Tuesday, May 24, 2016

IT Professionals Visited Iroquois Middle School for 'Hour of Code' Events

Macomb Township, MI – Michigan teachers invited Information Technology (IT) professionals into their classrooms to celebrate Computer Science Education. Iroquois Middle School hosted:

Quicken Loans Software Engineer Rob Dusseau 
SilkRoute Global Software Engineer Devin Duden 
Cengage Learning Software Architect Sandesh Tattitali 
Allied Financial IT Director Darrin Deeter 

They volunteered their time to introduce computer science while seeing how the school is working to implement Michigan’s standards in technology.

According to Rob Dusseau, "As more and more devices and robots are being created, the world needs more people to tell them what to do. Learning how to code will give you the ability to control them. This is very important."  

Students had the opportunity to learn how they began a career as an IT professional, what it is like to be a programmer, and how to use computer code such as JavaScript (JS) and HyperText Markup Language (HTML). There was also a question and answer session about technology trends. 

According to Devin Duden, "These students can come up with the next great idea to solve an issue or problem. Kids of all ages can develop software. Parents and teachers need to promote technology careers."    

It was exciting to host these IT professionals. Careers in technology include web/game designer, programmer, data/system administrator, business/system analyst, software/network/database engineer, data architect, and security architect. Computers are a big part of our daily lives. We encourage all Michigan teachers to host an 'Hour of Code' event at their local schools. Teachers across Michigan are working to integrate technology standards. 

According to Darrin Deeter, "Software is becoming part of everything we use. We need more adventurous, creative, and detail orientated people who can understand it, design it, plan it, and build it."

For a game created by one of our students, click here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

Women have influenced our children's lives for the better. Being a Mom is the toughest job in the world. 

My Mom, Sally Lerchenfeldt, is one of the best. She is my best friend.  

She is exceptional because she is kind, nice, and makes everyone feel important. I thank God every day for her. 

She loves me and has always been there for my family. She always came to watch my brother and I play sports. 

She consistently supported us at home with our studies. Her words were always an encouragement.  

She is constantly giving back to the community. I Love You, Mom. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The #TeachStrong Campaign

What is #TeachStrong?  The #TeachStrong campaign is a movement to change the national education policy conversation and make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the most pressing and significant education policy priority for our nation. Demand Change!

I was inspired to become a Michigan #TeachStrong Ambassador by my family, friends, colleagues, students, fellows, teachers, and mentors. I am impressed with how #TeachStrong continues to build momentum. For more information, check out teachstrong.org.

What Makes #TeachStrong Unique? #TeachStrong is comprised of 57 coalition partners—a diverse set of influential education organizations and representatives—and over 90 educators from across the country demanding that modernizing and elevating the teaching profession become the top education policy priority of our day.

Why is #TeachStrong happening now? The #TeachStrong coalition is undertaking this effort now because, in recent years, the education policy conversation has become polarized, many leaders have shied away from meaningful discussion about the teaching profession, and millennials have increasingly turned away from the teaching profession in large numbers.

What is #TeachStrong's goal? The ultimate goal of the #TeachStrong campaign is to break through the contentiousness of today’s education policy climate and make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue in the coming year.

What are #TeachStrong's key principles?

Principle 1: Identify and recruit more teacher candidates with great potential to succeed, with a deliberate emphasis on diversifying the teacher workforce. 

My own experience being recruited into the profession included application and interview processes at my school district. This experience allowed me to share my story, skills, and goals. My principals recruited me, and our school district continues to use an online application system to find teacher candidates.

It is evident that diversity in the teacher workforce is critical for student success in our school. I am the only 7th grade male, core subject-area teacher at our school. This is a particularly powerful lesson that I witness on a daily basis, because numerous students have mentioned that I am their first male, core subject-area teacher. Only 24 percent of public school teachers are male.

I have encountered cultural issues with my students, and I have been able to connect with students through culturally relevant pedagogy. I enable each student to relate course content to their cultural context.

