xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Don't Forget South Central: November 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Top 10 Takeaways from NCSS Conference












The National Council for the Social Studies conference was everything I thought it would be and more. While the experience is fresh in my mind, I'll share my top 10 takeaways from the conference.















1. Twitter is great, but nothing beats person to person learning, networking, and inspiration!
















2. The C3 Framework is coming. It's here. Lots of districts are moving on this. Is yours?























3. Michelle Herzog is the BUSINESS.






















4. Just when you had your mind made up about the immigration policy you hear this guy speak: Jose Antonio Vargas.














5. Boston was a phenomenal place to hold a social studies conference.


6. LAUSD (cc: Ramon Cortines), teachers need to leave the classroom, the school, and sometimes the state to get top notch professional development. ITS FOR THE STUDENTS!

7. Charter school teachers want to get connected. Their people won't do it. Our people won't do it. WE'll DO IT.

8.We honor our own. Nobody else does. Honor an educator by being a part of our community.














9. Teachers shouldn't have to stay in hostels to afford top quality training.

10. Do you belong to a professional organization? If not, why? Numbers=power, respect for the profession.

CA Council for the Social Studies
National Council for the Social Studies
National Council of Teachers of English
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
National Science Teachers Association

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Feds Take on Teacher Assignments

US to Focus on Equity in Assigning of Teachers

When I was a newer teacher, I used to think teachers should not get to pick their work location. I used to think that if there were superstar teachers, they should be assigned to teach the students who needed them the most, like the ones at the schools where I've taught.

Then I realized superstar teachers are few and far between.

The process to determine who is a great teacher is flawed, none exists yet.

Socioeconomics more greatly determine who is a great teacher than other measures in place today.

You could be a failing teacher at a failing school one year, and a superstar the next in another more affluent school or district.


How do you define a failing school anyway?

So the problem remains: who will best teach the students from poverty at schools such as mine?

First, I would abandon my naive idea of forcibly assigning teachers to work in places they don't choose. It would never work. The resentment and the stress alone would poison the precious relationship between student and teacher that is the foundation of learning. And I don't want to work with teachers who think their talents are being wasted in the "hood".

I would invest in our homegrown teachers by cultivating relationships with former students and following up on leads by local schools of education. While I enjoy the spirit of TFA teachers, I would employ them only sparingly, because for students in my neighborhood, stability is key.

A wide range of experience on staff would also matter.  We would have equal numbers of new, mid-career, and veteran teachers, all of which have something to offer to each other. Ideally, retired teachers would be replaced by new ones, keeping our staff in a sort of educational homeostasis.

Teachers on staff would routinely be sent on quality training, a lot of it off campus, and even out of state. It makes teachers feel like professionals and it helps them refine their craft. I know our new superintendent is against removing teachers from the classroom excessively, but sometimes you have to give something to get something.

I would follow the recommendations make by Tom Torlakson' s Greatness by Design report (full disclosure: I worked on this report) and make sure some of our teachers become teacher leaders, because sometimes you want to do more for your school than what you can accomplish in your classroom.

Finally, I would do what has been done at other great schools, charter and public. Offer health club memberships to teachers, day care, coffee trucks, and massages.

Pampered! Primped! But a teacher whose heart, body, and soul is cared for will have the fortitude and perseverance needed to teach the students sent to us with so many challenges. They will last in hard to staff schools. They will strengthen the social fabric of the school and community. And they will create their own solutions to each school's unique circumstances.