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From the Editor’s Desk

Reba Greer, Supervisor of Language Arts Prince William County Schools

Rigor in 21st Century Schools

“Rigor in 21st Century Schools,” the theme for our first online Virginia Educational Leadership, offers the opportunity to specify the critical 21st century skills. Our opening article by Terego discusses ideas that can jump start our thinking and rekindle our students’ deeper understanding.

Successful teaching and student learning require careful attention to classroom manage- ment, direct instruction, and reflection upon our work.

Our management articles offer insights at both the micro and the macro level. At the micro level, Susan Houff uses Glasser’s ideas to talk about how the skillfully managed classroom meets students’ needs for survival, belonging, fun, freedom, and power. Larmer and Mergen- doller, in a more global approach to management, look at project-based learning.

Carbaugh’s article helps us observe from outside the classroom what can happen when dif- ferentiated instruction is appropriately used. In the case of Moody, we are right there in the teacher’s head. Her introspection demonstrates ever so clearly that if we want students to be self-reflective, teachers must model that same behavior. Moody explains how she learned a strategy, how she worked to make it her own, how she listened to her students, and how she, with the assistance of her supervisors, guided students into sustained practice.

Each year VASCD, through a proposal system, provides financial support for promising re- searchers. Schulz and MacDonald received the 2009 VASCD Research Grant. Their work shows how teachers develop collegial groups and come to understand the power of formative assess- ments to support continued academic growth. The article by Sterret, Williams, and Catlett is an example of how instructional leaders plan, act, and reflect to support professional growth.

We have chosen “Rigor in 21st Century Schools” as our 2010 theme because, in this second decade of the 21st century, we need to be exact and clear in our identification of the criti- cal skills required for all our students. We must be unyielding in acquiring and modeling the identified skills ourselves, in guiding students to learn and master those critical skills, and in collective reflections about learning and teaching. This challenge-filled decade requires that we recall, take heart from, and act on our “call to teach.”

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