You have to read this first.

So I decided to pick up my virtual pen again.  That’s the announcement.

My latest ebook is “I’m a Principal’s Target, Now What” and I’ve already begun research for Version 2.0 as well begun the planning for an Educator Abuse Story ebook…I need your support to do so.  As the daughter of a hard-working nurse and construction-laborer, I know the value of hard work. In order to continue this work, I will need your support. If you can comment or re-share anything that I write or otherwise share your generosity, I am truly appreciative and will help you in return any way that I can.


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After taking care of my 3 year old, my greatest passion is my company This Teacher Speaks, LLC. We’re focused on helping schools and community-based organizations strategically develop their social media presence in ways of maximum impact.  This company was born out of the suffocating silence I felt that teachers like myself had to endure underneath the absolute, corrupt, and unethical power of those who we trust with the reigns of our career.  Right now I play an integral role in meaningful projects via my daughter company, #SocialPatois:  Shout-out to uftsolidarity.org, #uftsolidarity, #kamanient, and #thelastpews!

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The New York Times Ponders An Emerging Teacher Shortage

Spoiled Teacher:

One word: Touche!

Originally posted on Daniel Katz, Ph.D.:

Motoko Rich of The New York Times wrote a feature article for today’s print edition on the looming teacher shortage and the nationwide scramble to fill available teaching positions.  Predictions of a future teacher shortage are hardly new.  Consider this Senate hearing in 1997 where the then frequently made prediction that we would need “2 million new teachers over the next 10 years” was repeated by Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts:

This chart is a good summation as to what the current conditions are. This year, K-12 enrollment reached an all-time high and will continue to rise over the next 7 years. 6,000 new public schools will be needed by the year 2006 just to maintain current class sizes. We will also need to hire 2 million teachers over the next decade to accommodate rising student enrollments and massive teacher requirements. And because of the overcrowding, schools are using trailers…

View original 1,329 more words

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And What Of Class Sizes?

howbanner

There should be a balance between how much time we spend developing ideas and how much time we spend developing real plans to implement these ideas.

In fact, more time should be spent on the latter.

In education, there are far too many thinkers and researchers, or at least, not enough doers.  Where are the people who say, “That’s a great idea!  So, how is that possible??”  These are what I call the “pump-the-brakes” people.  These are teachers, too.  We are always asking ourselves, “How, can we do this? Is this plausible?”

So, class size.  There’s petitions like this one, asking politicians to reduce class size.  Yay, that’s great.

So logistically speaking, are we planning on doubling classroom space across the city or hosting two classrooms in one?  Do these rules apply to gym…or art (no offense gym or art, lol.)?  Oh wait, are we going to DOUBLE the teacher workforce, too?  Or cut class time in half?  What would THIS LOOK LIKE? Exactly.

You know, the issue is a matter of support.  And sometimes people don’t realize that they are on the same side because they aren’t speaking the same language (some of you will get this statement, some of you won’t…think about it.)

Amongst special education inclusion, ESL support, and other teacher professionals, assistants, paraprofessionals, etc. we can get MORE SUPPORT IN THE CLASSROOM.   Yes we can! I’ve been in schools where this model works amazingly well.  Placing another teacher in the room and utilizing the resources the system already has in place, seems to make more sense, rather than chasing down “class size” across the board as a systemic change.  If you haven’t experienced co-teaching, try it.

Where  smaller class sizes are possible, sure, go for it. But I’ve seen large class sizes succeed with just one teacher in the room, too.  So is class size a carrot stick we need to be chasing in education right now?  (Now, I’ve also worked in schools where class size is as low as 16 or even 8.  The fact is, no matter how large or small your class is, teachers will need adequate resources to do their jobs.)  We need to focus on getting teachers and students support when needed.  This requires that individuals within school communities work together.

Perhaps the focus should be on removing the obstacles (including people and situations) that prevent individuals within school communities from working together.

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Your Foil Request Summer Christmas Wishlist

Fun-With-Foil

So you may have learned a lot about how to FOIL from Don’t Tread on Educators but have you ever wondered, what, exactly, does one FOIL?  (As an update to the info on the DTOE website, please be aware that by contacting Katherine Rodi by email or phone you will be forwarded back to the lovely OPI office email opiinfo@schools.nyc.gov.  The good news is, this office IS admitting to illegal “problem-codes” now instead of pretending that they don’t exist.

And don’t be mistaken, FOILing is not just for playing “gotcha” games with city agencies, there are practical reasons for FOILing records because sometimes what you need just isn’t readily available.

