Themes for 2012–13
In times of increasing expectations, decreasing resources, and rigorous accountability, school principals are faced with complex challenges and a huge array of initiatives to implement. These realities have discouraged many principals from staying on the job. How can schools stop the revolving door of the principalship and energize principals to lead? This issue will address approaches that promote career-long growth, such as coaching and mentoring, collaborative learning, and principal peer groups. Articles will look at the autonomy school principals need to do their jobs well, the support they need to initiate whole-school reform, and shared leadership models that build trust. What kinds of evaluations motivate principals to improve? How can principals and teachers mutually support each other?
The Faces of Poverty
A new look at poverty and schools is due, partly because so many families face reduced economic circumstances. Indeed, today's "poor kids" don’t fit the stereotypes. Two-thirds live in families in which at least one adult works, and the percentage of poor students in many rural districts equals that in inner-city districts. For all these children, educators must contend with the correlation between being poor and dropping out of high school. This issue will explore how schools must challenge traditional ideas of poverty and formulate new responses. What policies can get more master teachers into high-poverty schools? How can we help more low-income students earn a postsecondary credential? We welcome articles on serving immigrant students, ELLs, and homeless youth; solutions for resource shortages in rural areas; and support for low-income students who attend relatively affluent suburban schools.
Themes for 2013–14
Resilience and Learning
Why do some students appear to bounce back from life challenges and succeed despite such risk factors as poverty, family dysfunction, or difficult lives? Is resilience a personality trait that some individuals are born with, or can it be nurtured through support? This issue will look at the research on resilience and its importance to academic success. What classroom and schoolwide supports are most effective in building resilient students who can deal with major life challenges—as well as the more common stresses and setbacks of everyday life? We are looking for articles on the instructional practices that build students' academic persistence, motivation, and confidence; the roles of school counselors, psychologists, social workers, and mentors; the importance of meaningful educator–student relationships; and the different ways resilience manifests itself at various ages.
Leveraging Teacher Leadership
Teachers are increasingly being held responsible for student outcomes, but they're often shut out of the debate about how to improve teaching and learning. This issue will examine the many ways that schools are empowering excellent teachers to become change agents. What skills and competencies do teacher leaders need? What formal and informal roles do they play? What does research say about the benefits and challenges of distributed school leadership? Articles will discuss collaborative leadership efforts, such as professional learning communities and data analysis teams; the role of teacher leaders in mentoring and coaching their peers; and what principals can do to create a school culture in which collegiality around school improvement flourishes.
Deadline: May 1, 2013
Tackling Informational Text
The Common Core State Standards emphasize student interaction with increasingly complex informational text and the need for deep comprehension across all content areas. What are the characteristics of informational text, and what skills does it demand of the reader? Articles will discuss how teachers can best support students as they move through increasing levels of text complexity and how they can build students' domain knowledge and academic vocabulary in science, math, social studies, and language arts. We welcome articles that discuss how administrators can support teachers in this work; how teachers can best address the needs of all their students, including English language learners; and the role technology can play in strengthening students' comprehension.
Deadline: June 3, 2013
December 2013/January 2014
Getting Students to Mastery
How does classroom practice change when the overarching goal for students becomes mastery of the Common Core State Standards? This issue will rethink the goal of mastery in light of such developments as adaptive testing, standards-based grading, formative assessment, and Response to Intervention (RTI). How might schools teach for proficiency and mastery in an age of accountability, and what role can technology play? How are teachers handling homework, and how are they fitting in reteaching and opportunities for test retakes? Articles will discuss strategies for working with students who have mastered the basic objectives as well as helping struggling students who risk falling behind.
Deadline: July 1, 2013
Building School Morale
How do we build schoolwide cultures in which administrators, teachers, students, and parents are energized and positive about learning? This issue will explore how both principals and teachers can achieve balance, reduce stress, and become confident advocates for public education in the face of outside criticisms. What practices build educator morale; protect educators from negative pressures and initiative fatigue; empower them to be problem solvers; and promote trust, mutual respect, collegiality, and celebration? How can the demands of accountability and high expectations be realized in a positive culture? How can school leaders create a culture of community by forging alliances and involving families?
Deadline: September 3, 2013
Using Assessments Thoughtfully
With the new assessments connected to the Common Core State Standards to be implemented in the 2014–15 school year, high-stakes tests will continue to be a force shaping schooling. This issue will look at current questions and challenges associated with both high- and low-stakes tests. How different will the new assessments created for the common core be? What must schools do now to prepare for the new tests, including providing professional development and getting the infrastructure needed for computerized testing? How can schools fairly assess English language learners and students with learning differences? What about "exit exams" for high school students? How do such gatekeeper tests affect at-risk youth and the dropout rate? We welcome new perspectives on how to align standardized and classroom-based tests and how to teach for meaning in an age of testing.
Deadline: October 1, 2013
Writing: A Core Skill
The Common Core State Standards call for schools to emphasize not only creative and narrative writing, but also argumentative and informative writing. How can writing instruction across the content areas best respond to these new standards? How important is it to explicitly teach language mechanics, such as spelling, vocabulary, and sentence construction? How can schools give writing instruction more time in the day and more focus in all subjects? This issue will examine the writing skills that students need to develop to become college and career ready, as well as promising approaches for teaching writing.
Deadline: November 4, 2013
The New Face of Professional Development
Professional learning is no longer only something that schools do for educators; it's also something educators do for themselves. Educators are not only building professional communities online and in their schools and districts, but they are also personalizing their own learning. Data teams, lesson study groups, and virtual communities provide opportunities to learn with and from peers. Teacher-led "unconferences" and edcamps provide new models for professional conferences. And blogs, wikis, and Twitter chats are enabling educators to learn and share anytime and anywhere. How can school leaders customize and evaluate professional development opportunities? What types of learning communities are most effective, and what are some of the barriers to creating such communities?
Deadline: December 3, 2013