Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Lamphere Experience

The math, reading, and writing skills I developed as a student in The Lamphere Schools has allowed me to become a successful teacher. Playing sports and being involved in student government taught me valuable life lessons on teamwork, time management, and responsibility. Lamphere helped me get to where I am today by providing me with an exceptional education. 

As a student in The Lamphere Schools, I learned the benefits of getting along with people from different cultures, which continues to assist me in my career, especially when I traveled to New Zealand for a Teacher Exchange Program. My passions for public speaking, fitness, and volunteering have provided inspiration for my future. 

I know Teacher Appreciation Week has past, but I still wanted to take a moment to recognize one of the many educators who had a positive influence on my life. Before retirement, Tom Davis was an exceptional health and physical education teacher at Lamphere High School in Madison Heights.

In addition to teaching full-time, he also coached the cross country and track teams. He taught his athletes techniques for cross-training and weightlifting in addition to proper nutrition.

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.

Tom Davis inspired me and pushed me to be my best in the classroom and on the athletic fields. I am now trying to pay this positive influence forward to my students. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Future of Public Education: What it means to be a teacher in the 21st century?

Being a teacher is one of the hardest jobs one could ever love. Teachers make a difference in the lives of students, parents, colleagues, and the community. The field of education is changing for the better. 

Currently, there is a focus on Depths of Knowledge Levels 3 and 4 in order to get students to critically think and apply what they are learning. Teachers are trying to make learning rigorous and relevant. They facilitate instruction rather than always being the deliverer. The students know the learning objectives.  

Digital technology makes learning personalized, engaging, and fun for students. Emerging trends with digital technology includes Web 3.0 and Anticipatory/Artificial Intelligence. Teachers need to have the trust, passion, and drive to use digital technology in their classrooms. They must be adaptable to learn new teaching techniques in order to meet student needs.

Teachers’ focusing on career readiness is essential. New jobs today require high Lexile levels. The English-Language Arts (ELA) teachers cannot do it alone. There is a laser-like focus on literacy because high Lexile scores equates to higher scores in other subjects such as math.   

Data analyses, such as growth models, are being used in teacher evaluations. The future is common core with smarter balanced testing. Our school uses the NWEA Map assessment to test for learning and literacy. Teachers are also giving their own assessments to monitor student growth.

Teachers are also responsible for a student’s personal development. Students are taught how to behave rather than just being punished. The student/teacher relationship is critical, and the focus is on student needs.  Teachers cannot let students fail.

Issues such as poverty, student apathy, and lack of parent involvement should be considered when thinking about the future of public education. Other countries choose which kids go to school. In the United States, we allow all kids to go to a school with high expectations. This has an affect when comparing our test scores to those of other countries. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Career Exploration: Elementary Education in the 21st Century (K-8)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 (6-7:30 P.M.) 
Oakland University Macomb County

Macomb University Center
Lecture Hall B
44575 Garfield Road
Clinton Township, MI 48038

Refreshments will be served. 

Wondering what a career as an elementary school teacher would be like? Think you have what it takes? 

Whether you're seeking to complete a bachelor's degree program, or if you already have a bachelor's degree and are interested in making a career change to education, hear from an experienced panel of K-12 educators on the following: 

  • What It Means to Be an Elementary Education Teacher in the 21st Century
  • How to Become a Kindergarten or Elementary Education Teacher 
  • The Teacher Work Environment
  • Job Outlook
Guest panelists represent Oakland University's School of Education and Human Services, Van Dyke Public Schools, Chippewa Valley Public Schools, and Utica Community Schools. 

To register or learn more, including which degree best suits your needs, visit oakland.edu/pd/pathwaystoteaching.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Focus on Smart Teaching

Focus on Smart Teaching is coming up on September 20th. A modest price gets you a full day with an inspiring keynoter, engaging expert presenters, relevant presentations, and lunch, too. Laptops, flat panel, gift cards, free MACUL registration, and more will be given away.

Our keynote speaker, Brad Waid is an energetic and passionate educator who inspires educational change through technology and Augmented Reality. He is a highly sought after speaker who engages his audience with his passion, humor, mind-blowing demonstrations all while sharing the power of technology and how it can transform the way we learn, teach and lead.

SMARTTech's James Griffin will be presenting what’s new in SMART Notebook 2014 and showing some great new features available soon. Microsoft Innovative Educator Grant Zimmerman will present on Microsoft Office Online and OneDrive. 

This conference takes place on Saturday, September 20th  from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM at Chippewa Valley High School. 

Location: 18300 19 Mile Road, Clinton Township, MI 48038 

L'Anse Creuse Public Schools and Chippewa Valley Schools. 

