"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, August 18, 2017

Outrage and Politics

An in-depth exploration of issues takes quite some time and effort. For most, it is boring especially compared to a quick fix of political bile. The immediate sense of self-righteousness is truly seductive and addictive. The problem, as in any addiction, is that we then fail to engage genuinely in the real issues, making it difficult for all of us to reach a meaningful and productive discussion. The world is facing various threats. There is terror. Such threat is so serious that we are quite ready to accept measures from our leaders that may even curtail our own liberties. In the Philippines, drug abuse is currently considered as the greatest threat to society. With this is mind, one should be able to understand why its current president, Rodrigo Duterte, would say, "The ones who died recently in Bulacan, 32, in a massive raid, that was good. If we could kill another 32 every day, then maybe we can reduce what ails this country." Just imagine, if in either Europe or the United States, it is reported that 32 terrorists have been killed, it would not be unreasonable for a leader to wish that more terrorists get captured or killed. However, as a civilized society, we still demand due process, we still want basic human rights to be protected. Most Americans opposed the immigration policy that banned Muslims from entering the country. We can indeed discuss and debate these issues. We can study and understand these issues. We can even find solutions. Sadly, as we allow these issues to degenerate into political footballs, we are basically shortchanging our democratic system.

In the war on drugs in the Philippines, a 17-year old was among its most recent casualties.  Kian Loyd Delos Santos was not resisting arrest. In fact, he was being carried by policemen as shown on a close-circuit television footage. Kian's mother, an overseas worker, pleads for justice.

Above copied from Elisa Kareem's Facebook page
The war on drugs in the Philippines has claimed thousands of lives. It is a war that is currently waged with a corrupt police force and a weak judicial system. Yet, the issue has always been equated to unseating the current president of the Philippines. 

GetRealPhilippines calls our attention to turning the tragedy of Kian Loyd to a mere political artefact:

Above copied from Get Real Post

What the opposition does to the drug war is truly lamentable especially when evidence is so clear regarding how a war on drugs often fails. One need not go far to find a clear demonstration of failure. The Cato Institute in the United States considers the war on drugs as four decades of failure:

For more than 100 years, prohibition has been the primary policy in the United States with regard to illicit substances. As the data show, however, these policies fail on practically every margin. Economic thinking illustrates that these failures are not only understandable, but entirely predictable. As a result of prohibition and the changes it induces in the market for drugs, increased disease, death, violence, and cartels are all expectable outcomes. Moreover, economics can help us link together these policies with other issues, such as race relations and police militarization.

The evidence is clear that the drug war in the United States has affected disproportionately the poor and black people. The drug war in the United States has led to police militarization and recent cases have even demonstrated where police were planting evidence. What is happening in the Philippines is no different. What should be made clear, however, is that this is not Duterte's exclusive problem. Using this issue as a political football only transforms cases of extrajudicial killings into a travesty.

Blogger Tricks

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Deeper Learning Through Worked Examples

Nowadays, one can search in YouTube to find how a specific do-it-yourself task is done. From fixing appliances to minor renovations, homeowners need not learn by trial and error, saving money and time, and avoiding costly mistakes and grief. Learning through worked examples likewise demands a lower cognitive load than inquiry but objections against this learning method remain. One common complaint is that students only learn superficially through worked examples. Worked examples can indeed appear as mere recipes that one can simply follow without real understanding.  Thus, when facing another task that is not exactly identical to the one illustrated, a transfer of knowledge often fails. Learning through worked examples, however, can drive deeper learning, but this requires proper implementation.

