Friday, December 23, 2016

Teacher traveled statewide to capture the spark in California classrooms | EdSource

Teacher traveled statewide to capture the spark in California classrooms | EdSource:

Teacher traveled statewide to capture the spark in California classrooms

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David B. Cohen, a veteran English teacher at Palo Alto High and columnist for Education Week, spent a year crisscrossing California observing some of the state’s best teachers. The result was Capturing the Spark: Inspired Teachers, Thriving Schools, an insightful look at talented teachers, effective practices and promising schools, from Arcata to El Centro. Some interviewees were California Teachers of the Year or, like Cohen, have their national board certification, a distinguished designation. Others are well-known teacher leaders or have word-of-mouth reputations as gifted instructors.
EdSource’s John Fensterwald interviewed David Cohen recently about the book and his findings. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Besides having a great time doing this, why did you write the book?
I was involved in teacher-leadership projects and networks and building up a mental database of really skilled, talented, dedicated people. At the same time, the public discourse around schools and teaching was turning more negative – or that was my perception of it – due to an accumulation of stories, legal actions, ballot propositions. I felt that it might help – certainly help my sanity – and maybe other people if I could find a way to share some of what I know.
You wrote that it was an “antidote to pessimism.” Explain that.
I’m one of those people for whom professional is personal. The accumulation of bad news kind of gets into your system. The idea was that I would need a volume of positivity to outweigh some of the negative.
Part of it is wanting to complicate the thinking of critics who assume, “Well, if our children aren’t turning out the way we want, as a society, and they’re going through a school system, then the teachers must be responsible for the end result.”
We have some very skilled and talented teachers in a school, doing their absolute best, working against the odds, and within some constraints that are beyond their control. We need to take a more complex view of things.
You take the reader into the classroom and show the personal connections that teachers have with students and how important that is, which may be lost in Teacher traveled statewide to capture the spark in California classrooms | EdSource:

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