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In video, dynamic teachers bring RESET to life

teacher presenting
reseteducation.org
The keynote was delivered by Mayme Hostetter, who is the dean of the Relay Graduate School of Education in New York City and a Twin Cities native.

Your Humble Blogger has a friend who is a personality. You know, one of those people who is referred to by her first name by strangers. Who is a one-woman brand. Someone who has thousands of social media pals, headshots and — so very 2013 — multiple “platforms.”

We were out for our constitutional one night in the spring and I was talking about the first of three Minnesota Meetings I was asked to moderate by a group of education advocacy organizations that were trying to draw attention to elements we know can help boost achievement by our most fragile students.

The panel on strong school leadership I moderated was preceded by a keynote by Connecticut magnet school principal Dr. Steve Perry, who had packed the Fitzgerald Theater despite an April blizzard, and whose pointed remarks had Twitter and Facebook ablaze. I was narrating the contretemps, which I am fairly sure my friend was only pretending to care about.   

But then: “You got how many people to come listen to a talk about education?” she demanded, incredulous. “In the snow? In St. Paul? Seriously?” 

Seriously. The name of the campaign — spearheaded by the Minneapolis Foundation — is RESET, an acronym for the five elements: Real-time use of data; expectations, not excuses; strong leadership, effective teaching; and time on task. The goal of the evenings was to bring those concepts to life, so to speak, on the stage at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater.   

The second event featured nine-time Grammy award winner and passionate education advocate John Legend and drew 1,000 people.

Effective teaching is focus

My favorite, however, was the third, which focused on effective teaching. And I bring this up because an edited video of the evening has just been made available online, on the RESET website.

This one was particularly fun for me because one of my lingering dissatisfactions with an otherwise awesome job is that while I visit a lot of schools and have seen amazing teachers in action, I have never figured out how to convey the joy and electricity that fills the air when you are in one of their classrooms.

The keynote in this third meeting was delivered by Mayme Hostetter, who is the dean of the Relay Graduate School of Education in New York City and a Twin Cities native. She did an amazing job illustrating for an audience of slightly unruly adult pupils just how effective and dynamic a teacher can be.

Three local teachers on panel

I watched it backstage with three outstanding local teachers, who could not have been more excited to build on Hostetter’s energy when the time came for our panel discussion. I’ve stolen their bios from the RESET website and am pasting them below.

I think you should watch it at once. I’m betting they will have you wishing you could go back to school in one of their classrooms.

Angela Mansfield worked for the Minneapolis Public School (MPS) district for nearly 15 years. She was a classroom teacher, then a literacy coordinator, and finally an instructional leader. Among other recognitions, she received the coveted national Milken award. After leaving the district, Angela participated in Charter School Partners’ fellowship program, which prepares educators to open high-performing, achievement-gap closing urban charter schools. This fall, Angela is launching Arch Academy, a K-5 public charter school in South Minneapolis. Angela earned her master's degree and is pursuing her doctorate, both in literacy education, at the U of M. She completed additional educational studies at the University of St. Thomas.

Holly Kragthorpe teaches at the newly opened Ramsey Middle School, where she has been a founding teacher. As an educator and instructional leader, Holly has worked for the Minneapolis Public Schools since 2001, and she is a PTA member and parent of two children who attend MPS. Holly has also worked as an independent educational consultant and has been an adjunct and community faculty member at St. Mary’s University and Metropolitan State, respectively. She has a M.Ed. in social studies and a K-12 reading license from the U of M and she is a member of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Educators 4 Excellence.

Crystal Ballard teaches at Olson Middle School and has been with the Minneapolis Public School district since 2009. She also coordinates the AVID and extended day programs for her school. Olson serves 336 students in North Minneapolis, 91 percent of whom are children of color and 84 percent of whom are from low-income families. Crystal was recently selected to participate in a new district program to develop transformational school leaders. Crystal has a B.A. in elementary education/special education, an M.A. in educational psychology from the U of M and an Urban Teaching certificate from Hamline University. She is a member of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and the African American Leadership Forum.

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Comments (5)

" trying to draw attention to

" trying to draw attention to elements we know can help boost achievement by our most fragile students."

Prove that statement. Are you a reporter or advocate. Serious question.

Huh?

Mr. Levine, are you questioning whether effective teachers, school leaders, regular use of student data, time on task and expectations for student achievement have an impact on student learning?

There's a lot of research on each of these factors - plus many examples of how their use has positively impacted student achievement in MN public schools (throughout the state).

Are you saying each of these factors doesn't have an impact on student learning? Thanks!

The way those phrases are

The way those phrases are thrown around they are either code words for other things or gobblydegook.

Effective teachers? Effective schools leaders? Are you serious - what does that mean. Of course everyone in the world wants those. The question is what are those? The arguments could be endless. Regular use of student data? It depends - is it good data or crap? How do we know the difference. Do you think data represents the fullness of education? And everyone has expectations - the question is what do we do with those expectations. The phrasing is meaningless. Deformers don't even bother to explain things anymore they just speak in sound bites and code words. Beth Hawkins gave a talk where she spoke of the charter schools' "secret sauce." It's moronic.

We DO know what makes for a good education - small class size, adequately provided for schools and classrooms, well-trained teachers, wrap-around services, etc. The problem is the same people who are geniuses in Beth Hawkins' world want things like TFA - barely trained teachers who only stick around for a few years. They want teachers and schools judged by student test scores - new state law says 35% of teachers' evaluations must be based on student test scores. If you really care about research you know that is crazy - 70% of student outcomes on standardized tests is due to outside the school factors. Teachers will be judged on things beyond their control. You think that's a good idea?

So yes, I am serious.

In addition...

I think part of the point is the condescending way that, some of these obvious techniques, have not been used by good teachers forever. Like timely, formative feedback from 100% of students. I have been using electronic response systems in my classroom for a decade and gave a presentation on it at the local technology education conference several years ago, yet RESET and Ms. Hawkins present this as if it is some earth shattering technique that us lazy, incompetent public school teachers just don't understand. The implication is also that we do not have high expectations, and we are just an excuse making bunch of losers. The point is not that some of these strategies are not good. The point is that RESET implies we are not doing them.

You want to know what all the beating the odds charters really have in common? More money, longer instructional time, strict, almost draconian discipline, and a hyper focus on math and reading to the exclusion of other subjects.

All of which brings me back

All of which brings me back to my original (rhetorical) question: Is Beth Hawkins a reporter or advocate?