Learning is the Only Thing that Counts and Time Must Be a Variable Resource

In our existing classrooms, students are given only so much time to study a new lesson and practice its skills, while striving to learn from their mistakes. Time must be a variable resource available for teacher and students in whatever quantities students require to learn.

The administration of tests and moving students on to new lessons is driven by schedules and calendars embedded in academic standards rather than by the needs of students and teachers. In other settings we test to determine if someone or something is ready. Why not in education?

Across the U.S., today we can estimate that, when it is time for the chapter test, 30 percent or less of students will earn A’s, and B’s, while another thirty five percent, approximately, will earn C’s. The remaining 35 percent of students will post D’s and F’s. All will be moved on to subsequent lessons in each subject area, ready or not.

Only the top thirty percent will move on to new lessons in possession of the prerequisite knowledge and skills success on subsequent lessons will require. These students will learn more as they move from one lesson to the next but what about their classmates?

Somehow, we must embrace the maxim that all kids count or none of them count. Students pushed ahead without prerequisite knowledge and skills will fall behind with each lesson.

Don’t take my word for it. Examine teachers’ gradebooks. It matters little that students in a few schools and classrooms achieve at a high level because they are the exceptions, not the norm. The good fortune of the students in these schools is a function of the high level of academic preparedness and emotional development they bring with them to kindergarten. Students who are not so fortunate exist in a different reality, as do their teachers. These kids need the same opportunity to learn.

Sometimes these less fortunate classrooms are in other schools in the same community, or even other classrooms in the same school. Sadly, the existing education process—the way we structure, organize, task, staff, resource and evaluate teachers, students, and their classroom—rarely allows teachers to adapt what they do to meet the needs of students. The process is focused more on conformance and compliance than it is on success in learning. We set children up for failure, by the millions, not only in school but in life.

Kids who are pushed ahead with Cs, Ds, and Fs and who lack the prerequisite knowledge and skills on which future lessons depend, will learn less and less as they move from semester to semester. When it is time for them to sit for state and NAEP exams, we should not be surprised that their outcomes will resemble if not mirror the scores recorded in their teachers’ gradebooks.  By the time these latter students move on to middle school they will be poorly prepared and, if it has not already begun to happen, they will give up and quit trying.

If you are a middle school teacher, how many new students arrive for their first day of school who do not care about learning and do not try? How successful are you in turning these kids around? How easy does the education process make it to turn these kids around?

Despite the best and even heroic effort of teachers, giving up because of their lack of success is what students have learned during their first six years of school. Don’t you agree, we should be able to do better?

Teachers’ frustrations have been apparent for years, not only with their individual and collective voices, but also with their choices. Far too often their choice is to leave the profession.

This reality exists because the education process at work in our schools and on which we expect teachers and their students to rely has been flawed for decades.

These will be the outcomes we will get until we choose to do something different. I offer my education model as an alternate approach.  The Hawkins Model© is available for free for any school district willing to put it to the test in one of their struggling elementary schools, of which there are thousands throughout the U.S.

Please understand, this is not a problem that will fix itself. If we want better outcomes we must try something new and, for this, education leaders must accept responsibility. This is true of teachers’ unions, also.

It is not until we stop blaming others and accept responsibility for our problems that we begin to acquire the power to solve them.

——————-

students and teachers, learning, classrooms, time to study, academic standards, the needs of students and teachers, move on to new lessons, perquisite knowledge and skills, perquisite knowledge, gradebooks, fall behind with each lesson, academic preparedness, emotional development, kindergarten, existing education process, conformance and compliance, success in learning, We set children up for failure, state and NAEP exams, middle school, Teachers’ frustrations, outcomes, education model, The Hawkins Model©, school district, accept responsibility, education leaders, teachers’ unions, NAEP

The Primacy of Relationships

The first of the essential variables of the education equation are the relationships between students and their teachers. A universal truth can be said to be that “the quality of one’s life is a function of the quality of our relationships with the people in our lives.” We often hear of individuals blessed with wealth and fame only to learn their lives are consumed by broken relationships and one or more devastating addictions. We are sad to learn how many of these lives come to a tragic end.

When it comes to young children in school there is nothing more important than secure, nurturing and enduring relationships with one or more teachers. This is particularly true of five- and six-year-old children who arrive for their first day of kindergarten, but it is just as true when students move, at the beginning of a new school year, to a new teacher whom they have never met.

It is my assertion that the heart is a portal to the mind and that our best chance to be successful in helping students experience academic success, emotional growth, and good behavior is a close and enduring bond with one’s teacher.

What we know about the remarkable brains of our children is that they are programmed to soak up the world around them and can learn whatever is available to be learned—even after deprivation, illness, and injury—with a little help from its friends, of which teachers are among the most important. Often teachers are the most important.

Yes, we all know how much it helps if parents are involved and accept responsibility for their children, but we also know parenting has never been more difficult than it is today. Whether a child has wonderful relationships with parent(s) or a relationships that are toxic, their teachers and classrooms provide a safe and caring oasis in what is an otherwise difficult and hectic life.

For many of us thinking back on our years in school we are lucky to remember one or two favorite teachers who, for one year, made a difference in our lives. For those of you reading these words who are teachers, how many favorite students, over the course of your career, are peaking around the curtains of your memory, and still bring a smile to your face.

During the first few weeks of the school year, the development of special relationships must be our highest priority, one that is sacrificed for nothing, at any time. A sad reality in our schools throughout the U.S. is that, at the end of every school year, we sever many of the special relationships we were successful in forging over the previous two semesters. It can be equally distressing for students to find that friend(s) whom they looked forward to seeing every day, will be in a classroom down the hall at the beginning of a new and often frightening new school year. Just another routine practice creating distress for kids.

In a June 1, 2022, article in EdWeek, by Hayley Hardison, with the title, “Looping with Students: When it Works and When it Doesn’t.” Citing a 2018 study she concludes that, “. . . looping with elementary students resulted in improved student test scores with the benefits greatest for students of color.”[1]

Not all agree and there are exceptions to almost everything in life. What I have endeavored to do in the development of The Hawkins Model© is, first, to develop some strategies to facilitate the formation and duration of these relationships, and second to make the model adaptive, seeking alternate approaches when students and teachers found this strategy to be counterproductive.

The development of long term, positive relationships between classmates also creates advantages for teachers as they strive to manage both the power of peer relationships, whether positive or negative, and the behavioral issues that often disrupt our classrooms.

In a subsequent blog post we will describe what I believe to be the best way to capitalize on this idea of the “primacy of relationships.”

The existing education process almost totally discounts what I believe to be the single most important variable in the education equation.


essential variables, education equation, relationships between students and their teachers, wealth and fame, broken relationships, addictions, young children in school, nurturing and enduring relationships, teachers, kindergarten, new school year, heart is a portal to the mind, academic success, emotional growth, good behavior, brains of our children, parents, parenting has never been more difficult, favorite teachers, favorite students, school year, special relationships, highest priority, relationships between classmates, power of peer relationships, behavioral issues


[1] https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/looping-with-students-when-it-works-and-when-it-doesnt/2022/06

Teachers: What would You Change to Produce Better Outcomes for your Students?

