Section II—A New Vision of Teaching And Leading, and a Reorganized Classroom

Section II—A New Vision of Teaching And Leading, and a Reorganized Classroom

A truly transformed education profession requires us to think boldly as a country about how we might redesign our educational systems to attract, prepare, support, retain, and reward excellent teachers and principals. Just as critically, we must think about how the classroom, the school environment, and the school day and year might be reshaped to sustain and enhance this transformation.

A Reorganized Classroom

A new vision of education would begin with the recognition that teachers are passionate, skilled professionals whose focus is on effectively engaging students, ensuring their learning, and shaping their development. Teachers know that to productively engage in our democracy and compete in our global economy, students will need strong, well-rounded academic foundations; cultural and global competencies; the ability to collaborate, communicate, and solve problems; and strong digital literacy skills. We would like to see the classroom transformed into a place where accomplished teachers creatively apply their knowledge and skills to meet these goals, and where their expertise is acknowledged by parents, students, and administrators. To this end, we envision schools and classrooms that are configured based on students' needs and teachers' abilities, rather than on traditionally prescribed formulas. In these schools, teams of teachers, assistant principals, and principals collaborate to make decisions about how schools and classes are structured, creating spaces where teachers can visit one another's classes to learn from each other and to work together to solve common challenges.

Structuring classrooms to maximize the impact of instruction could take many different forms. For example, classrooms with many high-need students might contain fewer students than other classes. The most accomplished teachers might be asked to serve a larger number of students per class with teams of Resident or Novice teachers extending the reach of the most accomplished teachers, while offering newer teachers the opportunity to learn by observing and assisting a Master teacher. Likewise, the format and mode of instruction might differ according to student need and the technology available. The traditional physical classroom space might shift to clustering arrangements or stations where groups of students engage in distinct tasks, some collaborative and some individual, that use a variety of activities to continually engage students in different modes of learning.

In this new vision, classroom learning would be guided by rigorous academic standards and high expectations, while being supported by data and technology.ii High-quality data measuring student learning would be made available and accessible to teachers on an ongoing basis--in real time where appropriate. Teachers would be trained on how to use the data to inform and adapt instruction hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and year-to-year.

Technology would also play a strong role in personalizing learning and supplementing classroom instruction so that students can learn at their own pace. The introduction of technology into more classrooms would be accompanied by additional support (e.g., additional classroom aides and extensive guidance on how to best utilize the new technology to meet learning objectives) to ensure that new instruments truly enhance--rather than diminish--the teacher's instruction. To the extent that technology facilitates teachers' ability to engage more students simultaneously, the use of technology might allow for higher student-teacher ratios, freeing up some teachers to provide additional support to students who need more of their attention.

ii. U.S. Department of Education (2010), "National Education Technology Plan 2010." Available at:


Diversity of students should be stressed. Some examples are ESOL students, people with different intellenience...

Team teaching is an excellent plan for students and teachers alike and I wholeheartedly support this effort. However, I am concerned about the suggestion that the use of technology could allow for increasing the number of students in any class. It is through individual attention that children thrive. Being known and cared about by their teacher or at least one adult in the school can make the difference between success and failure. Also, one cannot assume that a student who learns easily and is doing well in class is getting support at home or has a good home environment. Often, these students need just as much input to succeed. They might be self motivated but ultimately discouraged and unsure of how to get where they want to go. Team teaching can be used successfully both to assist those struggling with concepts and to challenge the fast learners. A mentoring program in each school could also be of significant benefit.

Also, although I don't really think this is anyone's intent, this document often contains condescending statements. For example: "In this new vision, classroom learning would be guided by rigorous academic standards and high expectations..." or "We would like to see the classroom transformed into a place where accomplished teachers creatively apply their knowledge and skills to meet these goals..." - Isn't this what most teachers already do? Is this really a "new vision"?

