Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Teachers Raise Achievement with High Expectations

Faubian Elementary is a school in Portland, Oregon with many minority students from low-income families. However, the teachers at the school have high expectations for their students and because of their hard work the school the school has made dramatic jumps in their statewide assessments. Viewing the video below shows us what a crucial role the teachers play in creating a superior educational environment. The teachers collaborate and work together using a variety a techniques that best suit the individual needs of each student. What I noticed was the flexibility the teachers had to do what they thought was best for the students. The teachers seemed active and willingly engaged in doing the "hard work". I also noticed that a "program" didn't "run" the school. Teachers bought in because they were valued and were considered "the experts". For example, from an article about the school I learned that for 2 hours every other Monday,

"The staff meets to tackle one in a rotating list of topics: math, reading,writing, and life-skills education. They use the time to assess data, develop curriculum, discuss the needs of individual students, and participate in professional-development workshops -- sessions often led by Faubion teachers who have completed outside training on particular skills."
That sounds like a lot of meeting time, but note that it is the teachers who are considered the experts. They don't follow what they are told they must follow, but instead there is a choice involved. When given the choice, the teachers do what needs to be done and they seem to do it willingly, happily, and with great success.

"The key to this training is that teachers choose what they want to learn; each year, they agree on one weak area to give particular emphasis (this year, writing), and it's typically the area where test results show students need the most help. As Harbolt says, "We figure if they're weak on it, we must be weak on it.""
When the teachers are considered the experts, they do the "expert" things. There are a lot of innovative and interesting techniques going on throughout the video.

Lessons learned:

If you want to create a successful school, it takes hard work.

It's not about the "program"! It is about the best experts in the business: the classroom teacher. Treat the teachers like the experts they are. Give them the power and the support they need to do what they know needs to be done. Then, and only then, will wonderful things happen! Bravo! to the Faubian Elementary School!

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