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(Salon)   "We must hate teachers. I've won awards, my kids thrive. But thanks to crazy tests, I'm considered one of the worst teachers in the state because I don't teach to the test, and I'm being shamed by my home state." Well, the tag explains it   (salon.com ) divider line
    More: Florida, gifted students, won awards, test scores, institutes, field trips  
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2903 clicks; posted to Main » on 01 Apr 2014 at 10:40 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-01 01:36:04 PM  

Tellingthem: JNowe: Tellingthem: You may be a great teacher but you might just want to tone down the self praise just a bit.

You don't know many teachers, do you?

Heh...come from a family of them

brimed03: Tellingthem: You may be a great teacher but you might just want to tone down the self praise just a bit.

Why? Evidently, nobody else is going to do it.

"and was immediately acclaimed" "I have been greatly moved and honored to win numerous awards and been nominated for more still." " leaving them running to the administration to sing my praises." "Two years ago, I was lauded "

Sounds like plenty of people have been praising her. I'm just saying that when you make a big deal at how great you are you tend to turn people off of the message.


Point taken. But counterpoint: these are all in-profession awards. As a whole, American society has this to say about teaching: those who can't do....

The fact that you know how that phrase ends proves my point. As does the fact that neither of us can, anywhere nearly as readily, come up with a corresponding "positive* maxim about teachers and teaching.
 
2014-04-01 01:36:09 PM  

tcan: Well, welcome to the real world where the company and the managers decide what the employees should be doing and how they should do it. Just because you work as a teacher doesn't mean you get get to do your job the way you want. Ask any wage slave out there if they think they know better how their job should be done and the answer will be yes. What makes you so special that you think you should get to do whatever you want.


right, why would we want the people we have doing the job to say how things should be done? Nonsense, that's not what they're paid for! They should be like any other mindless corporate cog and just drone in and out of work listening to instructions of overpaid overlords who've never taught a day in their life. That's the best way to nurture young minds, it's no different than nurturing these lines of code for BlammoCorp.
 
2014-04-01 01:43:34 PM  

Tellingthem: JNowe: Tellingthem: You may be a great teacher but you might just want to tone down the self praise just a bit.

You don't know many teachers, do you?

Heh...come from a family of them

brimed03: Tellingthem: You may be a great teacher but you might just want to tone down the self praise just a bit.

Why? Evidently, nobody else is going to do it.

"and was immediately acclaimed" "I have been greatly moved and honored to win numerous awards and been nominated for more still." " leaving them running to the administration to sing my praises." "Two years ago, I was lauded "

Sounds like plenty of people have been praising her. I'm just saying that when you make a big deal at how great you are you tend to turn people off of the message.


Ah, one other thing. The whole point of her column is to contrast the system's evaluation of her with the mountain of accolades she's earned. In other words, to establish that the defect lies with the system.

She can't make that point by saying "some folks have said I'm pretty good at what I do."

Sure, given American taboos about bragging, it would be better if she was writing this about another teacher. Or if someone else was writing about her. But in this case, she has the strongest knowledge and motivation. Don't publicly mis-characterize it as self-aggrandizement. You know better than to believe that; I'm sure of it.
 
2014-04-01 01:44:51 PM  
Your kids liking you as a teacher, and scoring well on your tests, doesn't mean they're learning what they need to.

Teachers should go above and beyond standards, but they should at least teach to standards.
 
2014-04-01 01:47:40 PM  
I know we like to dump on teachers because they're union slugs who don't do real jobs and are just glorified babysitters, but does anyone here actually remember evaluation testing from their student days? I was in a plethora of school districts because we moved a lot, and there were some that figured that proper comprehension of course materials would logically mean students would do fine on the tests, and plenty more that actually stopped all normal curricula for a week and had the teachers figuratively walk us through sample problems for the test du jour. As a teacher, I guess it sucks to be you if your lesson plan and teaching skills are subsumed for a bullshiat strategy pushed by politicians and testing company lobbyists.

