Creating an Environment for Success #michEd

Last week when I saw the following quote on twitter from our governor I was confused.

“It’s not government’s job to hire people. Our role is to create an environment for success.” Gov Snyder @AEI http://ow.ly/i/3g0Fh 

 This is the classic cliche: You can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink argument. Ironically I agree with the Nerd on this one. I am confused because this is the exact same statement educational professionals have been making for the past few years as so-called educational reformers have changed how student achievement data is used to evaluate educators. Are teachers supposed to be held to a higher standard than  the governor?
A teachers job is to create an environment where every learner can be successful. All of our students are at different starting points when they arrive in our classrooms and when they leave they exit through different doors on their educational journey. Our job is not to have these students score proficiently on a standardized test one day out of the 180 they are in our classrooms.  Teachers are trained in creating an environment for educational success. When are teacher evaluations going to be created that measure the ability of teachers to build this atmosphere and teach, instead of how well our students perform on tests created by large corporations.
Governor Snyder, if you feel that you can use this statement to defend the business climate here in Michigan. Then you need to listen to teachers who make the same statements, instead of dismantling our education system in the state. Stop allowing for-profit charters from taking over public school districts. Return educational funding to pre-recession funding levels. Changing the educational funding system to create an atmosphere for educational collaboration instead of competition. Then you will have given teachers an environment for success like you have created for businesses in the state. The children of Michigan deserve it. The tax payers desire it. Educators have been demanding it.

 

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Homework what is it good for? …Dependency?

There are many views in education about homework ranging from : Necessary for success to an evil tool from the old days of education. Parents, teachers and administrators are on both sides of the debate. Students not surprisingly are pretty much united against homework.

So the burning question is: What is Homework Good For?

The easy answer comes from students:

  • boredom

  • repetition

  • frustration

  • wasting time

  • busy work

These are not the desired outcomes when a teacher assigns the work, but what happens. Is something lost in translation? Most assigning the work feel it is practice that is reinforcing the skills learned in the classroom. Not being concerned by the students perception of the work. Recently, I have noticed a trend where teachers profess at Open House that they don’t “give” homework, followed by a list of weekly at home expectations that include: Math practice (Online w/ TenMarks or IXL), spelling practice (Spelling city) a weekly reader and daily independent reading. These same teachers also expect student to finish any work not completed in class at home. All this work is done at home, so what is it if not homework?

Parents expect homework. They use homework as a gauge to measure what is going on in the classroom. It informs them of what learning is happening in the classroom. Working on it with their child can give them an idea of how their child is doing. Parents often mistaking the lack of homework for success by their student in a class. Parents also feel that IF their child does the homework it should be reflected in their grades, no matter how proficient they in the subject area tests. Of course teachers can have a hard time knowing if the student or the parent completed the homework.

Traditionalist feel that homework is practice of the vital school skills learned in class. How are our student going to learn math, spelling, vocabulary, etc. with out this practice? Practice is helpful. Should our students be practicing without a coach? DO they all need to practice the same material? How much practice do they need? Does practice count in the big picture?

Instead of giving homework, teachers need to teach student to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Give their students the tools to allow them to decide what needs to be practiced and how to practice. Then be available during practice time to help students hone their skills. By making this fundamental change, students will still have homework, but they will be the ones deciding what they need to do and when it needs to be done. Freeing up time for family and extracurricular activities. It will also end the homework dependency our society has created over the past few decades!

#mschat @AMLE event: The Purpose of Homework 9-19-13

Tonight #mschat was rocking. Over 90 Educators showed up to tweet their feels and thoughts on homework. Excellent ideas were exchanged. Sadly Storify, the tool I use to archive chats: could not handle the volume of tweets and kept overloading as I tried to insert all the tweets into the story. I did get over 500 from the conversation and am working on getting more. Will update if I can save the entire conversation. The chat was too good to not save what I could. Check out the link below to see most of the conversation.

#DrivingSchoolSpirit -It is that time of year!! – Show your school spirit on Instagram

I was selected for this sponsored post by Hay There Social Media.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Show your school spirit on Instagram during Local 4 Friday Football Frenzy

As the fall weather rolls in, the leaves on the trees start to change color, it is High School Football season. I remember being in high school looking forward to the Friday night showdowns on the gridiron. There is nothing like the feeling of rooting for the home team with your friends on a cool fall evening.  The community comes together for a common cause. Watching high school heroes in the making. I grew up in Quincy, IL where high school sports were the only game in town. If we could not make it to the game we would listen to them on the radio,  not wanting to miss out on the action.

I was excited to hear about Local 4’s Friday Football Frenzy  as a place to keep track of all the local football action.

You as a fan can contribute by uploading you photos of games to Instagram sent to @FordDSFL and tagging the with #Drivingschoolspirit.

You can check out what other Friday Football Frenzy fans have shared here.

As teenagers are flocking to local sporting events, we as parents and educators are all to aware of the danagerous that exist on the roads especially late at night. Ford is teaming up with Local for the help with the “Ford Driving Skills for Life”

A program designed for teams to be aware of all that is going on around them on the road. Concerned parents and teachers should check our Ford’s tools to help young drivers learn.

Parents: https://www.drivingskillsforlife.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=11&Itemid=7

Educators: https://www.drivingskillsforlife.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=1

Enjoy your Friday Nights at the game and be safe!!

First Monday- Advisory Lesson to Engage Students

Yesterday was my first Monday of the school year (last Monday was a Holiday). Most students don’t like Mondays, it means the end of living on their terms. No laying around the house, watching TV and playing video games while eating junk food. When I walked into my classroom for advisory at 8:10 I found many heads laying on the tables and blank eyes staring back at me. The students weren’t ready for the school day, heck many weren’t fully awake yet. After taking attendance, I felt I needed to do something to get everyone’s blood flowing and engaged for the day. So, I turned to one of my children’s favorite wake up songs Wake Up (By Verve Pipe a band I enjoyed in bars as a college student)

The lyrics seemed to connect to the students. Heads lifted from the desks, if not only in wonderment about what was going on. Eyes started to stare in wonderment towards the from of the classroom. When it was over, I was ready to pass out an article to discuss sleep deprivation in teens. I noticed the students weren’t quite ready to get to work. Blood was flowing but not enough. Then I remember a video Adam Bellow   had share at MACUL Conference back in March.

At first a few students yelled out,”Not Rebbeca Black!!” But then they realized it was something different. A few started to snicker, others stared at the imagines in disbelief of what they were seeing. Was a teacher really playing this? As the chorus started to play “Its Monday …” I sang along. A few student looked at me and smiled. Realizing that school does not have to be a “drag” students started singing along and a select very comfortable few even got up to dance. 

Afterwards we discussed sleep and eating habits to help students get into the groove with school.

If I felt this was an awesome lesson, I would have posted it last night. It wasn’t till today in advisory, that I realized how powerful it was. As I was taking attendance, with the plan of watching CNN student news and discussing Syria, a hand popped up. “Mr Bloch, are we going to listen to the Wake Up song?” A few yeahs echoed from behind the questioner. Could I deny students a 3 minute song? Of course not. It made most of the classes day (Can please everyone). Student sang along and were moving. It really created positive energy to get the day started.

Think about finding hitches that get the students up and moving to start their day!