Category Archives: challenge

To Budget or not?? That is the Question

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Our class sizes are increasing, our budgets are shrinking, our teachers are being layed off, our sports and creative programs are diminishing, and the upper echelon of our educational system seem to be getting fat. What is going on?

This twisted, senseless, convoluted game of pass the buck needs to come to a screeching halt; and we need to attend to the importance of education-Our Students.  Our main purpose for becoming educators is to affectively teach, and scaffold upon knowledge, to enhance our students’ ability to achieve, and to build upon their dreams, and ambitions. What was once a system  that excelled beyond expectations with enthusiasm for the future;  has now become  shadowed with shame.

A greedy  attitude seems to have replaced the essence of what education truly means for our students-Learning, accomplishing, and their right as individuals to attain enduring understanding through differenting instruction in how they best learn. I am not merely talking about a greed in terms money-That’s simnple; I am also focusing on the greed for recognition of our school districts, concerning student academic test scores for national achievement; which leave so many of our students stranded, and fallen between the cracks due to their lack of understanding and skills or challenges with absorbing subject matter.

This is how it works..Teachers have now evoloved to become the tools for processing students to get them through school-they come in herds and they’re moved through in the same fashion. They are not focused on the positive outcomes of their students- A reflection of how they might affectively be teaching to make meaningful connections, but whether they are meeting the standards. Personally, I think that the ancient philosophers and great teachers of history’s past would be unamuzed.  Don’t get me wrong…I do believe in having some standards as “guides” for attaining objectives, when teaching our students, but not as a totalitarian type of law for students to meet those standards. The Standards can be good and serve well, to a point, but have gone too far. The Standards have become a twisted checklist to measure the success or failure of our young students; as well as a type of stringent archaic measure to check that as we teach those students we attend to those standards. It all boils down to those Standards and teachers, and school districts are measured in their success, by the fact that students are scoring well on their state exams…Crazy, right?

The problem is that nobody learns in the same manner, some students learn visually, some auditorally, some are verbal learners, some through kinesthic and experiential activities, some logically and intersting combinations of mannerisms that engage and connect students to understanding what they are taught; but it doesn’t mean that they’re failures when they can’t do math or understand aspects of literacy, it means that education in how it is being conducted is failing its students.  So why is this happening? Why has education become the fastfood chain of learning?  At what point will it be understood that without creative balance in strategies applied toward the teaching and learning process, effective learning will not take place, and kids will continue to fall behind.

What I am emphatically stating is that we have become over-standardized to the point that teachers now must teach with the cookie-cutter approach to meet the requirements and Standards of their school districts in their states-after all each district wants to be #1 in their standardized scoring across the board. There is very little room for creativity, and very little time to implement strategies – even when education makes a few suggestions ( They talk the talk, but they cannot fathom the walk).  Many teachers fear that if they do not stay on track with their deadlines, they will lose their jobs, as educators.  Educationally, it’s like a snake eating its tail; think about it.

Okay, I get that we need to go along with the program in a team effort, but the ramifications and consequences of over focusing on the standards in order for our students to pass the state tests are hurting our students, and the results of this are that many of our students, in fact, are being left far behind (not for the lack of their intelligence, but because they don’t connect with the academic approach in how they are being taught).  While this is happening, teachers are finding loopoles to sidestep the system, leaving their students to dangle in a web of educational deceipt, and as the system discovers the loopoles they are implementing more rigid senseless rules to cover the tracks.

Ideally, standards can be useful as suggestions to form a foundation from which to teach – this makes sense; however, as they are written, and people measured agaist them, it doesn’t work at all!  There is no time left for teaching wholly when the Standards are the law with which teachers must teach to.  Hello, we’re suppose to teach to our students, not the standards. Where is the joy in learning, with that kind of pressure?… And thus the teaching and learning processes in our education system are quickly becoming clones in a completely twisted mind-game of political correctness.  And this, my friends, hurts a huge population of our students, who do not have the capacity, skills, strategies, or make-up, to fit in the educational mold as written.

So, on they move along the conveyer belt of the education system – in a sort of “move them on and push them through” fashion.  Some may slip through the cracks, never to be identified for their talents or greatness, while others continue along their paths, as they fulfill their journeys toward success or not; perhaps because they understand how to adapt to fit in the mold of this system called education.