What are some of the outcomes you would like to change in the 2024-25 school year? Below is my list but please feel free to add, subtract, or create a list of your own. What do you want:

  • Academic success for all students rather than pushing some ahead before they are ready, 
  • Better relationships with students (more opportunities to enjoy the kind of relationships you have had with your favorite students over the course of your career),
  • To deal with fewer behavioral issues in your classrooms and have more support from the office when you need it,
  • More discretion to adapt to the unique needs of students and to have more time to make such adjustments,
  • Better relationships with parents of your students,
  • Not to be blamed for disappointing outcomes of students,
  • To enjoy the pride of a job well-done, which comes from the success of your students.
  • To receive the respect and compensation teachers deserve for doing one of the most important and challenging jobs in all of society, and
  • To ensure your students have meaningful choices in life to provide for themselves and their families, contribute value to society, and fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship.

Few teachers can enjoy all such outcomes, routinely, and there is a reason for this. The way classrooms are structured, organized, staffed, tasked, resourced, and evaluated—which is what I refer to as the “education process”—is not designed to produce such outcomes. This existing education process is not equipped to deal with more than a few exceptions from the norm.

In many schools and classrooms there are more students who require more attention than any one teacher can handle without adversely impacting their ability to meet the needs of the rest of the class.

 Ask yourselves whether any of the changes in policy, academic standards, methodologies, technologies, or reform initiatives over the past twenty years have resulted in a positive transformation of your classroom? The way teachers are asked to do their important work is a process no different, conceptually, than any other production or service-delivery process.

You know well that the “school choice” movement is not improving the outcome of students because moving teachers and students to a new building, changing the name above the door, and hiring less qualified teachers who are non-union does not help kids learn. Good teachers in an environment that allows them to adapt to the disparate needs of students is what enables students to learn.

It does not help at all when teachers are expected to try new things without adapting the education process to accommodate those changes. A juggler, for example, can successfully keep three balls moving; some can do four or maybe even five, but there is a limit to the number extra balls most jugglers can handle without dropping one.

As long as education policy makers remain loyal to the existing education process and expect teachers to teach an increasingly diverse population of students with ever greater disparity in academic preparation (which we define as lacking the prerequisite knowledge and skills), and emotional development (lack of maturity), millions of students will languish, and many thousands of teachers will feel the distress such a reality engenders.

And if that were not bad enough, teachers are expected to bear the burden of budget shortfalls? Unfavorable adjustments to teacher-to-student ratios often follow. If outcomes are disappointing no matter how hard people work or how qualified they are, the problem rests with the process.

Teachers reading this are asked to understand that all the complaints in the world, whether to administrators, or colleagues in the faculty break room or at union and association meetings, will not lead to a satisfactory solution. In any environment, if people want meaningful change, they must become advocates for new and specific, not generalized solutions.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “we cannot solve a problem with the thinking that created it.” We must step outside the boundaries of conventional thinking.

Please examine the education model I have developed, not seeking reasons why it might not work but rather to imagine what it would be liked to teach in such an innovative environment.

This model is not offered to make teaching easier, because teaching is not easy, nor will it ever be. What this new model is designed to do is put teachers in a better position to be successful, so they can develop and practice their craft, and minimize the distractions that make teaching even more challenging than it needs to be.

While you are at my website, you are invited to explore further by reading my posts dated December 15, 2023, and January 23, 2024, respectively. The first is a 3,100-word essay summarizing the differences between the existing education process and my model. The second, is a 1,600-word summary of an experiment I conducted in a week-long sub assignment for a middle school math teacher that sparked the idea for my model.

If you want to learn more, click on the tab “Bio” at the top of this page and read why I feel qualified to develop and offer a new education model to you.

If you want to learn the full details of The Hawkins Model©, click on the tab at the top of the page that reads, “Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time – The Implementation plan.

Please consider helping me by sharing this post to spread the word about my model to your colleagues.

—————-

Academic success, students,  relationships with students, favorite students, behavioral issues, classrooms, unique needs of students, relationships with parents, pride of a job well-done, respect and compensation teachers deserve, meaningful choices, responsibilities of citizenship teachers, education process, school choice, less qualified teachers, non-union, Good teachers, disparate needs of students help students learn, education policy makers, academic preparation, prerequisite knowledge, emotional development, teacher to student ratios, teaching is not easy

The Birth of an Idea

It was after thirty-two years of working with kids outside of classrooms and compiling a resume of organizational management, leadership development, and problem-solving experience—from both an operations’ management perspective and as a consultant—that I began my work as a substitute teacher. It is from the melding of those experiences that I felt compelled to understand why the dedicated efforts of professional educators produce such disparate outcomes for children in our schools. I believe there must be a better way to teach children. In fact, I have come to believe, over the course of my career, there is always a better way if we open our hearts and minds to the possibility.

It is not often that a substitute teacher has an opportunity to do what regular teachers do, which is to teach. It was during a week-long sub assignment for a middle school math teacher that I experienced an epiphany. It gave birth to an idea that became an education model.

The instructions the teacher left for me as I began that assignment were prefaced by his comment that he did not expect me to cover all the subject matter in the outline. He encouraged me to do the best I could in the time I had.

 After two days of work on material having to do with prime factoring, rules of divisibility, and reducing to lowest terms, the students in three separate classes took a quiz, which the teacher had prepared in advance. It included twenty-five problems like the problems that had been included on the several worksheets on which the class had been practicing.

This teacher went to great lengths to ensure his students did not cheat. The students sat at round tables, four students per table. He had constructed interlocking boards that were somewhere between eighteen and twenty-four inches high for the purpose of dividing the table into four equal sections. Prior to every quiz or exam, the students would retrieve the boards from behind a cabinet and would set them up. As a result, it would be difficult for students to copy off each other.

Given the time we had spent on the subject matter, and the straightforward nature of the material, I had lofty expectations for students. To my surprise and disappointment, the results revealed that half of the 85 students scored below 60 percent and three-quarters of them scored  below 75. Only eight of the 85 students scored above 85 percent, and only two of those 8 students scored better than 95 percent. In other words, there were 43 Fs, 21 Ds, 13 Cs, 6 Bs, and 2 As.

The next day, prompted by my surprise at the results, I spent the entire period reviewing the same material using the practice worksheets the teacher had provided at the outset, focusing on the problems with which the students had the most difficulty. I did not return the quiz to the students and chose not to review the actual problems from it. We did the problems on the whiteboard, as a class, and I worked one-on-one with the students who needed that level of attention.

The following day, I had all three classes retake the quiz. In advance of the retake, they were told, in broad strokes, how poorly the class had done, although no one had access to their own results. I assured the students this was a risk-free venture and promised to use the highest of their two scores. My hope was that this would motivate students to do their best on what I described as a do-over opportunity while alleviating performance pressure.

