I want to work towards a public school system that is genuinely and democratically responsive. One in which every young person in that community truly belongs within our system, one that would be outraged at "got to go lists" and attempts to coerce or mislead members of their community.Charter schools are not to be blamed for the fact that we do not currently have such a system, but those of us who are "partisans for democracy" ought to be concerned by them.

We should not ignore the drop in NAEP scores, nor should we use it to suggest that our educational sky is falling. We should be more like the New York Mets's management team.

"If I accept the premise that being grateful is good for our health, then shouldn't I be interested in promoting a habit of thankfulness in my students and in the world?"

As I've progressed in the teaching profession I've come to a different understanding of what this night means and how I can leverage it as part of the overall work I'm doing to make students better thinkers and problem solvers. In reflecting on conferences from years past, I realized a problem. There are three phrases I used say which were undermining my larger goals. I'll share them with you alongside my reasoning for striking them from my vocabulary.

I had avoided shipwreck. In the words of educational philosopher Patricia F. Carini, I was "attending to children with care." When in doubt, our first response to our students should be listening and connecting - not pulling harder on the ropes in search of a sense of tight control that leaves the collective boat going nowhere fast.

I teach my students to be "upstanders" when they are witness to violence, and in that spirit I want to express solidarity with those educators and activists speaking out against the assault of a black student at Spring Valley High in South Carolina by school resource officer Ben Fields.

Over-testing is another disgusting habit. We should quit, but going "cold turkey" by simply trying to give it up won't work. Instead, we should adopt healthy assessment habits that will make over-testing unnecessary.

These innovations are possible thanks to our school's membership in the Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) program created in the UFT agreement with the city and the Department of Education. PROSE allows us to revise aspects of the Chancellor's Regulations and the UFT contract, enabling us to apply creative thinking and approach our students' problems in more effective ways.

Teachers, especially math teachers, need to ask an analogous question of their students. We understand what students need to know, we ought to partner with them in figuring out a reason why they should know it. This might be because they need to present it to a fellow student. Or it might be because the solution can help make the world a better place.

Fortunately for me, I have been able to move beyond the bubble. My school is a proud member of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, a group of schools that has accomplished your goal of collecting meaningful, formative data through performance assessment.


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