May 2008 Archives

Here's one not to be missed: Cindi Rigsbee recaps testing week at her school—a tale of frenzied teachers, shouting students, a forgotten marriage proposal, numerous body piercings (with some blood), mismatched test booklets, a pudding mishap, and (for good measure) a school lockdown. You gotta read it....


IB a Math Teacher posts an interesting OECD chart showing that U.S. teachers spend far more time teaching in front of their classrooms each year than educators in other developed counties. This isn't exactly something to be proud of, he says: What it shows is that other countries recognize that it's in the "best interest of the educational system to let teachers have proper time to grade, contact parents, and work with students."...


Robert Pondiscio, writing on the blog of the Core Knowledge Foundation, has an idea for Teach For America's Wendy Kopp: Instead of sending all these young and inexperienced teachers into the nation's lowest-performing schools, why not arrange things so they could serve as "pinch-hitters" in high-performing schools, while experienced, master teachers from those schools take on stints (possibly for increased pay) in disadvantaged areas with the kids who need them most. Think of it. Our kids who are furthest behind would get what they really need-the best teachers, not just the best-intentioned teachers. Meanwhile, your freshly recruited, elite college grads ...


After 20 years in teaching, NYC educator decides to ditch the tie—but finds it's not so easy. (One of his female commenters admonishes: TIES ARE SEXY!)...


Mildly Melancholy, another young teacher who's frustrated with her school, struggles with the job market and her career plans....


As part an international festival at his school, Mister Teacher had his 3rd graders write fortunes like those you'd find in fortune cookies. The things they came up with are priceless....


TMAO of Teaching in the 408 explains (sort of) why he's quitting. Sounds like, to carry out a metaphor he uses, he was consumed in the fires of his own dedication to his disadvantaged students—which apparently had him working 80-hour weeks. He puts it in typically poetic fashion: I'm not happy unless I'm being the teacher I see in my head, but the process of finding that guy and living as him no longer makes me happy. . Commenting on TMOA's decision, Chris Lehamn, a Philadelphia high school principal, decries school systems' perpetuation of the notion that young teachers can ...


Science teacher Andrea of Andrea's Buzzing About worries that our results-now educational environment has made many teachers and students forget that learning can be difficult and that feeling "stupid" during the process is not necessarily something to be ashamed of: We also need to help our students understand that learning is anything but a neat, tidy linear process. There’s frequently a lot of review, of practice, stopping to put stuff into context, more review, more practice, looking at the context again now that things make more sense, et cetera ad infinitum. In other words, it’s highly recursive, and ...


TMAO of Teaching at the 408, a signature teacher-blogger who's long been frustrated with his school system, announces his resignation—and describes the TFA type he expects will have to replace him....


Cindi Rigsbee is inspired by the maturity of a group of high school juniors she recently met who, as participants in grow-your-own programs, are already on career paths to teaching. A lot, she reflects, has changed since she was that age: I think back on my junior year...I made a 3 on an Algebra test (out of 100), I broke my nose on the school bus, I "forgot" about my history report because I had to cheer at a basketball game (with a "mask" on my nose,) I went to the prom with my sister's future husband, and he ...


Classroom tech innovator Will Richardson even dreams about communicating through technology—from beyond the grave no less....


Nancy Flanagan considers the best teacher movies of all time. One way you know they don't reflect reality in schools, she notes, is that their lead characters are seldom women. Even so, gender aside, she admits her favorite is Mr. Holland's Opus—in part, it seems, because it's all too realistic: You have to love any movie where a teacher plans to cut and run for a real career, ends up staying in the classroom and impacting lives, then gets the boot as irrelevant after thirty years of masterful work. That’s entertainment....


Teacher blogger Tamara Fisher addresses the question of what makes a great gifted education teacher? One factor is getting over the assumption that "gifted children will make it just fine on their own."...


Brooklyn teacher Ariel Sacks feels that the controversial acquittal of the NYC police officers who killed Sean Bell (who was unarmed and brought down in barrage of more than 50 bullets) complicates her own message to students: I have been trying to compel my students, all of whom are black, to participate wholeheartedly in their education through the public system. I want my students to believe that if they continue on in school and go to college, the world holds unlimited opportunities for them. And it does… except that the verdict in Sean Bell’s case reminds us that this ...


In a post on the disconnect between top-down education policy and on-the-ground realities, Doug Noon reacts to the recent report on the ineffectiveness of the federal Reading First program. He's not suprised: One of the core issues in current policy discussions is from what level curriculum control should emerge. Top down program administration too easily misses the fine print and messy details that come with the teacher’s territory. The only people who are surprised by a billion dollar per year program bust are the clueless pundits and policy pushers who believe that “scientifically based reading research” is about science ...


A charter high school in Wilmington, Del., will be the first to train its students to become part of Homeland Security. The Delaware Academy for Public Safety and Security will train as many as 600 of Wilmington’s inner-city youth in areas such as prison guarding, professional demolition, and special weapons. Cadets, as they will be called, will learn Arabic, Chinese, or Russian as part of the curriculum. But a concerned ParentDish blogger who says the move is “reminiscent of the Hitler-Jugend,” is not convinced. Maybe this will turn out to be the best thing since sliced bread … [but]…It ...


A must read over on edweek.org: Eduwonkette examines controversy surrounding social justice teaching in education schools, and elicits reponses in defense from Bill Ayers—yes, that Bill Ayers—and in opposition from Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute. Some samples: Eduwonkette: In short, it’s not clear that “social justice teaching” is a coherent and distinctive pedagogy that’s taught at schools of education across the country . It’s also worth noting that teachers are relatively conservative. If education schools have been engaged in an active project to disseminate social justice teaching, they largely have been unsuccessful. Ayers: Practically...


Ms. Frizzle was also interested in attending the upcoming education bloggers summit in D.C., but points out that its timing virtually excludes the very folks who are, as they put it, "in the trenches." Most of the people I know who blog about education also happen to be teachers… and this summit is on a Wednesday-Thursday. It makes me a little sad & irritated that a summit intended to be about education reform would occur at a time that is virtually impossible for any actual working educators to attend. We have an obligation to our kids to be present pretty ...


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