A mini rant about shi**y teachers

Last week, my best friend, Kristina, sent me her brother’s paper to look over. He is a sophomore at a college in Wyoming, and he had received a C on his last paper. She wants him to succeed because he is trying really hard, so she sent me the paper to have it looked over before he submitted it.

I read through it, and it was great. Sure he had a few comma mistakes and didn’t cite his sources correctly, but they weren’t major enough for them to complicate the message/reading for me. Kristina and I redirected him to a website that would help him correct those minor errors himself. He corrected the slight errors and submitted the paper.

Kristina texted me yesterday that her brother got a 79 on the paper. She was livid, he was livid, and I was confused. That paper was easily A quality; he structured his thoughts into well-developed paragraphs, he used humor, he used outside research. It was truly a great paper. However, the English professor didn’t think so. The teacher wrote comments on his paper like: “lack of idea development”, “sentence structure is rough”, “plenty of grammatical/spelling errors”, “what?” (by his humor)….and so on.

Kristina was clearly upset because her brother is trying so hard to do well in that English class. I couldn’t help but flip out a little bit. I told Kristina that everything that professor did is everything we are taught not to be. She did nothing but humiliate his writing by writing demeaning comments and acknowledging the technical errors rather than the quality of the content. I’m pretty sure this professor didn’t even read his paper for the content; she just read through it to find structural/technical errors.

Here’s hoping that I am never like that teacher; here’s hoping I never shut down a student’s writing by pointing out all the flaws with no positive feedback.

Why do Italians eat fish on Christmas Eve?

Human relations and diversity is the section of block that we are going through right now. I really like it, and I really like the teacher. We are learning a lot, and even if we aren’t necessarily learning new stuff, we are being reminded to be mindful of certain diversities that can and will be seen in our classrooms.

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For professional development, I am currently reading “The Reading/Writing Connection” by Carol Booth Olson. She has an entire section titled “Reading, thinking, and writing about multicultural literature.”

Within this section, she talked about having students do a project in which they make a poster board stating negative stereotypes that are almost always associated with their ethnicity and race. For example, “just because I’m Asian doesn’t mean I eat rice all the time” and “African Americans are always poor.” 

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At first while reading this, I really didn’t like that she condoned the idea of students pointing out the negativeness of their races. But then as I continued to read, I realized how beneficial the activity really was. It forced students to see how each other is stereotyped because of race. It wasn’t a negative activity; it was a way to demonstrate that each student faces some sort of stigma throughout their school career because of their ethnicity.

We have to make a short lesson that deals with diversity and multiculturalism for this class. Mine is still currently in process of being made, but so far I really dig it. Stay tuned, I will share it via Twitter and my blog. 

Penny Kitty

I loved the 1st day video that Brittney shared with us in class yesterday. We discussed how wonderful (and how TALL) Penny Kittle is. (I really want to call her Penny Kitty). 

Yet, there was one thing that bothered me about this video. She would always fill the silence by asking more and more questions. She would ask a question, and when someone hadn’t spoken within 5 seconds, she asked another question, and on and on. This really bothered me because she gave hardly any time for students to gather their thoughts and come to their own conclusions before bombarding them with another question! 

At the tutoring center, we practice the technique of a “30 second wait time”. And I will be honest, yes, it is awkward and long, but you know what? I see the gears turning. I see my tutees trying to come up with something because they know I will wait until they answer.

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One of my favorite authors is Mitch Albom. This is a quote from his book “Tuesdays with Morrie”:  “Why are we embarrassed by silence? What comfort do we find in all the noise?”

Sometimes silence just means the brains are working; give them some time, let them relax and roll the idea/question/statement over in their minds! 

That’s literally the only problem I had with that video hahaha. Turns out she rocks my face.