Principle 2: Reimagine teacher preparation to make it more rooted in classroom practice and professional knowledge base, with universal high standards for all candidates.

My teacher preparation experience was at Oakland University. I participated in a traditional program that provided clinical training. I did feel prepared to enter the classroom on my first day because of a high quality, yearlong student teaching internship. However, there are few states that set specific requirements on the quality of that clinical training.

Principle 3: Raise the bar for licensure so it is a meaningful measure of readiness to teach.

The licensure process in our state involves earning a bachelors degree with enough credits to be highly qualified to teach certain content areas. While completing my bachelors degree, I had to complete a student teaching internship experience and the Michigan Tests for Teacher Certification (MTTC). I consider my state's licensure exam a meaningful measure of readiness to teach because it required a year long student teaching internship experience. It was rigorous. The licensure exam aligned with my program's coursework. However, the correlation between passing a licensure exam and student achievement is weak.

Principle 4: Increase compensation in order to attract and reward teachers as professionals.

My experiences with my school district's compensation structure has been positive. Years of service and education level determines teacher salary at my school. I feel that I am adequately compensated. I am compensated for some of the additional hours I work or responsibilities that I assume. 

Principle 5: Provide support for new teachers through induction or residency programs.

I participated in a New Teacher Academy. This affected my first years of teaching by providing me with resources, support, and mentoring. To improve this program, novice teachers need time to observe experienced teachers in their classrooms.

Principle 6: Ensure tenure is a meaningful signal of professional accomplishment.

Our state awards tenure after five years of effective teaching. I believe it is a meaningful signal of professional accomplishment. Our state's tenure system has resulted in a more involved performance evaluation process. Teachers have to prove that they are having a positive effect on their students. The tenure process has been excellent for me because I prove every year that I am having a positive effect on my students.

Principle 7: Provide significantly more time, tools, and support for teachers to succeed, including through planning, collaboration, and development. 

Our school schedule consists of a daily prep hour. This supports teachers by giving them the time they need to plan and collaborate. However, for 7th grade science, we are not given any time to plan and collaborate with colleagues unless it is outside of the school day because we have different prep hours. I am usually strapped for time during the school day. I would benefit from additional time to collaborate with colleagues in a organized and structured environment. Observing other teachers would advance my practice if I had more time. My dream schedule or ideal school day would maximize my ability to deliver great instruction by emphasizing time for individual planning, collaboration with colleagues, and observing other teachers.

Principle 8: Design professional learning to better address student and teacher needs, and to foster feedback and improvement.

A standard professional development session given by our school district involves listening to a speaker. I participate in professional development about every two months. Listening to a speaker for the majority of a day is not helpful to my growth as a teacher. Consultants lead the sessions. The content is usually not connected to my classroom. 

My ideal professional development would allow me time to observe other teachers in their classrooms in order to get ideas about what works and what does not work. The best professional development session I have received was when I observed an excellent teacher giving instruction. This gave me the opportunity to give and receive feedback. It was effective and worthwhile because the content was connected to my classroom. 

Principle 9: Create career pathways that give teachers opportunities to lead and grow professionally.

Our school district provides opportunities for teacher leaders. This has benefitted me as a professional in terms of my status and growth. As a technology leader, I am trained in strategies that I use in my classroom and share what I learn with colleagues.

So who wants to be a #TeachStrong Advocate?

As an advocate you will promote #TeachStrong in at least one way every Tuesday.

  • Posting on social media using #TeachStrong

  • Contributing to a blog or working on an op-ed

  • Promoting the #TeachStrong website in person or via social media

  • Sharing the TeachStrong principles and/or two-pager with a colleague or local leader

You can also support this cause by attending other activities and events led by Ambassadors, thereby growing the reach of the campaign.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why I Love Teaching

I have been an educator for eight years. Teaching gives me the opportunity to help kids grow academically, emotionally, and socially. The relationships, smiles, and moments when a student finally “gets it” are extremely rewarding.

I am tired about the common misconceptions about what I do. "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." "We only work part time and have summers off".

