Education

America’s Failed Spelling Test

Misspelled

America, you have some work to do in the spelling department. Some of you, more so than others!

Wisconsin…I don’t think there is a single excuse for you…too much cheese maybe?

Most of these words are middle school level and should have been learned a long time ago, while others are at worst twelfth grade level.

If you know these words without looking them up in Google, A+ for you!

 

History: In Living Color

Lincoln-reddit.jpg

Every once in a while I come across a website that piques my interest. Some are cool, some are strange, and some are just down right fascinating. This one was both fascinating and frustrating, so I thought I would share and see what your thoughts are on it.

The website is for Marina Amaral, an artist who uses Photoshop to painstakingly add color to historical photos that were taken in black and white. To see her work, click on the link and then either click into the “Portfolio” or “Blog” pages. She does a fantastic job on the transformations through research to try and match the reality of the time the picture was taken.

It is cool to see photos that I have only seen in black and white come to “life.” It is fascinating to see the life flow through the people and places in the image. That part is cool and adds a sort of unknown depth to the photo.

HOWEVER, that is also the frustrating part as well!  One thing we have to be careful of is not letting these photos stand alone to become part of the historical record. I believe they are best viewed with the original photo, side by side. The reason is that we, in our search to “know” everything, tend to let changes to history go without challenging them. When we stop challenging them, they actually become the history we wanted to view through a different lens. Whether it is intentional or not, there has to be caution in such recreations of history. We can’t let the historical record change so that the only pictures we view in the future of these subjects are the ones that have had the color added.

Let me offer an example from personal experience. In the past, I have shown historically based films in my classroom. The first caution I have always gave before showing the film was that it was someone’s interpretation of the history, not the actual history – regardless of how well the movie was done and tried to follow the historical record closely. I always encouraged the students to study the subject further to find out if what they saw was accurately portrayed or not. The students used to complain, complain that the film was in black and white. “Why is it in black and white…”, “Isn’t there a film about this in color…”, etc etc. Their first inclination was that it was boring if there was no color, even if the film was a modern film but done in black and white for theatrical purposes (such as Schindler’s List).

Our students (and maybe our society as a whole) has a hard time distinguishing between fact and fiction, so studies show that Americans (and probably others) tend to think that what they saw in a historically based film is true. They accept it as fact. Thus, when we look at photos that have been colored in such a realistic and beautiful way, I am afraid the original photos will lose relevance in a world where “reality” and “facts” mean so little.

Does that make sense? Do you worry about the same thing? Or, am I just making a big deal out of nothing? What do you think?

Missing the Good Stuff Sucks

Missing the good stuff in life isn’t something I relish, especially when it involves my kids. I want to be there for the things they do, whether it be sports or drama or choir or a community function or major things like graduation and moving up ceremonies. Those things are important and the support of knowing your parents are there to support you is one of the best things to help your kids feel safe and secure in this world. I know I really appreciated that my parents made it to as many things as possible when I was a kid. I didn’t always express my appreciation like I should have, but it did mean a lot.

Today is tough for me because I am missing something I feel I should be at. Instead, because of my job, I am missing it. So, instead of doing what I should be doing I am taking a moment to vent my frustration. I doubt it will help me feel better, but I just can’t help it. What’s worse about this whole thing is that it is because of my job that I am missing it and it is my profession that makes it more difficult on people, specifically parents.

You see, today my son is “graduating” from the 8th grade. It is really just a moving up ceremony and in the grand scheme of educational things it isn’t that important. BUT, it is important to him! Unfortunately, I am missing it. Missing the good stuff sucks.

Why am I missing it? Well, I am a teacher and work for a completely different school district than both of my school aged children. What that means is that I end up missing many of their school related activities. Parent/teacher conferences, concerts or performances that take place during the school day, celebrations at school, graduations/moving-up ceremonies…you name it, I probably have missed it because I was fulfilling my teacher duties somewhere else. I am not sure why school districts schedule things during the work day. It doesn’t make sense to me and I am sure there are reasons I don’t know of, but either way it is frustrating. I am sure there are many parents who are missing the ceremony today because they have work obligations, that is the unfortunate thing schools do.

