Teachers, parents say kids are disrespectful

Fifty-eight percent of teachers and 67 percent of parents say most children are disrespectful, according to a Sesame Workshop survey.

In addition, 70 percent of parents worry that the world is “an unkind place for my child,” reports USA Today.

Sesame Workshop’s Jennifer Kotler Clarke is unhappy that 58 percent of parents think “manners” are more important than “empathy.”

“We really need to talk about the deepness that comes with behaviors around kindness,” she said. “It’s not just the surface, smiling around people and opening a door, saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you,’ all of which are important. But it doesn’t end there. It needs to be even deeper than that. In fact, sociopaths and bullies can have very good manners and be polite.”

As a parent, I taught manners first. Behave properly, whatever you think of others. Kids may develop empathy over time. In some cases, it’s very difficult.  They can learn manners at a very young age.

“Sesame plans to offer online tools to parents and educators to teach kindness, including a new website on the topic and a YouTube playlist of clips,” reports USA Today. “It’ll also build the upcoming season of Sesame Street around themes of kindness and empathy.”

Study: Students prefer teachers of color

Urban students of all races are more positive about their Latino and black teachers than their white teachers, according to a study by New York University sociologists Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng and Peter Halpin, reports Anya Kamenetz on NPR.

Using the Gates Foundation’s Measure of Effective Teaching study, they looked responses by sixth- through ninth-grade students at more than 300 schools in cities around the country.
Students were asked questions such as:

  • How much does this teacher challenge his students?
  • How supportive is she?
  • How well does he manage the classroom?
  • How captivating does she make the subject?

“All the students, including white students, had significantly more favorable perceptions of Latino versus white teachers across the board, and had significantly more favorable perceptions of black versus white teachers on at least two or three of seven categories in the survey,” reports Kamenetz.

Asian-American and black students were especially positive about their black teachers.

“Controlling for student demographic and academic characteristics, teacher efficacy, and other teacher characteristics” didn’t change the results, reports Ed Week.

The study focused on urban districts, where students, including whites, tend to come from a lower socio-economic class, said Cherng.  Students surveyed were in early adolescence, when children “are struggling to form their identities,” he added.

Are Latino teachers better at connected with kids with identity issues?

Why would Asian-American students be so high on black teachers?

Crisis or crock: Is there a teacher shortage?

“The teacher shortage crisis is here,” declares U.S. News, citing a new Learning Policy Institute report on the “coming” crisis.

Image result for projected teacher supply and demand

“We are experiencing what appears to be the first major shortage since the 1990s,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor who runs the institute.

“At a time when public school enrollment is on the upswing, large numbers of teachers are headed for retirement or leaving the profession because of dissatisfaction with working conditions,” reports U.S. News. “Meanwhile, enrollment in teacher preparation programs is dropping dramatically, falling 35 percent nationwide in the last five years.”

 For years, teacher preparation programs have been graduating twice as many teachers as are needed, writes Kate Walsh, who runs the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Over the last 30 years, programs have graduated between 175,000 and 300,000 teachers each year, yet consistently school districts have only hired somewhere between 60,000 to 140,000, with about 95,000 being the most recent number.

. . . by tweaking just one of the assumptions made by LPI, the results are altogether different. For example, if we project that the class size average of student to teacher is 16.1 to 1 (which, importantly, it is currently) rather than LPI’s estimate of 15.3 to 1, voila! The shortage disappears entirely.

Walsh also cites Dan Goldhaber’s critique of the report. LPI incorrectly assumes all new teachers are new college graduates, he writes. In fact, most newly hired teachers aren’t new graduates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Some delayed entering the profession and others taught, took time off (usually to raise kids) and are returning.

Claims of a teacher shortage crisis are deja vu all over again, writes Mike Antonucci.

The real teacher shortage isn’t new, writes Walsh.

For 30 years nearly every district in the nation has struggled to find enough secondary science and math teachers. Also and for just as long, rural and urban districts have been unable to tap into a reliable and stable source of new teachers, putting band aids like Teach For America on the problem.

Most school districts have way too many applicants for elementary teaching positions, she writes, “because teacher prep programs don’t see it as their job to tell their incoming candidates that they can’t all major in elementary ed, that they’ll need to consider another teaching field like special ed or ELL where there is real need.”

