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Features For New Teachers
Volume 6, Issue 9
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A couple of months ago, I responded to a question about pink slips. We recently received a follow-up question. A reader in Michigan asked whether an actual “pink slip” was required when a layoff occurs.
Dr. Manute's response:
My experience has been that a notice from the Board of Education that a layoff is occurring is legal and binding. Now, to address other parts of the question, the reader didn’t say if he was teaching in a public or private school or whether he was a tenured or probationary employee. It sounds like the new teaching schedule was made and this employee was being replaced by a teacher with higher seniority. Building principals make up their schedule filling teaching slots with highly qualified teachers. In Michigan schools are really hurting because of decreasing enrollment and State Department of Education cuts. Budgets are being reduced which equates to downsizing in employees. When a budget consists of 85% salaries it is not too difficult to see where the cuts are coming from. This means fewer teachers and larger class sizes. When it comes to layoffs, it is not always the least senior person who gets cut - again, it depends on who is highly qualified to teach what.
Now, in terms of due process, all employees are entitled to this. I would suggest this reader consult his local association and ask for its help. The association is part of the process and that is one service they provide. If not satisfied, the reader can consult the state association. Either way someone needs to provide some answers. Normally when a Board of Education is involved in the layoff process, the school attorneys have been consulted and provided legal assistance. It is really tough to see energetic teachers (whether new or experienced) lose their jobs. Hopefully the economy will turn around and schools will be back on the building track and not the cutting track.
Yours in teaching,
The Sunday, October 4th episode of The Simpsons cartoon pokes fun at technology in schools. The show opens with Bart Simpson's teacher, Edna Krabappel, grading papers as she gets out of bed.
The episode cuts to Edna standing in front of a classroom full of students playing games, watching videos, texting, and talking on their mobile phones. It is chaotic. She struggles to gain the class' attention. Many mobile phones have apps you can download for practicing multiplication problems. Perhaps redirecting students to those apps could grab their attention and be self-grading. Then she could walk around with a clipboard noting each student's progress. Admittedly, dealing with several different kinds of mobile phone platforms would be annoying since they all work differently and have different sets of applications available.
Ms. Krabappel asks, "You're children! Why do you all need cell phones?" They yell out "Safety," "Emergency," and "Educational." These reasons are shouted out as an automatic response to the teacher's question, all the while students continue their talking, texting, and gaming. The reasons to bring phones to class don't matter to the students. As long as they get to have their toys, they are are happy.
Edna then sighs and says, "Could you at least set them to vibrate?" Once on vibrate, the phones make even more noise. The teacher gets fed up and collects all of the phones from her students. She proclaims, "No more gizmos in this class." The students are very disappointed. There seems to be no happy medium when it comes to mobile phone use. The free-for-all didn't work. Simply putting the phones on vibrate didn't work. So banning, not classroom management or curriculum integration, is Edna's answer.
"Hey, don't worry, we still have the good old classroom computer," Edna explains as she walks over to a very outdated machine and inserts a floppy diskette. The game that appears on the screen is very simple and outdated, especially compared to the interactive and complex games the students were playing on their phones. The students' phones (a.k.a. handheld computers) are each far more powerful and interactive than the classroom computer. It's a shame that potential learning tools are locked in a drawer.
Because of unrelated events, Ms. Krabappel is replaced. Her replacement invites phones, texting, Facebook, blogging, Twitter, and other "cool" stuff into the classroom. Of course, the students are thrilled with his paperless classroom. The students are shown to be excited about what they are doing in class, but are they actually learning anything aside from the technology itself?
One of the "cool" things the new teacher does is emails his students a video where he wears jerseys with numbers that are multiples of seven. The jersey video reminds me of Mrs. Burk, the rapping math teacher. The new teacher may be on to something. Lots of teachers are making videos and podcasting. Students seem to respond better to videos that feature people they know.
During class, the new teacher asks, "Who can tell me what the Monroe Doctrine was?" One student recites, "The policy of President Monroe that America has a right as a nation to..." The teacher interrupts the student and asks, "Are you telling me that you memorized that fact when anyone with a cell phone can find it out in 30 seconds?" The student realizes, "I've crammed my head full of garbage!" Again, there seems to be no happy medium. It's either lots of memorization of facts vs. only search for facts. Yes, students need to know how to find information. And yes, there are things that students shouldn't have to research because they remember them.
In the end, The Simpsons' parody of mobile phones in schools probably changes the minds of no one. Those that are absolutely opposed to inviting student-owned phones will see the craziness of the first classroom scene as what would really happen in the classroom full of phones--a huge distraction with no learning. Those who want to give students access to any and all technology in classrooms will witness the excited reactions of Bart Simpson's classmates as evidence that using today's technologies are a very good thing--learning should be chaotic.
The happy medium that I prefer is using school-owned devices. A class set of iPod touches checked out to students for the school year can be more easily managed. Each student would have access to the same hardware and apps. The teacher can control what apps are installed and what features are enabled. Of course, it's costly to outfit a class of students with handhelds. I do continue to be interested in the idea of students bringing their own devices to class. It would be less costly and demonstrate to students that any device can be used for learning. But it has to be done in the right way with the right philosophy behind it. What are your thoughts about mobile phones in schools? Please comment.
