Showing posts from January, 2014

Relationships Matter in Education

Our best teachers love what they do and they love working with students.  The relationships that teachers have with their students help to foster better student achievement.  And it is no surprise that this is the case.  Students want to make their teachers proud of the work that they can do in the same way that students want to make their parents proud.  When teachers show the students that they really care about them and their progress, students respond with better progress.

     The same is true with teacher relationships with parents and schools relationships with parents--and the community.  Relationships matter.  Researchers agree that teachers have the largest influence on student achievement.  Good teachers tend to produce good students.

     People who love to work with children are primed to be good teachers.  Learning can be difficult at times, but it is always less difficult when you have a caring, dedicated teacher ready to help you.

Everyone Has Value

At a recent school system event, one of our wonderful middle school students, Emily, gave a great, solo speech (written by herself) titled, Everyone Has Value.  She told a story of offering a $100. bill to a group of students and everyone wanting it because it has value.  And then she suggested crumpling that $100. bill and throwing it on the floor; and (still) the people would want to have it because it has value.

     She went on to explain that everyone has value and everyone should see the value in themselves as well as in others.  She shared results from a survey in which people said that they didn't like the way they looked; and they wished they were better looking.

     This young teenager was talking to her peers, but her message resonated with the adults in the audience every bit as much.

     Recently a commercial was released about a deaf football player named Derrick Coleman.   Again, the message is Everyone Has Value.  The deficiencies, or perceived deficiencies, …

Learning vs. Getting Good Grades

In this corner, with hundreds of years of experience, The Edict of Education, the Natural Ability of Every Newborn Child; let's hear for Learning!

     And in this corner, gaining strength and popularity over the past few decades, the Beauty of College Applications and the source of Bragging Parents Everywhere; let's hear it for Getting Good Grades!

     Education faces a lot of battles.  One of the daily battles is Learning vs. Grades.  Teachers are on the side of learning and students (to be fair) are on both sides.  Some do their best to learn; and some are just doing it for the grade.

     I (sometimes) refer to this as "playing school". Some students just play the game.

Go to school.Do what you are told to do.Read the book.Do your homework. And Learning takes a back seat to just getting the grade.  Teachers are very familiar with this battle.  The best teachers engage their students--no matter the subject--and sometimes students discover that they like a su…

Common Core and Our Desire to Give the Best to Our Students

During my 25 years in education, I've seen ideas come and go; I've seen programs come and go; and I've seen movements come and go.  I used to think that the education system was constantly dreaming up ideas that were initiated with great fanfare and then were let go as failures.  But I've come to realize that education is not a static thing; certainly National Education is not a static thing.

     A lot of thought and research and debate goes into new initiatives and I think that it is fair to say that educators are constantly thinking about students and the best way to help students.  Education is also constrained by limited funds and (sometimes) limited research.  Also, big problems that require big solutions are often very complicated.  But it is not an excuse to "do nothing" just because the task at hand is difficult.

  After the landmark report "A Nation at Risk" came out in 1983, our education system did their best to respond to the issue…

Special Ed. Makes Public Schools Special

When I started teaching, I knew my content (mathematics) very well and I learned a few things about managing a classroom of students from my teacher prep classes in college.  But I knew nothing about Special Education.

     Fortunately, I had some great Special Education teachers in the building where I taught.  They helped me to better understand students with learning disabilities and how to teach them.

     I've since come to learn that Special Education is one of the true jewels of Public Education in America.  Special Education teachers and supervisors work everyday to find the best way to help students who find it difficult to learn in the same way as their non-disabled peers.  It is a tough job; no two special education students are the same.

     So thank a Special Education teacher today!

I Shouldn't Be Here

I am enjoying my 25th year working in education this year.  I've been a middle and high school mathematics teacher, a high school mathematics chairperson and district teacher specialist, I've worked in the research and accountability office, and am now a supervisor of secondary mathematics--overseeing the mathematics program for 20,000+ students in my school district.  Still, had things worked out the way they were "supposed" to, I should have never done any of this.

     You see, I grew up in a lower-middle income family--which is an overtly nice and formal way to put it.  I have a brother and two sisters; all born within a six-and-a-half year timespan.  I was among the first generation to benefit from the Free and Reduced Meals program.  I was in 10th grade in 1980, and the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) did a national survey of students in my class back then.  They followed up with us ten years later and this is what they found:  Only about…