The Teacher Thread

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by NewYorkIslander, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. Earnest Hemingway

    Earnest Hemingway Senior member

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    Sorry for the spamming, just wanted to stir things up a bit here in the pedagogy realm:

    I suggest reading the entire article although here's a snippet. (and i think parallels can be drawn with physical activity)

    http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/nonreaders.htm


    My experiences as a recent graduate of a pretty good urban public school system support the points of this snippet (I haven't read the whole article); my negative academic experiences were often due to the techniques and situations described. However, I feel that this article is biased in favor of more precocious and advanced students. Making a kid who already reads for 10 hours a week read 30 minutes every night is silly and potentially destructive to said kid's love of reading. But what about the kids who don't read at all, or can't read at grade level?

    My brother teaches at a charter school with a student population that's almost entirely low income, and a large proportion don't speak English at home. He makes his kids do this shit, and they make substantial gains in literacy. (I know that charter school student performance is a hotly debated topic; he teaches at one of the better charter schools in the country, MATCH in Boston.) The same approach is clearly not optimal for all students. In diverse classrooms, approaches that would benefit some students may be detrimental to the learning of others. I and most of my friends were rarely challenged intellectually in public elementary and middle schools. At the same time, other students couldn't handle the material.

    Since tracking seems to be unpopular, what are teachers with a diverse class to do?
     


  2. CBrown85

    CBrown85 Senior member

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    My experiences as a recent graduate of a pretty good urban public school system support the points of this snippet (I haven't read the whole article); my negative academic experiences were often due to the techniques and situations described. However, I feel that this article is biased in favor of more precocious and advanced students. Making a kid who already reads for 10 hours a week read 30 minutes every night is silly and potentially destructive to said kid's love of reading. But what about the kids who don't read at all, or can't read at grade level?

    My brother teaches at a charter school with a student population that's almost entirely low income, and a large proportion don't speak English at home. He makes his kids do this shit, and they make substantial gains in literacy. (I know that charter school student performance is a hotly debated topic; he teaches at one of the better charter schools in the country, MATCH in Boston.) The same approach is clearly not optimal for all students. In diverse classrooms, approaches that would benefit some students may be detrimental to the learning of others. I and most of my friends were rarely challenged intellectually in public elementary and middle schools. At the same time, other students couldn't handle the material.

    Since tracking seems to be unpopular, what are teachers with a diverse class to do?


    I think this is exactly the type of method that would favor a diverse class. If students were literally given the choice to read anything they wanted, they'd pick things at a developmentally appropriate level rather than being forced into a text that is either beyond or below them. In HS, as dorky as it was in hindsight, my english lit teacher asked me if I wanted to put together a Chuck Palahniuk reading club. You'd be surprised how many people actually signed up for this thing. It didn't stop with Palahniuk- we ended up reading a tonne of different books. Would the same thing apply when you're learning a completely different language? I don't see why not, but you might be limited in the amount of choices available to you simply by ignorance of what's available.

    The point of what I'm trying to say is that kids who don't read don't do so out of spite for the system. However, given the right tools, who's to say that they can't start with graphic novels and work their way up to more advanced things? This system can't just start in 11th grade and end there. It needs to be fostered throughout the entire academic career of the student, which means everyone needs to start getting on board. There needs to be a new system, not just a reform of the same shitty one we have.

    Bertrand Russell makes the same point in his essay on teachers- that if schools stopped cramming things like Shakespeare, which is beautiful, down people's throats, they might have more of an eye for it when they get older.

    As for the point about being rarely challenged in schools- I've made this point before. Teachers aren't the gatekeepers of knowledge anymore. We need to change the current educational paradigm into something that allows learners to self-direct a lot better. I don't know exactly what that system looks like, but I do know that the 'one size fits all' we have right now sux blz.
     


  3. erictheobscure

    erictheobscure Senior member

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    I have nothing particularly valuable to contribute, but I felt compelled to remark that this is one of the most thoughtful threads (some digressions notwithstanding) I've read in my time lurking around SF. I taught one semester of high school (mostly ninth grade). I found the time in the classroom great, if exhausting, but I just couldn't hack the lifestyle--the early mornings, grading a hundred papers at a time, etc. Coraggio to all the teachers and administrators out there.
     


  4. CBrown85

    CBrown85 Senior member

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  5. deadly7

    deadly7 Senior member

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    ^good read

    Would be interested in hearing current teachers' opinions on NCLB and how it affects their jobs.
     


  6. Eason

    Eason Bicurious Racist

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    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/0...acher-Any-More

    Just a write-up by a teacher on an evil liberal blog but interesting nonetheless.


    I'm curious what school district she was in, since I grew up in the Beaverton School district. I had a pretty good experience in my schools with some great teachers who really influenced me in my career choice. I can only imagine that it's gotten much, much worse since then. I actually remember when No Child Left Behind became active. It was 6th grade, and my grades were the worst I'd ever had. The teachers had to suddenly change their curriculum with about 2 months notice to prepare the whole school for the test. The fucking program made a noticable negative impact on the quality of my classes. Education is such a shame in America. [​IMG]
     


  7. NewYorkIslander

    NewYorkIslander Affiliate Vendor

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    Any content area people do Independent Reading with their kids? I do it at times in my SS room so I can conference with my students a few times a semester, but I have trouble getting all of them to buckle down and do what they need to do while I conference. They are given guided thinking questions that they should be answering in their journals, but i feel they just blow it off. I hold their journals to a high standard, but think they'd rather just take the hit (granted its a small, but noticeable minority in each class). Any tips, even obvious stuff, would be helpful. Thanks.
     


