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In 1988, the Chicago public school system decentralized, granting parents and communities significant resources and authority to reform their schools in dramatic ways. To track the effects of this bold experiment, the authors of Organizing Schools for Improvement collected a wealth of data on elementary schools in Chicago. Over a seven-year period they identified one hundred elementary schools that had substantially improved—and one hundred that had not. What did the successful schools do to accelerate student learning? The authors of this illuminating book identify a comprehensive set of practices and conditions that were key factors for improvement, including school leadership, the professional capacity of the faculty and staff, and a student-centered learning climate. In addition, they analyze the impact of social dynamics, including crime, critically examining the inextricable link between schools and their communities. Putting their data onto a more human scale, they also chronicle the stories of two neighboring schools with very different trajectories. The lessons gleaned from this groundbreaking study will be invaluable for anyone involved with urban education.
In Learning to Improve, the authors argue for a new approach to education reform that leverages “networked improvement communities” to address high school dropout rates and other core concerns.
Most Americans agree on the necessity of education reform, but there is little consensus about how this goal might be achieved. The rhetoric of standards and vouchers has occupied center stage, polarizing public opinion and affording little room for reflection on the intangible conditions that make for good schools. Trust in Schools engages this debate with a compelling examination of the importance of social relationships in the successful implementation of school reform. Over the course of three years, Bryk and Schneider, together with a diverse team of other researchers and school practitioners, studied reform in twelve Chicago elementary schools. Each school was undergoing extensive reorganization in response to the Chicago School Reform Act of 1988, which called for greater involvement of parents and local community leaders in their neighborhood schools. Drawing on years longitudinal survey and achievement data, as well as in-depth interviews with principals, teachers, parents, and local community leaders, the authors develop a thorough account of how effective social relationships—which they term relational trust—can serve as a prime resource for school improvement. Using case studies of the network of relationships that make up the school community, Bryk and Schneider examine how the myriad social exchanges that make up daily life in a school community generate, or fail to generate, a successful educational environment. The personal dynamics among teachers, students, and their parents, for example, influence whether students regularly attend school and sustain their efforts in the difficult task of learning. In schools characterized by high relational trust, educators were more likely to experiment with new practices and work together with parents to advance improvements. As a result, these schools were also more likely to demonstrate marked gains in student learning. In contrast, schools with weak trust relations saw virtually no improvement in their reading or mathematics scores. Trust in Schools demonstrates convincingly that the quality of social relationships operating in and around schools is central to their functioning, and strongly predicts positive student outcomes. This book offer insights into how trust can be built and sustained in school communities, and identifies some features of public school systems that can impede such development. Bryk and Schneider show how a broad base of trust across a school community can provide a critical resource as education professional and parents embark on major school reforms. A Volume in the American Sociological Association's Rose Series in Sociology
Schools are places of learning but they are also workplaces, and teachers are employees. As such, are teachers more akin to professionals or to factory workers in the amount of control they have over their work? And what difference does it make? Drawing on large national surveys as well as wide-ranging interviews with high school teachers and administrators, Richard Ingersoll reveals the shortcomings in the two opposing viewpoints that dominate thought on this subject: that schools are too decentralized and lack adequate control and accountability; and that schools are too centralized, giving teachers too little autonomy. Both views, he shows, overlook one of the most important parts of teachers' work: schools are not simply organizations engineered to deliver academic instruction to students, as measured by test scores; schools and teachers also play a large part in the social and behavioral development of our children. As a result, both views overlook the power of implicit social controls in schools that are virtually invisible to outsiders but keenly felt by insiders. Given these blind spots, this book demonstrates that reforms from either camp begin with inaccurate premises about how schools work and so are bound not only to fail, but to exacerbate the problems they propose to solve.
American high schools have never been under more pressure to reform: student populations are more diverse than ever, resources are limited, and teachers are expected to teach to high standards for all students. While many reformers look for change at the state or district level, the authors here argue that the most local contexts—schools, departments, and communities—matter the most to how well teachers perform in the classroom and how satisfied they are professionally. Their findings—based on one of the most extensive research projects ever done on secondary teaching—show that departmental cultures play a crucial role in classroom settings and expectations. In the same school, for example, social studies teachers described their students as "apathetic and unwilling to work," while English teachers described the same students as "bright, interesting, and energetic." With wide-ranging implications for educational practice and policy, this unprecedented look into teacher communities is essential reading for educators, administrators, and all those concerned with U. S. High Schools.
How Leaders Learn portrays the developmental experiences of educators seeking to become accomplished leaders in their schools. The author presents a new model of leadership knowledgethe Interpersonal-Cognitive-Intrapersonal Model (I-C-I). Through the stories of teacher leaders and administrators who participated in the I-C-I leadership development programs, the author depicts the evolution of understanding, skill, and self-confidence. These learners grapple with questions essential to all effective leadership: Does my leadership generate improved learning for the students in my school? What are my greatest assets as a leader? What are my greatest liabilities and what do I do about them? Can I find a leadership role that is both productive and sustainable for me and for the school I serve?
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