Finding the Answers Embedded in Our Own Work

Cech-n120x148The ASCD Annual Conference offers many things, but for me it is the opportunity to visit with educators from all over the world. In one of these interactions, the conversation revolved around a line from Mike Schmoker’s new book Focus. On page 17, Schmoker writes,

“It is critical that schools learn the lesson that ‘best practice’ in effective organizations is rarely new practice. On the contrary, the most effective actions are ‘well-known practices,’ with the extra dimension that they (are) reinforced and carried out reliably.”

For me, discussing this passage with colleagues provoked an “Aha!” moment: Perhaps we should look at the simplicity of doing what works well and do it with consistency, reinforcement, and diligence.

How many of us continue to look for the magic bullet to raise student learning and assessment scores? How many of us spend thousands of dollars on programs, technology, or professional development that occur over a very short time period with little follow-up or follow-through?

Maybe Schmoker’s idea of doing what works and doing it well is the magic bullet we need. Have we really looked at instruction to find what works and what does not? Have we consulted the literature to see which strategies are supported by research as being effective? Are we consistent with communicating expectations for the implementation of research-based, effective, instructional strategies? Do we effectively monitor the use of the identified strategies and hold everyone accountable for implementation? Do we celebrate the classrooms that model what is expected?

Perhaps something as simple and cost-effective as making the changes needed to answer these questions in the affirmative is the place to start.

Post submitted by teacher and 2011 ASCD Annual Conference Scholar Nancy Cech.