McREL
Blog

Our expert researchers, evaluators, and veteran educators synthesize information gleaned from our research and blend it with best practices gathered from schools and districts around the world to bring you insightful and practical ideas that support changing the odds of success for you and your students. By aligning practice with research, we mix professional wisdom with real world experience to bring you unexpectedly insightful and uncommonly practical ideas that offer ways to build student resiliency, close achievement gaps, implement retention strategies, prioritize improvement initiatives, build staff motivation, and interpret data and understand its impact.

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What principals can do to boost student and teacher curiosity

The consequences of a curiosity-deficient school environment are as apparent as they are disheartening: Students lose motivation to engage in their learning and with the school community, their postsecondary plans lose focus, and as time goes on and they move into adulthood, research finds, they can experience poorer professional opportunities. But are there things principals can do to promote a schoolwide culture of curiosity—among students and staff. Here are some ideas from Building a Curious School.

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It’s clearer than ever that principals matter to students. What happens next?

The revolution in understanding school leadership that McREL launched in 2005—that principals can influence student achievement—is now so widely accepted that some researchers are saying it’s time to move beyond “whether” and focus on “how.” As society’s expectations of principals continue to evolve, so does our Balanced Leadership program.

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Research Matters: Moving from absent to present

What if poor student engagement indicated a problem not with the student, but with the school environment? That would actually be good news for educators because there are so many relatively simple things they can do to improve the environment, McREL’s Susan Shebby and Tameka Porter write in the March Research Matters column of ASCD’s Educational Leadership. One step they recommend: Talking to students as fellow human beings who have interesting things to say, rather than merely expecting them to recall content, can work wonders.

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Principals: What you can do now to make next school year great

Back in the day, when I was just starting out as a new principal, I was told by my supervisor to work three months in advance. I wasn’t sure what he meant at first, but quickly realized that if you don’t plan your leadership work three months in advance to control the things you can control, then the many things you can’t control will get in the way of accomplishing anything. Because of all the changes we’ve all experienced in the last year, I’m going to literally double down on my mentor’s advice for the 2021–22 school year: Start planning six months ahead. In other words, right now.

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Designing units that challenge and engage remote learners

Part 8 of 8 | Over the last seven weeks I’ve reviewed the phases of learning, and how teachers can use them to create learning that sticks in an online environment. To design experiences that both challenge and engage remote learners, you’ll likely find it’s easiest to begin with the end in mind. To wrap up this blog series, here’s a list of questions to guide you through the process.

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Helping remote learners extend and apply learning

Part 7 of 8 | Extending and applying learning—using new knowledge and skills to solve complex problems, synthesize learning, or develop original ideas—helps us to weave new learning into richer, more complex neural connections in our brains, thus making learning more meaningful and engaging. Often, though, this final phase of learning is glossed over in many classrooms. We teach something. Students commit it to memory. We test them on it. Then we move onto something else. It’s a time-honored approach—that doesn’t work.

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