Computers will undoubtedly allow for education to be individualized, but we must remember the value that a community of learners and meaningful classroom discussion bring to the learning process. Of course community can be created online, but this community functions much differently than one that has physical presence. In an online community, it is easy to dismiss ideas with a click or come to a convenient consensus. However, when students and teachers must look each other in the eye and be held accountable for their efforts to be involved in the learning process, students benefit: more can be achieved through dissonance and questioning.

Your vision states, "To the extent that technology facilitates teachers' ability to engage more students simultaneously, the use of technology might allow for higher student-teacher ratios, freeing up some teachers to provide additional support to students who need more of their attention."

It is crucial that we don't confuse engagement with technology with engagement in learning. Just because students are busy at a computer does not mean they are engaged in the learning process. I concede that technology can be more appealing to students and might capture their attention, but once their attention is caught, it is up to classroom teachers to provide instruction and ensure that students are engaged in higher level thinking skills.

I worry that the ease of placing competent and advanced children in front of computers to keep them busy will diminish the opportunities they have to engage in class discussions that will allow them to use their critical thinking skills and move their knowledge and thinking forward.

To be an effective teacher, one has to have passion for their students foremost. It is not enough to just have passion for the subject. One of my most influential and effective teachers showed that he cared for his students above anything. There was less of a focus on the content and more value put on the holistic learning experience. In the end, his dedication and compassion for his students led to more effective learning. It was through his passion and enthusiasm for us as students that he fostered our desire to learn and become better students. I think he was on the right track for effective teaching, caring first about the learners and secondly about the content.

I also agree with the use of technology. Provided that students learn to use technology appropriately, it can be a valuable learning resource. In my student teaching we implemented technology through the creation of a class specific website that allowed the posting of homework, videos, assignment reminders, and more. Students always had access to this so they could check any time of day to refresh their memories and learn more about the content covered that week. In addition, the website provided links to multiple resources outside of school. These links helped to foster engagement within the community and again, a more well rounded experience than would just be provided in the classroom.

I believe professional educators must keep a professional distance from the students and concurrently create learning environments for the learning style while adhering to the state and national standards. While this may seem more nationalistic in terms of philosophy our goal is to present content as priority and tailor the teaching style for the student, addressing their needs. In other words, cater to the needs of the student as a nation, respect the nation as students.

We must remember; our efforts have a long term effect into history. We are presenting ideas and information for the betterment, the improvement of the human race. As a professional educator I do agree that addressing the needs of the community and respecting the cultural proficiency of the various subcultures is an avenue for building trust and rapport.

As an older educator I would really like to see people such as paraprofessionals and substitute teachers receive professional credit for their daily efforts and front line care for the students.
As I began my professional career as a volunteer and as a substitute teacher/single mom I was subject to years of negative rhetoric and treatment by so called certified teachers; apparently they missed the classes on common courtesy towards guest teachers. We are all on the same team people, lets act like it and demonstarte some solidarity.

I absolutely agree on the career track for teachers, having Master Teachers after three to five years of service, having novice teachers as sophomores, juniors in college assisting on a two to three day basis, grading, reviewing lesson plans, tutoring, while still attending either face to face, satellite or online lecture classes.
Lets remember, in my case at least I went back to college as a non traditional single parent student, motivated to serve and learn, limited in resources. Not limited in deication to my family, community and nation. I was the parent who stayed.
I believe it would behoove everyone to respect the resources and flex time for single parents attending college and working in the education field. These are dedicated, committed people who have a vested interest in our communities, cities, states and nation!!!!!.
So either, single, married, single parent lets focus also on the long term quality of life of the education professionals. Let our people know EARLY IN THEIR CAREER that they do have options for receiving state credit, retirement, health benefits for themselves and their families.

ON THIS TOPIC, IT IS HEARTWRENCHING TO SEE A FELLOW EDUCATOR EMPLOYED AS A SUBSTITUTE TEACHER WITH A MASTER OF EDUCATION DEGREE losing her teeth because she is not afforded helth insurance with the school districts.

