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Old 10-17-2022, 10:58 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RamenAddict View Post
I think the main period is the period BEFORE kindergarten. If you have kids in homes with limited resources, they won’t have access to stuff like books and other enrichment before they reach public school. Many states already offer some sort of free preschool, but this should be universal for all kids, and pre-k and kindergarten should be full time. I know in some school districts, even kindergarten is part time, and that isn’t going to be enough to help kids catch up. You can’t really blame parents if they are a single parent and have to work two jobs just to pay rent and put food on the table. However, providing free preschool and kindergarten (full time) can help a lot.

I’m not just talking head start, but for every child. The income limits for head start are VERY low, and at least where I am, I think a person making minimum wage would exceed it. That’s not a meaningful limit. Also, this discussion of “addition tables” by rote. I am not even sure what that is. I think r4t wrote in another thread that she never used them, and I didn’t either. I learned the multiplication table, but that’s it. Otherwise I just learned how to add, subtract, and do division.
Addition by rote is the same as multiplication tables, another form of rote learning. That's the only way you can really learn to do arithmetic, since if you don't know what 3+2 is without thinking, you aren't going to be adding very well.

PreK would be useful, but no one wants to spend the money for a universal program.
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Old 10-17-2022, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
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Originally Posted by ILTXwhatnext View Post
First, I wanted extra pay for elem because it's critical and will take overtime to ensure the students have success. ...

And I'm not sure about other states but I think Texas limited elem class sizes to 24. I'm willing to lower that, maybe to 18. I expect fellow teachers to say, "But there won't be enough classrooms...our schools are already full." Luckily I'm king, so I'll build more. Later on they'll be in upper grades and I want their behavior to be really good before we get there. I also plan to get limit middle schools to 600 and high schools to no more than 1000 students. I want to give the teachers a real chance to know their students so they don't fall through the cracks.

Second, I don't want teachers lecturing parents. We used to say that the parents we met at Meet the Teacher Night or Open House were never the ones we needed to see. Their kids were usually making A+ grades for the same reason the parents attended the event: the parents already valued education. If you're willing to come to school like that, home visits are possibly not necessary. But I think the last time we had one I had a very few parents (3-4?) for 100+ students.

What to do when the parent doesn't answer the phone or come up for meetings or...anything....and the kid's failing half his classes? I never pursued an administration certification, so maybe it's just my ignorance but I never understood it. If I had to call a parent, I would check the system, dial, and sometimes discover that we didn't have a working number for the parent. Um, what? I imagine a scenario where a kid is badly hurt at school, they rush him to the hospital, and a life or death decision has to be made.

Anyway for parents who won't come to us there's still the option of going to them. The old saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." I'd like to be able to say, "We bent over backward, really reached out...and if they didn't want our help, ok. But don't tell me we failed or didn't try."

...

There's a big function of schools, IMO, which is to get involved when parents aren't doing their job or family units aren't functioning etc. Child comes in with mysterious bruises? Child's parents kicked her out of the house because she's pregnant? Teacher finds student forcing herself to vomit lunch in the restroom? I had a student who carved a pentagram into her leg with a razor blade. We're social services...see something, say something.

Fourth, instead of letting the brightest students go faster, have them go deeper. I just subbed in a class where the teacher had students doing multiple reading assignments. You can have subgroups within a class. One group is on Gatsby, and they have their circle. Another has Fahrenheit and they have their circle. But yes, you can coordinate for the works that you think are most important so you can have a (whole) class discussion as well.

Sitting in front of a computer and doing work is absolutely a valid activity in a classroom. It doesn't mean it's the only thing they ever do, however. Lectures, discussions, field trips, projects, papers, labs, skits, diaramas, and more can provide stimulus variation and should also be part. You also mention homework---I posted elsewhere that it had disappeared from sight but I totally agree it should be part of school again. All that said, I think computers can enhance a lot of learning by offering more personalized curriculum as I described, and I think we need to harness them.

But it's also the accountability part I mentioned. I think teachers get blamed for a lot of things that aren't their fault. "Billy says he logged in and did the work? Let me email you a screenshot that shows he hasn't been on the site in two weeks..." I would think people who are "sure" teachers are not doing their job would welcome an opportunity to prove it. "Here's Billy's screenshot showing the work was completed but you didn't enter it in the gradebook," for instance. Since school began, teachers have told the parents one thing and students have claimed another.
An interesting post, well thought out, and lots to respond to...but let me say up front that I like the overall direction you're going in.

