American education

Discussion in 'General Education' started by DobbyChatt, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    Jun 20, 2016

    All,

    I hope that I am not bringing unnecessary negativity to this forum, as our jobs are stressful enough. However, I'd like to get other teachers' thoughts on the current state of education in America. I know--a big task.

    I'm just finishing my first year in my own high school science classroom. I came into teaching through an alternative route and I had plenty of preparation compared to the usual "first year". I can also say that my evaluations this year were excellent. Looking back, however, I can't help but feel like American education has a one-way ticket to doom.

    First, I'd like to get comments on the quality of your district's professional developments. My experience has been almost insulting -- entire days spent on meaningless talk and having to share some idealistic quote from a contemporary education article that simply does not translate into something useful for either my students or my classroom. I find it insulting because as a professional I don't need to hear the same material presented time, and time, and time again. I am perfectly capable of reading contemporary research, making a plan, and implementing it. Many of the talks that we attend each year are painfully simple, repetitive, and meaningless in the real world. Period.

    Secondly, I have found it amazing that the world of education continually puts a plethora of blame on the teacher. Honestly, I have left so many trainings feeling like what I do day-to-day in the classroom simply isn't good enough...I haven't been revitalized; I have been discouraged. There's always a push to do more and to "rethink" what I'm doing. It seems to me that we should be able to find what works, perfect it, and stick to it! How many other professionals do we frequently require to second-guess themselves? I don't know, but hopefully my doctor has some confidence...

    Lastly, I feel that education is suffering greatly from buzz-word mania. America doesn't need jargon. We need a complete and total societal shift that gives students the intrinsic motivation to value and love education...and it starts at home. Until then, we aren't focusing on what really needs our attention. That, frankly, is terrifying.

    Thoughts?
     
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  3. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  4. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    You can't make people value education. You can't make people value working and paying their own bills.

    The only thing we can do is keep leading those horses to water in hopes that one will drink.
     
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  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I agree with you about a societal shift. Alas, it's not our job as teachers.

    Now, I'm in the minority as I actually lean toward a major privatization of education, but I think that would be part of a social shift. And on that note, if we did have a great social change, public schools would probably be all the better anyway.
     
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  6. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    I just don't understand where this shift of blaming the students to blaming the teachers came from.
    I know in some other countries (I know S. Korea for sure) teachers are very highly respected professionals; it's up there with doctors and lawyers and whatnot.
    Here.. it's the opposite. Where did the respect go?
     
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  7. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    There are an estimated 3 million teachers in the United States, so nearly that many classrooms. I find that some places there is great education going on, and some places will make you feel sick. I have subbed or taught in 75 classrooms in nearly 3 decades. I have met some of the most caring and dedicated teachers and administrators in education. I have also met some who are awful. You can make a difference in your expertise with your students each year. If you worry about the entire state of education, you will get overwhelmed and discouraged. You can be the teacher that makes education good for your students. Good luck to you.
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I don't get this hyperbole. I've never been disrespected for my profession - quite the opposite. People think I'm some kind of saint when I tell them I'm a middle school teacher.
     
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  9. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    I meant from the parents.
    If you give your student a bad grade, their parent will think it's you, not their kid, that did something wrong.
    Not every parent, but enough so it's a problem these days
     
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  10. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  11. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    But that isn't about teachers. Those parents would blame the police the same way. They blame principals the same way. We live in a society that is unwilling to take criticism. That doesn't mean I'm disrespected as a teacher. It means I'm disrespected as an authority - and yes, that happens.
     
  12. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I was just chatting on Sunday with a childhood buddy who now teaches math and science on the jr. high level. He had a kid who had decent attendance... and nothing more. Based on what said student did, or more precisely the lack thereof, my buddy gave the kid an F. Because this kid did squat and zilch in class. Kid's mom went to the district trying to get the grade changed to at least a D because, hey, the kid did attend class.
     
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  13. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Riiiight, but it did not used to be this way. That's what I'm saying. They used to hold their child accountable, but now it's the teacher's fault.
     
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  14. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jun 22, 2016

    Professional development is a misnomer. Most PD is passed off as training when, in reality, it is merely exposure. Too often PD is mandated from top down. Not being included in the decision process regarding need, kind(s) and scope of PD is it any wonder teachers have little enthusiasm for, as one colleague called a PD meeting, "What was that all about?"

    Then again can't blame a district for attempting to save money. Packing all the teachers into the auditorium and paying for some ex-spurt to babble about the latest trend is cost-effective. Sophisticated training (teaching?) to skill acquisition with on-site coaching, review and practice which penetrates majority of staff over time is far more expensive. It must be because we are old, supposedly educated, supposedly trained and supposedly experienced that tells us the way to mastery is a one-trial auditory experience. Fred Jones calls it the viral theory of learning, "Like a virus, all you have to do is be exposed and you will get it."
     
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  15. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jun 22, 2016

    At the risk of ruffling some feathers amongst people I like and respect.

    I have brought several groups of UK students across to Chicago and also hosted several groups of Chicago public school students in the UK.

    I would estimate that our students were about 2 years ahead of their US counterparts in terms of their knowledge and their emotional development. This was very obvious when the students were working in collaborative groups and we constantly saw our kids taking the lead in the groups despite being between 1 and 2 years younger than the American kids they were working with. Our kids had the self confidence to take charge of the tasks and also the skills to organise the investigations they were undertaking and to direct the final presentations each group had to do. This was also noticed by the American teachers who were with the kids. From my observations of science lessons in Chicago schools there is certainly a big difference in how we organise the courses and our kids are expected to be far more hands on with the science including far more practical work and lots of investigations.

