Author Archives: Karmi Gross

State of the Heart Technology

Teacher telling a story to a group of students
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As a school principal for nearly 20 years I played almost every role, as all administrators do. However, there was one role I relished the most. Surprisingly, it was not my position as head of school, coordinator of curriculum or community leader that was to become my legacy, but rather my talent as a captivating storyteller.

Equation for Success

Female Teacher questions pupils at mathematics
I’m not sure they really needed a study for this, but they did one anyway. That’s what government grants are for. And while the results can be interpreted in various ways - as is almost always the case – they do warrant serious consideration. The purpose of the study was to examine the growing literature that addresses the issue of the effects of teacher gender roles on student performance. While it would be absurd to argue that either women are naturally better teachers than men, or vice versa, the point of current research is to clarify if students of one gender will achieve more with a male or female instructor.

When Great is the Enemy of Good

Man frustrated with computer
We are all well aware of the fact that if we want to figure out any new technology we basically have two choices. The first is to spend around a thousand hours either actually reading the manual or fooling around with the particular gadget (Do they even call them gadgets anymore?) until we give up in utter and complete frustration. The second choice (recommended, as they say) is to ask a six year old. The second option, while quite embarrassing, will save you time and add years to your life.

The Art of Motivation

Teacher motivates students
What motivates kids? Boy, if only I knew! How many parent meetings began- and ended – with exasperated parents exclaiming, “She’s so smart, but she’s just not motivated”. This cry is at times a request for help and at times a criticism of the teacher. Either way, the ball falls into the educators lap and most are left clutching at straws. How indeed do we motivate students?

Making Sense of the Senseless

Locked Gun
It’s difficult to even imagine the pain and the depth of suffering that the families of the slain children of Sandy Hook Elementary School must now endure. No one should ever have to bury a child; no one should have to live a life whose happiness and serenity have been forever shattered by senseless acts of murder. No one should ever have to send their child off to school and worry that they might never see them again. And yet, in Newtown, as in Virginia Tech or in Columbine before them, the greatest fear of every parent became a tragic reality.

If You Want To Go Far, Go Together

TEAM - together everyone achieves more!
Maybe it’s just the season. With all the ‘joy of giving’ talk going around, I've often wondered if the joy is really focused on the giving, or is it the fact that if everyone’s giving then I’m pretty sure that I’m getting as well. In short, while we frequently extol the virtues of sacrifice and beneficence, do they truly play a significant role in our lives? And, if we take as a given that such behavior is to be lauded, what role should educators be playing in the teaching of such values?

Data, Data, Everywhere

Boy surprised by Data
A recent article in The Economist began with the following introduction: When the Sloan Digital Sky Survey started work in 2000, its telescope in New Mexico collected more data in its first few weeks than had been amassed in the entire history of astronomy. Now, a decade later, its archive contains a whopping 140 terabytes of information. A successor, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, due to come on stream in Chile in 2016, will acquire that quantity of data every five days.

The Child Within the Student

Girl Hiding Behind Calculator
Since I was a little boy - and that goes back quite a while –the rapid pace at which technology impacted our lives has raised danger signs. It began with the radio cutting into family time, graduated to television replacing family time, and finally resulted in the computer abolishing it completely. In many different areas of life we began to ask at what point was the human element going to be overtaken by the technological.

Anchoring our Children

Extra! Extra! Disaster Strikes!
I remember it like yesterday. I was a private school principal in Los Angeles and we were a scant ten days into the school year when, early that September morning, we received the devastating news. The day was September 11, 2001. Early that morning we turned on our televisions and watched in horror the images of the terrorists attack on the Twin Towers in New York which killed thousands of Americans. There were unconfirmed reports of another plane headed towards LA and all public areas feared being the next target.

Predicting Success

Money in Uncle Sam Hat
Many have wondered if teaching is best described as a science or an art. As is almost always the case is such debates, both are rather accurate. In some ways, teaching is most certainly a science. Specific methodologies can be employed which will result in reproducible outcomes. Such methodologies can even be tailored and modified to optimize success in distinct disciplines. We can clearly define learning goals and set testable standards for achievement. And yet, teaching is also part art. We all know that great teachers are born, not made. While we can evaluate certain characteristics that will contribute to teacher success, the essence of what makes them great remains elusive. So how can we predict whether or not a teacher will succeed?

New Challenges for School Leadership

Windows crashes and man is upset
I have been told that Bill Gates has a lot of money. To his credit, he has sought to use his wealth to better the world. No, I don’t mean a new version of Windows (which, trust me Bill, the world does not really need, or better yet, really does not need) but rather his efforts to improve the educational system in the United States. Mr. Gates, as well as almost everyone else (or so it seems), has turned his attention to the teaching profession. He has correctly concluded that improving teachers is the key to improving education.

How Do You Spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

I cannot remember a time when the teaching profession has been subjected to such a withering attack. It is hard to open to the editorial section of the newspaper without seeing some sort of commentary on the need for immediate and far reaching reform in the public school education system. Opinions abound regarding new state regulations, common standards and outside assessment of anything and everything happening in our schools. As I wrote in last week’s blog; the eyes of the nation are upon us, and they are not happy with what they see.

Flipping Out Over the Flipped Classroom!

Two kids Standing on their hands in a pile of leaves
Funny how easily we get worked up over innovation. Frequently, we are so afraid of change that we stop thinking rationally the minute something new hits the classroom? I am talking about all those flipping out over the relatively new use of technology in the classroom. The term used is the ‘flipped’ classroom. Simply put, teachers can fairly easily create their lessons on their computers adding any audio or visual, and make the presentation available to students. Sal Khan, and his Khan Academy, is an example of how the videos can be used.

All Eyes on… Us

multi-cultural cheerful students

iStock 000018501706XSmall 300x199 All Eyes on… UsSo who won? That seems to be the question on everyone’s mind in the days following the Chicago teacher strike. As far as I can tell it’s probably a toss-up. In the end compromise was reached and kids (who were the real losers) finally went back to class.

One would be naïve to believe that this is a case of no damage no foul. On the one hand teachers have made a statement that will reverberate loudly in other cities around the nation. With a unified voice they have announced that they will not be bullied into accepting longer teaching days, less job security and evaluation based on student test scores.

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Won’t You Please Come To Chicago?

iStock 000001090904XSmall 150x150 Won’t You Please Come To Chicago?It’s hard to remember Chicago being the center of such significant national attention since the convention days of ’68. And, as was the case then, the confrontation between the establishment (Mayor Emanuel) and protesters (Teacher Unions) may have ramifications well beyond state lines.

As of this writing, 350,000 students remain at home, while 25,000 teachers and support staff walk the picket lines. A proposed solution seems to be on the horizon but the fallout of the strike will effect policy decisions around the country.

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