Educated to Death

An educator's attempt at keeping sanity in a system that pushes children through an assembly line in little boxes.

Category: professional development

0152: There’s Power in the Blog: How #socialmedia is improving my practice #SOSchat @coopcatalyst #education

Originally posted at http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/

I’m sure this topic has been explored to some extent, but I’d like to add my perspective. I’ll attempt to work towards a concise explanation, but I surely won’t arrive there on the first attempt. I’ve digressed before beginning.

Beginning. My initial purpose for beginning my blog, educatedtodeath.com, was simply as a means of maintaining sanity and hopefully to reroute some developing cynicism. As many teachers are, I was isolated, exhausted, and becoming disheartened. My classroom was going the way of my dwindling spirit. I started to blog. Very quickly writing required reflection and a thrust back to some theory. I started reading with regard to my practice again— something that is easy to do after leaving academia. Quickly my writing evolved or evolved me into a more honest person. Not necessarily in word, but in deed. All I was doing was putting my thoughts down— and publishing them. I’ve journaled quite a bit about my practice in the past, but have fallen out of practice either because of contracted technical or academic writing. Writing that was to be seen was very purposed and directed by a force outside of myself. This writing was beneficial to me, but not on a terribly personal level. But again, I digress. So first, the blog has forced me to take my personal experiences, thoughts, rantings, idiosyncratic thinking, and so forth and put them on paper (a seemingly anachronistic and abstract word now)— oh yes, and make those thoughts public.

That’s the kicker. The making it public part. That’s where I have found the most benefit. It’s the community. Social media has become, for me, a professional learning community (That should be stating the obvious, by the way, but it is not universally obvious to those who don’t, for whatever reason, participate). Participation in this learning community has taught me more about my practice and myself than formal institutions or private reading has. I have access to quality professional development, that is free, experts, and the understanding that my expertise as a teacher is also valuable to others. It is quite empowering to be able to informally and semi-formally interact with colleagues in a way that lends itself to collaborative problem solving on an often global scale. Participating in social media has provided me with a sense of community. With that sense of community also comes a new awareness.

The new awareness/es are many. First, with the awareness that what I am writing is being read and taken to heart by others adds a level of responsibility, just like speaking to a group does. I am responsible by choice for providing my readers/partners with pieces that are at least thought provoking, informative, and at best transforming. I don’t, however, think I should attempt to be clever, careful, or overly responsible. I have tried, and am trying to chart my growth by writing or attempting to write what is truthful to me in that moment. I try to save heavy editing for higher stakes writing. This allows for risk-taking.

I think risk-taking in this setting is important because it allows my input and understanding to be accepted, denied, or transformed by the community. The community appears to function as a collective consciousness that is constantly morphing. The power is democratic and dialectic for the most part. Ideas that are accepted are amplified, others are shot down, and others still become points of contention that can produce an even greater learning experience for involved parties.

So in the cloud above, I have submitted some ideas that will be viewed, and supported, dismissed, augmented, diminished, etc., etc. Either way, My experience has been incredibly fruitful. Help me understand it more.

Addendum: I didn’t manage to discuss twitter participation. It has affected me in a similar, but different way than blogging. Tweeting, especially in chats, has been tremendously beneficial. It’s nice to have near real time communication. I’m steadily learning more about its uses as a political, social, activism, grassroots, professional tool. I’ll write more, and do share.

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0151: On reading and my learning #education #SOSchat #thought

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I’ve noticed (not for the first time) that what I am reading affects my writing, thinking, and other readings. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s testament to the ongoing process of meaning making. As I interact with texts I am changed, and as I am changed the texts are also, at least my readings of them are. Further, it’s testament to the concept that reading and writing are reciprocal processes. Each interaction serves to change me ever so slightly. This is not to say that I topple with every new idea, rather, that I sway like a sapling, flexible, but rooted, but still changed by the power of the wind. By learning how I learn, know, and understand helps me understand why and how I teach. Equally, it’s a step in creating/allowing authentic learning experiences in my classroom practice.

