"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."- Thomas Edison

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Comments for Teachers #1

For my first Comments for Teachers project, I was assigned to comment on two of Mr. Brian Crosby's posts. Mr. Crosby is a teacher of 30 years in Sparks, Nevada. Education in Nevada is funded 50th out of 50 states in the United States. Mr. Crosby currently teaches at an elementary school with "at risk" students. He teaches a class of fourth graders and goes on to teach them through the sixth grade. Poverty causes him to lose many of his students and after three years he only has a little more than half of the class left.
Mr. Crosby is knowledgeable in outdoor education and educational technology, which he uses in his technology classroom to connect his students to the world. Besides having a class blog, wiki, and hands-on activities available to them, Mr. Crosby oversees his students' participation in community service. He is truly an excellent addition to the teachers today; he is giving these children experiences they desperately need and persevering despite any financial difficulties he has to face.
The first post I commented on was titled: A “Forgotten” Best Practice – Making A Difference In Students’ Lives. Mr. Crosby originally wrote this back in 2006, but thought it was a topic he needed to bring to light again. It concerns students struggling with poverty, domestic abuse, or other issues outside of school who are disruptive and/or make poor grades. Instead of being shunned, they should be dealt with as individuals who need attention and care. Counseling and other programs should be offered in more schools that help them for their own specific problems. Not everything should be based on scan trons and behavioral write-up sheets. More time should be invested in students, our children of the future. Sometimes the concept of time is a hard thing to grasp, but the effort should be put forth nonetheless.
Here are our comments for this blog post:
Tara Watson:
Hi, I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. I will be commenting on this post and another one two weeks from now for a blogging project.
I found your topic to be not only intriguing, but a subject all teachers and prospective teachers should be aware of and further observe. When I was in high school, there were not any programs or counseling groups to help troubled children or teens. Many simply took the “easy” way out and quit when they reached the age of sixteen. These students who act out and make poor grades are not failures, but are suffering from domestic abuse, poverty, depression, or other problems outside of the classroom. I believe this dilemma desperately needs to be put to more teachers’ attention.
The link between low-scoring students and domestic abuse or poverty are apparent and can be solved in schools everywhere if teachers and staff will only understand the importance of “No Child Left Behind” and take the initiative. It will open a world of opportunities and create ambition for these children if their lives at home and very different personalities are put into the equation.
Brian Crosby:
Hi Tara – I think you are right. Perhaps we would get a pretty big “bang for the buck” if we invested in the kinds of programs you describe. I also wonder if we could effect the drop out rate positively if we transformed our schools to make them places more students wanted to be. If we offered a more varied curriculum that appealed to more of students’ talents and areas that they might become passionate about. Just like a student that is good at and loves basketball, and makes the school team and because they love playing they are willing to put greater effort into their schoolwork and get the help they need so they can keep their grades high enough to get to play even though school or certain subjects might be very difficult for them. I wonder how many students would stay in school if the activity or topic they were passionate about was offered? Art, graphic arts, more varied music, fashion design? What activities or subject beyond sports could you see not only getting students excited about school, but making it a place they are willing to do the hard work to continue on in even if they have the kinds of lives you describe?
Tara Watson:
That is a difficult question to answer and would require much thought and surveying. I think the first step to focus on should be how to counsel these students even if they are good at hiding their problems. Many students will never come forth on their own with issues they are facing for fear of rejection or embarrassment. They should probably not be singled out at first, but the entirety of the school should be given assignments designed to discover personality traits and interests. Programs, activities, and subjects can then be derived from these findings. The primary subjects and sporting teams are all that seem to matter in most schools. While they are definitely important (sports not so much…I feel they are overrated), I agree with you that it is more vital to help children find their passions in life so they can feel confident and know what they want to accomplish. Another factor I believe would help is simply giving more rewards for good behavior, such as being allowed to dress out of uniform once a week (appropriately of course). I wish I had more ideas right now, but this will definitely be something I will think more about.
The second post I commented on was titled: What Do Teachers Need From Administrators? This was a post written in response to Scott McLeod's request for Mr. Crosby to contribute to his "What do teachers need from administrators?" week of posts. I would suggest clicking the link and reading the post as Mr. Crosby is very well-spoken.
Here is my comment:
Mr. Crosby,
I respect how firm you are in your beliefs and knowledge as a 30-year teacher. After looking at your class blog and students’ work, it is obvious that you have enough experience and creativity of your own to help your students without interference from administrators. You ask first of all for more time to plan your lessons which would probably mean more money. Well, this would be possible for you if the administrators would quit forcing new ideas that they can not understand into your curriculum. I hope that the administrators over your school read this and at least hear you out. You deserve it.

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