There are many questions you'll want to pose to yourself far in
advance of your student teaching experience. It is important to think
carefully about them, as they will help to guide the actions and
decisions you make. What kind of teacher do you want to become? Are
there other teachers who have been a positive influence on you? Who have
been your role models? Are there teachers you've had whose style you
want to emulate? Are there teachers you know you don't want to be like?
What has worked for some teachers that you want to implement in your own
Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm
Have you ever started the day with high hopes for your classroom and had those hopes dashed by your student’s lack of response or confusion? Have you communicated directions and then had to repeat them over and over again as if the students weren’t paying attention? As teachers, we’ve all experienced this and the frustrations that go with it.
My Action Research Project focused on instructional communication and how it might be delivered effectively through technology. The idea behind this was to discover how to deliver this communication, in what is normally an auditory fashion, in a way using various technology tools. Three classes of 5th graders were involved in the study totaling approximately 68 students.
My premise for this was the fact that according to recent brain research, we are inherently visual. Ian Jukes, in his Understanding the Digital Generation-keynote perspective states: “Digital bombardment has a particularly strong effect on the visual cortex in the back of the brain. A study at the University of Rochester found that visual processing skills increase with as little as 10 hours of gameplay.” “The same research, however, shows that when information is presented orally, after 72 hours people only remember about 10%. Add picture content to the material, however, and the retention skyrockets up to 65%. With the simple addition of supporting visuals, you could increase students’ retention by as much as 650%. This is because the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text. Our brains are designed for visual content. Of our total nerve cells in the brain, 30% are dedicated to sight, while only 8% are for touch and a mere 3% for hearing. At our core, we are inherently visual learners. It’s only natural for our students to be more inclined to process images than text. Their brains are simply designed that way.”
In other research, I found nothing that dealt with instructional communication using technology. However, there were a number of projects that focused on communication in regards to the classroom. Two in particular were Tomlinson (2009), and Cook (2008). In Tomlinson (2009), she talked about all four of the learning profile categories — learning style, gender, culture and intelligence preference, and how they impact learning. In Cook (2008), she dealt with motivation and how Immediacy, Relevance, and Learning Environment play a role in student motivation. I believe that learning style, intelligence preference, motivation, and learning environment play a key role in successful communication. This research supported my research and I wasn’t surprised by my results.
Another technology tool I used was an application called ScreenFlow. This application allows you to capture anything on your computer screen and add audio to it. Screenflow is a dynamic program for guiding students through the steps you want them to achieve. The nice thing is that they can watch it over and over again. I posted tutorials on anything I had the students doing on the computer. It showed them by visual and audible means what they were to do that day. It is important before you record to walk yourself through what you are going to show in the tutorial on your computer. This will save time and extra recordings due to mistakes. This whole idea links up to why it’s important to have a website to post these tutorials on.
Other ideas I have tried are student created webcasts, posting review lessons online, and Udutu, www.myudutu.com, a free online e-learning website.
On the negative side, 28% are
frustrated most of the time when communication is given audibly and
overall 90% are frustrated at least partially. In looking at these facts
it becomes apparent that the way things have been done in the past need
to change. If the students are to be successful in the classroom,
technology must be used for communication. With the advent of the
Internet and our digital multi-media world today’s students are
upwards of 90% visual kinesthetic. That is why I believe my research was
successful. It met the student’s right where they are at today.
Cook, L. (2008). The impact of teacher immediacy, learning environment and curriculum; Relevance on student motivation. Texas Science Teacher, 37(2), 9-19. Retrieved October 24, 2009, from Education Research Complete database.
Jukes, I. (2010). Understanding
the Digital Generation-keynote perspective. Retrieved from www.committedsardine.com/
Tomlinson, C. (2009). Learning Profiles
& Achievement. School Administrator, 66(2), 28-34. Retrieved
October 24, 2009, from Education Research Complete database.
The challenges in the field of education are escalating day by day, which have created a demand for conducting quality research to improve education standards. Not enough research is being conducted by educators to find solutions to the challenges, but as an individual, a teacher can at least endeavor to conduct research to improve standards of teaching as well as his/her own skills. Research is considered to be a more formal, systematic, intensive process of carrying on the scientific method of analysis. Research is a vast and multi-dimensional concept that has many dimensions. It is an endless quest for knowledge or an unending search for truth. It brings to light knowledge or corrects previous errors or misconceptions and adds in an orderly way to the existing body of knowledge.
Out of many types of research, Action Research is the most systematic research that helps teachers to improve their curricular practice.
Kurt Lewin (1946) has been credited with the development of the idea of Action Research. The evolution of an action research agenda in education has been influenced by people such as Kemmis (1983), Ebbutt (1985), Elliott (1991), Hopkins (1985) and others.
