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Teacher advocacy ’ Category
Steve Nelson is co-director of the Oregon Schools to Watch Program. Mr. Nelson is also the principal of Leslie Middle School in Salem, Oregon and the President of the Oregon Middle Level Association. He has worked in the field of education for 26 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in the Dayton School District, Salem-Keizer School District and at the American School in Puebla, Mexico.
The Oregon Middle Level Association is excited to announce that Oregon is now an official “Schools to Watch” state. The Schools to Watch (STW) initiative, sponsored by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, is an effort to ensure that young adolescents are prepared to be lifelong learners ready for college, career and citizenship. The STW initiative accomplishes its goal by identifying high-performing middle-grades schools that are on a solid upward trajectory in regard to academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational effectiveness. Over the last ten years hundreds of middle-grades schools throughout the country have been designated as “Schools to Watch” because of their commitment to these STW core beliefs. (more…)
A few months back I met with a Sherwood High School teacher who told me that she and her colleagues were unable to get students to apply for a scholarship for college-bound students interested in becoming teachers. A week later I relayed this story to a group of educators and a school board member exclaimed, “Oh, that happened to us. We offered a scholarship for teachers-to-be and no one applied!”
I was taken aback. I enjoy teaching so much, I guess I had assumed up until then that others would see what I see and find the job appealing. Granted, it is not an easy job–I put in relatively long hours (On average, 55 per week), and the work can be taxing, mentally, emotionally, even physically. (more…)
You can read these words because someone taught you how to read.
You can do your job because over the years, everyone from your kindergarten teacher to your college professor to your mentor taught you how.
We become the people we are, as Mr. Rogers said, because of the people who loved us into being. In schools—big and small, city and rural—across Oregon, the love and dedication of thousands of teachers help millions of students become the people they will be. Scientists. Mechanics. Engineers. Doctors. Farmers. Inventors. And yes, teachers.
Take a moment and think about one teacher who helped you become who you are.
Not to brag, but our new video predicts the future, and we’re pretty proud of it. Check it out below.
We are excited to announce the formation of the Distinguished Educators Council!
From our press release:
Chalkboard is seeking 12-15 award-winning Oregon educators to serve on the Distinguished Educators Council. The Council’s mission will be to provide an independent platform for educator voices on reform efforts and implementation, as well as to advise Chalkboard and an array of stakeholders on initiatives not currently being addressed. Applicants should be current classroom teachers who want to participate on the Council in addition to their regular classroom responsibilities. Chosen applicants will earn a $1200 stipend for a year of service on the Council.
The Distinguished Educators Council will have professionally facilitated meetings and access to research on a range of topics related to strengthening the teaching profession including, educator evaluations, continuous growth and career paths, assessing effectiveness, principal leadership, and recognizing and rewarding great teaching. (more…)
I found the characterization of teaching shared by Charlotte Danielson during Chalkboard’s recent webinar on evaluating educator effectiveness enlightening–and timely. Borrowing from educational psychologist Lee Shulman, she pointed out that teaching as an occupation is on par in complexity and stress levels with an ER doctor following a major disaster:
“He noted that teachers have classrooms of 25–35 students, whereas doctors treat only a single patient at a time. Even when working with a reading group of six to eight students, teachers are overseeing the decoding skills, comprehension, word attack, performance, and engagement of those students while simultaneously keeping tabs on the learning of the other two dozen students in the room. ‘The only time a physician could possibly encounter a situation of comparable complexity,’ Shulman pointed out, ‘would be in the emergency room of a hospital during or after a natural disaster.’ He concluded that classroom teaching ‘is perhaps the most complex, most challenging, and most demanding, subtle, nuanced, and frightening activity that our species has ever invented.’” (From “A Framework for Learning to Teach,” by Charlotte Danielson, Educational Leadership, Online June 2009 | Volume 66)
I’d add the fact that teachers also have hundreds of “bosses” (parents), changing every year, some of them (ahem) not so reluctant to weigh in on what’s happening in their classrooms.
Mandy Zatynski writes for Education Sector’s blog, The Quick and the Ed.