Standardized testing is fine as one of several global metrics to determine student performance, but there are plenty of people out there, either because they truly believe or they've been paid to spout the line, who hold testing up as the be-all end-all of a child's school existence.
 
2014-04-01 01:47:47 PM  

powhound: powhound: I don't really by that schtick either.

That would be BUY.
When my students complain about the math, I threaten them with enguish lessons


> enguish

I can't decide if you did that on purpose.
 
2014-04-01 01:53:23 PM  

tcan: Well, welcome to the real world where the company and the managers decide what the employees should be doing and how they should do it. Just because you work as a teacher doesn't mean you get get to do your job the way you want. Ask any wage slave out there if they think they know better how their job should be done and the answer will be yes. What makes you so special that you think you should get to do whatever you want.


You know who a lot of these school district supervisors are? Former gym teachers. You know why? They have no homework to grade. So it's easier for them to go back to school and get their principal's certificate, and get promoted up the chain by the old-boy network of former gym teachers.

So your company is being run by the guy from the mailroom. And not the Michael J Fox, study the business and work lots of late nights mailroom guy either.

Feeling good about your analogy now, smart guy?
 
2014-04-01 01:54:42 PM  
People outside education need to understand what is going on. They need to know what is being learned and how much of it. It is very much like trading pork bellies. The people on the outside will always want measureable outcomes.

About three years ago I taught a class on Euripides. One of my "C" students contacted me just recently and thanked me because the class really helped him "figure out some personal stuff."

Not measureable. But I'm glad that happened. What the heck would have happened if it had been Sophocles?
 
2014-04-01 01:54:46 PM  

brimed03: Tellingthem: JNowe: Tellingthem: You may be a great teacher but you might just want to tone down the self praise just a bit.

You don't know many teachers, do you?

Heh...come from a family of them

brimed03: Tellingthem: You may be a great teacher but you might just want to tone down the self praise just a bit.

Why? Evidently, nobody else is going to do it.

"and was immediately acclaimed" "I have been greatly moved and honored to win numerous awards and been nominated for more still." " leaving them running to the administration to sing my praises." "Two years ago, I was lauded "

Sounds like plenty of people have been praising her. I'm just saying that when you make a big deal at how great you are you tend to turn people off of the message.

Ah, one other thing. The whole point of her column is to contrast the system's evaluation of her with the mountain of accolades she's earned. In other words, to establish that the defect lies with the system.

She can't make that point by saying "some folks have said I'm pretty good at what I do."

Sure, given American taboos about bragging, it would be better if she was writing this about another teacher. Or if someone else was writing about her. But in this case, she has the strongest knowledge and motivation. Don't publicly mis-characterize it as self-aggrandizement. You know better than to believe that; I'm sure of it.


It's not what you say but how you say it. You can inform people about your qualifications and accomplishments without coming off looking like a braggart. Like I said toning it down a bit would still have given the impression of a quite qualified professional. Listen I'm not attacking teachers, like I said before I come from a family of them. But if you twist the message by coming off poorly then you are only hurting the cause you are trying to advocate for.
 
2014-04-01 01:56:50 PM  

Moonfisher: huWIEstubert: NCLB and the spate of tests is exactly why I'm not teaching today.

Yeah, that's why I decided to go for two years and get my severe/moderate Special Ed credential instead of a one-year multiple subjects credential.  Special Ed is demanding, but it's the kind of work I did while paying my way through college, I have an affinity for it, and the only test anyone has to pass is basically "is the child still in one piece and well-cared for?"  It's accepted in this field that children are going to progress at wildly varying rates, so you can do what's best for them instead of teaching them to jump through test hoops.


Not everywhere. A friend of mine is leaving teaching altogether because of the crap they're pulling with her SpEd class.

God bless you, though. That is some seriously demanding work and a high-burnout field.

