By all current assessments our school systems needs a make over. Schools have remained stagnate for the past hundred years as humans have rapidly advanced. Schools have failed to keep up with the innovations and advancements that have happened around them. It is time we adapt schools to their surroundings.
Our current school structure is absolute. Our high school students deserve schools without a bell schedule, built more like a modern library or bookstore. Schools need large gathering areas for students to meet, collaborate and socialize. Surrounding the large community space should be smaller gathering rooms and offices for instructors. Instead of having a set schedule of classes set to a bell schedule. Students can work like most offices with a flex schedule, attending labs and lectures as needed. Handing in assignments digitally. Teachers would use their offices to meet with individual students, small meeting rooms for groups projects and a few classrooms to schedule large group instruction. A classroom management system can be used for students to schedule their meeting times with instructors. The building could be open from 7 AM till 7 PM and students would be able to come and go as needed. School should go year round to allow students to keep learning. If students feel they need a break then they can take on, returning when ready to work.
Currently schools function as a holding cell for students while parents are at work. Students currently come and go as they please for doctor’s appointments, vacations sports and when sick. Our current structure is failing our students and families. Students miss so much instruction time, schools need a system that is more flexible allowing students to learn at their own pace with no penalty for absences. In this flexible structure, grade levels would be eliminated. Students would focus on learning standards and receive credit for mastering standards working at their own pace. Students would have the flexibility to pick their learning pathway that focuses on their interests and career paths.
Teachers would be able to create their schedules to fit their daily needs and districts would not need to hire substitute teachers. Classroom management can be handled by asking any students not meeting expectations to go home for the day and return when they are ready to learn.
It is time to create the schools our students deserve, ending the school day care centers we currently run.
Lets get to work and make it happen!
I will be presenting at the Michigan Association of Middle School Educators Conference on Monday March 12, 2018. I have gone to MAMSE every year since 2011. I feel every middle level educator in Michigan to try to attend at least once. Yes, I am biased since I am currently president of MAMSE. Our conference focuses on middle level instruction and the needs of middle level teachers. This is a great networking opportunity to meet up with other teachers in the middle. The conference is held in a middle school building with middle school students assisting by introducing speakers and occasionally presenting. This year our host is The Middle School at Parkside in Jackson, MI. MAMSE is a state affiliate of the Association of Middle Level Educators (AMLE) which is the leading provider of support of middle level instruction.
This year I will be presenting on Social Media and Legends of Learning. My presentations are embedded below. Hope to see you Monday.
Part 1 of school safety series
Since Valentines day and the sad events that happened in Parkland, Florida at Stoneman Douglas High School, schools have been on edge. School safety is a ht topic on the news, radio and in the papers. Our students see how serious adults are around the topic. Many are calling out for attention by making their own threats. It seems like every news cycle we hear a story about teens making threats. When caught voicing their threat of violence whether on social media or in person, the next words authorities hear are “Its a Joke” or “I am Kidding”.
Now days schools have to take every threat seriously. At any word of a potential attack, safety plans are put into place. Police are rushed to the scene. Tensions mount. School violence is not a joking matter. The authorities are using a zero tolerance approach. Still the jokesters are still out there. Each passing week it seems more tomfoolery arises. Students are testing the system, looking to see how the adults will react. Raising the stress levels in schools.
It seems jokes have reached a new level, that similar to the famed MTV show “Jackass”. I am left wondering when jokes became this way. We need to teach our children that jokes are obvious, if we have to tell others its a joke we weren’t funny. Another clue to a jokes is that they create laughter not fear. Has YouTube warped our children’s understanding of humor?
or is something else happening? Has our on demand world, made our students hate the social, community demands of school? Questions to ponder as we seek answers to how to make our schools safe. (and better)
In the meantime could ALL media outlets help our children understand how to make a joke that doesn’t cause fear!
Education is an expensive endeavor. Schools need to be kept modern. Students need the latest technology in their hands to learn and be ready for the careers for tomorrow. Isn’t it time that our education system began acting like a business so many politicians want it to be?
It is time for schools to benefit from their captive audience like movie theaters, sport and concert venues, banks and airlines. Instead of having water fountains, schools can sell water can be sold for $4 a bottle. The lockers and bathrooms use will be for a cost $1.00. Lessons can come will come with paid advertisements from the schools sponsors. Small Fees will be charged for students to be tested and a larger fee structure for grades issued. Once all these policies are implemented, taxes for the community will be reduced and schools will be able to recruit the brightest and best teachers.
When schools focus on being profitable like businesses everyone wins. These are sound business principals. Airlines, airports and concert venues take advantage of their captive audience by over charging for needs commodities like water. At movie theaters customers pay to see a movie but also see ads that add to the theaters bottom line. Extra fees exist all over the business world. It is time for schools to follow this trend and act like a corporation by find profits everywhere they can. Heck, network television charges cable companies to carry them (fees past to customer) while they charge millions for advertising. When I go down to Comerica Park, I pay $20 for a Little Ceasars Pizza that would cost me $5 at the store by my house. Why haven’t schools realized this potential before? Students have to go to school by law, time for us to capitalize on our captive student audience.
