#Makerspace Rage!

MakerSpaceLogo
From: http://www.clubcyberia.org

Over the past year, teachers can’t miss the hype around “Maker Spaces”. This movement is featured in trade magazines, presentations at conferences,  and thousands of social media posts. Making is a trait that makes us human. Schools today need to re-embrace making as part of their curriculum.

Sadly somewhere in the 1990’s or early 2000’s school lost sight of their making traditions in search of higher test scores and in budget crunches. By the late 1970’s making was a core part of our schools. Most districts engaged students in some form of industrial arts: from Auto Mechanics to Woods Shop to Home Economics students had making options at school. As the United States lost industrial jobs to overseas, products became cheaper to buy new than replace. By the late 1990’s a testing and college ready culture perforated our school systems along with budget cuts. Making classes were the first things to go.

Being a maker is a career skill! Most companies do one of three things (if not all 3): Make a product, market a product and service a product. If we teach our students to make products their will have mastered an valuable skill. By being makers our students gain skills most textbooks do not teach. Some making skills are:

  1. Identify a problem that needs to be addressed by a product
  2. Work as a team member
  3. Design a product to address the problem
  4. Budget and gather materials to build prototype
  5. Assemble and test prototype
  6. Communicate results
  7. Analyze prototype and redesign
  8. Mass produce product
  9. Meet Deadlines and stay in budgets

These making skills are needed in our workplaces today. Many employers look for this practical knowledge over college degrees when hiring today. Shouldn’t schools be developing practical work skills and experiences?

Our students need to be making things in every class, as often as possible. Most elementary schools encourage students as makers by doing crafts that connect to their curriculum. Art programs also seem to inspire students into making. By the time students make it to middle school most of these maker activities loose way to test preparation and core academic work. Making needs to occur in all subject areas on a regular basis.

Many teachers are discouraged about making due to the price tag that seems to come with it. Don’t be! Making can be done with cardboard collected at the local grocery store. Sure you can buy tons of cool making kits like “Little Bits” or “Tinker Create” but making has been done since the beginning of time with things found in nature. YES, we all want the cool bells, whistles and lights but making is an essential life skill that needs to be taught in schools. Make it happen on what ever budget.

 

As my friend Todd Beard says: “Hands on, minds on!”

Move making back into your curriculum! Our Kids Deserve it.

 

 

Educational Supply and Demand

Supply-and-demand
From MarketBusinessnews.com

I studied supply and demand in middle school. Demand goes up, supplies shrink and the prices go up. Or Demand goes down, supplies stack up and the prices fall. Newscasts talk about supply and demand all the time. From gas price fluctuations to high demand job salaries: consumers hear about supply and demand on a regular basis. The basic principals of supply and demand apply to every avenue of our lives. SO how does it work in education?

Right now there is a teacher shortage! Urban schools are finding it hard to staff all of their teaching positions. Many district struggle just to find qualified applicants for teaching positions. Under normal supply and demand situations: teachers pay would go up because the supply of qualified teachers is falling. Education isn’t the norm. Legislative bodies across the USA are hoping to tap into a fresh supply of teachers. New laws are going into place to allow uncertified teachers into the classroom in hopes of staffing all teaching positions. Is this how it works in other career fields? Not enough licensed doctors or certified accountants so let just let anyone with a college degree do it. NO, in other fields corporations raise pay to attract more into the field.

Our schools need qualified teachers! The market can’t be adjusted by mindlessly drilling for more teachers everywhere. If college graduates wanted to be teachers, then they would have been. We know the supply and demand model well. It has been proven time and time again. Right now this model tells us to raise the pay for teachers to help fulfill the demand.

Tell our legislators to make it happen!

References:

Keeping Good Teachers ASCD: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/104138/chapters/Responding-to-the-Teacher-Shortage.aspx

DPS Facing Surge of Mid Year teacher departures: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2015/11/26/dps-teachers-leaving/76311802/

 

 

Show up!

showing up

The alarm goes off at 6:00 AM, Amy, my wife mumbles “Why are you getting up, it is the first week summer break?” My reply as I pop out of bed: “We have things to do!” After a quick shower and a cup of coffee, because the best part of waking up is coffee, I wake my three kids. Amy is slowly dragging through her morning routine to get to work, as our 3 kids slowly trickle down stairs. Grace asks why she needed to get up. “Well Griffin has basketball camp and you and Gavin, well you are 7 so you have to come along!”

As we arrive a basketball camp, I notice attendance down from previous years. The coach already is rethinking his time slot. “Last year we had twice as many players!” An 8 AM start is seen as tall order for many, the week after school starts.

