educational jargon.

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Open Court is Closed: Real Teaching Makes a Comeback in Los Angeles

The city's school board just dropped its scripted reading program, giving teachers back decision-making powers.


After 12 years together, the Los Angeles School Board announced on Thursday that it is breaking up with its scripted reading program, Open Court. LAUSD adopted the program with the hopes of taking the guess work out teaching literacy. The program got results—reading scores went up, especially in K-3 classrooms—but teachers universally hated it. They felt that it wasn't "real" teaching because it took away their ability to decide how to best meet the needs of their students.

A scripted reading program is exactly what it sounds like—teachers follow a rigid script that tells them what to say and do during class, and when to say and do it. I taught Open Court and found it to be a good starting point, but I always supplemented the script, particularly when it came to teaching writing and working with students who were still learning English or needed extra practice. However, I was able to add on additional projects and creative lesson modifications only because my school didn't have a member of the "Open Court Police."

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Education: Morning Roundup, Laura Bush Is Looking for Great Principals

Laura Bush announces principal-training effort, Obama's loner school year proposal faces reality, and the Gates Foundation targets college graduation.

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