Sunday, May 07, 2006

Rest of the semester

It is bad to get behind in your blog!

Teaching in the Knowledge Society by Andy Hargreaves

Chapter 1 – Teaching for the Knowledge Society – Educating for Ingenuity

Hargreaves points out all the expectations and demands on teachers like building learning communities and develop the capacities for innovation, flexibility, and commitment to change. In the 70’s, it was decided that education was a problem, not a solutions and the report A Nation at Risk, made US education a target of despair and panic. Reports showed our country moving from and industrial era to a knowledge era.

Hargreaves tells us that the knowledge society has three parts: (1) expanded scientific, technical, and educational sphere; (2) complex ways of processing and circulating knowledge and information in a service-based economy; and (3) basic changes in how corporate organizations function so that they enhance continuous innovation in products and services by creating systems, teams, and cultures that maximize the opportunities for mutual, spontaneous learning. This tells me that it is more important than ever to teach students a life-long love of learning. Our society is rapidly changing and will continue to do so, thus students will need to continually learn to keep up and advance. We need to teach students how to think on their feet and respond appropriately when new things come their way.

More education is not the answer, although there are benefits to students that need more time with their learning. We have to change how we teach and not just do more of the same. Teachers must, in Hargreaves words:
• Promote deep cognitive learning
• Learn to teach in ways they were not taught
• Commit to continuous professional learning
• Work and learn in collegial teams
• Treat parents as partners in learning
• Develop and draw on collective intelligence
• Build a capacity for change and risk
• Foster trust in processes

I think these are things my school is good at promoting. Many teachers at our school have or are currently pursuing their Master’s degree or above. We are pushing technology integration into all curriculums and not just for the sake of technology itself. Computers are a 21st century tool and a powerful one at that. We have worked in reading teams over the last year to make raising reading scores a school-wide effort. Taking challenges and risks are happenings that are celebrated by our principal.

Chapter 2 – Teaching Beyond the Knowledge Society – Dealing with Insecurity

It is vital to not invest all one has is any one company or idea. For centuries this has proven true and most recently the .com bubble burst. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 has increased the insecurity felt by many and has lead to a new way of reacting to the world around us.

This chapter goes on to discuss the effects terrorism has had on our country and the world around us. The knowledge society has also changed American values. People work longer and harder trying to keep up with their neighbors while spending less time with their children. This creates a whole new set of problems for teachers. We have children that range from disengaged from learning to the ones that will pick up a gun and walk into a school shooting everyone around. The longer and harder hours are increased due to fear of downsizing.

Teachers must teach beyond the knowledge society. They have to teach the ability to form networks, forge relationships, and contribute to as well as draw on society. I have found that with my students this is very true. Many of them are disconnected and do not know how to form relationships. They are not connected with their parents for a variety of reasons (i.e. uninvolved fathers, parents in prison, parents working multiple jobs) and the only relationships many of them have are gang related. We all know these aren’t healthy relationships and to keep them from them is a struggle. These kids NEED to belong somewhere. Many of my students don’t understand volunteering and giving to the community. They are very much about what society owes them. I always try to model this behavior. They know all the things I am involved in and while I am frequently told they think I am crazy, I see a glimmer of interest in their eyes. I explain how great it makes me feel to be able to give and I hope that I get through on some level.

Our transient population finds it even tougher. Just when we teach them and help them start forming relationships, they are moved somewhere else. After a while they are no longer interested in learning about relationships because they know what is going to happen.

Hargreaves goes on to reinforce the ideas from the previous chapter about the role of the teacher. There is so much to teach and model outside of the curriculum we have in front of us. Teaching character and community is essential to prepare our students to prepare them to take over the country when it is their time.

Chapter 5 – The Knowledge-Society School – An Endangered Entity

Blue Mountain Secondary School in Ontario is said to be a good example of a knowledge-society school. They value the ability to encourage students and to build relationships with both staff and students.

“Among the school goals are:
• To provide high expectations for learning for all students and staff
• To provide all students with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to be successful
• To provide a culture that fosters cooperation and collegiality
• To provide the opportunity for direct input from the community”

They stress high-quality, life-long learning for students, learning for and among staff, and learning from the community. Teachers are expected to be creative and think outside the box. They were expected to use alternative forms of assessment, like portfolios and exhibitions. All teachers work in conjunction with other teachers making an entire school community rather that a series of individual classes. The chapter went on to talk about the innovative ways the teachers reach students. I felt bad when Hargreaves pointed out that “innovative schools always have to swim against tides of jealousy, suspicion, loss of leadership, fading energy, waning enthusiasm, and shifting attention of their political sponsors.