Or as some asshats ITT and elsewhere believe, an easy job babysitting the dumb kids.
 
2014-04-01 02:05:58 PM  

August11: Not measureable. But I'm glad that happened. What the heck would have happened if it had been Sophocles?


Heaven help us if it had been Aristophanes.
 
2014-04-01 02:10:05 PM  
What gets me, are the folks who insist that the only folks who should be putting forward legislation that regulates and governs their industries are the folks IN those industries, and that the layman just doesn't understand the complex issues of finance or market forces, are just fine with folks WITHOUT education backgrounds deciding what should be imposed on educators, and that the voices of those within the profession are just "too close" to the issue to be of any use, despite those years of experience...

Yes, Virginia: legislators are too obtuse without an extensive business background to regulate business, but an office drone with years of PR experience is more than capable of understanding education...
 
2014-04-01 02:21:17 PM  

brimed03: Tellingthem: JNowe: Tellingthem: You may be a great teacher but you might just want to tone down the self praise just a bit.

You don't know many teachers, do you?

Heh...come from a family of them

brimed03: Tellingthem: You may be a great teacher but you might just want to tone down the self praise just a bit.

Why? Evidently, nobody else is going to do it.

"and was immediately acclaimed" "I have been greatly moved and honored to win numerous awards and been nominated for more still." " leaving them running to the administration to sing my praises." "Two years ago, I was lauded "

Sounds like plenty of people have been praising her. I'm just saying that when you make a big deal at how great you are you tend to turn people off of the message.

Point taken. But counterpoint: these are all in-profession awards. As a whole, American society has this to say about teaching: those who can't do....

The fact that you know how that phrase ends proves my point. As does the fact that neither of us can, anywhere nearly as readily, come up with a corresponding "positive* maxim about teachers and teaching.


"If you can read this, thank a teacher"?
.....always thought that was a positive maxim...
 
2014-04-01 02:31:39 PM  

Needlessly Complicated: How hard are these tests, really? If you are well versed in the topic would you be able to pass without having been specifically "taught to the test"?


Liberals are the ones in class who asked if each subject would be on the test. Minimal work was the goal.

How about we allow different tracks for smart kids versus the slower ones. Teach a set concept, test, if passed move on to next concept, if not go to a first concept plus class. Let kids learn at the speed they are comfortable at. Stop slowing down high learners because little johnny may feel bad in a slower class.
 
2014-04-01 02:59:50 PM  

brimed03: powhound: powhound: I don't really by that schtick either.

That would be BUY.
When my students complain about the math, I threaten them with enguish lessons

> enguish

I can't decide if you did that on purpose.


Yes. Gotta pawn the pawns. After fixing "buy", I realized what was going on.
 
2014-04-01 03:01:25 PM  

MyRandomName: Needlessly Complicated: How hard are these tests, really? If you are well versed in the topic would you be able to pass without having been specifically "taught to the test"?

Liberals are the ones in class who asked if each subject would be on the test. Minimal work was the goal.

How about we allow different tracks for smart kids versus the slower ones. Teach a set concept, test, if passed move on to next concept, if not go to a first concept plus class. Let kids learn at the speed they are comfortable at. Stop slowing down high learners because little johnny may feel bad in a slower class.


You apparently aren't versed with the current tracking system, are you? It's sort of adorable the way that laymen think that they know what education is about, from their own limited experience. I bet you were so very good with the bird based reading system, weren't you?
 
2014-04-01 03:05:17 PM  

give me doughnuts: Several days worth of incredibly dull (and more than a bit stressful) testing that has no bearing whatsoever on the students' grades, and you expect the kids to put forth the effort to do well on these it-doesn't-make-a-difference-tests? And you use the results as a metric to evaluate teacher/school performance and future funding?


Somebody didn't think this through.


