“Normal” Classroom Learning in the Age of Covid-19?

I recently received an email from the school board I have been retired from for six years. It relayed the county’s need for one hundred substitute teachers and asked if I’d be interested in completing an application. This prompted my search to see what fulltime instructional needs the county had.  They were plentiful.

We live in a time of low college admissions for future educators. The high school graduates’ desire to become teachers has been in steady decline over the past ten (or more) years.

Recently, despite the rising Covid-19 numbers in 39 states, the White House Administration is calling for in-class instruction to begin in August. “The rule” as Betsy DeVos frequently cites, is to return students to “normal” classroom settings. How unfortunate that these politicians feel better equipped to determine the needs of children than teachers, administrators, and parents.

 

To be clear – there will be no “normal” classroom setting in the time of Covid-19. No one knows this better than classroom teachers and administrators. No one knows better how much stress children will experience staying seven hours in a classroom under the proposed Covid-19 changes than teachers and parents.

What is happening in your community? How do you feel about it?  How much Russian Roulette are you willing to play with your children’s’ lives and the lives of those, including yourself, that your children will come in contact with throughout the days, weeks, and months to come should they return to school?

AFT endorses Joe Biden as Democratic nominee for president

Source: AFT endorses Joe Biden as Democratic nominee for president

Memorial Day 2019 – Memories

Dixie Hollins High School Class of 1969

Memories of lost lives, of service to country

Era’s past and present

Murder, mayhem, dictatorial reign

On foreign shores far from home

Readying for battle – recruits, drafted, enlisted, then

In the blink of an eye, lives forever changed

At war

Leaving souls, earthly presence behind

Dying so that

All

Yearning to be free, remain free…

On this Memorial Day, 2019, we honor those who lost their lives in the name of freedom.  We honor those who bravely served yesterday and serve today.  Thank you for your selfless commitment to country and citizenry throughout the world.

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When students speak truth to power – Emma González – Marjorie Stoneman Douglas – Parkland, Florida

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Day in and day out I hear people ask “Is there no adult in Washington who will stand up and speak truth to power?”  All indications revealed there was no one to do it – that is until articulate, knowledgeable student Emma González presented the following amazing speech.  If politicians think they can get away with the same stale excuses they give for not passing common sense guns laws they are sadly mistaken.  Emma’s generation is speaking up and they are fast becoming of voting age.  I am impressed by hearing so many of these students speak up for themselves in the absence of so many lawmakers unwilling to do so.  I am proud to know that students like Emma will soon become the adults in the room who “speak truth to power.”   If you have not taken time to listen to Emma, consider doing so.  It just might leave you feeling better about our country’s future…

Gun violence in school – a child’s supposed “safe place”

I used to think of my classroom as a safe place for my students and told them as much. So many students these days need to experience a stress-free environment even if only for a few hours every day.

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Yesterday, hundreds to thousands of students went to their supposed safe place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen of those students lost their lives there. Still another fourteen experienced physical trauma from gunshot wounds.  The emotional scars inflicted on those who survived will remain for years to come.

Today, politicians offered their well rehearsed lines – the lines they have uttered at the hundreds of other school shootings since the tragedy at Sandy Hook.  Tomorrow we will probably hear elements of blame placed on reasons for why still another school shooting happened.

There has become a pattern of violence and insincere resolution in our country perpetrated by those having easy access to guns that have no earthly reason to be on our public streets and those who allow them to have access to them…

  • Tragedy – shootings
  • Political condolences
  • Blame game
  • Gun issue debate
  • Debate drags on
  • People forget
  • Brief respite from shootings
  • Another tragedy

There is no one reason on which to place the blame for these senseless crimes but rather a myriad of reasons that need to be discussed in a rational way without political affiliation or money generated concerns to guide ethical decisions. That said, it’s obvious that present administration politicians cannot satisfactorily meet en mass to discuss anything pertinent to the health and well-being of the people of the United States without adding a political bent to it. It should be obvious to all that after hundreds of school shootings since Sandy Hook that nothing will change unless the American voters start speaking up. Speaking up is done in any number of ways but the two most easily accessed is phoning and writing your representatives and senators. Be mindful that just one letter or call won’t suffice. If you want to be part of change in this country you have to be persistent.

To contact your elected officials find them at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

If you’re not convinced your voice will make a difference – consider this quote by Margaret Mead…

Quote-Thoughful-Committed-Citizens-Margaret-Mead

… and take a look at the statistics below…

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Mercedes Schneider: Betsy DeVos Will Use D.C. Power to Force Vouchers Down Your Throat — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Here is a paradox. Congress wrote a new law called “Every Student Succeeds Act,” late in 2015, loaded with limits on the power of the Secretary of Education. Both parties were fed up with Arne Duncan’s overweening reach into every school in the nation, going far beyond what Congress intended. Perhaps they knew that all […]

via Mercedes Schneider: Betsy DeVos Will Use D.C. Power to Force Vouchers Down Your Throat — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Progressivism and the fulfilled life…

Leafing through the many pages of my writing from over the years, I ran across an education article I wrote in 1991 as I was just beginning my journey into education. After reviewing it, I find it amazing that in all the years since my philosophy of education remains as steadfast as it did then (with a few additional refinements). Though there is much I would change as far as grammar and style, I have chosen to publish my article in original form.

