“In place of the parents” is not “the new parent”

 

“Teaching involves conflicting roles. Teachers want all children to succeed and to develop a love of learning, yet much of their time and energy goes into controlling students’ behaviour and evaluating students according to external standards. The more one tries to reach students individually, the more one may feel conflict with other aspects of schooling, such as the need to sort students by ability or the pressure to have students conform to rules and standards.” – Young, L., Levin, B., & Wallin, D. (2014). Understanding Canadian schools: An Introduction to Educational Administration (5th ed.).

 

Sadly the above paragraph is one of the main problems that both teachers and parents are struggling with. We want to give students independence and give them the skills to question the world around them, yet our arms are twisted behind our backs with (outdated) curriculum outcomes, budgeting issues, and more responsibilities than ever before. Many educators come into the field to make a difference and help their kids embrace learning… but if they want to keep their job they are required to teach to the test.

 

 

Canadians are more lucky than our American counterparts. The no child left behind policy has decimated their educational system, and they under perform when compared to the First World countries. Teachers go through years of University learning the tools on how to maximize learning for each individual student, and then we enter the classroom and get burdened with a literal mountain of work and lose sight of why we entered the field.

 

JFK’s famous line “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you an do for your country” applies here. When it comes to education, the teachers should not be receiving all these burdens from the get-go. The number one contributing factor to student performance has been parents involvement in their child’s education for decades now. Dozens of major studies have confirmed this. So really, ask not what your teacher can do for you, but what you can do for your teacher is a motto I’d personally prefer to have implanted in the minds of all students and parents.

 

Teacher’s who’ve recently graduated. What are your tips to current student-teachers who are about to enter the field?

White’s have fun, others have none

I’ve been in Mike Cappello’s classroom to learn about controversial issues, as well as some anti-oppression conferences a month ago. Mike Cappello is an ‘expert’ on white privilege and racism, and it appears he has been rubbing off on some of the students and I. While at the University bar working on a group project, students and I talked about our ‘alcohol limit’ that we handle, and the stories that have influenced what our ‘limit’ is. We both realized quickly that we can have this conversation without fear of being judged or labelled due to us being white and presentable (aka in “nice clothes”). Had we been a marginalized and oppressed group such as the First Nations, we would have likely been judged by any ears that heard us (or just in general for being in a bar). Our conversation then switched to white privilege.

Student Teachers and New Teachers: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The teaching profession seems to be in the middle of a vast series of changes that are shifting the very nature of our profession. The old teaching format: Meet the curriculum, give the students content, and prepare them for university with tests and papers. The new teaching format: Meet the students needs, give them skills for independent learning, prepare them for the real world. Both have pros and cons.

Personally I enjoy the new teaching format. The problem with the new format is that we have to throw it on top of the already established method. At the end of the day, we as educators need to meet the curriculum and give students a final grade, and often times, give a final exam. This makes it difficult to meet the requirements and show the benefits of the new method. The old format also appears to be more  time and curriculum friendly towards teachers. I say appears because many of us have difficulties giving the new format the required time and dedicated it requires to really show off the punch it packs.

Every teacher has different opinions on both of these methods and we as students are having to use both at the same time. This is leading to a lot of confusion and chaos for both the students, teachers, and student-teachers in the schools and universities. I feel that if we were sent five years back in time to be taught how to teach, it would be a lot more clear what we need to do (I would still prefer the new format of teaching however). Additionally I feel that if we were sent five years into the future, we would have a much better idea on what we need to do as educators as most school systems would have finally adapted. What are your thoughts on this?

90% of Effort is for Students who give 10%

We are teachers are going to send 90% of our efforts towards students who AREN’T as likely to succeed. The student whom have good study skills, get homework done on time, do homework and assignments well, and contribute to the class could learn everything themselves. They don’t NEED help. We aren’t here for them, we don’t differentiate or skill-build for these students. They will already be successful in the classroom.  We do all these things for the students that aren’t as likely to succeed. Students that don’t complete their homework, don’t do a proper job of assignments, don’t listen to feedback they are given are the ones we will need to struggle to meet outcomes we set.

Personally I don’t think exams should be a thing we have.. or at least grade high. Inquiry project that receive multiple drafts, feedbacks, and skill-building sessions should be the major assessments. Students might not be great test takers or maybe they weren’t able to sleep last night. Every person who’s gone through school has taken an exam that they bombed due to whatever reason. This is not proper assessment of learning. If students truly did bomb a major assignment, I will give them the option to re-write it (or something similar).

