Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trust, Respect and Open Communication

Trust, respect and open communication are values without which educators today cannot do their work.  Parents entrust their children to the school system, to the school and ultimately to the classroom teachers but do they, the parents, really trust that the teachers will do their best in educating their child?  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Some parents spend time second-guessing the teacher and even undermining his or her efforts without having a real understanding of the classroom dynamics. 

Our school motto states that "I will be respectful and responsible."  Nevertheless, when our students are surveyed each year, many report that they see others acting disrespectfully or feel that they themselves are treated disrespectfully.  Where is the disconnect?  Are students learning respect where they should learn it first, i.e. in the home?  If a child learns to respect authority at home, respect for teachers and classmates will come naturally.  Furthermore, are parents teaching their children to respect the educational process when they allow their child to miss school for things such as a cousin's sporting event or an out-of-town birthday party?

Open communication is something that helps parents, teachers, administrators and students create a solid partnership.  As a teacher, I work hard to communicate with parents each day by sending emails, making phone calls, writing notes and publishing newsletters.  In return, I hope that parents will communicate quickly when there is a problem or an issue that might affect their child's ability to function in the classroom whether that be conflicts occurring on the playground, the death of a family member or a pet, or parents who are separated or divorcing.  The child is spending oftentimes more hours at school than at home but parents are sometimes so busy that they forget to inform the teacher(s) of these difficult situations in a timely manner.  This creates discomfort for the students and astonishment in the teacher once she is informed of the situation.
Another example of good communication is when parents have the courage to talk with the teacher directly when they are dissatisfied with something that might be happening in the classroom.  Instead of going to the administration, they try first to speak with the teacher to clarify and resolve any issue.

I think it is time to get back to the BASICS : trust that your child's teacher has the best interest of your child in mind,  respect the work that is taking place in the classroom and communicate openly with your child's teacher.  In turn, educators will continue to give 200% day in and day out to make your child's school day educational and, yes, even fun!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Adopt a School District

A couple months back, I came across an article in my local newspaper entitled, "Intermediate School District 287 announces adoption campaign".  This school district exists to support member school districts by offering a host of services in areas such as gifted education special education and technical education.  I thought it was curious that they were looking to be "adopted" so I read on.
Sun Current article - February 10, 2011
The reasoning behind this campaign is that the economy is weak so the district decided to offer themselves up "for adoption" as a way to meet these challenges.  Governor Mark Dayton did in fact send out a call for every Minnesota business to adopt a school in order to make the statement that in doing this, business can demonstrate their commitment to education, knowing that a strong workforce finds its origins in well-educated students.
This campaign is a noble one but what saddens me is that our state and federal governments are not sufficiently funding public education, forcing local school districts to find other ways to make ends meet.  Budget cuts in my school district are actually tearing away at the very fiber of our special programs such as world language instruction through a FLES option (Foreign Language at the Elementary School) and  my own program which is immersion.  Perhaps it is time we put something like this on our own school marquee...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dave Eggers' wish: Once Upon a School | Video on

Dave Eggers' wish: Once Upon a School | Video on

Dave Eggers on Education

Author, philanthropist and teacher Dave Eggers spoke yesterday evening in Hopkins for the PenPals lecture series which is put on by the Hennepin County Library Foundation.   Dave Eggers is known as an author whose best-selling books such as Zeitoun, What is the What and A Heart-breaking Work of Staggering Genius have caught the attention of the American public.  Instead of speaking about his life as an author, he chose to speak about education, beginning with the tutoring centers he has helped establish in inner cities around the country.  After that, he shared his thoughts on why teachers in public education today need our support today more than ever.  He talked about high teacher turnover and the salary of public school educators being comparable to that of people in professions such as bartenders and toll booth operators.  His underlying theme was that there is a lack of respect for teachers and that the profession no longer carries the dignity it has in the past.  The good news is that we have a great force of volunteers doing good in our country as his tutoring centers demonstrate.  If individuals step forward and do whatever they can to help their local public school, we who are in the teaching force can be energized to continue our work.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Twenty-First Century Teaching

Teaching in the twenty-first century is a daunting task.  There are fewer and fewer resources yet the demands increase.  Alt Comp (Q Comp) and the state require us to be highly qualified teachers.  Budget cuts mean fewer specialists to work with students.  Spanish being cut out of the elementary program means that in our immersion program we will no longer have our English specialist in 3rd and 4th grade.   Our math paraprofessional is being cut as well which will mean a lot less differentiation.  Class sizes continue to increase.  Parents expect more but they continue to over-schedule their children and then complain about homework being too much., Students miss more and more school because of vacations outside of the vacations predetermined by the school calendar.  In the midst of all of this, teachers are expected to keep up with technological advance that increase at what seems to be the speed of light.   In this blog, I hope to share thoughts on how today's educators are working to meet the myriads of challenges in teaching in the twenty-first century.
the future of technology in education