Further, Substitute teachers in the City of El Paso have for decades been insulted, verbally abused, not offered health insurance, while on the front lines, having passed college, passed background checks, put in a full day, weeks or months worth of work; yet constantly held in a state of "NON EMPLOYEE" status, just to fit the bottom line.

I believe educators should constantly be offered seminars in taking care of their own personal finances, buying houses, purchasing stock, preparing trust funds for the education of THEIR children; not just subsistance living wages from pay check to pay check, only being hired as full time teachers based on the subjective liking of a school director rather then on a rubric method based on true academic achievement and employment experience..

I also believe that dress codes for teachers ARE important, I may be showing my age but a second grade teacher with a ring through her nose, sleeved out tattoos, tattoos all over ankles and legs, really is not my idea of professionalism. In fact too me it promotes a life style that I would question. Luckily, in this country we know that accoutrament such as body modification schoul not make a difference, but really, what kind of message are we sending to the students??
That is something that does bother me. In my upbringing, tattoos were not allowed, for women to have them was considered quite base and morally questionable.
I know different cultures have different values and as an American I do APPRECIATE THAT!!
ALL IN ALL the future looks bright, no matter the budget cut, education employees are dedicated to the profession.

I think it is a great idea to have students with higher needs in smaller classrooms. In physical education I think this could really help the teacher focus on the individual students and the skills that they need to develop. I also support that novice teachers continue to observe and learn from master teachers. Going into my first year of teaching I still have a lot to learn and it would be great to have that role model and support to look to in my first year.

Teaching is not just about content. If it was, it could be easily handled by computerized learning. Not a bad idea if Kahn Academy could be combined with real time data available to the classroom leader and upon which that leader could pull strugglers aside and provide small group instruction.

The following is an agenda for a webinar offered to educators and is typical for what we teachers have to contend with in a public school setting as we must take any and all students. Think of the societal implications of us teachers' work that goes well beyond teaching content, that solely upon which we are being considered for evaluation and accountability.

"Difficult and Disruptive Students
OnDemand Webinar
OnDemand Webinar (82 minutes) $99.00 Add to Cart Add to Cart
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Students labeled as “difficult” or “disruptive” are often unsuccessful in school and may be poorly prepared to manage life as an adult, should they graduate. Additionally, they make life challenging for teachers and administrators. Left unchecked, they can consume school resources with little improvement, feel left out and unappreciated, and are at increased risk for unemployment, problems with the law, depression, and substance abuse. Knowing how to identify these students early on, understanding the nature of their problems, and implementing positive strategies can literally be a life-changing event for them. This OnDemand Webinar will cover a range of empirically-supported, practical, state-of-the-art assessment and intervention strategies that can reduce the frequency and severity of these problems.
Bruce M. Gale, Ph.D., BehaviorTech Solutions Inc.

Characteristics of Difficult and Disruptive Students

Redefining Diagnoses, Such as ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, as Behaviors to Target
Understanding Why Children Behave in Disruptive Ways
Common Motivational Factors That Maintain Challenging Behaviors

Crafting the Initial Intervention

A Little Bit of Assessment Can Go a Long Way
Team-Based Approaches to Intervening in the Real World
How to Track Progress Meaningfully

Strategies to Reduce Disruptive Behavior

Eight Useful Teacher Strategies That Work, Most of the Time
Helpful Technologies to Consider Using With Disruptive Students
Helpful Resources"

This is what today's teacher does today in their jobs. It is a herculean task to differentiate instruction for each learners abilities and learning styles, and additionally contend with the issues in the aforementioned webinar. Teachers need more tools to do this herculean task that benefits all of society in the short and long term.

Melissa V Rentchler, MLIS, M.Ed. CA State Credentialed Teacher, and Teacher Librarian

Long Beach, CA

This data-driven corporatization of education is destroying our schools.

