“Just Call Me Old School”

They cared about all of us…more than their own career, political correctness or any flippin data. I loved my job then and I would have gone to great lenghths to do anything those men asked of me.

via “Just Call Me Old School”.

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I Have Who Has: It’s NOT a Game

Here is a great post from Stacy Biscorner – Care4Kids

The War Report on Public Education

I have students’ best interests in mind.
Who am I?
Answer: Teacher

Who has no interest of students in mind but is only concerned with personal gain, being elected into office or getting rich by profiting off the backs of students?
Answer: Policy makers, politicians and greedy corporations

I have the knowledge and ability to not only be involved in conversations and planning about education topics, but to MAKE DECISIONS FOR MY STUDENTS.
Who am I?
Answer: Teacher

Who has developmentally inappropriate standards that are being shoved down the throats of our children, choking the life out of them along with the joy for learning?
Answer: policy makers, politicians and greedy corporations

I have the professional training and expertise in education?
Who am I?
Answer: Teacher

Who has never been professionally trained in education, no experience in a classroom and no knowledge or understanding about what kids need?
Answer: Policy…

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An email to my fellow urgent care workers by Stacy Stelmack Biscorner

Amazing letter from an amazing teacher, activist , parent, and friend. Everyone please read the letter this courageous woman wrote to her fellow workers.

#2105TheYearoftheStudent

An email to my fellow urgent care workers.

https://sbiscorner.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/an-email-to-my-fellow-urgent-care-workers/

A Wonderful Story about My New Super hero – Ewan!

” Ewan Drum, 8, of New Haven, is the founder of Super Ewan, a nonprofit to help the homeless, the (Port Huron) Times Herald (http://bwne.ws/1ECHCUz ) reported. “We give goods and clothes to homeless people,” Ewan said. “I thought it would be helpful. People smile when they see my cape show up.” In July, Ewan told his parents when he became a teenager he wanted to dress up like a superhero and give the homeless food and clothes.

Ewan now has his own website and his own FaceBook page – Please check them out and give him some love and encouragement.

The Huge Lie Behind our Culture of “Following” and Not “Leading”

We have become a nation of “followers.” We follow each other on Twitter and FaceBook. We follow our “mandates” from our schools, our districts, our state, and our government. We follow what our favorite non-profits are expounding. We follow what our unions tell us is right and important. We follow our political affiliations and we follow what our real-life friends follow sometimes without even checking out what they are following. My question today to me and to you, my gentle reader is – who, what, and why are we following and should we stop following and start leading – again?

I watched an horrific news show today on Fox News about the slaughter of innocent Nigerians in the town of Doro Baga by the Islamic radical group Boko Haram. I have been hearing rumors of this slaughter since January 7th, coincidentally the same date as the murder of Charlie Hebdo and his staff in Paris. I have been looking at the news, at FaceBook posts, Twitter posts and blog posts for news about the Nigerian catastrophe. There was very little out there and some of the initial postings were later removed. It made me think the story was a hoax. But now there is what looks like photographic evidence that truly this loss of perhaps 2,000 innocent lives did happen after all. Why do I have to wait a week and a day and hear the report from Fox News? And why is there not a huge outcry from all those I “follow” against this atrocity? Are we all sitting back and waiting for our favorite FaceBook group to denounce the act, or a preferred politician to make a statement, or our chosen non-profits to issue a statement, or a twitter storm we can join to protest this event? Why are we not individually speaking out? What are we all waiting for? Why are we not leading the charge to right this terrible evil in some way? Where is the justice? There is no poetry here.

So, I ask all of you to examine just what you are following and what you are waiting for before you will take a step up and speak out against the wrongs all around us? We may not be able to stop the evil forces bent on overtaking a nation, but we can stop the forces bent on taking a free and excellent public education system away from our children and perverting it into a for-profit money making machine for the Education Monsters.

I believe we have to confront the lie that says the organizations we are following are in control of the narrative and in control of the war against the education reformers. I believe we all need to go rogue and speak out for what we believe is right. This is the kind of “mandate from our hearts” that I was speaking about in my last blog post. The huge lie is that organizations will help the children – unions – non-profits – Facebook groups – it is all a lie because organizations get corrupted by power and money and ego issues. We have to be rogues and relentless and remain unbought. This is our hardest endeavor. We need to become leaders once again and not just followers.

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Revised 1/15/2015 to correct the village name.

Mandates of and from Our Hearts

We are being mandated to death. A mandate is an official order, a commission to do something, a law. I am tired of official orders and of commissions and of the law. I need the mandate paradigm to be shifted now.

I am sitting in front of a blank screen on this Sunday evening – almost Monday morning – just thinking about the mandates we educators are under. We have mandates from our school, our departments, our district, our state, and, yes, from the government. We have mandates to test our young children and mandates to write up goals on our own evaluations based on those tests. We have mandates to enter data every month, every week, every day, and every period of every day. We have mandates to meet in data teams to manipulate and further extrapolate more data from the data. We educators are being mandated to death.

