Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Teaching for profit -- say what?

Over at The Future of Teaching, John Holland has raised some interesting questions about the differences between "teacher leaders" and "teacherpreneurism." Check out John's graphic (below) to get a sense of where John is heading:
With this graphic, John has done a terrific job of probing the differences between “Teacher Leader” and “Teacherpreneur.” I like money as much as the next person, but I wonder about the “non-profit v. for-profit” dichotomy.
By associating teacherpreneur with profit, we embrace a extrinsic reward model of education. The implication is that teachers would do more/better only if we were paid better. I certainly would like a higher salary, but I think we’ve got to focus on effective working conditions that help teachers flourish. Nor are many of our colleagues just plain “lazy.”

Besides, in order to garner “profit,” you have to exploit some resource.  What services are we going to cut in order to create this profit?   If we insert profit into public education, then the goal becomes more about making money and less about fostering democratic habits of mind and body [& spirit].  Is "for-profit"  a model we want for public education?

Why not just pay teachers really well for their important, child-rearing endeavors and elevate collaboration, creativity and critical thinking as our aims?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Teachers Like Me Support Unions

I support unions because they are fundamental to a healthy and vibrant democracy.

Unions foster individual liberty while ensuring social equality.  Unions exist on the "commons" of our lives and stand for the sustainability of collective bargaining, safe and effective working conditions, and justice.

The good folks at EDUSolidarity are leading a campaign to support unions.  Read about them HERE, and consider showing your support.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Staying on Message

What's your message about public education?

How can we continuously engage the public without sounding like a broken record?

The short list:
1) Refer to investments in public education as an expression of patriotism.  Divestment in funding of education is unpatriotic.
2)  Describe smart spending at college (pre-service teaching), district and/or school level so that the ideas get out there.  What programs need to be in place to foster love of learning (or "engagement" or "sustained learning")?  Inform as you advocate.

The longer list:
1)  Stay on message.  Public education is about love of life-long learning and civil democratic engagement.  Even though it is exhausting, we've got to have everyone rehearse, investigate and explore this #1 assumption.
2) RTTT emphasizes student preparation to  "... succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy."  RTTT and other federal, state and local programs should also promote democratic engagement.  Public education is an opportunity for students to learn about the infrastructure of democracy.
3)  America's economic, political and social prowess depends on creative and critical thinking.  Standardized tests do an incomplete job of assessing either.  Invest in professional development so that teachers can develop engaging and rigorous curricula that foster both critical and creative thinking.
4)  Assess students' growth using a variety of measures, including 8-9 multiple intelligences (MI).  Standardized tests incompletely assess verbal & mathematical.  Creative and critical thinking has to rely on other domains such as collaboration (interpersonal), time management (temporal -- I think I just invented that MI), and analysis of mistakes/course correction.  Failure is an essential ingredient of learning.  On this count, high stakes testing measures the wrong things.

We can also assess (K-12 and beyond):
-student attendance
-parent participation
-graduation rates
-employment rates
-sense of civic engagement
-health statistics
-student post-secondary employability
-students growth towards stable home ownership or renting
-students access to libraries, parks and safe neighborhoods
5)  Develop a rubric with schools, parents, students for "school readiness."  What do students need to benefit from a rigorous, engaging (and therefore joyful) curriculum?
6)  Assess teachers growth in collaborative "aims" [not "goals"-pet peeve] that are aligned to everything above -- or parts of above because we are not gods -- and bench-marked progress (1/4ly, yearly).