Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Promising Futures

Promising Futures: A Call to Improve Learning for Maine’s Secondary Students is a comprehensive report put together by the Department of Education and the Maine Commission on Secondary Education. Originally published in September 1998, the document reviews the effectiveness of Maine high schools by looking at schools that were doing well and schools that were struggling. In order to provide a better chance for all schools, this document highlights six Core Principles and fifteen Core Practices that all schools should embrace. The six core principles include the following:

  1. A safe, respectful and caring environment
  2. High universal expectations with a variety of learning opportunities
  3. Understanding and actions based on assessment data
  4. Teacher practice which values and builds upon the contributions and needs of the learner
  5. Equitable and democratic practices
  6. Coherence among mission, goals, actions, and outcomes

These six core principles create a list of goals for schools to reach for. In order to reach these goals, they can follow the fifteen core practices highlighted in this document. They break the practices down even further: statement, rationale, essential elements and a snapshot from within the classroom. The first eight focus on learning and teaching practices. The final seven focus on school practices that support learning and teaching. There are, however, other certain practices that are getting in the way of the core fifteen. These include, but are not limited to, the following: confining schedules, teachers being responsible for too many students, ineffective study halls, etc. The fist step to fixing our schools might be to eliminate some of these older practices and start embracing change. The document closes with a the belief that schools can’t necessarily do this on their own. It provides a number of helpful tips for involving other people and groups in the process. The document also opens and closes with a profile of a high school student as positive changes are taking place within the school.

I found this document to be both interesting and encouraging. There may be some schools in Maine that still haven’t reached the proper level, but I believe this document does a good job determining what changes need to be made. I particularly enjoyed the section with the fifteen core practices. I like how the practices highlight the importance of individuality and that all students learn differently. Teachers need to understand that different students will make sense of the material in a different way. It is important to embrace this in the classroom as much as possible. Of the fifteen practices, I believe I connected with practice 12 the most. As a student who never really felt like I was academically on the same level as other students, being aware of developmental stages plays a strong role in my philosophy. Core Practice 12 stresses the importance that “Every staff member understands adolescent learning and developmental needs, possesses diverse instructional skills, and is a constructive model for youth.” I agree with this completely. It is important to meet the needs of all students. In order to do this, it is important to understand that all students are going to be at different stages of development.

No comments:

Post a Comment