Blog response #5

"Question Time # 11"

By: Doug Belshaw

Doug Belshaw writes:

"Prompted by this BBC article which says, basically, that bad teachers should be sacked after being given a reasonable time to improve (and the fact that I myself have a temporary contract at my current school), the question this time around is: Should teachers be given, in effect, ‘immediate tenure'?"

From what I understand of tenure, giving immediate tenure would be a very bad idea. It seems that it is difficult enough to weed out ineffective teachers in the few years before they are given tenure. To give immediate tenure would make it very difficult to get rid of those who are found out before they get tenure. Furthermore, tenure is not and should not be a right. It is very much a privilege that should be earned. While the few years before tenure do involve being exposed to the bureaucracy and social quibbling that occurs in schools, this is a very small price to pay when it results in virtually guaranteed job security.


Blog response #4

"Effective Pedagogy"

By: Lisa Durff

Lisa Durff writes: "I read recently that good teaching results in learning. I have to disagree. The best lessons can result in zero learning if they meet with unreceptive students....If they come to the room without being ready to learn, there is little I can do to affect their attitude."

While I do understand that good lessons can be made ineffective by rambunctious students, I also realize that it is the teacher's job to adapt lesson plans to the students. Moreover, perhaps the most important part of a teacher's job is to engage the students and manage the classroom so that it is an effective learning environment. It is never part of a teacher's job to sit complacently and proclaim, "I can't do anything to make those students learn because they don't want to."

To blame the students is placing this responsibility and duty of the teacher on to the students. In essence, it is an excuse for a teacher not to do his or her job. While there are certainly guidelines for good lesson plans, the real determining factor of whether a lesson is effective is whether the students learn from it, NOT what some guideline says.

I would hope that instead of blaming the students when a teacher fails, the teacher blames his or herself. The teacher can then learn from his or her mistakes and hopefully be more effective the next class. This is how teachers progress. If teachers learn from ineffective lessons instead of simply blaming the students, both the students and teacher wins.

It is a very slippery slope when a teacher is not able to properly teach a lesson to students and the teacher blames the students. That slope eventually leads the teacher having no responsibility to make sure the students are learning. In fact, making sure the students are learning IS A TEACHER'S JOB!


Blog Response #3

"An Accident of Birth" By: Chris Lehmann

Chris Lehmann writes: "Sometimes, the best we can do is teach kids that adults can care about them, can be true to their word, and can actually act like adults are supposed to act. ...So as we struggle with NCLB, and as we deal with trying to motivate classes of 33 students, and on the days we get frustrated by the kids we have a hard time reaching, let's remember how much of the lives of our students we don't see... and how so many of our kids have so much more to struggle through because of nothing more random than an accident of birth."

The ability to identify the perspectives of my future students is the most terrifying thing to me. It is such a daunting idea to have to try to relate to a couple dozen teens when you know very little about them. I can only hope to do my best to give all my future students the benefit of the doubt. A child may act out in class because of something that is happening in the student's life. It is important to not take anything personally but instead try to figure out the root causes of students' actions. An important thing to remember when trying to do this is actions speak louder than words. I need to try to focus on not so much of what is being said but instead focus on why, where, when, and who. It is surprising though to find out how similar the things we are supposed to do in a classroom are compared to what we should do in our own personal lives. So many of us tend to become angered by random people when we are shopping, waiting in line, driving, etc. But we don't see any of the rest of their lives. Do we dislike them because we don't know them? Or do we not know them and therefore dislike them? What about both?


Blog # 2

"Ubiquitous Technology" By: Anne Baird

Anne Baird writes: "I remember talking with one of the participants about the notion of ubiquitous technology. At the time I really had no idea what he meant and he explained that it was the notion that technology will become such a part of our lives that it will sit in the background working for us; available to us at anytime, anywhere. The reason I thought of this conversation is that I am presently travelling on a school bus with Year 8 students...While travelling I've logged into the internet via a wireless connection...Every second kid on the bus is texting friends and family and we are listening to music via an FM transmitter that one of the kids has brought on their Ipod."

This notion of ubiquitous technology really excites me. I always remember in grade school that it was rather difficult for a teacher to be granted permission to take us on a field trip. Usually, it needed to be a place that was relatively close and there needed to be a very good excuse for going there. A main obstacle in getting permission for a field trip was that a field trip meant missing an entire day of school. I wonder how many more field trips I could have gone on if on the way to the destination our teacher was giving a lesson plan via a podcast. To think that it is now possible to have an essentially mobile classroom amazes me and creates images of weekly or biweekly field trips where the children are not deprived of any classroom learning. Furthermore, I remember the teacher always giving us a ten or fifteen minute presentation the day before the trip about what it is that we will learn about on the field trip. Of course, the next day we all had forgotten anything she said because all we could think about was FIELD TRIP!!!!! With a mobile classroom the teacher can now give a detailed and longer presentation on the field trip while traveling to the site. This way, the children will not only learn more about what they are about to see, but they will also have it fresh in their minds when they step off of the bus. Awesome!


Blog Response #1

"School Begins...But Not Here" By: Clarence Fisher

Clarence Fisher writes: "My class starts school next Wednesday, and on Thursday we are setting up a call between the two classes. By Friday the kids in both classes will have their own blogs set up, the links here will be live and they will have an introductory post written. From there we are moving into using Voice Thread to have the students get to know each other and their communities a bit more."

Note: This is not so much an opinion blog as it is one full of questions to which I do not know the answers.

While I'm certainly not going to deny that there are a plethora of excellent applications to technology like blogging, I do have questions about potential risks associated with them. However, these risks lie with the teachers, not the students. If a teacher instructs his or her students to set up a blog, what liabilities does the teacher assume if a student decides to post that he or she is going to kill his or herself and then he or she does before there is time to react? How responsible is a teacher in stopping a fight if one is threatened on a student's blog? Undoubtedly, a teacher is going to react as soon as it is known that something like this has been posted; however, what if they don't find out in time or their actions are not effective? How much responsibility does the teacher assume, are lawsuits in order, etc.? While no one wishes anything like that to happen, how can we ask millions of people to put their livelihoods on the line in order to try a new way of teaching?

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