In some ways, our school has many of the elements of the Blue Mountain school. We have amazing leadership. Our principal encourages relationship building between staff and students. She thinks outside the box and congratulates those of us that do, too. She recognizes those of us that put in time above and beyond what is expected and celebrates our success stories with us. We, too, are often scorned in our community because we are a “Title” school and therefore have money to do innovative things that other schools do not. The district administration does not always appreciate the creative thinking our principal does and she frequently has to fight with them for what is best for our school. Because of her hard work, she was recently passed over for a job and they told her she would be too hard to replace where she is. This kind of thinking is going to result in her staying with us for one more year while she makes plans to get her doctorate and move on.

Chapter 7 – The Future of Teaching in the Knowledge Society – Rethinking Improvement, Removing Impoverishment

The first thing Hargreaves talks about is how “one-size-fits-all” does not apply to school improvement. I could not agree more. Our middle school differs greatly from the one on the west side of town and most certainly differs from one on the west coast of the county (or anywhere else!) I understand the difficulties, but we cannot all be treated equally when we don’t start out that way. We need to be assessed on our improvement, not on a standard that has been set for the entire country. We are working on both vertical and horizontal teaming in our district and it is so apparent the differences. But we strive to be open and accepting of what it takes to get students to the same place.


Teaching, Learning, and Schooling: A 21st Century Perspective by Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr.

Chapter 1 - Introduction

School and the media are intertwined and must work together to instruct the students of the 21st century. We have entered a new era in history and must be prepared to educate accordingly. We have to be aware of the realities of the world we are living in, such as more than three times the number of single parents exist today than did in the early 1960’s or that more opportunities are available to women than ever were before. The purpose of this book is to challenge the way things are and seek improvement.

Chapter 2 – Schools as Cultural Institutions

Culture is defined in this book as: The social values and beliefs that define being human and create a society. It is important to know the culture of the students you are trying to teach and the culture of the school itself. Provenzo talks about the selection of curriculum being a cultural and political act. We have to recognize that the United States is not one culture but a mix of competing cultures. Selecting one curriculum that only addresses one culture does support the others.

It was thought that schools could be neutral and just present facts, but it is now understood that the presentation of facts almost always has someone’s slant to it. There is always an underlying structure of values and beliefs – a hidden curriculum. There is also a null curriculum – avoiding certain facts as if they didn’t or don’t exist. When these types of curriculums are in place, resistance theory and learning comes into play. Other cultures will resist what is being taught.

Chapter 3 – Sustaining Our Culture and the Goals of Education

The main goal of education is to prepare students for the real world. There are certain skills that are required as well as the ability think on one’s feet and the desire for life-long learning. The purpose of public schools is to give every child the opportunity for an education instead of just those whose parents are wealthy enough to afford them that privilege. Even still, children of wealthy parents still have more advantages. They are afforded pre-school and technology. They usually come from an environment where it is understood that education is important and they know they are going to have the opportunity to go to college and have a well-paying job.

Culture and background cause children to come to school with their own set of luggage. How can teachers set that aside and teach all children and make certain that all children understand what is being taught? Teachers are supposed to educate for social change as well as curriculum. What a daunting task! Provenzo lists 30 critical questions about the nature and purpose of school. Many of these are thought provoking, like: What makes a good school?; What types of obligations do the schools have beyond simply educating students?; Should private schools be encouraged or discouraged?; To what extents should the schools be used as a means of correcting or compensating for past social injustices?; and To what extent should the schools provide instruction that has in the past been provided by the family and other social groups? These questions and more are valid and difficult to answer.

Chapter 4 – Education and U.S. Society

Schools train people for the world of work. They also communicate society and what is expected of each student as they enter the real world.

It is important to remember that teachers are people and have their share of problems outside the classroom. These have to be dealt with and still be able to teach students in the classroom.

Poor people in our society live in a “culture of silence.” They are told what values are acceptable from others in power.

Education used to be taught in a “banking model” where students were viewed as empty containers waiting to have knowledge poured into them. Now it is understood that education is best built when based on prior knowledge and experiences.

Hegemony was a term I was not familiar with. Provenzo describes it as: A concept in which a dominant group maintains its control of a subordinate group of class of people through consensual practices, social forms, and structures. This control can be exercised through educational institutions such as schools, mass media, the political system, and family.

Chapter 5 – Teachers in U.S. Society

It was no surprise to see South Dakota listed as having the lowest salaries in 1999 – 2000.