  8. NewYorkIslander

    NewYorkIslander Affiliate Vendor

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    ^good read

    Would be interested in hearing current teachers' opinions on NCLB and how it affects their jobs.


    Just makes us focus more on test taking skills than in the past. I feel that what NCLB has accomplished was not to eliminate social promotion, but to standardize it. I never had more administrative pressure to pass students who don't deserve it than I do now. They pressure us because the state tests are generally so easy that all but the lowest of the low pass it. Administrators see that, and they say, "How can you justify failing XYZ if he passed the test?" But the worst part is that the kids know it.
     


  9. FtRoyalty

    FtRoyalty Senior member

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    Any content area people do Independent Reading with their kids? I do it at times in my SS room so I can conference with my students a few times a semester, but I have trouble getting all of them to buckle down and do what they need to do while I conference. They are given guided thinking questions that they should be answering in their journals, but i feel they just blow it off. I hold their journals to a high standard, but think they'd rather just take the hit (granted its a small, but noticeable minority in each class). Any tips, even obvious stuff, would be helpful. Thanks.

    Consider different means of assessment. Have the students design a movie poster if the book were made into a movie or write a theme song for the book. Give the students the choice to write, draw, etc. I work with a lot of low readers, and I have to get creative. If I ask them to write too much, they will shut down. Also, graphic novels and magazines are good to have around. I have had more male students ask me what a word means from reading old Game Informers than reading any required reading. How about reading circles?

    Other thoughts: Offer extra credit for writing book reviews and keep them in your class. Students will more likely read something if they hear about it from another student rather than an adult.
     


  10. CBrown85

    CBrown85 Senior member

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    Any content area people do Independent Reading with their kids? I do it at times in my SS room so I can conference with my students a few times a semester, but I have trouble getting all of them to buckle down and do what they need to do while I conference. They are given guided thinking questions that they should be answering in their journals, but i feel they just blow it off. I hold their journals to a high standard, but think they'd rather just take the hit (granted its a small, but noticeable minority in each class). Any tips, even obvious stuff, would be helpful. Thanks.

    This just demonstrates that extrinsic rewards aren't a motivating factor for those students- there needs to be something there that they find useful or interesting.

    Are you wanting them to be productively occupied or seriously work/finish the journals? I wonder if giving choice is the way to go in that situation- ask them what they'd rather do and hold them to it. Personally I hated writing in journals (that were never 'really' journals if we were told a specific direction to take or questions to answer). Are the journals in response to reading they've done or just unit-related questions.

    Maybe the journals themselves could be a method of authentic self-assessment. "I want you to write about your progress in this class, your goals and what you feel like both of us could work on better. When we have our meeting, we'll discuss what you wrote and other things."

    If they'd rather talk, give them a small project that they could collaborate on and still be social. "Explain a chapter of your book to your group and come up with a skit." or something...

    Just shouting out ideas, really.
     


  11. CBrown85

    CBrown85 Senior member

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    Consider different means of assessment. Have the students design a movie poster if the book were made into a movie or write a theme song for the book. Give the students the choice to write, draw, etc. I work with a lot of low readers, and I have to get creative. If I ask them to write too much, they will shut down. Also, graphic novels and magazines are good to have around. I have had more male students ask me what a word means from reading old Game Informers than reading any required reading. How about reading circles?

    Other thoughts: Offer extra credit for writing book reviews and keep them in your class. Students will more likely read something if they hear about it from another student rather than an adult.


    +1
     


  12. FtRoyalty

    FtRoyalty Senior member

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    This just demonstrates that extrinsic rewards aren't a motivating factor for those students.

    I only read maybe one or two educational articles on independent reading but both agreed it is most effective when there is no grade attached to it i.e. reading for the sake of reading
     


  13. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    Its surprising that we seem to have no elementary school teachers here.
     


  14. FtRoyalty

    FtRoyalty Senior member

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    They pressure us because the state tests are generally so easy that all but the lowest of the low pass it.

    But this is also one of the biggest problems that I have encountered with state testing. My students (rural, western Virginia along I-81) have different educational needs and upbringings than students in Fairfax or other more affluent (relatively speaking) areas of the state. It is unrealistic to expect all students across the whole state to be at the same pace. However, the lower level at-risk kids are the ones who need the most help, and the teachers who teach them get paid about 40k. Who wouldn't want to teach in Loudoun or Fairfax, get paid a higher salary and teach a greater number of students from middle and upper-middle class homes? Someone earlier in this thread stated how location doesn't just apply to real estate.

    For the record, my eighth graders take their state writing test next Tuesday and Wednesday. I just want to get the damn thing over with as it is all I have heard about for the past seven months.
     


  15. KenRose

    KenRose Senior member

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    up here in Canada, almost all elementary teachers are chicks. Styleforum is mostly male, no?
    Its surprising that we seem to have no elementary school teachers here.
     


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