Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time

Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time

Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time

Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time

Excerpt

All, regardless of race or class or economic status, are entitled to a fair
chance and to the tools for developing their individual powers of mind
and spirit to the utmost. This promise means that all children by virtue of
their own efforts, competently guided, can hope to attain the mature and
informed judgment needed to secure gainful employment, and to manage
their own lives, thereby serving not only their own interests but also the
progress of society itself.

—A Nation at Risk

I FIRST MET SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER GARY NUNNALLY IN THE FALL OF 2001 WHILE WE WERE attending a staff development seminar on instructional strategies in Lincoln, Nebraska. Sitting in front of me with his leg in a cast, Gary appeared to be giving me the dismissive [talk to the hand] signal with the underside of his foot. It was fi tting, given the heated pedagogical exchange we were about to have. I clearly remember what started the volley: Gary good-naturedly bemoaned his students' disinterest in completing homework assignments and identifi ed this lack of motivation as the cause of plummeting grades in his course, behavioral problems in his classroom, and, by extension, many uncomfortable parentteacher encounters.

In response, I offered an audacious argument—at least, one that was audacious from Gary's point of view. Perhaps, I said, his homework assignments weren't worthy of his students' time. Maybe if he spent his energy improving the instruction in his classroom, the homework issue would sort itself out. In . . .

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