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What the Academy Taught Us: Improving schools from the bottom-up in a top-down transformation era

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What the Academy Taught Us: Improving schools from the bottom-up in a top-down transformation era

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What the Academy Taught Us offers today's educators a way forward. While largely viewing the difficult work of school improvement through the prism of a single school, it presents abundant recommendations about how schools everywhere can build effective and continuous improvement from the bottom up.

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Early in the 2000s, a high-school principal in Minnesota, Dr. Bob Perdaems, faced a complex challenge. The demographics of his school were shifting, political tensions in the surrounding communities were rising, and, thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act's new testing and accountability requirements, his school's performance was soon to be scrutinized more intensely and more publicly than ever before.

While he had several visions of how his school could continuously improve through these realities, however, he had no additional budget to bring his ideas to life.Undaunted, Dr. Bob set to creating school improvements the best way he knew how--and that, of course, he could afford: he prioritized his school's areas for growth, found teachers who would lend minds and hands, and gathered them to look at the blueprints.

What the Academy Taught Us is a book about the collaborative school-improvement culture Dr. Bob created in his Minnesota high school: the principles that initiated it, the collective effort that kept it running, and the lasting effects it had on its teachers and students. The book also brilliantly explores how bottom-up approaches like Dr. Bob's fare in the current era, which seeks to transform schools through more top-down and 'disruptive' means.

Ultimately, What the Academy Taught Us offers today's educators a way forward. While largely viewing the difficult work of school improvement through the prism of a single school, it presents abundant recommendations about how schools everywhere can build effective and continuous improvement from the bottom up.

About the author

Eric Kalenze's career in education has included posts in teaching, coaching, administration, and consulting. He is the author of 2014's 'Education Is Upside-Down: Reframing Reform to Focus on the Right Problems', and he regularly contributes pieces about education practice, research, and reform to publications like Education Week, Education Post, The Hechinger Report, and TES US, as well as to his blog, 'A Total Ed Case'. He is based in Minnesota's Twin Cities metro area.)

Reviews
 
Eric Kalenze continues to eschew technocratic top-down approaches to improving education in favor of focusing on what matters most - the human interaction between teachers and students. This is his story, and it will inspire you. --Benjamin Riley, Founder of Deans for Impact

This is a fascinating case study of school improvement that runs counter to much received wisdom. As a school leader, how can you improve standards, inspire pupils, integrate research and policy and build a committed team around you? 'What the Academy Taught Us'' offers some answers that are grounded in the reality of school life. Anyone who enjoyed 'Education is Upside Down' will love reading about the school and classroom experiences which inspired it. --Daisy Christodoulou, Director of Education at No More Marking, author of Making Good Progress & Seven Myths about Education

You won't find any silver bullets in this honest and uplifting book from acclaimed educator Eric Kalenze. The kind of bottom-up school improvement of which he writes is hard work and comes with no guarantees of success. But that's why educators and policymakers alike should reach it carefully; it points to a version of education reform that might actually stick. --Michael J. Petrilli, President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Additional Information

Author Eric Kalenze
ISBN 9781912906260
No of pages 417
Format Paperback
Publication Date 24 Jul 2019

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