Punishment

What do you think of when you hear the word “punishment”? Is it a wooden spoon? A smack on the face? No TV for a week? 
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Our discussion in class last week got me thinking: what makes a teacher “strict”? Is it their form of punishment? Is it their attitude? In my opinion, I think it depends on the student. A teacher that I think is strict may not be strict to a fellow classmate. We talk a lot about Thugging Hard, so I can use him for an example. Say I am just a bomb diggity teacher. Everyone likes me EXCEPT Thugging Hard. He thinks I’m strict and mean. Is it really because I’m strict and mean? Or is it because he lacks respect for female authority figures? 
 
All I know is that I am not going to give my students punitive busy work. Each assignment will have a purpose and each student will know that purpose. I refuse to assign a quiz, test, assignment, etc. as a form of punishment. 

Twitter

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Oh Twitter. What have you done to me? I normally go to bed at 9:00 pm every night (yes, I’m an old grandma). However, last night I discovered Tweet Deck. I stayed up until 11:00 pm (way too late for me, I’m a zombie today, which is fitting…because it’s Halloween). My last blog was about the the opportunities of continual growth. Well, Twitter, you are providing me with new information and resources literally every minute, so it’s really hard NOT to grow. 
 
A few of my favorites are:
ReadWriteThink.org
MiddleWeb
Wonderopolis
Education Talk Radio
HuffPost Education
 
The best part about always learning? There is never a boring moment in my head. 

Learning doesn’t suck

I love that I’m constantly learning. Too often people think that learning only takes place in a controlled environment: the classroom. I just recently submitted my personal record for my credential file, and I had to attach my philosophy of education again. I used to HATE my philosophy; it was so scripted and written for the purpose of being read by an education professor. But now I love it.
 
I talk about continual growth and the possibilities of learning outside of the classroom. Learning and education are not synonyms. It bothers me how people associate learning ONLY with education/educators. There is learning to be done anywhere at anytime by anyone. It is not limited to a school’s chemistry lab or a history class textbook. Learning is much bigger than that. Each person every day has experiences. Whether it be inside or outside of a school building, we are still learning. We grow from our mistakes and our successes. 

A really hardcore Disney flim

Reba and I went to talk to Dr. Ellington earlier this week about our trip to Pine Ridge. We shared the good, the bad, and the funny. Dr. Ellington told the class that she felt like she had accomplished something: if two of her students can go to Pine Ridge and only see the positive side of the students, then she has succeeded. Similar to Dr. Ellington, I had this feeling of accomplishment. I had this feeling that I have completely transformed as a person and future educator. The “Thugging Hard”s and “Sticky  Note Crumpler”s used to scare me; I’m 5’3” on a good day, and I have to teach these 6 foot giant gang members? Bring it on, I say! I fell in love with the Thugging Hard character in the classroom I observed. He was eating a beef stick and drinking a can of Dr. Pepper at 9:00 in the morning. He had ear buds in during the teacher’s lecture. But you know what else he did? He volunteered to read out loud from the book the whole class was reading. AND he wrote. He wrote and wrote and wrote. When everyone else was on their phones or had their heads down on their desks from being high, he was writing. I stared at this boy with admiration. Reba shared a story of a student she observed in a different classroom; he had a goal of having the highest absent record. Well, you know what? Go for it kid! You’ve got a goal, dammit, reach it! If I learned anything from that trip, it is to focus on the positive, always.

Image See? “Thugging Hard” is fuzzy!!

I don’t want to go the extreme and say that I used to be the “Sticky Note Crumpler” student at the beginning of this semester in Dr. Ellington’s class, but I was definitely a challenging student. I didn’t accept Dr. Ellington’s methods and I didn’t believe all the resources on Twitter. I was purposefully being stubborn or the “Devli’s Advocate” so that I could challenge these new ideas. I feel like I have come a long way from that. Clearly–I mean I love “Thugging Hard” and Reba wanted to high five a kid that stabbed a guy! (“Brick killed a guy!”…Anchorman? Anyone? Anyone?) I’m so glad Dr. Ellington didn’t come in with a bag of tricks because how boring would that be? Our class rocks, and I’m so proud of everyone in it. And so THANKFUL for everyone in it for pushing each other along to believe in being the lone nut.

