Schools & Education

Expert to San Benito Educators: Keep it Simple

San Benito County educators hear from an expert on being more effective

School board members and school administrators recently heard expert Dr. Mike Schmoker give his advice on how to be more effective educators: keep it simple.  Referencing business principles from such people as Steve Jobs and Peter Drucker, Schmoker described how complexity hinders success. Schmoker wants to go back to the basis of teaching where students are taught lessons and then discuss and write about what they learned in detail.

The presentation was heard at a joint school board meeting of all school districts in San Benito County and coordinated by Superintendent of Schools, Krystal Lomanto.

Schmoker began his presentation with reminding the audience of the importance of education in social and political terms, including how it impacts one’s income, family stability, health and life expectancy, and is also empowering. Effective teaching can lead to six to nine months of extra growth per year and students can move from being educationally weak to strong in three years, he said.

What gets in the way of education is too much group work by students, too much professional development for educators, and too much technology, according to Schmoker.  He also believes that students doing too many activities such as making dioramas (an arts & craft projects to depict something about a story) and memorizing vocabulary lists actually dilute learning to the point of being ineffective. Too many group projects can be exercises where nothing actually gets done, suggesting working in pairs is better.  He also points out that teacher evaluations have become too complex to the point of being largely unproductive and ineffective in their purpose.

His solution: More reading, more classroom dialog about literature, and more meaningful writing. Schmoker cited Cheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, on the need for students to learn how to better communicate in writing to succeed in getting and holding jobs.

As the evening audience was school board members and school administrators, Schmoker delivered a specific message to them: they too have to focus on simplicity. He emphasized working on the few areas where there is the greatest return, accentuate the results of curriculum based on traditional literacy and soundly-structured lessons, monitoring of results, and stop too much or ineffectual professional development for educators, and direct it to improving curriculum and lessons.

Judging by the audience reaction, Schmoker’s message was well received.

Rob Bernosky

Rob Bernosky is a chief financial officer, Chairman of the San Benito County Republican Party, former Regional Vice Chair for the California Republican Party, former president of the governing board of the Hollister School District, and former Delegate to the Republican National Committee. He formerly served as a member and secretary of the Citizens' Oversight Committee for the Hollister School District. Rob is a former elected trustee of the North County Joint Union School District, and has served on numerous other boards, including the Heritage Foundation of San Benito County, a local water company, chairman of the San Benito County Republican Party, and was a member and president of the San Benito County Committee on School District Organization. Rob is married with 3 children, including 2 who are teachers in public schools and 1 in private industry.