Monday, December 29, 2008

Highschool Music Teacher Found Slain in NV

This is the time of the year when everyone should be together and with their loved ones. How sad and tragic this is not only for the family of Matthew Cox but also for his school and all of his former students. I do not know this person, but as a teacher I do feel for this story. It's hard work as a teacher, and no one deserves more respect than teachers. What makes this story even more tragic is that Mr. Cox is reportedly to have known his suspected murderes as former students. How sad.

Take a moment and just reflect on the good things on what being a teacher means to you. Even if you're not a teacher, you can still think about your former teachers and how they have meant to you.

Here is a link to this story and here's another one with video.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

NYTVF Teacher Movie....

This is a cool little flick about the life of new teacher and all the drama that goes along with it. Ofcourse there are a few things that are a bit over dramatic (the love scene and the whole race issue) but there are also some things that are dead on. (Like the gossip in the teachers lounge, the boring faculty meetings)

Anyways inspite of all that, this is an enjoyable little movie that is a good attempt to show what life is like for teachers. What changes would you like to see in this movie, or did you think it was dead on?

Here's the info on the clip:

*Winner: 2008 - People's Choice Award*
His whole life Tim Donnely has had one dream: to become a teacher. Fresh out of college, Tim is ready to realize that dream and revolutionize education. However, hes in for a rude awakening when he butts heads with jaded educators and a professional teacher-coach sent to retool the faculty. Throw in a celebrity music teacher and a search for a new principal, and youve got the first episode of Teachers. Everyone has been to school; everyone has had teachers. We are now proud to lift the veil and reveal the true colors of American academia from the teachers perspective.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This is how we all should teach...

With the new year coming I thought this clip might help get the teaching juices flowing for the coming year. Watching teachers like this, really makes me enjoy want I do for living. I really don't think I would enjoy doing anything else.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Student's shared lunch costs $1,800

Maybe it's just me, but I always enjoy looking at what other people bring for lunch. I might even ask for a small portion if it really looks good. Nothing wrong in that right....hmmmm nothing unless ofcourse you're Alvin I.S.D.
A student from Manvel High School had shared a pizza with his friends during lunch while auditors from the health agency where at that school. Since this offense has already been stated in the guidlines, the state of Texas will with hold funds of $1,800 for Manvel High School. That's a hefty fine for something like this, but then again Texas is rated 6 in childhood obesity.

Here's the story.

More drama for Texas Public Education....

Cynthia Dunbar has been strongly advocating more Christianity in the public schools. Her new book, One Nation Under God, argues that the country's founding fathers created "an emphatically Christian government" and believed that government should be guided by a "biblical litmus test."

Ok right about now you're probably thinking..."so what, just another crazy extremist in our society. WRONG!!!! Cynthia Dunbar is a member of the State Board of Education in Texas.

I'm surprised that this has not been on many other people's radars....but this is a huge story. Imagine hiring a waiter at your steak restaurant who turns out later to be an extreme member of PETA. It's almost as a crazy, only the scary thing, is that Cynthis doesn't seem to be concered with how others feel about her stance.

"The fact that the Texas Freedom Network is diametrically opposed to my positions is not anything that is shocking to me, nor is it upsetting to me," she said.

I'm pretty much scared and nervous right now. If something is not done soon, she might start implimenting some of her beliefs into the public education. Hopefully more people will soon find out about this and try to do something about it. I hope sooner than later.

You can read more about her in this article from the houston chronicle.

Can you imagine working for a school district where one of your top administrators shares her same belief?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In case you needed more reasons why teachers need a raise...

Ok so the first time I posted this story the video wasn't working too well. Here's for round 2. Here are 2 high school teachers who are trying to make a point in that if you had to live on just $30 a month for food, you find that it's really hard to eat healthy nutritious food. However in their blog they have been able to not only do this but also provide reciepes as well as updates on their upcoming book project.

The point being is that some of our students are also living on tight budgets and might not be abel to afford to eat healthy food. It's no wonder obseity is at a rapid rate now in school age kids. Parents are simply finding it difficult to afford foods that are not only affordable but also full of proper nutrients.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

3 things I believe...

This post is in response to linnic post on what she believes students can achieve. I found this post to be really thought I took the time to add it to my blog. Here's the general idea:

Marth Thornburgh of Opening Doors to Digital Learning was asked the question “Do you believe all students can meet standards?” Please read about her response on her blog. The “All Students Meme” came about as a result.
1. Share three things that you believe about all students.

2. Reflect on your thoughts in your blog. (If you do not have a blog, you can share your ideas in a comment from this post.)

3. Be sure to link to this post and to where you were first tagged.

4. Tag your response with AllStudentsMeme

5. Invite others to join the conversation by tagging them to be a part of the meme.

Here is what I believe:

1) All students need to be taught in safe and secure environment in order to maximize their learning. No student enjoys being bullied, and when we as teachers can create a peaceful climate the disruptions with decrease throughout the year.

2) I belive that all students need to be fluent in the language of technology by the time they finish. With so many jobs asking for applications online, we need to start teaching our students how to become familar with the tools in order to have a successful career.

