“We must continue to challenge and stretch teachers … in a country where the most frequently occurring number of years in teaching in public education is one.”
How can school leaders implement really meaningful changes so that all children can succeed? What works and what doesn’t is a complicated question for American educators today.
For inspiration, the GSE invited well-known author and lecturer Professor Andy Hargreaves to address students, faculty, and guests about his innovative ideas on educational reform.
Over 250 educators and guests attended an evening lecture by author Andy Hargreaves where he presented ideas on educational reform in America. The event, hosted by the Graduate School of Education, concluded a series of activities in Portland for Dr. Hargreaves, who currently holds the Thomas More Brennan Chair in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Hargreaves met with education officials from the governor’s office, Oregon Department of Education, State Board of Higher Education, Portland Metropolitan Education Partnership, GSE Advisory Council, and GSE Consortium for Professional Education at a breakfast hosted by Chalkboard and a luncheon hosted by the Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Hargreaves laid out a practical plan for transforming American public education by raising respect for the teaching profession and investing in teacher preparation programs and ongoing professional development. He uses the extraordinary success of the Finland educational system where teachers are revered above doctors and lawyers. “Teacher attrition is appalling,” he says and pointed out that the “… most frequently occurring number of years in teaching in public education is one. Most teachers have one year of experience because they are leaving the hardest schools after about three or less. Partly, that is a deliberate result of the business capitol of teaching.”
When asked what the he would do first to improve education in Oregon, he said standardized testing in K-12 schools must be eliminated. He favors sampling and better alignment of testing to curriculum. “Improve the quality of the tests so they are actually testing to the goals we claim we value,” he said. “The United States is the only country that tests almost every child on almost everything they do every year in every grade. This is utterly unnecessary and is correlated with low performance rather than high performance.”
Education leaders and policymakers focus on test scores, graduation rates, leadership, and a multitude of other metrics. But these things can divert attention from the one most important ingredient: “It’s blindingly obvious that in the school, the most important thing is the teacher,” said Dr. Hargreaves. “Anything we can do the raise the quality of teaching, to keep the quality when we have it, to sustain it over time is really a job worth doing.”
“Andy Hargreaves’ research recognizes the importance of Professional Capital in transforming teaching in every school. His emphasis advances what we know—effective teaching matters and effective teachers increase student learning and growth,” said Kate Dickson, Chalkboard Project.
The lecture was a key event in supporting one of President Wim Wiewel’s Success Initiatives: Strategies for Improving K-12 Student Success. “It’s the whole pipeline, the family, the university, the school system, that needs to work together,” said Dr. Wiewel. “It’s something that we have to do collectively.”
The timing of Dr. Hargreaves’ lecture couldn’t be better, as the GSE continues work on a new collaboration with other teacher preparation universities and area school districts. The Portland Metro Educator Preparation (PMEP) project works to improve and support teacher preparation and development across the region.
“Dr. Hargreaves and his colleague, Michael Fullan, urge us to build professional capital among teachers,” says Dean Randy Hitz. “In Oregon we have long worked to improve human capital to make sure that all teachers are well prepared and supported. We have not, however, done much to build social capital among teachers by giving them the time to plan and problem solve together. And we have done even less regarding decisional capital, the ability and authority to make decisions in complex situations. We brought Dr. Hargreaves to Oregon to discuss these ideas with us and to help us use the ideas to strengthen the teaching profession and to improve student achievement at all levels.”
About Andy Hargreaves
Originally from England, Dr. Hargreaves has lectured and held professorships all over the world, including California, Canada, England, Hong Kong, Sweden, Japan, and Singapore. He has written 30 books on educational strategies and is the current editor-in-chief of the Journal of Educational Change. In his recent book, Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School, Hargreaves and his colleague Michael Fullan provide a practical plan for transforming American public education.
Visit his website: andyhargreaves.com