Merit pay was very controversial with teachers in our district, although I think the most important question was not whether to do it, but rather how to do it. Paying teachers of different grade levels or different content areas more or less...I'm not sure that would be defensible if they're working the same hours and have the same responsibilities.

Class size was always an interesting dilemma for school systems, because nothing gets down to the money issue more than class size due to teacher pay and benefits. Not that it matters to our discussion, but just for point of interest, in visiting a number of Thai schools, class size appeared to be about 40+. And I remember in Fairfax County Public Schools -- when the real student-teacher ratio at middle schools was something like 24-28/1, middle school principals complaining to the central administration that we needed to lower that ratio to perhaps 20/1. Unfortunately, the superintendent had quite a bit of research indicating that student learning wasn't negatively affected until that ratio got to about 40/1. I didn't agree then and I don't agree now...particularly because, as a teacher, I left a school district where my class size went from about 25/1 with 5 classes per day one year to 40/1 with 6 classes a day the following year due to severe budget cuts. I knew I couldn't do anywhere near as good a job when I was trying to do things like grade 250 science labs a week versus 480 science labs a week. That's when I moved from Prince George's County Public Schools (Maryland) to Fairfax County Schools (Virginia)...and took quite a pay cut to do so. I also had a rather unique situation my last year teaching high school earth science. I guess due to scheduling, my classes were about 25/1, except in one class it was 12/1. I thought to myself that this was going to be great. Except it turned out not to be. I guess just due to the mix of student personalities, getting good post-lab discussions going was practically a no-starter. Personally, at least at the middle school or high school level, I think 22-24 per class is a pretty good and reasonable number. As a side note (to your 'I'd build more' comment), I sometimes would have parents ask me why in FCPS middle school was defined as grades 7-8 instead of 5-8 or 6-8. I came to the conclusion that it was based on physical buildings available when they went from the junior high concept to the middle school concept. Over the years, I worked in high schools some, but also middle schools that varied from 5-8 to 7-8 to 7-9. And I do think it was based simply of buildings available.

The middle school were I was principal had varied in population greatly over my 20 years there. There were a few years where we had less than 800 students, although overall we averaged just slightly over 1,000. Now I understand they have reached about 1,300. The years when we dipped under 800, we had to hire some teachers as part-time, and as a result lost a lot of the benefits we got from having almost all full-time teachers. And most teachers who were part-time at our school and then went to another school for part of the day HATED it. I do lament, however, the huge high schools that I have seen where there are something like 3,000 students on the campus. And I remember a meeting where FCPS invited all the still-living former superintendents to come back for a day of meetings that included a Q/A session between those former superintendents and the current roughly 175 principals. One of the questions one of the principals asked was, "For your tenure as superintendent, what did you think your greatest success and biggest mistake was", and one of the superintendents said his biggest mistake was leading the district to build those really big high schools. He said the mistake they made was putting much emphasis on the financial benefits of large scale, and not enough emphasis on student issues in such a large campus.

My particular school was one of those where we -- as you stated -- tended to get all the parents we really didn't need to see for parent nights and daytime mini-conferences, and almost none of the parents we really needed to see. But we had an interesting dilemma one year...along the same lines. The PTA had come to me during the summer and pretty much demanded that instead of having a traditional 'Back To School Night' in mid-September, that we have a 'Back-To-Team Night', where each team (1 math, science, history, and English teacher and a counselor) would have their own team night instead...for the parents of about 125 student per team). I was willing to try that. But then they threw in the clunker. Instead of having the team night at the school, they wanted to have an 'intimate team night' to be held in a private home...and of course, the advocates of this idea were the rich, white parents. I said no, I would not allow that. They were shocked! I told them that they didn't understand that the parents of our poor students would not go to a meeting in one of the rich neighborhoods because they would feel really out of place. And their answer was, "Well, you can't really stop us"...which was true. But what could do was not require team teachers to attend and that no administrators would participate. They were furious, and they went ahead with their team nights, which, as I predicted, consisted of mostly rich and upper class parents and virtually none of our poor and minority families. I will give them credit for one thing. After it was all over, at the next PTA meeting, they admitted that their plans had failed and couldn't understand why. I said, "Would have been comfortable going to a meeting over in a private home in [this particular neighborhood]?" "Well no. Of course not". "Right. You have a comfort zone. So do they. The school was included in the comfort zone of both groups because the school is relatively neutral. If you had at least held your team nights at the school, it would have been neutral. But instead you made it about rich/upper middle versus poor, and white versus minority". The idea of team nights, thankfully, died an easy death.