Showing someones how a task is done is effective in learning that specific task. Providing worked examples, that is, demonstrating to students how a particular problem is solved, comes with a decent effect size on learning (Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.). Going beyond just showing students steps in solving a problem, however, can bring even stronger effects on learning. One example is shown below:

Above copied from
Alexander Renkl (2014)
Learning from worked examples: How to prepare students for meaningful problem solving.
In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php

The above example shows students two ways of solving a problem and prompts the student to choose which one is easier to understand. This worked example therefore requires the student to not only look at how a problem is solved but also self-explain the solutions. This added feature enhances the effect of worked examples on learning according to research. Renkl provides a list of principles that can help make the most out of worked examples. These principles are:

Above copied from
Renkl, A. (2014), Toward an Instructionally Oriented Theory of Example-Based Learning. Cogn Sci, 38: 1–37. doi:10.1111/cogs.12086

Each principle comes with qualifications. Learning from worked examples is indeed an area of education that has been thoroughly researched. It may not sound as sexy as discovery-based learning, but there is no doubt that example-based learning is one of the most powerful learning methods we have.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville: Worse Than PISA Or TIMSS

After scores from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) were released, US education secretary Arne Duncan said, "This is an absolute wake-up call for America." The scores do appear mediocre compared to those of other industrialized nations, but it is not as serious as students failing to do simple arithmetic problems such as 2+3. This weekend, however, the state of Virginia witnessed the resurgence of racism. There are now more than 900 hate groups in the United States according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The "White Supremacy" groups that gathered in Charlottesville believe in the following: (1) Western or European culture is under threat, (2) White people are being oppressed and dispossessed, (3) Diversity is evil and pure "white state" must be established in which all political power are in the hands of white people. Such tenets are outright stupid. These are as bad as stating that 2+3=1. Yet, hundreds of thousands of Americans subscribe to these precepts. This is the real wake-up call for American basic education.

Above copied from CNN

Sadly, supremacy is taught and encouraged in our schools. Segregation is the rule while diversity remains an exception. Fortunately, there are some educators who are waking up to this reality. The former principal of Mason Crest Elementary School, Brian Butler, shares his thoughts on FacebookHe provides insights on how and why we are indeed educating our children towards the path of superiority:

Charlottesville? It's much deeper than what you see educators!
I have watched and read a lot over the past few days regarding Charlottesville and am too saddened by the events. I do have much to say but as I have tried to do throughout my existence, not always successfully, is not to speak or write from emotion. Passion yes, emotion for me does not help with clarity of message. So denouncing white supremacy and those who espouse views of hatred of groups different from them is a must but it is not even close to where we should begin. On this I will stay in a lane that I know fairly well as I agree with many of my educator friends who are denouncing the hate of the "white supremacist" in Charlottesville but we need look no further than our policies and practices that we know are wrong in our own backyard of our profession that support this kind of thinking. Policies and practices like identifying kids as gifted so they can go to a different school for "kids like them."
I will elaborate more at a later time. I am sure that some of what I will say will sting a bit and even my educator friends may wince but please know it will be said out of love and hopefully for true self reflection regarding our history. Most importantly it will be shared in hopes of improving our profession and the lives of all kids no matter where they start in life or the color of their skin, gender or economic status, language they speak and especially individuals and groups who the educational system has traditionally purposefully sorted and selected to the benefit of certain groups.
I may lose a few followers I am sure but truth is truth and I am speaking about education. Not here to debate this is my page. I have been saying this for years when I was an administrator in Fairfax County, a county that touts itself as world class but a county with an elephant in the room and that elephant is race and class and the advanced academics centers. Every principal that I have ever spoken to wants them closed but they say "oh well" the school board is afraid of the parents and the superintendent is afraid of the school board.
When talking institutional racism and classism this stares everyone in the face so brightly that all know "the sun" is shining in our face but we look away as if it's not there.
And this is the biggest kicker, some of you, my friends who are yelling about how appalled you are about Charlottesville nod and wink about an educational system that you know is not equitable for All Kids, but benefits your own kids so you are quiet on the issue.
The white supremacist in Charlottesville are being honest and telling us directly who they are and the world that they want to live in. What about the institution of separating kids based on a "so called gift" which is not necessarily accurate (all kids have gifts it's our job to cultivate and nurture them).
So educator friends posting hashtags on your page and being enraged about Charlottesville is appropriate but what about working to change the system you are in and being vocal about why not doing so will lead to more Charlottesville's.
People are not meant to be superior to others but think about what we are doing to kids' mindsets with this kind of sort and select system.
Like I said more to come when I am not writing out of emotion🙏🏽
Said with much love for all in my heart!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

