Teaching is far more than just wanting to

Wonderful and inspiring and challenging words to start the 2015 2015 school year from Frank Bird III.

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The daily meanderings of a teacher

Bird Droppings August 13, 2015
Teaching is far more than just wanting to

“I want to say one other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution. President Kennedy said on one occasion, ‘Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.’ The world must hear this. I pray to God that America will hear this before it is too late, because today we’re fighting a war.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When I saw this quote earlier today it reminded me that wanting to in any endeavor is a powerful force. A few days back in an email a friend asked about the idea of…

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Getting into the Back to School Mind Set – Two Free Musings

My Back to School Musings for August 4 – T minus 20 days until I meet with a whole new crop of at-risk teens.

Today I decided that I am going to keep track of the aha moments I see this school year. The aha moments . . . when a student makes the connection between text and life;  when creativity is sparked and a new concept is created; when a block is finally taken down and my student can read, speak, or write with freedom and joy; when a student finds boldness and shares learning and wisdom with the world around her. The moments that come from pure “WONDER” and the joy of learning.

Those aha moments are why I teach and have nothing to do with common core or with high stake testing except to place those external aspects of the day in the correct perspective. That too is an aha moment – for me and for my students.

So this year, I am going to keep track of this moments and run with them and let them be the fuel to keep on keeping on.

Aha Man

August 1st is for me the start of the new school year. It is today that I start planning for the next wonderful crop of students. It is today that I start looking at how to revise old lessons and create new lessons. It is today I set a goal for the year and a tone for the first day of school.

It is with more trepidation than ever that I begin this school year. I fear this year will be a terrible one for public education. But today I choose to put aside my fear and cling to a glimmer of faith.

In 24 days, I will meet a new crop of at-risk teens – some of them brand new and some of them returning but all of them ready to be touched by love and by wonder.

All I have so far is my motto for the year – the quote that will go on my lesson plan book and on the bottom of each and every email I send out. It is:

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”
― Socrates

My prayer is that we all catch hold of wisdom and ride the wave of wonder.

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Lacey Slekar – our Newest Student Hero

On May 22, 2015, 12 year old Lacey Slekar stood in front of the Board of Education in her school district and tried to convince the adults in the room that standardized testing is bad for children. Her speech was eloquent, well-organized, and very persuasive. She is a hero for writing and delivering a speech that truly presented the student point of view.

Her father, Tim Slekar who writes the Busted Pencils:Fully Leaded Education Talk blog and pod-cast, was not aware his daughter was even researching this topic. As Tim writes in his own blog post,

“Lacey wrote a research paper about standardized testing. We had no idea she was doing this until she asked Tim for some advise. She felt very strongly about sharing her findings with the school board. Her teachers encouraged her to read it, so she did. Wow, very proud of our BustED Pencils Student Correspondent.”

Here is the video of this student hero fighting to eliminate standardized testing from her school:

And here is the text of her persuasive speech:

Hello, my name is Lacey Slekar and I am a student at Badger Ridge middle school. I am here to share with you my concerns about standardized testing. I believe Standardized testing should be banned from all schools.

First of all, Standardized testing causes harmful stress on students. The stress and pressure put on students is not healthy. It can cause kids to cry, vomit, and get angry with themselves, or all at the same time. Students should not have to take the whole year preparing and stressing over one test that doesn’t even count towards your overall student grade. In the past, one student I know got so stressed about the test that she ended up wetting her pants. That is definitely not healthy.

Secondly, Standardized tests are an unreliable measure of student performance. Your test score can be affected by your physical and mental feelings that one day of testing. A series of tests throughout the year can accurately measure your student performance. Standardized testing does not provide feedback on student performance. Results aren’t given back to teachers until months later. For a student who may creatively answer, doesn’t get full credit because the test is graded by a machine or by someone who is not qualified and will be marked wrong for not following the correct format. Students should be able to think outside the box and still get full credit for it.

Lastly, Standardized testing is wasting time and money that should be being used for educational purposes. Dr. Timothy Slekar says it is a waste of time for teachers to prepare students for tests when they should be teaching students the correct things they need to be learning for their own education (bustedpencils.com). They are called teachers for a reason, not testers. According to standardizedtests.procon.org, No Child Left Behind on January 8, 2002, the amount of money spent on standardized tests rose from $423,000,000 to about 1.1 billion in 2008. This is an unacceptable waste of money that could be used for educational purposes instead of buying standardized tests.

I feel very strongly about my argument and I hope people will help put a STOP to standardized testing.

Lacey – we are all so proud of you and encourage you to keep researching, asking the tough questions, writing and speaking out for what you believe is the right thing. You are a Student Hero for sure!
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