Sunday, November 30, 2008

To Tenure or Not to Tenure...That is the Question...

Look...I've been following the Michelle Rhee 'thing' for a few months now. DyDan loves her, Shareski--well, maybe not so much.

Personally, I like Rhee's approach. She is flying in the face of the conventional approach to the education management model. Tenure? What the hell is THAT in private industry? I can not remember a time when my job was secure "just because." Ummm...."Eddie, what have you done for me lately?" rings a loud and resounding bell. Why in God's name should a teacher's job be secure just because he/she is a teacher?

I left business/industry with a passion to help students--specifically secondary students. I spent way too much time as a sales and/or marketing manager looking for part time help that couldn't put together a decent resume/application, didn't know that first thing about interviewing, etc. I have had numerous instances where applicants answered their mobile phones during interviews...not to mention their dress, demeanor, etc...excuse me???? Just where have we lost it with young people??

As a teacher (as in industry), I work hard to be innovative...teaching in a Title I school (my choice), I realize that reaching students is more of a challenge...but...I love a challenge! I recognize and value the diversity in my students. I teach them to value their uniqueness and use that to become successful students, graduates, employees, entrepreneurs.

I believe Michelle Rhee to be an innovator, a reformer of sorts. She was considered to be possibly under qualified for her position, but her passion with regard to the success of students (not the convenience of staff/faculty) won her the position...and won her that position INSIDE the beltway...things that make you go hmmmmm...

Where I differ from Rhee is in the 'standardized testing' as THE measure for GREAT teaching. While I do believe that students needs to demonstrate they 'have gotten it' for ANY subject, I don't believe that the fate of a teacher (or a student) should hinge on a yearly standardized test. Too often (I have seen it), teachers will teach to the test to 'look' successful when in reality no true learning has taken place (see Tony Wagner's research for verification).

It eludes me completely that so learned of a group (our educational managers--the 'powers that be') has been so slow to reform systemically an educational system that clearly is not meeting the needs of most students. Why can we not develop an effective system that analyzes effectively student learning and evaluate teacher effectiveness? Are we SO drenched in the status-quo that we ignore the possibilities? I believe that Michelle Rhee is hope is that she doesn't get SO caught up in standardized testing that she misses out on the necessity of developing the WHOLE child.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Attending the Flat Classroom Conference...Will You Help?

This semester my students and I have been priviliged to participate in the 2008 Flat Classroom Project created by Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsey (my mentors, whether they realize it or not!). The project is based on Thomas Friedman's best selling book, The World is Flat.

Participating in the Project is incredible. My students are producing content on the Flat Classroom Wiki with students from around the globe. What they are creating is simply phenomonal to me. Tony Wagner would be proud of the type of "redefined rigor." ::smiles:: I never ceased to be amazed at what students can do whenever teachers get out of the way.

I digress...

The culmination of this year's Flat Classroom Project is the Flat Classroom Leadership Conference and Student Summit to be held in Doha, Qatar this coming January. I have been given permission by my School Board to attend the conference with 9 of my students involved in the project. We REALLY want to attend this conference! My students will come away from this experience enriched, engaged, and ready to succeed as they go off into college.

But...I trip like this costs big $$$. We are in the process of fundraising. I'm posting this out in the blogoshere looking for Angels who see the benefits and will help our students. My students and I have started a "Conference Blog." You can follow our Project progress on this blog...we've also posted a Sponsorship Brochure , which includes a Donation Form. All donations are tax deductable...

Will you help?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Note of Thanks

I received this from a fellow teacher today. What a terrific way to let the men and women of the Armed Forces know that we care about them, their families, and their safety.

I pray they all come home soon!