Leading with Focus

Schmoker’s original book, simply called Focus, remains one of my favorite educational books of all time. Schmoker’s point remains the same: schools need to narrow their focus on what they are trying to do. His three major pushes are for schools to have a coherent curriculum, have sound lessons, and teach literacy. In other words, have a very limited amount of what we teach. I always see this as, again, limiting the facts that we teach, and truly identifying the skills and mindsets that we want our students to have. Fewer facts, more skills, more connection. In Manhattan Beach, that’s how we teach writing workshop, reading workshop, cognitively guided instruction in Math, and any other technique we believe is worthwhile and inspiring. Finally, literacy – the idea that if our students are not reading and writing as much as possible, then we are failing them. This is especially challenging to do in high school when you have many students, but it is critical. As always, Schmoker gives a great reminder, but this book is not a radical departure from his original book, and does not provide that much additional insight.

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