September 2011 Archives

Urban Education: Issues and the Future

Today's guest blog is written By Michael Albertson. Michael is a music teacher in large high school in New York City Educators in urban settings deal with unique challenges not necessarily faced by their colleagues in less-populated areas. This is not to say that working in a city school is more "noble"; all teachers face difficult situations and work to provide their students with the best possible education. However, it is likely that teachers in urban areas will have large classes comprised of a diverse group of students. It is the responsibility of these educators to create classrooms that allow ...


Can Pre-Service Teachers Meet the Demands of the Teaching Profession?

It doesn't matter whether you teach in a suburban, urban, or rural school setting, we are seeing many students enter school with diverse academic, social, and economic needs. Perhaps they have a vocabulary or language deficit that puts them behind their peers, or they lack the maturity that allows them to fit in socially; schools have been playing the role of caregiver and educator in the lives of children for decades. Given all of the student needs that schools are seeing, in addition to all of the new mandates with the common core standards, evaluation and high-stakes testing, are colleges ...


Field of Dreams: The Importance of Team Sports

"And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces" (Terrence Mann AKA James Earl Jones). There is something special about watching a Saturday afternoon football game. A few weeks ago I happened to turn on the Michigan State University versus Notre Dame football game. For full disclosure, my family and friends will be as surprised as I am that I would focus on football. I never played football but I did attend some games in high school. Cross ...


Educating The Social Network Generation

Facebook, as well as Twitter, are great social networking tools for adults and teenagers. It allows for everyone to connect in a variety of ways. Although it can be a useful tool for home and schools, there are advantages and disadvantages of using Facebook and Twitter as well. As we go further through the 21st century, we are all still learning more and more about ourselves and the world around us through the lens that social networking offers us. It does seem as though the pressure is on to have more and more friends, and many of those that accept ...


Taking Back Our Childhood: A Conversation with Nancy Carlsson-Paige

"There has been a dramatic increase in marketing to kids in the last 15 or 20 years! Billions of dollars are now spent by corporations to market to the special 'target' group called children." Nancy Carlsson-Paige There are times as I get older that I think I am becoming less patient with society. As I flip through television stations I am less likely to find something I like to watch. All of the shows seem to be "reality" in nature and those reality shows seem to promote anger, promiscuity, and fighting. They also happen to be on earlier and earlier ...


Parents as Partners

"Children have the greatest chance of reaching their potential and becoming positive members of the school community if schools treat parents as partners" (Wood, 2011, p.98). We all want to help our children be successful at school. No one wants to see their child struggle, because it leads to frustration and anger. Sometimes if a child struggles, it can lead to a sense of failure and negative attitudes about school which leads to disengagement. During these times of increased mandates due to NCLB and the pressure of high stakes testing, the home-school partnership is more important than ever. Parents ...


Who Will Be Our Next Walt Disney?

While we are all forced to wait for Superman, we need Walt Disney. Walt Disney imagined things that most people did not think were possible. Walt Disney was the Goliath of his generation. Disney was both reflective and creative. He had a sense of the past and could look into the future. His ability to dream was only matched by his ability to articulate his vision to people around him who could help make his dreams come true. Walt Disney's dreams became our reality. There are millions of people who make the trek to Disney World and Disneyland every year. ...


State Interventions Can Help Create Inclusive Schools

"While the intersections of social class, race, gender, sexuality, and religion vary for each person, their existence and importance within our culture are, for those who do not share membership in the dominant groups, social facts with social consequences" (Sears, 1991, p. 55). School codes of conduct and board policies are vitally important to the safety of all students. However, they are only beneficial if staff will follow through on enforcing them. Without proper professional development and training, many staff members do not know how to address issues that they see in school. Administration, teachers and staff need proper resources ...


Will New Rules Curb High Stakes Cheating?

Recently there have been a few high profile cheating scandals in Atlanta and Philadelphia. The school systems blamed their behavior on school leaders who created a culture of fear all in an effort to make sure their school system would not remain on a "failing" list. These recent stories about cheating left me conflicted. Conflicted between the idea that high stakes testing means that much that school systems have to cheat in order to look better and the idea that we are teaching our students that cheating can be done when the stakes are high. As much as each school ...


State Assessments: The Only Data That Matters

Schools are working very hard on establishing data points for students to follow their progress during their school years. We research formative and summative assessments and look into what tools other school districts are using so we can try get a better understanding of our students. However, it seems as though searching for good data is a fruitless effort because high stakes testing is the only data that matters. When the state education departments in the U.S. announce that high stakes testing results are out, local newspapers and media all focus on the results. Newspapers compare schools from across ...


The Little Chapel That Stood: Remembering 9/11

Around the Chapel, Of Old St. Paul, Blow the dancing leaves Of the coming Fall. In the morning breeze They leap and fly Beneath the towers That scrape the sky (The Little Chapel That Stood, 2003). The summer is a great time to reflect on past, present and future practices as we sit in our empty buildings spending quality time with out secretaries. As administrators, how can we have a bigger impact on our students? How can I get students to want to talk with me instead of having them fear my title? How do I reconnect with the teacher ...


The Direct and Indirect Costs to Defeated School Budgets

"We have spent so many years kicking the can down the road that the can is kicking back." Unknown Across the country this year, many public school districts saw their budgets get voted down and they were forced to make more cuts or go into a contingency budget. As we enter the new school year, students, staff and parents are beginning to see the effects of their defeated budgets. Many people, businesses and institutions have spent years not living within their means, and we are all paying for it in a variety of ways. Given the cuts to state funding ...


Creating an Inclusive School Culture

Officials need not endorse any particular student organization, but federal law requires that they afford all student groups the same opportunities to form, to convene on school grounds, and to have access to the same resources available to other student groups (Duncan, 2011, p.2).* Some schools can be cold and unfriendly. Perhaps it's because they are unsafe or there is an over-focus on academics and an under-focus on school climate. It has been said that you can tell the climate of a school within the first two minutes you walk in the entrance. Do we have a school that ...


Impressive Empathy: An Interview with Michael Fullan

"One of the biggest barriers to improvement in school systems is the presence of punitive accountability. If you fail you will be put on a watch list. We have already seen that punishment (and even its opposite, reward) can never lead to intrinsic motivation to put in effort to solve a problem and to sustain one's interest in solving inevitable future problems" (Fullan, p.79). Improvement is a word we often hear in education but many of you reading this have probably not seen improvement in quite some time. Most educators are concerned that we are being forced in the ...


The opinions expressed in Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.
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