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Monday / April 23

How to Close the Achievement Gap

Thoughts on the session by Harry and Rosemary Wong at the Second International Visible Learning Conference in Carlsbad, CA.

Contributed by Kimberly Huesing, Director of Elementary Education, Carlsbad Unified School District

achievement gapWhile I was not scheduled to attend this session, I switched with a colleague because I just had to see the Wongs in person. I am sure the book, The First Days of School, was the first education book I ever read for pleasure. The book continued to make an impact in my professional experiences when I moved across the country and needed a unifying message from which to begin my leadership as a principal in a small school in rural Virginia. I chose The First Days of School, and the choice was a good one. While it was not the first days of teaching for these teachers, some of whom had been teaching the same grade level in the same classroom for over 30 years, it was a new beginning for the staff, students, and our school. Teachers greeted students at the door, shook hands, hung diplomas. Teachers used common “Management” rather than discipline. The lunch room, monitored by teacher aides, followed classroom management, and we implemented playground management as well.

The research and practical implementation guidance of Dr. Harry Wong and Dr. Rosemary Wong is not new or revolutionary; it is human and effective. The presentation stressed the “Visible” theme of learning, leading, and professionalism. The session centered on the basic principle that if you want to improve student achievement and close the achievement gap, then teachers must be effective and must have effective leadership from their principals.

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