"Death by PowerPoint"

Jane Wakefield of BBC wrote two years ago an article "How to avoid 'death by powerpoint'". She listed several images that one should avoid putting into slides. The list she shared was made based on opinions of several powerpoint professionals. These images are: "cogs, images of people holding hands around a globe, stacked pebbles, thumbs up, archery targets (with optional arrow), jigsaw piece being fitted into puzzle, businessperson poised to, run a race, handshakes, rosettes, and groups of businesspeople staring intently at a monitor". Of course, overused images are not the only reasons why a powerpoint presentation can become a disaster. Addition of technology to learning can only be positive if it is done right with cognitive principles in mind.

Above copied from BBC News
Richard Mayer enumerates various principles one should consider in multimedia presentation. These principles are all based on evidence. The list is nicely summarized in a chapter in Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum (2014).

Above copied from
Richard E. Mayer (2014)
Research-Based Principles for Designing Multimedia Instruction
In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php

The principles are provided in the following tables (Mayer(2014)):

The effect sizes are quite substantial especially for reducing extraneous processing, demonstrating how important it is to place only what is truly necessary on a slide. Another chapter in the same book looks at specific examples and one is shown below:

Above copied from
Catherine E. Overson (2014) 
Applying Multimedia Principles to Slide Shows for Academic Presentation
In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php
The original version has the unnecessary background of the caduceus, the symbol of medicine. The slide compares descriptive against analytic epidemiology. In the modified version, these two are presented side-by-side. The modified version basically follows two of Mayer's principles:

  • Coherence Principle: Extraneous material is not included.
  • Signaling Principle: Essential material are highlighted and organized.
And the results are significant:

Above copied from
Catherine E. Overson (2014) 
Applying Multimedia Principles to Slide Shows for Academic Presentation
In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php
Simply making and using slides instead of writing on a blackboard is not necessarily going to improve student learning. Using technology in our classrooms do require a thoughtful consideration of how students learn. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

What Makes You Stupid

Jonah Lehrer posed this math question on the New Yorker: A baseball and a bat cost one dollar and ten cents. The price of the bat is one dollar more than that of the ball. How much is the ball? If your answer is ten cents, then you are carelessly making shortcuts in your head. The ball is five cents and the bat costs a dollar more, one dollar and five cents. We often associate quickness with intelligence especially in math. It is true that it helps if we can answer questions like what is three times seven in a flash. But when evaluation is necessary, we must pause and think.

There are four beliefs that make us stupid according to Stephen Chew of Samford University.

Above copied from
Stephen Chew, How to Get the Most Out of Studying

The above captured image may look just like a meme that we often see on social media. What it says, however, comes from evidence-based research. Chew summarizes some of the misconceptions we have regarding how we learn in a chapter in Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum (2014)
Above copied from
Stephen L. Chew (2014).
Helping Students to Get the Most Out of Studying. In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php

Learning takes both time and effort. Comprehension is only possible with thoughtful and careful reading. Learning requires that we connect new information with what we know. We need to relate concepts with each other. This is what real knowledge is, not a basket of isolated facts. Yes, there is talent, but we can only learn if we can persevere through challenges. Lastly, there is no such thing as multi-tasking, we can only switch between tasks which leads to inattention and poorer performance.

Chew also provides suggestions to help us study more effectively. He summarizes these in a set of ten principles:

Above copied from
Stephen Chew, How to Get the Most Out of Studying
And yes, the above is not just a meme. The above principles are backed by research.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Science of Learning for Nonexperts

For a classroom teacher who is not actively engaged in education research, it is not easy to digest information from primary literature. Scientists often write articles not with the intention of reaching non experts. A book that attempts to bring recent advances in the science of learning into much more readable nuggets can therefore be very useful. One example is Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum (2014) from the American Psychological Association, and this book is FREE. I have only browsed through the content, it has about 300 pages and 24 chapters, but each chapter is a stand-alone. And, of course, the first chapter I chose to read is on General Chemistry. Surprisingly, what is described in this chapter can easily apply to other subjects.

