Education Week - February 6, 2013 - Special Report - (Page S28)

holds the key to that, he says. For example, Pace often uses Twitter to find resources for teachers in his district; he calls it “connecting the dots” and helping guide others to new techniques. Social networking “is still daily guaranteed learning for me to find something that is immediately applicable for my job,” he says. “An awesome byproduct of my networking is helping other people get the information they need.” He’s encouraging teachers to do the same and build their own personal learning networks online. Pace pushed Richardson Elementary School 6th grade teacher Ashley Tegenkamp to venture onto Twitter, though she had never used it for professional development. He helped her connect with other teachers who have given her ideas for her own classroom, and Tegenkamp then decided to start a Twitter feed for her classroom to keep parents informed. Currently, she is following several teachers who “flipped” their classrooms (a process in which teachers have students watch the lecture portion of a class at home on video, then do the homework or more hands-on work, in class), and is preparing to go in that direction with her own class. “Twitter is absolutely pushing me to be a better teacher,” she wrote in an email. STUDENT DISCIPLINE Jonathan Brice OFFICER OF SCHOOL SUPPORT NETWORKS Baltimore City Schools Twitter EdChats Social networking has also altered the course of Pace’s professional life in many ways. Pace started with Twitter, and he became so enamored of the way he could connect with educators around the world that he began co-hosting Tuesday-evening EdChats on the social-networking site. Pace helps guide those online chats using Twitter’s 140-character posts to discuss a different educational topic every week. Topics have ranged from alternatives to high-stakes testing to the effects of “anytime” learning on the classroom; the chats often spawn in-depth discussions on blogs and other websites. That role led Pace to like-minded technology educators with whom he began to collaborate. He now speaks at conferences with people like Eric Sheninger, the principal at New Milford High School in New Jersey, about social networking for educators. The aim is to inspire teachers to get outside their comfort zones and connect with other educators online. Online and in face-to-face presentations, Pace brings his real-world experiences to others, says Sheninger, to help them find ways to surmount technology roadblocks in their own schools. “Kyle is a practitioner. He works with teachers and is exposed to the budgetary realities that schools are faced with, as well as administrators that embrace a vision for tech integration and those that are resistant,” Sheninger says. “That allows him to be a very powerful resource.” Twitter also led Pace to learn about EdCamps, a socalled “unconference” movement springing up around the country. The freewheeling professional-development gatherings have no set agenda and are often centered around the use of technology in education. On the day of the event, attendees sign up, often on a large whiteboard, to make presentations. Participants are encouraged to drop in and out of sessions as they determine which are most relevant to their teaching practice. Pace heard about EdCamps on Twitter and decided to organize one of his own. His first EdCamp, held in Kansas City, Mo., in 2010, drew more than 100 people. He’s since organized two others there, and attendance has grown. “As the organizer, that’s always a bit of a tense moment that morning when you have that big piece of paper on the wall and you think, ‘Please let there be people who want to have a conversation,’ ” Pace says. And it all came out of social networking. Pace says it’s unlikely, for example, he would have become a Googlecertified teacher without finding out about it online. He would not have connected with Sheninger and others who have given him so many new techniques and resources to pass on to his teachers. And he wouldn’t know that a principal in a school outside Chicago is a few years ahead of his district in implementing those Google Chromebooks. “At any time,” Pace says, “I can send him a tweet and say, ‘How did you do this?’ ” n S28 | > LEADERS TO LEARN FROM EDUCATION WEEK • February 6, 2013 BY NIRVI SHAH W hen Jonathan Brice was hired to tackle school discipline reform in the Baltimore public schools in 2008, about one in five students was being suspended out of school in the 85,000-student district each year. Brice, fresh off a stint in Jacksonville, Fla., where he also oversaw discipline districtwide, rolled up his sleeves and got to it. “It was: ‘Walk in. Let’s get to work,’ ” Brice says of his early days of work in Baltimore, where he had grown up and attended school. And so he did. The vision for overhauling the way students were disciplined—out-of-school-suspensions were contributing to the district’s dropout rate and undermining students’ academic achievement—was that of the district’s nationally known schools chief, Andrés