Anyway, all that to say I am proud of you, son. You have grown up so much over the last few years and this transition will be a big one for you. You worked hard this year, made some mistakes and grew from them. You worked hard this year, learned some new things about yourself and the subjects you were studying. You worked hard this year and experienced some great successes as well. You have tried new things, some you liked and some you didn’t. You are moving up in this world and I can’t wait to see where life continues to take you.

Congratulations, and I love you.

What the Legislators Aren’t Doing

This is a great visual representation of what the Washington state legislature IS NOT doing in regards to funding schools in Washington. The state supreme court found the state legislature in “contempt of court” in September of 2014, yet the state legislature continues to make little progress towards the goal they set in their testimony during the trial. This chart shows, quite obviously, that the state isn’t living up to their promises and that ANY money being added to education this year is only “catch up” money, NOT additional funds as they claim in their press releases and speeches to the media.

Don’t you think it’s about time to fund education fully?

State Senator Ignores the Voter

Supposedly “serving” the 10th legislative district.

Thank you, Barbara Bailey, for making my job as an American government teacher harder. I teach other social studies classes but you have been a shining example in my classroom of what NOT to do. You are one reason why my students are confounded by politics and apathetic to the pleas of participation in the political process. They see that you (and many of the others who are supposed to represent us) aren’t representing them or the other state voters, but instead your work in Olympia shows clearly you are only representing the interests of the Republican party in the state.

I did not vote for you, though I tend to lean to the right in most cases. I voted for your opponent over the years. Why? Well, because you have consistently demonstrated that you are only going to toe the party line. I am not sure how you continue to win elections, but I suppose it has something to do with the fact that you are entrenched in your position and most voters have no idea what your stance is so much as they know your face and name. Many voters don’t care enough to know, they just vote on the most basic information. Statistics on voters and campaign ads show this most clearly. But really, that is beside the point right now.

At the moment, you and your Republican cohort in the state senate are bent on attacking teachers and dismantling the teaching profession. I am not sure why and I can only speculate, but my guess is it has something to do with private dollars finding its way into the Republican coffers in order to push for a narrow, special interest generated agenda. The responses I have received from your office (or someone that works for you, specifically Josie Cummings) also prove this out.

SB 5748 : Teacher Evaluations

SB 5748 passed out of the Senate and is now in the House of Representatives. 
This bill brings back 40 million federal funded dollars back into Washington's School system. Washington State became the first state to lose the waiver of $40 million because Washington didn't require state tests to be used in evaluations. 

Your message has been passed along to Senator Bailey. She knows that this is just the first step of many in evaluation reform and would love to hear ideas from great teachers like yourself that create a better evaluation system. Education continues to be a top priority for Senator Bailey and she greatly appreciates your comments and will keep them in mind as bills come before her. 

Best,
Josie Cummings
Aide to Senator Bailey

The excuse of finding funding dollars via teacher evaluations is a really weak look at finding ways to fund education. Our state stood up to a federal government that bullies states into unconstitutional mandates in education. Should we be embarrassed about being the first state to lose the “waiver” from the federal government? No! $40 million is a drop in the bucket when it comes to funding schools in our state, a state that has Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, etc. Our state could replace lost revenue (plus more) through just a quarter of a percent raise in taxes on businesses like the ones mentioned. But, our state senators are too weak, or too beholden to special interests.

I-1351 : Class Size

Thank you for writing to Senator Bailey regarding the importance of funding education and I-1351. As you probably know, I-1351 did not include the revenue sources that would pay for this transition in education. However, The Senate is working hard to fully fund K-12 Education in Washington State. 

The Senate released their proposed budget yesterday afternoon. The Senate proposed a 1.3 billion additional dollars for K-12 education, which is the largest K-12 investment in state budget history. 
This would make education 47% of the state budget. $350 million dollars are allocated to lowering class sizes for K-3 class rooms. 

Best, 
Josie Cummings

I-1351 was passed by the voters and has a requirement for lowering class sizes K-12. The language wasn’t written in vague terms and was not left open to interpretation when the voters passed it. However, as you can see, the senator wants us to believe that I-1351 is only for K-3. Obviously, senator, you haven’t read it or you wouldn’t/shouldn’t vote to short change the children of the state. It doesn’t matter that the initiative wasn’t written without funding. Much of the legislation passed by the legislature in our state doesn’t have funding sources tied to it, but you all seem to find a way to pay for it later. In this case, the voters passed it and want it. Denying it is just ignoring the voters and playing word games to redefine how you have to deal with it.

