I couldn’t agree with the advice this article offers more!
If these tips are followed, teachers will have very little classroom management issues to deal with. I teach remedial and intervention classes at the high school and middle school level. The majority of my students are unmotivated learners who struggle with academics. Many have poor work habits, failed classss before, and may act out when feeling bored or feeling unsuccessful with their task. I am often asked what do I do to have such a well behaved class and I tell them exactly what NEA has summarized.
One year the student who exhibited the most challenging behavior regularly due to being a huge class clown that always seem to compete for the attention of my class, said something that will stay with me forever. He was a known gang member prone to bullying and causing constant class disruptions but I got along with him. One day he announced that he liked coming to my class because it is such a “kick back” class.
This alarmed me greatly because that is not how I see my class or the reputation I want it to have.
I asked him, “When when does even five seconds go by in here that you are not required to be doing some kind of work?” He looked puzzled and replied with, “Oh yeah.”
At the end if class he told me that he thought about it and meant that this is the class that he is the most relaxed in. This is what I had hoped he meant. That is the environment I strive to provide by getting along with my students.
Many studies have shown that when students are free of stress more learning takes place. Getting along with my students and following what this article advises not only makes my time easier with my students, but also is related to why my students achieve so much in my classes.
I was quoted in a national teachers’ union magazine (NEA Today) that is sent to just about every teacher in the country. When I started this blog, I honestly didn’t think anyone would read it. I saw it more like a place to store all my writing about injustice so I could access it anywhere for quick quotes or facts when I’m writing letters or commenting on something.
The article, “If I Wrote the Law…” used educators quotes from blogs, message boards, etc. regarding NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and my quote is the is the last one. They used:
“NCLB has let parents off the hook by [only] holding teachers accountable. The alarming level of truancy, the work habits of unmotivated students, and behavior issues are the factors that affect the failure of students in our education system.”
—Ronda Gupton-Pruett, high school resource specialist Napa, California
When they called for my consent I thought it was nice that the writer pointed out that he had like a lot of what I had wrote but was using the thing about parents because he had never heard that point being made before.
You can see the online version of the article here. There are many excellent points made by teachers in it.
I feel the frustrations witnessing students endure the many hardships NCLB has created for them. School is nothing like it was when most of us reading this went.
In our middle schools and high school the students must score higher than “Basic” on the state standardized test or they have to take double periods of English and/or Algebra. Most of them don’t get to take any electives until their Junior year with all the other required courses in their schedules (at least not electives that they “elect” since the extra period of English and Algebra count for their elective credits). Some students also take very little or no Science or Social Studies in middle school and elementary school. The majority of these students are English Language Learners, Special Education students, and/or at risk youth. Requiring these students to have an all academic day is robbing them of more than just a normal high school experience. It robs them of opportunities to explore new interests, find undiscovered talents, showcase those areas or fields they excel in, and develop leadership or other skills relevant to their future. It’s hard for me to not see this as discrimination against these groups of students. Not only to they not get a break from rigorous academic work all day, they are stuck in boring mandated scripted programs that only focus on scoring higher on the tests and cover little else.
Actually this is true for all students that don’t take AP or honors classes. The mandated methods and materials now used to teach state standards have turned what used to be interesting, even exciting, classes where actually learning took place into dry, monotonous, task based curriculum with routine exercises that rarely tap into higher level critical thinking skills. They have workbooks instead projects or problem solving assignments, edited anthologies instead novels, and rote tasks instead of class discussions. This is not an environment that lends to developing critical thought, communication, or appreciation for reading and literature.
And when there are interesting assignments that involve processing and analyzing information, there is so little time to teach how to do this (or have class discussions practicing it) that the lessons are often confusing and leave many not understanding what is being asked of them. With the fierce pacing guides and overpaid consultants looking over the shoulders of teachers, they must move on to the next assignment in the scripted program, knowing that few can synthesize and apply the concepts of the previous one. In my opinion it is the very skills these classes now lack that have more to do with preparing students for the work force or college, let alone successful and meaningful lives. Our students today are missing out on more than just cool classes with the creative and effective teaching methods of the past. They are missing out on instruction related how to think, form conclusions or opinions, and how to appropriately communicate these (including written expression).
An example outside English or Language Arts classes is the Algebra issue. Not everyone is ready for algebra in the 8th grade for a variety of reasons. However, schools get more credit for having everyone in algebra classes, hence the push for algebra for all in the 8th grade, ready or not.
There is still an enormous amount of students failing subjects despite many additional supports in place. NCLB has let parents off the hook by holding teachers accountable. The alarming level of truancy, the work habits of unmotivated students, and behavior issues are the factors that affect the failure of students in our education system. The expectation of above average or college prep performance from every single student with this cookie cutter approach can be directly related. Teacher accountability is necessary but it needs through a system that uses logic and is not so devastating to students and teachers.
Going to school is nothing like it was when we went.
I teach high school at Napa High in California and due to No Child Left Behind, schools have to what ever they can to up the test scores of those students who perform below the mark George Bush says, so most of my students have double periods in math and Engligh. This means they don’t get electives until their junior or sophmore year. I can’t even imagine high school with out electives.
There is great article in the The SF Chronice explains what NCLB is by using Napa High to show how schools are graded, how many/type of goals required, and what has to happen to the whole district if just one school doesn’t meet just one goal.
I teach the Read 180 class discussed (and pictured) in the article. Napa High School, a state standout, is considered a federal failure
You won’t regret reading it.
Because it mostly covers the effects it has, you’ll want to read the posted comments for bigger picture its obvious agenda.