Month: February 2014

What’s the Difference?

How can we get all our students to measure up to the ever changing standards? Everyone is looking for a quick fix in education. There has become a great disconnect between stakeholders in education. Politicians change policies and standards to force all students to reach a predetermined standardized score.  This score will determine the effectiveness of their teachers, school, district, community, and ultimately their funding for the upcoming school years.  Once our students begin reaching and surpassing the high standards that have been set, a new deck is introduced and a new game begins.  This new game is built to help our students compete in the world market and become very successful.  We have had standardized testing for many years and have seen the ups and downs that it causes for students.  What is a child who is low performing on standardized testing to do when the test is not on their academic readiness level?  What is the difference?

Many schools begin to examine the newest game of academic excellence for all to see where the best place is to attack it.  They begin looking for different Professional Development to send their staff to for training.  Some spend a large portion of their budget to locate the newest trendsetters of education that will transform any school into a prize wining institution of higher learning.  Staff is sent on a quest to find the sacred education piece that will make their school or district better then any other.  Books, computers, tablets, and every other possible tool that could be used to solve a problem is purchased.  They get lost in the  amount of educational resources that they have acquired to teach students.  Many educators are not comfortable or do not know how to use these tools effectively in the classroom.  Are these tools and curriculum support systems going to help all of students reach the lofty goal of standardized testing?  What is the difference?

What makes the difference in our schools?  Do we have the best resource for achieving excellence under our noses?  What is the difference?  The teacher in the classroom is the difference.  They wear many different hats other then just an educator. Teachers are counselors, nurses, advocates, parents, and so much more to their students.  The job description of a teacher does not list these as part of their jobs, but it comes with the territory.  I have talked with countless students who were having issues with other students, at home, or where just down on themselves.  I have wiped  tears from their eyes and listened to their stories.  I have bandaged many fingers, arms, legs, and heads.  I have met with many parents that felt they were at the end of their rope and did not know what to do next for their child.  I spent hours worrying about my students who were in bad situations.  All of this was done without receiving extra pay or acknowledgement of these deeds.  Why do I do these things?  Because that is what great teachers do! If we want to have our students achieve greatness, they have to have great teachers.  Someone has to teach the standards, teach the content, wipe away the tears, encourage, & sometimes push our students to achieve what is expected of them.  However, teachers are at the bottom of the list when it comes to educational reform.  We are in the trenches with the students everyday, know how to meet their individual needs, and how to help them learn in their unique way.  If you want to see a difference in education, you must change the priorities first.  The educators need to be one of the  highest priorities, not the lowest.  Educators are leaving our profession in droves.  They feel that the lack of pay and respect is not worth the amount of work they do everyday.  If educators & students are not at the forefront of the decision making, we will continue to see a decline in qualified, dynamic, influential educators.  With this decline in educators, student might begin to ask, “What is the difference?”

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Learning to Teach

Learning to teach is something that we must all continue to do.  It is not enough just to teach, but to learn in order to teach.  If we have stopped learning, we are allowing ourselves to become ineffective teachers.  Many people label us as teachers, those that teach others. But shouldn’t that label first be, we are learners.  How can we teach what we have not learned ourselves?  To remain effective in this time of high stakes testing, teachers must be willing to become learners first, to keep themselves marketable.  If you continue to learn more about your profession you can become the change you want to see in it.  I have begun to redefine my role in education as a learner first.  I must be willing to learn from every opportunity that comes my way.  Everyday has multiple opportunities to learn about your environment, those around you, and most importantly, yourself.  If we begin to look for those opportunities to learn, we can become more connected to our students.  We can begin to learn with our students instead of directing the teaching ourselves.  Learning is an interactive process that allows everyone to engage in the process.  Teaching is one perspective that is being voiced to the masses.  There is a time and place for direct teaching, do not misunderstand me.  But the learning does not occur during the teaching, it occurs afterwards. Students must have time to practice what has been taught for true learning to happen.  If we begin to look at everyday as a time that we can learn and grow, we as educators will inspire our students to do the same.  As I stated before, I am redefining myself in education.  I am a learner first.  I teach because I learn, not the other way around.

Make a difference in someone else’s life, it will impact them and you!