Friday, January 18, 2008

Teachers' Wish List?

This question is just for the K-12 public school teachers reading this blog. I'll post a different thread tomorrow for parents, and a third for district non-teaching staff.

If you (as a K-12 public school teacher) had a magic wand, what 3 things would you change about public education in Seattle?


Anonymous said...

How about private school educators?

Anonymous said...

Place students according to proficiency level, not age or grade (so students master skills before they tackle the next levels)

Offer a wide and varied range of classes and enrichment: Schools with a large percentage of low-SES are, coincidentally, becoming WASL prep factories. This does not give the neediest students the best education…Students in rich environments do not need as much WASL prep, so they get to do fun things, while students with less exposure to deep and meaningful environments (and I’m talking mainly home environments) are increasing faced with a day full of WASL prep classes.

Expand schools to include community support and development and education: make them 16-hour learning facilities where whole families can find something to benefit them: adult education, social services, counseling, mentorship and tutoring…Build relationships between ALL families, students, schools and the community.

Make every citizen advocate for every child, not merely their own. (oops, that’s four…oh well!)

Gordon Macdougall, LA Alt teacher, lately of John Marshall, but soon...

Anonymous said...

1) More prep time for teachers

Secondary teachers get an average of 50 minutes of prep time a day, and many primary teachers get even less. My biggest challenge is keeping up with the daily grind of teaching while still having the energy to read books and stay current in my field. I would love to see something like Google's 20% Time, so we can pursue academic interests and stay sharp.

2) More Modern Facilities

Seattle voters have been great in supporting levies to remodel buildings and increase availability of technology (thanks!), but we still have a long way to go to making many of our buildings appear to be clean, warm, and welcoming.

3) Greater respect from district leadership for the expertise of teachers

The current movement toward standardizing curriculum across the district inhibits the role of teachers making decisions about how to meet the needs of his/her students, and reflects a naive belief that a curriculum can be "teacher-proofed". Another great way to show respect would be to increase teacher pay.

Anonymous said...

1. cost out how much time each idea takes, and then pay for the bodies to spend the time.

2. 2nd interruption, the 'student' is gone from the room and the professional psycho-babble-ists / social workers / whatevers can fix the 'student' until they are a student. (see #1) From what I've experienced, the system has figured out it is cheaper to spend money on cruddy training about bogus classroom management and bogus instructional strategies than it is to fix the chaos in the class problem.

3. since I see NO ideas paid for - whether the ideas are from go back to the good old days which never existed right wingers, or the ideas are from the happy happy fuzzy fuzzy clueless lefites, or the ideas are somewhere in between - I'll take ideas which are paid for. With that accomplished, we could make some progress on setting priorities and accomplishing those priorities.

anon on fri

Anonymous said...

I looked at this earlier, before any of the comments were posted - I am glad I came back, because I like this succinct wish: Pay for the ideas. That covers a lot.

The biggest frustration is being aware of best practices, being told to follow best practices, and having too high of a caseload and too little planning time to follow best practices. And SPS-offered QUALITY professional development in best practices would be nice as well so I am not having to choose between going to one out of district training or having supplies for the classroom (this is for special ed - reg. ed. may have better professional development offerings).

And please, decentralize the computers to some degree so I can load educational software that my students need without waiting (4 months so far) for someone to come do it for me. There are so many nice student workstations that essentially are not used because it is too frustrating to have them loaded with appropriate software for the students. And yes, I need to load different things each year depending on my students' specific needs.

Wish directed to special ed. administrators: As you implement the changes recommended in the recent review, please listen to the parents, teachers, and students, whose lives will be greatly affected by what you decide to do. Implement the changes mindfully and respectfully. But please, do make some changes.

Overhaul the human resources dept. Make us proud that this is the first place potential new hires interact with the district.

Last wish: elementary students get friendship/social skills instruction and more recess, regardless of their WASL scores...

That is more than 3. I am sorry. But all of these things prey on my mind. As an SPS teacher and an SPS mom, I truly want this district to be amazing, for all of my kids......


dan dempsey said...

1. Start with the realization that each child is an individual. Design a system based on that FACT.

When GWB said he saw no reason why Every Child could not be at grade level by 2014 -- we can see that NCLB is based on a fraudulent premise.

Scrap the WASL the idea that everyone should be able to jump over an artificial bar is total nonsense.
Dr. Bergeson has watered down the original WASL considerably to produce better passing rates. [An IOWA test vs. WASL test comparison proves this over a six-year span]

We could be on our way to using the MAP test which is far cheaper and tracks each student's individual accomplishment three times per year but Dr. Bergeson would not allow this. She failed to submit a peer review request to the Feds so that MAP could replace WASL for NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress.

Dr Maria Goodloe-Johnson wants uniformity of almost everything. Look at the Everyday Math pacing plan and Fidelity of Implementation = Insane uniformity required. This plan has already demonstrated in many places that the top students are poorly served, the middle may get by OK, but the bottom third is essentially unserved.