We did face -- one time -- the issue of being unable to contact a parent which nearly resulted in a student death. A mother and father went out of town for several days, leaving their high school daughter and middle school son staying at home alone, with grandparents 'checking in on them' once a day. The middle school son because critically ill during the school day (and I may be remembering this wrong, but I think his appendix burst). We called an ambulance, of course, and he was fairly quickly gotten to a hospital. The problem was that once at the hospital, the hospital would not let us (the school) give consent for surgery, and even the grandparents had no legal documentation that they could give consent. Surgery was delayed for several hours waiting to locate the parents. En loco parentis certainly did not work in this case, and frankly, school officials should never be put in that particular type of situation.

Talk about student bruises and such... We often had to work with CPS (Child Protective Services), and often a teacher or counselor would come to me and report their suspicions about different types of child abuse. I would tell the teacher or counselor, "You need to sit here and telephone CPS". "Oh, I don't want to get involved like that. Can't you do it?" "No, because I'm not the educator that has the suspicion. You are. And legally that requires you to make the contact with CPS. And after telling me this, if you don't, you will be officially reprimanded by the school system, and it will become a part of your personnel record". So, they would follow through. That was problem #1. Problem #2 was that we found CPS to be totally unpredictable. I can think of many times when we thought CPS wouldn't take action...but they did. And many other times when we were sure they would take action...and they didn't. It was a crap shoot.

Yes...deeper rather than faster!!! Now question about that being the wiser path for gifted students.

I think where the public goes wrong about computers is that many think computers are THE answer, when in reality they're just a tool. But, that's an example of the public being amateurs in educational thought.

I'm loving this discussion you initiated!
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Old 10-17-2022, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WRM20 View Post
...

And, no teaching to a standardized test. It's mind numbing and a waste, especially in places like Texas where the tests are inappropriate, not designed for the grade level, and mostly useless.
Depends on how appropriate the test is.
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Old 10-17-2022, 03:43 PM
 
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@WRM:

OK, 22 not 24 class size.

I once worked with a math teacher who remarked that students didn't ask themselves if an answer was "reasonable." So for instance, they would write "10+10=100." As you might imagine, they had punched the problem into a calculator but actually pushed 10 x 10. Once they got that answer, they were DONE with the problem.

So I see value in learning tables, knowing them, and so on. One day I went to the store, picked up some items, and at checkout, the cashier announced my bill was $50 or so. Um no, that's wrong. They had charged me for 12 packs of soda rather than 2 liter bottles of soda (I was stocking up). And hardly a week goes by that something like that doesn't happen. The tag said it's on sale, or it was on clearance, etc. and it doesn't ring up right.

I believe not knowing basic math is a form of penalty tax for that reason.

@RamenAddict

As far as funding things, if I'm king...but rather than play that card, what if we didn't spend so much on high stakes testing and used those funds for other things? I guess I was thinking in terms of what's mandatory but yeah, absolutely reach them in pre K.

I have the impression that in the old days when a family encountered problems, their church often rallied to help them. As society fragments and people become more mobile, that help isn't always there. I think schools more and more are filling those roles. I've heard of immigrants learning English by watching Sesame Street. So what if we took materials like that to families and sure, the child got exposure to it and started learning English...but what if the parents started picking it up.

Fellow teachers have probably had this experience---you're having a parent-teacher conference and you can't get an interpreter because nobody knows the language (Arabic, Viet Namese, whatever), so the kid does the translation. I've had students who were the "mouthpiece" for their family. That is, the parents don't speak English so the student is the designated interface with the English-speaking world. I want to help with that, and the earlier the better. My ex (from India) spoke excellent English. They started her on it when she was 4 years old.

@phetaroi

My intro to merit pay was during college, when I interviewed a teacher as an assignment. Her view was that merit pay was BS, all a popularity contest. I can see where it could be handled well, though. I remember a teacher who got a big award ($25,000) but when I saw what she had to do to get it...yeah, she earned it.

