Categories
Education Reform Equity and Justice Teachers

Everyone Can’t Be Highly Effective

It’s that time of year when every administrator should be preparing themselves for their first round of formal observations. Hopefully, this isn’t the first time teachers see you in their classrooms. I would love to think that you have been a fixture in classrooms, and teachers/kids know what to expect when you visit.  As you observe these classrooms do so knowing that everyone can’t be highly effective. If every teacher were highly effective, quality education for students and families would not be on the decline in the US, it would be on an upward trajectory.

The Dog and Pony Show.

If you are in classrooms all the time, you know when you see a “Dog and Pony Show.” That’s when a teacher teaches like his/her pants are on fire. They deliver a sound lesson that has all of the bells and whistles that they have grown to expect you to love.

As an administrator, it always angered me to know that as a teacher, you could bring high levels of instruction to students, but you choose not to. You decide to teach one time a year when you feel your job is on the line. That’s not okay!

                                   Principals, Get in These Classrooms.

Moreover, administrators, I implore you to get into classrooms before observations. Check-in with the students and ask questions about how their learning is going. If you ever want unsolicited advice on how to improve a school, talk to the students. They will tell you how they can optimize learning opportunities.

Every Teacher Can’t Be Highly Effective.

Okay, I’m sorry, I’m getting off-topic. Every teacher can’t be highly effective; it’s impossible. If every teacher were highly effective, we wouldn’t have a crisis in education. No schools, no students (especially schools for the poor and disenfranchised) would identify as underperforming. After all, how could they be? How could a school with highly-effective teachers be labeled a failure pit?

So, I say all this to say, make sure the observations match the data. If students aren’t learning, teachers aren’t highly effective period. Let’s use observations as tools to help improve instruction, thus improving student outcomes. And while you are doing your pre-obs, observations, and post-observations, please remember that every teacher can’t be highly effective.

Categories
Black Culture Equity and Justice Teachers

High-Quality Teachers of Color.

We need More High-Quality Teachers of Color.

We need more high-quality Teachers of Color. I want to make that clear, as we continuously hear the argument that the teaching field overall is lacking in diverse candidate selection.  However, I’m using my statement as a clarifier. I believe that a “Bad” Teacher of Color can cause irreparable damage to student achievement.  The damage is magnified compared to a lousy teacher from any other race.  Especially as it relates to students of color.

Episode 40- 8BH

Episode 40 was a banger. We talked extensively with Dr. Lindsay about her research on Black teachers. We also probed deeper into Sharif’s work at the Center for Black Educator Development. It lifted my spirits and gave me hope while giving me anxiety and pause, “At the same damn time.”

 

8 Black Hands Podcast.

Thats the fantastic thing about the (8) eight black hands podcast. We all have our conventional ways of thinking, and it’s uncompromised. It is a podcast made by the people, to be enjoyed by the people.  But enough of plugging those guys.

Students Emulate What They See.

The importance associated with having at least one black teacher in K-12 is staggering. The research is promising, but it’s not anything that we don’t already know. People emulate what they see. Of course, if kids see an influx of careers that are lifting the race, the children will begin selecting jobs that mimic that success.

Moreover, it is unspoken that we need more Black and Latinx teachers. I can’t and won’t argue that point. I will say that compromising the integrity of becoming a teacher is where I draw the line. There have been some talks of creating ways to ease teacher qualification tests to attract more teachers.

Finland As a Case in Point.

Let’s use Finland as a case in point. Everyone rants and raves about the Finnish education system and for a good reason. The Fins rebuilt their educational infrastructure, and students have benefited immensely.

I have two takeaways from the Finland ed rebuild. 1) The fins select teachers that identify as the most gifted. It is harder to become a teacher in Finland than it is to receive an acceptance letter from Harvard. 2) Compensate teachers based on results. If teachers get results, there should be a compensation model based on that.

The Benefits of Quality Teaching.

Growing up, I benefited from having Black teachers. They were pillars in my community — all revered teachers. I saw life could be different from education. Later in life, the impact of my teachers magnified as I was able to refer to the lessons taught. As impactful as that learning was, I also learned a great deal from my white teachers. Some were equally amazing.

 

In conclusion, if you love kids, you can be successful in teaching. However, teaching black kids takes more. It takes having a keen understanding of the historical disadvantages faced by Blacks in the United States. Knowledge of this doesn’t mean you’re supposed to feel sorry for Black kids and let them get away with things. It means you hold them accountable.

Categories
Charter Schools Education Education Reform Equity and Justice Teachers

Teach for America is not the Enemy, Bad Schools are!