0140: #Classroom Management, General Mayhem, and Evil Sundries Pt. 2 #education #SOSchat #k12chat

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Last time we discussed some of the theory behind classroom management. It was discussed with the understanding that it has come to mean various things to multiple people, but is best understood, for our purposes, as a way of fostering a generally organized environment, free of confusion, so learning can take place. In this second installment of ‘…Mayhem…’ we’ll look at some specific elements of classroom management: rules, procedures, directives, and my favorite, discourse. As always, if you feel the need to skip ahead, disagree, or deconstruct anything please feel free to do so. This is about conversation.

Rules

Rules state the behavioral expectation of the class, school, etc. Rules are often predetermined by administration, an individual teacher, Harry Wong, and sometimes the students themselves. Ultimately, the teacher determines the rules, and how they are enforced. Regardless of which rules are posted, you determine how the class is runs, at least on a behavioral level. Rules succeed and fail for many reasons. There success and failure has a great effect on classroom and school-wide outcomes, behaviorally and academically. Rules often fail because there are too many, they’re arbitrary, they’re stated in such a way that they guarantee failure, or they’re unenforceable (this is not meant to be exhaustive). Rules should be a general list of do’s, rather than an exhaustive list of don’t’s. When rules can be combined, they should. When they can be left more open for interpretation and/or discussion, they should. Clearly this will not suffice for a highly authoritarian classroom. Open rules require constant dialogue between teacher and student. The law will not be maintained by the posterboard labeled rules; rather, they will maintained through open discussion. Of course, there must be rules, so here’s an example. Instead of the faithful, “Don’t fight”, “Don’t cuss”, “Don’t spit”, “Don’t litter”, etc., try “Respect all people in classroom (school, etc.), and respect the classroom environment.” It’s positively stated; that is, it tells students what to do, rather than what not to do, and it’s easy to remember. Such a rule will require discussion, which should probably be ongoing. But, the rule will stand. It makes sense, it’s not arbitrary, and the students can see how it applies to them in multiple places— in and out of the classroom.

If you have to dictate a student’s every move and behavior, then there is a deeper problem. So rules shouldn’t dictate every behavior. Maybe they should set the mood.

Procedures

Procedures, as many of us know, dictate the way things are run. These differ from rules because they deal with the day to day operating of a classroom. They cover things such as, turning in papers, entering and exiting the room, whether or not students must raise their hands to speak, and so forth. Procedures should be clear and they should be consistently enforced; that is, of you want a consistently run classroom. The enforcement can be as simple as requiring the students to comply with said procedure before continuing. If you want hands raised, do not answer a question if the student has not raised his or her hand. If you don’t give in, they’ll eventually get the point, or be ignored. Procedures need to be set at the beginning. They need to be clear. They need to be consistently enforced. Quality procedures can eliminate wasted time, confusion, and potential disruptions. They can pave the way to a smoothly run classroom.

Procedures fail when they’re not consistently followed. They are the guidelines for how a class operates. They also should be simple, and very clear. Students can take part in their development if you so choose. And, they can be amended. If they are ineffective, fix it. There only purpose is to make the class run smoothly. Like rules, the power is not in the posterboard, but in their constant use.

Directives, Discourse, and other Communication

Finally, directives. Directives and communication are the most important of all the classroom management tools, or whatever they’re called. We’ll tackle directives first. Directives are the explicit directions you, the teacher, gives a student. They should be clear, and let the learner know exactly what you mean. For instance, if you want a student to sit in their desk, tell him, “Sit in your desk”. Be direct and clear. Don’t continue with more directives until the first one is met with compliance. This goes back to the old concept of mean what you say. It builds trust through consistency. If you don’t care if the student sits or not, don’t give the directive. A clear message prevents confusion. Confusion equals chaos, and from there the dominoes tumble.

Directives should only be used for non-negotiables. They deliver your clear expectations as a teacher and set the groundwork for learners’ success. So, they’re important. Directives can be given verbally or in written form, like directions on a test. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being clear and non-ambiguous. What directives don’t deal with should be left to discourse.

