“Our schools are a vignette of how man, in the development of civilization and its core institutions, has managed to ignore or disregard some of the most compelling aspects of his own nature. But how long can we go on this way?” Edward T. Hall
I'm often asked why students should learn APA style, especially in a master's program. Doctoral students seem to be able to see a purpose for it, but MS and MEd students? Sometimes not so much. So, why do I require all written work to be formatted in APA style? Here are a few reasons:
APA is one of the major "languages" of educational research. Getting to know APA will help you be a better consumer of research. It will help you read research more quickly, more critically and it will make complicated studies accessible. Writing and reading APA means that you can be both a consumer and a contributor of educational research and ideas--it makes you part of a larger, historic and exhilarating conversation about improving education. Of course, it's possible to be productive and contribute great ideas without learning APA, but not learning it excludes you from many of the most important conversations. Note that APA is not the ONLY style used--for example, many of the best journals and books used internationally use Harvard, Chicago or other styles. Unfortunately, this is a barrier that can get in the way of us sharing our work and ideas across borders, but that's a post for another day.
Writing in APA helps an aspiring administrator (or educator) develop sound habits of mind. Writing in APA, you have to be disciplined, you pay attention to detail and perhaps most importantly you need to support your claims with evidence. While the first two I listed here are fairly obvious skills you develop writing in APA, the last is the most important. Educational research and practice should be informed by sound research. When you make decisions in a school--whether these are in the classroom or from an administrative position--there should be a reason. As educators, we all ask "why" but scholar-educators take it upon themselves to have a better answer to this question than "that's the way we've always done it," "that's what all the other schools are doing" or "because I said so." In APA, you must support your claims by citing relevant research that informed your perspective--this is something we should all strive to do in our practice and scholarship.
Writing in APA can improve your communication. The way you get better at writing is by writing--there is no substitution for lifelong practice. For some people, the most intense instruction they received on writing took place during their school years, and for some others during their college experience. Practicing APA, or any regimented form of writing for that matter, will have the residual effects of helping you as a public speaker, it will help you write better emails, tweets and blog posts, improve delivery to students, allow you to create better presentations to people in and out of your school and enable you to facilitate better group interactions.
We all need to practice and improve our communication, both intake and output--working hard on being a better writer will help you be a better thinker and that can only improve you and your organization.
Racism is alive and well in the United
States. That sad fact is playing out in the nation’s public schools. Racism
compromises the quality of instruction students receive (Collins, 2009; Delpit,
1995). Racism motivates many schools to adopt a culturally irrelevant
curriculum to support that instruction (Ladson-Billings,
1992, 1995a, 1995b, 1995c, 1997). Racism undermines the fairness of
assessments used to measure student academic achievement (Darling-Hammond,
1995). Racism erodes the quality of the formal and informal relationships
students develop with peers and with the adult educators in their lives (Ogbu,
1978; Perry, Steele, & Hilliard, 2003). Racism is a potentially quantifiable phenomenon, measured
through longstanding achievement gaps, gaps in disciplinary referrals, school
(re)segregation, and a disproportionate number of students of color placed in
special/remedial/lowertracked education. Racism is also a qualitative
phenomenon—studied throughout the world as a violent and oppressive
sociological, anthropological, political, economic, and educational phenomenon
(Fordham, 1996; Hacker, 2003; West, 1998). Of course, even calling racism a “‘phenomenon”‘
is generous in that it makes abstract something all too concrete in the lives
of too many Americans—at its core, racism is one person or a group’s expression
of contempt, of hatred, of evil, of oppression toward another person or group
of people—it’s important not to lose sight of that by over-intellectualizing
Teachers and educational administrators are
among the nation’s best and brightest public intellectuals (Dantley &
Tillman, 2006), but many of these people are also uncritical of deep-seated
overt and covert racist values that shape who they are and how they teach or
lead (Young & Laible, 2000).
Racism also undermines the quality of the professional and interpersonal
relationships among these educators (Brooks & Jean-Marie, 2007), so it seems
reasonable to suggest that the influence of racism on education is both direct
and indirect. Racism comes through implicit and explicit institutions, it comes
from people, from the home, from school, and from society, and most of us are
part of its pervasive force by commission or omission (Brooks, 2007). Moreover,
it means one thing to me and another to you; what I may think is anti-racist,
you may view as the opposite. Racism is co-constructed by the oppressor and the
oppressed, among oppressors and among the oppressed; and these relationships
are mediated by a great many variables and factors that are constantly
changing. So, in a way, no matter how hard we try, how thoughtful we may be, we
are likely part of both the problem and the solution at the same time. Does
it make you upset to think that you are part of the problem? Good. It makes me
angry to think that I am part of the problem, too, but I accept it as part of
my efforts to unlearn the racism I have been taught by society and school.
This is an excerpt from the Introduction of my new book, Black School, White School: Racism and Educational (Mis)leadership. I am working to update my personal web site, which will have a dedicated page where you can learn more about the book if you are interested. For now, the Amazon link above is best because you can "look inside" if you'd like to read more.
Friends & Colleagues, George Theoharis and I have edited a new book that will come out this August. This books offers essential information for schools leaders who are seeking to work at the intersection of instructional leadership and equity. We support the argument that effective principals are critical in creating more equitable schools and improving student learning for all students. Yet, such an assertion must now be extended beyond abstract platitudes and must instead be grounded in educational, indeed instructional access, processes and outcomes. Leaders with content-embedded knowledge will have the confidence to not turn over or abdicate leadership to others, but to take an active role with their teachers in effective equity-oriented reforms. This book seeks to help address this key intersection between instructional leadership and creating equitable and excellent schools. We organized the book and structure, but the strength of the book comes from key scholars from content areas (literacy, math, special ed, ESL, etc). These scholars have written insightful chapters that give school leaders a deeper sense of the specific content area that highlight best practices, equity issues, and ideas for practice. We are delighted by how accessible and rich each chapter turned out. We hope you might be interested. Attached is the promotional flyer that Teachers College Press created for the book. Please send this info to others and let us know if you have any questions. Best, Jeff Brooks
So, I begin the 2012-2013 school year in my first mainly-administraive role. Monday, I accepted an invitation to become the first-ever Associate Director of the ISU School of Education. It's a big task--daunting--as I'm caught between many aspects of who I am, professionally speaking. I have to maintain an active research agenda (PHEW, that's the reason I'm here), I'm supposed to play a role in evaluating my peers while being one of them, I'm supposed to focus on undergraduate education while teaching in a graduate-only program, and I'm supposed to raise the standards of research throughout the school...while doing everything else I was already doing! Sigh...
Stay tuned for adventures in administration, in Iowa research, in national-level service and in some of the original intents of this blog. I'm looking forward to pushing the envelope, to sharing my uncertainty and to documenting our successes and failures as a new school. We have fantastic people, we have great ideas--we just need to make it all happen.
Hello all, Here is a link to an interview I just did for an Iowa Public Radio program, Voices of the Tri-States. You need to skip past the first minute where there is no sound, but after that we discussed some state-level and national educational policies and I hopefully made a few interesting points:
Take a moment and watch this horrifying video that shows the power of the flooding Cagayan de Oro (CDO). For those of you unfamiliar with this part of the Philippines, it's in the north central section in a province called Misamis Oriental. While the RP is hit annually by a barrage of typhoons and heavy rain, CDO is generally spared due to geography and the jet stream. It's a port city--right on the water--and no one was prepared for this typhoon, which hit unsuspecting residents in the middle of the night. Those of you so inclined can donate to the Philippines Red Cross here: http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate. Please share this message far and wide.