Above copied from
Samuel Pazicni and Daniel T. Pyburn (2014).
Intervening on Behalf of Low-Skilled Comprehenders in a University General Chemistry Course. In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php
The authors begin this chapter with the story of a first-year undergraduate student. The student starts seeing the instructor during office hours recognizing that her high school preparation may be inadequate. The student, however, still fails the first exam. The instructor then decides to work harder with the student, spending quite a bit of time solving practice problems together. The second exam comes and the student fails again. The instructor sends the student to a Learning Resource Center to find out if the student has a learning disability while continuing with more office hours developing strategies and solving practice problems. The student fails the third exam and the instructor gives up. The student fails the final exam and the course. At the beginning of the next semester, the student informs the instructor that Academic Services finds no learning disability, but the student reads at the 9th grade level.

Reading comprehension is important in chemistry and one particular aspect of comprehension is key: making inferences. Both lectures and textbooks often require reading between the lines for the sake of both time and space. Not all details are provided and it is up to the audience or reader to connect the dots. Making inferences requires connecting what is currently being learned to what is already known. A student therefore needs to combine prior knowledge with current information. This is called Construction-Integration and Structure Building.

Not having such a skill correlates with low test scores in a General Chemistry class. Spotting the problem is good, but having a solution is better. One nice thing about this chapter is that it does offer an intervention, one that does not involve a direct reading comprehension intervention. It is multiple testing. The results are very encouraging:

Above copied from
Samuel Pazicni and Daniel T. Pyburn (2014).
Intervening on Behalf of Low-Skilled Comprehenders in a University General Chemistry Course. In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php
The above graph summarizes the results of the study. The course has various learning goals and for each learning goal, there is a final exam that have questions that are open-ended in nature and require calculations and/or explanations. Some of the learning goals come with two multiple choice quizzes while the students are still learning the material (MC) while some of the goals do not come with quizzes, just a final exam (control). The testing effect is clearly significant. These results basically support the hypothesis made by the authors that high-skilled comprehenders owe their skills from their ability to question and answer what they are currently learning, which is partly mimicked by taking quizzes. Quizzes therefore help low-skilled comprehenders build their knowledge.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Why Basic Education Is So Important

In the previous post, No More Algebra, the strongest argument for retaining algebra as a requirement for all is that some people can easily take advantage of your gullibility. And they will. Misinformation abounds not just in social media or the internet. This is especially tragic when the medium is a traditional news source. A recent article in Philippine Star even uses "Oxford" to propagate unsubstantiated news. And it is not just about a catchy headline as the article starts with this groundless statement: "A University of Oxford study found that $200,000, around P10 million, was spent to hire trolls who would spread propaganda for President Rodrigo Duterte and target his opposition." 