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Side bar: My favorite snack is popcorn. I bring a bag of popcorn to most of my classes. When I eat this bag of popcorn in class, I am simply just snacking away, trying to settle my constant food cravings (not pregnant). But, when I eat this bag of popcorn in Dr. Ellington’s class, I feel like I’m at a movie theater. She tells stories of “Sticky Note Crumpler” guy and stories of her “Res Tat” and tells us to be the “lone nut” and inspires us with so many warm fuzzies. She has my attention 100%, and I can’t wait to see her next move. She’s like a Disney film. A really hardcore Disney film.

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This is all of us.

I call dibs on Sir Ken Robinson #IsThatWeird?

We watched a beautiful video featuring Sir Ken Robinson in block class earlier this week, and I fell in love with everything about it. It was interesting because everything talked about in this video was everything we were covering or had already covered in our methods course (yay us!) It was interesting to see everyone else’s reactions to this idea that the educational system, is in fact, quite broken.

We continue to teach the way that students were being taught centuries ago. This is a problem because it creates alienation; as a country, we are alienated from the rest of the world that is continually growing and adapting. The current educational system was conceived in a different age. So instead of growing with the rest of society, the educational system has simply stalled out. It has become a factory. Sir Ken Robinson explains it so well; schools are divided into separate facilities and students are divided into batches based on grades.

The topic within this video that caught my attention most was the discussion of divergent thinking. In our current system, when our students work together it is considered cheating. Yet, in the real working world, it is called collaboration. Why are we shaming and guilting kids into thinking that working together is harmful? We want our kids to grow and expand their knowledge by thinking differently. They will never learn to think differently if they keep to themselves and never collaborate with their peers.

If you have time, watch the video. It’s incredibly entertaining: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

4 Questions

1. What do I do with the kid that refuses to read or write despite all my efforts?

This question stems from the male in my block class today that said “why do I have to teach reading? I hate reading.” It took everything in my little body to not attack him like a wolverine and rattle his tiny little brain around in that huge egotistical head of his. (Bleh. Sorry, miniature rant there.) But it got me thinking: what DO I do with students like you? The one who absolutely despises to read anything because “it’s too hard” or “too long” or “boring.” This is still my biggest conundrum. I am a firm believer in the “pick and choose your battles” kind of classroom management style. I can’t fight kids on everything, but when do I draw the line for the student that has a book open but has his cell phone hidden behind it and he’s texting? How can I help?

2. Open or closed door?

This question comes from my frustrations with one of my professors. He openly told the class that he shuts his door while teaching because his teaching techniques are not traditional and that most of his colleagues disagree with his teaching ways. I, personally, had/have a huge problem with this. If you are so adamant about what you are teaching us and if you are so sure your ways are better than someone else’s because you have research to defend yourself, then why in the world would you close your door? That just shows me that you’re scared. One of the biggest things I have taken away from this methods class is to teach in the manner that you are most comfortable with and teach with the method that you believe so firmly in that you can defend it until you’re blue in the face. This turned into more of discussion than a question, but I guess my question is why would you have a closed door?

3. What’s it like to be the lone nut?

This question is solely out of curiosity. When I presented with Laura last week, all I could think of what it is going to be like to be that lone nut in front of 20 curious, adolescent eyes. I wonder what it feels like, and I cannot wait to find out.

4. What if my co-workers hate me?

This question is legitimately always on my mind. I’m so ready to be the lone nut, but I’m so NOT ready for my co-workers to be like “whaaaat? That white girl be crazy!” And then I’ll go home and eat my weight in ice cream and pet cats. I know the general response to this question “talk it out with them and come to mutual understanding.” Yeah, well, no. Because like I said earlier, I am going to be a lone nut because I am going to be using methods that I can defend. I am all for collaboration or working together, but I will not change my ways just on the sole basis to get you to like me. I don’t like people that have the “I’m perfect. You adjust” mentality. Ugh. Frustrations and fears are setting in again…..and cue Lindsey’s anxious scratching on the table……