Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

Cascade Educational Consultants is an educational consulting firm committed to high-quality equitable teaching, learning and serving environments for all students to succeed in school and in life. Click here to learn more about our services...

Follow Cascade on Twitter!

Leading to Reform: December 2

This Week’s letter highlights Paul Tough’s “How Children Succeed”, ways a teacher can improve in one day, getting enough sleep, school boards struggeling with minor changes, and new unionism. As always, we link to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform.

Paul Tough’s Visit to Marquette University Tackles How Children Succeed
This week Paul Tough was in Milwaukee appearing at On The Issues at Marquette with Alan Borusk. The entire conversation with Paul Tough on his new book "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character" is available online.
Learn more...

Five Ways to be a Better Teacher – Tomorrow
All teachers want to be better, don’t they? Most do, but increasingly I see a cadre of teachers who don’t bring the joy factor to their classroom.

Small changes can make a difference. Here are five things teachers can do tomorrow or as a leader look for and bring on to teachers who are going through the motions — without spending money, without learning new programs and without adding stress to their life — that will improve their effectiveness, thus improving student learning and behavior.

If a teacher or school leader doesn’t use these techniques, then you need to ask if you are leading and keeping the eye on the prize -- student learning.
Learn more...

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
We spend between a quarter and a third of our lives asleep, but that doesn’t make us experts on how much is too much, how little is too little, or how many hours of rest the kids need to be sharp in school. Till Ronneberg looks at getting enough sleep to lead and do well. Read more here

Gym Class Waivers Make Sense – School Boards Fret!
Hard to believe that high school athletes can’t substitute their time and effort in a sport in place of gym class – so they can take more academic classes.

Think about it. A board member or board that can’t decide to waive a semester of PE with conditions that insure quality – Are they capable of determining the right educational programs at all? Or are they are afraid of just being held responsible for their actions?

This option for kids is place in most high schools. In Wisconsin, boards are struggling with the direction due to wellness priorities, insuring quality gym classes for students and I think answering the call to having local control of their schools. In fact one board member in the Greendale School District is tentative about making this change. He’s worried kids wouldn’t learn how to swim – even though the curriculum provides for that in gym classes already required and he approved the curriculum several times – he has been on the board for over 20 years! Sounds like a flimsy excuse doesn’t it?

A school board or district not taking responsibility got local control over programs and issues as small as this shows what ineffective looks like. They clam to believe in local control but now that they have it, they own the decisions rather than deferring to state mandates that insure standardized responses to local issue. This used to let local officials off the hook of determining for their constituents what is right for their students and freeing up resources that can be better used for learning.

Loosening up regulations means local boards own their school programs –Now some are stalling on something their constituent them expected and now find out the reality. They waffle on a simple decision like substituting participation in a sport for one semester of Gym and increased academic opportunity.
Learn more...

School Reform in New York Means Taking on Funding and Teacher Certification
New York Governor Andrew Cumo is taking a stand on school reform. He is challenging who can teach in school funding and poverty. Here is the unspoken question: Do the principals currently in place have the skills and dispositions to be making compensation decisions for their teachers, help new teachers get up to speed faster and then build the necessary teams of teachers in the school to promote student engagement and learning? Learn more...

Teacher Unions Thinking Different – Time Will Tell
Teacher Unions are starting to realize – things have changed. A new generation of teacher leaders is looking for different ways to lead faculty and have a voice in school reform. Some are merging NEA and AFT State unions while new unionism leaders are looking to the union to elevate the teaching profession rather than sacrificing quality for job security and obsolete work rules.

Does your teacher union really believe this? The union leaders I worked with and those I know now see this as the norm in the union leadership. A willingness to build on past successes, understanding, not every teacher was going to be successful, finding the third way to making budgets work smart to reach overall goal of student learning and connection to their schools.

Well, leaders like this can show the union movement the next steps forward. The author is right, look as smaller unions; find the leaders who believe in students first and the power of collective voice on behalf of their schools and work with them. It is worth the effort as you build the shared vision of students first, no excuses and by the way, elevate our profession.

Wisconsin teacher unions are lurching towards a merge– a merger with WEAC and WFT. A friend of mine in business said. "Enter into a merger with a critical eye as there is a winner and a loser when the merger is completed and know which one you are going to be. And usually the leadership doesn’t make it after the merger is done.”

WEAC needs new leadership and I know one who is ready and able. She said in response to this article: Teacher Unions need to advocate for children. Period. We can give a collective voice for children and the quality of education they receive.

Mary Bell State President who has presided over WEAC’s fall says, It’s more useful to us to work together ‘ An innovative risk taking leader would say, “Together, we will build an new and better association for the students we serve and the teachers who are committed to teaching quality rather than what served yesterday’s teaching force. Maybe they are…but if they don’t find the new generation of teacher leaders.
Learn more...

Articles for the Week:

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” --Muhammad Ali

See Older Posts...
© 2009-15 Cascade Educational Consultants | Phone: (360) 303-7480 Contact Me