The Oxford study mentioned in this news article is a working paper by Samantha Bradshaw and Philip N. Howard. The Philippines Star fails to mention one major limitation of the study:
This working paper lays the groundwork for understanding the global trends in the organized and coordinated use of social media for manipulating public opinion...
...In terms of scope, there are several things we do not investigate. First, although cyber troops will often apply traditional offensive cyber tactics, such as hacking or surveillance, to target users for trolling or harassment campaigns, this is not a working paper about hackers or other cybersecurity professionals who work in a governmental capacity.
The study is only a survey of news articles, and the sources used by the author for the Philippines are:
Gavilan, J. (2016, June 4). Duterte’s P10M social media campaign: Organic, volunteer‐driven. Rappler
Williams, S. (2017, January 4). Rodrigo Duterte’s Army of Online Trolls. New Republic.
The first article (Gavilan) does not talk about an army of trolls. It was simply a description of the grassroots campaign of Duterte when he was running for president, an interview of Nick Gabunanda, the social media director of Duterte's campaign. The heart of the article was the fact that Gabunada only had a very small budget, $200,000 (the same figure Philippine Star claims to have been used to pay for a troll army) but still managed to create a very strong presence in social media. Here is an excerpt:
In November 2015, when he decided to run for president, he enlisted a marketing consultant named Nic Gabunadato assemble a social media army with a budget of just over $200,000. Gabunada used the money to pay hundreds of prominent online voices to flood social media with pro-Duterte comments, popularize hashtags, and attack critics. Despite being vastly outspent by his rivals, Duterte swept to power with almost 40 percent of the vote. After the upset victory, the new president’s spokesman issued a warm thanks to Duterte’s 14 million social media “volunteers.”
Above copied from Rappler
The title of the Rappler article even emphasizes that Duterte's social media campaign was organic and volunteer-driven. And there is no doubt because the meager amount of funds obviously supports this statement.

The second source cited in the Oxford study is an article from the New Republic, which the working paper considers not as among the top credible sources for information. The following is what MediaBias/FactCheck says about the New Republic:

It is easy to see why New Republic is untrustworthy. In the article cited by the Oxford Study, the following is written in bold and large font size:
The government pays online trolls up to $2,000 a month to create fake social media accounts and flood the digital airwaves with propaganda.
Unfortunately, the bold and large font size in this article is only matched by zero evidence. The Oxford study did not investigate the details of the news articles. The Oxford study was simply a survey of news articles.

We need basic education. We need to learn math. We need to learn to read. What does $2000 per month mean in the Philippines? It is a lot of money for just working as an online troll.

We need basic education so that we become less gullible because sadly, those who have been entrusted to inform the public will not hesitate to fool us.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

No More Algebra?

Math is beautiful. Algebra will help you with developing critical thinking skills. You will use it in the future. These are some reasons often provided to justfy making algebra as a required course. One can say the same thing about art. Art is likewise beautiful. You may likewise use what you learn in an art course in your job. Besides, our planet "earth" is simply "eh" without "art". However, there may be a slight difference between art and algebra. Students find algebra as a major hindrance to obtaining higher education. In community colleges, passing algebra has become a barrier to graduation.

Removing algebra as a required course in community colleges has recently gained momentum in Calufornia. Jude Thaddeus Socrates, a professor of mathematics at Pasadein posted the following on Facebook:

Above copied from Facebook

But before arriving quickly at such a conclusion, we may need to pause.

First, the challenges of algebra in both high school and community colleges of course lie on so many factors outside of mathematics itself. Poor performance in algebra, as in other academic subjects, correlates with poverty. Poverty is often the real barrier to graduation, not algebra.

Second, algebra provides some unique learning opportunities. Zalman Usiskin, professor of education at the University of Chicago wrote more than twenty years ago on American Educator (Spring 1995) the following:

Usiskin cited the following features of algebra:
  • Algebra is the language of generalization. 
  • Algebra enables the person to answer all the questions of a particular type at one time.
  • Algebra is the language of relationships between quantities
  • Algebra is a language for solving certain kinds of numerical problems.
But most important of all is perhaps conveyed by this thought-provoking parargraph from Elizabeth Staple at PurpleMath:
It might have been assumed, for instance, that Shaniqwa would be pregnant by the time she was fourteen, Jamal would be in prison, José would grow up to be a pool-boy, and Maria would be a maid. So these students would have been assigned to something like "consumer math": low-level math that was presumed to be "useful" for "that sort". Blonde, blue-eyed Tiffany might have been expected to marry well after a short and trivial "career", so she'd have been assigned to bookkeeping. Only Eustace James Whittington III would have had any chance of attending college, so only he would have been steered into the algebra class.
There is indeed one more difference between art and algebra. Algebra can be used as a tracking instrument by either not requiring it or teaching it poorly to students.