Under union pressure, school districts refuse to pay more for teachers with high-demand skills.

Defiant kids stay, teachers leave

More than 200 teachers quit the Highline district near Seattle this spring,”many saying the new approach to student discipline has created outright chaos,” reports Claudia Rowe in the Seattle Times.

Three years ago, Superintendent Susan Enfield eliminated out-of-school suspensions, except for threats to campus safety, reports Rowe.

Instead, Highline would keep its students on campus — even if they cursed at teachers, fought with peers or threw furniture — attempting to address the roots of their behavior through a combination of counseling and academic triage.”

Rather than tossing kids for defiant behavior, teachers were expected to manage their outbursts in class, and refer chronic misbehavers to a kind of super study hall where an academic coach would get them back on track and connect those who needed it to counseling.

Teachers received little training in de-escalating conflicts, reports Rowe.

“Violence is rampant and behavior management is nonexistent within our school community,” wrote Jasmine Kettler, a Highline High teacher, in a farewell blog post.

Credit: Mark Nowlin/Seattle Times

Credit: Mark Nowlin/Seattle Times

“There’s a fight every week and it just feels normal — but it shouldn’t,” said Carson Torres, 18, at an Aug. 17 board meeting.

In response to the story, Enfield wrote that “eight out of ten staff members say they are safe at school.” Overall, the teacher turnover rate has declined and the graduation rate is rising, she wrote.

However, Highline High lost almost 30 percent of  its staff this spring, while Mount Rainier High lost a quarter of the teaching force, a teachers’ union official says.

Teacher hiring: Look for improvers

It’s hard to hire “proficient” teachers, write David Krulwich and Kenneth Baum, principal and former principal of Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science in the South Bronx. Successful teachers tend to be happy where they are, they write in Chalkbeat.

David Krulwich and Kenneth Baum developed the "artisan" method of teaching at Image result for David Krulwich teacher Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science in the South Bronx.

David Krulwich is principal of Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science in the South Bronx.

Instead, their school looks for teachers who are eager to improve.

The two are co-authors of The Artisan Teaching Model for Instructional Leadership.

At the initial interview, “successful candidates are able to describe in good detail one of their favorite academic classes that they have ever been a part of (as teacher or as a learner) and, without prompting, link their enjoyment to the way the teacher made the students think in new ways,” they write.

Then candidates teach a “demo lesson” and participate in a four-hour debrief of that lesson.

This is where we test for the key quality of reflectiveness and the ability to receive feedback in a team-based format and immediately translate that feedback into improvement. This, we have found, is the single biggest indicator of potential for growth.

. . . We’ve found that in almost all demo lessons (especially with new teachers), there is a definite lack of student interest and higher-order thinking, something that, as we mentioned earlier, we expect. The question is, how quickly does the candidate acknowledge this, and to what extent does the candidate, with our help, make her lesson substantially better?

After about 20 minutes, high-potential teachers “are starting to think about what they could have done differently,” write Krulwich and Baum. “By the end of the four-hour total experience, the candidate has been frustrated, challenged, helped, challenged more, and improved.”

Creating top charter schools

The Founders, Richard Whitmire’s new book on how the nation’s best charter schools were created, is being published online by The 74.

“This is the history of high-performing public charter schools — the best of the best, the top 20 percent, the game-changers,” he writes. Charters started 25 years ago in Minnesota, but “this story begins years later in California, spreads east through the unlikely collaboration of top school leaders, and stands apart for its success in guiding poor and minority children from kindergarten all the way through college graduation.”

The book is “a welcome antidote to the pernicious notion that high-performing schools for disadvantaged students are isolated flukes, dependent on a charismatic educator or the cherry-picking of bright students, writes Arne Duncan in The Atlantic. He’s never met a charter leader who claimed to be running a “miracle school,” adds Duncan.

Whitmire analyzes what’s holding back growth of the best charter schools in Education Next.

“The first wave of charter pioneers is nearly all white with excellent college credentials,” writes Whitmire. Yet their schools, often staffed largely by white teachers, target low-income “black and brown students.”

This is a race reality that’s rapidly shifting as charters diversify, but will it shift fast enough to avoid the pushback that’s already bubbling up around the race issue?

High-performing schools need to “attract talented teachers, and in a lot of cities, that just isn’t going to happen,” Whitmire adds. “Plus, the powerful anti-charter movement led by unions and superintendents is fully capable of blocking charters in some cities.”

