K-12 Professional Development & Resources

Rethinking the American High School: Finding Your Focus and Using Your Strengths

Over the past 35 years, there has been constant pressure to increase accountability in American high schools from the media and politicians, many preaching “magic bullet” solutions that haven’t made any lasting impacts on student learning. Anyone who has spent time in a high school knows that there is no singular answer to how to prepare high school students for their future. Instead, the only answer available is the nuanced, thoughtful, and effective use of the multitude of resources that all schools and districts have at their disposal. In Rethinking the American High School, Will Dwyer and Chuck Hiscock detail an improvement framework to stop operating in a frenetic state of crisis and how to find a true north to guide a school’s philosophical, instructional, and structural decisions.

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Over the past 35 years, there has been constant pressure to increase accountability in American high schools from the media and politicians, many preaching “magic bullet” solutions that haven’t made any lasting impacts on student learning. Anyone who has spent time in a high school knows that there is no singular answer to how to prepare high school students for their future. Instead, the only answer available is the nuanced, thoughtful, and effective use of the multitude of resources that all schools and districts have at their disposal. In Rethinking the American High School, Will Dwyer and Chuck Hiscock detail an improvement framework to stop operating in a frenetic state of crisis and how to find a true north to guide a school’s philosophical, instructional, and structural decisions. The book outlines four lenses to view your high school through, how to find leverage points for improvement, and ways to align all the pieces together so that everyone in your school has a shared vision. The authors share stories, strategies, and activities that high school principals and staff can use to make a lasting difference in their school. In this book high school teachers and administrators will: 

        1. Learn how to find their school’s focus, shared values, needs, strengths and priorities. 
        2. Develop ways to structure leadership to provide the most impact on student achievement.
        3. Understand how curriculum decisions impact learning gaps and ways to improve learning for ALL students.
        4. Discover instructional practices to meet long-term school goals.  
        5. Learn how to build a culture to improve teacher collective efficacy and student perseverance.

Explore ways to collaborate with feeder middle schools to improve student transitions. High school teachers and leaders have heard enough about what is wrong with American high schools. It’s time to take action and capitalize

Endorsements: Praise for Rethinking the American High School 

 

“Rethinking the American High School clearly identifies the challenges in public education and provides building leaders with real life scenarios and practical, common sense strategies. Dwyer and Hiscock’s work will help guide administrators in finding their focus and in leading their school to meet the needs of all students, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to reach their goals and greatest potential regardless of their personal circumstances.” —Laura Bankowski Principal Oswego East High School 

 

“Here is a terrific playbook for building principals and educational leaders to follow and should be included in every administrator preparation program. The authors have provided common sense approaches on how to tackle the various challenges we face daily. As we look to take back the narrative about public education, the section entitled, ‘How and Why We Evaluate Schools’ is a must read and critically important to share with our constituents so that everyone understands how well our schools are doing.” —Pete Theis Asst. Supt. for Human Resources Downers Grove Dist. #99 

 

“Rethinking the American High School is both a practical and compassionate guide to productively leading today’s high school to ensure equity for all students. Beginning with a historical perspective and moving to key areas of focus, the authors articulate the importance of deliberate leadership, selective initiative implementation, and collective efficacy. Intentionality is at the root of the messages in this book, and Living Narratives provide ‘realtime,’ relatable experiences that will resonate with school leaders. Read this book if you are serious about making a difference in your school or district!” —Maria Ward Retired High School Principal Educational Consultant

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