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Working on the Workby Phillip C. Schlechty
Synopses & Reviews
If student performance is to be improved, says Phillip Schlechty, there are at least three ways to approach the problem: 1) work on the students, 2) work on the teachers, or 3) work on the work. Unfortunately, the first two have thus far produced unimpressive results. The key to improving education, Schlechty believes, lies in the third alternative: to provide better quality work for students-work that is engaging and that enables students to learn what they need in order to succeed in the world.
In this practical companion to the author's popular books Shaking Up the Schoolhouse and Inventing Better Schools, Schlechty, one of America's most renowned school reformers, presents the Working on the Work (WOW) framework-an outline for improving student performance by improving the quality of schoolwork. Field-tested in schools across the country, the WOW framework describes the twelve essential components of a WOW school and suggests ways to improve the quality of content, organization of knowledge, measurement of achievement, nurturance of creativity, and novelty and variety of tasks. Schlechty offers practical guidelines for redesigning classroom activity so that more students are highly engaged in schoolwork, developing clear and compelling standards for assessing student work, and making clear connections between what students are doing and what they are expected to produce. He also discusses the roles of teachers, principals, and superintendents-and how they individually and collectively play a part in the WOW process.
The book's appendixes include useful questionnaires that will facilitate discussion, analysis, and action planning at both school and classroom levels. Superintendents can use these tools to help principals and teachers to create a vision of schools where all students are engaged in important work. Principals can assess how well their schools are serving their students. And teachers can use the questionnaires to better understand what is really going on in their classrooms and what actions are likely to increase the authentic engagement of students.
Book News Annotation:
Schlechty argues that the secret to improving student performance is providing better quality work for students. He provides a framework for providing work which is engaging, and details the roles of teaches, principals, and superintendents. He suggests ways to improve the content of lessons, the organization of knowledge, the measurements of achievement, the nurturance of creativity, and the variety of tasks. He proposes practical guidelines for classroom activity and standards of evaluation. Schlechty is affiliated with the Center for Leadership in School Reform.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
"Once again Dr. Schlechty provides a must-read to the professional educator who is serious about improving and sustaining public education in our country." — Ann Denlinger, superintendent, Durham Public Schools, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Is the work you give students engaging--enabling them to learn what they need to learn in order to succeed in the world? Maverick educator Phillip Schlechty believes that the key to improving education is to improve the quality of this student work. He calls this "Working the Work" (WOW), and he's developed a framework that allows educators to put the WOW principles into practice.
Beginning with 12 essential components of a WOW school, Schlechty suggests ways to improve the quality of content, organization of knowledge, measurement of achievement, nurturance of creativity, and novelty and variety of tasks. In addition, you'll get:
* Practical guidelines for re-designing classroom activity so that more students are highly engaged in schoolwork
* Clear and compelling standards for assessing student work
You'll also make clear connections between what students are doing and what they are expected to produce as you gain insight into the roles of teachers, principals, and superintendents--and, how they individually and collectively play a part in the WOW process.
"Authentic student engagement in meaningful classroom work is the key to accountability. If teachers work-on-the-work, accountability will take care of itself. Thanks, Phil Schlecthy, for illuminating the way for all concerned educators and parents." —Lawrence W. Lezotte, educational consultant and commentator, and author, Learning for All, The Effective Schools Process
"Schlechty takes everything he knows about education, places it in a user-friendly format, and delivers it to the schoolhouse. This book is such a valuable tool that I plan to discuss it, line by line, with my teachers." —Judy Love, principal, Hayden Elementary School, Hayden, Indiana
"Any teacher who is interested in providing an authentically engaging classroom should embrace and utilize Phil Schlechty's WOW philosophy. It is an invaluable guide for teachers to become leaders and designers of quality lessons that facilitate student engagement and success. —Kristin Barton, teacher, Gardenhill Elementary, La Mirada, California
"Once again Dr. Schlechty provides a must-read to the professional educator who is serious about improving and sustaining public education in our country." —Ann Denlinger, superintendent, Durham Public Schools, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
About the Author
Phillip C. Schlechty is founder and CEO of the Center for Leadership in School Reform. The creator of some of the nation's most innovative professional development programs for educators, he has been the recipient of the American Federation of Teachers Quest Citation and the American Educational Research Association's Professional Service Award. Schlechty is author of Schools for the 21st Century (1991), Shaking Up the Schoolhouse (2000), and Inventing Better Schools (2001) all published by Jossey-Bass.
Table of Contents
The Basic Theme.
Schoolwork: A Commonplace Term.
On the Nature of Schoolwork.
The Research Base.
The Role of the Teacher.
Facilitator, Coach, or Leader?
Leaders Must Lead.
Competence and Commitment.
The Importance of Discipline.
Engaging Work and Engaging Teachers.
Organization of the Book.
Making Engagement Central.
The Highly Engaged Classroom.
The Well-Managed Classroom.
The Pathological Classroom.
Developing an Engagement Profile.
A Beginning Point for Measurement.
Getting Relevant Data.
The WOW School.
The WOW School: A Vision.
Framing the Dialogue.
Patterns of Engagement.
Content and Substance.
Organization of Knowledge.
Clear and Compelling Standards.
Protection from Adverse Consequence.
Affirmation of Performances.
Novelty and Variety.
Starting the Conversation.
Some Concluding Observations.
The Issue of Time.
Implications for Teachers.
Understanding, Assessment, Control, and Improvement.
What Can Teachers Control?
Knowing and Teaching the "Right Stuff".
Focus on Engagement.
Work on the Work.
Thinking As a Leader.
Top Down and Bottom Up.
Consulting with Parents.
The Principal's Role.
Build or Join a Principal Support Network.
Get Your Own Beliefs Clear.
Involve Your Superintendent and Relevant Central Office Staff.
Create a Guiding Coalition.
Invest in Teacher Development.
The Principal as Teacher.
A Closing Comment.
The Role of the Superintendent.
Depersonalization of Relationships.
Shared Authority vs. Delegation.
Innovations vs. Systemic Change.
A Point of View.
The Wisdom of Others.
Be Clear About What You Believe.
Personalize Your Relationship with Principals.
Clarify the Vision.
Unify Central Staff.
Think and Act Strategically.
Strategic Planning and Capacity Building.
The Capacity Audit.
Accountability and School Reform.
Theory, Practice, and Common Sense.
So, What Is New?
Sources of Resistance.
Every Child Can Learn.
The Issues of Time and Collegiality.
The Standards Movement and Accountability.
A Concluding Comment.
Appendix A: Framework for Analysis, Dialogue, and Action-School Version.
Appendix B: Framework for Analysis, Dialogue, and Action-Classroom Version.
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