I am in a classroom that began with 26 students during my September Experience. It rose to 27 in January when I returned. It is now at 30 students. I am expected to run science labs with 30 students of elementary years and have discovered it is more crowd control at times that lab time. We are limited on space - the class room was designed and built to accommodate 23 - 25 students. We are limited on supplies - supplies were ordered for 25 students. We are limited on textbooks - again only 25 were ordered. And we are limited on desks - we "borrowed" a few from lower grade levels. Is this what we really have in mind for the future minds of America? Where is the money going? I know my own family has asked me that but I don't have an answer as it is certainly has not been seen in the classroom. Help!
At my master placement where I am working on my internship, we celebrated "Friendship Day" in lieu of Valentine's Day. The school district eliminated Valentine's Day celebration as a parent complained a few years back that it was a religious holiday. So the premise of "Friendship Day" is that we sit in a circle and primary school age students discuss the value of friendship day. What really happened - the children brought grocery store bought Valentine's Day cards, Valentine's Day candy, and gifts for the teachers. While the school district has a policy to protect the families the parent who complained for, the children have a completely different plan. What can we really do?
What a confusing endeavour we have to weave through. First it was the Praxis which I have completed but now I understand that I need to retake the required teacher tests because our state has changed the rules to meet some higher standards. So I have to hand over some more large amounts of money to retake the tests I have already passed to meet the qualifications to become a teacher. Am I complaining, well sort of; my brothers are engineers and I don't see them taking these tests to qualify to design computer chips or design the very airplanes we fly. What gives?! And don't get me started on the salary differences -like my brothers I am going to do what I love but unlike my brothers I am fortunate not to need the money. Still, while I mold the minds of our youth, they build items the youths use or fly on to visit their family. Whose education is being tested more?
As many have read or heard, Michelle Rhee has been quite a topic discussed around school districts, Time Magazine, and The Atlantic Magazine. She is determined to change American Education through her agressive tactics. Yet she has only three years of teaching experience; that is usually just enough time for teachers to get "grounded" in their profession. She is chaufferured in a black SUV, carries two BlackBerrys, and a cell phone - that is enough money for new textbooks there. In Time magazine, it mentions she evaluates a class for only two minutes and walks away saying the teachers spend too much time chitchatting. How are teachers suppose to bond with students. Teachers are not to be robots and just dive right into the "real work." Some of these students may only receive positive adult interactions from their school teachers. In the article, she comes across as rude - she reads her BlackBerry while speaking with those around her. She walks out of meetings without a comment and she seems to dismiss anyone whose opinion differs from her. And as her quote noted below, she does not seem to take outside influences as obstacles to a student's education.
A quote from Michelle Rhee is “As a teacher in this system, you have to be willing to take personal responsibility for ensuring your children are successful despite obstacles. You can’t say, ‘My students didn’t get any breakfast today,’ or ‘No one put them to bed last night,’ or ‘Their electricity got cut off in the house, so they couldn’t do their homework.’”
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/27/fashion/27service.html?ref=education Many high schools in America require students to have service hours in order to graduate. The weekend before last I volunteered for a non profits auction and there were many high school students present. While talking to these students I learned that they 1 were not really interested in being there and they would rather be doing something with their friends and 2 that they were only there because they had to have the hours to graduate and this nonprofit would look good on a college resume. This disturbed me. What good does it do to force students to do community service? If the students heart is not in it then what are they learning? I was reading this article in the New York Times about how some schools are reducing the number of hours and how these hours have to be applied. The New York schools have some pretty good ideas. Maybe other school districts need to take a look at their programs.
I don't know about you guys, but I know that a constant challenge that I face now as a preservice teacher and one that I know I will face daily when I become a teacher is how to keep teaching interesting and creative. It's a good thing that as teachers we keep this in mind and are constantly challenged by the aim to be creative in our teaching especially now a days when students are being bombarded with information via world wide web, blogging, emails, texting, cable and satalit channels, etc. There are plenty of things to keep kids constantly stimulated and entertained other than school! Once teachers know what they are going to teach, the next question or step in line to deal with is how to engage students in a way that will peak their interest and be meaningful. For me, this is one of the hardest parts of being an educator. Here's an awesome site that I stumbled across with some new and inventive approaches to using technolgy and such to teach creatively. Yes, if you can't beat em, join em!
Well, Randy Dorn is now the Washington State Superintendent of Education and has made statements regarding standardized testing - "the WASL needs to be shorter, the results need to get to people faster, it should be hooked up to technology and the information it provides should be understandable to parents, students and teachers." And he wants results quicker in his comment, "the WASL should help parents and teachers design a better education program for each child and that simply isn't possible when the results aren't available until four months after the test is given." I hope he is able to pull this off. I wonder if he is interested in any suggestions, such as using the tests that already exist. The California Achievement Test can be helpful and the results come back faster. But then, do we really need these tests? Why not just allow teachers conduct assessment tests at the beginning of the year, middle of the year, and then at the end of the year for individual progress?