Discourse is the lifeblood of any non-authoritarian classroom. It’s a requirement for successful democracy on small and large scales. So, it should go without saying that we should concern ourselves with developing opportunities to participate actively in democratically functioning organizations, institutions, and activities. This does not mean that we just vote on rules at the beginning of the year, or vote on homework or none; rather, it should be a commitment to engaging learners constantly in dialogue that leads to the formation of knowledge and understanding. It means they’re generating questions and answers, rather than having them deposited by an all knowing teacher. Discourse should not be limited to the academic realms. It should extend through every aspect of the the learning experience—academic, social, behavioral, etc. Discourse is a generalizeable skill that, when integrated into our daily lives, will affect the way we reason, behave, and interact with the world around us. It is an invaluable tool for empowerment for teachers and students. As we are looking at classroom management, discourse seeks to eliminate the need for external enforcers of behavior and rules. Discourse involves the entire group in a living discussion. The class becomes theirs. With an active action oriented discourse learners and teachers alike will witness the transformation of rhetoric and dialogue into action and culture. There is much, much more to say about discourse, but this should suffice for now.

Rules, Procedures, Directives and Discourse— the greatest of these being discourse— all shape the way a class functions and to what extent learning takes place. The educator has the choice to what extent any of these elements are implemented. These elements can be as rigid or flexible as you decide. I submit, the way these factors are implemented has the power to deeply affect a learners’ understanding of democracy and their consciousness as a whole. Choose wisely. Be reflective. Be critical. I implore you to teach and learn with human beings, rather than control and train robots. Cheers.

0093: They were “taught” or “helped to learn”? Directing our #language to benefit our students #SOSchat #edchat

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Teaching is quickly being reduced to a process of depositing information in the minds of our students for the simple purpose of them regurgitation the info onto a bubble sheet. Good teaching = good test scores. Good test scores = caring teacher. A = B and B = FU. We’re in this terrible cycle of educational propaganda that tugs at the hearts, minds, and souls of teachers. We’re confused. The triangle has been called a circle so much we no longer know the difference. So, we must combat this by reworking our language.

Rather than teaching, we must assist learning. I “taught” them the quadratic formula can no longer suffice. It must be replaced with “I helped them to learn the quadratic formula and its applications”. This simple restructuring of a phrase is the difference in a paternalistic teaching practice, and helping a learner become critically aware. With the changing terms comes a change of mindset—a transformation. It requires, me, the teacher to view myself as an assistant, rather than a ruler. It forces humility. It requires a benevolent and democratic spirit to admit the small role of helping someone else learn. “I taught” is an exceptionally self-aggrandizing statement. “I taught” gives credit where credit should be shared.

I am asking you to join me in the challenging task of replacing paternalistic language with democratic language in the teaching practice. It will be a challenge, and a slew of failures. It’s necessary for me to teach with the intent of building a democratic critical consciousness among my students and myself. We must redefine teaching with our language. Our actions will change as our consciousness grows. We must reclaim teaching from the deformers and the testers. We must help our people.

0136: On #ClassroomManagement, General Mayhem, and Evil Sundries Pt. 1 #education #behavior #SOSchat

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I’m reluctant to discuss classroom management as I don’t like the terminology or many of the reasons behind it. Nonetheless, it can be a problem for all of us from time to time. It can be especially daunting for new teachers. Additionally, classroom management, if we must refer to it in such a way, is presented as a formula with little discussion as to how or why some things work and others do not. Running a classroom takes experience, skill, patience, and reflection. Allowing learners to learn to run the class takes even more. But, for now we’ll touch on the concept of classroom management with little criticism for the purpose of keeping me focus (I’m sure we’ll discover this statement to be a falsehood).

The broad and brighter idea behind classroom management is if behavior is “under control” or a non-issue, then instruction/learning can more easily take place. In other words, if you’re not having to deal with behavior problems, more saliently, general confusion, then teaching becomes the focus of the class.