3) All students have some kind of's our job as teachers to find it. Once we find out what drives them, the learning will eventually kick in full speed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Drug testing teachers.....?????

Apparently, teens and the youth of america are not alone when it comes to the enjoyment of a little recreational mind stimulation of the narcotic sense. Within the last month, HISD has arrested 9 employees after a drug sting operation.

I can't imagine anyone who works with children would even think about bringing in their drugs on campus. The thought really does baffle my mind. However, I wouldn't also be surprised if there was a student who might have been so upset at his/her teacher that they just decieded to call the cops as an aynmous tip. What a crazy world we live in, where both of these scenarios are very possible.
Now it would apprear that HISD is considering the plan of drug testing employees and also doing random parking lot searches with drug dogs. I hope that this whole mess works out for the best, and that the students will be able to weather this crazy storm and get some good teaching.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weeding out the teachers...

Houston Independent School District has been under fire lately for many reasons with this latest one taking the cake. Houston Independent School District Trustee Natasha Kamrani supports the method of identifying "great" teachers and rewarding them, while also identifying "bad" teachers who, after training are still not improving, will be terminated. This theory is very similar to what Michelle Rhee is trying to pass in Washington D.C.

Gayle Fallon, the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers aims to fight this measure. Here are some points that she makes in an article in the houston chronicle:
The proposal to terminate teachers based on value-added scores ignores numerous glitches in the system that the district has yet to solve, including but not limited to:
• HISD only has value-added scores on 3,700-4,200 teachers, or about one-third of the instructional staff.• Many teachers are in non-tested subjects, such as pre-kindergarten through second grade, special education and non-core subjects.
• Middle- and high-school-content core courses in the sciences and social studies generally do not lend themselves to a growth measure. There is no accurate measure of what the student knew entering the class, so growth is almost impossible to measure.
• The HISD value-added scores are largely based on the TAKS test. TAKS is a criterion-referenced test and is not a growth measure. Consequently, if a child enters a class reading four levels below grade level and a teacher raises him two levels, he still fails the TAKS test and his score counts against the teacher in spite of the extraordinary growth in the student's learning.
• HISD, like many urban districts with a high level of poverty, has a very high student mobility rate, with students arriving and leaving throughout the year, often in large numbers. The value-added formulas do not account or control for student mobility.
The "best" teachers that HISD claims to want to keep and reward already resent the current narrowing of the curriculum and the de-emphasis on creativity and teaching students to think and apply knowledge. A move to evaluate them solely on their standardized test scores may have the unintended consequence of driving the strongest teachers into districts that allow them to teach children rather than simply teaching a test.
I agree that it is going to be extremely hard to create a justifiable formula that will evaluate all teachers on all grade levels. However, this should not stop us from trying. Teachers should be evaulated solely on their student's test scores however they should be included in a larger mix. Allow room for error as well as creating a working growth chart so that teachers can be effective with their teaching styles. Those are my two cents....
What do you think about this new measure? Do you think it's justifiable to terminate a teacher's contract if they are not effectively teaching to their students?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree....

Today I had the most awkward situation that I have experienced yet as a teacher. I was working with a student with his reading when the school sectratary came in and asked if I had called this student's mom. When I told her no and she left, the student said "I want to slap that woman in the face". I was shocked and had him go and apologize to the sectratary. As I was walking him to the office to write an office referral as I see his mom sitting up in the front already. She was waiting to speak to the principal so I just simply explained what happened and I went in to finish my report. When I came out the mom asked me to explain to her again what happened. Then she asked if he went ahead and did hit her. When I told her that it was him just simply using words, she got upset and mad At ME....for "making a big deal out of nothing". She went on to say that students should be allowed to say what they need to say, as long as they don't go ahead and follow through with it. (I know....I was shocked too).

Really at this point, there was nothing I could say that would make any sense to her. Clearly she was stuck on her point, and made it clear that teachers are wasting their time with these little issues. Now what really made me a little upset, was during this whole speech, her son was right there listening to the whole thing. It's no wonder these kids are where they are today.

Let me just go ahead and whip out my magic wand from my back pocket and fix all of these problems in a single wave. I'm sure that would make everything allright. Well...seeing as how i don't have one of those handy...i do however have a clip that i found off of youtube of a parent yelling at what seems like a pta conference. The picture quality is not that great, but you get the jest of what's going on. Enjoy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Is this the future of education???

Michelle Rhee is making a lot of big changes in the Washington D.C. area. In her short time she has already fired over 300 teachers, principals and administrators and is making waves amongst the teacher unions.
With hopes of paying teachers in the upwards of $100,000 a year she would expect to have a higher demand on teacher accountability and also to let go of the weaker teachers. The teacher unions, ofcourse are not crazy about this and are fighting her every inch of the way.
I am watching how she's going to handle this whole situation and I don't think I'm the only one. Can you imagine how your job might change if her philosphy becomes more widespread? Would you like to work for someone as radical as this?
I hope things turn out for the best for Michelle since she is one of the most forwarded persons yet in our education system. Very little attention has been brought to education and hopefully she'll be able to start more discussions about this.