Then I began thinking about the mandates our children are under. They are mandated to attend school and to pursue an education. They are mandated to take evaluative and standardized tests. Then they are mandated to sit in review sessions if they do not pass the tests. They are mandated to practice taking tests so that they can pass the end of the year mandated standardized test. They are mandated to be obedient and compliant and they are mandated to dress and act according to school, district, state, and federal codes. They are mandated to sit in meetings if they do not pass the tests. They are mandated to be college and career ready. And they are mandated to take tests to see if they are college and career ready before, during, and after they are in college or on a career path. Our students are being mandated to death.

I remember when the new mandate paradigm first appeared in my school. I was told in no uncertain terms that our reading/writing program could no longer exist and that we had to adopt a comprehensive school curriculum where all grades and all subjects would all be doing the same thing at the same time according to the new curriculum. This was my first mandate and it broke my heart because it destroyed years of successful creative and innovative curricular work. Each year since, the mandate paradigm has gotten more and more onerous and unmanageable. It has a life of its own and, little by little, has sucked all the joy out of teaching and learning. Both teachers and learners are being hammered into empty mandated shells that have no resemblance to what we were meant to be.

Tonight I listened to the radio show The War Report on Public Education hosted by Dr. James Avington Miller Jr., co-hosted by Anthony Cody with special guest Dr. Yong Zhao. It was a great show talking about the authoritarian management in our schools and the lack of innovation and creativity. At one point Dr. Zhao mentioned that the mandates we are under should be the “mandates of the heart.” That one phrase stuck a deep cord in my own heart and has been pulling at me all night. After the show, I posted on Twitter and FaceBook that I want my students and grand children to have mandates from their own hearts not mandates from the ed monsters. Because that is what these pushers of mandates have become – they have become educational monsters destroying the very love of learning in our children and the love of teaching in our teachers.

If I am teaching according to a mandate from my own heart, I am teaching with love and compassion, excellence and creativity. If students are learning according to a mandate from their own heart, they are learning with joy and spontaneity, comprehensiveness and inquiry. Do we still need guidelines and common goals? Yes. Do we still need rules and discipline? Yes. But those mandates must take second stage to the primary goal of education – teaching in such a way that each and every student is afforded an education that will enable that student to be a life long learner and a productive and happy member of society. And if we follow the mandates of our hearts first – both teacher and student will be filled with the joy that only comes from true teaching and true learning. As Aristotle taught almost 2400 years ago, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” So, I think it is time that we act first and foremost by being true to the mandates of and from our hearts before the mandates of the ed monsters finally destroy us all.

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Fourteen Words that are Cursing America’s Children

Words do matter. They do have life. They do have power. They can hurt our souls and bring us down or they can heal our hearts and raise us up. They can cause us to love and they can cause us to hate. We can take words and use them to spur us to actions or we can take words and use them to spur others to act in ways we desire. Words are power and words give and take life.

With that said, I want us to examine these 14 words that are shaping the future of American education. These words were spoken by Common Core wizard David Coleman at a NY State Department of Education presentation, in April of 2011:

“…people really don’t give a s*** about what you feel or what you think.”

If you replace the “you” with “students” and the “people” with “teachers” we now have a pedagogical statement that truly shatters my heart. Now it reads:

 …teachers really don’t give a s*** about what students feel or what students think.

 Let’s paraphrase this educational dogma less explicitly and reveal a sense of Coleman’s message to America’s educators:

 Teachers should not care about what students feel or think.

Is it just me, or is this the antithesis to what a good teacher should be doing? A mere decade ago, the mantra “It’s All About the Kids” pervaded everything that was being done in my CT district. Almost before my eyes, we are now teaching in a time where the mantra has changed to “It’s All About the Data.”

Now I do not have anything against data teams and data sheets and data collection. But data is just that – DATA, NUMBERS, lifeless characters on a page. Good data can inform our instruction. It can reveal deficiencies and strengths in our teaching. It can help kids improve. But it’s just an inanimate tool. Each one of my students is much more than a placeholder on a spreadsheet.

If we accept Coleman’s directive and not care about what our students are actually thinking and feeling, then, I guess, it is easier for some teachers and administrators to view their students as just data. It’s like being a piece of merchandise in a retail store. The student is just inventory and the worth of the student is determined by the value in the spreadsheet. If the student isn’t making a profit, then the student should be reduced in value and eventually written off the books. This is a chilling way of looking at our young people.

My hope on this Sunday morning is that each and every educator, administrator, and parent would come to their senses and see just what is happening to our children in our schools. With one voice, we must all speak out and say that our kids have hearts, minds, bodies, emotions, talents, questions, and needs that must be valued. Our kids deserve to be seen and they need to be heard. With one voice, let us all proclaim these fourteen words and turn a curse into a blessing over America’s children:

 Teachers, parents and administrators must deeply care about what our students feel and think.

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