I published a blog post with grammatical errors. I have to admit it wasn’t the first time or will it be the last time. I make mistakes. Writing has been a life long struggle for me. I seem to do a much better job with my words when I speak than when I actually slow down to capture them on my blog. My mind seems to flow faster than my fingers can type the words down. I often make mistakes. Frequently my mistakes come in the form of word replacement: such as typing “so” when I mean “some”.
My wife frequently asks if I proof read my work? Of course I do re-read my work. My brain still contains the original wording. Often during a quick re-read my mind skips over the errors inserting correct word, missing the error. My proof reading improves if I set the writing aside for a day or two and re-visit it with a mind free from the original writing process. I should take a pause in the writing process and give my work more time. Errors still occur but I usually catch the glaring issues.
I blog to take ideas and put them to paper. I don’t blog to be perfect. The great thing about modern technology, when I find mistakes I can correct them even after publishing a post. Recently some readers have commented on my errors. I appreciate their corrections, I strive to do my best. What disturbs me is that some value perfect writing over quality ideas. When I read ideas take center stage. I frequently notice minor error in what I read. I don’t let it distract me from the overall purpose of the writing. Ideas drive the world not perfect writing. Writing errors surround us in all formats of writing. Authors don’t intend to make the errors they just happen. In my writing I attempt to be timely and respond to events in the world around us. This means I don’t often take the time needed to make it error free.
In my classroom I want to be a model for my students. Someone who has flaws but constantly tries his best to work through them. In the past I have focused too much on students’ grammar and not enough of the ideas presented in their writing. The “red” ink seems to discourage students from writing or even sharing ideas. Teachers need to encourage more writing, errors and all. When we read our primary focus should be on the ideas presented. Grammar is important, especially in published works, but should be secondary focus behind ideas.
I was personally discouraged from writing for many developing years due to my grammatical errors. Every paper was returned with so much red ink, I barely noticed the comments about the quality of my ideas. As educators we need to encourage writers sharing feedback that focused on the strengths of ones writing with side notes on the weaknesses.
We all make mistakes, don’t shut learners down by being too critical of them. Thank you for excepting me errors and all!
At 13 years old all she wanted to be was a teacher! She sat in the front of my classroom, paid attention and excelled at all she did. As she advanced through high school she would return to teachers’ classrooms to assist and learn the craft. In college she remained in constant contact with her former teachers for advice and wisdom. After graduating with honors, she worked as a guest teacher in hopes of fulfilling her life long dream of being a classroom teacher. All her hard work paid off, two years ago she secured a teaching job in a district neighboring the one she attended. Her teachers could not have been more proud, she has the skills, passion and patience to be one of the best teachers. We all saw it in her when she was 13.
Last week she quit, making a tough life decision to end her dream job for greener pastures in the mortgage industry. I cried when I read her Facebook post. Having observed her in action as a guest teacher in our building, she was great in front of students. She described the decision as one of the hardest in her young life. The decision was not a financial one. “No matter how hard I tried, how much time I committed I never felt like a was successful and feel I always needed to do more.” She was clearly sad to leave the profession but stated “the stress has been causing health problems”. The comments below her Facebook post were supportive. Other teachers shared their job stresses, many expressed their desires to leave the classroom to find a “more supportive career.
Sadly this story is all to common in 2016. While politicians use education as a key talking point on the campaign trail, fewer students are going into the education field. Current teachers feel they are being forced out by job stress and testing. The research based practices teachers learned about in college give way to budget cuts and time constraints. Most districts around the country struggle to find guest teachers, leaving classroom teachers to lose their valuable prep time to cover other classes. In most fields if these situations were occurring, pay would go up to improve them. Instead most teachers have seen their take home pay slowly go down, with increases in insurance costs and pension contributions.
It is time to make education and educators a priority! Otherwise education will continue to loose the best and the brightest! I am greatly saddened to see so many flocking away from this great profession!
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:
Identify a problem that needs to be addressed by a product
Work as a team member
Design a product to address the problem
Budget and gather materials to build prototype
Assemble and test prototype
Analyze prototype and redesign
Mass produce product
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.