We really need to re-think the decisions we make in solving the problems of this system called education.  At this point of the game, one of the most important aspects of life – learning through education, and school- is turning it into a chaotic non-productive, self absorbed, egotistical greedy non-proactive power-hungry mess. Why? Because of decisions made to cut back on important programs, Suck out the academia that provides students with the ability to be innovative, depleat creativity, decrease teacher’s salaries, lay off teachers, increase class sizes, alleviate help and resources for struggling or challanged students…The list goes on. While at the top, the pockets of administrators are getting fat, and egos enlarged.  This is not the way to educate.  We need to transform education, increase funding to include our athletic, and arts, and music programs, increase creativity, and innovativeness in academia, and connect our students with enduring understanding.  We need to enhance education to draw our students into the joy of learning and becoming enriched, decrease the stern rigidness of the bylaws that govern the Standards which dictate the success and failure of our children/students, because as they are written and measured against, are very destructive to many student populations. Think about it.

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April 19, 2010: Student Teaching – Learning the Ropes

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April 19, 2010: Student Teaching – Learning the Ropes

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Dealing with Dyslexia

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  A good friend of mine called me, from overseas. Desperately weeping, she said, “I don’t know what to do. I feel hopeless!” Her oldest son-of two boys- had given up, and had decided that he no longer wanted to attend school. Though extremely bright, her two sons had been performing proficiently low academically, in school.  Both of them had trouble reading, and if that wasn’t enough, passing an exam was nearly impossible.  They were suffering emotionally, and yet nobody around them could fathom the perplexity of their inability to make sense of what they read.

My good friend, aware of her sons’ academic difficulties, was beside herself. She had tried to find out more information about her children from the teachers.  She reached out to the school administrators for assistance, but received no support from either the teachers or the administrators. Instead, she was patronizingly told that her children had no learning issues, other than the fact that they were lazy troublemakers with behavior problems, and who lacked motivation. With feelings of bewilderment, she felt she had nobody she could console with.  Her boys, at that time were eleven and sixteen, were frustrated.  Their self-confidence was in ill repair, and they thought they were incapable of ever achieving academic success. 

At one point in time she was told about a center that tested children for learning disorders.  Delighted with the news she arranged to have her children tested.  The assessments at the center were costly, but for her it was worth the money, if she could find answers to help her boys.  Both of her children were diagnosed to have extreme dyslexia.

She felt an odd sense of relief and resolve with the outcome of the testing.  Excited, she took the results of tests to the school administrators. They threw them back at her and told her that the assessment results were not worthy of the paper that they had been printed on, and could not be accepted. She was stunned. There would be no accommodations for her boys, and no intervention to help them through their difficulty in learning at school.   

Now, her oldest son falters.  My friend was called to a meeting at his school.  “His teachers told me that he is useless, a failure, and a trouble-maker,” she uttered bitterly. My friend tried to explain to his teachers that her son is a good boy, who has a learning disability, and needs some accommodations in order to learn. Uncaring, his teachers told her that they were not psychologists trained to deal with the psychological learning problems of students, but in fact they said, “We are just teachers. If we were psychologists, then we would get paid more.” Apathetic and undiscerning, they turned their back on her.

Dejected, my friend left her parent/teacher conference with a heavy heart. Confused and anguished, her thoughts were on her child-she felt fearful for her son’s outcome. As she cried I tried to comfort her through her tears. I felt her agony, and maternal pain while she spoke, “My beautiful son.” So deeply worried, she began to blame herself. She told me that her son hates her now. I wanted to take my friend away from her space of consciousness and put my arm around her.  She needed to hear that it would all be okay, and that this would soon pass, but I know that this is just the surface of what may come to be. 

There are many parents around the world that have children who have some type of learning disability, and who may feel as my friend does-hopeless.
I say this: Unless education systems around the world unite, and develop an understanding about learning disabilities, children such as my friend’s son will be lost in the shuffle, left to wonder; and parents such as my friend will have feelings of despair.

School systems need to create positive intervention programs to help children with special needs. Our special needs students need to be brought to an emotional state of understanding that they are worthy, and capable of accomplishing goals and of becoming successful.

Teachers worldwide need to become educated in the areas of special education, in order to understand how to better teach, accommodate, and positively appeal to children with learning disabilities. Alternative approaches in teaching must be developed in order to help students with learning disabilities feel successful in school, as well as for their lives. We must keep in mind that the children of today represent our future on many levels.