The new scores showed dramatic improvement by all but a handful of students. Better than ninety percent of students earned higher scores on the second quiz with several improving by two or more letter grades. Roughly 80 percent of the students from the three classes scored 75 or higher and a full third scored 85 or higher, 10 of whom scored above 95 percent (See Chart A-1). Given the unlikelihood that the students remembered specific questions or problems, it seemed reasonable to conclude that their new scores represented a significantly higher level of subject mastery as a result of the extra time, instruction, and practice they were given.

Chart A-1

While this may not have been the most scientific of studies, the level of improvement certainly was not a result of pure chance. The operative question was: “Is it worth the extra time and a second chance to get such dramatic improvement in subject-matter mastery?” How much more effort would have been necessary to achieve an 80+ percent success rate?

If the purpose of teaching is to help all students learn every lesson well enough to not only be able to use what they have learned as prerequisite knowledge for subsequent lessons—but also be able to retain the knowledge and use it throughout their lives—my job as teacher would have been incomplete after the first exam. At that point, seventy-seven out of my 85 students would have been poorly prepared for the next lesson and the quiz results over the material in future lessons would have likely been every bit as abysmal as the lesson in this anecdote.  

It seemed clear to me it was not in the best interests of these seventy-seven students to be pushed along to the next lesson, poorly prepared. I worried, however, that my decision to delay moving the class on to the next lesson may not have been in the best interests of the eight students who scored better than 85 percent on the first quiz. I chose to believe the extra practice would not hurt them. As the results illustrate, all the students who had recorded Bs on the first quiz improved to an A on the second. More importantly, an additional 20 students reached the 85 percent threshold.

After the second quiz I was still faced with a dilemma. There were still 57 students who had been unable to earn an 85 percent grade and only 28 who could. Thus, those 57 kids were still poorly prepared for subsequent lessons and were likely to be unsuccessful. Of even greater consequence is the reality that those students, and others like them throughout the U.S., experience being unprepared for almost all next lessons, semester after semester, year after year. How is this in the best interests of our children, their teachers, and our society?

Much as I had done so many times as a leader of other operations throughout my career, and as a consultant, I began thinking about how we could devise a way to give more time to the students who needed it without an adverse impact on the students who did not.

I have no doubt that all but a few of the 57 students who had still fallen short of expectations after the first do-over quiz would have demonstrated significant improvement had they been given just a little more help, time, practice and a second do-over opportunity.

My conclusion, after this experiment, is that the problems in education are structural and process-related and that teachers are victims of a dysfunctional process every bit as much as their students. The fact that keeping to a schedule appears to be a higher priority than helping more students learn is not because teachers do not care, rather it is the way things are done.

When we get into the actual implementation plan for my model, in Chapter 6, we will devote time to the way teachers are assigned to students and to classrooms and how this dysfunctional aspect of the education process can be addressed, along with each of the other issues noted in Chapter 1. All it requires is a little creativity and freedom to differentiate.

It is my assertion, also, that the job satisfaction and fulfillment of teachers is enhanced when they are successful in helping their students succeed and that the model I will be presenting will serve the interests of students and teachers, alike.

Superintendents and principals are encouraged to consider conducting this same experiment in selected classrooms in each subject area. The only cost to the school is a little lost time, comparable to the time lost when a substitute teacher is needed.

Giving students more time to practice and learn is just one of several strategies that can be utilized to ensure that all kids learn. I refer to these strategies as the essential variables of an education process. All they require is a willingness to step outside the boundaries of conventional wisdom. The Hawkins Model© is a template that places these essential variables at the top of our priority list.

This brings us back to maintaining a focus on the mission and purpose of education. Is an education meant to be a competition to see who can learn the most, the fastest, or is its purpose to prepare all students for citizenship.

Why would we want a society in which only thirty percent of students, or less, are well prepared for the responsibilities they will face as members of a participatory democracy? The way the existing education process is structured suggests to me that many educators, at all levels, view the outcomes we get today as the best our students can do. I hope this little experiment demonstrates that we are doing nowhere near the best we can do for both students and teachers.

Classrooms, substitute teacher, disparate outcomes, problem-solving, leadership development, organizational management, better way to teach, middle school, math teacher, middle school math teacher, students, practice worksheets, risk-free venture, motivate students, do-over opportunity, subject mastery, subject-matter mastery, purpose of teaching, prerequisite knowledge, more time and practice, dysfunctional process.

Never Has My Novel, Light and Transient Causes, been Timelier than it is Today

Light and Transient Causes, by Mel Hawkins

A novel about the future of Democracy in America.

Format: Paperback and Amazon Kindle Edition

Although published in 2013, my novel “Light and Transient Causes” has never been timelier than it is today. Many are saying the 2024 election will determine the future of democracy in America. Read a story about the consequences of electing the wrong person to be President of the United States.

              – Mel Hawkins, Author

Please check out the following book reviews:

Carol W., at Amazon.com:

“Mel: WOW! I just finished your novel, Light and Transient Causes. . . .  I could list a million of adjectives (definitely positive ones) in describing this book, as well as the emotions it put me through. . . . Without a doubt, it gave me a lot to think about, especially when listening to the news and what is going on in our country. . . . I loved it!”

– Turneeditor, at Amazon.com:

“Your novel is wonderful!” – “5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping story with believable characters. . . .

 “Light and Transient Causes is a breathtaking work. In some ways it seems like a combination of Tom Clancy and Spike Lee, but there is much, much more.“

I was struck by the portrayal of a dystopian America, by the touching portrayals of family life, and by the growth in many of the characters. One of the things that I appreciate about this novel is its depiction of the dilemmas that many of the characters face and how they often have second thoughts about their actions. . . .“. . . has great relevance . . . and may serve as a warning about things to come in the post-Trump United States.”

– Grady Harp, Hall of Fame, Top 100 Reviewer, posted at Amazon.com:

“Powerful, and tightly written. . . Hawkins’ skill at erasing time barriers and including portions of elements that are very much with us adds to the terror of this theme.”

  – Vermont Reviewer posted at Amazon.com:

“This one will become a future classic. [It} reminded me of other classics like 1984 and Animal Farm. Well written and certainly one that will make you think long after you finish reading it. . . a solid five stars.”

          

– BBB Gran, posted at Amazon.com:

“I don’t give 5 stars usually but this book deserves that and more. . . . Well written, well plotted, character development and dialog were excellent. Well done Mel Hawkins, well done!”

           

Cindi Chubbs, posted at Amazon.com:

“Excellent book with a ton of action. . . . Mel Hawkins keeps the plot tight and clean while keeping the reader entertained. Hawkins also has brilliant insights . . . .”

           

Charlie B, posted at Amazon.com:

“This is a superb book. . . . Mel Hawkins has done a splendid job in juggling all the twists, turns and complications of this very believable novel. Books like this don’t come along very often. . . .”

           

Brian, posted at Onlinebookclub.org:

“I was fascinated by the book and fearful at the same time. . . . It’s chilling in the sense that it’s all possible in the world we live in today. Awesome read!”

           

Cody Mathews, posted at Onlinebookclub.org:

“The best book I have read this year [2013]. . . . Absolutely, hands down, knock off your socks book to keep you wanting more. . . . I have read many war novels that fell short with battle scenes; this book was right on the money. . . .”