In my assessment plan for one of my courses, I made an end goal of a unit being a dialectical thinking essay. My instruction and assessments for learning were based on skill-building, how do write an essay, how to source, and how to support an argument. They first do a one page outline worth 2%, then a rough draft of their essay worth 10%, then a final essay worth 23%. If they don’t do a good job of their final essay, they are permitted to re-write it. The grade of this final essay will be made up of the average of both essays (Essay 1 gets 40%. Essay 2 gets 80%. Students get a total of 60%). Late marks and Zeroes depend on the school policy and the students themselves. Shape your teaching and policies to your students. Personally I want students have every assignment I give them completed it (and passed) in order to pass my class. If they fail an assignment they can re-do it. If they don’t complete their work the day it’s due, they can stay in my class during lunch and/or after-school to finish it and for my feedback.

Doctors Notes: A note of stupidity

Just a quick rant. Doctors notes, in no way, help anyone accomplish anything. It floods Saskatchewans currently already overstretched health system. It puts other people are risk of being sick, it wastes employers, employees, and doctors time and money. I recently had to get a doctors note to avoid being expelled from my school. For three days of missed classes. I was so sick that I was stuck in bed for the first two days and could only stomach one meal. I was vomitting, had diarrhea, extreme headaches, stuffed up, disoriented, and dizzy. If I’m too sick to show up to class in my fifth year of University, isn’t it logical to assume that I’m too sick to wait in a medical clinic for an hour and a half to pay $40 for a doctors note? The only times I got out of bed were to go to the bathroom, make myself food once, and get a god damned doctors note. People who require these: you do nothing good for the system. That is all.

 

For more reasons why Doctor Note requirements are bad….

 

http://www.ecms.dragonflystyles.biz/pdf/1247754281.pdf

http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/2014/01/11/sometimes-a-doctors-note-can-make-things-worse

 

If your student or employer says they have a nasty flu and have no habit of commonly falling ‘sick’ before, why harm the system.

What do I want my classroom to look like?

I’ve tried making a layout on many programs available, but they’re all glitchy and after the fifth time I’ve given up on it. I ‘ve thought about what my ideal classroom would look like… and here it is.

Student Layouts:

  • Four large tables with six chairs around each (two chairs on 3 of the 4 sides of the table… empty side is the one closest to the teachers desk & boards)
  • Each table will have a 3×2 whiteboard that they can have access to (or whiteboard paint on the desk… meaning students can write directly on the desk)
  • Preferable that each student has access to a tablet, laptop, or smartphone… or one for each two students

Boards & Projectors

  • Instead of a smart board like most classes, I would personally prefer a 55″+ HDTV with a chromecast attached to it (assuming internet in the school isn’t the equivalent of a potato)
  • White boards beside or behind the TV/smart board
  • White screen w/ a projector in a corner… within 10 feet of the tv/board
  • Each table has a tiny whiteboard attached to their tables

Miscellanious Things

  • Some noise cancelling ear muffs…. very cheap, and very effective. Have a few pairs attached t the wall for students whom do not concentrate well with noise to use when appropriate
  • Some sofas or bean bag chairs on the corners or against the walls… some comfortable furniture that students have access to
  • a regular desk or two in the corners or storage that can be brought out
  • Smart lights: I have in my own personal room two lightbulbs that are LED. They can be changed to any colour or brightness with a remote control. They can also be turned on/off with a remote control. It seems small and pointless, but trust me they are delightful
  • I’d like an L shaped desk with my own personal laptop on it… or a school one with good specs so I can stream to the chromecast or remote access my computer.
  • A toaster, microwave, and coffee pot in a corner that students have access to…. most students do not eat breakfeast. It’s something simple that can make a big impact

Response: Teachers, enough with these social media ‘lessons’

While doing my daily reading, I read Teaching the Teacher’s new post of the day: “Teachers, enough with these social media ‘lessons.'”

Every few months a photo like this surfaces In my social media stream feeds telling me to like, retweet a message to ‘teach’ children a lesson about social media.

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In world where millions of pieces of new content are being uploaded every second, creators are resorting to desperate and more shocking things to break through the clutter in search of that elusive like, share or retweet.

And it’s not just kids.

Companies, celebrities, politicians, sports teams and, dare I say it, teachers find themselves wanting to harness the power of this vast global network.

Could there be a better way to teach responsible use of the Internet than publicly shaming students in as wider a forum as possible?

I understand the motivation behind the lesson, to protect kids from posting something stupid that could ruin their lives if it goes viral.

