Showing posts from February, 2015

Everyone Should Go to Community College

The Community College system in the United States is simply the perfect college option for many of our high school graduates in my opinion.  
       Here are some of my reasons for this statement:

Close to home.Less expensive.Small classes.        Let's start with my first reason: Close to home.  I went to a college that had the initials TSC.  (This college has since been renamed.)  Among the students at this college, we referred to "TSC" as meaning "The Suitcase College" because just about everyone went home on the weekends.  I remember thinking at the time that high school students are always complaining about "living under the rules of their parents".  They want to be on their own; they want their freedom.  And, so, I thought that these people were hypocrites when, given the opportunity, would rush back home at every chance they got to do so.
       Of course, it probably isn't fair to categorize young people this way.  It is more likely…

Good Teachers are Great Learners

I think everyone has had the experience of teaching something to someone.

       Parents teach their children to walk or to ride a bike or to drive.  Friends teach their friends about cool stuff they find online or cool stuff they read about.  Colleagues teach their co-workers trade skills on the job.

       Sometimes, as a teacher, we are very attentive to the way our learner is "catching on" to what we are trying to show them.  Sometimes, as a teacher, we just go through the steps and explanations with no regard whatsoever as to whether or not the learner is following us.  And sometimes, as the teacher, we get very upset when the learner does "learn" what we just taught them.

       "I just said that."  "Weren't you listening?"  How is possible for them to not understand when I did such a good job of explaining it?

       Teacher know that "teaching" is only half of their job--maybe even less than half.  Their main job is …

What is the Best Way to Measure Academic Ability?

One student is smart.  Another gets good grades.  Another is in the 90th percentile.  A fourth student gets a good SAT score.  Yet another graduated in the top 25% of her class.  And a different student scored a 4 on her AP test.

       What does all of this mean?  What is the best way to measure how well students are actually learning?  How do we know which are the students that are really learning and understanding and able to use the knowledge in different situations; and which students are dutifully doing what they are told to do and completing assignments and earning good grades not learning a thing?

       I think our educational system struggles with this question very often.  We want to learn--it is the main focus of schools to teach students and to help them to learn.  When I say "learn", I mean "real, actual learning".  Not memorizing and forgetting.  Not memorizing long enough to pass the test.  I mean learning; understanding; able to teach it to o…

Should Teacher Tenure take Five Years?

Anyone who has ever gone through the process of becoming a doctor understands the many and varied phases that are required to attain the title of "doctor".  This process involves undergraduate work (four years), medical school (four years), residency program (three to seven years depending on the medical speciality), and perhaps a fellowship (one to three years) if the individual is pursuing a subspecialty.  American Medical Association

       The purpose for the residency and fellowship portions of this process is so that these people who have completed the course work of medicine can have experience in the actual process of treating people and making decisions about the healthcare of patients--under the supervision of experienced medical professionals.  No one wants their loved one to undergo heart surgery from a doctor who has only read a book on how to complete a heart surgical process [!].

     Teachers go through a similar process on their journey to becoming te…

Thinking about Thinking

There has been a lot of talk recently about the need for schools to teach students how to think.  Actually, the need to build thinking skills has always been a big part of schooling, but our changing world seems to have added to the value of thinking skills.

     So this leads to the obvious question, How do you teach students how to think?  How do teachers create a learning environment in their classrooms that encourage students to think and to reason and to build on past knowledge?

       It is clear that there are times in a typical student's day when they are merely doing what they are told to do.  "Copy the notes,"  "Read this passage."  "Answer the questions."  Very little thinking is needed to complete these tasks.  Quite possibly, no thinking is needed to complete some of these tasks.

       So, once again, How do you teach students to think?  Or maybe I should ask, How do teachers encourage students to think?  One way to do this is to …