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"Have it your way" may be a catchy slogan, but how does it work in education? This issue will delve into the various ways educators define student-centered learning and what it looks like in schools. Articles will explore differentiation, project-based learning, "school of one," and customized learning using computers. To what extent is personalization possible in a standards-oriented education environment? How can technology best aid student-centered learning? Tell us how you've seen personalization done well—and not so well. We're interested in what the research says about the benefits of student-centered learning as well as stories of schools that have reimagined their instruction, schedules, and structures to give students more choice.
All too often students are defined by their disability—a label affixed to their IEP, student records, and, over time, their identity. A growing movement seeks to shift the paradigm from "learning disabilities" to "learning differences." This small semantic change signals a shift in acknowledging that no two brains are the same, so no two students learn in the same fashion. We're interested in research into the science of various learning differences as well as articles on skills-based strategies that help students learn. Instead of labeling ADHD, autism, or dyslexia as deficits, how can we use all students' strengths to help them learn? How can approaches like Universal Design for Learning meet the unique needs of all? Tell us how you have embraced learning differences and the effect it has had on student achievement and school climate.
A great school depends on great leadership—from administrators and from teacher leaders. This issue will look at what it takes to develop and support outstanding leaders throughout a school. Articles will address such topics as the qualities and skills today's school leaders need; strengths and weaknesses of current leadership preparation programs; and how practices like internships, coaching, and teams can support new leaders. How can we reduce principal turnover? Help new principals hit the ground running? Evaluate school leaders in ways that support growth? How are teacher leaders taking on various roles, such as peer evaluator, coach, advocate, PLC facilitator, and curriculum developer? What kinds of job-embedded supports benefit leaders?
To some degree, change is a constant in K–12 education—but it seems particularly prevalent right now. Rapid advances in technology, evolving instructional and assessment priorities, expanding options for curriculum resources, shifting student demographics, a new federal education law, and a new presidential administration—all of these are putting tremendous pressure on educators to prepare for and adapt to change. So how do you do it? As our readers take time to think ahead to the coming school year, this special online-only issue of Educational Leadership will feature best practices and personal reflections on how educators can both gear up for and proactively lead change in their schools. How can school leaders successfully implement new policies or instructional requirements? How can they bolster staff morale amid organizational change or outside pressure? How do teachers prepare to take advantage of new technology resources? What specific innovations, whether in the curriculum or in your approach to instruction, are you or your school planning for the next school year? What's next in education, and how are you or your staff getting ready for it? Share your stories and advice.
When it comes to helping students succeed, schools can't do it alone. But gaining family support and involvement can present challenges in today's busy and often partitioned world. This issue will explore successful partnerships between schools and families and other initiatives to strengthen the role of families, especially families who have traditionally felt estranged from schools. As families become more diverse, what can schools do to help all members feel welcome and empowered? What kinds of family supports and guidance are most useful? What new kinds of communication, including revamped report cards, interactive conferences, and online tools, are schools developing to build ties with families? And when conflicts occur, how can educators defuse tensions and make sure all sides feel their voices are heard and respected? Articles will focus on specific challenges and the solutions developed to address them.
Deadline: April 3, 2017
Talk about a life skill! When schools foster students' ability to analyze key features of a problem, envision various approaches, marshal resources, and shape a solution, they give them competencies that feed achievement in many disciplines and areas of life. Whether it involves designing a new product or process, inquiring into environmental problems, applying mathematical concepts to real-world issues, or using technology to wrestle with a community challenge, problem solving is considered a key 21st-century skill. This issue will look at how educators can support and develop problem solving in learning—and what challenges they face in attempting to do so. How can activities that encourage innovation and design thinking be integrated into the curriculum? What does it look like when students apply learning to real problems in the school or community? Articles on STEM-related initiatives are especially encouraged.