And this shiat is becoming prevalent. They are baselining this year in Utah. I hope it flatlines.
 
m00
2014-04-01 03:32:41 PM  

powhound: Algebra/PreCalc/Concurrent (1010/1050/1060) / 9-12


I wish I paid more attention in calculus. I had to relearn it as an adult, but to be fair it made a lot more sense when I needed to use it.
 
2014-04-01 03:45:35 PM  
Standardized tests need to disappear, permanently. All of them.
 
2014-04-01 03:48:10 PM  

WhyteRaven74: Standardized tests need to disappear, permanently. All of them.


... because unstandardized tests are better?
 
2014-04-01 07:49:22 PM  
I wrote a 30 page literature review on standardized testing.  The results were inconclusive: for every study that supports them there is a study that condemns them.  Ideally, you're not supposed to teach to the test.  However, you teach to the test.  Why?  so kids pass the test and can graduate.  That's the dirty secret in education today and probably why home schooling has asploded.  The tests, IMHO, do nothing to prepare kids for real life or college.  Take the Maryland High School Assessments for example.  Does your average college graduate need to know what a macromolecule is, what are the basic types of macromolecules, what a polymer is, what a monomer is, how polymers are assembled, enzyme structure, enzyme function, the structure of a chloroplast, the structure of the cell membrane, and about a dozen other molecular biology concepts?  In addition, they removed dissections from the biology curriculum because it wasn't tested on the HSA.  The Biology HSA used to have more essays on it than the English exam did, and they did away with most essay and short answer questions due to the cost of scoring them.  I should know, I teach biology.  One of the current strengths of commie core is the re-emphasis on critical thinking.  The test, if they can actually get it to work, is going to require kids to be able to explain their multiple choice answer for some questions.  The idea is breadth over depth, but I don't think it's going to work out that way for some subjects.  The math commie core is just plain old farked up and needs to be scrapped and re-written.  Social studies isn't too bad.  Science won't be fully implemented until 2017 because states like Maryland have such a farked up science exam that they need to go back and change the tests to match what will be in the actual curriculum.

If you want some quality changes in education, then you need to do the following:
1. Get rid of standardized tests, they have done nothing except give people a headache.
2. Trust your teachers to tell you who is and isn't failing and design appropriate interventions for it.
3. No more social promotions: you fail a grade, you repeat the failed coursework.
4, Shrink class sizes to something closer to sanity: 20 was the theoretical maximum when I was in college, 15 was actually ideal.  15 is probably unfeasible in large districts, settle for 20.
5. Get the farking disruptive kids out of the classroom and return them to the parents so they can deal with the problem.  A school isn't a babysitting service and there are a lot of parent out there who are treating schools that way.  Unlimited suspensions, even for special education kids.  Alternative schools with even smaller classes and a higher staff to student ratio for these kids.  Hell, start putting some teeth into the juvenile justice system and start charging these disruptive and disrespectful little twits with violating the other kids right to a free and appropriate education along with disturbing the peace.
6. Let actual educators, not bureaucrats, lead the reforms and develop new programs.  We actually know what were doing.  No more top heavy administration, no more micromanagement.
 
2014-04-01 11:11:41 PM  

brimed03: tcan: Well, welcome to the real world where the company and the managers decide what the employees should be doing and how they should do it. Just because you work as a teacher doesn't mean you get get to do your job the way you want. Ask any wage slave out there if they think they know better how their job should be done and the answer will be yes. What makes you so special that you think you should get to do whatever you want.

You know who a lot of these school district supervisors are? Former gym teachers. You know why? They have no homework to grade. So it's easier for them to go back to school and get their principal's certificate, and get promoted up the chain by the old-boy network of former gym teachers.

So your company is being run by the guy from the mailroom. And not the Michael J Fox, study the business and work lots of late nights mailroom guy either.

Feeling good about your analogy now, smart guy?


