A roundup of the past two weeks of learning (bits and pieces).
How Collective Teacher Efficacy Develops
I love Hattie's research. While I'm vastly oversimplifying things, his Visible Learning basically gets at the question of "what works in education?"
A key point, this means defining "what works" as academic performance. Not necessarily the goals and full objectives of K12 education.
During this trying time, many of us felt as though we had lost our value as educators because our voices no longer seemed to be listened to in educational conversations at the state and national level. Collective teacher efficacy happens when teachers have "influence over instructionally relevant school decisions" (Goddard et al., 2004), and that certainly didn't seem to be happening. Within our school, I began to hear teachers express concerns about low morale—a sign for me that teachers didn't feel they were meaningfully engaged in their work.
This article was written right before Covid-19, but is still very relevant. I enjoyed reading DeWitt's solution of flipping the faculty meeting. And would encourage any district to foster and grow online communities that engage in ideas about teacher agency and capabilities.
The Classroom-Management Field Can’t Stop Chasing the Wrong Goal
I like reading Alfie Kohn. He pushes the envelope. And makes you think. And sort of gets you pissed off. Even when he's wrong (which I think he is a good share of the time. Alfie Kohn is sometimes the definition of impractical.)
This article tackles the various behavior programs that crop up in programs like PBIS and subsequent software applications like Class Dojo.
Like a mutating virus, the programs peddled to teachers back in the 1990s, including one called Assertive Discipline, have mostly given way to newer variants with names like Class Dojo and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). But they, too, consist largely of manipulation that traces back to behaviorist B.F. Skinner’s work; their approach is still more “doing to” than “working with.” Sometimes children, or whole classes, are even pitted against each other in a race for artificial distinctions.
Look, I'm not a big fan of Skinner (and recognize his HUGE impact on K12 education), but I also get the nuts and bolts of NEEDING to have a class that doesn't go off the rails. As a teacher, you grab the tools you have. I agree with Kohn that we have huge systemic, societal issues affecting the world of education (and our society does a shit job of addressing those issues). But this article is sparse on the solutions and alternatives when, frankly, our society can't even agree to wear masks in public places.
Covid Showed Us What Keynes Always Knew
He gets me with the introduction.
“The world discovered that John Maynard Keynes was right when he declared during World War II that ‘anything we can actually do, we can afford,’” writes Adam Tooze. “Budget constraints don’t seem to exist; money is a mere technicality. The hard limits of financial sustainability, policed, we used to think, by ferocious bond markets, were blurred by the 2008 financial crisis. In 2020, they were erased.”
The mere idea that 'anything we can actually do, we can afford' is a moral decree on what we, as a society, decide to do or not do. And I find that heartbreaking.
The Future is Female
Men are abandoning higher education in such numbers that they now trail female college students by record levels.” So declares the opening sentence of a Wall Street Journal piece that is creating quite the buzz.
This article is an appeal to marriage, with a slight emphasis on egalitarian marriages and, I think, a call to the effects single motherhood has on boys.
here’s the part that deserves more study: It seems that growing up in a single-parent home is not as damaging to girls as it is to boys. Comparing Florida brothers and sisters who grew up in single-parent families, MIT economists found that boys were more stunted by growing up without fathers than girls. As the study authors wrote: “Growing up in a single-parent home appears to significantly decrease the probability of college attendance for boys, yet has no similar effect for girls.” Boys raised without fathers or father figures tend to be less ambitious and less hopeful than girls raised without fathers or father figures, and tend to get into more trouble at school.
Lots to think about here (and there are many causes and effects to plumb). In the meantime, I'm going to go hug my son and thank him for pulling an 8-hour shift at Arby's.