Of course, the active definition of classroom management is usually determined by administration and can range from the pragmatic orderly classroom where learning can take place, to a judgment based simply on number of office discipline referrals, to demanding a silent class. But, for the purpose of our discussion let’s try to stick with classroom management for the purpose of learning. However, I don’t think it will be possible to avoid drifting into some of the darker reasons and necessities for classroom management.

Back to the thesis, if a classroom is orderly then learning is more probable. By orderly, I do not mean silent, automatic, dead, etc.; rather, I mean safe and fairly predictable in terms of the behavior of the teacher and the learners. Order can provide an environment conducive to learning. The ways by which order is achieved and maintain also weigh heavily on this discussion. Order can be maintained through fear or love. Fear is punitive and generally authoritative, overt or covert. Love involves a more democratic and humanistic process. The more humanistic approach functions to allow students to work within a given framework with great freedom. Their ideas, goals, and curiosity direct the class. This is difficult to pull off in our current environment where the test dictates all, but it’s still possible to allow students a level of freedom and still work within the prescribed curriculum. Parameters still will be drawn, and the test will still be the final punitive dictator of action.

Theory aside, let’s look at some specific components of classroom management and why they work or fail. We’ll take rules, procedures, and directives. We’ll count the rules and procedures in the category of more permanent classroom governance, and directives will be the day to day, moment to moment communication between teacher and student. I used the word “directive” to reflect the punitive nature of the testing environment. We are positioned in a system that requires a level of punitive action. We will also look at ways to lessen the punitive effects, if they can be lessened. Maybe they can only be disguised. I’ll attempt to unravel that, too.

Tune in tomorrow for more mayhem.

0134: Why Teach? A Charge to Critical Educators #education #SOSchat #revolution #edreform #p2

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As educators we must constantly assess why we continue as educators. We must examine our practice daily through reflection and evaluate whether or not we are teaching for what we deem to be the right reasons. It is up to the teacher, alone, what those “right reasons” are. There are many reasons for teaching, just as there are many reasons for education. Education as a system is dictated by various political and corporate forces; ignoring this is simply naïve. As educators, we are the final barrier between policy and the humans the policy affects (this flows up the bureaucratic continuum, as well— principals have some control over the way policy affects teachers and so forth). It must be noted that our refusal to carry out certain policies will undoubtedly result in disciplinary action of some sort, but if we deem a policy or anything stemming therefrom harmful to the learners in our care, it is our duty to disrupt said policy. I do not mean to say, at least at this point, that we should all openly rebel and refuse to do our jobs. Rather, we must be critical and vigilant in our pursuit of providing a “quality education” for the learners in our care. We must first identify within ourselves our own definition of quality education.

If the current system offers a complete and meaningful education with opportunity to learn, explore, and become more actualized then stay the course. If the system is beneficial to society as a whole, furthering the participatory processes necessary for the maintenance of an open society, then stay the course. However, if the system shows little or no intention of providing a context for enlightenment, empowerment, and even liberation, then the system cannot be considered benevolent and must be dismantled, and most certainly disrupted.

Teachers are not policy makers. We are at the bottom of the top-down bureaucratic pyramid. We have little say in what is prescribed for our classes and students, but we do have the choice to swallow the pill. We have the choice to follow doctors orders or not. I lean toward the belief that true education is necessary for people to be free, and fully human, especially in an institutionalized society. Humans should have a right and the power to determine how and if they are institutionalized. Society should be open. If we do not help the learners in our care build their critical minds and spirits, then they will never have a choice in anything. We did not have that choice. We were pushed through one institution and into others with little choice, many of us never questioned the validity of the practices that affected us, many of us still have not or will not. What I am proposing, I suppose, could lead to anarchy of a sort. Our institutions certainly provide structure, and there is a need, at least currently, for a structure. But, we, the People, should have a strong say in the structure. We have a right, a natural right, to determine what is best for us.