If the SPS actually followed their promotion / non-promotion policies that require effective interventions, that would be a starting place. The SPS refuses to even define the required necessary skills preferring instead to lead us to believe that the Uniform Pacing Plan will bring about uniform achievement.

Universal access to a quality public school does not in anyway imply that uniform outcomes are possible or even desirable -- children are unique individuals.
Linus Pauling was better at Science than all his Portland Public School classmates this does not indicate that the school system failed.

2. Recognize that a school system is a complex system and that a decision making model that relies on hierarchical autocratic mandates will never be very successful, but we could follow the law and school board policy for openers

RCW 28A 600.020 the classroom disruption law would be a nice start. SPS board policies D43.00, D44.00 & D45.00.

A kakistocracy is rule by the least qualified -- public education in Washington is pretty darn close to a kakistocracy.

Look at the Math mess.
State Board of Education
Dr Bergeson our SPI
Carla Santorno {SPS CAO}
Rosalind Wise {SPS math Program manager}

Of the 19 people above there are exactly ZERO degrees in Math, Engineering, Computer Science, and Physical Science.

Unless Ms. Wise has a degree in Physical Science? Given her demonstrated weak understanding of math I suspect her degree is in a biological science.

Math teachers and SPS students in Seattle suffer through a genuine Kakistocracy.

3A. Start learning from what works rather than what you would like to have work.

Whole Language what a disaster --
begun with no data showing any initial success and then widely implemented showing NO SUCCESS. This experimental disaster ended when the public screamed loud enough to be heard.

Look at Math in highly successful countries... Most have math specialists teaching in grades 3,4,5.

Seattle bemoans the fact that many Washington State Elementary teachers are poorly prepared in math. Then the SPS has costly Everyday Math in-services that do not emphasis improving teacher content knowledge but rather more pedagogical mumbo jumbo.

Data driven decision making is a total joke in the SPS.
Make decisions that ignore the data.
Then cherry-pick the data to justify a poor decision.

3B. More respect for teachers and more respect for their ability to teach is needed.

Deming said: In any organization a maximum of 15% of the problems can be attributed to the employees.

85% of the problems and likely a lot more is the structure of the system.

USA has least teacher planning time.
Washington has huge class sizes and MG-J has no intention of reducing class size instead preferring to hire academic coaches (math & literacy) for teachers which focus on forcing teachers to follow the pacing guide (the math police).

Most district use I-728 money to reduce regular class room sizes but not Seattle.

Teaching was once a public service to children and families. Education has morphed into the education industry - publisher profits are more important than student learning.

Teaching is an art form not a mechanical automated process.
Clearly Seattle Central Leadership is now looking for mechanized technicians not teachers.

Look how many education improvement ideas are centered around the idea that the teacher can not teach.

The current way that teachers are paid contributes to ... blah...blah...blah.

Planning time is rarely discussed, looking at what is going on in highly successful nations is rarely investigated in any depth.

Washington since 2005 has even been afraid to use a nationally normed test to evaluate its students - preferring to instead use the WASL fairy-tale.

The big problem is at the top not the bottom. The real problem is the organization of this mess those closest to the action have had less and less decision making ability as the years pass.

The adoption of OSPI's WASL and the most curricula judged most aligned with the WASL have further removed decision making from the local level.

Now we have Dr Bergeson rewriting the Math Standards to her liking by selecting the most expensive bidder and stacking the rewrite team with her ideological cronies. In May Dr Bergeson will announce three recommended math text series per school level (Elementary, Middle, & High School).

Now I know why George Orwell entitled his book "1984". It was because 2008 would be too gruesome.

I know very few teachers who would advise others to begin training to enter teaching as most feel that under these current conditions public school teaching k-12 is not a long term profession for most individuals (and certainly not in Washington).

The Math UnderGround

Anonymous said...

1. Revamp the STAR mentoring program. It isn't a mentoring program; it's a second-rate training program. The program should be site-based instead of centrally-based. Mentors should have experience that matches the teachers they're mentoring. Teachers with elementary experience shouldn't be mentoring teachers at high schools. The incentive for participating in the program should be a stipend, not a note in your file for not participating. The SEA should get its hands off the program. And mentors should be mentoring new teachers, not patronizing them with below-graduate-school-level material and assignments.

2. More opportunities for observing good teachers. There should be funds made available so that principals can hire subs to cover teachers who want to observe good, experienced teachers in other classrooms. It's one of the best ways I can think of to improve instruction.

3. Bring classroom technology into the 21st century. The last bond included $42 million for technology, but that is taxpayer money wasted when there is insufficient tech support. A computer or projector that isn't working is just a box of plastic and metal. In addition, the impediments to doing technology projects in the classroom make it impractical for many teachers. If I were a tech-savvy parent, I'd send my children to a private school or move to another district.

Conversely, I'd like a serious building plan to keep unwanted technology out of the classroom. When students repeatedly violate the no-iPod or no-cellphone ban in a classroom, the students should be suspended.