Finally, algebra is such a powerful tool that a person not knowing it can be easily taken advantage of by people who do know algebra. If people can do it easily with fake news, they can do as well with twisting numbers.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Accuracy of Students' Surveys

Some colleges still provide questionnaires to students to evaluate their instructors. In educational research, students' self-reports are often used. It is therefore necessary to gauge how accurate these reports are. After all, a teacher knows quite well that even in basic recall tests, not all students get a perfect score. And these tests taken by students are of course high stakes than a simple survey which neither rewards nor punishes a student for accuracy. Since surveys still require some bit of cognitive skills, it is also possible that errors in students' surveys will not be random but systematic. The chance that a student who does not well academically will likewise not be so accurate in answering questions in a survey is high. In an instructor evaluation, it is probably not surprising to see results correlate with the students' academic performance. Yet, these surveys are sometimes used for merit decisions for the instructor. How reliable then are students' voices? In the Philippines, young children are even seen protesting against the Duterte administration.

Above copied from Bobi Tiglao Facebook page

Rosen and coworkers have recently investigated the accuracy of students' surveys. They find that as the questions become more potentially sensitive, accuracy dramatically falls:
We find that students are reasonably good reporters of course-taking patterns but poor reporters of more potentially sensitive questions, including when the student completed Algebra I and the grade earned in the course. We find that lack of accuracy in student survey reports is consistently related to several student characteristics.
The lack of accuracy is an important finding but more troubling is the observation that inaccuracy correlates with student characteristics. And this is vividly seen when students are asked to report the grades they received:

Above copied from Rosen et al.

In the above table, the numbers in bold are the percentages of correct responses for each letter grade. One can see that accuracy correlates with higher grades. However, this is probably much more than just a correlation with a student's cognitive ability since the errors are not random. A student is more likely to report incorrectly a higher grade than a lower one. One can see this with "C" students, they are more likely to report incorrectly a "B" than a "D" (47.7 versus 6.2, respectively). Responding to a survey means revealing something about ourselves. When such information becomes sensitive and potentially reflecting something not so good about ourselves, we are naturally inclined not to answer truthfully.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What Makes a School Excellent

We hear this very often: "Children must be taught how to think and not what to think". Margaret Mead wrote this statement in "Coming of Age in Samoa". What we do not hear often is what follows: "And because old errors die slowly, they must be taught tolerance, just as to-day they are taught intolerance". As a result, we frequently fall into this false dichotomy of content versus skills. Mead was warning us of indoctrination, not knowledge transfer. On the other hand, it is true that basic education nowadays is usually measured using standardized tests. Schools deemed excellent are those whose students score well in these exams. Nehring and coworkers, however, find in a recent study, "What real high performance looks like",  that in these schools "task demand for a student in the interpersonal and intrapersonal domains was either rare or wholly absent". Seeing that this is the case obviously only fuels further the division between teaching skills versus content, but the study finds a few schools that do help students gain deeper learning. What makes these schools truly excellent may be surprising.

First, the study makes it clear that "21st Century skills" is a misnomer. These skills are not really specific for our current times, These are likewise important for all centuries that came before us and for those that are about to come.

Above copied from Nehring et al. 
Second, what emerges as the essence in high performing schools is this:

The Teacher

This is probably not surprising but we can not deny that we look at what subjects are taught or what facilities are present in gauging whether a school is good or not. The "emerging themes" that Nehring and coworkers find in exclennet schools are not possible with one quick glance at a school. If one wants to find where deep leaning occurs one must look deeply. Here they are:
  • It was the teacher, not the subject. 
  • Teachers focused on disciplinary knowledge. 
  • Teachers were attuned to the social-emotional dynamics of their students. 
  • Teachers adapted their teaching to the moment. 
  • Teachers had a wide repertoire of effective moves. 
  • Instruction was tied to complex assessments. 
  • Teachers built strong relationships with students. 

What makes a school excellent? The answers is an excellent teacher. What makes a teacher excellent? The list is shown above.