May 2009 Archives

Today is Graduation Day at our school. We are an alternative school and a small one at that, so we only have seven graduates today. There are others who should be joining this group, but they got sidetracked and will need to return in the fall to try and complete their requirements. We have others who decided getting a diploma wasn't worth it and left school completely. So, it's a big day for these seven students, their families and the school staff who supported them. I'm proud of them for making it to the finish line. I hope that this ...


Recently several discussions, articles I have read, experiences I have had and also videos I have seen, have give me reason to believe that colleges are not preparing teachers to teach the youth of the 21st century in the realms of cultural sensitivity and technology (to name only two areas). The link below will show a video that is in American Sign Language. I used to teach deaf students, so it strikes a chord with me. It describes how one program from Southern Mississippi was lauded as a great program for deaf education. However, after looking at the courses offered, ...


This past week we completed the 2009 version of the California Standards Test. It is a standards-based test designed to assess the degree to which children mastered the standards at their grade level. If they get higher than a scaled score of 350, they will be considered "proficient" and everyone will be happy. Of course, anything less than that means they are "not at grade level" and it will be a reason for great concern. And if 45% of our overall students or 45% of our Latino students or 45% of our English language learners are not at grade level, ...


Last month I wrote a somewhat humorous poem about Facebook and why I am not a big fan of the site. That article was published on April 19th. On April 20 I found myself at the table (yet again) with a group of quarreling sixth grade girls. While sixth grade girls quarreling about the he-said, she-said stuff is pretty routine, the root of this consternation stemmed from a Facebook exchange between two of the girls. When asked how this whole thing started, Salina replied: “Jenna said mean stuff on Facebook to me about Stacie. Then I told Jenna that it ...


I'm convinced the two longest months of the school year are February and May. February because it is in the dead of winter and even though it has 28 days, it seems like it is 28 days in dog years. May is long because we have the myriad end of year assessments, students are anticipating summer vacation (except those on year round schedules), and teachers and school executives are anticipating a chance to recharge. Yet, this year has been much more difficult than most years. The recession with accompanying slashing of state and local budgets has significantly impacted school budgets. ...


This post also appears on AngelaMaiers.com Tweets, wikis, blogs, Nings, links, networks, ahhhh! I sometimes feel like I could drown in social media! This was the topic of our discussion on a recent turn of Steve Hardagon's Classroom 2.0 Live Show. Inspired by Merlin Man's Inbox Zero, an action-based mantra for managing email overload, I created a mantra to address the overwhelming and ever-changing nature of the social web. (Check out our full presentation here!)  BREATHE is an acronym representing the Habitudes for creating, sustaining,and growing your personal learning networks. More importantly, BREATHE reminds us that social...


When the twelfth of the month rolls around I always find myself wondering what is on the mind of other administrators right now. Does my little corner of the world reflect their reality? I have always found May and June to be one of the most difficult times of year from an administrative perspective. That is because I have my feet firmly planted in two realities. First is the immediate reality including final staff evaluations, graduation, final exams and all of the paper work that the end of each year brings. The other is a future but no less immediate ...


It is that time of the year - graduation season - a time of celebration; a time of endings and of new beginnings. This past week, I have had the opportunity to be part of two graduation ceremonies - one for an Executive Ed D program where I attended in support of members of my cohort; the second for Journalism majors where I watched my daughter receive her Masters degree. These experiences have made me start thinking - what are we telling our graduates as they move on to the next phase of their lives, their education, or their career? ...


Who will ignite the desire to learn in the adults today so they will ignite the desire to learn in our children tomorrow? On April 27, 2009 President Obama spoke at the 146th Annual Meeting of National Academy of Sciences. I recommend the entire speech for its historic importance, a turning point for science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) that could some day be viewed as the equivalent of President John F. Kennedy's 'Decision to Go to the Moon' speech almost fifty years ago on May 25, 1961, and for the context it provides Mr. Obama’s comments on STEM ...


Each of us has a professional identity. You may think you are looked upon as a hard working educational leader; but your identity, what others think of you, may be very different. For example, I know a few dedicated folks who feel they are going ‘over and above’ to do their jobs and that people recognize their effort. In fact, their identity among their professional colleagues is that they are folks who can’t be relied on. Why do people feel that way about them? They don’t return phone calls or e-mails consistently. This inconsistency leaves people hanging, and ...


Remember the bumper sticker that read, "IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK A TEACHER."? Well, these days the bumper sticker should say, "If you can read this, and tie your shoes, tell time, get along with others, solve problems, understand others' points of view, respect yourself, respect others, perform math calculations, make change for a dollar, write a five paragraph persuasive essay, compare and contrast, synthesize, hypothesize, and spell 'hypothesize' correctly, then you should THANK A TEACHER!" Teaching is harder and more complicated than ever, and the pressure on today's teachers is huge. Teachers are expected to teach, assess, model, ...


Earlier this week, I posted this on Education Futures: "Let your mind wonder for just a moment. As yourself this question: If I could redesign an entire teacher education program, what would it look like? Here is my vision of a teacher education program. I imagine a teacher preparation program that: -Challenges the individual. No one in this program would say "But I thought getting an education degree was suppose to be easy!" -Is rigorous enough to attract intellectual, innovative, thought-leaders -Robustly develops a student's ability to solve problem, become a critical thinker, and work collaboratively. -Is packed with upper ...


My office was literally covered in post-it notes as I sat staring in frustration over a challenge posed to me by a colleague, mentor, and inspirational leader: what is your top ten list of tools for teachers? For nearly a month, I wrestled with this question with NOTHING to show for it but a bunch of post-it notes with fragmented tools that meant little in terms of teaching and learning when shown in isolation. Then I realized why I was struggling; it went against everything I believed about instructional technology and education. So, I shifted the question and that is ...


“Not me! Absolutely not me!” stammered Randy, my friend and colleague. The discussion at the superintendent’s meeting had turned to blogging. “I get enough criticism as it is. I don’t need another whacko taking pot shots at me from left field on the internet,” he added. He winced as he said it. “Why should I provide an easy forum for another critic?” he added. “Randy, don’t you think the rational folks in your school district recognize a whacko when they hear one?” I responded. “Yeah, most of them probably do but I still don’t want to ...


We’ve been discussing teacher quality for decades. Everyone is rightfully concerned about making sure that good teachers are in front of students. Thus the teacher quality provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, the calls for performance or merit pay, the concerns about alternative licensure, the quests for better teacher evaluation systems, the gnashing of teeth over ‘obstructionist unions that get in the way of firing bad teachers,’ and so on… For the purposes of discussion, here’s a modest proposal: Do our damnedest to create a positive working climate for teachers: ongoing administrative and...


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