What is the focus of our schools? What do we talk about most in our schools? Who do we think about the most in our schools? According to "The Equity Project" the focus is clearly on teachers and their salary:

The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School believes that teacher quality is the most important factor in achieving educational equity for low income students. Spurred by this belief, TEP reallocates its public funds by making an unprecedented investment in attracting and retaining great teachers. Plus an annual bonus of up to $25,000.

They further explain that they have refined what will make them a great school:
"These redefined expectations are unified by one principle: student achievement is maximized when teachers have the time and support to constantly improve their craft."

Don't get me wrong. I am all for teachers getting paid more, and I fully support giving them the time they need to "improve their craft". But TEP is going focusing on the wrong thing. This is something I have believed for a long time. The focus of every school should be on the learning of students in the building. Anything else is a waste of time. Schools do not exist to provide adults with a job, a career, or a calling. Schools exist so that kids can learn. If kids don't learn, it doesn't matter how much money teachers make. If kids don't learn, it doesn't matter how much professional development the teachers receive, or how much they observe their peers. How can you make sure students learn?

By focusing on student learning!

TEP says that student achievement is important, and they better show that the low-income students they service do indeed get higher scores if they want all $6 million donated for a school building. The problem is that you don't focus on student learning by focusing nearly completely on your teachers.

Here are my questions for The Equity Project:
1. What do you want your students to learn?
2. How are you going to know if they learned it?
3. What are you going to do (in a systematic, timely way) when they don't learn it?

Without the answers to these questions, we don't know how this or any school will do, regardless of how much other stuff they may claim will "save" education.

As it so often happens, while I was writing this, I saw this BLOGPOST from Harvard Education Publishing, which sums it up much more eloquently than I do.

Have a Good Life.

Learning By Doing

These thoughts are in response to Darren Draper's post at the Tech and Learning Blog.

I served a mission for my church in Russia for two years. Before I got there I studied the language for at least 8 hours each day for seven weeks. You can imagine how well I thought I spoke when I left for Russia. When I got there, I realzed that I spoke horribly. However, after about six months in the mothellrland, speaking russian as much as possible, I could take care of myself pretty well. After finishing my two years, I arrived. I could tell jokes in Russian. I could make plays on words. I was able to do this because I spoke the language. I learned by doing something.

In schools many teachers expect students to learn by sitting and getting.

There is one place that can and should be a place at schools that students can learn by doing: the library.

The library could be renamed the learning by doing lab. If students want to learn about something, they should be able to do it in the library.

The media specialists who work in the library would be leaders of controlled chaos. They are there to help the students learn by doing. When they do that, the students will be in charge of their learning and the media specialists would be their guides.

Perhaps the best thing about the library is that they don't have a class or a curriculum that they must follow like teachers do. They can reach out to every curriculum and every class at the school. They can provide the tools for those curriculums to help the students learn by doing.

The media specialist should have a working knowledge of all the curriculums in the school so she can be a resource to help teachers.

Have a Good Life.