Didn't say the management was right. Just saying stop acting as if you're special. I have a part time job interviewing people about work. I have interviewed a lot of teachers and without exception every one has whined about the extra hours they put in but not one has ever mentioned the 2 months they have off. Teachers have bought into the martyr meme about them. From my perspective they are pretty well paid for the work they do and the minimal pressure.
 
2014-04-02 05:00:19 AM  

bobothemagnificent: I wrote a 30 page literature review...


I peeked a looksie at your profile. You do realize that the right side of the political spectrum masturbates to privatizing education? Test standards that are impossible to meet, alternatives to provide for their friends (vouchers and charters). Tax dollars funding religious fundie ed? A push for tech so that teachers can be gotten rid of and students can learn from home on their state-provided tablet? That is the direction the right side is pushing for.

/I teach in Utah
//it's a constant battle (that is being lost slowly over time)
 
2014-04-02 08:03:40 AM  

bobothemagnificent: Ideally, you're not supposed to teach to the test. However, you teach to the test. Why? so kids pass the test and can graduate. That's the dirty secret in education today...

rarerborealis.com
 
2014-04-02 08:47:10 AM  

give me doughnuts: Several days worth of incredibly dull (and more than a bit stressful) testing that has no bearing whatsoever on the students' grades, and you expect the kids to put forth the effort to do well on these it-doesn't-make-a-difference-tests? And you use the results as a metric to evaluate teacher/school performance and future funding?


Somebody didn't think this through.


That's exactly the problem.  The idea of objective, standardized tests is fine...the execution of the idea has generally been a clusterfark rat's nest of competing special interests and poor decision-making.

If I'm a teacher, and you rate me...and pay me... based on my students' improvement in their math scores, well, I'm starting the little bastards on differential calculus in September, and we're ending with simple addition along about the end of May.

Look how much they've improved!
 
2014-04-02 08:53:54 AM  

BMFPitt: Jim_Callahan: I came in to point out that standardized tests are minimum competency tests, and if your students can't pass the damned things then you  aren't a good teacher, whether you "teach the test" or not.  I could have spent every class period declaiming tangentally-related concepts in haiku and students would have fallen into the same distribution (all over the acceptable limit) for the classes I've done.  Teaching the test can screw up actual comprehension, but it doesn't work the other way-- if you give students actual comprehension the test is pretty damned easy.

But it does sound like this teacher is getting shafted on the "improvement" metric, which is essentially statistical noise, so I guess he has a point this time.  Annual improvement in general score makes no sense whatsoever as an analytical metric unless you're... not changing the subject matter from year to year, for some reason.  Which, um... I'd kind of hope you'd do, advancing up the grades and all.

Came to say pretty much this. If someone is that good of a teacher, they wouldn't even have to think about the test.


Err, what about the "raised the bar past 100%" problem the article mentions?  It doesn't matter how good a teacher you are, if the expectations are mathematically impossible to meet.

Typical coaching "give me 110%" crap aside, don't you see a problem with that?

Regardless of the author's individual merits, this is hardly the only instance of this; it's happened in other states, as well.
 
2014-04-02 09:42:18 AM  

bobothemagnificent: 3. No more social promotions: you fail a grade, you repeat the failed coursework.


bobothemagnificent: 6. Let actual educators, not bureaucrats, lead the reforms and develop new programs. We actually know what were doing. No more top heavy administration, no more micromanagement.


Teachers agreed that retention was not harmful in grades K-3, but they disagreed about the impact on students in grades 4-7.

If teachers as a group know what they're doing, then why don't they agree with each other? Even on issues you seem to feel should be universal, like social promotion?

I believe that data-based decisions are generally an improvement over opinions. We've come a pretty long way using this paradigm.

If you believe the data are flawed, it's just not a convincing argument (at least, to me) to say stop collecting data. How about improving it? What data would help you improve your teaching? If someone came out with new teaching method X (say, increased groupwork), and you were designing the randomized control trial, what metric would you use to determine whether this new teaching method worked? On what do you base your decisions on which teaching methods to use?
 
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