Anyway, visiting SIAC-DOE Records Archives will explain a bit about how NYCDOE maintains its archives.

ENJOY THIS GOODY – A retention list (also known as a subject list) of what the NYCDOE retains and FOR HOW LONG.  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RETENTION SCHEDULE.  I suggest you read this list with a pen or highlighter.

Now as you email or pen a letter to the SIAC, you can have a better idea of what you need and what to ask for when you contact the NYCDOE’s Freedom of Information Law Unit.

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Good Morning Class! Let’s Have a Morning Meeting!

One of my favorite parts of teaching is relating to students.  Being able to visit schools and support students and teachers reminded me of how much I enjoy getting along with students.  I find that this is possible in calm and organized work environments and settings.  After teaching in dysfunctional settings for so long, I did not realize that I had become quite out-of-touch with this.

I enjoy the concept of the morning meeting.  It is a bit tricky to implement, however, when you have multiple classes that all start at different times throughout the day.  (Which is why I love block schedules.)  Some schools try to get around this with Homeroom periods, but let’s face it, if all students aren’t present, it sort of defeats the purpose.  Also, this usually fosters one class’s allegiance to one teacher, instead of all their teachers.

In one school I visited, every student in the grade would actually stand in the hallway at one time and say a pledge, together, as well as make announcements.  They would do this once a week on Thursdays.  I thought this was a nice way to get to the sense of school-wide community in the upper grade levels.

 

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If the Whistleblower blows the whistle, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

In Reflection On: “UNIONS SHOULD FINALLY PLAY SOME HARD BALL CHALLENGING STATISTICS” by James Eterno

Fellow blogger, James Eterno, makes a lot of good points in this article (don’t worry, I’m not picking on you, I just randomly reflect on what interests me.)

My thought is that teachers definitely need to be politically awakened to the politics that involve their careers.  But the nature of the profession is that we are too busy feeling excited and lesson planning to really pay attention to what is really affecting teaching and learning.  Furthermore, too many teacher education programs reserve discussions regarding education politics and policy for those wanting to be administrators and policy makers.  So as a part of their training, teachers aren’t even taught to pay attention.

From the beginning, teachers seem to be purposefully left out of the discussion when, after students, their perceptions and choices are important. And sadly, only after being in the trenches or being stung by some part of the process do some teachers wake up and realize that they need to be extremely involved educational discourse.

Eterno’s article offers very frank discussion regarding these issues and even though I am a member of another caucus – uftsolidarity.org – I find that all the NYC caucuses offer interesting insight to this common problem.

The most salient points of the article, for me, included: 1. a focus on the integrity of statistics instead of improving the statistics, 2. a coming together of the UFT and CSA (despite the veeeeery steep divide created by certain principal leadership academies…and perhaps…salaries 3. the damned if you do and damned if you don’t approach to how Di Blasio has been received.

In terms of the NY Post, we already know the news media is biased left or right. It only makes sense that a paper that praised Bloomberk/Klien would maintain it’s bias when the other party is in power. The shift likely replicated itself across the news media.

The corruption is so embedded in the system that even the folks for whom the whistle is blowing don’t care. They have to be compelled to care (shame in the townsquare is no longer enough). They are obviously and forthrightly engaging in corrupt and deviant behaviors in a carefree manner.

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I’d be lost without my library’s Back-to-School display

I thought the display was rather sad…belying the fake happy-dance teachers perform when they know September is coming.

I have just never been into all the fluff required for back-to-school proceedings. 

If you want to be a good teacher, then know that the work is hard, grueling, tiring, stressful…but who am I to take away anyone’s positive affirmations?

“I can’t wait for the school year to start!!!!:mrgreen:😁😁:mrgreen:😁:D😄😅😆

Just let’s be realistic and honest about it — how hard it is to really TEACH — and maybe the public will take us seriously.

I digress.  So I picked up this book at the library, sure to get me fired:

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Imagine that. 

My teaching style includes respect for works-in-progress, self-evaluation, reflection….which does ultimately lead to “data” but not what big brother wants.

Hoping for the day we stop racing to the top and start INSPIRING learning.

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If Rigor was a man, what would he look like?

Once upon a time, I was a wise fool of a teacher. In Washington, DC working as a High School English Teacher at an Alternative High School, I was asked to “make the lesson more rigorous”. I was then told to go on Classroom Visits to other classrooms to see this Rigor. Still, I could not find the elusive Rigor, SO I innocently asked the Principal (who was fired – after 4 teacher resignations that year – by the Board of Directors for incompetence) what was Rigor. And had to sit and listen to a bunch of mumbo jumbo. SMH at this particular charter school. Don’t drink the blue juice.

