Improving the Face of Education

I've been working on a state school improvement grant. Our school is already at improvement or restructuring status and could be headed toward state restructuring without major changes. It's really got me pumped to think about changing instructional practices, intense professional development, teaching to standards instead of covering chapters in a book, and etc. I know we are probably behind the times but this is the reality of small town America.

How did your school improve?

What helps your school meet AYP consistently?

What is working at your school?

How do you change/implement curriculum?

Would incorporating a math and reading coach in the high school help to improve their standardized test scores in those areas?

What kinds of professional development have changed your beliefs and methods of teaching?

I don't really know what questions to ask. I haven't started teaching yet and I'm working on a grant that would totally revamp the school, and I'm getting in on it early. This is a transitional time for me. I feel like this could really help the students and make a huge difference.

Of course, the most change would have to be in the teachers. If it was up to me, there are a handful I would just get rid of because of their negativity, resistance to change, and lack of teaching skill. But alas, that is why I am not an adminstrator. How do you make teachers want to care about students? (Ironic that this is a problem considering teachers work with students ALL.DAY.LONG) How do you make teachers want to improve themselves, want to change? We need better teachers but the chances of finding or hiring them are slim. So how do you improve what you already have?

I guess the point of this entire post is, how do you improve? Period.

Here are some previous posts with tips on school success: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.


  1. I'm fortunate enough to work at a semi-rural public school in New York that recognizes the importance of technology integration in education. Among other things, we have portable laptop carts (COWs, or Computers On Wheels), media units complete with digital video cameras, elmos, LCD projectors, etc, and even a few SmartBoards. The problem is few teachers have ever been trained on this equipment, so it sits either unused, or misused. When creating professional development you not only need to take into account the direction the district is heading, but also where it is currently.

  2. We have a good amount of technology as well but technology doesn't replace skill. How do we incorporate both? I just look at the things the grant entails and can't ever imagine the teachers really "going for it".

  3. Start having conversations with the tired and jaded teachers. But instead of telling them about your ideas ask them to share their best teaching moments. Ask them about their most inspirational days. I've found several teachers who I thought were "bottom of the barrel" responded amazingly to this. Remember, almost everyone who enters a classroom wants to be an amazing teacher. They just need to re-engage with that process. Of course, it's a lot longer and more complicated a process than *just* conversing, but it's a great place to start.

    My other recommendation would be to read anything by Parker Palmer. A lot of his work focuses on reconnecting burnt-out teachers with their vocation. It sometimes has a christian slant but it's touching and relevant regardless of one's spiritual beliefs.