Concerns Concerning Education

I was excited about the discussions I was having with my 9th grade English Lit/Comp classes yesterday.  I was eager to share some of those stories here and their implications.  However, after a few blog posts over the last two weeks right here I have decided to revisit some of the main themes and concerns from educators and parents concerning education.

The first post that generated some moderate interest was about engaging parents in education. An interesting comment was made during this discussion, “Parents, by nature are engaged with their children so where do we need to look at the engagement that IS and build on that… to develop the relationships where, de facto, parents engage as we wish as well”.  Another post discussed training parents in digital technology to create a higher level of comfort for parents… “planning to create and follow our progress at http://digitalparent.wikispaces.com.”    Yet another post stated, “I prefer to hear, ‘leave me alone’ rather than, ‘I never hear anything from that school,’ in regards to contacting parents in any way at all…phone, email, etc.  These are solutions.  Educators must look at what we CAN do instead of what we are tired of doing or the things we perceive we can’t do.

The next post that generated much interest was in regards to measuring teacher efficacy.  Teachers find themselves under pressure when students aren’t passing their classes.  Should this be a concern?  Absolutely!  However, is it a teacher efficacy issue or a student behavior issue?  The discussions under this post were peppered with frustration from teachers who continued to search for answers to why students are not achieving at the level they could/should be.

Another post that produce tremendous interest was a call out for tougher consequences for students.  Educators from all over the country chimed in on the debate of allowing natural consequences to motivate students to higher achievement.  There were many though provoking contributions to this blog post that led me then to write yesterday’s post.

Yesterday’s post was an exploration of the characteristics of great teachers and, yet, seeing those characteristics diminish over the years.  The discussion to yesterday’s post disturbed me a bit and challenged me.  The educators that weighed in on this post seemed always to be searching for solutions to the fatigue that sets in which, in turn, diminishes all of those great characteristics.

Here is my summation after reading all of the comments on these topics over the course of the past couple of weeks.

1. Educators want change. Change is not easy when we work with such a variety of personalities, ages, and other variables such as parents, socio-economics, life outside of school, and demographics.

2. All educators, teachers and administrators, must come together to form a unified vision of success at their school. There must be total trust between teachers, administrators, students, and parents.

3. Teachers must be and feel supported by their administration. Consequently, administrators must be active with their teachers…a productive dialog between the two must be maintained.  Teachers, on the other hand, must work in concert with that unified vision.

4. Teachers must continue to learn and be given the opportunity to explore who they are as teachers, professionals. Learning creates energy.  Energy creates enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm engages students and teachers.

5. Teachers must be willing to open themselves up and take risks to collaborate with other teachers and administrators. There should be no fear of failure, in fact, the failure is in not sharing ourselves with each other.  Let your light shine!

I know plenty of teachers, teachers I work with each and every day, that fight hard to do what is right for students.  The trend of teachers giving up due to fatigue or feeling no support is frightening.  Good teachers are getting tired. Question is, what is making them tired?  We have to help each other.  We have to be given a breath of fresh air from a colleague or administrator.  We have to focus on the greatness we do every day and believe in ourselves and each other.

I admit it, I get tired too. I get tired of fighting all the things that have nothing to do with my content area: tardies, skips, unrealistic expectations, great lesson plans, apathy amongst students, and resistance to positive change. I believe that all educators feel the same way from time to time. We need to share more. Maybe we are too judgmental, maybe we just don’t want to admit our inadequacies. Without an honest look, from teachers and administrators and parents, at who we really are and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable at times, we will continue having issues moving forward.  Education has always been about forward thinking.

What are we going to do today that puts us in ‘drive’ to move forward with our students, colleagues, and administrators?

Tomorrow’s post:  Some inspiring, fun stories about the discussions I have had with my students in class…learning is awesome!

