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
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.
OFFICER OF SCHOOL SUPPORT NETWORKS
Baltimore City Schools
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
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
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
“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
“At any time,” Pace says, “I can send him a tweet and
say, ‘How did you do this?’ ” n
LEADERS TO LEARN FROM www.edweek.org/go/leaders-report
EDUCATION WEEK • February 6, 2013
BY NIRVI SHAH
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,”
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.
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
“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
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Education Week - February 6, 2013 - Special Report
Education Week - February 6, 2013 - Special Report