Now, with these blinding budget cuts in California and across the nation, we need to dig deep to unveil what our true values are.
The title is true for my school anyway. Amid the rigorous academics demands on school children these days, it is refreshing to see teachers keeping music in the classroom. Most people from my generation got some music instruction, or at least music appreciation, in elementary school. I will never forget Mr. Davis pulling us out of class once a week and teaching us to pluck the guitar saying “Santa Ana freeway” in time. I’ve been carrying that torch, in my small way, ever since I started teaching, keeping music in the schools.
With kids it’s best to start with the basics and work their way out: the parts, the strings, the chords, then teaching with songs, and later riffs and solos. It’s great to know that some administrators, teachers, and districts believe that music in the classroom should remain “still standing” even in these times of recession.
On your teaching journey, don’t compare yourself with others. Just do your best and you will find much success.
This post is dedicated to the new teaching degree students who are feeling the sting of our times in education. Don’t give up! Teachers, especially new ones, are under a lot of pressure sometimes to create the best walls, the best lesson plans, and the best APPEARANCE to the teaching “pack” around them. I remember when I was starting out back in the late nineties when I sometimes felt like all the veterans around me were like the “hare” and I felt like the slow moving tortoise. You know it’s an old fable but it stands up true today in our fast paced teaching career more than ever. If you do the right things, consistently, and keep at it, you will finish the race strong. Those doing the work for education degrees shall have their “day in the sun.” Best of all, you will make a difference in the lives of children.
It seems sometimes that the fast running hares of the world are enjoying their developed speed all around us, but you can’t let that sway you from the road in front of you, however small. They were once like you and if you keep your resolve, you will be successful as they are at teaching. You may even be better at it. Like my high school track coach Mr. White used to say: “Don’t worry about Jamie Oman, you run your own race Riley and get a personal best!” Jamie Oman was a CIF champion runner, I was simply a point man for the team. Every time I “took a man” I felt pride and I carry that with me today.
Times are tough now in education. Stay strong, we need the best teachers to stay in the profession while thousands are quitting. On your teaching journey, don’t compare yourself with others. Just do your best, stay focused on your own teacher evaluations and you will find much success.
If you haven’t heard the myth of Procrustes and his bed, it’s the story of a man who invited weary travelers to lay in his guest bed. Once in, if they were too tall he lopped off their feet and if too short, he’d stretch them to fit. Horrifying I know and yet aren’t we as educators often guilty of trying to get our students to “fit” the curriculum? Continue reading “Avoiding Procrustes’ Bed”
“This is going to be my restaurant,” the fifth-grader said proudly, without breaking her focus. “All my tables are different shapes.”
Ulloa, who attends Eagle Ranch Elementary in Victorville, created detailed plans for a pizza restaurant, which was just one of many group assignments that she and her peers have been tasked with doing in their GATE class.
According to Eagle Ranch Principal Peter Livingston, the school has started to implement the Common Core State Standards, an instruction method designed to teach students to develop higher-level thinking skills, especially in English, language arts and math. Livingston said that group-work is one of the trademarks of the new Common Core standards.
three areas of student assessment I would recommend. These can be used in place of standardized assessments we have now or in addition to. They would give us a less restrictive measurement of success.
Today on my Facebook, I reposted (shared) this photo of Bruce Springsteen and his quote. One of my friends challenged me to share what I would do differently so I decided to blog three areas of student assessment I would recommend. These can be used in place of standardized assessments we have now or in addition to. They would give us a less restrictive measurement of success.
1) At the parent conference, create assessment goals. Students all have different gifts and needs. If parents and teachers get together, the best goals can be made for the child. It would probably be impractical to have individual assessments for everyone. At the same time, I think if we tried doing this, a set of assessment “types” would come into focus. Teachers could make a set of open-minded assessments to help a child grow. Part of this assessment should be to test a student’s understanding of real life jobs as they exist now (not 50 years ago).
2) Make music and the arts a requirement in school. I agree charter schools can do a good job at focusing on the arts shouldn’t all kids get that exposure? Forget what other countries do on their tests, we are trailblazers. Only we decide what we want our kids to be exposed to.
3) Academic assessments must be there. Teachers should have full access to the material the kids will be tested on and testing should be. I thought the standardized testing of the CDE was good for the past 15 years but it shouldn’t be the sole assessment. At the same time, this aspect cannot be ignored.
Keeping a written record of things students do is powerful when dealing with parents, the Principal, and when seeking to improve the school’s behavioral programs. It carries more weight than your simple “recollection” of events.
Probably the best student behavior related advice I ever got as a new teacher was to “Write things down.” Keeping a written record of things students do is powerful when dealing with parents, the Principal, and when seeking to improve the school’s behavioral programs. It carries more weight than your simple “recollection” of events. If Johnny misbehaves, the parent and administration wants to know exactly how and when he did so. This can be a fancy three ring binder you create or just a lined sheet of paper on a clipboard. The only essential is that it must be written in regularly. It’s so important, I say it should be part of any sound classroom management.
Win 1: The parent. We live and teach in a time where the teacher/parent relationship is constantly being redefined. For one student, you are the “guide,” the “mentor.” This is of course the ideal situation we hope for with all our students. Unfortunately, there are other parents who can be hostile toward teachers. They can complain to no end and even enter the classroom sometimes to share their discontent about their child. These are the ones we must give our full attention. They may have a real concern but in other cases, they may just want someone to hear their complaints. In either case, you need to be a listener #1. Imagine if you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you want to be heard? What if your child was being bullied? On the other hand, what if your child were accused of bullying? I have seen upset parents calm down quite quickly simply because I didn’t react or reply, I only listened and gave active listening feedback. If something has happened with their child on the offending end, you will have a much better case if you have a written behavior log. You can examine your well reasoned points if you are lucky. Without a behavior log of the events their child was involved in, you don’t have a leg to stand on and they may try to assault your character, saying you have no proof or you make things up. Let me not here that the goal of a teacher should always be so find a positive solution with parents. We, in a real sense, work for them. We do not, however, have to be at the mercy of ones who seek to disparage us because we are allegedly disorganized or without proof.