The other misleading point in this response from the senator is that they are giving “additional” money to education. This statement, however, is VERY FALSE. The reality to the statement is the legislature is CATCHING UP on what should be spent on education. There is no additional revenue being added to education. The state supreme court found the legislature in contempt of court and has mandated the legislature adequately fund education. At best, the additional $1.3 billion brings the state closer to funding education fully, something it hasn’t even come close to doing in the past, but is roughly $2-4 billion short of what is needed, depending on who you talk to.

Then, she drags other political leaders into the fray as well since there is no answer to bad political maneuvering.

Thank you for writing to Senator Bailey regarding funding for I-1351. The Senator appreciates your involvement with this very important issue. The passage of I-1351 clearly represents a new challenge, considering the measure makes spending commitments ($4.7 billion across four years) without identifying a revenue source. It is certainly revealing that Governor Inslee’s own budget proposal fails to fund I-1351.

Thanks,
Josie Cummings

In other words, I can’t explain our Republican plan so I will point fingers at the Democratic governor. That’s really rich. Politics at its best!

Ultimately, we need a legislature that is willing to do the difficult task of standing up for children and the people tasked with educating them. The state supreme court has said repeatedly the legislature fails in this task. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be many people in our state government that are willing to do that. Instead, we get excuses and more placating/catering to big business. (Boeing gets an $8.7 BILLION dollar tax break?) Let’s hope the state supreme court doesn’t allow the legislature to continue in this “lack of funding, drag our feet to fix the problem” game. Except that is something they are asking for, yet again!

Wearing the senator down?

When I last sent the senator an email requesting that she support a budget that gives more funding to education, closes tax loopholes for large corporations, provides more money for competitive pay and benefits for educators, and doesn’t cut state services to the poor, I didn’t get much of a response. Instead it was just a short, one line email:

Thanks for the message. I will make sure this gets in front of the Senator as budget negotiations continue.

Best, 
Josie Cummings

As you can imagine, the message doesn’t hold out much hope for her changing her position, which is unfortunate since ignoring the will of the voter seems to be the norm these days. I could hope that I am wearing her down and she is going to change her party-line, voting alignment but that seems like far too much to hope for.

Unfortunately, the broken system also discourages teens who are just now becoming eligible to vote. They see how broke the system is, they see how it ignores the voter, and they see how politicians tend to perpetuate the system to their own benefit and not that of the people. A new generation of apathetic voter is born…thanks again, Barbara Bailey.

Rock the Vote (at least three times!)

Yesterday in class one of my seniors announced that she voted in the school levy election of our community.

I was like, “YES! Way to go.” It made me happy that she exercised her right to vote and that she also had been listening to me all year while I have encouraged the seniors to vote when they had the chance. I have even used class time to allow them to register to vote online because I think it is that important. But then, she explained what happened…

She said that her dad sat her down and told her to open the ballot. He then proceeded to instruct her on how to fill it out, like exactly which answers to fill in.

My students said the comment from her mother was, “As long as you live in this house, you will fill out your ballot just like your dad.”

I was, admittedly, speechless at first. I protested and said she should have filled it out herself. But then, what could she really do? She was stuck in a hard place. I haven’t ever heard of a parent doing that before. I hope there aren’t more out there like that.

Hopefully, she gets a voice (of her own) in the next election.

Anyone out there expect their children, wife, or other family members to vote the way they do? If so, why?

Those Who Can, Teach

Perhaps there should be at least one prerequisite for becoming a lawmaker: FORMER EDUCATOR.

Perhaps there should be at least one prerequisite for becoming a lawmaker: FORMER EDUCATOR.

Those who have spent little or no time in a classroom, including those with lots of money and “data,” should not be able to tell you how a classroom should function. If one requirement to be a lawmaker was that the person needed to have been a former educator, no matter the level, maybe we wouldn’t have the most asinine education reform movements we have ever seen in the last 20 years.

Anyone agree? Anyone see any problems with this suggestion?

