The first speaker we heard was Willard Daggett, known by many for speaking/writing about Rigor, Relevance and Relationships in education. Here are some of my bullet point notes from his session:
- Schools are improving, but we still have a gap of where students need to be in our changing world.
- Teachers are on treadmills just trying to keep up and cover everything that might be on the test.
- The 3 central challenges in education right now: Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Assessments, and Teacher Evaluations.
- Rapidly improving schools have proactive leadership, and focused/sustained professional development.
- Our state tests focus on lower level applications, but our students NEED higher level/real world applications (Rigor/Relevance).
- Research on the most improving schools have found that many have eliminated department chair heads and have instead moved to interdisciplinary teams. You cannot get to higher level/real world applications one discipline at a time!
- Building character/guiding principles (respect, responsibility, compassion, initiative, adaptability, perseverance, etc.) are still essential for our students. Do you know anyone that truly lost a job due to a lack of academic skills? It was likely a lack of one of those character traits.
- There is NO research that supports eliminating the arts (especially if it means more test prep).
I realize that these are not the best notes from his session (like I said, I was also busy tweeting!) I must confess that I have heard Daggett's name mentioned numerous times before, but didn't hop on the bandwagon to read up on the new "Rigor/Relevance" buzz words, but now I'm racking up another amazon order for his books. Daggett doesn't speak to any sort of magic "be all/end all," but rather speaks about common sense practices and the importance of making your curriculum rigorous (higher level thinking/applications) and relevant (real-life situations that make the learning important and applicable for students).