June 2008 Archives

Middle school teacher, Mrs. Bluebird says the most important piece of advice she can offer new teachers is forget the latest styles and invest in some comfy footwear: “One of the biggest revelations I had when I started teaching was that you are on your feet nearly all day long. I had moved from the corporate world where I sat all day long at a keyboard or in meetings, and all of a sudden I was on my feet constantly. From the looks of the footwear I've seen on the various education majors that have observed in my room, no ...


Over on the Public School Insights blogs, Nancy Flanagan and Bill Ferriter debate role of technology in the classroom. Flanagan: Facility in using digital tools does make some things easier. If our goals include fostering democracy, equity and a just society, or nurturing curiosity and imaginative problem-solving, however, we must pay attention to who is readily able to acquire both hardware and capacity, and to what real ends these skills are used. Ferriter: Nancy's right, in part: Digital tools alone are about as effective at making students more successful, creative or collaborative as they were at bringing peace to the ...


Dr. Homeslice considers the dilemma high school teachers face when they have students who do failing work in class but pass standardized tests....


One bad first year shouldn’t mean the end of a teaching career, writes veteran blogger So You Want to Teach. Joel tells one frustrated teacher, who was recently let go, to try another year in a different setting: I would commit to another year (or even better two) in a new district. Look for a job, find one (districts get desperate at the end of the year and will hire anyone who has a piece of paper that might even look like almost a teaching certificate), and go into it a smarter, wiser, braver soul than you were before....


John Norton of Teacher Leadership Today (who has experience in these matters) says it's all well and good to talk about how Web 2.0 tools will transform teaching and learning. But people tend to forget that technology is only half the problem. The real issue, he says, is that many educators lack experience in the construtivist, student-centered instructional strategies needed to make the most of social-learning tools: Constructivist approaches have never been ubiquitous in modern American schools, and the knowledge of why and how to teach so that students (paraphrasing Schlechty) are the real knowledge workers—whose product is life-long...


Techno-educator Will Richardson says he's often asked much time he lets his own kids use the computer. His answer: "Not much." He writes: But by and large, especially in the summer, Wendy and I want them off the computer and outside shooting hoops, jumping on the trampoline, or climbing up the mountain making forts and looking for snakes. Or reading books on rainy days. Or just being bored. ... They need to learn how to entertain themselves, to fill up their days. Sounds like a healthy perspective...


He sends his own daughter to a suburban public school, but NYC educator continues to be amazed at why city kids can’t get what his daughter gets—luxuries like well-kept facilities, windows, real classrooms, and computers in every classroom. What’s the solution? So should we model our schools after suburban schools? Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein don't think so. Better we should hobble unions, make smart teachers leave before they earn high salaries, institute bargain-basement, untested "reforms," and hope for the best....


Science Goddess recently received a heartfelt thank-you e-mail from a struggling student’s mom who ended up passing her class. She’s happy that the student finally turned himself around, but it leaves her wondering: What sort of people give up on kids? Why are those people in schools? Science Goddess contemplates the right reply, while still holding on hope for the future...


TLN member Ariel Sacks is frustrated with the Catch-22 of teacher certification: Teachers who use their diverse education backgrounds to make the curriculum relevant to their students are denied certification in New York because their expertise does not align with traditional school curriculum. Sacks is confused and outraged by this "old-fashioned bias": The policies around having “highly qualified” teachers in every classroom just aren’t adding up for me right now. A brand-new NYC Teaching Fellow with a degree in European history and no course work in education would be considered a highly qualified social studies teacher in the state’s...


Yet another young teacher says so long to a big-city district. Sam of clean up on aisle of life: In many ways I feel that a part of my spirit, and maybe even my heart, has been broken by the mess of a system that is the [New York] DOE. Happily, she won't be leaving education entirely but is starting as a behavior therapist for autistic children. Sadly (for us), as part of this life change, she's also saying goodbye to her blog--which was a good one. Good luck, Sam. Thanks for sharing your teaching life....


Nancy Flanagan doesn't mind being labled an "unrepentant Luddite," but she doesn't take to English Professor Mark Bauerlein's much-hyped new book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future. Baurerlein's conception of what it means to be well-educated today, she says, lacks both common sense and vision: I’m not saying that disciplinary knowledge is unimportant—far from it. Having a broad understanding of the arts, sciences and humanities makes one educated, but having a lively imagination and curiosity makes information useful. If the whiz-bang nature of technology makes kids distractible and dumb, that ...


Ms. Frizzle says goodbye to teaching—for now....


Not likely, says Sheryl Nussbaum Beach. But they could be replaced by other teachers who know how to use technology more effectively. Better get on board...


Mildly Melancholy's principal surfaces with a "monumentally absurd, utterly obtuse plan."...


A progressive political blogger in Arizona recently happened upon a post by Teacher blogger Donalyn Miller (i.e., The Book Whisperer) on the failures of Reading First and was quite taken taken by her philosophy for teaching reading: Miller has this crazy idea that students learn to read by reading, and they read when they're given lots of books to choose from and lots of time to pore over those books. Her school day begins with every student reading a book chosen by that student. You can't encourage the love of reading by putting students through reading drills, then giving ...


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