As teachers, we have the choice to provide learners with skills, tools, and experiences that will make possible their own personal enlightenment. We can also orchestrate their uninterruptible submission to corruption, consumption, and greed. We can mold critical free people, or we can create subservient sheep. I submit that my views may be absolutely wrong and should be questioned and scrutinized without relent, unless, of course, you find the critical spirit abhorrent, in which case you should quickly swallow any bit of snake oil sent your way. As educators, we must be critical. We must understand our power. We must act.

We are not radicals; we simply want what’s best for our students, our neighbors, communities, and countries. We will do what’s best. We will teach.

0129: So I’ve arrived at a personal tipping point, where do I go? #education #teaching #revolution #occupyedu

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Through writing, meditation, soul searching, dialogue, dialectic, and debate, I have arrived at a point of tension that requires some form of release. The crisis is that of my questioning and understanding of my role in public education. This moment is no new moment to me, nor is it original to me. It is a crisis that befalls, though it seems I have pulled it down upon myself very intentionally, anyone who participates within any institution; further, anyone who has any naïve belief in an institution and is gradually awakened to the reality of their chosen institution or institutions. I say this with the understanding that I have never doubted or been blind to the fact that public education has functioned in a sinister manner to divide and suppress people, at least this is my claim. I do, however, believe in the intention of many educators to work toward the liberation and enlightenment of the people with and/for whom they work (I would hope to be considered among this class of educators). Therein lies the crisis, educators want to aid in enlightenment and liberation; the system functions to divide and suppress. The system as it is functions to eliminate any possibility of a critical and literate populace through bland and numbing test prep from kindergarten forward. Mass standardization and narrowing curriculums do not lay the ground work for an open democratic society; rather, the road is paved for any form of rule by few without dissent or question. These ideas do not belong to me alone, but would be realized by anyone with a critical eye toward the practice of education— perhaps more saliently, the results of education as it is. Education, standardized education, has not closed any achievement gap, has not changed communities for the better, has not put more or better food on a table for the recipients of education. People have made money, but not the People. So, I arrive at my personal crisis. Where do I go? Do I continue working in an institution that seems to do more harm than good, especially in this climate? Do I fight from within? Do I seek more education? Do I seek more influence? Do I keep chopping away with many others in the blogosphere? What
can I do to amplify my voice, my struggle, and that of others? I’m not sure. I know the answers to my questions aren’t simple. I know I keep asking these questions. I do know that I need to continue seeking answers and asking questions. I need to keep connecting to other educators, rabble-rousers, and revolutionaries. There is a great beast enveloping and facing us. We must stand in solidarity to deliver ourselves, the beast, and help those being crushed deliver themselves. Scrutiny is important. Language is important. It is important that we remain humanistic and not humanitarian. It’s important that we listen. It’s important that we act. What next?

0124: What is Underground Education? The How’s, Why’s, and What-Nots #education #SOSchat #revolution

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Underground Education is revolutionary, but does not aim to teach or incite external revolution; rather, it aims to nudge minds awake. Underground education begins the moment you see something that needs to be taught, and you teach it regardless of time allotted. Teachers engage in this daily. It is not a specific plan or curriculum. It is simply teaching, an art that has been and is being rendered obsolete through excessive and oppressive testing procedures. Underground Education begins with you, the teacher, examining the current curriculum as is, and critically supplementing it with what you know to be educational best practice.

Early elementary teachers often don’t have time to help their learners master the skills necessary for reading. Take the time. Make sure they really learn to read. You know how to assess their literacy. Help them develop every single tool they need to engage in ‘reading’— their worlds
and the word. Talk to them, let them talk. Spend time questioning and exploring. Build motor skills and number sense. If a concept is tough to grasp and you must move forward, don’t neglect to go back even if is just for that one child. Teach. You know how to do it. No evaluation, third party, or administrative office can tell you to neglect a child in the name of an assessment. Underground teaching is about providing learners with what they need. It’s about exploring curiosity. It involves teaching and stimulating every child and mind as though they belong in gifted classes. Early elementary teachers build a firm foundation. The slogans say this is so, teachers make it so.

