This post veers off in many different directions ... with the only common theme that the topics all relate to education (in Amherst or elsewhere). I look forward to hearing thoughts on any/all of these!
The first link is to a fascinating article from the New York Times on the use of new methods of conducting teacher evaluation, in part through using video-based observations of classroom instruction (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/04/education/04teacher.html). This article also discusses the importance of figuring out what classroom practices are linked to higher achievement and helping teachers learn effective strategies from watching other teachers.
Next, there is a link is to an article from the Amherst Bulletin a few weeks ago on the thoughts about regionalization (http://amherstbulletin.com/story/id/189655/). This article raises many interesting points, and describes plans currently under discussion in Shutesbury to form either a K to 6 or K to 8 regional/union agreement with Leverett and Pelham.
Third is a link to a recent article from the Hampshire Gazette about the potential of changing start times in the Northampton schools (http://www.gazettenet.com/2010/12/03/panel-seeks-talk-nhs-starting-time-planned). I have been following the discussions in Northampton with interest, and look forward to learning whether they do or don't make a change. A similar task force has been appointed in Amherst (Rob Spence is the SC representative), and I am interested to see whether this group makes a similar recommendation about changing start times in our schools.
Fourth, I'm attaching a link to the story in last week's Amherst Bulletin about the partnership Maria Geryk has arranged in which our district pays faculty and graduate students from the U Mass school of education for various services (http://amherstbulletin.com/story/id/190980/).
Finally, here is a link to a recent story on Masslive.com about the upcoming Amherst School Committee election in March of 2011 (http://www.masslive.com/springfield/republican/index.ssf?/base/news-32/1291623461167280.xml&coll=1). As I noted to this reporter, I have not yet made a decision about whether I will run for re-election, but plan to do so in late January.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.