First Day Of School

Nearly, finally here.

From the NY Times, a cool look at first day of school throughout the decades.

A great article from Longreads about writing from Mary Karr who has put forth two memoirs.  Ms. Karr teaches her grad students using a technique that I tried years ago at Whittier Elementary with a class of 5th graders.  You pretend you are going to talk about writing, have a co-conspirator burst in the room and argue with you and then... tell the kids to write exactly what they heard and saw.  (I hit the button on a CD player and played the theme from "Mission Impossible" to set the mood after my compatriot left the room.)  The kids thought it funny and it did get them thinking about writing and memory.   From Ms Karr's piece:
So a single image can split open the hard seed of the past, and soon memory pours forth from every direction, sprouting its vines and flowers up around you till the old garden’s taken shape in all its fragrant glory
The National Sleep Foundation is having a Bright Schools competition.  Projects are due January, 29, 2016.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have joined together to inspire student achievement in science through the new Bright Schools Competition; a STEM competition targeted to students in grades 6-8. The competition is a new learning experience created to help students, parents and teachers explore the link between light and sleep and how it influences student health and performance.

In students teams of 2-4, along with a coach, participants are asked to explore the correlation between light and sleep using scientific inquiry or engineering design concepts. Students will measure the amount of light available in the classroom, compare and analyze light measurements, and create and submit an original project that demonstrates their understanding of the effects of light and sleep on student health and performance.

In more sobering news, a map showing how there are more students living in poverty than nearly a decade ago, from the Huffington Post. 

In 2006, 31 percent of America’s students attended schools in “high-poverty” districts, meaning that 20 percent or more of the district's students lived below the federal poverty line. By 2013, however, this number jumped to over 49 percent, according to an analysis of U.S. Census estimates from the nonprofit EdBuild. This means that nearly half of the nation’s children between the ages of 5 and 17 attend schools in communities where a large chunk of families are struggling to get by.

A January analysis from the Southern Education Foundation showed that 51 percent of schoolchildren throughout the country now qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a program provided to low-income families living up to 185 percent above the poverty line. By comparison, in 2000, 38 percent of schoolchildren qualified for the same program.

In following up on the teachers strike, Crosscut had an article on the inequities of teacher pay throughout the district (even on COLAs).

I hope each of you and your student(s) have a wonderful first day of school.  (And kindergarten parents, it'll be okay.)


Outsider said…
The Crosscut article mentioned exactly what struck me about the pay dispute -- the salary scale seems rather too wide. Newer teachers are "strikingly" underpaid, while the most senior are doing fine. Unions always seem to favor their most senior members so it's not a surprise, but as a public policy it might bear examining.

I wonder how much the master's degree and extra credits affect what goes on in the average class room. Probably there are roles for master teachers and mentors in every school with higher degrees, but paying every teacher to get a master's degree might be a boondoggle. (Not sure; just speculating.)

Also, when does a teacher's effectiveness in the classroom and contribution to the school peak? Perhaps the burnout curve comes to outweigh the learning curve at some point, and mid-career teachers contribute the most on average.

Maybe the salary increases should have been weighted toward the lower end of the scale, instead of weighted toward the higher end as usual.
Unknown said…
As one of those higher-end teachers, I've documented elsewhere on this blog how my actual same conditions take home pay declined by over 4 per cent over the last 3 years.
Also, to get paid as a 31 year veteran with a M. Sci., plus 180 additional credits and National Board Certification, I personally had to survive and persevere through the low pay of years 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19, and 20 of my career.
hschinske said…
"Ms. Karr teaches her grad students using a technique that I tried years ago at Whittier Elementary with a class of 5th graders. You pretend you are going to talk about writing, have a co-conspirator burst in the room and argue with you and then... tell the kids to write exactly what they heard and saw."

I remember doing this in ninth grade. The chief thing I recall is that in the heat of the moment my play-acting English teacher bellowed, "Don't give me that bullshit," and we all had to decide later whether to write it down as given or paraphrase.

Helen Schinske
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Walker Lovato said…
I was certainly feeling happy and also sad because summer is over. Some kids feel worried or a quiet frightened on the first day of school for the reason that of all the new things: new professors, new friends, and possibly a new high school.
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