Teaching & Leadership

Mindfulness in the classroom

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Elizabeth Mackenzie offers tips for integrating contemplative practices into the classroom

Elizabeth Mackenzie offers tips on how educators can improve their students' academic performance, as well as physical and mental health, by integrating contemplative practices into the classroom.

From kindergarten to high school classes to schools of law and medicine, educators are offering mindfulness as a strategy to enhance students’ academic performance and to support their physical and mental health. Mindfulness, an antidote to the wandering mind, is focused awareness in the present moment. The most common mindfulness practice is to focus on breathing while holding thoughts and sensations in nonjudgmental awareness.


Teaching students to think like historians

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Abby Reisman on how students can develop critical thinking skills by reading history texts

History class should not simply be a space where students learn through rote memorization. Abby Reisman offers tips on how educators should frame class sessions to develop students' critical thinking skills instead.


History class should be a space where students learn to think and reason, not just memorize. We want students to be able to answer not only “What happened?” but “How do you know?” and “Why do you believe your interpretation is valid?” Such questions align with the Common Core State Standards, which specify that college-ready students be able identify an author’s perspective, develop claims, and cite evidence to support their analyses.


Reimagining leadership in your school

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John DeFlaminis on how distributed leadership might work in schools

John DeFlaminis developed a Distributed Leadership Program that creates leadership teams that leverage how influence actually works in schools, and channels that reality to transform schools.


Who actually leads in a school? Traditionally, the answer has been the people with titles and offices. Principals and superintendents do wield formal power, but research tells us that many people actually influence the core work of successful schools.


Grossman: ‘Disruption’ in education—without research—can be a recipe for disaster

[[image|left|faculty=5049|caption=Dean Pam Grossman]]In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman argues children are losing out in the rush to improve schools with radical, and often unproven, “disruption.” 

Penn GSE teaching alum selected for Stanford fellowship started by Pam Grossman

Before joining the University of Pennsylvania as the Dean of the Graduate School of Education in January 2015, Pam Grossman, jumpstarted Stanford University’s Hollyhock Fellowship program. The renowned program is designed to keep talented, early-career high school educators working in underserved schools from leaving the field.




National Science Foundation grant allows Yasmin Kafai to develop synthetic biology project

[[image|left|faculty=4987|caption=Dr. Yasmin Kafai]]What if instead of just learning about biology, students could design synthetic genetic circuits that would enable microorganisms to change color, smell, and shape? 

Does teacher certification matter? Lessons from NYC Public Schools

[[image|left|faculty=5049|caption=Dean Pam Grossman]]Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman has done extensive research in the New York City Public Schools evaluating the effectiveness of teachers, including uncertified ones.

In this interview, Grossman shares her apprehension about the Michigan legislature's move. “There’s no research I’m aware of that shows uncertified teachers are the solution,” she said.

Penn GSE’s John DeFlaminis brings distributed leadership to a struggling district

In 2014, the York City School District was in crisis. Its budget was busted, and student performance had bottomed out. A proposal to convert the district to all charter schools fizzled, but the glaring problems remained.

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An opportunity for change: Penn GSE’s John DeFlaminis brings distributed leadership to a struggling district

One afternoon last summer, as she listened to Dr. John DeFlaminis tell eight educators how he was going to transform their schools with distributed leadership teams, Danielle Brown felt a surge of adrenaline. This is what effective schools do, Brown remembers thinking. She had worked at such schools before, but not since moving to the York City School District to become principal of the McKinley K–8 School. Brown saw educators in York working hard, but not together, to serve their students. 

Michael Farrell named as next principal for Penn Alexander School

[[image|left|width=200|caption=Michael Farrell|src=https://www.gse.upenn.edu/system/files/u225/Farrell%20Pic.jpg]] On June 1, the School District of Philadelphia announced the appointment of Michael Farrell as the next principal of the Penn Alexander School (PAS), a partnership school with Penn’s Graduate School of Education.

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