Action Research is not mainly concerned in obtaining generalized scientific knowledge about educational problems, but in obtaining specific knowledge concerning the subjects involved in the study. It is a type of applied or decision-oriented research, but with the stipulation that the researcher is the same person as the practitioner who will make and live with the decision. Many times people think that Action Research is a job for specialists; a teacher is also a specialist in his/her field who can conduct effectual quality research while teaching.
It is a bitter truth that the standard of education in my country is dubious, as there is no central education policy. There are more than 30 boards running in Pakistan, rather than having one. On the other hand, there is no quality assurance provided by the officials of the relevant department. At the same time, when a teacher tries to implement any new component, it is criticized. The management never allows a teacher to bring any changes in the course, but as a leader of a class, new teaching methodologies and strategies can be applied through action research for the same course planned by the school management. The purpose of Action Research is not only to bring changes in the curriculum but also for those who are to improve the practices. Action Research has helped a lot to improve classroom teachings in Pakistan. It can also help teachers of public and private schools to reflect back on teaching practices and later learn from their own assessment.
If the teachers are encouraged to come out with their problems and are provided the necessary facilities in the form of guidance and help in conducting Action Research, they can solve their problems with great satisfaction.
Action Research has many characteristics: it is focused on the immediate problems and is applicable in a local setting; it aims at improving classroom and school practice and for the improvement of professional efficiency; it also helps private and public sectors to improve person capabilities; it broadens and depends the general as well as specific fund of knowledge; new interests, new motives and new insights can be acquired through it.
Action Research can be easily taken up by a school teacher and can tackle day-to-day problems easily. Let’s take an example of a class where a child usually finishes the activity before time is up. As a researcher and creative teacher, making this child sit still will never work. The teacher can try new strategies, like giving that child more tasks or some more complex activity which can meet his/her level of understanding. In the same manner, a teacher can record her teaching in a camcorder or on an audio tape and see/listen to it later on to see his/her weakness and strength. A reflective diary is an alternative way for a teacher to checklist the student's learning. Moreover, it helps to know one's skills and provides ample opportunities to learn from his/her own mistakes.
Action Research on the part of the teacher helps students to acquire skills in problem solving and scientific methodology. It enables teachers to organize instructional procedures on a more reliable and sound basis. It develops an attitude of inquiry in the teachers which can help them to find the causes, analyze the causes, and try to diagnose the problems.
Thus, Action Research can powerfully and rapidly develop the technique of teaching. It can assist in creating new interests and add confidence in the ability of the individual teachers. If the teacher is sympathetic to the spirit of research then it can help him/her to improve the practices and can surely play a major role in raising the standards of education.
Look for part 2 of this series in our next issue!
Reading Recovery is a supplementary education program that aims to offer the lowest-achieving first-grade children an effective method of English language reading and writing instruction. It was designed to compromise between the two "schools" of beginning reading education, intensive phonics instruction and the whole language approach.
The program was developed in the 1970s by New Zealand educator Dr. Marie Clay. In 1984 Dr. Gay Su Pinnell and Dr. Charlotte Huck of Ohio State University introduced the method to the United States. "Reading Recovery" is a registered trademark of Ohio State University in the U.S.
Reading Recovery sites operated in four Canadian provinces, 48 U.S. States, and the District of Columbia. Approximately 60,000 North American children were served by Reading Recovery educators during the 1993-94 school year. In California alone, more than 500 school districts served approximately 5000 children. The program is also implemented in Australia, Canada, and England.
According to its inventors and advocators, Reading Recovery combines extensive teacher education with an emphasis on the development of phonological awareness and the use of contextual information to assist reading. They claim it to be an educationally sound and cost-effective early intervention program for helping children who are at-risk of early reading failure.
What is the teacher's role?
An essential component of the Reading Recovery program is the training of the teachers who provide the tutorial instruction. Reading Recovery teachers learn to observe, analyze, and interpret the reading and writing behaviors of individual students and to design and implement an individual program to meet each student's needs. Just as the Reading Recovery children engage in social interaction with the teacher, Reading Recovery teachers engage in social interaction with their colleagues and mentors to construct a view of learning and teaching that supports literacy learning.
Part 2 of this series will look at the Reading Recovery Method and a typical lesson
Coaching and teaching are the same thing in reality. To distinguish them as separate entities would be a mistake. After thirty some years in the classroom, I can honestly say that starting out as a young teacher/coach was very difficult. What I didn’t know and couldn’t know was that my Quarterback would some day be my realtor, my Guard would be my dentist, and one of my Centers would be a car dealer/owner I would buy two cars from. A star Defensive Back would make the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and a Defensive End would become the warden of the Watergate prison.
I say ‘my’ because of the energy invested in each
and all of these youngsters as students and athletes. The oilman who
visits two weeks per year at his million-dollar condo near my apartment
was my manager. I never should have yelled at him that much! When my
children were small and the school secretary would say to me, “You
just wait until your children are in high school.”
How come I wasn’t told that success in future life
has only one statistically significant correlation. And that is
involvement in co-curricular or extra curricular activities. I assumed
future success was related to academics and grades!
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Preparing For the Spring
Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum
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