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Showing posts from April, 2014

Good Teachers make Good Students

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Good teachers make good students.

     You can search the web for lists of "What makes a teacher a good teacher."  Different lists, different points of view.  But there will be some similarities.

     If you ask people to talk about their favorite teacher (again) you will hear some common themes.  Chances are, your favorite teacher is someone you liked and someone who liked you.  Your favorite teacher was probably very helpful; perhaps very kind.  You may have done very well in his/her class, or maybe you didn't.  (Interesting how your "grade" in your favorite teacher's class doesn't seem to matter much.)


     Good teachers understand the importance of good relationships with their students.  When students feel comfortable to ask questions (and they are not embarrassed to be "wrong"), they tend to do much better in class--even if it is a subject that they don't particularly like.  
     So if you want to have good students, be a good …

A Better Plan for Remedial Math in College

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Students who graduate from high school but are not ready to do college-level work are required to take remedial courses.  These are courses (that students must pay for) that do not earn them college credit.  For mathematics, some students must take two or three remedial math courses before they can take their first credit-baring mathematics course.  (See Beyond the Rhetoricnews articleanother news article)  The idea is that these courses will help students to gain the mathematical knowledge that they need to be successful in the "real" college math courses.  The assumption is that these students would not be able to pass a credit-baring math class unless they first proved that they had these particular math skills.

     It makes sense; it sounds logical; it seems like a good plan.  But it hardly ever works. (See Bridge to Nowhere)  State Senator from Florida, Joe Negron has said “Remediation in Florida was not an entrance ramp to success, it was an exit ramp to failu…

Everyone has Experiences with Education

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One of the strongest assets of public education is The Public.

     Everyone is free to voice their opinions regarding public education in general as well as public education as it relates to their own school (or their child's school).  Everyone has had experiences with education and everyone has their opinions regarding what should happen within the school walls during the school day.  The strength of a public school is its ability to respond to the needs of the public in its mission to educate and prepare students for their future.

      Of course, this can be a messy process at times; and everyone isn't going to get everything they want all of the time.  As society changes and as America changes and as the world changes, our public schools must also continue to change.  Sometimes changes don't lend themselves to simple "right" or "wrong" solutions.  Sometimes people prefer the comfort of "staying the same" rather than the uncertainty o…

Secretaries and Custodians

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Everyone knows who the principal of school is; everyone knows their teachers.  But there are people who keep our public schools running smoothly and looking great that many people never notice.  In fact, these people do such a good job that it can be easy to overlook them.  Yet every school principal and every teacher is very appreciative of the jobs that they do.  These people are the secretaries and custodians in our public schools.

     Our secretaries answer the phones, oversee daily attendance, order supplies, send out email and paper information to parents, organize files, update their computer skills, and attend to many other responsibilities for the benefit of the students, parents, and school staff.  Their work makes it possible for teachers to teach and for principals to lead.  Secretaries are often the first person that people see when they enter a school building and therefore, they represent the "first impression" of a school that people have--a very import…

Lots of Helpful People

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In the one-room school house, there was a teacher and that was it.  It was probably a very caring teacher who (maybe) knew her students and their families very well.  But it was one person and that was it.

     Today, our public schools have librarians and nurses and school counselors and aides and assistant principals, and (maybe) math specialists and reading specialists and special education teachers.  We know that students need good teachers, but they also may have other needs that can be addressed by other professionals.  We want our students to be good learners, but also want them to be healthy, happy members of society.

     And these people are here to help the parents as well as helping the students.  Our public schools take on a lot of responsibilities in an effort to help our students to be the best that they can be.  It is a big job to educate children and it takes a lot of people to do the job right.

     So, in addition to thanking your teacher, be sure to thank the …

Testing That Helps Us Learn

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Schools and testing just seem to go together.  And along with "testing" comes "grading".  From the outside, school can seem like it is entirely made up of just testing and grading.  And, to be fair, schools and teachers spend a lot of time on the issues of testing and grading.  Parents like to hang report cards on the refrigerator and brag about high test grades.  Newspapers love to report about test scores of schools and school districts.  Colleges may have admission requirements related to test scores.  Even politicians like to talk about test scores.

     But inside the school our best teachers are concerned about entirely different tests.  These "tests" (or assessments) are the ones that tell students and teachers what they know and what they don't know.  We call these tests Formative Assessments--or Testing FOR knowledge.

       These tests might be graded or they might not be graded.  The purpose of these tests are not to get a grade, but…

Teacher Doing What They Love Best

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Public schools are filled with great teachers who love to teach.  Third grade teachers who, "Love the 3rd Grade." and high school teachers who, "Love to teach Biology." and (yes) lots of middle school teachers who, "Love Middle School."  I've put these sentences in quotes because very often I hear teachers make these statements.

       Sometimes people who don't work in education can't believe it when they hear teachers talk about how much they love working with students.  Maybe this is because they have a negative attitude toward children or teenagers.  Maybe this is because television and movies have portrayed school classrooms as disorganized and chaotic.  But the truth is that many teachers love what they do and they love to help students to learn.

       Parents are much more comfortable with school when they know that their children have excellent and caring teachers.  Students do much better academically when they have knowledge t…

We Want to See You Everyday

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Public schools have something for everyone.  Aside from the "core four" subjects of Math, Science, English, and Social Studies, schools offer Art, Music, Physical Education, and Foriegn Language.  But even more than that, schools at every level offer all sorts of clubs and teams and groups for students to join and to learn more about.

     While school is mandatory for all students, we know that students will not come to school everyday if they don't feel a good and positive connection to their school.  We also know that students who come to school everyday tend to have better grades (see chart).

     Of course, it makes sense that you have to be in school to learn.  We know that students who are absent a lot, often struggle to keep up academically.

     Sometimes we have students who struggle in their core-four subjects, but love Art and Music and come to school everyday because they don't want to miss their Art and Music classes.  Even these students will do b…