This was very interesting to me:

National Board Certification for Teachers

Among the most interesting developments in teaching has been the establishment of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The NBPTS is a private, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization founded in 1987. Its purpose is to improve U.S. education and the teaching profession through voluntary advanced certification of elementary and secondary schoolteachers. The mission of the NBPTS is to establish national standards and advanced licensing for U.S. teachers.

According to the NBPTS, there are five propositions of accomplished teaching: 1. Teachers are committed to students and their learning; 2. Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach these subjects to students; 3. Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning; 4. Teachers think systemically about their practice and learn from experience; and 5. Teachers are members of learning communities.

I have recently sent in my application for National Board Certification. Having talked to some teachers that have done this, they feel it is the best professional development they have ever received.

Provenzo goes on to list the National Education Association Code of Ethics of the Education Profession and a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Learning: Standards of Conduct, Standards for Achievement. I was in complete agreement with both, but I think the Bill of Rights is a little idealistic. When you teach in South Dakota, your are fairly limited to what district you teach in. It would be nice to teach in a drug-free school and I know administration certainly strives for that, but the reality is that the drugs are there. It would be nice to teach with clearly stated and rigorous academic standards, but South Dakota has NO state standards for computer teachers.

Provenzo gives a short history of teachers in our country and then talks about why people become teachers. There are five major themes that come out:

1. The Service Theme – This is service-oriented and comes about when one wants to give something back to society. People that fit this theme like kids and want to make a difference.

2. The Interpersonal Theme – This is people-oriented and is more about being attracted to working with people and making a difference in their lives.

3. The Continuation Theme – This is for those that enjoyed what they were doing in school and want to continue on and help others experience the same joy. This is illustrated with a star athlete that goes on to become a coach or someone that has a passion for literature that teaches secondary English.

4. The Time Compatibility Theme – This allows for teachers to have an easier time raising families while keeping basically to the kids schedule or for those that want extended vacations to pursue other interests.

5. The Materials Benefits Theme – This theme is for those that, in addition to a salary, are concerned about retirement, health care, and job security.

I think I entered teaching for a combination of reasons. I knew at a young age that I wanted to give back to society and that I loved kids and wanted to make a difference. By the time in my life that I went back to school to get my teaching degree, the time compatibility came into play. I had young children and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible.

Teaching has become a feminized profession, but it used to be more men than women. Our principal tries to hire as many qualified men teachers as possible. With so many absentee fathers, she feels it is good for the kids to have more positive male role models in their lives. Salary is a main factor towards keeping men out of the profession. It is hard to support a family on a teacher’s wage.

I have concerns about merit pay and who would be deciding who it would go to. As to teacher demand and a shortage of teachers, we are currently part of Black Hills State University’s Project Select. These are teachers-in-training that already have a degree in another field and are being fast-tracked through the education curriculum so as to get more teachers in the classroom. I have not yet had one of these interns in my classroom, but they seem to come in unprepared as to what to expect. Many seem to think teaching is a 7:35 – 3:35 job. They are not prepared for the time and planning a good class requires. Even worse, when supervising teachers try to explain and get them on the right track, they are not supported by those that run the program. The women that run the program and interested in having their program succeed and I am not sure they are putting out quality teachers in this fashion. I don’t know what the answer is for the shortage. Hopefully, at some point, more teachers that are entering the profession for the right reasons will be attracted to programs like this.

Provenzo mentions teacher unions. I belong to RCEA, but it is not required and I know a number of teachers that do not feel the need. The union does negotiate our contract and that is why I feel I should be a member and pay dues. But the same contract is given to non-members. I like that if I have a problem, the union will be there to support me, but I have never needed this.

Chapter 6 – Local and State Involvement in U.S. Education

A bureaucracy is a complex, highly structured social organization designed to carry out a specific task. Schools are bureaucracies.

Superintendents are the highest-level of administration in a school district and serve at the pleasure of the school board. There are four elements that determine their success: his/her educational qualifications, his/her concept of the role of superintendent, his/her relationship with the school board, and his/her longevity within a school district.

“The school board formulates policy for the school district; it drafts budgets; enters into contractual agreements; hires and fires the school system’s superintendents; builds new buildings; handles investments; and employs teachers, psychologists, janitors, librarians, and many other people who serve the system. The board is also responsible, along with the superintendent, for defining educational standards and determining the general educational goals and ideals the school district pursues (Brodinsky 1977, 9).”

This said, why do more people not care about who gets elected to the school board? It is disheartening to see how many people turn out for elections and how undereducated many of the ones that show up are.

