What is Teaching??? (Part 3/3)

THE SOLUTIONS

So we’ve reviewed the reasons I fell in love with teaching, the troubles I’ve seen over the years and now we are at the “solutions.” I use that term broadly because I believe there is no perfect solution to the current state of education in America. If I knew the solution, I’d be famous! (ha!) However, there are specific areas that I believe could serve as a good starting point towards rebuilding the educational system. Here they are:

– Lessen the weight given to standardized tests. We have become so fixated on preparing for, administering and analyzing the loads of standardized tests we give to students, that we have created a testing environment. With the pressure of the testing on students’ graduation requirements and teachers’ evaluations, we are creating an atmosphere where humans will lean towards cheating and lying. Assessing students is necessary and it is something that should be taking place; however, there must be a balance so that testing does not take priority over developing a well-rounded student.

– Provide random observations of teachers to maintain accountability. It’s not a matter of “ha, we caught you.” It’s more a matter of getting a genuine picture of what is happening in classrooms. Most people can paint a pretty picture when an administrator sets up a time when they will be coming in to observe, but what is happening when it’s only the teacher in that room? This is important. Is the teacher effective in teaching the content? What classroom management skills do they possess? It is also key to have multiple individuals providing feedback to the teacher, such as: administration, coworkers, academic coaches, students and other members of the school community. Multiple perspectives help to provide more authentic feedback for the teacher to grow from.

– Be open about the impact of home life on the school setting.  We cannot constantly blame teachers for what’s happening in schools. Every day children are coming to school, whether it’s the 3-year-olds or the 21-year-olds, with a backstory. Something, good or bad, happened that morning…the evening before…at dinner time. Both “rich” schools and “poor” schools have children who have experienced something that week that is impacting their ability to focus on the task of learning. If we continue to ignore the significance of home life, we are fooling no one but ourselves.  It is also key to have parents playing an active role in their child’s education. That role is not to blame teachers, nor their child – the role is to work with the teachers and their child. And being active doesn’t just mean showing up at school functions, it is also monitoring homework and genuinely inquiring about the school day on a regular basis.

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Why I don’t want my kid growing up normal

Such a beautifully written piece that I genuinely agree with. I want to raise my child to become what God has designed him to become; not to simply fit into the mold of what society says. Check out this thoughtful post!

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I don’t want you to grow up normal. I don’t want you to think that the only way to relieve a broken heart is a prescription for a bottle of pills. I want you to feel that hurt, to remember it… and if it was your fault too, I want you to fix that, and not do it again. I want you to learn and not depend on outside stimuli to get you through life.

I don’t want you to grow up normal. To feel that a standardized test is a true measure of your worth and that grades are what define you. I want you to spend time helping other people, growing and learning in your own time. To know that a helping hand to one in need is sometimes worth far more than a test score.

I don’t want you to grow up normal. To never leave the…

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Something to Ponder…

I recently read a very insightful blog post by fromscotlandwithloveblog. I’ve often stated by concern about how desensitized we are becoming as a nation from that which we are viewing on the media. In this post, you will hear the author’s viewpoint on one impact social media has had during the refugee crisis. I invite you to click on the link and read the entire post.

Ahmeli…that we maintain authentic and raw emotions in an effort to genuinely connect with the world around us.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!

What is Teaching? (Part 2/3)

THE TROUBLES

*I understand that my comments are not true of all schools. I can only speak of my experiences in some urban school districts in the U.S.. In addition, as stated in another post, I am going to be honest and state what is really happening without the fluff that disintegrates our ability to determine the root of the problem and tackle the real issues in an effort to discover solutions.*

 

There are many articles and posts on the Internet that explain the challenges in the current educational system here in America. Writing about all of them here would be too much, so instead, I’ll write about the ones I find the most troubling.

– Teachers only work for 9 months a year. This is one of the best jokes told! Dedicated teachers work throughout the day, and against our Will, throughout most of our sleep as well. You are constantly reflecting on how a lesson went, how you could improve it, what a child told you that day, how you could best meet that child’s emotional needs, what activity you could share with parents, how you can get parent to attend the event…the list goes on and on. You teach during the 8 hours and then you plan, grade classwork, locate materials, create differentiation, design leveled homework, complete building paperwork, complete paperwork from other sources, create a new bulletin board, restructure a center to fit a new students’ needs, make photocopies and that list also goes on and on. These additional hours throughout the mornings, evenings, lunchbreaks, bathroom breaks (ha! what are those!?!), weekends, holidays and summer months are not completely counted for in our “hours worked” (and let’s be real, not in our paychecks either!). These are the hours that weaken the teacher who’s been at it for years. These are the hours that split a marriage. These are the hours that make a mother feel like she’s failing at giving her own children the time they deserve. These are the hours that make friendships become distant. These are the hours that are ignored in society, while negatively impacting the lives of teachers around our country.