Teach4America is not the Enemy.

Teach for America is not the enemy; bad schools are! Why is it so taboo to say we have a failing school system nationwide? Especially for Black and Latinx students.

It’s as if we are always looking for a scapegoat instead of admitting and fixing the real problems in education.

PoC Are Not Receiving a Quality K-12 Education.

Problem One: PoC are not receiving a quality education compared to their white peers. I saw a chart yesterday that showed homeless white kids outscoring their minority subgroups. It was so alarming that I had to ask follow-up questions because I could not believe the validity of the chart (see chart below).

Even though its painstakingly obvious what the problem is, rather than address the real issue, let’s say for kicks and giggles we blame Teach for America. Or if not TFA, let’s blame Ed Reform. If that doesn’t work, hell let’s blame the parents. Black and Latinx parents do not care about their kids.

That has to be the solution. Or, if all else fails, we can blame charter schools. That seems to work as well.  We have to stop thwarting the blame for why our K-12 school system does not work.  By playing the blame game kids are continuing to fail.  We have to play a new game in order to create a new narrative for Black and Latinx students.  Let’s call the new game “solutions.”  So when you have pundit conversations about K-12 failures, be bold, and ask for solutions.  That’s how we’ll shift this paradigm for the poor folks that need solutions the most.

Lack of Black and Latinx Teachers in K-12.

Problem Two: There is a scarcity of Black and Latinx male teachers in public education. They make up less than 2% of teachers nationwide. How is this a problem? Research supports the assertion that students learn better from educators that look like them. Moreover, teacher staff that mimics the population of the school will have a better grasp on classroom management and parent engagement. Both are unmeasurable intangibles that could be the catalyst for change in schools.

That does not mean that students can’t learn from others. Do not play on words or pontificate. Students can learn under the most adverse conditions. For example, in Minnesota, homeless white students outscore Black and Latinx students by a healthy margin.

Does that mean whites are superior to their Black and Latinx peers or does that mean K-12 education could care less about Black and Latinx students? I’ll let you decide.

Scapegoating TFA.

Problem Three: We live in an era of scapegoating. No matter what the situation, there is always someone else to blame for one’s shortcomings. If education is terrible for your region, let’s blame charter schools. If that doesn’t work, let’s blame TFA.

I would like for those that are in reform to stop being the punching bag for pundits that need someone to blame.

Ed Reform is Losing.

We are losing the race right now, not because charter schools don’t work, but because we are being outworked by those that are anti-reform.

TFA adds Diversity to the teaching field. They can be apart of the solution. Let’s engage them to see how we can make things better for the 8 million children fighting for a quality education.

Categories
Civil Rights Education Equity and Justice Parenting school safety Teachers trauma

Trauma-Informed Classrooms

Student Trauma in the Classroom.

Trauma-informed classrooms help. Student trauma from home to the school is a real thing. Some of our students have seen the very worse of what life has to offer. These students don’t need nor want your pity, but they deserve your respect. They deserve for you to walk a mile in their shoes. Our kids deserve love and nurturing.

Your scholars deserve this from you because what they have experienced is by no fault of their own.

Growing Up in Trauma.

As an educator, I have the uncanny ability to spot student trauma. Through lived experience, I know what to look for. As a child I exhibited signs, but teachers didn’t always pick up on the signs. For example, there were times when we didn’t have running water, and my oh balance would be off center. Or times when my homework wasn’t complete because the electricity bill wasn’t paid.

These were all sorts of issues that I had no control over. Moreover, the adults in my life never really picked up on these sorts of things.

Adults Who Care More.

I don’t want any kid to grow up the way I grew up. No kid should be cursed at or demeaned at home. I agree on kids deserving discipline, but not to the levels some people are willing to take things. Students should not be made to feel like they are less than anyone else.

Our jobs as educators are to protect our students. No, you can’t control what occurs at the homes of your students. However, you can manage how you embrace the trauma they are experiencing. You can turn your classroom into a safe space, so kids want to come and talk with you about their experiences.

Creating Trauma-Informed Classrooms.

A teacher who goes above an beyond is the teacher that knows. The teacher that displays a culturally relevant mindset is a teacher with the openness to learn their students. Providing the right mix of care could mean the world of difference for some students. Keeping your hand on the pulse of your students is equal to ensure the students are learning.

Student Trauma is Not my problem.

Consequently, you’ll have some educators that are of the mindset that they aren’t paid enough to deal with any types of trauma. I won’t argue against that. What I will say is, if you came to education for the money, this probably isn’t the right career for you. We need more folks that are willing to make a difference in trauma filled neighborhoods. For some of these scholars, it’s their only way out.