    Bear in mind this is a very small sample involving half a dozen schools in Birmingham, UK and 3 or 4 schools in Chicago. I should also add that the UK students were selected for these trips but the selection process was not academically based so we didn't just pick our boffins for the trip although it could be argued that the kids chosen were fairly confident individuals.
     
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  16. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Jun 22, 2016

    Ah I also don't want to ruffle any feathers, but the Chicago public schools students are not exactly the smartest .. they have to deal with a lot more than the average kid so education is probably the least of their worries
     
  17. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I don't think you meant this....I hope...
     
  18. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Wow.
     
  19. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jun 23, 2016

    Not my experience. The dozens Chicago of kids I have had dealings with both in the US and in the UK (actually probably hundreds of kids if you include the classes I taught in the US) are just as bright as any others. Yes, some of them have quite hard social disadvantages but most thrive despite these. Those I hosted in the UK were a credit to your country and left everyone that met them with a positive view of your society. I think any observable differences between your kid and ours is down more to our differing styles of education.
     
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  20. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Hmm maybe I worded it wrong.
    The quality of education in Chicago public schools is not at the level of some of the surrounding suburbs.
    Parents in Chicago will send their kids to the suburban schools to get a better education.
    I went to school with kids who took the train from Chicago to go to school an hour away (an hour by train!)
     
  21. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    So to reply to the OP, I think your experience is completely validated and sounds like it's really frustrating. Realize, though, that your primary frustration is with other educators at the school-level not being competent enough to do their jobs. In this case, it's not teachers, but administrators (potentially being influenced/directed by district folks), and it's not teaching, but it's school leadership/professional development.

    So....my first point is that your experience actually somewhat works against your point - namely, that all educators aren't at a place of independence and competence, and in fact do need some of that hand-over-hand guidance that you're speaking against. However, not the awful kind you're mentioning.

    That being said, and this is the part that validates your point, there are plenty of utterly brilliant teachers in our system whose professionalism and talent are being trampled upon daily because the teacher workforce as a whole still needs more support and training to be as effective as they can be. In other words, just because you are great doesn't mean the system as a whole doesn't need improvement. This justifies the existence of more "guided" professional development, but in your situation it didn't translate into anything meaningful or constructive unfortunately.

    I've always felt the most sorry for brilliant teachers working in not-so-brilliant environments. I guess when all is said and done the "team" is only as strong as it's weakest link, and as long as there are enough weak links in the chain, the star players are still going to have to suffer through boring practices.
     
  22. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    This little exchange is exactly the problem that Rockguykev, said earlier when he said that we have a society that can't take criticism. You saying that CPS isn't necessarily the highest bar (due to other concerns) leads people to feel offended. It is the same sort of sentiment when a teacher gives a bad grade and the parent looks to take offense at the "accuser" or offender... and not recognize the problem (i.e. the child, or in the example I gave, the district).

    Yours was just a general observation that as I read, was nodding my head in understanding. It isn't to say that you or I think everyone in the district is dumb. It is recognizing that there is something (in big, urban school systems in particular) that you notice. But when you point it out, you're questioned.
     
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  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 23, 2016

    I working district where PD is highly valued. We have in service opportunities, remuneration for outside PD and are partners in a multi-district professional development center where our teachers have opportunities for several workshops per year. Our state has requirements for on-going PD for educators.

    Second, I don't find 'the blame' comes from within the "world of education". We are given unfunded mandates from our states, curriculum created by non-educators, tenure and pension reform as political footballs....everyone who ever went to school thinks they are an expert and knowledgeable about what goes on in schools because they once sat in a student desk in a classroom. We,as professional educators, must advocate for what we do, connect with our communities, fly the flag...

    Lastly, buzzwords. They are only meaningless if not backed up with a commitment. Some of those words represent good ideas, philosophies and practices. If a job candidate s merely sprinkling buzzwords into their interview answers or educators/administrators throw such words around without real understanding and application, then yes, it's just jargon. Committed and knowledgeable use and application of what those buzzwords represent, however, is in many cases, good practice.
     
  24. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Jun 23, 2016

    Out of curiosity, who is doing this?
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    "The state-led effort to develop the Common Core State Standards was launched in 2009 by state leaders, including governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia, through their membership in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). State school chiefs and governors recognized the value of consistent, real-world learning goals and launched this effort to ensure all students, regardless of where they live, are graduating high school prepared for college, career, and life."
     
  26. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Right, but from the same site.

    Teachers played a critical role in development
    The Common Core State Standards drafting process relied on teachers and standards experts from across the country. Teachers were involved in the development process in four ways:

    1. They served on the Work Groups and Feedback Groups for the ELA and math standards.
    2. The National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), among other organizations were instrumental in bringing together teachers to provide specific, constructive feedback on the standards
    3. Teachers were members of teams states convened to provide regular feedback on drafts of the standards.
    4. Teachers provided input on the Common Core State Standards during the two public comment periods.
     
  27. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Do you teach common core curriculum, Pashtun?

    Feedback and input is not creating the standards. There are certainly standards that most professional educators question for their grade level content. States are backing out on the standards and related standardized tests.
     
  28. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    They were involved with the process.

    However, in all my years teaching, teachers NEVER agree on anything, teacher created or not. Our teacher created district assessments are a chaotic mess. Teachers meet every year(several times during the year) to recreate, the teacher created, recreated assessments from the years before.

    To be honest, the standards are pretty normal and similar to the old CST standards. I don't believe the issue is the actual standards AT ALL, I believe it is 99% about the standardized test.

    Edit: I am referring to 4th grade standards.
     
  29. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jun 23, 2016

    The OP wanted to know about PD (we call it CPD). My initial trip to Chicago in 2005 was part of a CPD programme in my school!
     

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