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About jpsteltz

Proud husband and father of four; Literacy Specialist; Reading Teacher; Literacy Coach; HS ELA Teacher; Published Author
This entry was posted in Education, Education Administration, Educational Leadership and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Concerns Concerning Education

  1. Cece says:

    The discussions that you have started on your blog have encouraged many people, from parents to teachers to become participants of a dialog that many times people fear. For me, the trust between all participants seems to be a key factor. All areas of the spectrum must work together to trust that we are doing our best and encouraging us just a little more just as a good coach would do. I look to my students to trust me as their teacher. Trust me! Fais-moi confiance. I have them go outside of their comfort zone with a purpose! I must trust the same from my administration….and from parents. I must trust they are doing their best every day.

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  2. jsteltz says:

    As we expect our students and push them regularly to go outside their comfort zone, so too is it for us as educators. We have to stretch ourselves, make a difference by taking a risk. Makes us truly vulnerable, but therein lies the beauty of education.

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  3. kswett says:

    We need to see the world of the possible raether than the factual. We need to dream big and work hard. We have students going to MIT and Havard but our survey deals with student failure. I want to copy sucess.

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  4. Paul Hoffman says:

    John – here’s a scenario…

    You have a student – a good/respectful person who causes no problems in class, is not a troublemaker outside of class or in the community, has no home issues… but fails every class. What strategies are employed to get this student to do their best? If students fail every class but they are involved with the wrong people, have bad home lives, etc… you at least have a starting point with where to begin the turnaround. But what about the student who is just plain bored?

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    • jsteltz says:

      Paul-How ironic…we are having a faculty meeting today with the entire time dedicated in finding solutions to the scenario you are suggesting.

      I guess the questions are…Why is the student not engaged? What passion does the student have? What are the student’s strengths? What can I do, as an educator, to differentiate? Ugh..I know, differentiation. As much of a challenge it is, I believe that differentiation can help the bored students.

      To what lengths are educators willing to go to engage the ‘bored’ students?

      I know…not much help here, but the reflection on these questions can lead to positive change.

      Thanks for posing some thoughtful questions! I will let you know how are faculty meeting goes today. It should be interesting!

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  5. jessica brogley says:

    Today in class I had a student refuse to read when his turn came around. He wasn’t upset or ill. How do I get him to practice critical thinking or effective reading when he won’t do something as minimal as utter words to a class of nine students? I should ask him what he WANTS to learn. Ill let you know what he says.

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    • jsteltz says:

      Jess-You just gave me a GREAT idea. Seriously…what would happen if we could sit down w/ each one of our students and asked them specifically what they wanted to learn in our content area? Could we do that? Could we accommodate that? It’s quite possible that some of you already to all of this, I am usually way behind the times anyway. That might be my goal for the fourth quarter…getting students to sit down, seriously contemplate what they want to learn, and articulate that to me. Hmmm……..

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  6. Amie says:

    Sometimes I take a student’s failure personally. I try not to but I care and that’s just to be expected I believe. Most times, though, I am able to step back and realize that maybe that student is refusing because this is the only place he has any control. Or maybe his home life is so painful and traumatic that just sitting quietly in school, a place he feels safe and where the routine soothes some of the sharp edges is all he can do. Sometimes I remember that these students are just now learning that they can and should be respected and so I respect their choice to not do anything.
    I know this seems radical, but isn’t the idea of being respected key to believing in oneself in the first place? Why even try if I am not respected and cared about? How can I respect and care for myself if no one else does? And thus, the first lesson: I respect your choice. I will talk with you later and let you know that I care and want you to learn but for now, I’ll leave you to your peace and quiet because it might be all you will have today.

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    • jsteltz says:

      Amie-I am so glad you posted!! I value your perspective. You get me to think…I have never thought of ‘respect their choice to not do anything.’ I get what you are saying and it’s an interesting idea. Yes, being respected is the key to believing in oneself. That leads me to another question…isn’t respect earned? Hmmm…interesting thoughts. I love it! I get what you are saying and I respect your insight!!!

      Thanks for making a contribution here! I hope to see you back….

      Like

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