I imagine huge schools look good from a PR standpoint, "Look at what we're doing with YOUR tax dollars!" And there are football heads who live for Friday nights, think education is just something on the side. A colleague of mine worked at a school with about 4000 students and he said it was just plain dangerous. By the time admin could arrive, say to break up a fight, it was already over. But mostly I think kids fall through the cracks, don't feel special, don't make connections.

As for emergencies, I wonder what you would do if the person were bleeding and oops, is this person a Jehovah Witness who doesn't believe in such things? Or maybe when it comes right down to it the parents authorize a blood transfusion. Maybe it ends up in front of a judge. IDK.

***

And now a salute to a colleague who impressed me. "A" was a veteran middle school teacher; he'd won teacher of the year, in fact. Come to find out, he also drove the school bus. This nut would pick up the kids in the morning, drive them to school, teach all day...then drive them home? Eventually he got tired of being told what to teach on what day and how to do it etc. rather than trusting him to do what he knew was best and produced results. So he quit.

But he kept driving the bus. Swear to God!
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Old 10-18-2022, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Texas Hill Country
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College wise, I would find a way to publish the class roster before the first day so others could see who are the rabble rousers and switch to other sections before their money is wasted.

Of course, it might not make a difference for how thing are now. I remember one class where I was trying to tell the students that I was there to teach them a skill, it wasn't a social hour, of not to waste their money like that ........ and one of my social butterflies pop up and said...."It's not my money!".
Quote:
Originally Posted by ILTXwhatnext View Post
@WRM:
........Fellow teachers have probably had this experience---you're having a parent-teacher conference and you can't get an interpreter because nobody knows the language (Arabic, Viet Namese, whatever), so the kid does the translation. I've had students who were the "mouthpiece" for their family. That is, the parents don't speak English so the student is the designated interface with the English-speaking world. I want to help with that, and the earlier the better. My ex (from India) spoke excellent English. They started her on it when she was 4 years old.
........
Came across that 15 years or so at a psychology conference and I have to wonder......does the administration at least follow interpreter protocol?

That is, face, address yourself clearly to the person you are talking to, the interpreter is not part of your conversation.

You mentioned of how they used Sesame Street to learn English.....just like Aristotle Onassis listened in on overseas phone calls........or essential diplomacy from 2nd season ST:TNG, classic Hawaii 5-0, or even the Commish.

Last edited by TamaraSavannah; 10-18-2022 at 10:42 AM..
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Old 10-19-2022, 05:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by TamaraSavannah View Post
College wise, I would find a way to publish the class roster before the first day so others could see who are the rabble rousers and switch to other sections before their money is wasted.

Of course, it might not make a difference for how thing are now. I remember one class where I was trying to tell the students that I was there to teach them a skill, it wasn't a social hour, of not to waste their money like that ........ and one of my social butterflies pop up and said...."It's not my money!".

Came across that 15 years or so at a psychology conference and I have to wonder......does the administration at least follow interpreter protocol?

That is, face, address yourself clearly to the person you are talking to, the interpreter is not part of your conversation.

You mentioned of how they used Sesame Street to learn English.....just like Aristotle Onassis listened in on overseas phone calls........or essential diplomacy from 2nd season ST:TNG, classic Hawaii 5-0, or even the Commish.
I just wondered how we "knew" the translator was true to the message. I could have said, "Your son is late to class, disrespectful and lazy. Etc." and the kid could have said, "The teacher really enjoys having me in his class and hopes I have brothers and sisters just like me."

Today I was remembering the beginning of one year in which the principal showed us some complaint from a looong time ago. Someone wrote an editorial that we must avoid these newfangled contraptions before too many students come to depend on them. If the machine fails, and students have forgotten their skills, how will learning continue? The subject: a pencil sharpener. If kids don't keep up their whittling skills they may find they can no longer sharpen pencils and education will grind to a halt. Of course sometimes concerns are valid, like later the pocket calculator came along and people thought we should still learn our multiplication tables. Then computers ushered in an era of plagiarism the likes of which the world had never seen before.

