Sunday, April 11, 2010

Digging Myself Out of an Educational Hole

I haven't blogged in a while. As I round the corner on my second year of teaching I have begun to reflect on why I started teaching, what I love about teaching, and what I truly want to teach.

I don't think I could ever say that I believed I could be a life long teacher, but I do know one thing, education is my passion.

I once heard a statistic that something like 70% of Teach For America alumni stay in "education related fields", whatever that is. I can't lie, I'm a corps member, but I was in for the long haul of education since before the TFA indoctrination started. In my graduate school class the other day some student around my age started talking about how she didn't know if she could make a difference, how could she change the system. Maybe it was because it was my first day back in the classroom since the long break, maybe it was the chill from the open window, or maybe I was just angry, but I opened my mouth.

I raised my hand and very loudly asked her, "If you don't think you can make a difference, then what is the point of still being a teacher?" It was probably uncalled for at 8:00 on a Wednesday night to say this to someone who probably means the best, but I was frustrated. Teachers can so easily get complacent. They can go day to day and teach, and yes, they will probably impact the lives of the students in front of them. But isn't there a bigger picture? As teachers isn't it our responsibility to think about the fate of all students to some extent and work towards creating educational change?

The candle is lit, it won't burn out, and I feel recharged and ready to go.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Buzz Buzz education ideas

Education then and now

Are we moving in the right direction?

Happy Columbus Day! or not

As a teacher I enjoy Columbus Day. It is a chance to catch up on sleep, do some work in advance, and even go back to the gym. Yet, as a child I remember Columbus Day differently...

When I was in Kindergarten someone asked one of my teachers, at a private school, who Columbus was and why he had his own day. In some words my teacher told us exactly who Columbus was and explained that he probably didn't deserve his own holiday. While the discovery of America might have been important 1. there were already people here 2. Amerigo Vespucci (I'm sure I just butchered that spelling) was also pretty important.

I might be blending memories, but this idea was a recurring theme through out my childhood, the history focused on was less than wrapped up in any sort of American spirit. Now as a teacher I wonder, what do my students think about today. Should I be candid about the history or like most kindergarten classrooms make boats out of paper and sing some songs.

What sort of history should we be teaching our students?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two meanings of differentiation

Differentiation has become a buzz words. It can mean very little when just thrown around or it can mean a lot, but today I read the word in a whole different way. 

In a chapter for a course I'm taking the book discusses differentiated instruction in terms of differentiated tracking courses that took place many years ago between general education students, poor performing students, special education students, and that often related to different races and cultures. 

Nowadays this word is all about how we cater lessons to suit different students in our class. Always remember, differentiation means holding all of our students to the same standards and making sure all of them can reach, grab, and learn 

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back in the Blogging Game

As I'm about to start my second year of teaching, and after taking a serious break from blogging, I feel ready to delve back into my understanding of the maze. 

I don't have the full big picture yet, but I am starting to answer a few questions here and there. 

Important point 1: Being a teacher is expensive. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

7 days...

In seven days my first year of teaching will be over. In seven teaching days I will have spent one year in the real world. 

I made a to do list for my week long break before I start my summer school course for my masters...and my to do list is very long. 

Any tips on how to spend my slightly more free time? I know that I want to spend a lot of time working, but people keep telling me to that a word in the vocabulary of NYC DOE teachers? 

Summer, summer, summer...what do you have in store...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To which I initially want to respond "duh", but then I remember that most people don't really think about this unless they are in one of these schools or working with the neediest kids. 

McGuire Writes,"According to the research, teacher experience is at least a partial predictor of success in the classroom and, at present, one of the only approximations for teacher quality widely available. Experienced teachers tend to have better classroom management skills and a stronger command of curricular materials. Novice teachers on the other hand struggle during their initial years in any classroom."

She is right. Through out my first year of teaching this year I have found myself looking up to those teachers who have been there the longest. I have found myself admiring their management skills, their understanding of material, and being amazed at the growth their students make. It is important to have quality teachers in school with the neediest students, and experience is certainly part of that. Special pay to work in urban schools might help, but I think there are a lot of other factors. 

Schools in urban communities with consistently low performing students are under certain pressures that are not wholly felt at other schools. When I went to public school testing was there, and it was important, but I never spent a single class preparing for tests. The culture is very different in consistently high performing schools. There is no dark gray cloud that somehow, the school will fail. School culture is am important factor I believe in keeping teachers at a school, and I am not sure that the neediest schools provide the culture that keeps teachers. A happy teacher is much more likely to stay at a school with needy students. 

I think another important factor is the general retention rate of teachers. I don't know any statistics, but I know it is hard to keep teachers in general. Teachers come and they go, but keeping them in the profession itself is important. Does this go back to culture? I think so, it also goes to creating links between community, school, and politics. 

I'm just a newbie, I have very few answers. What I do know as I round out my first year in a public school is that I'm coming back. I feel more prepared for my second year of teaching that I thought I could. I am still learning, and still progressing myself as a teacher and it will take time. 

Note: McGuire did NOT mention Teach For America in this article which I find strange considering that TFA only places core members in "needy" or lower socioeconomic schools. Considering I believe the true goal of TFA is to create people who work towards educational change towards policy and administration (less than creating life long teachers) I do see a difference, but it still must be said that teachers with less than existent student teaching are placed in the classroom yearly across the country, why, because often no one else wants to do it. We have to have SOMEONE in the classroom, why not put someone there who at least wants to be there. 

Thanks to "This Week In Education" for helping me find this article.