Please read Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” if you don’t understand my satire. It is time to recognize education isn’t a business and needs to be fully funded by taxes.
I was recently watched Moana with my children. I was stressed about the pressures teachers feel to perform daily in our classrooms. It was nice to sit and relax with the kids on the couch and watch a great Disney film. Then my mind started to focus on the the educational value of the film. I realized the Moana is a parable for our education system.
Moana represents our students, eager to learn, take risks and find adventure. Her parents represent parents that want to hold on to traditions, their children to be the same as them and experience a similar education system. Moana’s Grandmother represents the possibilities of our education systems to take students where they desire to go in life. Maui the Demi-god and Heihei the dim witted rooster represent our politicians. Maui has good intentions but is full of ego, wants to be praised for accomplishments instead of empowering others. Heihei follows misguided instincts even when others try to lead him in the right direction. The heart of the The ocean represents the value of education, which has been lost in our society. Moana is on a quest to restoring educational values and ridding our society of the demons Kakamora, The Realm of Monsters and Te Ka. These demons represent our societies value systems currently. Kakamora are the “haters” and “trolls” the extoll negatives towards anything and feel they are always right. The Realm of Monsters is social media that loves the shiny and bright of entertainment disregarding knowledge. Te Ka is our government influenced by the Kakamora and Realm of Monsters focusing on blame and angry public opinion.
It is a hard battle for Moana and she needs the help of her Grandmother for guidance and Maui for strength. Just like our students need teachers to guide and our legislative bodies to pass laws that empower our students to be successful. Our students and their needs must be the guides. Educators need to work with legislators to help them focus on our students needs or they will focus too much on their ego (Maui) or on their own misguided instincts (Heihei).
It is time for us to return the heart of education where it should be. Our society needs to value the educational system and educators. The Kakamora are allowed too much voice currently. We can’t let them dominate the educational landscape and control the heart of education with their blame and punish attitude. As educators we have to be stedfast in guiding our students to the heart with consistent encouragement. Time for legislators to listen to our students voice and drop their egos and misguided instincts.
Advocacy – public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.
My focus for 2018 will on advocacy. I need to advocate for creating a better education system for my students and peers. Right now our education system seems to be a target. Schools don’t get the appreciation for all the services that are provided. Teachers are leaving their chosen profession in droves for greener pastures. It is time for advocates to rise up and share the power of education and all that is positive in our schools.
It can be easy just to close the classroom door focusing on just my own class. Teachers need to remember what is best for our students and keep doors open. We need to discuss our practice critically with each other. Advocating for what we know is best while remaining respect of others opinions. I have shied away from advocacy in the past in fear of offending others. It can be a fine line of being and advocate and be arrogant. One must respect others points of view; agreeing to disagree to avoid confrontations. These conversations have to occur to transform education.
For education to turn around it needs advocates.
Advocates for our students remembering that they are more than a score. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds with a plethora of goals the education system needs to honor them.
Advocates for our teachers. The profession has been beaten down by accountability.
Advocate for funding. Our schools need to keep pace with our ever changing educational needs.
Advocates for teaching and learning methods. To improve our system we need to accept the many learning styles and methods that work.
Advocate for many paths. Our society has focused too ling on “college ready”, we need to recognize that many career paths don’t pass through colleges.
I will not apologize for my advocacy. I care to much to not speak out for my students and profession!
My previous #oneword posts on Time and Opportunity.
Thanks for giving me your time to take the opportunity to advocate on behalf of my students.
As 2017 wraps up, I am reminded to reflect on the past so I can plan for the future. This year has flown by with much excitement and stress. The year started with AMLE asking me to be a featured speak at the 2017 conference. One of my teaching partners struggled as her father slowly passed away. Summer was a nice hiatus to spend time with my 3 young ones as they grow up (too quickly). Fall came in like a hurricane as a school year can do full of activities and learning. In November the AMLE conference was full of passion and excitement. The winter break came just in time to allow me to catch up and reflect.
As I look back I want to focus on 3 things moving forward:
- Slow down – Don’t try to do everything, focus on being present where ever you may be. Enjoy the moment and don’t worry about missing something. When you spend time worrying about missing out, you miss out on everything.
- Focus on students – Our students matter. It isn’t the curriculum, test scores or grades that matter. Our students live very different lives than I did when I was growing up. I need to remember to give them experiences that they may never get. I need to remember that they have different expectations and desires in life than I have for my children. I just need to listen and help them grow. this growth is not always academic and comes in many forms.
- Try new thing – I want to stay fresh and inventive. There are days I have little time to gather all I need to make the “great’ lesson. I need to make sure I don’t resort to just reach for the file cabinet with old lessons. I need the students to be engaged daily. Lesson must be fresh, exciting and full of passion for learning science. I can’t just rely on the textbook or a video to motivate my students to learn science.
I hope to continue to grow and learn this year. I see changes ahead. 2018 see me join the AMLE board of directors helping guide its mission and vision. I will be giving up my leadership role for our districts Union to find time to work on the national level.
Hope to connect with many great folks in 2018! See you in the new year!