What is success in the classroom?
Is it a classroom where students are sitting up straight in their desks, reciting, repeating, restating, regurgitating what the teacher has said?
Is it a classroom where students are out of their seats, or sitting on exercise balls, or standing at the board, or just wiggling?
Is it a classroom where manipulatives are used? Cuisenaire rods, Geo Boards, cubes, and dice?
Is it a classroom where students work in groups, complete portfolios, submit plans, write responses, determine a hypothesis, have a specific job title?
Is it a classroom where technology is prevalent, the smart board is in use, the iPads are out and in use, with document cameras projecting images, or student response systems (SRS) are in hand?
Maybe it’s all of the above. Maybe the real success of a classroom is not just the effective teacher flowing with information and ideas who is willing to shift and move progressively through lessons and daily activities, but the students who are also alive, at work, bustling, in play, flowing, and restless all at the same time.
A real successful classroom is noisy. Very noisy at times and yet very quiet too.
Because our children need to learn the difference between being active and being passive. The difference between being involved and being reticent.
Our students need to learn HOW to use technology to help them succeed and to find the answer. (I do not believe it is cheating if you look it up on the internet–because you need to know how to phrase your query in order to generate the CORRECT answer.)
But sometimes, sitting and listening is good too, as long as the performer is interesting and dynamic, yet able to speak in whispers as well as booming.
We need to teach our children how to be dynamic presenters, too. Because we are charged with dispelling fear and everyone knows that public speaking is terrifying, but if you learn how to present at a young age, you too can be influential and charismatic.
So teachers, don’t be afraid to try new things, and then try them again and again. Because every day teaching is different and ever day your students are changing.
Over the past 2 weeks, I have been teaching my students Excel.
Well, they already know Excel, so this was a review. I figured that they were tired of me walking them step-by-step, or handing them an Activity sheet with step-by-step instructions…so I tried a new concept.
I took the Flipped Classroom philosophy and applied it within the classroom
I embedded a video on our website and asked them to watch a short 6 minute video on Basic Math in Excel.
But…at the same time, they had to duplicate the spreadsheet results while watching the video.
The students opened Excel and the video, split their screens—they watched the video and entered the information into the cells of their Excel spreadsheet.
When they were finished, I added to the assignment:
1. Set the Print area
2. Adjust the Margins
3. Increase the Page View to 150%
4. Add a Header (Name)
5. Adjust the Page Break
Afterward…their next assignment was to find a Youtube video on how to create a Multiplication Table in Excel 2010
Here is the example they should have used:
But they didn’t find this one…next week…they will watch this video and create the multiplication table my way!
With the latest conspiracy theories surrounding the Newtown shootings, the NRA’s answer to the shootings in Newtown, the training of teachers to use firearms, and NOW, the Asheville Tea Party holds a Gun Appreciation Day—I was compelled to write my opinion!
Enough is Enough.
We will never have PEACE if we continue to allow guns to be sold to anyone. Weapons dealers, gun shops, concealed weapon carriers, and the NRA will not allow it.
That’s right…it’s that simple. As long as weapons are available to anyone, even on the black market, we will not have peace within our country or between others.
If teachers carry guns to show that schools are safe, they are Wrong…this is not what was meant by a SAFE environment. Being armed teaches are students that: I have a gun, I am bad! Respect the gun, not the gun holder. Again…WRONG.
We need to teach our children how to be respectful of others, maintain good morals and ethics, stop seeking revenge, learn to be civil towards each other.
Guns equal fear. We need to teach our children knowledge and understanding. Because it is with knowledge, that fear is alleviated. Fear is caused by a perceived threat. Perceived…it is only the thought of a threat that fear is present.
If we teach control, we alleviate fear. If we refuse to arm teachers, we alleviate fear.
Graphic is courtesy of Sodahead.com
Why do I care about Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CEO of Chicago’s Public Schools? I’ll tell you why.
For 7 years, Barbara Byrd-Bennett had been the CEO of Cleveland’s Public Schools. While I have never worked under Barbara Byrd-Bennett, I did enroll my daughter in Cleveland Public Schools for a short time. The first time was kindergarten, because Cleveland had a full day kindergarten program and we lived in Cleveland at the time, the other time was a transition period until we moved out into the suburbs of Cleveland. The first time was wonderful, but I attribute that to the principal of the small urban school and not Barbara Byrd-Bennett. But the second time, was disastrous. And because it was awful, I contacted Barbara Byrd-Bennett myself to complain and she was distant, dis-affirmed, disdain, disaffected and unapologetic. So I moved and placed my daughter in a Cleveland Suburb public school. Today, my daughter is a freshman in a local university.
So, since she was recently appointed by Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the position of CEO of Chicago Public Schools after the teachers staged a picket, and since Brent Larkin wrote such a highly glorious opinion piece on her in today’s paper, I had to find out more.
So I did some research on the (add sarcastic tone here) critically acclaimed Barbara Byrd-Bennett.
According to an article written by Patrick O’Donnell of the Plain Dealer back in October, Barbara Byrd-Bennett her pay is that of $250,000 a year (just under what she made in Cleveland).
