I Don’t Wish to Wonder About THIS

Imagine having to write the following to the company you do contract work for  $100/month.

I am disappointed with _____ and the ‘brand’ it has attempted to represent. It is beyond my understanding how students are ‘passed’ through when clearly the minimum work requirements have not been met. I am unsure how this passes through an ‘audit’ although I guess by now all of you have figured out the system to make it work for you. This has been completely discouraging to me as clearly there are students who were previously ‘passed’ by _____ and possibly______ . I did not realize ‘giving students the best experience possible’ was actually code for make sure they pass no matter what. You may wish to be more forthright with future employees in this regard.
If you were wondering why education in America fails, it is exactly due to businesses such as________ which allow students in college and teachers with credentials to pass through a system where so little is actually expected. All they have to do is pay to play.
I had thought that_________ would be different as there seemed to be some vague understanding of what was going on.
Please contact me if you would like to know more in the form of an exit interview.

Imagine for a moment you were expected to ‘facilitate’ the online learning of 12-15 teachers with credentials in one of America’s largest school districts, who were supposed to be doing professional development.  Imagine the writing looked like the following examples (the first one is the THIRD attempt at writing a paper which was supposed to integrate thinking regarding the global achievement gap, teaching competencies, local education standards and the application of changing ones teaching practice in working with urban youth)…..

Tony Wagner lists critical thinking and problem solving as one aspect of his seven survival skills. These skills can help students succeed both in and out of the classroom. Students need to have the ability to ask the right questions, in simpler terms, know how to think. Educators can teach students skills that pertain to their academics but we are not able to teach them to how to ask questions. We are able to prompt them and help them use higher order thinking skills to obtain those questions. Ellen Kumata, a consultant to Fortune 200 companies, states, “The idea that a company’s senior leaders have all the answers and can solve problems by themselves has gone completely by the wayside…The person who’s close to the work has to have strong analytic skills. You have to be rigorous: test your assumptions, don’t take things at face value, don’t go in with preconceived ideas that you’re trying to prove”. Ms. Kumata’s statement in regards to companies can and should be implemented in our classrooms. Students need to be rigorous, challenge themselves, ask questions and learn ways to posses analytical skills. All these characteristics will help students

game of an education? Critical thinking and problem solving are important for the future because individuals need to know how to improve their work, products and/or services. Individuals need to think of ways to progress in life and that can be accomplished by asking the right questions. Who is this person you are quoting? Are they famous which means their name need not be used?A Dell senior executive said, “Yesterday’s answers won’t solve today’s problems”. Our students need to learn ways to solve every day problems and situations. They cannot look back in their notes and find answers to a new real life dilemma. It what will aid in the process? will definitely aid in the process, but new ideas and analytical skills need to be developed in order to figure out new answers. Our future needs to have young educated minds that are capable of reaching out, finding ways to progress, and leading our community successfully. They need to have eagerness to ask questions, think, and solve situations to help both their companies and themselves succeed.

In order for our students to grow up and use these problem solving and critical thinking skills, we need to start preparing them in school. It is important to develop these skills by keeping students engaged with new, proven methods of teaching. I never came across methods and ideas such as Wagner’s, but I’m willing to try methods that will change the behavior of my students to make them active learners. Engaging my students by having them ask questions, being critical thinkers and good problem solvers are some of Wagner’s skills that students will need to possess in the real world. It makes sense since those skills are highly important during school years as well. If students don’t have those skills, then students are not “thinking”. We need our students to work on their own, to use their own minds to solve and figure out ways to improve.

Critical thinking and problem solving skills . Students need to start working on this skill in early grades. our

With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global

economy” (CCSS, 2012).

One way of creating a self sufficient classroom environment is by providing my students with both problem solving and class discussion prompts. These prompts will force my students to think and solve on their own, rather than just listening to me recite information. Having these prompts visually available for my students may help in the thinking process. Students can use these prompts to challenge classmates intellectually, ask questions and elaborate on their critical thinking skills.

Implementing lesson plans that allow the students to employ their five senses is also important in developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. Students need to use their senses to learn and having our senses incorporated in a classroom environment, will lead to student success. I know from experience, that the classroom needs to smell fresh and that students are definitely affected by smell (tropical, chocolaty, etc.). If the lesson is able to have a tasting factor, it is important to provide that as well. Providing visuals is vital, for example children will see what the learning objective will be for the day, and they will need to generate questions they have on that topic. Students will eventually listen to a video or a clip that has some information that pertains to the lesson. Next, students will have turns discussing the clip and will ask questions to develop a better understanding of what was read. Finally, the class will work together to produce the answers to the lesson. Rather than providing immediate feedback, it is important that I am merely aiding the process, triggering their higher order thinking, and prompting them to come up with ideas. What will you do to trigger this higher order thinking? How would your principal observe you doing this task? I need my students to think about the quality of their answers and provide feedback to each other. During this process I can also help the students develop their decision making skills. For example, I will help my children consider the pros and cons of their answers, and urge them not to be afraid to make a wrong choice. I can help by asking them “How do you feel about your decision?” and “What would you do differently next time?”

