- Why The Fight Against Critical Race Theory is Rooted In America History - June 11, 2021
- Got Discipline? (Charter School Diaries) - January 28, 2014
- Educators Must Avoid Isolation (Charter School Diaries) - October 28, 2013
- Parents, Teachers, and Conflicts of Interest (Charter School Diaries #28) - October 14, 2013
- Administrative Frankensteins (Charter School Diaries) - September 30, 2013
- New Year, Same Song (Charter School Diaries) - September 23, 2013
- Graduation! (Charter School Diaries #25) - July 15, 2013
- Teacher Turnover (Charter School Diaries #24) - July 8, 2013
- The Masses, the Multitude and the Disciples (Charter School Diaries #23) - July 1, 2013
- Schools and Prisons Are About Solving a Labor Problem - June 14, 2013
This week was an abbreviated one. Unfortunately, I was only in school for three days (Wednesday through Friday), but the week was no less compelling. Personally, I think that fire drills are outdated, yet we actually had a small emergency where a fire drill was warranted this week. We also had an incident where a female student or female students have been writing negative things about another female student on our 2nd floor girl’s bathroom wall. It was erased but then re-written again… same negative message.
This week was also our week for professional development at our school for February. Normally, these sessions are scheduled on Thursday and Friday and our district is on a half day schedule for the students and we attend in the afternoons. This week, our district changed things up; K – 8 teachers had 1 days training on Thursday and us high school teachers had our day on Friday. Usually, our professional development is not as productive as we’d like it to be. Some sessions are rushed and are put together at the last minute. Some sessions have to do more with procedures rather than actually developing teacher skills. As a teacher, I feel that I could be more productive if I were given that time to actually create my lessons or grade papers. This past Friday’s sessions weren’t as bad as usual, but what sessions we did have made me think about what I want my top administrators i.e. principal and vice principals to be… instructional leaders and experts in teaching and pedagogy.
Moment of the Week
For our morning session, we had two presentations presented by some of our faculty. While both presentations were excellent, one stuck out to me more than the other. One of our math teachers gave a presentation on using technology in the classroom and he gave us some information on how to create podcast of our lessons and how to make an online course for high school students. I consider myself tech literate, although I wish I were more tech savvy, but yesterday, I felt tech deficient because there is so much that I don’t know. However, I was impressed and also thrilled to know that I have a colleague who I can refer to with respect to the latest in teaching software and teacher technology… Homeboy is indeed on the cutting edge and if I can at least peer over the edge, I am sure that I would be a better teacher for doing so. After his presentation, I was excited and I began to explore some of the resources that he gave us and I plan on using some of those resources. I wish I could have been equally excited for our afternoon session.
Unfortunately, our school is very much high stakes tests driven. Many of our administrators instruct that we (teachers) surround every aspect of our instruction to making the students ready for the state test. Everything is centered on mathematics and literacy. These core subjects are the foundation where students can participate in the other subject areas like social studies and the sciences. Yet our Chief Academic Officer has mandated that we use the other content areas to supplement mathematics and literacy instruction. Hence, PD for the social studies department is combined with the language arts literacy department and the focus is always on literacy. A university professor of English was hired to give PD for both English and social studies teachers throughout the year – our CAO is even considering this professor to write a new social studies curriculum. Yesterday during her presentation, we (social studies teachers) were excused for over half of the presentation because there was nothing pertinent for us as a content area to discuss. While I was able to get some work done, which I was happy about, I would have actually liked to get some professional development with regards to helping me with social studies instruction… but my school unfortunately does not believe that is important.
Lesson of the Week
While I do believe that there are strategies that I can learn and employ in my classroom from an English professor, I also believe that the social studies department needs PD that deals with their content area… just like the science teachers need PD for science and not simply PD on math. The physical education, foreign language and arts departments at our school have absolutely been abandoned when it comes to professional development. This current situation in my district has taught me that as an administrator, you have got to be an instructional leader. I really think that if our administrators were instructional leaders, things wouldn’t be the way that they are.
If any teachers are considering diving into the pool of administration, it is my belief that you should be an expert instructor… You don’t necessarily have to know all content, because most administrators don’t know all content areas well. However, a good administrator must know how to instruct, craft a lesson and adapt concepts to fit the audience. One of the important functions of an administrator is to make teachers better teachers. People can say that is not true, but I cannot envision a scenario where administrators are not instructional leaders and the school be one where teachers are growing in their craft and students are engaged in learning.. It’s easy for one to “lead” a school when it is tests driven… the school is essentially on cruise control and the speed is stuck on high stakes testing… that is not a school led by an instructional leader.
Schools need a skilled driver, not a high stakes tests cruise control survivor.