           

RMB, posted on Amazon.com:

“Spell binding. It is a captivating story that could become reality. . . .”

The Problem is not Our Schools, Teachers, or Students, it’s What We Ask Them To Do in those Buildings!

There are Millions of children who struggle in our schools, both academically and behaviorally and if it were not for the dedication and commitment of teachers, that number would be even higher. There is no more reason to permit children to struggle in school than there is to put up with a light bulb that flickers. All that is necessary is to replace the education process at work in our classrooms with a new education model that works.

The good news is educators have learned everything they need to know in college to end the academic distress of these kids and to prevent the consequences of their disappointing outcomes. What we learned about human motivation from Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,”[i] first introduced in 1943, has a direct application to kids in our classrooms, today.

Maslow taught that until lower-level needs are satisfied, there will be little motivation to pursue the satisfaction of higher-level needs.

The lowest level on the hierarchy are “physiological needs” which have been mitigated, at least partially, by the National School Lunch Program. The second and third levels are the need for safety and security followed by love and a sense of belonging. Meeting these needs must be our priority. If we want to assure academic success of all students, we must begin on their first day of kindergarten. There is nothing more important to 5 and 6-year-old kids than having a special relationship with teachers.

Teachers understand the importance of meeting these needs, but the education process impedes their effort. It is not good enough that there are some schools in which students and teachers succeed. All students must learn in all schools. It is a simple choice. We either assure a quality education for all or we bear the burden of their dependency for much of their lives.

When we add what neuroscientists have learned about the brains of children, our reluctance to change how we teach our kids is incomprehensible. We know the brains of children are programmed to learn; to soak up the world around them. We also know the brain can learn to overcome the challenges it faces after deprivation, illness, and injury, with the help of its friends, with teachers among the most important.

These little brains can only learn what they have an opportunity to learn, however. It is up to schools and teachers to provide that opportunity. It has been a lack of opportunity that contributes to the inequality that black and other students of color have had to endure. These are the same factors that have contributed to generations of Americans who have always struggled in school, have always been poor, and have been dependent on public assistance for much of their lives.

I believe that almost everything wrong with American society, today, has been influenced by an education process that has been disconnected from its purpose and has not been meeting the needs of our children for longer than most of us have been alive. We must find a way to provide an education of sufficient quality to enable young people to overcome the obstacles that poverty and discrimination presents until the disparities, themselves, begin to disappear.

This is a problem that has a practical solution—one that is within our power to fix. But we cannot just think or talk about it. Action is required to make things happen. Understanding the action needed requires that educators at all levels step outside the boundaries of conventional wisdom because a solution cannot be envisioned from within our classrooms, the process must be examined as an integral whole.

The mission and purpose of education must be to help students learn as much as they are able at their own best pace, and everything teachers do must support that purpose.

A quality education has never been more important than it is today. It is essential that next generations of Americans, including black and other people of color, have a quality education and a powerful self-esteem. Our nation is going to need their leadership to help meet the extraordinary challenges the balance of this 21st Century will present as we strive to rebuild a society that works for all people, not just a chosen few.

We begin by understanding that the heart is a portal to the mind. If we can capture the hearts of young children and cement those relationships, we can open their minds to learning. Kids must experience success and teachers must not only help students achieve it, but they must also share in its celebration.

When we succeed and win, we always want more. We must help students develop the self-esteem of winners.

Let me show you how the existing education process fails to accomplish this.

It will help if you understand that an education process is nothing more than a system of logic designed to produce desired outcomes no different than any production or service-delivery process. The logic of any process must remain true to its purpose, however.

Today, we are not getting the outcomes we need, rather what we are getting are the outcomes the existing education process is structured to produce. Those outcomes will continue to be unacceptable no matter how hard teachers work or how qualified they are until we are willing to change what we do. If we want the outcomes that our children and society need, we must reimagine an education process equipped to produce such outcomes. This must be the mission and purpose of education.

The Existing Education Process

There are identifiable reasons why the existing process allows so many of our students to struggle and these reasons have nothing to do with the ability of students to learn or of teachers to teach, with or without representation; and nothing at all to do with the names of the schools.

Each of these reasons are consequences of a dysfunctional education process that has become disconnected from its purpose. Just as children do not all learn to walk and talk at the same time, children in school will not all learn at the same pace or in the same way.

The first flaw in the process is that when we pack as many as 35 students into a classroom with one teacher with all the responsibilities teachers must manage, there will always be more children with more needs than even the best teachers can address, and no, it is not okay if we succeed with only few. And, when we see students hiding along the edges and in the shadows of our classrooms, or acting out, these are the first signals telling us their needs are not being met.

Although there is an expectation that teachers will develop special relationships with their students, there is no meaningful strategy to stay focused on that priority. When we establish something as our top priority it must be supported by the process in every possible way, and in everything we do.

If we truly believed relationships were our number one priority, for example, why would we choose not to focus on their development beginning on the first day of kindergarten and, at the end of each school year, why would we sever the few relationships teachers and students were able to forge? It is a meaningless tradition and is contrary to our purpose.

Another flaw is that, from the beginning, the process is more focused on getting these youngsters started out on the pathway mapped out by academic standards than it is about learning. By keeping to the schedules and timetables embedded in academic standards, the process starts students out as a group and begins moving them from one point to the next on a pathway with no provision to deal with students who are starting from way behind, nor does it allow teachers to adapt to a student’s pace of learning.

It appears as if the education process is more focused on timeliness than it is on learning. Children begin falling by the wayside, beginning in kindergarten, and that number grows each year.

The third flaw is that the instruction process requires teachers to present lessons and provide students with assignments so they can practice the knowledge and skills that are the focus of each lesson. Although educators understand the importance of helping children learn from their mistakes, there are always more mistakes by more students than teachers have the time to address.

Teachers are, then, expected to administer quizzes and tests that are graded based on the number of mistakes students make as measured against the performance of classmates—to see who won. Education is preparation to compete in life, not a competition to see who learns the most or the fastest.

Tests are returned to students, who are given an insufficient time to review and understand the mistakes they made and those grades are recorded in the teacher’s gradebook to maintain a record of who was successful and who was not. 

Students are then moved on to the next lesson in each subject area, ready or not.

Another flaw is that the Cs, Ds, and Fs recorded next to the names of students are not the best they can do, only the best they were able to do in the time allotted. Because these students are being pushed from lesson to lesson without the prerequisite knowledge and skills prior lessons were intended to impart, their probability of success on future lessons diminishes and they fall a little further behind at each stop along the way.

It should be obvious that students unable to meet expectations on a chapter test, administered immediately after a lesson, are even more likely to fall short of expectations during state exams in the spring. Many students in all schools have no opportunity to experience and celebrate success. In this respect they are no different than adults who never get to experience the pride of a job well done.

Why are we surprised by this?

And why do we feel the need to defend ourselves from these tests. What they measure is the inefficacy of the education process, not teachers. They tell us kids are not learning and that we need to rethink how we teach. The way teachers should respond when test results are used to criticize public schools and their teachers, is with indignation and with the presentation of a new idea about how we should teach. It does no good to complain, one must offer a better solution.