But if you try to research her credentials, her past is quite shaky.
I started with Ohio, the Ohio Department of Education keeps tabs on all Educators, but for some unknown reason Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s credentials are elusive. The ODE never updates the site to include where all teachers work. In fact, if you search my name, (search Ohio Educators here)you find out that I hold a Non-Tax Certificate (scroll down to #19 to find out more) or read this Non-Tax Certificate-1, but it fails to mention what school or school district I am teaching at. It also fails to mention that I have earned National Board Certification. It will show many expired educators, yet it does not show Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Why?
So then a google search found this article posted on the Chicago Public School website. And then I scrolled down to the end of the page…
“Ms. Byrd-Bennett holds a Master’s of Science from Pace University, a Master’s of the Arts from New York University and a Bachelor’s of the Arts from Long Island University. Ms. Byrd-Bennett also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Cleveland State University, Baldwin-Wallace College, John Carroll University and the University of Notre Dame.”
Not an EARNED doctorate, but an honorary doctorate.
I tried to piece together her timeline in education based on the Chicago Public Schools Website:
- Bachelor’s of the Arts from Long Island University.
- Master’s of the Arts from New York University
- Ms. Byrd-Bennett holds a Master’s of Science from Pace University
- honorary doctorate degrees from Cleveland State University, Baldwin-Wallace College, John Carroll University and the University of Notre Dame.
- two decades as a teacher and principal in the New York City Department of Education,
- 12 years in New York’s public school system, where she taught at both the high school and elementary levels.
- eight years as the principal of a Harlem school
- superintendent of New York’s third-largest district, Crown Heights in Brooklyn, for two years
- Superintendent of the “Chancellor’s District” in New York, a special district composed of about a dozen of the system’s lowest-performing schools.
- 1998, Ms. Byrd-Bennett was appointed by Cleveland’s mayor as the first Chief Executive Officer
- Ms. Byrd-Bennett spent four years as an Executive-in-Residence at Cleveland State University
- three-year stint as the Regional Executive Officer of New Leaders for New Schools in Washington, D.C.
- 2009, Byrd-Bennett was recruited to serve as the Chief Academic and Accountability Manager for Detroit Public Schools
- In April 2012, Ms. Byrd-Bennett was appointed as Chief Education Advisor for Chicago Public Schools
If I were a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, I would insist on a transparent background on Barbara Byrd-Bennett, an actual timeline/resume indicating dates of attained degrees, licensure, and certification.
Personally, I have tried to obtain licensure in the State of Ohio. It is not easy. A Non-Tax Certificate is in many ways not an official teaching certificate, but it is offered to private schools, if it were not valid, I and many other Ohio Educators would not hold this certification. But I am trying to change they way it is perceived. Future blog posts will look into Ohio licensure, Student Teaching, and Teacher Education programs from my own personal viewpoint.
After reading Brent Larkin’s article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today, I had to write. I was compelled to write my own opinion, as his article brought into question: “How long is “too long” for an educator to stay at their school/district?”
Larkin wrote a glorious review of Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s past (add sarcastic tone here) with Cleveland Public Schools and details regarding her appointment to that of CEO of Chicago’s Public Schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her this past April. (If anyone knows of the relationship with BBB and Cleveland Public Schools, they would also know that BBB likes to toot her own horn and take credit for developments that were in place before her arrival)
In Larkin’s op ed, he wrote: “Her effectiveness on the wane, in mid-2005 she announced her resignation. Those early successes were real, but she had stayed too long.”
So, in education: How long is too long?
As a teacher, I have learned many things over the course of the past 10 years; students need continuity, stability, connectedness, and permanence. It is these words that are a direct correlation to a student’s desire to learn, attend school, and make their own connections.
I have been teaching for more than 10 years, but I have also been with the same school for the past 7 years. So is it my time to leave? Have I done all I can do with my students, faculty, community, school? Or should I continue to stay?
Maybe I should leave, because it is getting too hard to continue and I have done all that I can do.
Larkin’s article also stated that Byrd-Bennett said, “The mayor changed. The bishop changed. The council president changed. The foundation leaders changed. . . .” BUT, Barbara Byrd- Bennett DID NOT change and try to work with the new, she changed by resigning.
If I did not change the way I teach every year, my students would not learn. Education is evolving and teachers and administrators need to change themselves (not by moving on) but change the way they teach, the way they deliver a lesson, the way they write a lesson plan, the way they elicit and develop protocol, the way they evaluate, the way they are evaluated, the way they learn too.
So, just because a CEO or Superintendent’s contract has limitations, so does a teacher’s contract.
Imagine if every teacher, administrator, or staff left because they had “stayed too long”. What if a majority of the staff (teachers and admin included) left every year? What would this do to our students?
Every year, students worry who will be their homeroom teacher. Every year students are filled with angst as they move up a grade. But most students have a constant within their school buildings…the teacher they had the year before, or the librarian who knows their name, or the principal who comments on their haircut, or the computer teacher who creates lessons built on gaming, or the music, art, physical education, maintenance, office staff, that know them, recognize them, care about them, and help keep them safe. What if we all stayed “too long”?