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Race from Axe

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Like Teacher Rubrics? Try Principal Ones

Thank you again RACE TO THE TOP for your madness and your baby the Common Core.  Which I called “bullshit” on as soon as it dropped, but who listens to me anyway.

It’s okay, really.  I’m always laughing last.

If you like rubrics, and Danielson warms your toes at night, there’s no need to be faithful.

There’s more out there:  http://usny.nysed.gov/rttt/teachers-leaders/practicerubrics/

But I do try to lay off Danielson.  Many people try to attack her as though it was her fault that her work became what it is today.  I was on a live Webinar call with her on which she explained her framework in depth, and you know, it’s not her fault they took her rubric and ran away with it.  She never intended for it to be attached to evaluations.  She actually came up with this tool for teachers to aspire to…or at least embody.  The pressure was really put on her to try to make her framework fit teacher evaluations because the Race to the Top hounds really had no systemic means or methods of implementing the government mandate, but they sure as hell wanted that $$$$$.

If you look at the framework now, it’s been chopped up and cut up so many times, it doesn’t even look human.

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The Fish Rots From the Head

fish no head

I thought a lil’ saying would sum up everything nice and tidy.

But the question is:  But suppose the head’s been chopped off already?

HERE I AM pouring out my heart to Chancellor ‘Rina…and the chick couldn’t even throw an eyelash in my direction.  Over HERE Chancellor…you know the teacher you said you cared about?  Remember all that bull-shit you and your predecessors said  — and post-puppets will say — about “caring about teachers”??  I was in the room when you said that.  And I used to believe you!  Lol.

I don’t even take this madness personal anymore.  To me, it is very serious business, but at the same time it’s a contemporary Shakespearan comedy–er tragedy.

Have you READ “The Carmen Farina Nobody Knows” by Jesse Harris?  This article is the vetting Carmen Farina never got before her appointment as Schools Chancellor.

…and the cold Regents cheating and cover-up case that haunts her, the Department of Education, and the Special Commissioner of Investigation of the of the New York City School Districy

by Philip Nobile

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“UFT SHOULD SPREAD FARIÑA’S WORDS ON ASTERISKS FOR TEACHER RATINGS EVERYWHERE”

Re-blog:

UFT SHOULD SPREAD FARIÑA’S WORDS ON ASTERISKS FOR TEACHER RATINGS EVERYWHERE by ICEUFT Blog

My two cents:  This is a very informative post.  This is the problem with government initiatives that are out of touch with reality and don’t include a plan for implementation.  Race to the Top sought to “balance the playing field” and gave birth to Common Core.  Then NYC took Common Core to the next “level” by scooping up Danielson because they wanted some method to hold teachers accountable.  Finally, they sought to “enforce” these changes via teacher ratings.  Of course Education is a monkey-in-the-middle game where parents, teachers, students, and anyone with common sense are stuck in the middle, jumping for the ball.  I re-blogged this page on my lil’ ol’ blog at thisteacherspeaks.wordpress.org aka @spoiledteacher.

 

 

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Laurie Gabriel’s “Heal Our Schools” May Be Coming to Your City: Watch It if You Can

Spoiled Teacher:

Found Laurie’s trailer videos on Vimeo. Resonated very well.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Laurie Gabriel, a teacher with nearly three decades experience, decided that she had to do something to fight back against the absurd attacks on teachers.

The first thing she did was to create a documentary to explore the critical issues of the day. It is called “Heal Our Schools,” and it offers practical advice that most teachers would vigorously agree with. In her video, she interviews teachers, students, and a few outsiders (like me). The people she spoke to talked about what matters most in teaching and learning, which she would say is to encourage students to find their passions and pursue them. Her first recommendation, by the way, is to reduce class size so children can get individual attention when they need it.

The high point of the film, in my estimation, was when she spoke to some vocal critics of teachers. She invited them to teach a list…

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The #1 Overlooked App for Busy Teachers: ColorNote

colornoteSean

Okay. So there’s this motto, “Never let them see you sweat.”  And then there’s my motto, “Never let them see you sweat even when you feel like a hot mess.”  This motto applies in a plethora of situations.  Trust and believe.

