25 November 2009

Assorted Education Post

... full of notes too small to be posted separately.

It's a Teacher!

Don't you just love all the little baby things at showers? Isn't it fun to plan gift ideas and see some of the silly games the hosts will come up with? I'm thinking giving a tiny prize to the random person with the "raisin" in her napkin diaper decoration is a whole lot more classy than the melted chocolate bar in the diaper/ taste it and guess what kind it is game. (Blech!)

Now here's a new and different idea. A shower for a new teacher! I'm thinking every new teacher should get one. Wouldn't it be fun if new teachers could register for supplies and other things they'll need as the year begins? Or that veteran teachers would be able to gift extra supplies and books they're no longer using? Well, it's a *fun* idea.

Homeschooling Older Children

Christine over at the Thinking Mother has an excellent post up about homeschooling older children. It sure seems that most of the homeschooling blogs are about little kids, have happy pictures and captions like, "YAY, we learned about birds today because we saw a nest!" Great... when your kid is five. No, really, that's great, and you'll find me jealous that *I* don't have a nest, too, when I see that cute kid of yours looking at those eggs. Or wow, you downloaded a worksheet about "blue," and found five things that are blue.

How does one structure an entire high school curriculum... one that others will take seriously... from that point? How to get from here to there? Whoo, I'm nowhere near that yet and assume it will be a bit clearer when I'm closer, but I do appreciate posts like this.

Myyy, Myyy.

What do you think of this comment, left on an education blog? I'm not sending any flaming arrows over to the blog author as he didn't write the comment, but am letting this little gem stand on its own:

"Never underestimate the power of a teacher. Each day of the 42 years that I taught, I entered my classroom at 7:15 a.m. and taught by myself until school was dismissed. Only rarely did another adult enter my classroom. One day I thought to myself, 'This is like being self-employed, only without the overhead.'"

"When a directive came from above, if I didn't agree with it, I had 1001 ways to be creatively non-compliant, and so I always did what I thought best. Like most teachers, I kept it to myself. When one principal requested that all teachers put their objectives on the board, I copied objectives out of a book and kept the same ones up for months, knowing that he'd never notice. I was right."

"Unless the 'reformers' can come up with the money to have an administrator in every classroom, teachers will continue to teach subversively. As Stanford professor Larry Cuban used to say, nothing will ever happen without the cooperation of the classroom teacher.
Are teachers involved in making decisions at the national level? No. Are they powerless? No. Once the classroom door is shut, teachers make 100% of all the decisions and will continue to do so. There will be no 'innovation' or 'reform' without them."

I think teachers should have reasonable control of their classes and how to teach them, but I'm thinking yikes on this one.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving Mrs C. :)

    I can't say that I'm overwhelmingly comfortable with that last one, but I can absolutely see his point.

    Do you remember the "Whole Language" approach to teaching? Do you remember what a dismal failure it was in classrooms where the seasoned teachers didn't quietly teach phonics alongside it? Several years of kids went into high school barely able to read, much less sound out words or figure out their meaning based on the root words.

    How about Integrated Math that the state of Missouri just recently decided was a bad idea after four years of use? I sat in the classroom the night of a high school open house (first experience with a kid in public school) as the math teacher excitedly talked about what a great program it was and how it would prepare our children for the corporate world (working in groups to solve math problems, using calculators, and estimating answers). I remember thinking, this is a huge mistake. Later I saw his homework this class and wondered, "Where's the math?" Thanks to that nonsense, my oldest (an honors student), and a host of other high school graduates are sitting in remedial algebra classes in college. I dearly wish some teacher had decided to rebel.

    I've worked in and with schools and kids for several years (substitute teacher, money skills educator, youth programs, after school programs, etc) and I've sat at the lunch tables and in meetings and listened to teachers talk about struggling with balancing MAP test preparation with other subjects. If their scores weren't high enough in one area they were under pressure to neglect "less important" subjects in favor of raising those scores. The next year they got to play catch up because the scores in the neglected area. Almost by necessity, they are having to teach to the test instead of actually teaching the subjects.

    The bigwigs often don't know the classrooms or the kids as well as the teachers do. While I think accountability for meeting standards is important. If I were a teacher, I'd be inclined to do something similar if what I was doing was working and they were meeting the standards. It's when it stops working that the administrators need to asking questions.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you also, Mary! I guess the word "subversive" got to me. Knowing the teacher in question and her political viewpoints, and picturing them foisted on young minds didn't help, either.

    They're getting rid of the mushy math? I did *not* know that. Our school district has used Everyday Math for years and years and they justified it with the fact that our students tested well.

    Actually I like the worksheets in that it helps my boys to think in different ways that they are actually not very talented in, but I couldn't imagine grading an autistic child on "group" work. You know, there's a balance between holding someone accountable and setting the bar to an impossible (and in math, anyway) irrelevant standard.

  3. I like the idea behind a shower for new teachers, but I wish the schools would be funded to the point teachers no longer has to beg parents for school supplies.


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)