Upper elementary teachers face the fourth grade slump. The transition from learning to read to reading to learn, and beyond that, an even greater emphasis on testing. Learners arrive lacking basic skills for numerous reasons, teachers don’t have time to go back and teach K-4. You don’t, but you must. This is a tough critical slump. The focus, as you know, must center around enabling the learners to glean information from texts— math, reading, social studies, science, the physical world, cultural contexts, etc. This period is quite critical. Learners decide at this point if they can “learn” or not. So often kids never learn to glean any valuable or interesting information independently from the texts lain before them. This is the point where a decisions made about whether “learning” is cold and pointless or meaningful and enriching. Behavior problems blossom out of thin air for those who are behind and lost. Every child should be able to pick up a book or look at a problem, on paper or in world, and glean information and generate critical questions. They should have vocabulary and the ability to acquire vocabulary to talk about what they experience. The vocabulary and language must belong to them, it must be internalized. Of course, there is no time for this in a class full of 30+ struggling fourth graders. You’re frustrated, exhausted, beat down. It will take you chasing rabbits in class, letting them explore seemingly random trains of thought, hallway, lunchroom, and playground conversations. It will require think-alouds and scaffolding of cognitive processes galore. It requires teaching and nurturing critical thinking and problem solving skills constantly and weaving instructional strands together. It requires teaching social skills and building language to express complex emotions. It involves dialogue. Much of this sounds like teaching according to “best practice”; it is teaching the child, the human, not the test. To recap and summarize, upper elementary must aim to enable a child to learn and know s/he can learn. The tools must have a chance to be used. Learners must develop a stake in their own learning. Their curiosity must be explored. They must find what motivates them. They must be successful more than enough to have the desire and payback to continue learning.

From here forth, education involves mass testing. Everything is for the test. Students are known as proficient, basic, and minimal. Names are lost. Discipline, emotional, academic, you name it, problems multiply at this point.
Anything missed in elementary, say fractions, is multiplied from here forward. A kid without a solid understanding of multiplication can derail a pre-Algebra class in a second. The trend is triage. Help who you can. This does not suffice, of course, but what can you do? Parallel curriculum to supplement, reinforce, develop, skills to scaffold this learner to be as close to where they need to as possible. There is not time for this, I know, but it must be taken. The second half of education— middle school, junior high, and high school function academically as a place to deepen skills and augment learning. Pacing guides and high stakes testing obfuscates this though. Secondary teachers beat their heads against their cages trying to figure out how to help their learning learn independently. Kids arrive with so many pieces missing. By this time the cumulative affects of missing pieces here and there make the puzzle seem impossible. Teachers are forced to make tough decisions. The outliers are often thrown out with the bath water. Educational triage- teach to the middle. Learners and teachers are beyond frustrated at this point. It’s survival.

What can be done? Help them, the learners start connecting information, give them problems to solve. Perhaps its a problem in their own world. Something they can arrive at in dialogue. Help them, or watch them work it out through dialogue. Note their cognitive processes, go back and help them notice those processes. Help them learn to understand how they are thinking, how they are solving the problem. Let them see that they are critically working through cognitively complex stuff. Help them write it. Help them teach it. Slowly draw these skills into academic sundries. Help them note their own problem solving/learning ability. Turn them loose on a skill within their ZPD (remember that?), encourage them to teach that skill, to a neighbor, to you, to the world. Help them become powerful learners and collaborators. Everyone has mad skills that can contribute to the group. Perhaps Johnny isn’t the best reader, but his reasoning skills are out this world, his contribution to the collective intelligence of the class, this world is invaluable.

The world functions as a huge cooperative learning project. Schools do not, but they don’t then victims are left behind without a clue they ever had anything to offer— learners and educators. Education leaves people disillusioned and lost, Underground Education seeks to empower and awaken. Underground Education will not allow a learner to pass through a system without finding their value. Underground Education is not dictated by the test or the State agenda of intellectual suppression; rather, it is dictated by the needs of the learners in your care. Here, the educator is the professional. Reform is in your hands, not the hands of the distant, gravy-train riding, ed policy pricks. A top down model cannot work in the underground. Education is for the People. It is by the People. It does not celebrate labels, failures, or separation by assessment measures. It seeks to teach and help learn.

