Blog

Merit Pay for Pundits? (from 4-20-10)
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After reading the Orlando Sentinel’s and Mike Thomas’s increasingly opinionated and vituperative columns in support of Senate Bill 6 (now vetoed) and merit pay, I’ve had to ponder how merit pay would work for a newspaper columnist. Thomas and other pundits are very big on “measuring” teachers’ success. How do you “measure” a columnist’s results, Read More >>


Why Background Knowledge Matters (A Comic Strip Essay)
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I recently finished reading Natalie Wexler’s article “The Radical Case for Teaching Kids Stuff” in The Atlantic Monthly. She makes the case that we need to stop neglecting elementary school science and history education in the name of spending more time on reading strategies. Teachers have been encouraged to limit science and history (as well Read More >>


In Defense of School (from 4-17-10)
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If kids have learned, they should be able to pass a test about what they learned, right? This simple premise seems to be at the heart of nearly every education reform scheme currently on the market. Teachers teach, students learn, students take a test, and the effectiveness of the teacher is determined by how students Read More >>


Between Episodes 4 and 6 (from 4-17-2010)
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With Senate Bill 6 vetoed and temporarily out of our hair, we have some breathing room – I hope – for discussion. If anyone cares to listen. My next few posts will be about the issues that we should be discussing, and how they actually impact both students and teachers. I feel as though with Read More >>


Right Brain vs Left Brain– We Need a Whole Brain (from 4-8-10)
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(Note from 7-26-2019: I pulled this 9 years old blog post up this afternoon to re-post on my new blog just moments after finishing a chapter of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which I am re-reading in order to work on my realistic drawing skills for a project. Serendipity!) The current battles Read More >>


Creative Writing Camp: the Prequel to My Teaching
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My career as a teacher didn’t start in a classroom. It started in the woods. I didn’t really plan to be a teacher. I did like to write though, and I liked being a summer camp counselor, which was my summer job throughout college when I worked at Skye Farm Camps in Warrensburg, New York. Read More >>


When Teachers Are Temps (from 3-26-10)
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It occurred to me today as I looked around my classroom – what would my room look like if I thought I might get fired any time during the next five years due to low test scores? Would it make me more committed to my profession, or view it as temporary work? Would it make me think Read More >>


Questions Matter More Than Answers (from 3-25-10)
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NOTE: The following post is from March 25, 2010 – after passage of Florida Senate Bill 6, which began the rating of teachers according to their students’ test scores. Senate Bill 6 has passed the Senate and has gone to the House. What has been heartening this week is how many people outside of teaching Read More >>


Senate Bill 6 Would Have Doomed Me (from 3-18-2010)
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NOTE: This piece ran while Florida Senate Bill 6, which tied teacher evaluation to student test scores (50% of your evaluation) was coming down the tracks. Florida still uses a value added measure, but at a much lower percentage of your total evaluation, and in my district, your VAM cannot overrule your classroom observation score Read More >>


Anti-Parent Propaganda in the Name of Self-Interest
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When I recently rebooted this blog after some technical difficulties, one of the first posts I re-published was titled “A Different Narrative of American Education,” in which I compared the typical reformer’s narrative of public schools with a different narrative. The blog was originally reprinted in Valerie Strauss’s “The Answer Sheet” blog on the Washington Read More >>