My 2-cents: 33 Problems That All Teachers Will Understand

I don’t normally like to piggyback on someone else’s writing, but there was an article back a week or so and I thought I would add my two cents to the content of that article. It was called “33 Problems That All Teachers Will Understand” and I can understand a bunch of them since I have been a teacher for a while now.

I want to reflect on these problems by relating my own experiences. We are now into the first week of school so now seems like the best time to tackle this task. If you click on the link above, it will open a separate window and you can read my blog along with the original article.

#1

Students are often waiting at my door in the morning (7:00am) because they are looking for extra help or for a quiet place to study before school actually starts. I often consume three cups of coffee on the way to school (I live an hour away from my school and commute each day), so I don’t really have a problem getting caffeinated before I have to address their needs, however there are times that I wish there were no students as I use the beginning of the day as my planning period.

#2

No teacher likes this. Really, there is nothing exciting about curriculum changes unless it is one that you have begged your principal to make so you can teach an elective course (I am a high school teacher) you have always DREAMED of being able to teach. Unless you have a situation like this, most change is not good change. More than likely the change is being mandated by “elected” officials with no classroom experience and no clue about what goes on in a real classroom. Not the stuff that happens on the day of their special visit, but EVERY day in the classroom. Otherwise, you are just an interruption. Quit meddling and leave the education policy to the people who know the kids and know what they are doing!

#3

Can’t say that I have one single kids that falls into this category. I do, however, have a whole class that falls into that category. The district I currently work had the “Class from Hell” graduate in 2008…and we all breathed a sigh of relief when they left!

#4

Yeah, ok. Try it!

#5

Been there, done that. You gotta “love” those parents who start teaching their kids to play the victim early in life rather than teaching them to accept the consequences of their actions. It will only snowball, and we wonder why society is sliding backwards on the evolution scale…

#6

The fun thing about teaching teens is that their sense of humor runs the entire spectrum – from appropriate to inappropriate, from dry to hysterical. If you take yourself, and your class, too seriously then you miss chances to connect with students and build relationships (that leads to rapport) that have an impact on them. After all, kids want the adults in their lives to “be real” with them.

#7

As much as I am aware of what goes on in my room, you can’t compete with all the “inside jokes” and everything else. Just ignore it and move on.

#8

Sounds a lot like a state legislator in every state around the country. Everyone seems to be an expert except the people in the classrooms. It is time for retired teachers to take over the legislature and REALLY get stuff done? Why do I say that? Well because teachers have been doing the best they can with what they are given and always make miracles happen. Who has been doing more with less longer than anyone else? Teachers.

#9

Endless requests…

#10

Weekend? HA! It’s just two more days to get my job done without getting paid for it. 

#11

Yes, yes there are. Not only that, but sometimes kids say the dumbest things! In my classroom I have a thing called the “Stupid Board.” It is a place on my whiteboard where I record the random things kids say that aren’t so smart. I make a point of telling the kids at the beginning of the year that we all have those moments and we can’t take ourselves so seriously that we can’t laugh at ourselves. AND, no one is exempt. I have been on the board many times myself and the kids love it just as much as they see the stupid board as a sort of badge of honor. Have fun in class!

#12

Whut? U must b kiding? LOL. Y wood u say that? My cell fone isn’t to blame 4 how i right. 

#13

I have been lucky to get a few gifts in my years of teaching, but they really haven’t been bad. Unfortunately, as a high school teacher, you really don’t get many. However, the best gift I ever received was a $100 gift certificate to a really fancy restaurant in town. It was from a graduating senior and her family as an appreciation for teaching her for two years (she was a great student too so it was really easy, plus I wasn’t her only teacher to get one!).

#14

Yep, going back after a break sucks. The students show it, we feel it but don’t show it as much as we can.

#15

When it is in your blood, you can’t get it out. It just comes naturally.

#16

This can be a tough one to handle. Some teacher try to BS their way through it. Probably not the best display of professionalism. Others take a more human approach with, “I don’t know but will find out and get back to you.” Teachers, as much as we would like to be, just can’t be a repository of all knowledge. People think we should be but there is just too much to know! Sorry, folks, not gonna happen. I have given the “I don’t know” response in the past and probably will in the future too. There is nothing wrong with not knowing and we have so many resources now available to find out rather quickly. Today’s stumper question: “What exactly does the ebola virus do?” Well, that is a good question so let’s look it up together and find out!