I am a teacher because it is a highly rewarding and fulfilling profession. Teachers have one of the most important, meaningful, and purpose-driven jobs of anyone today. I appreciate the teachers I work with because they share valuable information and important skills to encourage a love of learning that will serve students the rest of their lives.

Tom Davis was a fellow educator that inspired and had an impression on me. He encouraged me to explore my curiosities, supported me with my struggles, and celebrated my successes. He cared about me, my learning, my life, and he wanted me to find happiness within myself in order for me to be capable of helping others.

I remain in the profession because I am committed to having a positive impact on the future of each student that I serve on a daily basis. I believe that there is an exciting career for every passion. No two days in teaching are ever the same. Receiving a "Favorite Teacher Award" was a gesture from a student and parent that moved me.

I wake up each morning and serve students in our nation's schools. Being a role model and teaching students the skills and knowledge they need beyond the classroom is extremely inspiring and rewarding. This makes me feel appreciated. Teaching gives me the opportunity to be a lifelong learner because I learn as much from the students as they learn from me.

It is an excellent time to be a teacher. Today's teachers need perseverance, passion, validation, and hope. Teachers helped me get to where I am today by providing me with an exceptional education.

It is essential to make lesson plans interesting in order to get all students motivated about learning. Teachers creatively facilitate the engaging interaction between students and provide feedback based on their observations. For me, the motivation to teach has always come from the students in my classroom.

I love being able to laugh with my students. I love when they feel proud of their achievements. I love doing science with middle school students.

Teachers need to have a voice in all policy decisions that have an effect on our classrooms. Teachers advocate for their community's parents and students. 



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Iroquois Middle School Wins Environmental Education Grant from Michigan Association of Environmental Professionals (MAEP)

MACOMB, MIIroquois Middle School in the Chippewa Valley Schools District has been awarded an environmental education grant from the Michigan Association of Environmental Professionals (MAEP).

The MAEP grant will fund students' participation in the Clinton River Watershed Council's (CRWC) Stream Leaders program.  The Stream Leaders program provides hands on experiential education as well as an opportunity for students to gather important data used by the CRWC and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to assess the health of the Clinton River at various points in the watershed. Students will learn about the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the Clinton River Watershed through problem-solving stations at Waldenburg Park.

We are honored to be recognized by MAEP. The students as well as the CRWC will benefit greatly from the educational experience that the MAEP grant will provide.

Michigan Association of Environmental Professionals (MAEP) is a non-profit professional organization, founded in 1978. MAEP hosts professional development meetings and publishes newsletters throughout the year to bring relevant content to its membership.  Through its annual golf outings MAEP raises funds for its mini environmental education Grants. To date, MAEP has provided funding for local schools, universities, community organizations, and other non-profits who encourage and inspire the next generation of environmental professionals.  Since its inception, MAEP is proud to have awarded over $160,000 in grants.

Four Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Everyday: Protect Our Atmosphere and Watershed

1. Ride your bike rather than driving a car. Kayak rather than use a boat. Bikes and kayaks release zero pollutants into the atmosphere. Cars and boats use fuel and motor oil.  

2. Do NOT litter. Pickup trash around your neighborhood. Recycle, reduce, and reuse in order to cut down on landfill waste.

3. Do NOT be wasteful. Open your windows to allow light and air into your home. Use less water when showering and washing your hands. Unplug your plugs. 

4. Support clean energy initiatives. When coal is burned in power plants to create usable energy, it releases sulfur. This pollutant contributes to acid rain.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Closing the "Attitude Gap": How to Fire Up Your Students to Strive for Success

Attitude Matters! Young people are not realizing the power of education. 

What is the "Attitude Gap"? It is the gap between those students who have the will to strive for academic excellence and those who do not. 

The classroom climate and culture matter when it comes to closing the attitude gap. Teachers need to create an environment and mood where students feel that they belong. 

Teachers must believe in their students in order to build that positive relationship. It is essential to show students compassion.

Teachers need to create instructional lessons that our relevant to the lives of their students. For more information, please visit Principal Baruti Kafele's website by clicking here