Public school educators are encouraged to turn the table on their critics, including the leaders of their state departments of education and demand that, rather than spend money on tuition subsidies and charter schools, they should invest in the reimagination of the education process teachers are required to use so it is designed to produce the outcomes we are all seeking.

The proof, as ironic as it may be, is that the charter schools that are being created as alternatives to community public schools are not performing as well as the public schools they were intended to replace.

The reason is that they are utilizing the same education process, often with less qualified teachers and based on their misguided belief that if businesspeople change the name on the school building and run them like they run their businesses, our children will no longer struggle. Just like success in technology, teaching requires specialized expertise in an environment in which it can be effectively employed.

Despite their lack of success, more and more states are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on tuition subsidy and voucher programs so kids can attend charter schools. For every $100 million some states spend on subsidy programs they could fund my model in over 1,000 classrooms of 45 students each who are taught by a team of three teachers at a cost of less than $2,200 per student. Keep reading to learn how much of a difference a new education model will make compared to our existing classrooms and to charter schools.

It is only a matter of time before the outcome’s teachers are willing to accept become a child’s expectation of themselves.

As patterns of disappointing outcomes emerge, it is inevitable that some kids will begin to give up and stop trying. Rather than building on one success after another, these students find themselves having to deal with one disappointing outcome after another.

This is not a recipe for constructing the solid academic and emotional foundations they will need throughout life. 

We spend much time, particularly in high school, striving to help students catch up. As excellent as these programs may be, and as commendable as it is that so many advocacy groups are striving to help students who have fallen behind, it begs the question:

 “wouldn’t students be better off if they had never been allowed to fall behind in elementary school?”

Let’s now examine an alternative approach offered by The Hawkins Model©

This new model is constructed on the belief that education is an uncertain science and success depends on the ability of professionals to develop and practice the art and craft of teaching.

The model includes several transformational changes to increase the capability of our teachers and reduce class size by establishing teaching teams of three teachers assigned to a classroom with no more than 45 students. To ensure the primacy of relationships it is envisioned that these classrooms of teachers and students will remain together from kindergarten all the way through what we now think of as fifth grade.

Yes, some teachers will be put off by this idea, but teams have proven to be a powerful tool in which the sum is greater than the whole of its parts.

Within a team, someone always has our back and it triples the probability that every child will find a teacher with whom they can bond and learn. It also increases the chances that parents will find a teacher in whom they are willing to place their trust. Teams also create many opportunities for collaboration as its members strive to meet the unique needs of students. Also, teams provide stability so that the class is not set back with the insertion of a substitute or even on the rare occasion that a teacher leaves, whatever the reason.

We must, also, convert time from a fixed asset that constrains rather than empowers us, to a variable asset available in whatever quantities teachers and their students require.

(Readers concerned that state departments of education will find this unacceptable are asked to consider that, the struggling schools selected to test this model are already falling short of their state’s expectations. I believe students learning under The Hawkins Model© may well be approaching or even exceeding those expectations by the end of their second semester, or soon thereafter.)

We will set aside the first few weeks and/or months to encourage students to play and have fun in addition to presenting lessons. Play is, after all, nature’s preferred method of learning. Students, also, must become acclimated to the community of their classrooms, and get to know their classmates.

During those initial weeks or months, teachers will use their time to observe and assess the levels of academic preparedness and emotional development of students so they can tailor an academic and emotional development plan to the unique needs of students. We need to understand what they know and what they have not yet learned. We must also understand how they respond to all the activities, people, and challenges of their environment.

Next, we will change the instruction process so that teachers:

  • Utilize as much time as necessary to present and review lessons, allow students time to practice and receive the help they need to learn from all of their mistakes.
  • Will utilize quizzes, tests, and other assessments, not for the purpose of assigning grades, but rather to signal whether a student is ready to move forward to next lessons in possession of the pre-requisite knowledge and skills success on future lessons will require.
  • When the test results signal that a student is not ready for the next lesson, the expectation will be that teachers take a step back with students, and reteach the lesson, provide more time, help, and practice in learning from their mistakes and,
  • When deemed ready, give students do-over opportunities to demonstrate that they are ready to move forward, well prepared for success on the next lesson in that subject area. Learning is the only thing that counts and that should be counted.

Our objective also includes helping students develop character by viewing behavior problems as an opportunity to do more than admonish and discipline. We must both teach and provide affirmation while asking students to work on their behavior. We must, also, ask what we can do to help? Helping children overcome difficulties helps create strong bonds.

These are opportunities to help students accept responsibility for the construction of solid academic and emotional foundations from which they can pursue whatever goals and aspirations they set for themselves.

Finally, teachers will strive to help children develop the healthy self-esteem they will need to overcome life’s many challenges, including discrimination, and pursue the opportunities life will present. Our purpose is to help students get an education so they will have meaningful choices in life to:

  • find joy and satisfaction,
  • provide for themselves and their families,
  • abide by the rules of law,
  • make positive contributions to their communities, and
  • participate in their own governance as members of what we hope will still be a participatory democracy.

This level of citizenship requires that each of us have a sufficient understanding of the universe in which we live and the people with whom we share it to be able to make thoughtful choices with respect to policies to address the cogent issues of our time.

If those of you who are reading this blog post want better outcomes for your students/children, you are encouraged to join me in finding struggling elementary schools in which my model can be put to the test in at least their kindergarten classrooms and then follow them all the way through the fifth grade.

My education model, which is offered for free, does not require school districts to make any changes that will require approval from their state agencies, nor does it provide a quick solution. Since it has taken us many decades and even centuries to get us to where we are today, thirteen years does not seem an unreasonable amount of time to begin guiding our children and our nation back on course. In reality, we will begin seeing the benefit of transformational change when students sit for spring exams in the second semester of their fourth year (what we now think of as the third grade).

Although the model will be made available to public, charter, and faith-based schools, we believe community public schools should be our priority.

They are, after all, the only schools to which all students can be assured access.

            We must always remember, it’s all about the kids!

—————————————————————

[Black and other children of color, Struggle in School, dedication and commitment of teachers, disappointing outcomes, Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs kindergarten, relationship with teachers, education process, children of color. quality education black and other people of color, self-esteem, academic standards, prerequisite knowledge and skills, criticism of public schools, public schools, Public school educators, The Hawkins Model©, the heart is a portal to the mind, healthy self-esteem,]


[i] Maslow, Abraham, A Theory of Human Motivation, www.all-about-psychology.com 2011 (Kindle Version)

Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time – A Man Named Charlie.

This blog post is a companion piece to my first Podcast on Spotify. The podcast is the first in a series.

The following is the text of the podcast. It will be my intention to post the text of all future podcasts on my blog as well, in the event any listener wishes to have a hard copy of the message.

This series, or audio blog, if you will, is inspired by the belief that every one of us has the ability to make a difference in the lives of the people around us. This makes the job of teachers, staff, and administrators who work with our nation’s children among the most important jobs in all of society.

