Global Ed Con 2014 Session Review

Escuela Nueva: Quality Education for Peace and Democracy

Vicky Colbert

Founder and Director

Javeriana University, Colombia

  • Local, rural innovation that has grown into a national model that impacts more than 20,000 schools
  • National policy in Vietnam, Zambia, Colombia,
  • What is Escuela Nueva?
    • The process of installing change
    • Guarantees access, quality and relevance of basic education
    • Public-private partnership, civil society to spur innovation, and government to provide and push the scale of change
    • Integrates a systemic and cost effective curriculum, in-service training and follow-up,
    • Administrative and community strategies for school success
  • What does Escuela Nueva promote?
    • Child-centered, active, participatory and cooperative learning
    • Different learning paces, flexible promotion mechanisms, the national curriculum has been made into modules of mastery so students can complete them at their own pace
    • A new role for teachers, facilitator, HOTS inducer, catalyst for thinking
    • Effective, experiential teacher training, that modeled the pedagogy in the classroom with the teachers, hands-on training
    • Collaboration and networking of teaching professionals
    • Strong school, family and community relationships, w/o a ton of meetings!
    • Emphasis on democratic behavior through student governments
    • New generation of self-paced, self-directed, reusable learning guides that incorporate both content and methodology (Flexible and personalized) The textbook, workbook and teacher’s guide all in one.
      • Learning Corners
      • Small group and pair dialoguing
      • Creating community maps to identify the relationship between the school and the child’s home
      • The lessons are relevant to families and their lives and are translated to the families through the children (similar to popular education?)

 

Five Escuela Nueva takeaways:

  1. Yes, it is possible to improve the quality of education and learning in the poorest schools
  2. More of the same is not enough – it requires a paradigm shift in pedagogy
  3. Find a systemic innovative approach
  4. Learning should go beyond just academic achievement, fostering social-competencies, 21st century skills, and peaceful democratic behaviors is equally important
  5. Technology triggers change, but a new pedagogy is indispensable for effective learning

 

  • While everything has changed over the years, the way we learn has not, “most educational reform have been administrative in nature, while pedagogy has not”

 

Similarities and Differences between Latin America Low-income schools

and US Title I schools

Similarities Differences
Rigid calendars and evaluation systems Emphasis on memorization, not comprehension
Weak school-community relationships Teacher-centered methods
Low self-esteem of children Insufficient learning time
Low academic achievement Emphasis on Pre-K-3 education
High drop-out or retention rates
Ineffective or inadequate teacher training, pre-service

The Escuela Nueva Comprehensive, Systemic Approach:

  1. Teachers had to be able to execute the pedagogy, the teaching and learning, even in the jungles of Colombia
  2. It had to be politically viable within a strong teacher union society, so the teachers had to be the actors and leaders for change
  3. The program had to be cost-effective or you could not have a large impact
  4. Rethink the classroom, the way of learning and the education system as a whole

Escuela Nueva model

Escuela Nueva Results:

  1. Comparative Study on Democratic Behavior in Guatemala showed that Escuela Nueva students more frequently took turns talking or participating in an activity, and also more frequently lead processes
  2. Enhances girl’s participation, self-esteem and leadership skills

“None of us alone is as smart as all of us together.” ~Francois Taddei, Descartes University

Vision: By 2018 Escuela Nueva desires to be a “global technical reference for active, cooperative and personalized learning” and they want to lead a “global movement” to improve lives via their educational model.

Urban Escuela Activa: They expanded their model to urban areas in 1988 when there was a rapid urbanization in Colombia

Escuela Nueva Learning Circles: A specialized program for displaced-migrant population in Colombia. In these schools the students need specialized services that are flexible and adaptable to their unique needs.

  • Community youth agents serve as tutors in the schools:

→ They serve groups of 10-15 multi-grade students in the Learning Circles

→ They also ensure sustainability for the teachers in these poor urban schools

that experience extremely high rates of teacher turnover

Advertisements

Discipline in Schools: Is This Working?

This American Life, Episode 538: Is This Working?

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/538/is-this-working

This is a really powerful and honest exploration of discipline in schools; what is the purpose, what are the methods, what is working and what is not working. Some of the stories told are all too commonplace, some of them are very unique and tragic situations. However, all of them represent a dilemma or debate in the education community about how we should think about and implement appropriate and effective student discipline methods in schools, and what that may mean for different communities. The show also reflects on the parallels of school discipline policies and those of the criminal justice system.

It starts by surveying a number of middle school teachers on their response to a behavior scenario which has a student refusing to comply with a no hats school policy. There is a wide range of answers from a full-fledged, middle of class conversation, to simple demerit points smoothly integrated into the uninterrupted class content, and even the throwing of a clog!

Elizabeth Green’s book, Building a Better Teacher, is cited in that there are still teacher preparation programs around the nation that do not have a class that covers classroom management and specific behavior management methods. And indeed, there is no best practice that all educators agree upon. In spite of this, yet and still “you kinda have to nail discipline before you do anything else that you want” in the classroom, says Ira Glass.

