Focusing on the Essentials

By Mike Schmoker

We’re on the brink of a “Golden Age” in education. To get there, teachers must master these three indispensable competencies.

Focus on the essentials Stock Photo | Adobe Stock

Earlier this year, Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, wrote that if schools zeroed in on high-leverage classroom practices, we could be on the cusp of a “golden age” of education (2019). He’s right. But for this to happen, we must first acknowledge “the awful inertia of decades”: our long drift into inferior instructional practices that now dominate the school day (Fullan, 2010). Then we must address its root cause: our equally unfocused preservice and professional training. If our schools are to enter an “era of unprecedented effectiveness” (Marzano, 2003), then teacher development must (1) end its addiction to novelty and embrace evidence-based priority, and (2) make practical, demonstrated mastery of best practices its urgent and explicit goal.The opportunity for immense, immediate progress becomes clear when we take an unblinking look at what goes on in average classrooms. Brace yourself.

continued at ASCD …