It is my belief that our nation is in desperate need of a change in the way we teach our children and that the proof is in all we see taking place around us. After this initial episode, my focus will be on a message to teachers encouraging them to embrace TheHawkinsModel© rather than be afraid of the change. It is designed to increase their ability to make a difference in the lives of their students.   

But first, let me tell you a story about a man named Charlie, a most unlikely leader who made an enormous difference in the lives of the students, faculty, and staff of the high school in which he worked.

It’s a story that shows just how powerful relationships can be.

Charlie passed away a dozen or so years ago, but he lives on in the hearts of many of the people he touched, both students and teachers. 

Every few years, I like to pull the story out, dust if off, and delight in the memory of this special man with whom I spent only a few moments of my life.

          One of the teachers who worked with him, shared Charlie’s story in a letter to the editor of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, a few weeks after his death. 

Otherwise, few outside of the Wayne High School community would have known about this special man, and the quiet but enormous impact he made.

Charlie was a black man working in a high school in a diverse urban school district. He did not have an impressive title, did not make a great deal of money, had no formal authority, there were no letters after his name, and he was neither a star athlete nor a celebrity. 

Charlie’s stature as a powerful positive leader came only fromthe force of his personality, his dedication to his job, his love of people, and his God-given ability to make people feel important.

He was a human being who, out of the pure generosity of a loving heart, accepted responsibility for making his little corner of the world a better place.

          I first heard about Charlie years ago when my kids were in high school, but I just assumed he was one of the kids at school. The first time I met Charlie, I was working as a substitute teacher in this high school I thought I knew so well. 

Like other teachers, I was standing next to my classroom, monitoring the hallways during the passing period. It had been a rough day, and I was reeling from difficult period with a math lab when this man came up to me. 

He was dressed in a suit and tie, and it never would have occurred to me that he was a custodian until he grabbed a broom from a cart he had left a few feet away and swept up some debris from the floor.

          “How is it going, today? Is there anything I can do for you?” He asked.  “You just call me if you need something,” he continued and then proceeded to rattle off his name and extension number. 

He shook my hand and smiled before continuing down the corridor and I watched him, trying to figure out who the heck he was. 

My eyes followed him as he spoke to the students he passed. From the smiles on their faces I can only assume he was smiling, also. Moving on, he gave another student a high five, and then stopped to pick up a couple of broken pencils that lay on the floor. 

A dozen yards farther down the hallway, a young girl had been leaning against the wall, alone. I had noticed her earlier as she had a lonely and forlorn look about her and I suspected she had been crying.  As this custodian drew closer, he drifted over to her and then stopped, smiled at her, and put his hand on her shoulder. 

          I could not hear the words that were spoken, but after a few seconds the girl offered up an embarrassed smile, followed seconds later by a laugh. Charlie lingered a moment, in quiet conversation, and then sauntered off, dishing out more high fives to students as he passed. 

When I looked back, the girl was still there, standing in the same spot, but she stood a little taller and had a smile on her face. Whatever this man had said to her must have been something she had needed to hear.

          Later in the day, in the faculty lounge, I asked a teacher about the custodian in the suit and tie.  He laughed, and said, “well, that would have been Charlie.”  He went on to say, “he’s a very special guy around here and both the kids and staff love him.” 

          I asked others about him, including my youngest daughter, now a teacher herself.  Whomever I asked, just the mention of his name would evoke a smile, and everyone proceeded to tell me pretty much the same story.

“He is everybody’s friend and always has a kind word to say,” they explained.

Charlie, God rest his charitable soul, was a beautiful human being and a positive leader. 

He  took pride in keeping things clean for the students and teachers of his school.  More importantly, he reached out to people to share his positive attitude.  He accepted responsibility for making this high school a better place and for making people feel special and important. 

He had a special ability to sense when someone—teacher, student, or substitute teacher—needed a kind word, a high five, or a warm smile. I am certain Charlie never wasted an opportunity to share his gifts. 

None of these activities could be found in the job description of a school custodian, but Charlie made them a part of his daily routine. They were a part of who he was. This man demonstrated it is not necessary to have formal authority, nor do we need someone’s permission to be a leader and to make a positive difference to the world and its people. 

All one needs is a belief that people—all people—deserve our best effort and that we can make a difference. While doing what many people would consider an unimportant and mundane job, this man changed the world around him. He did it by reaching out to people with a generous heart, simple acts of kindness, reassuring words, and a genuine desire to make each of them feel important and special.

Gifts such as this may brighten only a moment in an otherwise stressful day, but we never know how much of a difference we make when we give the best of ourselves with joy and affirmation. 

It is a lesson from which all can all learn when we ask ourselves whether what we do, matters. We can choose to believe every job, well done, adds a little beauty to the world and every smile or act of affirmation can make a difference in the life of another human being.

No doubt Charlie believed he had the most important job in the world. By having a relationship with each of them, Charlie made a difference in the lives of thousands of students and hundreds of educators, while keeping their school clean.

It was the relationships that mattered.

Given what we can learn from Charlie, imagine what teachers can do in their classroom by doing the best job of which they are capable and by making every student feel special and important. Relationships are everything in life and they are everything in teaching. God bless you, Charlie.

The existing education process, the tool on which our teachers must rely has changed only incrementally, over the last half century or more, while the world it exists to serve has changed exponentially. As a result the process has become dysfunctional and has grown obsolete. I believe the education process impedes more than supports the work of teachers and their students.

My work is motivated by my belief that the education process is focused more on conformance and compliance, when what we need is an education model designed to enable teachers to adapt to the unique needs of individual students. The problem we face is that educators have been teaching the same way for so long it is difficult to envision any other way to do what they do.

In addition, our teachers are being asked to bear the brunt of the blame for the disappointing outcomes of so many of our nation’s children. Because they have been under attack for so long, teachers have felt the need to defend themselves, their profession, and their right to collective representation.

The professional mission and purpose of my life is to introduce a new education model to replace the existing education process at work in schools throughout the U.S.

It is my assertion that if our education process, or any other process, is unable to produce the outcomes we need, no matter how hard people work or how qualified they are, the problem rests with the process and it must be reimagined and replaced.

This is what I have endeavored to do in my book, not yet published, Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time: The Hawkins Model©.

A second assertion is that it is only when we stop blaming others and accept responsibility for our problems that we begin to acquire the power to solve them.

Teachers are not the problem with education in America or the reason why so many of our children struggle; just the opposite is true. Teachers are the glue that keeps a flawed education process from devolving into chaos.

All the good things that have happened to students in our schools over the past several decades are a consequence of the dedication, commitment, and capability of our professional teachers. They are, in fact, unsung American heroes who deserve our support and admiration for the essential work they do.

make a difference, students and teacher, diverse urban school district, make people feel important, substitute teacher, positive leader, making people feel special and important, make a positive difference, relationships, education process, education model, unique needs of individual students

REResearch Shows State School District Report Cards Do Not Measure the Quality of Public Schools | janresseger (wordpress.com)

 Response to blog post by Jan Resseger

All of the research tells us pretty much the same thing but the article and the summaries of the research make for great reading and challenge us to challenge our assumptions. My point is that all of these studies and commentaries miss the point.