Most important teachers who bother to teach in the Underground must be connected. We must band together in this struggle. We must collaborate and innovate. We must share our methods and our aims. We, together, can revolutionize education. We are not reformers or policy makers; we are teachers, we make decisions, we implement them. We stand together.

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Let’s talk.

0121: I blew up at my class. Friday’s are for Humility #teaching #education #humanity #EtherSec

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I blew up at one of my classes today. I made quite the ass of myself. I yelled until I could feel my face flush, and feel my pulse in my temple. It was ridiculous, sophomoric, and non-cathartic. Sure, I have been sick. Sure, I had a headache. Sure, they refused to comply. They, my class of 7th and 8th grade girls were being ridiculous. They’re capable and have not been living up to it. To top it off I got in a yelling match with one student. After what seemed like an eternity of ass-ery, I had them sit down and proceeded to deliver punitive notes for some impending punitive test. The notes largely consisted of definitions pertaining to music, all terms were in French or Italian.

I made an ass of myself. I went to the office immediately after class to confess. I simply told the principal I over-reacted and stated what I stated above. Maybe I hoped for a reprimand. Rather, I got a simple, “I understand”. So, what’s my course of action? This isn’t the first time I’ve overreacted, and it certainly won’t be the last. In the past I’ve apologized for flying off the handle, and I will do the same tomorrow. We’ll probably take our punitive test, and discuss today’s tomfoolery. I
am a teacher. I am a professional. And, I certainly am a human. It’s important that I own up to my mistakes. Humility toward a class of adolescents is deeply important. They must know that teachers are human. It would never suffice to let this pass, or to hide it, or deny it. It would break trust. It would be outside of the bond required for authentic teaching. I will do better. I will be honest. We, as a class, will move forward together. No One, me included, left behind.

0119: #Education, Doublespeak, and a Guillotine? #teaching #SOSchat #revolution

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Quality teaching means two things. Her test scores reflect her quality teaching; or, her commitment to her students reflect her quality teaching. One statements reflect a commitment to test scores, the other to students. Does the public have a means of determining the difference? Only if they’re aware that there should be a distinction to be made. Many teachers are not even aware that there should be a difference. It’s difficult for a teacher to separate themselves from their test scores. It’s a cognitive miracle. The importance of the test is constantly reinforced through slogans, media, and, of course, evaluations. The slogans are branded onto the psyches of children from kindergarten fore. Teachers are asked (required) to participate in the branding— after all, it’s their job on the line. It behooves a teacher to create a test taking machine, further, a self-motivated test taking machine. It makes the work easier. Full buy-in to the testing system means success for all, or at least uniform massification for all. Dissidents beware. Anyone who speaks against the system, teachers, students, or parents, should expect to be branded a radical yahoo. Dissent will make the system crumble. Students who resist are suspended, expelled, remediated, and so forth. Student dissent is often subconscious and springs forth from the knowledge that forced compliance is unnatural. Defiant teachers are ostracized until they comply. They receive poor evaluations, are put on improvement plans, or fired. Some are just considered radical, and have to function more like spies than “teachers”. It’s an act of sneakily teaching the student with the appearance of teaching the test. A conscious teacher must be a master of doublespeak and fully aware of the doublethink required to function in the education system. Principals who dissent are brutalized and blackballed and the punitive measures continue to the top I’m sure. The carnage is widespread, but covert. The ones harmed the deepest are the students and teachers, oh, and society as people function less and less as human beings and more as automatons. People are being corralled into increasingly separated classes and camps. The poor, and barely making it in one camp, and the demigod rulers somewhere else— somewhere like the heavens where healthcare, literacy, and vacations are copious. Where is the solution? Who knows? Perhaps in community involvement, or better teacher evals. Maybe in representative democracy. Hell, maybe it’s somewhere in 18th century France. Viva la value-added measures my ass.