Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kielbasa...its not just SAUGAGE anymore!!!

Before I get up on my soapbox again, I had to share a few tidbits about my BOYS from this week. Bear with the bullets--I am in a hurry to post so I can get back to reading about health care reform, teachers being fired en masse and other things that will eventually make their way onto my blog!!

Well phase one of our state testing is over...can't talk much about it. But suffice to say, me and my little friends let out a collective sigh of relief Wednesday afternoon after Day 2 of testing was in the bag. We still have 3 more days of tests in May but Spring Beak is coming and we have decided to focus on that (with a little reading, math, social studies and science sprinkled in everywhere!!)

The following were overheard in my classroom this week (I swear, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!)

  • "Good Morning Mr. E, Kielbasa Mr. W" (This one needs a little explaining...we greet each other at the start of morning meeting...Good Morning Mr. D, Good Morning Mrs. Barker and shake hands. The boys have changed things up a bit by greeting each other in different languages...Hola, Bon Jour, Ni Hao..they looked a bunch of them up on Google. Anyone want to take a guess at what "Kielbasa Mr. W. should be, Yep, you guessed it..Que Pasa. Obviously my little friend is not a native Spanish speaker!

  • One little friend to another- "Do you want to be in an all-boy class next year?" Boy 2: "Nah, I need to be with the ladies"

  • "Mrs. Barker, did you know they wrote a book about the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid?"

  • Me: "In less than 50 days you all are going to be 4th graders!" Look of horror comes over one of my little friend's face: Him: "You mean they canceled summer vacation?"

  • "The reason we are not allowed to bring toys to school is because they don't want us to have any fun at school"(this was after I had taken Bakugan cards away from a student for the 2nd or 3rd time in 2 weeks)

  • Me: "Mr. K, what time did you go to sleep (I meant, last night). Mr. K: "Just now I guess, because you just woke me up."

They crack me up...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is "Race to the Top" actually a federalization of education?

Disclaimer: To my followers...I promise to get off this education reform tirade I have been on recently and get back to humorous stories about my little friends soon! It just pisses me off that people in Washington want to tell me how to run my classroom. If they are so interested in what I am doing, I invite them to join me this Monday afternoon at 2:30pm as I break every school rule (and probably my own neck) to get on a chair, climb on shelves and such and cover the walls of my classroom and rearrange all the desks in preparation for state testing Tuesday and Wednesday. Until then.....

Lately, I have been spending way to much time reading articles and blogs talking about education reform. Why you ask..because I am a geek like that. When I was in the corporate world, I bought and read books by the dozen on organizational management, change management, organization effectiveness, and the like.

These days it seems the media has made teachers the scapegoats for a failing education system. In addition, I am reading up on proposed budget cuts in our state and attending meetings where it is discussed that we (South Carolina) are viewed as having a low-performing education system all because of the way we report our standardized test scores. At this aforementioned meeting it was announced that we (again, South Carolina) are one of 16 states (well DC is not a state but they are one of the finalists) in the running for "Race to the Top" grants. I ignorantly applauded like the rest of the lemmings at the meeting and dashed back to my classroom when the meeting was over and googled "Race to the Top." I was appalled to read article after article outlining how acceptance of these grants requires stated to adopt a federally drafted national standard for curriculum. Among other things.....Uh..Shut The Front Door~~~! WHY would anyone agreed to this?

This is opens the door even wider to let the federal government come in and take over. States like Texas opted not to apply for these grants after they found out that these national standards would undo all the reform in state curriculum standards they had been working hard to improve.

And guess how many teachers were on these panels who wrote the grant requirements (and the draft for the national curriculum standards)....ummmm...NONE!! Big shocker there!

This article from the Washington Post lists 10 False Assumption about Race to the Top. It's worth the read.

In addition to the requirement to adopt national standards, many states have been basically selling their souls to lifting the cap on charter schools and agreeing to tie test scores to teacher evaluations and pay. This is wrong on so many levels that I want to scream "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? How is this going to help them? 100% of these funds apparently have to go to reform of standards and curriculum, and can't be used to make up the millions of dollars many of these states need to close the gap in their education budgets. No teacher salaries (saving teacher layoffs) no supplies, computers and other technology, textbooks, etc.