However I’m not convinced this approach actually leaves students with an enduring understanding of responsible and ethical online behaviour.

Fear of ridicule may be great for short-term compliance but in the long term it does little promote sound and ethical decision making over the long term. It actually gives credence to the number one tool in bully’s arsenal, a public audience.

And that audience doesn’t need to be big. The reality is that most students aren’t going to experience Star Wars kid level of viral cyberbullying. However if a student has more than one friend on snapchat, they have the the power to hurt and humiliate someone else through a share.

The focus purely on students as creators of content ignores that most of the time the kids are consumers and distributors of content which is where the problem really lies.

Taking part in a meme without really thinking about the context.

Sharing and viewing images designed to humiliate without thinking about the consent or feelings of the subject.

Retweeting articles without reading them.

I was dismayed at the number of teachers who were happy to capture and share their students doing the Harlem Shake. Yet the kids dancing who had no idea that Harlem was a place let alone what the people living there thought of the global phenomenon.

Or how quickly the cause of motor neurone disease was forgotten in the race to upload, share and nominate others in the ice bucket challenge.

The Internet is participatory.

Whether it’s a 13 year old request for a like for a like or a multinational company getting you to share, they are asking for that moment of connection. They believe their idea is important enough for you to stand by it to give it more credence.

The audience for the share could be 1 or 1 billion. It is the power of that audience kids need to appreciate and use appropriately.

What we share is more important than what we create.

The best way I believe I can response to this article is by breaking it down and then posting a conclusion.

Companies, celebrities, politicians, sports teams and, dare I say it, teachers find themselves wanting to harness the power of this vast global network.

But this is the entire point of social media: Accessing information from others, and sharing yours with the entire userbase (and by extension the world). I agree with the goal of something such as twitter as being able to harness the power of a large collective group. But I also believe that in order for something to be powerful, one must have the mindset of “what can I contribute” instead of “what can I gain.” When one has this mindset and gives enough effort and time, the benefits flow naturally.

I understand the motivation behind the lesson, to protect kids from posting something stupid that could ruin their lives if it goes viral.

However I’m not convinced this approach actually leaves students with an enduring understanding of responsible and ethical online behaviour.

Fear of ridicule may be great for short-term compliance but in the long term it does little promote sound and ethical decision making over the long term. It actually gives credence to the number one tool in bully’s arsenal, a public audience.

Agreed. I was actually a victim of me doing something “Stupid” (others words, not mine. I stand by my actions). I was in the middle of a personal/social experiment on Reddit. Reddit is a large…. forum? Where tens of millions of people post articles, pictures, memes, advice, and so forth. It’s the largest of its kind, and has as much impact as something such as 4chan. The website has one major flaw (asides from its search bar). The flaw is that it becomes a hivemind. One educated person will post an opinion, and the people whom read it will follow it without looking at the evidence themselves or critically. This reflects the real world (with social media and news… trust your sources people!). For example, the site hates comcast, capitalism, and supports Edward Snowden. Back onto the point.

My social experiment was to show what people will believe for terms of entertainment. I started to make up stories and summarize them into memes to show what people will believe. I was planning on showing these results to the entire site once I collected enough examples, but was found out in my fourth or so exposition. The entire hivemind of reddit then decided to do a ‘witch-hunt’ on me. People literally spent hours going through my post history to ‘downvote’ everything (it’s the opposite of a like on facebook). Some even found my real world identity and contacted my friends and family with threats. Which is the point I’m trying to make with these paragraphs: I took extreme precautions to make sure nothing linked to my real world identity, and they found it anyways. One must be extremely careful of what they post, and where.

The focus purely on students as creators of content ignores that most of the time the kids are consumers and distributors of content which is where the problem really lies.

Taking part in a meme without really thinking about the context.

Sharing and viewing images designed to humiliate without thinking about the consent or feelings of the subject.

Retweeting articles without reading them.

Exactly the point I was making above. People will follow something blindly; on and off internet. How many people support John A. Macdonald, or Canada as a whole? I personally believe Canada to be one of the most racist places on Earth and John A to have an extreme dark side to him.

The audience for the share could be 1 or 1 billion. It is the power of that audience kids need to appreciate and use appropriately.

Precisely. Respect the power of the most used tool in the world; the internet and its users. This is a lesson students need to learn. It’s unlikely that a post they made when they were 13 on facebook holding a beer will harm them, but they need to understand that stuff like that shouldn’t be uploaded to begin with (and subsequently, their overall actions could take a little modifying. Mine have