John Dewey - Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to ...

Progressivism and the fulfilled life…

“The aim of education should be to teach the child to think, not what to think.” One brief comment by John Dewey (1859 – 1952) can sum up the total concept of progressive education. Progressivism’s basic underlying concept is that the physical world is the basis of reality, and as such, progresses over time. Since the world is progressing and changing over time, so must the ideas and methods behind educational instruction.

Sydney Smith said, “The real object of education is to give children the resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that will ameliorate, not destroy; occupations that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible.” Careful scrutiny of Smith’s statement might lead one to the conclusion that indeed, these ideals reached, would lead an individual to a fulfilled life. Through Dewey’s methods of instruction, a child should, in all probability eventually reach this state of fulfillment in life.

The underlying basis for Dewey’s progressive schooling is that we learn best from meaningful life experiences, social interaction, and scientific experimentation. The focus of the curriculum is flexible, integrating academics around activities reflecting the personal integrity, need and experiences of the students. Each one has a path to take in life. Surely each path should be taken in the most harmonious manner to the individual. Just as we are not all Einstein’s – we cannot all be molded into the same form of thinking.

Dewey’s philosophy of education has students learning by doing. Students are directed or guided by a teacher into integrated learning experiences in which the student is encouraged to think and perform to the best of his/her ability in his/her most appropriate style.

What does the author mean by most appropriate style? Every student learns in a different style.  Some are auditory learners while still others are visual.  Many learn best through hands-on experiences. Progressivism allows for freedom of expression in learning.  It’s goal is for students to become independent problem solvers, to enjoy learning, and to live comfortably (remember Smith?) in the world while also helping to reshape it (as it progresses). When we encourage individual growth in an independent manner and style we encourage people who can function well in the world because they are living up to their potential. The “fulfilled life” – giving our children “resources that will last as long as life endures.”

We truly give them these resources by encouraging the use of the individual’s abilities. Dewey believes that as the world progresses, so must education. Children of today are not the children of yesterday. They are living in a new world and must be led toward the path of fulfillment with as little stagnation as possible. Progressivism can help lead them in the right direction.


Americans are entering another new era in education. One in which vouchers may wreak havoc on many of the tried and true methods of learning that positively led many of us to high student achievement over years past. We must all be responsible enough to hold our government officials accountable for the policy changes they make which may or may not lead our future generations to “the fulfilled life.”

Nancy

Social Skills Instruction – Needed Now More Than Ever…

multicultural students

In schools across the nation, violence has become a part of “daily life”. While it may be that we hear of it more often in secondary schools – violence is prevalent in all schools beginning in the elementary years.

When schools, administrators, and teachers are placed under microscopes to create readers and great test takers at all costs, developmental practices of teaching the whole child vanish from the curriculum. Pushdown curriculums frustrate learners who need to learn along a progressive continuum in order to establish self-worth, “I can” attitudes, and ultimate learning success.

We can’t assume that teaching reading and math for most of the day will lead to well-rounded learners. In order for children to thrive, they need to learn the fundamentals of being functional in society as well. This used to begin at an early age with social studies instruction, yet social studies instruction has virtually vanished from the curriculum. No time.

Children do not automatically learn how to behave. They learn by what they see and know to any given point in their lives. It takes everyone to provide appropriate behavior learning conditions and modeling. If it’s not happening in the home it needs to happen in the classroom. Unfortunately, teachers are so restricted by what and how they have to teach, they run the risk of poor evaluations if they step outside of the “box” they have been placed in.

We can’t blame children or teachers for what is happening in schools today. Perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at the curriculum being provided and offer a better path to higher student achievement through positive social interaction instruction which teaches children that morals, character, and compassion for others will lead them to being caring, successful, and productive members of society.

Call for articles – points of view…

!cid_3174513477_958480    To all my dedicated readers,

I thought about letting this blog go since I retired and then I decided to include retired teachers to the mix. New to retired teachers all have something to say and want to know what is happening nationwide in public and private education.There is much to be said about our educational system and much might be changed for the good if more people shared their great ideas, views, and great or maybe not so great experiences. Someone somewhere will be listening. So this is a shout out to all of my teaching and retired teaching extended family for experience and/or research backed posts to add to this blog. To this date my blog has had 7,878 hits and 344 followers and I haven’t posted an entry in two years. It’s time to get back on track.  If you’d like to be considered for site publication, you may choose to include your real name or use a pseudonym. There is interest in what you all have to say and bottom line is – children need our help inside and outside the classroom! Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  You can message me with any questions you might have. Hoping to hear from you soon!

1990's 11!

Seth Meyers shreds Detroit’s shady school system: You have to pay your teachers for teaching

Thanks for speaking up for the Detroit teachers Seth!!  Hmm… Could this be the beginning of looking into more things that school systems nationwide need to be looked into for?

Source: Seth Meyers shreds Detroit’s shady school system: You have to pay your teachers for teaching