Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Finding New Ideas

Good ideas about school improvement exist locally, and in successful schools around the United States. But often there is no way to locate and apply these ideas.

The Problem: Schools have no way to find and use new ideas.

This is a communication problem. Most schools have no systematic ways of using the experience and ability of their best teachers and principals. And they don’t have ways of trying out new ideas, nor of seeking out and applying good ideas proven in other school districts.

In any school system, there are teachers having a wide range of abilities. The very best teachers present material so as to hold the students’ attention and deal efficiently with disparate student abilities. They have learned how to maintain order in their classrooms.

Many teachers and principals may have new ideas they’d like to try out in the classroom, but are handicapped by school district policy that insists that nothing change.

Also, there are principals around the country whose schools have few problems and whose student scores are far above the district average.

To solve this problem, we must:

* Find how to make use of the abilities of the best local teachers and principals. It will be necessary first to identify them, and then to insure that their abilities and ideas are spread throughout the school system. It will of course cost something to set up situations where teachers can teach other teachers.
* Seek out and encourage new ideas. Probably right now, in many districts, individual teachers or principals are independently trying new approaches without the knowledge of District headquarters. If the District establishes a policy of endorsing such approaches, it will encourage Principals and Teachers to tell of the things they’ve tried. The successful ideas can then be taught throughout the District.
* Look outside the system for new ideas. This is more difficult, and can probably best be done through informal channels

For thoughts on what new ideas a principal might try out, see Chitra Seshan's comment on the Teachers portion of this blog. CLICK HERE, and look at the comments.

Action hoped-for from the reader.

We’d be delighted to hear from anyone who has a comment on the ’new ideas’ problem. To comment, just click the underlined word ‘comments’ at the bottom of this page (or any of the other pages), and tell us what you think. We’d be glad to hear from anyone. You might like to tell us:

* Why we’re wrong about the problem discussed above, or what additional problems exist that we‘ve ignored or overlooked.
* What you think should be done to improve schools.

Incidentally, your comment or remark or criticism can, if you like, be anonymous, if you think it might be unwise to criticize or comment publicly.

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