Here are some of questions and issues they explore:

  • Will the wrong kind of discipline in school screw up children for the rest of their life?
  • Is it appropriate and/or effective to suspend pre-school children?
  • Do the behavior histories of parents in schools repeat with their children?
  • Discipline disproportionality based on race. “Is my black preschooler just another statistic?
  • The-school-to-prison-pipeline
  • Michael Thompson and the Texas student database from 2007-09 that showed that 2 out of 10 black boys in Texas made it through high school without being suspended. Students who were suspended were three times as likely to come in contact with the criminal justice system outside of school.
  • Strict discipline as a management method in high-poverty schools with students who have multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s).
  • The creepy feeling when teachers use hyper-control methods on students and there is little joy and humanity in different school situations.
  • “Do you not get why I am freaking out right now. I am so worried because I see myself and my friends, and some of those people are in prison right now.” -Rousseau Mieze
  • Fear Factor:
  1. Teachers are afraid of losing control
  2. There is a fear students will not develop self-control
  • Restorative Justice: a mediation that tries to restore the harm done by the crime. This comes from the criminal justice system, where they bring offenders and victims together to talk about the crime and attempt to restore justice somehow.
  1. Lyons Community School
  2. Talking circles to resolve conflicts, “talking is how you are successful” ie thorough communication.
  3. A long-term investigation of student actions and words goes along with the long-term project of each student “Being Lyonized”. Talk, exploration, reflection and cognitive behavior therapy.
  4. The Plain-Clothes Cop on the Train story, restorative justice between an angered cop and a group of 9th grade Lyons students, whoa!
  • “What is the point of punishment in school? Is it to teach self-control? To get kids to be quiet so that learning can happen? To prepare children to function as grown-ups in the world? To teach them how to avoid being arrested?”
  • “Removed from the community” is the term they use at the end of the show to refer to the parallels between suspension and prison as our standard social punishments.

For me, the comments of Rousseau Mieze on hyper-control methods rang most true. In my second year as a bilingual instructional assistant in a Title I Seattle public school, I was aware of my calling to the teaching profession and spent some of professional development hours observing the experienced and innovative teachers in my building.

I spent one half-day in the classroom of a teacher who was new to the building and district, having moved from Los Angeles after working for more than 20 years in inner-city schools there. She was nice as pie in the staff lounge, one of my favorite teachers to chat with about students, teaching and life. In the classroom, however, she was not to be trifled with, even as a fellow staff member I felt on-edge about my performance based on her expectations in her classroom.

I distinctly remember the feeling of a community-building activity that she seemed to be ramming down her 5th graders throats that day. The students were in a big standing circle tossing a ball to their peers and practicing giving “put-ups” as opposed to put-downs to their fellow classmates. This activity was viscerally awkward and disingenuous at times, and yet the teacher was strident that all the students complete the activity no matter how fake it felt. I distinctly remember walking away from that half-day observation wondering if I had to be such a strict and demanding task-master in order to teach these diverse students of color and lesser economic means? It didn’t feel good to me. It was not inspiring. But, as I saw throughout the school year, this teacher was highly effective in building relationships with the most recalcitrant students, bringing up the reading levels of her lowest ability-level students, modifying bad behaviors, reinforcing good habits and maintaining high expectations. This woman was a pro and she knew what her students needed and she gave it to them whether it was bad tasting medicine or not.

Like Rousseau Mieze, I find it a bit disconcerting to find yourself in the position of holding young people to such strict discipline standards. As a person who has had their fair share of discipline issues in school, it is not fair that certain young people have a shorter leash and a greater potential for consequences than I did as a white male student. Yet, the fact remains, that Mieze and I both have friends who have gone to prison because of self-control issues in their youth. Discipline is definitely important in all classrooms, but it appears to be eminently critical in certain schools and classrooms. Suspensions and the disproportionality issue have to change, but not at the expense of this uncomfortable bit of current reality.

Innovative Teaching and Learning Pilot Year Report – Microsoft Partners in Learning

Microsoft Partners in Learning is supporting a long-term global Innovative Teaching and Learning research project focused on information and communication technology (ICT) use in the classroom, student-centered 21st Century Skills development and extended learning opportunities outside the classroom in a global context. The pilot year of this research project was in 2009 and it included classrooms in Finland, Russia, Senegal and Indonesia. In Module Two of the Teach-Now certification program, we were asked to explore the world of ‘Tomorrow’s Teacher’. One task in this exploration was a reading of the Innovative Teaching and Learning pilot year report and the creation of an infographic to visually represent the key findings of the report. Below is my submission:

Innovative Teaching and Learning Infographic

The Context of Teaching – Student Demographics

Student Data Analysis - KWS (1)

In Module Two of the Teach-Now certification program we are asked to collect, analyze and create an infographic representing essential student data in our own school, district or national teaching context. While I am currently teaching in South Korea, I do plan to return to the classroom in the United States, and more than likely in my home city of Seattle.

The infographic will show the English Language Learner numbers as a percentage for Seattle Public Schools as over against those of the nation and Washington State. You will see the same national versus district and state comparison with the numbers on Special Education and percentage of white students. In the last two Piktochart blocks there are graphic bar graphs comparing the 4th grade ELL reading growth and the 4th grade urban student math growth for Seattle Public Schools and the nation as a whole.

Here is where I found the district, state and national data:

1. Seattle Public Schools district reports and scorecards

2. Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Report Card

3. National Center for Education Statistics