As a former East County educator, I struggled watching the rancor between districts and unions in Reynolds, Parkrose, and Gresham-Barlow this past spring during teacher contract negotiations. Having friends on both sides, it was challenging to see each district struggle to balance competing demands. Hopefully, in all three cases, the beginning of this year will afford enough respite to focus attention on academic tasks and rebuilding frayed relationships.
Yet, I think Oregon districts are going to continue to see flare-ups when it comes to teacher contract negotiations, partly because of the still stagnant economy, but also because of several other factors:
a) Short period of time between contract negotiations: Since negotiating the contract is no one’s day job, the sides often protract the discussions long past the expiration of the previous contract. With most districts operating under a three-year scheme, what this does in effect is stagger contract negotiations right on top of the other. There is scant time for any hostility to cool or for teacher-district relationships to be aided by collaborative ventures. I have been prompted, having seen this scenario played out a few times, to wonder why the state and districts don’t work to change contract lengths (recognizing this is not a small task) to avoid this scenario. (more…)
I have yet to meet my student teacher but I know already that she will be enthusiastic, ready to learn and most likely ignorant about the realities of the teaching profession. I know that sounds a bit pessimistic, but the reality is classes about teaching are not the same as teaching. I also fear that my help won’t provide all that she needs to hit the ground running as a polished professional in her first year teaching. In order to become someone my district classifies a “distinguished teacher,” it takes experience on the job. The worry is that we are not training teachers well enough to even survive their first few years, let alone become experts.
My student teacher will be doing something different than usual and I’m excited to see if it will be more intensive and a bit more extensive than what is usually required. In past years, the teacher candidate observes a classroom a couple of times a week for 3 weeks and completes small tasks leading up to developing and delivering a unit of study (work sample) that involves pre-assessment, 10 lessons and post-assessment. Often this work sample is a content-based topic such as animal life cycles or the moon. Once the work sample is done, the candidate rushes back to the college campus to complete classes. (more…)
Read the full news release, program description and program highlights.
Today, the Chalkboard Project awarded grants totaling $180,000 to school district and university partnerships that will design innovative models to prepare the next generation of Oregon teachers. In total the grantees serve over a quarter of Oregon’s K-12 students and 65% of teacher candidates annually.
The grants are aimed at addressing a number of issues, including the lack of a diverse teaching force. Currently only 8% of Oregon’s teachers are of minority populations, while 34% of students are of minority populations. Partnerships will also address the placement of student teachers. In most programs there is a lack of coordination between school districts and universities to place student teachers with the most accomplished classroom teachers. (more…)
When considering topics for this post, I looked into some similar education-focused blogs. I was quickly reminded that: 1) people bring profound passion to the public discourse on educational policy, and 2) I am no expert on the public discourse on educational policy. For a relative newcomer like myself, this combination can inspire one minute and intimidate the next. Fortunately I’m with an organization (and in a field) that thrives off of questions.
I’m the newest addition to the Chalkboard team (and a fairly new addition to the state of Oregon). And while I come from a family of educators, and have worked in various forms of education, my participation has been more peripheral than the day-to-day, direct involvement of a teacher or principal, and has lacked the big picture perspective of a superintendent or legislator. This, of course, has its benefits and side effects. (more…)
Nina Carlson is the current Vice President for Legislation of the Oregon PTA and a lifelong Oregonian. She lives in Washington County, is a budget committee member for Hillsboro School District, and has a sixth grade son at Groner Elementary School.
During the last few years there has been much debate over whether or not No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has led to improvements in education. From my time volunteering in my son’s classroom over the last six years I have noticed a stronger emphasis on testing. Students are spending recesses inside to take tests and using library time to learn testing techniques. The numbers needed to pass the OAKS math and reading tests are posted in all hallways. There are notes to parents stressing they be especially mindful of bedtimes and extracurricular activities during testing weeks. More importantly, I have seen students, teachers and parents demoralized because despite significant improvement and incredible amounts of hard work, their school has been labeled a failing school. This could be because they haven’t raised test scores enough in a certain period of time or a small number of students are not meeting an arbitrary test score number. I have not seen smaller class sizes, more art and music, engaging and interactive science projects, literary circles with classroom discussions of books, or full-length school years. This being said, many admit there were positive aspects to the legislation, especially data that highlights which sub groups (specific student groups) in a school were being underserved, and whose achievement could be raised significantly through specialized interventions and extra attention. (more…)
Allan Bruner currently teaches grades 9-12 at Colton High School in the Colton School District. He was the Oregon Teacher of the Year in 2006, and currently serves on Chalkboard’s Distinguished Educators Council.
I am the type of person who spends a lot of time thinking about projects. As an undergraduate chemistry major, I performed many “thought experiments” (to borrow the term credited to Galileo). I changed temperatures and times and concentrations, all the while keeping track of how those changes altered the outcome of my experimental set ups, all in the comfort of the quiet study area just off the floor of the main lab facility. My lab partner always thought I was crazy for spending so much time and effort in thought; his approach was much more the “get out there and get messy” approach. He was fearless, and often wrong. But past mistakes never discouraged him from cleaning up the glassware and starting over, even when one lab activity had to be repeated after some 19 hours in prep work all because several milliliters of acid were added a few moments too early.
Years later, I think about the Common Core in somewhat the same way. I manipulate variables in my mind, dream about what the “ideal” class set up might be, and think about how students might respond to a new set of standards and subsequent (and inevitable) assessments that are sure to follow. I would like to offer a few suggestions about Common Core and implementation that I have been pondering of late… (more…)