There is a solution to every problem and several excellent solutions were mentioned in this section and I hope it can be put into effect ASAP. Students needs and the teachers ability instead of a prescribed formula will bring tremendous results. And aswers my question to the previous section in reference to how will we reach the thousands of students that have been failed forward but left behind. The students with higher needs be in smaller classes and advanced students not neediing as much help in larger classes is an excellent idea. I have spoken with some of my sons peers in highschool in reference to getting help in the classroom. One gentleman raised his hand for help and the teacher said she would get back with him and never did. To allow students to learn at their ow pace is critical instead of this keeping moving attitude once you pass a data driven test. My son has one more year left. And I am so glad but my heart aches for the children left in the school system due to what continues to be played out here in Georgia. However after reading the RESPECT project I know that there is hope for our children and teachers still in school struggling to get a quality education and teach a quality education.

With this new vision, I believe that Georgia is right on target. Our state has implemented the Common Core Standards and are in the process of being trained on the STEM teaching and learning new phase. Both STEM and CCGPS are connected, in the respect that learning with be more hands-on and the teacher will be more of the facilitator than the lecturer.

Students will be able to investigate, be more self-reliant, explore and be better problem-solvers and critical thinkers. Ultimately, this is the most effective way that students learn. We all learn more by doing! Finally, all students can fairly begin each year, at the same level as all other students. Although, it is not logical to think that all students are at the same level, however, it at least give those lower functioning students an equal chance, which will help to eliminate low self-esteem in children and should decrease a lot of discipline problems within the classroom.

Since when is the most high need students the ones with the lower skills and abilities? I have a 7th grade Honors writing class this year that has 37 students. WAY too many. These students need just as much, if not MORE, one on one time with me to truly enhance and extend their abilities. I cannot give that kind of attention to that many students. To say only a few kids should get more attention from a teacher is to neglect a good portion of the student body. That's not fair. Nor is it very smart to neglect the brightest kids for the lowest. It's not politically correct, but if we want our brightest and best to truly BE the brightest and best, then those kids deserve just as much attention as any others. Stone me for saying it you'd like, but it's the truth. We spend a disproportionate amount of money on a very small minority of students, and that has hurt education in the past 20 years more than anything else. Those kids cannot be neglected and pushed aside, but they shouldn't be given all the best at the expense of the best students we have.

In addition, the more decentralized the classroom, the smaller the number MUST be. Otherwise chaos will be the likely result because the teacher is only one person in the room. Students, especially at elementary and middle level, must have a more centralized and structured format because that's what they need. Only at the upper secondary levels would a decentralized classroom work in the way it truly should because the students at that level have reached the appropriate maturity levels to be able to understand how to take charge of their own learning and understand what they need to know. Middle schoolers, and certainly elementary kids, just are not there yet. I have tried things like this before in my 17 years of teaching, and I have come to realize that most middle school kids need more structure. They excel more, and isn't that the point?

The Good Force be with you!

These New Vision of Teaching and Leading, and a Reorganized Classroom are catalysts for the best educational system of the country.

Live forever and prosper!

Proceed with caution: there is a lot of potential for chaos in this very expensive vision. All of those tablets are going to have to be purchased, which will cost a lot; they will break down, and so students will be delayed in completing their projects, which will cause a certain amount of chaos; new teachers will struggle mightily to maintain control of such a decentralized classroom; and, because you are likely to discriminate against children like mine, whom you will tacitly define as "low need" (without ever uttering such a term, but merely by inference), who may be perversely punished as a reward for earning high grades, we will be forced to withdraw him into private education, an increasingly tempting option (although we can't afford it) so as to escape some of the less well thought through innovations being envisioned here.

There is also much good in what you propose here, and some of it (especially the technology part) is likely to happen regardless of any central planning; but I also fear that the emphasis on data entails an overly simplified view of learning as some sort of discrete, digitized process, a set of absolute ones and zeroes, and will fail to capture the nuances that go along with the more complex learning that happens when students write, create via the arts, or engage in open-ended scientific experimentation.

It may be costly but our students are worth it and I could send you pictures of the numerous workbooks and books that are not being used in order to advance our kids. Nothing beats a failure but a try. You must tear down what is not working in order to build a new affective educational system. NCLB has help to create a hot mess.