 

– The curriculum is modernly updated and laid out for teachers to then plan from. The new resources always seem promising, but then reality sets in. Technology continues to advance, and district budgets rarely do, thus leaving classrooms with equipment that is not updated and thus not properly functioning. There is also the quickly shattered hope of

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Setting up before the start of the school year.

receiving proper training for the new resources, as the school year begins and you are expected to just jump right in and begin to teach. Then you have the district that is constantly on the look for new curriculums. It seems like every year a new textbook is purchased and adopted in as the new Bible. Two years later, you are likely to see this pattern repeat. How are the students and teachers expected to really get into the meat of the curriculum in such a short amount of time? Switching resources every few years is hurting the educational development of the students, and it is not permitting your staff with the time to dive into the manuals and truly take ownership over the content. Growth takes time, yet we seem more interested in boasting at the next board meeting about our newest purchase and all of the studies around it (by the way, you know who paid for those studies, right!?!) than we care about permitting the length of time needed for honest data to reflect the effectiveness (or lack thereof) with the newest program. On top of that, with all of the lesson plan requirements with the latest programs, how is a teacher to model creativity when our ability to think outside the box appears to be shrinking with each new purchase and the mandated requirements that keep rolling in with them?

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One Day

One day.
Something happens. It takes you by surprise.
Never expected. Never could’ve imagined.
You reach and you grasp. You rush and you grab.
No movement can satisfy. This feeling that aches.
You’re speaking to God. Wondering if you’ll die.
Is this your time? Is this how it ends?

Each day.
Episodes keep running. This series never ends.
Asking yourself why. Is a battle you’ll never win.
Flashbacks come. Sleep stays away.
The hunger in your gut. Is silent through each day.
Seeing so many doctors. You’re one in the many.
Yet of them you see one. A face you’ll never forget.

Each week.
The stories keep playing. The truth is silenced.
The questions grow and grow. The answers are locked up.
Independence and self-worth. Both left this house.
You hear the voices all around. Yet the words cannot be heard.
Then you grab ahold of the hope, the advice, the future.
The sunshine begins to glimmer. Perhaps this is the way.

Each month.
The silenced truth. Never returned.
The lies eat away at you. There’s proof all around.
Each piece plays the game. Each one wants to win.
For you there is no winning. The only champion is truth.
Why do they hide it? Why do they lie?
To them you’re just a number. Your soul to them is none.

Each year.
The pain is always present. Mask it if you’d like.
Time can heal they say. What if the clock is broken?
Warmth of the son shines through. A smile you begin to feel.
They keep you going in circles. It’s the nightmare of no end.
You’re begging for the truth. Does corruption ever die?
Each day is like the last. The roller coaster never ends.

One day.
His words begin to sink in. The Louder voice confirms.
You never chose that day. But now can choose either path.
The anger needs to leave. The pain will become routine.
This is no way to live. They’ll never admit their wrongs.
Let go of the suffering. Let go of the hurt.
One day. Today. This day. You move on. A new day.

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Ahmeli…that people get to the point where they can leave the pain and begin a new day.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!

 

Sleeping Through Corruption (Part 2/2)

…continued…

– The prison guard who antagonizes an inmate just because he/she can. The prison system should be one where people get consequences and are guided towards improving their lives and changing their future paths; not one where inmates are treated as less than human because they are imprisoned and their voice is rarely heard. Your job is to watch over the inmates and make sure things do not get out of hand. That does not mean you should mock inmates, call them names, go through their legal mail (not general mail), provide narcotics to individuals as a pay-off, nor many of the other things that are often reported (yet ignored) in the prison system. Provide the needed measures to keep things safe in the prisons, but do not use your authority to berate others just because you “can.”

– The researcher who changes the results, or does not disclose the real results, of testing because it does not line up with what the financial donor desires. The point of research is to do testing, identify the facts and report the findings. The results of research should not sway based on what the person/company conducting the research wants to find. In that case, it is not honest research. A recent story from Humans of New York  explained a researcher who was discovering that money is the decision-maker. Information from the study should not be purposefully omitted because it does not go along with what one wanted to find. A researcher should provide all facts from the work he/she conducted no matter what results the study finds.

– The lawyer who cares more about how much money can go in his/her pocket, than looking out for the welfare of the one who sought help. Yes, everyone needs to earn their paycheck, but at what expense? Do you twist and manipulate things just to make sure you get a bigger paycheck? There are people who are genuinely confused and seeking your professional advice. They should not be taken advantage of. Lawyers should defend their clients and fight for the laws to be carried out.

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