Harvard Day 4! Conflict doth occur!

2 Jul

Wednesday, Day 4…of course, was an interesting day!

We had two presentations. The morning we had Dr. Jeffrey Howard and the Impact of Efficacy on Student Achievement.

Jeffrey Howard

and the afternoon was Dr. John Collins with School Improvement Through Writing Across the Curriculum.


Look at the titles…go ahead…I’ll wait. Ok, who has the philosophical task and who has the practical task?

There couldn’t have been two different perspectives…and, uh, both of those pictures are about 10 years old (Collins’ pic might be 20 years old). That’s not a slight on either of them, I just couldn’t find a recent photo…

Anyhoo, both have a ton of impressive research. However, one did it as a science, and the other did it as practice. See if you can figure out which one did the practice…Dr. Howard sits on the Massachusetts Board of Ed, and just wrote a bill that ties teacher evaluations to performance (test scores).  Dr. Collins, after years of grading student writing has figured out a way to write across the curriculum and for any and every teacher to grade it without a huge time commitment!

So? Who’s the teacher making writing better and easier and who’s the Social Psychologist that thinks politicians can improve education?

Here’s the big news of the day before these guys are presenting… Mass. board approves new teacher evaluations June 28, 2011

Both presenters started with the above news of the day! One as if it was going to fix education and the other as if we’re all in trouble

Howard opens up with how great performance-based evaluations are great! After all, how else can we hold Principals and teachers accountable…AND the assessments will be for ALL students regardless of classification! I mean, he’s right, all kids can learn, right? We ALL agree to that. NOW, look at your school. Can every student pass a state test? Can they all write a proficient persuasive essay? I mean everyone, regardless of grades, exceptionalities, and IEPs.

Collins opens up with, “As soon as you start weighing kids in PE, then you can start evaluating my performance based on test scores!” Think about it…take your time…think about it.

In retrospect, it would have been fun to watch them debate. However, they were never in the room at the same time. Probably a good idea!

The Gist…Howard sells an Efficacy model. Efficacy means anyone can learn. Intelligence is developed. Development is freedom. A civilized society develops free generations. If we don’t believe those things, then we’re not educating.

Howard has a very good sell.  He does teach educators that we don’t talk to our clients correctly.  The irony is that he sells the idea that every kid can develop, improve, and learn.  So, any poor student can be developed into a good student. However, his evaluation model (that is Ed. law in Mass, now) fires poor teachers, rather than develops them. So, Dr. Howard, kids can develop, but adults, who dedicate their lives to teaching, can’t? Strange?

Lookin’ for some support, Jeff!

Collins…hmmm, Collins was all sell! Click the Link above. I felt like I was at a long sales pitch. He was VERY dynamic and his research and methods seem to work. What I really needed was how to implement. MCHS definitely needs a writing across the curriculum plan. Dr. Collins showcased the system, but didn’t help me lead it, necessarily. Kinda like an infomercial for mortgage buying success…”Here’s how it’s good for you, but you have to call to know how it works!”

Hey, it’s late, and I have to go. I haven’t yet discussed our evening sessions! That’s where the killer, pain in your heart, nitty gritty gets down!

We’ll tawlk! ‘kay? See yuhs, layta!



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