Thursday, June 25, 2015

RI rejects sanity.

From Joanne Jacobs:
Rhode Island should stick with a single diploma, says Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist, who’d proposed creating standard, “regents” and honors diplomas. Instead, she said districts should be able to add “endorsements” to the diploma to indicate higher levels of proficiency and honors.
Which is a shame, really. Having more than one diploma makes the students work harder for the better one.

HIP: class expectations

Because there's nothing quite like strict discipline for teaching teenagers, the Highly Ineffective Principal actually came out and said the following (although not all at the same meeting):
  1. Every class should have 100% attendance daily. It is the teacher's responsibility to call parents and make this happen.
  2. Every child should have a hand up for every question. The right hand should be raised if they know the answer and the left one if they don't.
  3. If a paper drops, everyone should be able to hear the paper hit the floor.
Total silence is best.
Teacher-led questions only.
Your kids are not allowed to be sick, go to the doctor, be dismissed early for sports, go to the counseling office, be involved in anything outside of school or else ... what?

And people wonder why teachers bitch about incompetent administrators.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I'm never gonna use this.

Well, Eighties Music Forever, I never said that you would have to. I notice that you didn't "use" poetry, chemistry, biology, or science of any kind, nor history, psychology, art of any kind, nor Literature; pretty sad that all that schooling has gone to "waste" because no one gave you an artificially simplified problem that you recognized as "Algebra" instead of as a real-world problem that you couldn't have dealt with unless you'd understood algebra.

Of course, you wouldn't be much of a person without it all, though, so it's a good thing you learned it in school.

We could use "I'm bored" as an excuse or "When am I ever gonna have to use this?" as a reason to kick you out the door into the Real-World and let you get a Real-Job and pay Real-Bills, but I prefer to put it more simply:
You're (Black/Latino/Female ... you can fill in the blank) so you aren't allowed to take Algebra - it will be too difficult for you and the community doesn't feel that they should be paying for your education when you'll only ever be a (minimum-wage/slave-labor/custodian/mechanic ... fill in the blank) worker.
If you recoiled when I forbid you from learning something because I didn't consider you worth the effort, why should I allow a student to do this to themselves?

Every student hates algebra because learning it is hard ... learning anything is hard if you've never done anything like it before.  

Reason #722 why Students Have Trouble

Found this at teachers pay teachers.

No shit. And the hundredths place is called that because ....?

This is what Rape Culture Looks Like.

“Gentlemen. This is what rape culture is like:

Imagine you have a Rolex watch. Nice fancy Rolex, you bought it because you like the way it looks and you wanted to treat yourself. And then you get beaten and mugged and your Rolex is stolen. So you go to the police. Only, instead of investigating the crime, the police want to know why you were wearing a Rolex instead of a regular watch. Have you ever given a Rolex to anyone else? Is it possible you wanted to be mugged? Why didn’t you wear long sleeves to cover up the Rolex if you didn’t want to be mugged?

And then after that, everywhere you go, there are constant jokes about stealing your Rolex. People you don’t even know whistle at your Rolex and make jokes about cutting your hand off to get it. The media doesn’t help either; it portrays people who wear Rolexes as flamboyant assholes who secretly just want someone to come along and take that Rolex off their hands. When damn, all you wanted was to wear a nice watch without getting harassed for it. When you complain that you are starting to feel unsafe, people laugh you off and say that you are too uptight. Never mind you got violently attacked for the crime of wearing a friggin time piece.

Imagining all that? It sucks, doesn’t it.

Now imagine you could never take the Rolex off.”

— The Wretched of the Earth: On Rape Culture


In an article about the crash of Flight 447, Automation Paradox, pt. 1
In 1997,  American Airlines captain Warren Van Der Burgh said that the industry has turned pilots into “Children of the Magenta” who are too dependent on the guiding magenta-colored lines on their screens.

William Langewiesche agrees: “We appear to be locked into a cycle in which automation begets the erosion of skills or the lack of skills in the first place and this then begets more automation.”

However potentially dangerous it may be to rely too heavily on automation, no one is advocating getting rid of it entirely. It’s agreed upon across the board that automation has made airline travel safer. The accident rate for air travel is very low: about 2.8 accidents for every one million departures. (Airbus planes, by the way, are no more or less safe than their main rival, Boeing.)
As a math teacher, the parallels to the use of calculators, graphing calculator apps, and various other tools, jumped out at me immediately.  These tools make student progress in mathematics easier, make concepts more easily grasped ... and give the students a crutch that has vast implications when that crutch is whisked away or breaks.

Technology cannot replace understanding. It is a tool, nothing more.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Tenure is not about a job for life

Tenure is not about a job for life. Tenure exists to create a formal structure for the removal of a teacher who has been accused of misbehavior or of a crime. The contract spells out the steps that need to be taken and is not a way for the evil teachers' union to keep incompetent people.

The concept of tenure and the wording of the contract work together to prevent one-sided, wrong-headed, or patently false accusations from being used to get rid of someone who really did nothing wrong other than refuse to be a sycophantic lapdog.

And sometimes, it helps people like Rafe Esquith, who otherwise would have been summarily fired.
"There are no suggestions that he has harmed any children. But as many of the great teachers I have written about over the years have told me, if you work hard and show administrators how much better our schools could be if they took their responsibilities seriously, you are going to become a target for abuse." - Jay Matthews.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Playing the Game

Or perhaps the Principal encourages those who will do poorly to "opt out" ... by telling them they don't have to be in school that day with no consequences. Then, when they skip, they're not truant, they're opting out.

It is so easy to game the numbers.