#17

Or mustard from your sandwich.

Or soup from your bowl.

Or chalk on your butt from leaning against the chalk tray.

Or having to go the bathroom for two hours with no break and finally having to run out of the room with no explanation other than “That feels better” when you return back to the room.

#18

Damn internal clock!

#19

Ok, so Victoria Secret really isn’t a problem for me, but just running into student anywhere is always an interesting experience. They always seem so perplexed to see you outside of your “cage.” As if you really don’t have a life beyond the classroom! Yes, I go out to eat, shop at the grocery store, attend movies, visit the park, and all the other things I happen to do when I am not at school. I don’t live there (though it seems like it at times) and actually do things I enjoy other than reading history books.

#20

This is actually one of my pet peeves!! I call them “danglies” and I hate them. I actually spend two minutes talking about them when I go over my syllabus to explain that they make me mad and really make me mad when I see them on the floor and the janitor now has to pick them up. I actually go so far as to not accept homework if they are still on the paper when it is turned in. Fix it, then turn it in!

#21 & #22

Lost cause. You will get sick and there is no avoiding it. What’s worse? Well, it is less work (or hassle) to go to school sick than it is to plan for a sub. Again, no one is better at “grinning and bearing it” than teachers.

#23

Yes, we beg for these too. Living an hour away from my school, I often have to drive THROUGH the worst stuff to get to school because the school hasn’t experienced the worst weather and there is no reason to cancel it. 

#24

This also is a losing battle. The younger they are, maybe the easier it is to control it. However, at some point you may just have to adopt the “college mentality” when it comes to cellphones in the room. That is, keep right on going with the lesson and let them be distracted. If they miss the material it will result in consequences they will have to deal with in the future, like failing a test…I know, I know…that is too real. How dare I? I provide the opportunity to get an education if they choose not to take it, is that my responsibility?

#25

Can’t do nothing fun in school any more…

#26

Sometimes, a sense of humor gets me through the day and then there are those moments where you just can’t say all you want to. A very thin line gets walked at times.

#27

Or Friday mornings at 7:00am.

#28

Early bed time.

Papers to grade.

You just want “to be like broccoli.”

Lack of motivation.

You really do have a headache.

#29

Only Friday? Try every day at 3:00pm!! Where is my nap mat? Oh, there it is, under my desk.

#30 & #31

As a teacher, there are many scenarios that play out in your head in mere seconds. Many of them include totally coming unhinged – throwing books, tossing tables, slamming doors, punching your computer, etc.  Instead, you calmly handle it just like you did the first 23 times you had to deal with it.

#32

The sad things is, I worked in retail management for five years. I made more, per year ($40k), as a rookie store manager for a furniture company than I did after seven years of teaching ($38,600). Now if that isn’t disheartening, I don’t know what it. Why is educating the most important possession you have (your children), not the most important profession? Don’t tell me you think it is and then not pay me accordingly. That is really patronizing!! Our society needs a serious adjustment of values.

#33

Despite all the problems in or with my job, THAT is the reason I get up each day and come back to the classroom.

 

Comments? What do you think? If you are a teacher, which one(s) stand out for you? Leave a comment below.

 

“Pay for veteran teachers ‘painfully low’”… The Washington Post

If you are a teacher, you already know this and it will come as no surprise. However, the public should know it too AND they should be doing something about it. For what is arguably the most important job in America (educating the young/future generations), why isn’t there more emphasis on increasing the pay scales for teachers?

I am one of the ever increasing numbers that has a part-time job (driving instructor & licensing tester) to help meet the budget each month. During the school year I average about 20-25 hours a month and during the summer that increases to 30-35 hours a month.

See the article below:

Pay for veteran teachers ‘painfully low’ in states like Colorado, where truckers earn more — new report – The Washington Post.

If you are a teacher, do you have a part-time job, what is it, and how many hours a month do you work?

Never Enough

I saw this article going around Facebook yesterday and I have to say that I haven’t seen it put better in any other place. THIS is what is hard about teaching. So, have a look and then maybe start to think of the teachers in your (or, better yet, in your kids’ lives) a little differently.

THE HARDEST PART OF TEACHING

After you read it, go hug a teacher today!