Shanker Blog: Resources on the Social Side of Education Reform
For the past few months, we have been insisting, through this blog series, on the idea that education reform has a social dimension or level that often is overlooked in mainstream debate and policy. Under this broad theme, we’ve covered diverse issues ranging from how teachers’ social capital can increase their human capital to how personnel churn can undermine reform efforts, or how too much individual talent can impede a team’s overall performance. This collection of issues may prompt a number of important questions: What exactly is the “social side?” What are its key ideas? I would like to offer a few initial thoughts and share some resources that I’ve compiled.
The social side is primarily a lens that brings into focus a critical oversight in the public debate on educational reform and its policies: The idea that teaching and learning are not solo but rather social endeavors that are achieved in the context of the school organization, and within the districts where schools are embedded, through relationships and teamwork, rather than competition and a focus on individual prowess.
This social side perspective does a few things:
- Shifts the focus from the individual attributes of stakeholders (e.g., teachers, principals) to the supports and constraints afforded by the school organization and the broader social context in which individuals operate;
- Highlights the importance of interdependencies (formal and informal) at all levels of the system – e.g., among teachers within a school, leaders across a district, schools and the community etc. – and the idea that a complex system is more than the sum of its parts;
- Recognizes that valuable resources (e.g., information, advice, support) are exchanged through relationships within and across the overlapping networks of schools and districts, and that monitoring and strengthening this infrastructure is crucial for educational improvement.
- How to Best Add Value: Strike a Balance Between the Individual and the Organization by Susan Moore Johnson. Economic Policy Institute. 2009. [Read]
- The Missing Link in School Reform by Carrie R. Leana. Stanford Innovation Review. 2011. [Read]
I have also compiled a list of videos, blog posts, news articles, books and papers that speak to the principles underpinning the social side perspective. Some of these resources are below and the full list (including books and academic papers) can be downloaded here.
Finally, this is a live project; I will continue to update this list and will consider (and very much appreciate) suggestions readers might have and want to send along and share.
- Teaching Is A Team Sport. 21st Century Learning Requires 21st Century Teaching. [Watch]
- Catherine Lewis. The Japanese Model of Teacher Collaboration: Lesson Study. [Watch]
- Shannan Brown: Standards Alone Can’t Transform Education – System’s Thinking Can. [Watch]
- Carrie Leana: What Is Teachers’ Social Capital and Why Does it Matter? [Watch]
- Andy Hargreaves: Human Capital Is Not Enough – What Is Professional Capital? [Watch]
- Susan Moore Johnson: the School Organization Matters for Teaching Quality. [Watch]
- Tennessee Principals Embrace Teaching Collaboration Model from Shanghaiby Grace Tatter. Chalkbeat Tennessee. October 6, 2014.
- Lessons from a School That Scrapped a Longer Student Day and Made Time for Teachersby Melissa Bailey. The Hechinger Report. July 22, 2014.
- Beyond SATs, Finding Success in Numbersby Tina Rosenberg. New York Times Opinionator. February 15, 2012.
- A New Model: Schools As Ecosystemsby Mark Anderson and William Johnson. Chalkbeat New York. February 6, 2012.
- On Gestalt: A School Is More Than The Sum Of Its Partsby Mark Anderson. Chalkbeat New York. May 4, 2012.
- Can Collaboration between Schools, Unions Fix Failing Campuses? by Teresa Watanabe. Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2014.
- The Glue That Really Holds a School Together by Carrie R. Leana & Frits K. Pil. The Washington Post, October 19, 2014.
- Building Better Teachers by Sara Mosle. The Atlantic, September 2014
- Do Students Learn More When Their Teachers Work Well Together? by Esther Quintero. The Washington Post, September 10, 2014.
- Teaching Is Not a Business by David L. Kirp. The New York Times, August 16, 2014.
- Why Building Relationships Is Vital in School Reform by Kara S. Finnigan & Alan J. Daly. The Washington Post, July 16, 2014.
- The Untapped Potential of Teacher Networks by Nicole M. Gillespie. Huffington Post, July 10, 2014.
- Beyond the Education Wars: A Case Study in Collaboration by Valerie Strauss. The Washington Post, May 3, 2013.
- Why Collaboration Is Vital to Creating Effective Schools by Greg Anrig. The Washington Post, May 2, 2013.
- What Teachers Need and Reformers Ignore: Time to Collaborate by Linda Darling-Hammond. The Washington Post, April 11, 2013.
- The Relationship School by David Brooks. The New York Times, March 22, 2012.
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