Of course kids in affluent schools score better than schools with more challenging populations of students.

Compare it to a foot race in which some runners get to step up to the starting line while others must start from various distances behind. No one should be at all surprised that a higher percentage of the runners who begin from the starting line get to the finish line faster than the runners who started from behind. These outcomes tell us nothing about how fast these different populations of students can run or learn, how hard they work, or how hard their coaches and teachers work. What it does tell us is the race was neither structured nor organized to ensure equal opportunity.

What it tells us about learning in our classrooms is that the way teachers are asked to teach and students learn should be adapted to the unique needs of students. The existing education process pushes teachers and their students down a path laid out by academic standards, along an arbitrary timeline, in perfect cadence, without respect to outcomes.

While the entire testing process is misguided, the results it produces, also, are utilized for the wrong purposes.  Besides, the results tell us what we know, already.

If we want to do meaningful research we should study the correlation between the grades next to a student’s name in their teacher’s gradebook and how well those students perform on standardized tests.

My hypothesis would be that students who earn A’s and B’s in the classroom will perform well on standardized tests as such exams, misguided though they may be, are an opportunity for students to apply, outside the classroom, the knowledge and skills gained in school.  Students who earn C’s, D’s and F’s, meaning they did not learn well in class, will be similarly unsuccessful on such exams. The same is true for college entrance exams, the ASVAB, and for any instrument used to assess the eligibility and/or qualifications of candidates, applicants, or prospective employees.

Just as the brain cannot learn what it has had no opportunity to learn, students will be unable to utilize  knowledge and skills they had no opportunity to learn or, more accurately, had an insufficient time to learn.  

What the grades in a teacher’s gradebook and results of standardized testing should be used for is to signal us that kids are not learning successfully, prompting us to rethink how we teach them.

Kids who are poor, who are born into families that place little value in education, who are raised in an environment where discrimination is prevalent, who have had limited enrichment opportunities during early childhood, who attend schools where many students struggle, and have a pattern of behavioral issues present special challenges. None of these circumstances means these kids cannot learn. Rather, what they tell us is these students are not learning and they will need more help from teachers and a learning environment that can be adapted to their unique requirements.

Teachers of these children must be able to devote considerably more effort to developing nurturing and supportive relationships, and this takes time. Teachers must be able to assess what these kids know so they can judge where best to commence a student’s academic journey because most of them are starting from behind. They must develop a strategy to address the unique needs and requirements of each of their students. Teachers must provide instruction,  opportunities to practice, they must help students  learn from their mistakes and, sometimes, teachers must go back and do it over again. All these things take time and necessitate giving teachers discretion to deviate if not ignore plotted time frames.

Just because students do not learn the first time does not mean they are incapable of learning, and they must not be pushed ahead before ready. In the existing education process the routine is to accept less than the best students can do by recording C’s, D’s, and F’s in their gradebooks and then push children ahead without the prerequisite knowledge success on future lessons demands. All this methodology does is allow students who are already behind, lag even further. It is only a matter of time until these kids give up and quit trying.

These same patterns can be found in high performing schools because, even in these schools, gradebooks will reveal C’s, D’s, and F’s. Although they are not as numerous in high performing schools, there are students unable to demonstrate proficiency no matter how many opportunities they are given to do so. One would think fewer students would mean teachers would have more time, but it is still insufficient.

The harsh reality in the existing education process, whether utilized in public, charter, or faith-based schools, is that exceptional circumstance are neither accommodated nor tolerated, and each leaves casualties along academic pathways. The harshest reality of all is that the outcomes we get in schools throughout the U.S. are the outcomes the education process is structured to produce no matter how hard teachers work or how dedicated and qualified they may be.

None of this will change until we abandon an obsolete education process and implement an education model designed to give teachers discretion to adapt to the needs of students.

The irony is that the zeal of charter school leaders and advocates, who are working hard to solicit commitments for hundreds of millions of dollars for vouchers and tuition subsidies, has blinded them to reality. These advocates have no idea they are working hard to arrive at the same destination, tomorrow, where public schools find themselves now. Why? Because they all rely on the existing education process.

Today, the leaders and advocates of community public schools are presented with a wonderful opportunity. Please take a step back and look around you. If you do this objectively, what you will come to realize is  that you and your colleagues have been so focused on test scores and everything that is wrong with standardized testing that you have lost sight of the reality that tens of millions of American school children are not learning. Learning is the only thing that really counts but it is not what the existing education process is designed to ensure.

This is a perfect time for the educators and advocates for community public schools to spring into action to transform action in America.

Mel Hawkins

Author of The Hawkins Model©

If You Believe All Kids Can Learn, Open your Hearts and Minds to Change!

The Hawkins Model© is constructed on several variables that are essential to a quality education. The most essential is the quality of teacher and student relationships.  My education model is constructed to facilitate the forging of such relationships and sustaining them for longer than a single school year.

Another essential variable is giving kids time to learn. Our education model changes time from a constant to a variable resource available to teachers and students in whatever quantity their success requires.

The third variable is that learning is the only thing that counts. To ensure a child learns we must get them off to a good start, which means taking the time to assess what children know when they arrive for their first day of kindergarten and what they have not yet learned. From what we learn from such assessments we will tailor an academic plan to each child’s unique needs. This determines the starting point for each student’s academic journey.

We choose to accept nothing less than a student’s best. This necessitates ending the practice of stopping a lesson; administering a test; recording whatever grade we assign based upon the number of mistakes each child makes; and then sending our students on to a next lesson, ready or not. For many kids, as a pattern of not being ready develops, it sentences them to a future in which they must deal with the challenges of life in a world they cannot fully understand.

My education model does not utilize tests to determine a grade but rather to confirm whether or not the student has mastered a given lesson or needs more help. We will modify the instruction process so that if the outcome of a test is unacceptable, we go back and reteach the lesson, giving the student the time, practice, help, and affirmation they need to learn from their mistakes. When we deem them ready, we administer a “do-over” exam and when a student achieves success we record that achievement and send the child onto the next lesson, not with a C, D, or F, but rather with an A or B and armed with the prerequisite knowledge and skills future lessons and life will require.

If the child still struggles their teachers’ job is unfinished. Consider that we do not stop teaching kids to ride a bicycle until they ride off down the street.

We interpret success as demonstrating proficiency. We celebrate each student’s academic success because it will help instill the powerful motivation that success can provide and with the development of healthy self-esteems.  

We need to disregard the expectations in the academic standards that all students have two semesters to demonstrate readiness for first grade and, instead, establish the expectation that we have twelve semesters to prepare them for middle school. All students do not begin at the same starting line. What matters is that they get to the finish line. Once a student learns, how long it took them is no longer relevant.

As students gain confidence in their ability to learn, we anticipate an acceleration of their pace in learning. We need not worry they will fall hopelessly behind, which is the case with the existing process. Students fall behind only when the education process does not permit them to finish.