A. Alonso. But it was Brice who was tasked with turning vision into reality. The community was ready for a change, says Brice, 44, but not everyone in the school district was. He and Alonso hoped revamping the district’s code of conduct would be a major driver for cutting out-of-school suspensions. “What was difficult was getting our principals and staff to understand that changing the code of conduct did not mean we were not going to hold students accountable,” Brice says. Part of his work was to convince schoolbased leaders that they could maintain safe, orderly environments while also keeping students in school who traditionally would have been suspended. So he and others in the district reworked the code of conduct to give Baltimore principals alternatives to suspension. Now, before resorting to out-of-school suspension as punishment for both minor and major offenses, principals can and must take intermediate steps. “What was critical to the work that we did was identifying alternatives to suspension,” Brice says. Parent conferences, mediation, referral to a studentsupport team, development of behavioral-intervention plans, or use of “restorative justice” solutions are among the options principals now have available to them. At the same time, the code of conduct makes clear to school administrators that students who commit the most serious offenses won’t be just slapped on the wrist and allowed to stay in school. “Students have maybe participated in a fight, attacked another student or staff member, brought a weapon to school—we had to be very clear: We will not allow those [behaviors] to go on without removal,” Brice says. But, because of work by Brice and others, even those students aren’t just kicked out of class. “We developed learning environments to put those students in, instead of just putting them on the street,” Brice says. One of those alternative learning environments is called Success Academy, which Brice says he spent just 90 days creating from scratch. “That’s how we spent our summer,” says Brice of how he and other staff members set up the school in the days leading up to the 2008-09 school year. Full-Day Learning Based at district headquarters, Success Academy is an alternative setting for the most serious offenders. In the past, such students would have been sent home with some schoolwork, which they may or may not have done. Success Academy provides a full day of instruction, wraparound services, counseling, and a place where students can keep from getting into more trouble. “The time lost would have been detrimental to students. It would have meant that students are sitting at home,” Brice says. “They clearly need consequences, yet what you don’t want to do is deny them an opportunity to learn how to conduct themselves differently.” The district’s chief of staff, Tisha Edwards, labels Brice’s work “instrumental” in revamping student discipline and expanding alternatives for students who break rules. “He really believes, as does [Alonso], there are kids that make bad decisions all the time, and as a school community, those are teachable moments,” Edwards says. “We were signaling through our actions that we didn’t want the kids in our school; they were behaving accordingly. Expanding the services available to kids who were struggling, who were making bad decisions, who weren’t fitting in—Jonathan was a real advocate for making sure the district had services in traditional schools and outside that could meet the needs of our kids,” Edwards adds. Brice has since been promoted to head the office of school support networks, a position he’s had for about a year and a half. He recently earned a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s urbansuperintendents program. He also holds two master’s degrees and earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Baltimore. “Working for the students and families of Baltimore I think is one of the professional dreams of a lifetime,” Brice says. Since his work began, the rate of outof-school suspensions has dropped to one in eight students. Meanwhile, the district’s dropout rate has fallen from 7.9 percent in 2008 to 4.2 percent in 2011, state education records show. In his new role, Brice continues to oversee student discipline, among other responsibilities. “Our children have tremendous potential,” he says. “The sense of urgency that we’ve brought to the work, the amount of change we’ve been able to implement, to grow over these five years is something that really signals to me what can be done if you build a great team, hold high expectations, and are not willing to be passive in the work.” n

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - February 6, 2013 - Special Report

Education Week - February 6, 2013 - Special Report
Dropout Reduction
English-Learner Education
School Turnarounds
Rural Enrollment
Special Education
District-Union Partnership
Parent Engagement
School Climate
College Readiness
Digital Access
Social Networking
Student Discipline
Smart Growth
Stem Education

Education Week - February 6, 2013 - Special Report