Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Our students simply want us to "look them in their eyes." If we could look into their eyes and see all that they had to offer, we may begin to appreciate them a little bit more. We might be able to remember back to when we were their age and wanted our teachers to look at us in our eyes. We wanted to be seen as an individual and not just as a child. You see, although our students are young children, they are still people and they have something to offer.
Why are we scared of them? Is there a reason? Are we scared of what they can and will become? What if all teachers believed that we wouldn't allow any of our students to finish where they began? Can you imagine the impact this would have on test scores, graduation rates and AYP??? What if we could pull out what was imbedded inside each child that we had the pleasure of interacting with each and every day? How powerful would that be???
Our students will become what they know they are...BUT how do they know what they are if we don't take the time to expose them to the possibility of what they could become?
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
I urge all of you to watch this short video (parents, students, teachers, administrators, etc.) and become a member of studentsfirst.org. Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of DC schools started this organization to have a group in place that would serve as an advocate for students. I believe that this may be the beginning of change for a positive education reform across the nation. Someone has to step up and start the change...why not you???
Towards the end of this clip Michelle Rhee discusses the importance of having the right teachers in front of the kids and why it's so imperative! It's really just this simple. If we want students to learn, we have to have the right teachers in front of them teaching them and educating them on a daily basis. This type of individual has to be someone that cares about them...truly and genuinely cares about them and their well being. Someone that wants to see them succeed and be a positive influence in their lives.
There are teachers that enter the profession to receive a paycheck, for a stable job, and for a guaranteed summer off. This mentality has to change. We need better teachers in front of our kids. Michelle Rhee, ex-chancellor of DC schools, had this in the forefront of her mind as she was in her position. People had the audacity to see this as wrong and shunned her because of this. How can we demand excellence from our students if we don't want to demand excellence from our teachers?
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I have been on the both sides of this coin. First, I am a parent and have tried for three consecutive years to get my middle school son into a theme middle school in which its attendees were chosen through the lottery system. He did NOT get in to this school either of the three years. We were that family sitting at the end of the lottery with a disappointed son, upset, not knowing what we were going to do. He is a very smart young man and we did what we needed to do to get him to attend a school where he is involved in the magnet program. While watching the movie, my heart broke and tears streamed down my face because I knew, firsthand, what the families in the movie were going through. All because they simply wanted better for their kids....
As an educator, I totally understand the lottery process but it can't help but to make me think. If ALL schools were operating at a level of excellence, we wouldn't need theme schools and magnet programs, etc. If ALL schools were operating at a level of excellence, we wouldn't have to have lotteries for enrollment into our "good" schools. Parents wouldn't have to consider moving (I am guilty of this as we speak!!!!) to ensure that their kids would go to a "good" public school because ALL public schools would be "good" schools.
I have heard over my years as an educator that parents blame the schools and schools blame the parents for the lack of motivation on the students part. The students want things handed to them. It's an entitled generation of kids....blah blah blah. While I personally may agree with some of these things I also understand that as a human being we must STOP placing the blame on each other and simply hold each other to higher standards and levels of accountability. Here's the solution!!!!!
- Parents-DEMAND better schools for your students WHILE holding your students accountable. It starts at home. Demand excellence from your children in ALL aspects of their lives.
- Administrators-DON'T hire mediocre teachers! Only hire the types of teachers that you would want to teach your own children!
- Teachers-Set HIGH expectations for your students and don't let any of them fail! DEMAND excellence from ALL of them...not just your favorite students or the ones that you feel can do it....ALL OF THEM!!!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
After watching this video above, I was almost brought to tears at the thought of imagining the possibility of EVERY student in EVERY school across the United States feeling this important on their first day of school. Is it impossible????? I think not! Sure this is a little extreme but the students at Magnolia High School get it! The understand the importance of creating a culture and climate in their school building that makes the students feel important, valued and accountable for their learning. Yes this video shows tons of fun but I would be willing to bet that the same amount of energy that went into making this video, also goes into the learning of the students every day.