Once we document a student’s success it becomes part of their record until we make a point to verify their mastery on that lesson, which we will make part of the instruction process. Once verified, state testing becomes irrelevant and an unjustifiable use of time.

We accomplish all this by changing the classroom structure from one in which there is one teachers for 25 to 35 students, to  a structure in which we have a team of three teachers for no more than 45 students.

Having a team of three teachers allows them to support one another, collaborate, and to manage a classroom with students progressing at different speeds. This also enhances the ability of teachers to forge relationships of the quality we seek.

The model keeps that classroom of teachers and 45 or fewer students together through the full primary phase of their education, which we define as what we formerly viewed as kindergarten through fifth grade. This eliminates the need to sever teacher/student relationships at the end of every school year and then require them to start over with a new teacher in the fall.

Nothing less than success is acceptable because a child’s success in learning is more important than any arbitrary schedule. We believe this process can substantially improve the probability that every child will experience success in pursuit of whatever goals they set for themselves.  Helping a student develop a pattern of success changes everything and sets them on a path to agency.

With respect to implementation, if a school has three kindergarten classrooms, each with one teacher and 30 students, which requires a total of three teachers, we will need to add three additional teachers to staff two classrooms with teams of three teachers and forty-five or fewer students.

If we assume that the average teacher salary is $65,000, three teachers will require an investment of $195,000 to serve the needs of 90 students at a single grade level. This gives us a per student cost of $2,166. Consider Indiana, as an example. In 2025 they expect to spend over $6,300 per student on vouchers to enable 95,000 students to attend  charter schools or faith-based schools. We believe the probability of student’s success, having learned in the innovative learning environment we are proposing to be significantly greater than sending students to charter schools that, currently, are not performing as well as the community public schools they were created to replace.

Our students, teachers and their communities are winners. The funds invested to add teachers goes right back into the local economy to improve our intellectual infrastructure. As they go about their lives, teachers contribute to the local, state and federal tax bases. Who knows where the money invested in vouchers will end up?

The Hawkins Model©, quality education, education, education model, time to learn, teachers and students, learning, kindergarten, academic plan, prerequisite knowledge, teaching kids academic success, academic standards, classroom structure, charter schools, innovative learning environment, community public schools, public schools, intellectual infrastructure, vouchers.

We Cannot Defend the Indefensible, So What Can We Do?

Choosing to believe test scores are unfair does not protect us from the consequences they create, the most notable of which is a pervasive loss of faith in community public schools. That these are the only schools to which children of color, who are poor, or who must learn to speak English can be assured access only heightens the risk to those communities  and their children, and to our democratic society.

Now, with the aggressive expansion of “school choice” on which some states are investing hundreds of millions of dollar, coupled with the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action, our nation’s most vulnerable children are even more vulnerable.

We must find another way to educate our children. We must rally around a new model by taking positive action with all the passion we feel when we see our democracy at risk. And we must implement the changes in our community public schools, as turning them into successful learning laboratories is the only way to save them.

The Hawkins Model© is an innovative approach to teaching and learning that I have developed. It was inspired by ten years of walking in the shoes of public-school teachers as a substitute; by a lifetime of working and volunteering with kids in multiple settings; by thirty years in organizations responsible for operations and hiring; and as an independent organizational and leadership development consultant. In all of those roles my forte was developing innovative solutions to production and service-delivery processes—of which an education process is a version—that routinely produced unacceptable outcomes.

My approach involved stepping outside the boundaries of conventional thinking and employing a problem-solving methodology to understand why a process (education, production or service-delivery) is unable to produce the outcomes we seek. Once one gains an understanding of the flaws that lead to unacceptable outcomes in a process, we are able to go back to their drawing board to reimagine and redesign a process to produce the outcomes we seek and that our customers demand. This is what I have done with the dysfunctional education process at work in virtually all of our nation’s schools.

Please understand that teachers and administrators are victims of the inefficacy of our education process as are their students. Teachers are not to blame and are, in fact, the glue that holds it all together. All of the good things that happen to students in our schools are result of the commitment and dedication of teachers despite the impediments inherent in an education process that has grown obsolete.

The Hawkins Model©:

·         changes the way we organize teachers, students, and classrooms.

·         While it must still teach to academic standards, we alter the priority given to the schedules embedded in those standards and shift that priority to learning.

·         It makes forging relationships with each student our teachers’first priority because the relationships between teachers and their students are, far-and-away, the most essential variable in the education equation.

·         changes time from a fixed asset and constraint to a variable asset available to students and teachers in whatever quantities they require.

·         it requires teachers to assess the level of academic preparedness and emotional development of students when they arrive at our door at ages five, six, and seven so we can commence their academic journey at the cusp of their knowledge and their level of emotional maturity.

·         utilizes what teachers learn from those assessments to tailor an academic plan that addresses the unique requirements of each student.

·         It then encourages teachers to develop and practice their craft and authorizes them to differentiate in response to the unique needs of their students.

·         The model alters the way we keep score based on the belief that learning is the only thing that counts and that should be counted, and it refuses to accept less than the best students can do. Accepting less than a student’s best is what the existing education process does each time it calls a halt to a lesson, asks teachers to record Cs, Ds, and Fs next to the names of students who are then pushed forward to new lessons without the prerequisite knowledge the preceding lessons were intended to impart. This diminishes the probability of a student’s success with each succeeding lesson.

·         And, the model provides a learning laboratory  in which success and innovation become the expectations of the model rather than exceptions that must be carved out of pedagogic traditions.

The end product is a truly transformational education process in which we discover that success in learning is a powerful motivational force that propels students from one success to the next on a unique academic journey in which they are encouraged to take increasing levels of ownership over their dreams and aspirations.

Please take the time to check out my model by clicking on the link at the top of this page for the first 20 pages of my book, The Hawkins Model©: Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time, which is where I encourage you to begin. Afterwards, check out my bio that explains why I feel qualified to offer this new education model and then Chapter Six of my book, which is the actual step-by-step implementation plan of my education model.

All you risk by examining my model is a little bit of your time for an opportunity to transform education for each child and teacher in the U.S. If you like what you read, I invite you to read the manuscript of my yet-to-be-published book and provide me with both a pre-publication review and letters of support that will help me find a literary agent and publisher. My model is free to any publicly funded or faith-based school willing to put the model to the test in a struggling elementary school. The only revenue I hope to generate from it will be the royalties from my book, once published.

Please let me answer your questions and address the doubts that are doing their best to hold you back and, remember that anything human beings can imagine human beings can do.

——————-

test scores, community public schools, schools, children of color, democratic society, school choice, Supreme Court, Supreme Court ruling, on affirmative action, most vulnerable children, educate our children, learning laboratories, The Hawkins Model©, innovative approach to teaching and learning, teaching and learning, public-school teachers, innovative solutions, education process, problem-solving methodology, unacceptable outcomes, teachers and administrators, Teachers are not to blame, dedication of teachers, academic standards, relationships between teachers and their students, essential variable, education equation, academic preparedness, emotional development, tailor an academic plan, unique requirements, practice their craft, unique needs of their students, prerequisite knowledge, education model, transform education, boundaries of conventional thinking,