Deadline: May 1, 2017
Are U.S. schools falling short in preparing young people to participate in democracy? The question has deep resonance today. This issue will look at why civic literacy matters and how some educators are working to upgrade curriculum and instruction in this traditional but crucial area. How can schools help young people acquire the knowledge, dispositions, and skills that are essential for responsible citizenship in areas such as history and government, scientific literacy, and communication? How can educators meet the challenges created by information overload and the echo chamber of the Internet? How can schools teach students to apply critical thinking and background knowledge to analyze information about current events? How are schools promoting values like curiosity, empathy, and respect for diverse perspectives? We welcome articles on making civics education engaging; teaching students to reflect on their own values and beliefs; and using service learning, place-based learning, and other approaches to empower students.
Deadline: June 1, 2017
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five youths ages 13–18 experiences a serious mental health condition, and of chronic cases of mental illness, 50 percent begin by age 14. Yet, on average, it takes 8–10 years from the onset of symptoms until intervention. How can schools play a stronger frontline role in identifying potential issues and helping affected students thrive both academically and socially? This issue will look at conditions affecting children and teens, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, and addiction. It will also explore the effects of trauma and stress on students. What staffing and training challenges do schools face in supporting students with mental illnesses? How can educators help students succeed in school despite adverse childhood experiences? Articles will explore specific solutions for schools, including screening, training for teachers, working with parents and families, and partnerships with local hospitals and health clinics.
Deadline: July 5, 2017
How can schools move beyond conventional assessment approaches and develop more expansive methods that gauge both deep understanding of content and whole-child development? The question is particularly pressing in light of new criteria for student-progress measures under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. This issue will explore how educators are rethinking "assessment." What key skills and dispositions—like persistence, critical thinking, self-regulation, and the ability to empathize and communicate with others—should schools be measuring? How can educators do a better job of measuring the skills and capabilities that employers say students will need? We welcome articles on international assessment models and alternative methods like performance-based assessments, digital portfolios, computer-adapted testing, and authentic presentations. Submissions looking at research on the potential of new assessment approaches, as well as implementation challenges, are also encouraged.
Deadline: September 1, 2017
You can tell as soon as you enter the school building—and even more when you go into the classrooms. Certain schools exhibit a positive energy that is instantly recognizable: Students are actively engaged, teachers are enthusiastic, administrators are making things happen, and parents are happily lingering. The mood is bright and welcoming. But how do schools get this way, and what effect does it have on student learning? This issue will explore how school leaders cultivate vibrant school cultures that combat initiative fatigue and maintain high staff morale despite the many, often conflicting, demands on schools today. Articles will examine critical aspects of school climate like communication, teacher hiring and support, collaboration, trust, community engagement, diversity, facilities, and curriculum—focusing on what levers leaders have to drive change, what resources they can turn to, and what common barriers exist. We welcome case studies on school-climate transformations, as well articles that delve into recent research on the relationship between school culture and academic progress.
Deadline: October 2, 2017
According to NAEP results, only 27 percent of students perform at or above proficient levels in writing. And anecdotally, many teachers report that their students are weak in writing. This issue will explore strategies for effective writing instruction, focusing on the connections between writing, reading, and thinking. How can schools integrate meaningful writing opportunities across the curriculum? What are the most effective ways to motivate reluctant writers and support students who struggle with writing, including English language learners and students with disabilities? What are the promises and pitfalls of leveraging technology in the writing process? How can writing in different content areas and across genres enhance students' skills and academic growth? We're also seeking new strategies that help teachers assess student writing.
Deadline: November 1, 2017
As Baby Boomers retire, the teacher workforce is changing dramatically—as are the instructional and professional demands on educators. This issue will look at how teacher-preparation initiatives are evolving to train the next generation of teachers. It will also explore how schools leaders are leveraging and adapting to new models of teacher development and support. Key questions will include: What new approaches are teacher-preparation programs using to attract candidates and better prepare them for the realities of the classroom? What is the role of technology in changing how teacher training is delivered and organized? Are residency models viable alternatives to more traditional programs? What strategies attract diverse and academically select candidates? What roles can career-changer and grow-your-own programs play in school and district staffing strategies? And how can districts partner with teacher-prep programs to address shortages, particularly in high-need subjects and schools?
Deadline: December 1, 2017
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