“Shaking Up Learning” and “Southeast Michigan Smart User Conference” 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Iroquois Middle School Improvement Plan for Science

There are 1,100 students at Iroquois Middle School. Every parent wants to have an effective and selfless teacher for their child. We are an excellent school based on our test scores and parent involvement. However, our school could improve with our work now. 

Our staff collaborated with the North Central Accreditation (NCA) Committee and Data Teams in order to share effective instructional strategies such as experimental investigations involving making tables and graphing. Project-based learning and writing are other successful methods.

Science investigations and projects are an excellent way to learn. "Oh Deer" is an activity that allows students to monitor the changing population of deer. "Mystery Powders and Solids" allows students to discover the properties of matter. Students also enjoy participating in "Earthquake Mapping". 

We made many suggestions for improving these effective instructional strategies in order to enhance student achievement. Students need more depth of knowledge levels 3 and 4 questions for critical thinking. They need science inquiry experiments comparing independent and dependent variables.     

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tackling student apathy: Teachers can do only so much - parents must play role in children's education

We can’t truly address the issues facing schools until we make a serious effort to tackle issues of parental involvement, student apathy and poverty.

Many of the students struggling in schools lack parental involvement at home. They do not have the structure and discipline at home needed to be a successful student. These students struggle with organization and time management skills needed to complete assignments in a timely manner.

Our staff consistently contacts the homes of struggling learners to see if the parents are accessing their child’s grades on line. Unfortunately, many are not for various reasons — or excuses.

Many parents are not able to be home with their child because of work or other commitments. They may feel that their child’s education is a low priority in their life. If a parent acts like education is unimportant at home, or if he or she is unable to help the child become a successful student, the child tends to become apathetic toward education.

Apathetic students do not pursue due dates or appreciate the significance of obtaining an education. They simply don’t care. They may be overwhelmed with the class assignments, their home life, or other commitments in and out of school. Parents of these students either make their choices for them or are not involved enough.

After speaking to colleagues about this problem, we determined that student apathy could be caused by a lack of connection between the student and the classroom or the teacher. We should support our students with their extracurricular activities, and show that we’re excited about their passions. In order to avoid apathy building among students, educators need to ask students about their passions and goals.

Because there is a relationship between economic advantage and student performance, students of disadvantaged households are more likely to develop feelings of apathy. This is a major problem facing our institution, especially as 20% of American children are living in poverty.

The high level of achievement required of all students — including students of poverty — places a lot of pressure on schools. Our school, for example, provides students of poverty with a free or reduced priced breakfast and lunch in order to improve their health and nutrition, which can in turn enhance their learning. We also provide free tutoring to at-risk students after school and during the summer. If the student’s family cannot afford a field trip or an educational resource, our school will cover the cost. Our school also offers free counseling to students and families in need of guidance through social workers.

One of the biggest challenges I face in my job is number of students in my classroom. Since state funding for schools has been cut, our class size limits have been lifted. This makes it more difficult to give each student the individual attention he or she needs and deserves.

I have donated numerous hours of my time to help my students before or after class, especially if they return to homes where their parents do not help them with homework.

However, there’s only so much we as educators can do — policymakers must focus on addressing these issues of poverty and apathy in order for all students to be successful.

One thing our state’s elected leaders can’t continue to do is place such an emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing. It is an unfair measure of student achievement and misinforms the public. Test results do not take into account socioeconomic issues that affect students’ education. Instead, we must focus our energy on empowering all students to care and understand the importance of obtaining a quality education.

A child’s education begins at home with their parents and continues in the classroom. When a child does begin school, parents need to be there for support and encouragement. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Teacher unions matter!

It is important to be a Michigan Education Association member. I have been a member for the past six years. Our communities need an organization that will challenge school budget cuts, stand up for students, and inform the public on the status of bills in the legislature.

The E-Newsletters, MEA Voice Magazine, and other communications keep members alert! We continue to challenge educational issues such as charter school accountability, "toxic testing", and teacher retention.

We have benefitted immensely from belonging to MEA. My colleagues and I feel part of something greater than us. MEA membership inspires loyalty, participation, and camaraderie.

Being a part of the MEA has positively impacted education in our district. Teachers encourage parent involvement in order to improve student attitudes toward school, promote the development of social skills, and maintain a challenging academic environment.

The MEA is extremely important to the work we do. It provides support for teachers. This allows us to focus our attention, passion, and talents on building relationships and educating our students, rather than worrying about other outside issues affecting schools. My work as a teacher makes my life meaningful.