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The Learning Studio

John Holland

January 18, 2016

Relationship: The Stealth Reform


Our schools were not built to address poverty as it stands today. In my city the rate of child poverty in the 1940s-1950s was closer to 20% than the 47% of functional poverty Black and Latino children face in Richmond, Virginia in 2016. Welfare reform of the early 2000s created a system where parents aren’t fully supported unless they are working. However, the jobs for which many parents are qualified do not increase their income enough to get them off of welfare. This combined with the numerous challenges of living in poverty create a situation that seems inescapable. This is where Communities in Schools comes in and how our schools can be transformed. Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation's most successful dropout prevention organization serving at-risk youth in America. It is using a stealth approach to school reform that may just change the game by asking a simple question, “What if our schools focused more on relationships?”

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John Holland

December 6, 2015

My Friend Shoko

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Recently, I had an incredibly unique professional development opportunity. My principal asked if my family would host an exchange teacher from Saitama, Japan through the Richmond Sister Cities Commission. After some discussion we decided we would do it. Through the experience I made a new teacher leader friend even though Shoko had never heard of those in Japan. Before this experience I had never wanted to travel to Japan.

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John Holland

November 15, 2015

Learning is Uncomfortable


Recently my new principal, who is showing every sign of empowering teachers and students, showed us the following quote in a staff meeting.

“Teachers who truly understand what they want their students to accomplish will almost surely be more instructionally successful than teachers whose understanding of hoped-for student accomplishments are murky.” -W. James Popham

She then asked us how we could relate to this quote. It struck a chord for me. It is terrible to have irrelevant experiences like Renee Moore, but an entirely different tragedy to get wrong information that could prevent student learning. As a mid-career teacher, I know when I am learning, so I shared the following experience with my colleagues in our staff meeting.

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John Holland

October 30, 2015

When Teacherprep Creates Teacher Leaders


I want to introduce you to my newly minted colleague Taylor Dayton. Dayton was in my Seminar on Educational Issues, Ethics, & Policy course in the fall of 2014. In my classes we grapple with some pretty heavy issues but the main focus of the course is to help these future teachers to discover who they are and how they will “be” teachers. I challenge them to start an inquiry in the real world that will help them build skills and introduce them to the idea of teachers as leaders in their schools and community.

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John Holland

September 28, 2015

Nudging the Boulder


A friend in higher education asked me recently if my teacher leadership, especially in education policy, has been worth the time I have put into it. Essentially, he was asking, “Have you made a difference?” It is easy to say yes, but hard to say why.

Education policy is huge and unwieldy, like a boulder. It is possible to move but not alone.

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