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Titan Hoop Camp Photo by T Bloch

During the camp session, a few players trickled in 30 minutes to an hour late. As I looked at the sign in sheet more than 20 players who had paid failed to show up. When I asked a former student where his friends were, his quick reply was “bed!”  Griffin knows that we paid for camp, He committed to going so He goes no complains. We expect he tries his best and no complains. Luckily for us he understands if he commits to something, he gives 100% even if he doesn’t like it. Next time he won’t have to sign up if he doesn’t want to go.

Sadly many children today see their opportunities as optional. From sports to the classroom we have children who forget that the first step to success is showing up. It takes hard work and effort to accomplish anything in the world. Many of our youth feel they don’t have to show up and success will come their way. Adults need to make sure when our children commit to any activity that they show up, try their hardest and be positive. At the end of the first day of basketball camp, the coach told the players:

“You showed up, Step 1 in making the team. You gave it your all: Step 2 at making the team. NOW maintain those efforts and you will make the TEAM.”

Great message for all! Without showing up, we fail to grow, fail to learn and fail to make the team. Encourage our children to show up! It will make all the difference.

We don’t want our children to turn into the adults who never show up!

 

We’re talking about Bathrooms?

bathroom

Why are we wasting so much energy talking about bathrooms. In April, I wrote about the impact of the LGBTQ debate has on our students. The debate has raged on and is now spreading to more states. Today the federal government is stepping in to protect transgendered youth. I am sure this is just the start of a long public battle that will cause more damage than allowing students to go into bathrooms of the gender they identify.

Here in Michigan, bathrooms are taking center stage as Detroit Public Schools are in shambles and Flint has pipes full of lead. Fear and hate are energizing vocal activists. Some feel it is un-Christian to allow transgender students to go in the bathroom they identify with. Hmm… The Bible I read focused on love an acceptance.

What happens when a person who looks like a man has to go into the girls restroom, because he was born a girl? or vice versa? Bathrooms might need a bit of a redesign, putting doors on all stalls is long over due anyway. Really think about it, what do others see when you go to the bathroom? It is creepy to think anyone is looking, because only creeps look. People are mostly concerned about locker rooms. Hate to break it to them but students today don’t shower at school and most of them don’t change clothing either. Just ask coaches and gym teachers.

It is time to stop all the HATE and solve real problems in the world.

Inflexible Profession?

teaching

Schools are seeing teachers leave the profession in record numbers. When teachers are sick districts struggle to find guest teachers to cover all of the classes. Many states feel that they way to address the shortage of teachers in the classroom is to hire non-certified teachers. This will not solve the problem, it will only continue to devalue our trained educators and destroy our education system.

To address the shortages the issue needs to be examined by comparing teaching to other jobs that require similar educational backgrounds and skills. The once rigid corporate structures in the business world have transformed to  more relaxed corporate culture. Perspective teachers notice that schools have not kept pace with the transformations that have occurred in the business world around them.

Here are a few items that teachers notice which others might take for granted.

  • It is a 9-4 world: Most appointments for doctors, dentists, banks, or anything really occur during the regular school day. Teachers have to take time off work to make any of them. Other professionals flex their schedule to go to these important meetings. In most cases it requires 1/2 day off for teachers to attend.
  • GO at Lunch is not an option: Teachers usually have around 30 minutes for lunch. Not time to do much but for teachers it is packed with phone calls, helping students and trying to get a bite. Other professions just take an extended lunch.
  • Bathroom Breaks: Teachers have to schedule bathroom visits to fit their class schedule, many times going 3 hours holding it. Lunch and prep time are greatly valued just to get to the bathroom.
  • Meetings: Most employees expect meetings during their work day. In educations most staff and committee meeting are help before or after work. Teachers aren’t typically paid extra to attend. In other professions these meeting ONLY occur during the work day. Many of these professions also celebrate their successes during their work hours as well, going on corporate outings etc. Again in education this doesn’t happen.
  • Being accountable for time off: It takes teachers up to an hour to get ready for a day off. Creating lesson plans and getting supplies ready. Most jobs, a day off is a causal phone call and no more thought. Teachers usually come to work sick because the plan for the day requires them.
  • Changing on the fly: Most jobs have a regular pattern and plan. If something is changing plenty of notice is given. In schools the days plan can change in a moments notice. On the day you have a technology infuse lesson the internet goes down. In other jobs this is frustrating but employees often go home to wait for the system to get back online. Teachers still have their class to lead in a lesson.
  • Constant scrutiny:  Beside politicians, what other profession is under more scrutiny? Teachers here the constant bashing our profession takes in the media and by the water cooler. Who wants all this blame?
  • Attend children’s school functions: Teachers value education but so often they miss their own child’s milestones. Most celebrations overlap and occur at beginning and end of year when teachers are limited in ability to be absence for personal business. Other professions flex their work schedule to make it fit.