Principals are the administrative officers of most schools. These are the people that set the tone for each building. They are concerned with the day-to-day activities and running of the school. They provide leadership. They deal with students, parents, teachers, staff, and still answer to those above them.

State control of education varies. In recent years they have become more involved. “The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution states, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Even with this amendment, the federal government has played a prominent role in education throughout history.

I think standards should be set on a federal level giving states some control of how they are handled. Our society has become very much on the move and it is difficult for students to move from state to state without the consistency this could provide. I think it should go as far as to state what should be taught in any given quarter, grade to grade. I know allowing federal control of this nature invites other issues and treats all schools as the “one-size-fits-all”, but I think adjustments could be made to make it work. We are a global society and must treat education accordingly.

Chapter 7 – Private Education and Religion in the United States

Private schools have been a part of the education system in this country since the beginning. Currently Catholic education makes up about 11% of children in the U.S. They have recently been trying to obtain public funding. Vouchers are an agenda they are supporting. In urban areas, parents feel this type of education is an advantage over public schools.

I taught my first year at St. Thomas More Catholic School in Rapid City. Perhaps because we are not a large urban area, that would be the difference. I found that the school here paid teachers considerably less, yet demanded as much or more. They were able to offer less as far as class selection and extra-curricular activities. I had no benefits. I have found public education to be much better for students and staff. The only advantage my children had while in the Catholic system was a better religious education. We take them to CCD classes on Wednesday nights, but it is not as thorough.

I don’t believe in the voucher system, personally. I think it will crush public education and I believe that if parents chose to send their children to private school, they should have the means to pay for it. Public education is still the best bet for the average child and taking money out of a system that actually needs more money would not be helpful.

Chapter 8 – Immigration, Education, and Multiculturalism

Our country has the most diverse population of any in the world. It has often been called a melting pot, but should more aptly be described as a tossed salad or a stir-fry. We don’t melt cultures down to one. Instead we strive to blend cultures and keep the best of all. There have been times in history where we have tried to assimilate foreign groups into Anglo-Saxon traditions. There is still a bit of that, but I think we are coming around to being more open to embracing the diversity of differing peoples. Cultural pluralism embraces all people. Ethnicity is one of the important elements of multiculturalism. We have a great many ethnic cultures blended into our society.

Bilingualism is an issue in our country. Some believe that one language is the way to bring people together while others maintain the need to preserve their native tongue. Depending on where a person teaches, it might be vital to have command of at least two languages to be able to impact students.

It is very important to learn other cultures before you try to educate students. I learned early on that I do better with my Native American students if I speak in a softer voice and don’t expect eye contact. For traditional students, looking down is a sign of respect.

I had the opportunity through the discussion boards to learn more about the Hutterite colonies. We also talked about ways to improve our Multicultural Intelligence. NCLB has to deal with cultural difference and particularly how some students deal with testing.

Chapter 9 – Childhood, Adolescents, and the Family

Concepts of childhood has changed throughout all of history. Today, youngsters are exposed to so many things that they would have been sheltered from a generation or two ago. The changes mirror the changes in adult society as well. We are blizzarded in information these days. Children must deal with things like divorce and having to raise themselves.

Provenzo talks about home schooling. It has increased in popularity in this country. There are many reasons parents opt to educate their own children. It sparks a debate over what is best for the child. Critics argue that it leads to a lack of socialization with other children. This can be overcome in communities where there is a large home schooling base and they get their children together for social events.

Chapter 10 – Education and Dominated Cultures

In the case of the United States, the dominant culture is the European-based white culture. In the 19th century, they tried to strip away the culture of the Native Americans. Native Americans are dominated in this country. In 1994, only 7% went to schools sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 5 % were in private or parochial schools, and the rest were in public schools. I believe that most of us now believe trying to assimilate Native Americans into the Anglo-Saxon way of life and losing their own culture was a mistake. We are having to work to repair the damage from that decision.

Slave trade brought in the African-American culture and they were also dominated. Even with slavery being abolished, they had to fight for equal rights. Busing became a major issue in schools and there are still those that do not believe it to be the right thing to do.

Chapter 11 – Gender and Education

Gender refers to women, men, heterosexuals, and homosexuals.

Women’s rights to an education were not always there. Once women started playing a greater role in the workforce this attitude started to change. Women were a part of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s and the Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race or sex. Title IX was enacted stating, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Sex stereotypes in the classroom have been identified in recent years. Boys gain more attention for many reasons. There are children’s books and textbooks that promote sexism.

