Friday, November 29, 2013

It's Not What You Say, But How You Say It

     We've got some great teachers in our public schools.

     Some are great because they are warm and caring.  Students like these teachers and they want these teachers to be proud of them.  Students will do just about anything their warm and caring teacher tells them to do, because we all do want to do things for people who care about us.

     Some teachers are great, because they work hard to get to know each and every student.  They learn how each student learns and they understand how each student struggles with their learning.  These teachers are able to find a way to present content to students in a way that the students will understand.

     And, of course, some teachers have both of these attributes--(1) They are warm and caring, and (2) they understand how each of their students' learn.

     Our best teachers know that they cannot make things too easy on their students, because the goal isn't to make students happy (or to merely "get-the-right-answer").  The goal is that the students are learning.  The best teachers know that learning comes with a little struggling--sometimes with a lot of struggling.  And the best teachers are able to allow their students AND to encourage to keep going and not to give up when the struggling occurs.

     "Teaching" is only part of a teachers job.  The main part of a teachers job is making sure that the students are learning.  Some teachers view the "teaching" part as the only part of their job.  These teachers are good at making lesson plans and following through with procedures.  They are good at assigning HW and keeping track of grades.  They are good at doing what they are supposed to do--what they are told to do.  But merely "teaching" and ignoring the amount of student learning that is (or is not) taking place will never be enough to raise their students' abilities.

     The best thing about public education is teachers who do everything they can to help their students to learn.  Thank you to our hard-working teachers.  No job is tougher or more rewarding!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanks Twitter for All the Good News about Education!

Twitter is filled with Good News about Education

I've been on Twitter for about 20 months, and throughout that time I've learned more and more about what I can do and what I can learn from Twitter.  I use Twitter as a professional, and I like to follow other teachers and educators from around the world.

Since beginning this blog, I've been on the lookout for positive stories about education.  My Twitter feed is a treasure-trove of such stories.  On a daily basis I read about students and teachers doing amazing things in their schools and in their communities.  I see pictures of teachers learning new strategies to help students in their classrooms; and I see pictures of students engaged in learning in a variety of settings.

Of course, I also gain a lot of ideas from reading the posts from the people I follow.  Sometimes they direct me to articles or blogs on particular topics.  Other times they direct me to hot-button topics that lead to great discussions.

As always, we don't want to ignore the problems of public education in America.  I am very aware that the way I use Twitter tends to encourage "the positive".  It is what we call The Echo Chamber--only follow people who agree with me.  I know that the people I follow (while diverse) do not represent all points of view.  I wouldn't say that I exclusively hear positive things, but most of the people I follow (including me) tend to follow the rule "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."  This doesn't lessen the truth about the good things I read on Twitter; but it is necessary to recognize there are lots of stories that I am not reading.

My point is that it is very easy to only hear the negative about public school education in America and it is important for educators--and especially non-educators--to know that there is a lot of good going on everyday in our public schools.

Public Schools and Choice

       Is it true that public school kids and their public school parents don't have choices?  I'm sure that I will expose my igno...

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