Educators are asked to be flexible to make learning happen for their students. Their work environment needs to catch up and be just as flexible. Can education become a more desired career if it can be more flexible?

To some these observations may seem petty or part of the JOB! But when the Profession is finding it hard to attract the brightest and best it might be time to look at how it compares to other fields.

Teachers teach because it is their calling! Many are being called but not picking up the phone! It is time to raise our profession!

 

Time To UNITE Educators

unite

 

Dear Michigan Educators-

It is time for all of us to unite in Michigan. From Superintendents to paraprofessionals, teachers to bus drivers, we need to stand together. Our profession is under attack from legislators in Lansing. Last night the House worked till dawn to pass punitive legislation to address the financial woes of Detroit Public Schools. The ramifications of this legislation will negatively impact us all. Nick Krieger of Fix the Mitten compares these bills to setting off a nuclear bomb.

We need to stand together to have our voices heard in Lansing. DPS teachers have tried with sick outs, Michigan Association of School Boards, MEA, AFT and even Mayor Duggan have lobbied against these bills to no avail. Together our voices will be stronger.

What happens in Detroit will be a model for the rest of our school districts when times are tough in Lansing. We can’t have non-certified Educators in front of our students full time. It devalues all of us, minimizing our profession. Teacher certification should not be a legislative tool thrown around to save money. Constitutionally certification is handled by the Michigan Department of Education. Removing ALL Detroit Public Schools Employees from the state retirement system. It places all of our retirements jeopardy. Do we want our pensions to head down the path of the Teamsters?  Adding to a list of broken promises by the state!

Nothing in the DPS “rescue” bills helps education. They leave the district still under state control with less resources, less QUALIFIED teachers and on a path towards failure. These bill have been paid for by for profit charter school advocates that are selling choice at the price of future generations of students.

Every district in the state will be adversely impacted by these bills. It is time ALL School Boards and Superintendents stand together to rise up and help Lansing hear our voices. Brian Whiston it is your defining moment, lead the charge. There should be a state wide, “Snow/act of GOD” in protest to the House of Representatives actions. Superintendents you have to have the courage to lead and do what is right for ALL student in the GREAT STATE of MICHIGAN. All parents, students and educators will stand behind you, our voices will be heard!

IF NOT NOW WHEN? IF NOT YOU WHO?

BE THE LEADERS OUR STUDENTS, TEACHERS AND COMMUNITIES DESERVE!

Teacher Certification Matters

certification

Would you go to an non-certified doctor? Lawyer? Dentist? Probably not, those are all professionals that have a high degree of schooling. How about have an non-certified nurse or mechanic? No again. We value our health and our cars. Here is Michigan our legislators are considering allowing Non-certified teachers with HB 5384. Is this something we should be even considering? Do we value our students learning as much as our health and our cars? Teachers are professionals with a high degree of much needed education.

Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher! Legislators say they want the best and brightest teaching our youth, this bill shows that is just lip service to the voting masses. Teacher certification matters, just like licensing and  certifications in all other fields. Teachers need to have skills to work in the classroom. In fact Michigan recently changed the teachers certification test making it harder for candidates to pass. Now they just want to put anyone with a pulse in front of our students? Certified teachers aren’t what created the mismanagement in Detroit which has lead to its financial problems. It has been corruption by management.

Why is having certified teachers so important? Teaching is an art that requires certain skills. Without these skills teachers will fail and quickly leave the classroom, creating a steady flow of teachers out of the classroom. Teachers need to be masters of content while also understand how to manage a classroom. The teaching channel presents a great list of 8 essential skills for new teachers. These skills are keys to ALL teacher certification programs .

Certified teachers know:

How to teach

What to teach.

How to differentiate.

How to motivate.

How to integrate technology.

How to address every students needs.

How to manage a classroom.

How to connect to parents and community.

That relationships are key to success.

That flexibility and adaptability are needed.

Their students are more than a test score.

It takes training to learn these skills. Even our most skill profession, medicine, makes error. Currently the 3rd leading cause of death in the US is medical error!  Does this mean we should start allowing non-certified people practice medicine? NO, time to fine tune training to help reduce errors.

It is time to TELL Lansing to stop devaluing the education profession and OUR KIDS EDUCATION. We need certified teachers in EVERY classroom. HB 5384 is a step backwards in time. It is not good for our students, our schools or our communities! Don’t we value today’s youth enough to know this is a bad move!

Working hard to make sure teachers are inspiring the youth of tomorrow.

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