Education Sector is an independent think tank that challenges conventional thinking in education policy. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to achieving measurable impact in education policy, both by improving existing reform initiatives and by developing new, innovative solutions to our nation’s most pressing education problems.
There’s a lot of talking that goes on here in Washington. Policymakers, state leaders, nonprofits, and think tanks (like us) all have an opinion about education, its current state, and how to make it better. But there’s often an essential voice missing from this conversation, the point-of-view from the front of the class, next to the students, in front of textbooks, and inside the person that matters most: teachers.
As a former ESL educator, this baffles me. I am surprised by the amount of conversation and decision-making that takes place regarding the role of a teacher without a single, working educator present or weighing in at any point of the process.
Washingtonians can talk about the realities that a teacher faces daily, but an educator knows them, lives them, battles them every day. Washingtonians can break down budget cuts and how they will increase class size; but a teacher can show us what the cuts look like, from students two-teaming a single desk to cramped, overheated spaces that lead to uncomfortable, disruptive students.
In Washington, we like to talk about reform. We need to better train our teachers. We need to better assess our teachers. We need to better track our teachers from graduate programs to first jobs.
How about: We need to better listen to our teachers?
Because the fact is, we cannot talk about improving training for our teachers without first asking current educators how they could have been better prepared for Day One. And we shouldn’t talk about budget cuts or make assumptions on the effect of larger class sizes without consulting the folks who are actually affected.
We talk about teachers like they’re the big elephant in the room, and they’re not. There’s 7.2 million of them, in fact. They’re in metropolitan cities and country towns; affluent areas and poverty-stricken neighborhoods; from the snow skis of the Appalachian Mountains to the surf boards of the Pacific coast. And with today’s technological wonders – from live webcasts to video conferences, from Twitter feeds to blog posts – there’s absolutely no reason why teachers shouldn’t be included in the conversation.
That’s why my organization, Education Sector, has launched a Facebook group for just that. Called Teacher Sector, this page is for educators only. Here, you can weigh in on one of our poll questions or respond to the day’s top news in the education world. Or maybe we’re missing the big issue altogether, so post your own thoughts. Tell us how those new teacher evaluations are going. Are they fair? Are they useful? Or just come and network with other teachers. We designed this space to get a pulse, if you will, on the teaching industry; to make sure our work is improving your work; and to collect feedback along the way. The bottom line is: Your voice is missing, and it’s desperately needed.
As we’re just beginning our outreach efforts with Teacher Sector, we’ve added a limited time incentive for participants: like us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/TeacherSector, and answer a quick poll question to enter a drawing for a year’s worth of school supplies ($450, to be exact). Only the first 500 teachers to do so will be included in the drawing, so hurry!
At age 49, my husband Rob Corrigan just completed his dual Master’s degree and Oregon teacher certification program. He is now certified to teach middle and high school math through calculus, and the sciences including physics. He is a Harvard graduate, a former senior executive at multiple hardware technology start-ups in Silicon Valley, a classroom volunteer, a soccer coach from U6 up through U13, a former school board president.
But Rob is unlikely to land a public school job anytime soon, having gained certification at the time of greatest economic distress since the Depression, a period of historic budget cutbacks in statehouses everywhere.
Was certification worth it? Can second-career scientists, businesspeople, technology, media or other professionals segue successfully into teaching in Oregon’s current school system—now or ever?
A better question may be, “Why would they?”
Jennifer Singleton is an elementary school music teacher with seven years of teaching experience in Portland metro area schools. She was born, raised, and educated in Oregon, and loves nothing more than connecting with kids through music. We’re excited to have her joining the conversation about teaching and education reform as the newest member of the ChalkBlogger team.
My seven-year teaching career has taken me to five different schools in the Portland metro area. Most of them, including my current school, have had low socio-economic status (SES), which refers to the income, education and occupation of the students’ parents. While there were definitely some advantages to teaching in a high SES school, I choose to teach in a difficult school because for me, the rewards outweigh the challenges.
Obviously, there were a lot of great things about working in a high SES school. For the most part our students were well cared for physically and emotionally. Classroom management mostly meant controlling chatty kids. My program was adequately funded, and our school had a supportive community with plenty of volunteers for classrooms and school events. In many ways, teaching in a high SES school was a breeze.