This p_sses me off so much!!! What's next? Fire all the teachers and replace them with robots..I mean if we totally remove the human component in the equation....we're bound to get the result we are seeking, RIGHT?!?! Morons!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

$121 Million...are you freakin KIDDING ME??????

Yes friends, I am fired up once again.....this time by an article in the Blackboard Jungle section of Newsweek Magazine....this article to be exact...titled "Why Teachers Can't Control Their Classrooms" I am still scratching my head as to why no one at Newsweek called me..because I would certainly have given them an earful...and set them straight.

While I agree with most of the article (the gist being that teacher education programs are not equipping new teachers for the reality of classroom management and bad student behavior), I came across this gem...."Education Secretary Arne Duncan has acknowledged what a huge issue classroom management has become. To help improve the situation, the federal government recently dedicated $21 million to a fledgling network of 28 teacher-residency programs (modeled on medical residencies) to give new teachers hands-on training in a real classroom. Later this year Duncan plans to distribute another $100 million in grants to expand the idea further."

HELLO---Secretary Duncan...we have's called STUDENT TEACHING!! So this genius is going to throw $121 million into a program of 28 networks modeled after medical residencies. LOVE when these teachers graduated from your program Secy Duncan..will these teachers (and their hard working, battle scarred colleagues) then be PAID like Doctors? Or treated with the same respect for their profession as Doctors?? When is the last time you read about a patient throwing a chair at their doctor?

Don't get me wrong..I think there is definitely a need to better support first and second year teachers, especially those who have students with behavior issues. Many schools, including the one I work at, have mentor programs where a seasoned veteran helps a newer teacher, shows him/her the ropes, assists them when they are struggling whether it is with classroom management, curriculum, etc. If Secy. Duncan wants to keep teachers from leaving the profession within the first five years, he needs to work with teachers, administrators, etc, to see what suggestions they have to make the situation better. Throwing money at yet one more program will not solve the problem. Some of these students need to be removed from regular classrooms when the behavior escalates to the point where it is impacting the ability of the teacher to teach and the other students to learn. Spend the $121 million on closing aging schools and building new ones, teacher mentoring programs, new technology, remediation programs, gang education programs, and YES, teacher salaries.

Much better investment in my humble opinion!! And while we are on the topic of "Why teachers can't control their classrooms"..the answer is because many parents don't discipline their kids at home, they have no expectations for them and when they get in trouble it is always someone else's fault....however, there are good parents, no there are GREAT parents out there that do the right thing, that set expectations for their children and that realize the importance of going to school, getting an educations and listening and respecting the teacher and administrators....I LOVE parents like THAT!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And the WINNER is....

.....drum roll please!! I got busy at the beginning of the week and totally forgot to draw a winner for the contest!!! So today I put the names of all my followers who also left a comment (and some of you commented more than once..thank you friends!!!) on my blog last month during my challenge in a bowl and Noah picked a winner.

The winner of an all expenses paid trip to ...oh, wring contest! The winner is Tiffany J!!!

Tiffany you get your choice of a $10 Starbucks gift card or a $10 Target gift card!! Let me know which one you want and I'll pick it up this weekend and bring it to you!

NEWS FLASH...I will be doing another contest later this month so keep reading the blog and keep an eye out for details on this new contest!!

Thanks again for all of you who became followers of my blog last month, those who read regularly and those who left me comments!! You guys ROCK!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

If we had a Million Teacher March, would anyone come???

Wow, I was over at Ms. Mimi's blog a few minutes ago and girlfriend is STILL fired up about the situation in Rhode Island. She asked, what can we (teachers do) to show these teachers who were unfairly fired, that we support them.

My suggestion was a Million Teacher March on Washington! I have a few choice words for Arne Duncan, myself! Organizing it would be a snap...we teachers are great organizers. Getting the word out, no problem! Teachers talk to other teachers who talk to still more teachers. Word would spread like wildfire.

What do you say friends...anyone up for a road trip to DC??

PS- Look what I found when I googled Million Teacher March....this and this ( I am a little ticked they already have the rights to the website!!), and it is even mentioned here (although it it not exactly as it is advertised).