TeachTees, how do you keep your demeanor calm, cool, and collected even when you have a million things to do on your to-do list?  And remember, you are not just a teacher…you have a big, complicated, meaningful life that you have to live and contend with.

The answer:  Colornote.

Yes tried and true. This very simple app (and I promise the creators don’t even know me, though after this post I think I’ll introduce myself) is the best app since app (yes I said the best “app since app”).

It’s simple. There are two ways to create lists:

  1. Text – Type away your random thoughts, poems, songs, favorite quotes you hear or read, information people say to you while you are on a call, information you need handy (since your phone is always with you), lesson plan ideas, drafts, etc. etc.
  2. Checklist – Make your grocery list, kid list, classroom list, bulletin board list, data list, wish list, household chores list, etc. etc. and tick them off once they get done.

I’m a lot ocd so I have to do lists or else my brain will explode (hyperbole hyperbole)…I don’t know what your situation is…but chances are if you want to reduce your stress level and just be a little more collected…make lists until your thumbs hurt.

You can also color code your list and sort your list by created time, modified time, alphabetically, or color.

There’s calendar syncing and backup with gmail, reminders, sharing options, lock, web search, and the list goes on and on.  Just check out the ColorNote website or your Google Play Store.

There’s something magical about lists.  And I promise this is true.  Once you write it down, it gets done.  You’ll surprise yourself by the stuff you get done simply because you wrote it down.  It may not be today or by someone else’s bogus or insanely improbable (impossible) deadline, but it’ll get done.

And remember, you are only human, not a machine.

If anyone treats you like you are a machine, you know what they can really do, right?

P.S. IPhone users, you are on your own with this one. I believe ColorNote has an IOS version, but I’m strictly talking about the ColorNote app on Android.



Later TeachTees.

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5 Amazing Things That Only Happen to Teachers During the First Week of School

back-to-schoolpicmonkey

1.  You are the most interesting person in the room.

Savor the first week of school as students size you up and down.  They are determining which teacher will be the weak fence they will jump on and shake for the rest of the year.  They are determining which teacher will be strict and which teacher will be fun.  Forget about the icebreakers.  Double-down on who you want to be known as for the rest of the year!  First impressions matter and first impressions stick.

Tip#1:  Do not try to be the fun and/or cool teacher.  You’ll be chasing your tail all year if that’s not true to who you are.  Slap them in the face with school work (metaphorically speaking of course)!

2.  You don’t have much grading to do.

You get to go home with some short paragraphs or essays about who students are..or you could simply have them fill out a flash card.  If you are like me, you’d skip the paper trail and have them tweet or post on Edmodo their personal introductions.

Tip#2:  Avoid the paper trail.  It will follow you to your grave.  If paper is a must, have students grade and or give each other feedback on their work.  The paper does no good sitting on your desk, under a paper clip, or in a file.

 3.  Your administrators throw you the keys to the supply closet.

Need bulletin board paper?  Need dry erase markers?  Need post-its?  Chart paper?  Now’s the time to ask.  (And steal a few while they aren’t looking.)  They all want you to have a great first week so your wish is their command.

Tip#3:  If they are already being stingy, go to my TeachTee Deals page to find out how you can snag some free resources.  Otherwise you’ll be coming (bleeding) out your pocket the whole year.

4.  You bring your lunch to school.

Over the weekend you cooked a fantastic 10-course meal and then cut up the leftovers to make a gourmet wrap alongside your fresh squeezed green juice since you are trying to lose weight.  Pump your brakes, how long will you keep that up??  Soon you’ll be throwing chalk and erasers into your mouth as a snack.

Tip#4:  Get a microwave and a fridge in your classroom.  Stock up on healthy frozen meals..  Grocery shop during the middle of the week (research says Wednesdays) for the best deals.  Stock up on fruits and vegetables.  Keep your weight and stress in check by setting yourself up for success.

5.  You talk to other teachers about non-school related issues.

How’s your son?  How’s your back?  How was vacation?  Can I see the pictures?  Soon these questions will be replaced with:  How long will you be at the copy machine?  I’m so tired of these kids.  What do they want us to put up on the board again?  Common Core what?  When is the bulletin board due?

Tip#5:  Teachers are people first!  Treat each other with respect and kindness.  You don’t know what lies behind each other’s demeanor.  Help each other when you can and avoid throwing each other under the bus.  Don’t lose yourself in the mumbo-jumbo.

Follow me on twitter @ttrspks https://twitter.com/ttrspks and like my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thisteacherspeaks

 

Later, TeachTees.  I love you :0)

 

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