The learning environment I’ve just described sounds ideal, but there were also some frustrating problems. I have a few colleagues who, like me, have taught in both kinds of schools. And like me, they prefer to teach in a low SES school. When asked about it, one of my colleagues even exclaimed, “You couldn’t pay me to go back!” The question is: Why? With all of the advantages, why choose a school with so many struggles? The answer for us boils down to a lack of appreciation.
My class of teacher candidates and I are reading Teaching 2030, a book that uses wonderful ideas from practicing teachers to discuss their changing roles. As the title suggests, the authors (Barnett Berry and the TeachersSolutions 2030Team) offer analyses of the present to project a positive future. The book discusses the union movement and its effects on the present roles; learning ecologies and technological changes; differentiated pathways and careers for teachers; and teacherpreneurism and innovation. It is the latter concept – teacherpreneurism – that most intrigues my teacher candidates and me.
First, a definition. Teacherpreneurism is not educational entrepreneurism: recruiting people from outside schools to “fix” what is inside the present schools. Instead, teacherpreneurs are “teacher-leaders of proven accomplishment who have a deep knowledge of how to teach, a clear understanding of what strategies must be in play to make schools successful, and the skills and commitment to spread their expertise to others – all the while keeping at least one foot firmly in the classroom.” (Teaching 2030, p.136) In other words, the goal of these people would be to work from within to make schools better. The premise is that good teachers, especially, but not exclusively, young ones, want to stay within teaching but not within the cradle to retirement of working only in a classroom. Instead of moving to administration, these newly envisioned roles would allow teachers to work with students but also with their colleagues and students beyond their own classroom in a variety of ways – and they would be paid accordingly, both in personal satisfaction and in salary differentiation.
When my students talked about these ideas, they became interested in what happens in schools now and wondered why these sorts of opportunities don’t seem to exist. So I had them watch videos of the CLASS Project, especially the Sherwood District which is trying anew salary schedule to allow teachers to move in that direction. http://educators4reform.org/participating-districts/sherwood-school-district/ I wanted them to see that in Oregon change has begun. (A side note: many were really surprised how the teachers in the CLASS project talked about the lack of supervision and evaluation before implementing these changes. Most of them have a very limited understanding of the profession they are entering, and I often think how their lack reflects society as a whole.)
We here in Eugene are experiencing yet another round of deep cuts, school closures, and furlough days. All of this publicity discourages my class – will there be jobs for them? And that is why I have them read this book so they can envision an alternative kind of schooling. While Rahm Emmanuel’s comment of “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste” came back to bite him, I do agree that this present funding crisis offers us a way to rethink how we teach. Or, more specifically, how children learn. Whether we reexamine our outdated high school Carnegie units and the structures that result or apply technology to allow for individualized instruction in our over-crowded classrooms or some other yet-to-be-thought-of idea, we have the opportunity to create a new future. We Oregonians pride ourselves on innovation in environmental and health issues; why not in education?
Recently I attended a great event hosted by the Oregon Education Assocation (OEA). The Symposium on Transformation in Public Education was well-received by an enthusiastic audience. It was encouraging to see so many educators and state leaders give up a Saturday to participate in a deeper conversation about possibilities for meaningful reform in our delivery of public education. OEA is commended for intentionally engaging a wide range of stakeholders and bringing strong speakers to the forefront.
Our keynote speaker, Dr. Yong Zhao, launched us well with a provocative and humorous look at public education contrasted with some of our questionable long term assumptions about global competitiveness. He offered a healthy and balanced perspective that was refreshing and funny. His message reminds us all, as we pursue this path of collaborative reform in Oregon, to maintain balance and common sense.
Our renewed Governor, Hon. John Kitzhaber, provided a powerful closing. I see in our state leader an intentional move to bi-partisan balance and a willingness to courageously tackle tough issues with a sense of immediacy in the coming few months. This urgency is welcome, knowing the magnitude of our larger challenging context. His selection of Nancy Golden as Educational Policy Advisor is a compelling choice for sustained reform, a signal to all of us that he is serious about deeper work in the educational enterprise.
Kudos to OEA for delivering a well-planned day that appropriately sets the stage for the shared challenges ahead.