Finally, it’s critical to shut down low-performing charters, he writes.  Nobody predicted how difficult it would be to close bad charters. “As it turns out, charter parents cling to their failing schools just as closely as parents of traditional failing schools.”

The magic of experience

Veteran teachers get no respect from education reformers, writes Paul Karrer in the Californian. The reform movement has rejected teachers’ “vast wealth of experience” for “chants, mantras, beliefs and a bowing before the goddess of data and technology.”

Karrer has survived a long list of elementary educational fixes, writes.

MATH: Math Their Way, Math Land, Mathematics Unlimited, California Math, Excel Math, Math Expressions, Dot Math, Math Manipulatives, New Math, Common Core Math … and more.

READING: Campanitas de Oro (Spanish whole language), Impressions (English whole language), MacCracken Whole Language, SRA-Reading Lions, Open Court, Phonics, Dibels, Fluency testing, Daily 5, Accelerated Reader, Scholastic News, Listening Centers, Pearson Language Arts (Common Core), Whole Language, Phonetic learning, High Point, Read Naturally, School Thematic Approach (September is Yellow Month, October is … ) HLT and more.

The How of Teaching: Self-contained classes, blended (switching classes), Team teaching, combination classes, combination bilingual classes, after school programs, learning centers, projects, leveled ELA, Immersion cooperative groups, pair-share, No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, Common Core, Goals and Standards numbered and written on the board, behavior modification plan this, behavior modification plan that and more.

Each new administration replaces the old “magic systems” with a “new magic system,” writes Karrer. “The new systems are lobbied and echo-chambered by shills for publishing and these days testing companies (often one and the same).”

Teachers have been complaining about fad-crazy administrators and impossible mandates for as long as I can remember. And I remember when “new math” was new.

“American education has been riddled with failed fads and foolish ideas for the past century,” wrote Diane Ravitch, back in 2001, in Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform.

Via Barry Garelick on Kitchen Table Math.

U.S. teachers: middling skills, low pay

We’re mediocre! We’re mediocre!

Compared to teachers in other countries, U.S. teachers are “perfectly mediocre” in cognitive skills, writes Dick Startz, a University of California at Santa Barbara economics professor, on Brookings’ Chalkboard. “American teachers seem to be a touch above average in literacy skills and noticeably below average in numeracy,” he writes, citing a paper based on data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies.

U.S. teachers do as well as other American college graduates in literacy, but are weaker in math than college-educated Americans or teachers overseas, researchers found.

However, the U.S. gets “much better teachers than we pay for,” writes Startz. Compared to other college graduates with similar skills, teachers are underpaid, the analysis concluded.

Position of teacher cognitive skills in the skill distribution of college graduates

Researchers said raising pay could attract higher-skilled people to teaching, reports Education Week.

“The estimates here indicate that teachers are paid some 20 percent less than a comparable college graduate elsewhere in the U.S. economy after adjusting for observable characteristics,” wrote Eric Hanushek of Stanford’s Hoover Institution and his German coauthors.

Teachers’ cognitive skills have a “robust impact” on student performance, the study concluded.

Countries with top-performing schools “recruit their teachers from the top third” of graduates, a 2007 McKinsey study found.

What teachers think about Core math

Most elementary and middle-school teachers like Common Core math, according to a new  Fordham survey. However, teachers “also say that pupils are ‘frustrated’ by having to learn multiple methods of solving a problem, and they worry that some have ‘math anxiety’ (especially in grades 6–8).”

In addition, 85 percent of teachers say that “reinforcement of math learning at home is declining because parents don’t understand the way that math is being taught.”

Middle-school teachers, who are specialists in math, are more negative about the new standards’ impact than elementary teachers.

. . . 61 percent of K–2 teachers say they have fewer or about the same number of “students who have math anxiety” than before the CCSS-M, and 68 percent agree that “students are developing a stronger capacity to persevere in math and come up with solutions on their own.” It’s the middle school teachers who report more distress.

“Once upon a time, teachers shut their doors and did their own thing,” Fordham concludes. “Now we have many instructors teaching to the same high standards nationwide. This is something to celebrate.”

U.S. teachers feel undervalued

From National Center on Education and the Economy:

How Society Values Teachers