Alternative sexual orientation has gotten more attention in recent years as well. They are rarely discussed in schools. Ignoring it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist though. There is an ongoing argument as to whether being gay is a choice and what rights gay teachers have. Our country remains largely homophobic.

All of this brings us to whether sex education should be taught in schools. It cannot infringe upon religious beliefs, which makes it difficult to teach about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

While I believe that sex should be taught at a family level, the reality is that it often isn’t. There are too many dangerous aspects, like AIDS, for this topic to be ignored.

Chapter 12 – The Education of Students with Special Needs

Between 12 and 15% of the population falls in the special needs category. Every public school is mandated to provide free instruction to all children.

During the 1970’s, various state and federal courts ruled in favor of equal treatment in the public school systems for disabled children. Now we have a number of laws helping insure this for all students.

Mainstreaming has become pretty common in schools. Our school does it as much as possible. I support the program and have many students mainstreamed into my class. Sometimes they can actually find success in a computer class and sometimes they are only there for social skills. It is good for them and the other students in class. It is nice that I don’t have to identify their needs. Their caseworker sets up the parameters of what each student should be able to do. Sometimes we collaborate and stretch those parameters if it feels like it will work.

We don’t seem to have any problem with labeling or teasing. It is not tolerated and our students know that. We have a bullying program that is tough on all students picking on anyone. It keeps it very fair.





A Demographic Profile of Diversity in the United State: Who are the Newcomers of the 21st Century? By Patricia Davis-Wiley

The first part of this article talks about Seungbok Lee and his first day in an American school. People spoke loudly to him thinking it would help him understand English and his teacher couldn’t pronounce his name, so she called him Sam. He didn’t feel very welcomed.

Newcomers often speak English as a second language, although this is not always the case. Those that it is a second language are usually labeled as non-English proficient.

This article goes on to explain where immigrants come from and that this nation is the most ethnically and racially varied in modern times. One-fifth of homes currently speak another language – three-quarters of those homes speaking Spanish. Chinese, Russian, French, German, and Italian are also common second languages. The 2000 Census tells us that 3 out of 10 Americans are minorities. In addition to non-Hispanic Blacks, non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, or Native Americans, they also list some other race. There are now 57 additional multiracial groups. Children from these mixed heritages will identify with however society best accepts them and how they see themselves.

All of this makes language a difficult barrier for educators. There are also cultural perceptions to be considered and how education is valued. Often when English is a second language, these children work with special educators who try to get them to a place where they can mainstream. There are huge challenges to help them thrive.




Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning by Alan November

Nice story about his son losing the Pine Derby race to a kid whose father went to the Internet. This IS how things are done now. Unfortunately, even I forget to go there first from time to time, although the computer almost constantly being in my hand does help!

Alan November offers several points to be considered. The first, “If it’s on the Internet, it is true?” is something we have to really teach kids about. November tells of a child that believed the Holocaust never happened because he read it on the Internet. I teach a lesson with my students about how to validate a website. Even at that, if someone like Arthur Butz can make it seem logical and valid, it may be hard to convince students of the truth, especially since Butz is a tenured professor at a university.

November shares information about The Hate Directory. (I have never heard of it, but will check it out.) Students do need to be taught critical thinking skills to help them identify valid information.

His second point, “Coming Attraction: Live Videocameras in Every Classroom” is an interesting idea. I am not sure I would want a camera in my classroom where anyone could tune in and watch what I am doing in my classroom. I invite parents in whenever they would like to come, but the camera would feel a little like “Big Brother.” It does allow parents more access and more opportunity to be involved with their students though.

“We Need to Tell Our Stories!” encourages teachers to tell the stories of what they are doing. Too often teachers are isolated in their classrooms and don’t realize that what they are doing is special and should be shared.

Fourth, “Don’t do Technology Plans!” says there is too much focus on technology plans and not enough of relationships. You don’t want to use technology for technology’s sake. It is about what you want to accomplish. Technology is an awesome tool, but needs to be used as a tool and not the focus of the plan.

“Automating vs. Informating”, explains that automating is incremental change while informating is big change. Automating is taking what you are already doing and adding technology to it. Informating is trying something different that what you are currently doing.

Finally, “Collegiality is What’s Needed” explains that teachers need to be team-based and share knowledge and wisdom.

This was an excellent article for me to read as I am planning ways to help teachers integrate technology in their classrooms for next year.

1 Comments:

Blogger Mary E said...

Sherry,

While it may be "bad" to get behind in your blog, getting caught up is a good thing! :)

Mary E

1:40 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home