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The content of this page is largely intended for Professional Educators. It contains some rather heavy-duty though very pragmatic instructional methods. Your comments, reactions, concerns and questions are welcomed. Please click on or copy and paste the following survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SFD9L3H
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

‘Race to the Top’ Accountability Leaves Teachers Behind

The ‘Race to the Top’ Accountability Movement has an Unintended Consequence of Leaving Only Teachers Behind
 - Oddly, There is a Legacy Fix.

The new administration’s role in the Accountability Movement seems to unwittingly shoot itself in the foot with teachers as the collateral damage on a Educational Reform beach that can not be taken without a strategic confrontation among the cross-purposed Allies & Suppliers who only appear to be marching under the same flag.

Teachers & Teacher Education programs need some serious self-reformation if they are ever to halt the control of their story and destiny by every kind of other professional from linguists to sociologists and even retired admirals. There are some great teachers, and even some great Teacher Preparation programs, but these are random occurrences where consistency is essential. The reason is simple: Professional Education is unnoticeably absent fundamental standards found in all other professions. Believe it or not, there is no standard curriculum, no sincere, systemic effort to identify Best Instructional Practices, no guidance in what and how needs to be further researched and developed, and truckloads of weak consultants and players with diluted degrees serving up their own brands of Faculty Development; teachers don’t resent change they resent the farce of the dog & pony shows by entertainers. To be called a profession it is imperative that a profession, one way or another, needs to convene a rolling forum to collect and prioritize the core content of principles and practices that every member ought to know. An honest Grammar of Teaching. Ironically, Teachers worldwide are being held to standards for annual yearly progress (AYP) of their students. Meanwhile, Professors, Learned Societies & commercial schools, and some painfully self-serving non-profit foundations and Universities never even address the fundamental need for solid pedagogic content. The current crop of in-charge “Leaders”& Reformers dangerously resembles the Investment Bankers who remain in charge of the economic systems that they nearly bankrupted. The US Department of Education should hold an ongoing “virtual convention” of the nation’s leading educators to consider and endorse a covenant of principles and more importantly prescriptive practices. Ideally this should be done on a website that transparently allows these to be challenged, tweaked and further specified for different age-grade-situational conditions. Sadly there is no free market in which a teacher can see bids & buys and the best ideas and practices.

While this very un-novel idea works its way through all that is crystallized to hold it in place, there is an action each caring person can take; consider joining the websites below offering a potential catalyst for jump-starting and getting the current system under review and possibly moving in the right direction for all who would teach, and let’s not forget all who need to learn – yes, students are invited to jump in and speak. They like gravity are a weak but all encompassing force; ultimately they trump our best thoughts and science. Taxpayers would be grateful since increasing classroom effectiveness could bring about efficiencies that could save billions of dollars with even the smallest degree of adoption. This is an orphan cause with no natural constituencies. Please join the narrative at: http://teacherprofessoraccountability.ning.com/main/invitation/new?xg_source=msg_wel_network And…http://bestmethodsofinstruction.com/

Say anything, it will be something more than the nothing that continues to get us nowhere.

Anthony V. Manzo, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus avmanzo@aol.com


  1. Enabling Questions: Teaching for Self-Inquiry, Cognitive Development & Social Development

    *Abridged with author permission: Manzo/Manzo/Thomas (2009) Content Area Literacy: A Framework for Reading-Based Instruction (5th edition) Wiley Publishers

    The Enabling Questions (EQ)is a student-centered gambit. It provides experience and Self-Instruction for students in the value and empowerment that comes from learning how to use various inquiry strategies in conventional verbal learning. EQ is initiated and demonstrated in a highly structured way with a prepared set of questions that students can used to tune into and reduce distraction during Lecture-Discussion, still the most frequently used form of instruction. Using Enabling Questions puts the listener into an active, engaged thinking mode and invites the teacher or speaker to talk a little less and a little more pointedly. EQ is a powerful social tool that illustrates how to be assertive without being rude or aggressive. It can be a very inviting substitution for maladaptive behavior in disruptive classrooms. The teacher would be wise to focus on the questions raised and in so doing illustrate to students the value and reasonable influence that students can exercise over a lesson. The inversion of student-centered questions for teacher-centered questions seems to be its own reward. The sum of student comments suggests that this kind of give and take makes them feel like they are part of something constructive.

    Suggested Enabling Question Types
    Set 1: Questions that Help the Listener Organize and Clarify Information
    • What is/are the main question(s) you are answering by your lecture (or lesson) today?
    • Which key terms and concepts are most important for us to remember from what you have said (or will say) today?
    • What is most often misunderstood or confusing about the information or position you are presenting today?
    Set 2: Questions that Help the Listener Get a Mental Breather
    • Could you please restate that last point in some other words?
    • Would you please spell ____ and ____ for us?
    • Would you please say which points you especially want us to note at
    this time?
    Set 3: Questions that Invite Give-and-Take with the Speaker
    • How does what you have said compare with positions others have taken, and who might these others be?
    • Is there convincing evidence to support your position that you can share with us?
    • What do you think is the weakest part of the position you have taken?
    • How do you think this position (or new information) affects previously held beliefs?
    • What do you suppose would happen if you extended this point another step or two?
    • Would you mind pausing for a moment to see if there are other views on this in the class/audience? This would help us better understand and follow your points.
    Any one of the latter sets of questions likely would put the listener back into an active and engaged thinking mode and reduce the sometimes excessive dominance of the speaker. It is important that the listener who wishes to use these types of questions does so with an eye toward using them for enriching comprehension, learning, and mature interaction, and not as a counteroffensive. One way to help students learn the value and become regular users of Enabling Questions is to write these questions on index cards and distribute a few to each class member. Then urge students to try to use the questions on their card(s) intelligently over a two- to three-day period. Schedule a day to discuss what happened and what students learned and what might need to be modified to make the Enabling Questions even more enabling. This “metacognitive” step also helps to convert rather rigid Inquiry skill training into self-directed flexible Inquiry Strategy Learning.
    To see more teaching methods for Professional Teachers, go to: http://bestmethodsofinstruction.com/ Or our newest site for Professional Teachers: http://anthony-manzo.blogspot.com/2010/05/race-to-top-accountability-leaves.html

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  3. Here is a very insightful comment from one of the globe's leading thinkers/writers:"We are very bad as a society of doing best practices…"
    Fareed Rafiq Zakaria...as spoken on
    Charlie Rose, June 1, 2011