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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Open Thread

I have about 4 threads in the hopper but it's a beautiful day and I'm going out. If you have something on your mind, here's the time and place to say it.

12 comments:

ARB said...

My kid is only in preschool but it appears that last year's special Ed "improvements" have resulted in a lower teacher:student ratio for special needs students with the result of elementary special Ed kids set up for failure in a general Ed class due to insufficient supports, pushing them into segregated classrooms. The "improvements" also added many "consulting teachers" and removed teachers w/direct student contact. Would love to hear from other special Ed parents who have experienced this directly....

dan dempsey said...

Aurora from what I read when MGJ described her great new changes to improve things, what you say is 100% correct.

Charlie Mas said...

So, as with coaches, the net effect is to remove teachers from classrooms where they teach students and put them in administrative positions where they teach teachers.

The Central Office is building a system for teaching teachers instead of students.

This is, of course, consistent with the myth that "teacher quality" is the problem. Teacher quality is NOT the problem. The teachers, for the most part, are just fine. However they are overburdened and undersupported by the people who are supposed to be supporting them.

SolvayGirl said...

Smaller class sizes would help the teachers more than coaches, but MGJ doesn't believe class size makes a difference.

dan dempsey said...

"but MGJ doesn't believe class size makes a difference."

That is because she is not teaching a class ..... so it makes no difference to her.

ttln said...

Coaching is needed for some more so than others. However, ocassional feedback can be very helpful. Things like wait time, lack of cultural awareness or assumptions made by teachers during discussions, behavior 'triggers', teachers talking during quiet think time/reading, or better ways to deliver content and skill instruction, etc. are often areas we all can work on improving. Could coaching come from other teachers, in building? Sure. But we don't have time during he school day to observe each other let alone debrief observations. Not only that, but peer coaching is not well received by many. Teachers feel enormous pressure to be expert/perfect. Feedback feels like a personal attack when it comes from a collegue. - Not all, but many are 'thin skinned.' When coaching comes from outside the building, it feels less like an attack and is received more objectively.
That being said, the are only two literacy coaches for all middle schools. We have seen our 'coach' once. She arranges the TC visits but we don't get coaching. Where are the other 100+? In math? Are they part of the EDM fiasco?
Just out of curiousity, with regard to WW, how was writing being taught before? Was it being taught in any depth in grades other than 4, 7, and 10 by more than a few teachers here and there? Have scores improved or started to decline since the program began?

Charlie Mas said...

Call me silly, but I would have thought that the teacher coaching should be done by the principal, in the role of instructional leader, as well as in the role of the teachers' supervisor.

I know that principals have a lot going on, but this is their highest priority. Some of that other work could (and should) be delegated. I have long thought it would be a great idea if the principals' business, budget, HR, and administrative work were assigned to a sort of "School Business Officer". I would think that one School Business Officer could handle the work for three schools.

As for some teachers not accepting peer coaching very well, I guess they need some of those 21st century skills, eh?

Unknown said...

I can't say anything about how Writer's Workshop affects writing scores, but I have seen significant changes in the quality of writing my kids produce after they started using the program. I only wish tehy had started it earlier.

EDM is IMHO better than what they had before, but our teachers still regularly talk about how hard it is to differentiate instruction. Especially with the mainstreaming of special ed kids, differentiation is critical.

Eric

ARB said...

In the special ed context what this means is (1) the general ed teacher has LESS in-class support for special ed students in his/her classroom and/or (2) some borderline special ed kids who used to be able to be in general ed because they had adequate supports are now shuffled off to inappropriate segregated classes. The supports for special ed students in general settings used to start with as few as eight students for every special ed teacher working in general ed settings but is now at a minimum of 22 students. If your kid can't hack it, away they go.

spedvocate said...

The district will provide self-contained special education baby-sitting for any absolutely student whose parents allow that to happen. And I do mean anyone. If you read the special education audit, you'll see that is essentially what is available. So, if you do not wish your child to wind up in a baby-sitting room, it is up to you Aurora, and anyone else to insist on a general ed placement. Those who accept less, will get less right off the bat. And then, YOU must force the district to provide the supports. Unfortunately, only the staunchest advocates survive in such a system. And then they wonder why there's an achievement gap, or why so many minorities do poorly. Another problem with the parent-advocate as the only advocate for special education kids... it measn it is in a "wait to fail" system. "Wait to fail" was another listed problem in the audit, and has been illegal since IDEA 2004. So, your child has to fail with the 22 kids, has to throw things at the teacher etc, and then, by golly, they'll do something. It's a lot for everyone to suffer through.

spedvocate said...

Special education also has gone to coaching from central office. They need a job for those teachers who used to be working in classrooms.

I can't say as I've ever met the teacher who wanted a coach. Don't they all already have degrees? And continuing ed? If we have a hiring problem, it seems we should address that the hiring level. Or require specific continuing ed requirements.

Unknown said...

Kindergarten price info from two principals today. Adams and Whittier principals said during a tour and open house respectively today that the district is centralizing pay for K and it will be $207 per month and accounting will be centralized. Whittier principal said full day K will be offered at all elementary schools. She also said something that surprised me a little (assuming I heard it correctly)- the district is guaranteeing that all K who have siblings at a school in their attendance area will get into the sibling's school. I didn't think the district had gone that far.