In addition to the approaches I have already outlined, I would also like to

Even with extensive edits  and notes on the three submitted papers and asking student to please have a colleague review the work before submission, another instructor passed this assignment – this is the portion on providing a good experience. This student had been previously ‘passed’ by this same instructor.

I have yet to figure out how the following relates to the issue of the global achievement gap. I suppose I can guess and fill in the blanks.

In response to Eleanor Roosevelt
In this speech Roosevelt addresses the importance of protecting human rights across the globe. He sets the tone by going back to the French Revolution and citing the significance of the Rights of Man. He brings us to a more present body looking to protect human rights, the U.N. In doing this he lets the readers understand that in order to protect our human rights we must have a body/document that sets forth the precedent to the rest of the world. Roosevelt introduces two significant components of the Bill of Rights as it pertains to protecting human rights. The first component seeks to establish the ability for all humans no matter where their location, should be protected in order for individuals to live their lives peacefully. And, although at the time (historically) the second component was not finalized, it stated that countries would adhere to the convenant of protecting human rights. He, more importantly declares the basic human “…Basic human rights are simple and easily understood: freedom of speech and a free press; freedom of religion and worship; freedom of assembly and the right of petition; the right of men to be secure in their homes and free from unreasonable search and seizure and from arbitrary arrest and punishment”. In doing this he also explains that the process to a democracy that seeks to protect these rights is a slow and difficult process.

Different entry from a different section:

Reflect on the issue of global achievement gap.

The achievement gap is not a new concept to me. However, the way in which the achievement gap was presented in the first article it assumed that we could quickly allow our students to engage in the skills required to become part of the mainstream 21st century world. Instead it tied in more closely to Jeff Duncan’s point that no matter race or class, unless basic needs are met not many people can have access to “closing” the gap. Unless there are is also radical change to poverty, meeting the needs of the middle class, adequate housing, and healthcare many other things will come second to most families. Lack of resources at home is another factor that play a role in the achievement gap, which was not mentioned. An educator might be able to inspire hope to students, but at times that means more than access to problem solving or arriving at the most difficult question; it often means playing the role of a mentor or provider. Teachers at times must also guide families to resources that could aid them in providing more opportunities for their children.Socratic seminars are pretty effective in that by removing the “teacher” element, students are driven by their thoughts and the questions proposed by their teachers. It also enforces to students that in order for ideas to be born, one must place oneself in other people’s shoes; it teaches students to be active participants by being active listeners. Duncan, reminds us that boosting self esteem is a process and we can’t make it magically happen in a classroom by merely providing the opportunities, but must also ensure that all students in a classroom have a voice.

Or, in response to the same above content for a grad level course:

Field trips are a great way to expose the students to places and people they do not normally come in contact with. They can experience new cultures, ideas, and different ways that other people live their lives. I always felt that field trips were very eye opening experiences for me growing up as a kid. Anytime you can combine fun and education it is most beneficial for the students.

I did not copy in the editing on the top pieces nor the private e-mails I sent to students regarding the ‘lack of substance’ in their responses to questions posed and incorporating/synthesizing information

If this does not scare you, it should. This should horrify you. It should make you wonder who the hell is teaching your children and how the hell they received teaching credentials.  More than anything, it should make you realize Michelle Rhee is the pawn of all these for-profit, education minded institutions – whether for profit or not. Everyone can line up behind Michelle Rhee in stating how bad teachers are but no one has actually stated – don’t let these people into the system. Change the entrance to the system.

What is worse, the very people making the system have made it very ‘friendly’ so they can get traction in a saturated market where there really is nothing new under the sun.

The examples are endless. I know I am not the only person who runs across this  situation as I have friends who are professors at colleges (both coasts) – they are politely asked to figure out how to work with these students to help them ‘pass’ – whether it be Writing 101 or what should be graduate level work.

At this juncture, I am really past wishing to hear another parent ask for teachers to be ‘graded’ by how well their students do – it is clear to anyone with a few brain cells, these are NOT teachers who should be in the classroom. This is not a union thing – the union does not do the hiring, administration does the hiring. This is about obtaining great teachers out the door – how they do it in other countries where they look for the best graduates in each field.

As a teacher who remains active in the profession, tutors, interacts with teachers regularly, this is not unique to one set of teachers in one school district as the problem is too widespread.  As a professional who does a wide range of professional development across a few different areas, I expect to be challenged when I take professional development. I expect to ‘change’ in some way as I am developing. I am not done and never will be. I want to be challenged on how I think, analyze, process, discuss ideas, not on spelling, grammar or even knowing who I am talking about.

Please find out where, when, what  your child’s teacher does for professional development. Find out why they do professional development – the answer should NEVER be, “I have to in order to keep my credential”. A great teacher sees everything as professional development and looks to constantly improve; a mediocre teacher does the minimum to slide under the radar; a worthless teacher produces work which is not even appropriate from a high school senior.


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