Educators that have Experienced Trauma.

Some educators have or still may be suffering trauma. If that’s the case, we can’t be of any good to our students until we address our issues. I’m providing you with a measure of trauma. Please use it to self-diagnose. Once you know if you’ve been impacted, it will allow you to be in a better situation to help your students. Trauma-Informed classrooms help.
ACE test <—– take the test!

Categories
Teachers Teaching Teaching and Learning

10 Intangibles of Good Teaching:

10 Intangibles of Good Teaching:

The following ten intangibles of good teaching are in no particular order. However, feel free to prioritize based on your needs.

1). Be reflective in your practice. It takes teachers at least four years to learn the curriculum, and become good at managing students. In years 0-4, be humble, hungry, and reflective.

2). Be selfless. Teaching isn’t about adults or what the profession can give to you or what the job can do for you. Education is about your ability to facilitate learning for others, and those others must be the central focus, thus making the profession one of selflessness.

Collaboration is key:

3). Collaborate often. You can always learn from your colleagues, even if you are learning what not to do from them. The goal is for you to take teaching tools and build them to fit your personality.

4). Build relationships with parents and students. Parents are stakeholders and should be considered thought-partners. Not every parent will interact with you on a level that you are familiar with, so be prepared to come out of your comfort zone and meet parents where they are without judgment.

5). Believe in your students. All students can achieve, but as the educator in their lives, it becomes your job to create an individual learning plan that allows students to experience success.

Feedback can shift the tide:

6). Always seek input. Implement the information immediately. Invite colleagues in your classroom, and ask for their honest opinions. Put your defenses down, and leave your ego at the door. Constructive criticism isn’t about you; it’s about the students.

7). Consistency– you should plan to attend work 98% of the time. Only if you are sick and contagious should you miss work? Your students will see your dedication and passion, and they will assimilate accordingly.

8). Teaching is a very demanding job, so establishing work-life balance is hard but necessary. Find ways to let off steam, I.e., Gym, recreational running. It’s crucial for you to come in every day fresh and reinvigorated.

Learning is forever:

9). Become a life-long learner and always share your love for learning with your students. Students need to see this passion.

10). Have fun! Laugh a lot, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Your ability to have fun and laugh at your mistakes will prolong your teaching career. Now go out and kick some butt.

Please feel free to add any thoughts that you may have. I look forward to learning from your comments.

Categories
Education Equity and Justice Teachers Teaching Teaching and Learning

Chopped (Teacher Edition)

Chopped:

In any event, I’m sure many of you are familiar with The TV show Chopped. If you are not, the show chopped is a show on the food network centered on meal preparation. More specifically, chopped puts a highlight on chefs ability to produce quality food in a short time frame, with specific ingredients.

I don’t watch much TV as programming is lackluster; however, I do occasionally enjoy an episode of Chopped.


Model Lessons:

Moreover, as a charter school administrator, I am very familiar with model lessons. Model lessons are apart of the teacher interview process in most charter schools. Teachers receive an objective, and the teacher puts together a lesson plan to guest teach in a class. After the lesson, the teacher then debriefs with the hiring committee to talk about the glows and grows of the lesson taught. I have seen instances in which a teacher has taught a subpar lesson, but was extremely reflective regarding his/her process, and was able to speak to ways to improve upon the lesson taught.


A New Way to Hire Teachers:

There are teaching shortages all across the nation. We have to think of innovative ideas to increase and encourage people to become teachers.
My idea is to create a TV show similar to the show Chopped.

Auditions will be held, creating this American Teacher Idol type buzz.

Potential teachers will receive materials for the different phases of a lesson.

For example, the TV show chopped takes you through a full course meal: appetizer, main course, and dessert.

Teachers chopped would consist of the do now; I do, Closing of the lesson.

Likewise, an urban school district will sponsor each season. A district identified as hard to staff is preferred. Each season would be 12-15 episodes, so a region would find 12-15 potential rock stars to teach in their school district. Not to mention, if the 2nd and 3rd place finishers are talented, they become part of the hiring pool as well.



Your Role:

The viewers at home will play a role in the show as well. You’d be able to dial in, or vote online, and your vote will count as part of the decision-making process.

The panel will consist of principals, and master teachers in the district.  The panel members will provide feedback to the teachers on how to be better for the next round, ultimately playing a part in selecting the winner.

I get it. I know it’s far fetched, but remember it’s going to take outside the box thinking like this to fix our k-12 education dilemma.