Still, as we said back in the 1980s if you can't figure out how to program your VCR, just get a six year old to help out. They have that knack, it seems...maybe we did too, at that age, but we didn't have a machine to reveal it. Given the speed at which knowledge is growing, I'm reminded of Louis Armstrong:

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more
Than I'll ever know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world


So what's going to be important to teach in the future? We can rule out whittling, I guess. Also, how to teach them? I've posted this elsewhere but Sir Ken Robinson says Ritalin is the wrong direction to go.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2svFFaEShpM

And maybe preparing a video presentation instead of writing a paper isn't so different from a boss's secretary fixing all his bad writing before sending out a letter. Some sacred cows may die in this process.
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Old 10-19-2022, 08:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by TamaraSavannah View Post
College wise, I would find a way to publish the class roster before the first day so others could see who are the rabble rousers and switch to other sections before their money is wasted.
.
I'm trying to picture a college where you would worry about "rabble rousers." Why would anyone attend such a college? That's high school where they have to take all comers, but the college doesn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILTXwhatnext View Post
So what's going to be important to teach in the future? We can rule out whittling, I guess. Also, how to teach them? I've posted this elsewhere but Sir Ken Robinson says Ritalin is the wrong direction to go.

And maybe preparing a video presentation instead of writing a paper isn't so different from a boss's secretary fixing all his bad writing before sending out a letter. Some sacred cows may die in this process.
Some of those sacred cows might be misconceptions about core skills. Very few officer workers have a secretary today. They have to write their own stuff. And forget a video presentation since so many can't organize a one page presentation.

And some of those old skills, well when you're hit by a hurricane/flood/major blizzard/earthquake/Carrington Event/forest fire/power outage, some of those useless skills might come in a bit handy.
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Old 10-19-2022, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
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Originally Posted by tnff View Post
I'm trying to picture a college where you would worry about "rabble rousers." Why would anyone attend such a college? That's high school where they have to take all comers, but the college doesn't.

...
I agree. Never saw such a thing in any college I attended.
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Old 10-20-2022, 07:23 AM
 
Location: Texas Hill Country
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I agree. Never saw such a thing in any college I attended.
Well, one wonders from where all the news stories are coming from then.

As to the subject of "rabble rousers", maybe not that but I have heard certain colleges referred to "the biggest high school in the state".

Finally, I was in one acting class, for the camera, where one of my classmates wasn't quite outwardly disruptive but wasn't interested in the mission of the class, such as more in socializing. I remember during one take with the camera rolling, the director (prof) had to call "CUT!" mid scene because she could hear him talking in the background. For the actress classmate doing the scene, that disruption really upset her work.

As the prof said in his final review, "you need to figure out why you are in this class for otherwise, you are taking a place from someone who really wants to be here.".

If I were Siress, I would have a way to point out to the other students ahead of time of which classmates are there for fun and not to learn.
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Old 10-20-2022, 07:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
I'm trying to picture a college where you would worry about "rabble rousers." Why would anyone attend such a college? That's high school where they have to take all comers, but the college doesn't.

Some of those sacred cows might be misconceptions about core skills. Very few officer workers have a secretary today. They have to write their own stuff. And forget a video presentation since so many can't organize a one page presentation.

And some of those old skills, well when you're hit by a hurricane/flood/major blizzard/earthquake/Carrington Event/forest fire/power outage, some of those useless skills might come in a bit handy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by phetaroi View Post
I agree. Never saw such a thing in any college I attended.
A few years back I remember hearing some community college people say that graffiti was showing up in restrooms in their school and some students were acting more like they were in high school. Student loans provide a chance for some to delay entering the workforce, and cc have liberal admissions policies...

I'll be curious to see which skills survive the nut cutting. Among the English teachers I spoke to, I gathered that the spelling, punctuation, grammar and all are pretty much DOA. I think they're important;
for those who think that punctuation doesn't make much difference...

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/how-1...on-richer.html

If I were a member of a committee at school, when we were planning to present something to the faculty, I was saying, "Shouldn't we change that from passive voice to active?" etc., not the English teachers. If they're having kids watch films rather than read the books, their focus is...where, again? IDK.

So we're letting some things go in order to teach others. I hear some debate about teaching cursive again, but opponents say there are too many other things that need to be taught. Another case: PE. I had to take four years of it (playing a sport would substitute for it) but I think in a lot of places today it's one. Here's TX, allowing marching band credit to substitute for PE if I'm reading it correctly:

https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/...02-26-2015.pdf

So what will be out and what will be in, given the finite amount of time and no ability to assign homework?

The ruffians in college reminded me of this classic SNL skit.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iCbK3ooekU

C-I-L-L...my landlord
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