Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog on Hiatus

I've been on a break from blogging for a few weeks.  I plan to return to a twice a month blog entry starting with the month of April.  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Bullying" and Tech Tuesday Links for 3/15/11

Last week, Dateline NBC did an outstanding segment on bullying.  The premise was to see what a child would do when he or she was placed in a setting where someone was getting bullied.  Would they stand up for the student?  The first setting involved two actresses picking on a third actress while unsuspecting teen girls watched.  The mothers of the unsuspecting teen girls were watching on hidden cameras and trying to decide if their daughters would stand up for what was right.  The other setting involved two actors picking on a third actor for not being athletic enough.  There were other boys that were in the setting and parents were watching to see what their sons would do.  In one instance, the “coach” who was in on the act, allowed the bullying to go on.  In that setting, the other boys involved participated in the bullying.  In another setting with a different group of boys, the coach admonished the bullying and said it would not happen again.  In this case, the other boys stood up for the student being bullied.
This was quite an interesting experiment in my opinion.  We hear so much these days about bullying in schools.  My wife and I were talking recently about what bullying went on when we were in school around 20 years ago.  I got picked on for a variety of things but nothing that made me think I was less worthy of a person than anyone else.  Nothing that was said or done depressed me.  I considered it teasing by my friends.  But I knew that I was a fairly popular good student-athlete so the teasing never lingered.  Someone said that today’s youth is different because once you go home, the availability of social media and electronic devices allow the teasing and bullying to continue non-stop.  I think that may be the major difference between then and now.  I keep hoping it isn’t that kids are meaner.
I worry about my son getting bullied in this day and age.  He is four years old and gets his feelings hurt easily.  But I also worry about him becoming a bully.  He’s larger than most kids his age.  My wife and I try to teach him to share and the appropriate way to interact with others but ultimately until he’s in a school setting without the watchful eyes of adults around, I won’t know how he’s going to respond.  I think keeping the lines of communication open and encouraging dialogue with him is one of the most important aspects of dealing with bullying.  I hope if I’m every asked to watch him on hidden camera to see how he deals with bullying, that I’m right and he’ll be the one standing up for the student being bullied.
You can watch the Dateline NBC video segments on bullying by clicking this link:

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Finding Time" and 3/8/11 Tech Tuesday Links

I’ve been working with several groups of teachers in our county to “sell” the idea of finding time to collaborate with each other.  It hasn’t been a hard sell to the teachers.  It’s the administrators that have a hard time wrapping their minds around it because it usually means a change in the way a school’s schedule is designed.  As an added bonus, I’m also pitching the concept of finding time for student intervention in the schedule.   For elementary schools, both of these concepts seem to be easier to implement.  At the middle school and high school level I hear constantly that there just isn’t enough time in the schedule to do any of this.  Some schools have been using the same schedule for more than five years while others continue to tweak their schedules each year with little to no results.  One district paid a scheduling consultant to come in and meet with a committee to see how the schedule could be improved.  I think everyone is in agreement of the importance of teachers meeting to plan their lessons and discuss students.  I also think we all understand the importance of incorporating intervention time into the day for students who are struggling.  The hard part is finding the time to do so.  Some districts are willing to pay teachers to stay after to accomplish some of this work but in the end they are expecting teachers to make a choice between professional responsibilities and their personal responsibilities.  Unfortunately, we haven’t come up with all of the answers.  Everyone knows what is needed but getting there remains the problem.  I started talking to principals about the concept of changing the schedule and then realized some principals didn’t know how the schedule worked.  In several cases, the guidance counselors set up the schedule based on what teachers were available to teach a particular course.  This led me to believe that we needed to expand our circle for educating about the need for finding time.  I’ll be facilitating a round-table discussion of area middle school and high school principals about what can be done to the “almighty schedule” to allow teacher collaboration time and student intervention time.  I hope to have the audio portion posted at  after the meeting on Thursday March 10, 2011.  Next month, we’ll address the guidance counselors and get their thoughts.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Consulting on Being a Consultant" and 3/1/11 Tech Tuesday Links

My mom has decided to retire.  I think.  She talks about it every year but this year seems more serious than in the past.  My mom has spent more than two decades as a classroom teacher and most recently school librarian.  This weekend she told me she’d be interested in consulting with schools and teachers in an effort to improve test scores, instruction and data collection.  I told her that it wasn’t a good idea.  Don’t get me wrong;  she’s very knowledgeable about these topics..  I asked her what she wanted to accomplish by becoming a consultant.  She replied, “I want to help kids.”  Then being a consultant is definitely not for her.  I explained to her that if she was looking for the most direct way to impact kids, being a consultant isn’t the way to do it.  As a consultant, you aren’t working with kids.  You are working with adults which some would argue is much more difficult.  You meet with adults, give them your ideas, and then cross your fingers that they go back to their classrooms and implement what you’ve worked with them on.  But even with follow up, there is no tangible way to determine that students are benefitting directly from your consulting.  I should know.  I’m in my first year of a job that is essentially a curriculum consultant to area schools.  And I love it.  I’ve been removed from the classroom much longer than my mom has so I think it is easier for me to understand that when I leave a teacher, it is up to them to directly impact the kids they teach.  Hopefully, I’ve imparted a small piece of wisdom that can help them do that but I don’t get hung up on whether it’s taking place or not.  I told my mom, “If you want to know you are having a direct impact on kids then volunteer, go back into the classroom, tutor.  Then you’ll walk away knowing you’ve touched a child’s life for the better.”