When the students and faculty of a building feel appreciated and involved and like they matter on a daily basis, everyone works to improve student achievement. The students begin to understand that there are high expectations that have been set that they must live up to them on a daily basis. They begin to work harder to please their teachers. The teachers don't mind staying after school to tutor students or for professional development or faculty meetings because they know that they are being supported by their administration. It's all about the culture and climate that are set forth for the school. Too many times, the parents blame the teachers, the teachers blame the parents and it's a never ending hamster wheel of the blame game! Can you imagine if everyone worked together to improve the culture, the climate, and increase student achievement instead of blaming each other! The possibilities would be endless!
A lot of students today don't feel like they matter to anyone. Some teachers are around for a paycheck and a guaranteed two month summer vacation. Parents are working two and three jobs and aren't home to see their students, eat dinner with them or help with homework. Something as simple as a teacher telling a student "Good morning" or asking them "How are you today?" could make all the difference in that students outlook on life and their purpose in life. Imagine a school that values diversity...truly values diversity and appreciates everyone that walks through the door. Public schools can't pick the students that walk through the doors each day, but they can choose to make them feel valued.....
The culture and climate must be set forth and trickle from the top down. Administration sets the tone. Can you imagine the face of your administrator if a group of students at your school asked permission to make a video similar to this one? Would your administrator allow them to do it? To this level of ensuring that the entire school was involved? The administrator of this school gets it! They are not afraid to allow their faculty and students to take risks. THIS is the kind of school that values each and every student that enters through its doors everyday. THIS is the kind of school that I would want my kids to attend because plain and simply put....THEY WOULD MATTER!!!!
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
What an amazing day I have had today!!! I was Blessed to be able to spend some quality time with my 13 year old son today and take him to see Our First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama speak about getting fit and eating right. Her passion for this topic shines through her speech! She spoke about the plethora of changes that have been made just in the past year as a result of this new campaign that she has implemented. After she was done speaking, she started to shake hands....
Monday, February 7, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
In preparation for an online class that a colleague and I will be teaching, I was given the opportunity to revisit a book from my Educational Specialists program. The book is titled "What Great Teachers Do Differently" and it is by Todd Whitaker. He takes the time to discuss and analyze what makes a GREAT teacher different from their colleagues. At the end of his book he has a list of the 14 things that he views matter the most when it comes to a great teacher. As I reflect back upon my teaching (and not to pump myself up) I must say that I am indeed a GREAT teacher! I surround myself with other GREAT teachers. Their greatness rubs off on me and my greatness rubs off on them....After reading this list, reflect on whether or not you are a GREAT teacher! Do you have areas of opportunity that you can improve upon?
“Fourteen Things That Matter Most”
- Great teachers never forget that it is people, not programs, that determine the quality of a school.
- Great teachers establish clear expectations at the start of the year and follow them consistently as the year progresses.
- When a student misbehaves, great teachers have one goal: to keep that behavior from happening again.
- Great teachers have high expectations for students but even higher expectations for themselves.
- Great teachers know who the variable in the classroom is: They are. Good teachers consistently strive to improve, and they focus on something they can control-their own performance.
- Great teachers create a positive atmosphere in their classrooms and schools. They treat every person with respect. In particular, they understand the power of praise.
- Great teachers consistently filter out the negatives that don’t matter and share a positive attitude.
- Great teachers work hard to keep their relationships in good repair-to avoid personal hurt and to repair any possible damage.
- Great teachers have the ability to ignore trivial disturbances and the ability to respond to inappropriate behavior without escalating the situation.
- Great teachers have a plan and purpose for everything they do. If things don’t work out the way they had envisioned, they reflect on what they could have done differently and adjust their plans accordingly.
- Before making any decision or attempting to bring about any change, great teachers ask themselves on central question: What will the best people think?
- Great teachers continually ask themselves who is most comfortable and who is least comfortable with each decision they make. They treat everyone as if they were good.
- Great teachers keep standardized testing in perspective; they center on the real issue of student learning.
- Great teachers care about their students. They understand that behaviors and beliefs are tied to emotion, and they understand the power of emotion to jump-start change.