Win #2: Your Boss. The Principal will greatly appreciate your log as well. I think they have one of the hardest jobs in education. They field complaints all day as well as attempt to foster an ideal learning environment. When they get a phone call about a child in your class, you can get out your log and show your observations. Without the log, it is your word against the parent and that put the Principal in a very precarious situation. We all want the needs of the child to be met. The Behavior log can help us to that end, even if it documents what the child has done wrong. We can look at positive solutions. If you simply try to recall what has happened in class, you run the risk of being the problem! That’s right, a Principal may choose to see you as the problem even when the child has done wrong. The solution? Write it down as it happens. This can also be a great tool to pull out during a time of teacher evaluation.
Win #3: The School. The best reason to have a behavior log is to help constant improvement of the school’s behavior plan. You can bring that information to a school site council meeting (or other meeting) and make informed statements about what behavior problems are occurring. If multiple teachers see trends, it can be possible to brainstorm solutions. You can show statistics at parents meetings as well as any meetings that concern student behavior and safety. This benefits the school and the child as well as the family. Most schools in the 21st century recognize the value of those three entities.
To close, I encourage you to keep a behavior log in your classroom. It will foster your professionalism with parents and administration as well as benefit the school. Sounds like a win/win/win right?
Please leave a comment! This is a blog that thrives on other peoples’ opinions. Thank you in advance for commenting.
I loved the Nike slogan in the 80’s “Just Do it.” This is something we as teachers in negotiations need to remember. If you read too much of the news around education, it will leave you feeling left out to dry. For some reason the climate in political circle is bad toward teachers. It’s not warranted however. We in education have seen so much good happening in our classrooms, schools, districts, and regions. We know teachers are continuing to pass on knowledge and students are receiving it. There is an issue of economics that has center stage. The conservatives for the most part want higher test scores and they want the ability to produce them without traditionally credentialed teachers. They open chart schools, of which some are very good I must say, that employ low paid teachers that are not unionized. I assume they still must be credentialed but if they can save money I am sure they will find a way around that. We studied hard to get two degrees in college and we long to show our ability in the classroom. We work hard to see measurable growth in our students. Unfortunately, this is not being seen by some voices in our culture. Continue reading “In the Mean Time, Just Teach Kids”
I’ve heard some outrageous things about the “blossoming” Desert Trails in the news lately. I’m still waiting to see if they are all true. They brought national attention to our small desert school district last year when the parent trigger law was invoked for the first time in history. I won’t thank them for that yet. If it ends up bringing good to the school district and to public education as a whole then I will but the jury is still out. Their mvement was fueled by illogical and unfounded hatred for public school teachers and teachers’ unions. Neither are the true enemy of education. Debra Tarver introduced the nation to a new form of organizing parents through fear and lies. In doing so, she advanced her career and income. What happened? A charter took over a public school. I wrote about this about a year ago you can read that here. Basically I was interested in looking at the criteria people use in politics to judge (and prejudge) schools. Gathering data and putting a SPIN on data is a common practice in the media these days. As long as the spin mobilizes enough votes, it doesn’t matter how logical it is.
DesertTrails Exec Director Debra Tarver speaks to the Adelanto school board re: a notice of ed code violations
They cite one test and say this percentage of the kids are below grade level and another test to point out they had huge improvement. Recently Desert Trails has reported a 47% proficiency rate for their students in Science. Do they mean the whole school or just grade 5, where the test has been given as far back as 1997, when I started teaching in public schools. If it was just 5th grade, what of K-4th and 6th grade? Besides that, why are we not hearing amazing statistics in Language Arts and Math? Are these not the crux of an education? I might argue they are. In an emergency board meeting tonight I learned there have been written allegations of the school district against Desert Trails including non-filing of taxes. I must say here these are only allegations. Still, watch the news to see where these allegations go.
In the same board meeting a gentleman got up and slammed our city’s schools. He saw no glimmer of hope in them. I found it sad to listen to him. I also found it pathetic and disgusting. If only I could talk to him and explain the “union” is not the cause of his woes. Perhaps he was the most disgruntled person Debra Tarver, the Director of Desert Trails, could get to speak on behalf of the school? It sure sounded that way. I got to thinking about how they are now in a similar boat to the schools they once assaulted with the help of Parent Revolution last year. They must now answer to the umbrella district they fled from. That has to be tough for Tarver and people who follow her. I’m writing about this situation because it is close to home and because I think the charter option, good or bad, needs to be addressed by teachers. Not all charters come about this way. Schools don’t have to be ruthlessly and arguably immorally taken over to go charter. Schools can apply on their own. There is so much to be said on the Desert Trails, Parent Trigger, Charter school topic: What do you think about it? All opinions are welcome.
I watched The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete tonight and I was illuminated about some aspects of black culture along with the culture of poverty for all races. I love movies that shine a light on a world I don’t know first hand. As I watched the film, I gained empathy for some of my African American students who face similar challenges. I won’t be as hard on some students in my class who don’t perform up to my culture influenced rubrics. For some kids in poverty, we as teachers need to have different priorities. If a child is virtually raising him/herself, we should praise them for applying her/himself even in a lesser way than a child with parents. Are we preparing students for a test or for survival in the real world. I think every teacher would benefit from watching this movie. School is like a sanctuary. When you see how starved Mister becomes, you realize that it’s Summer and if he were in school, at least he would get a meal. Continue reading “Priorities and Poverty”