Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Action should be taken to stop decline in reading proficiency

It is disappointing to see that reading proficiency is down among students in Michigan. Lower-income students continue to be at-risk. The ability to read at a proficient level is critical for success in all core-subject areas. Interventions must be available in schools for persistently low-performing students.
Michigan’s educators and parents can improve reading proficiency by working together to support learning. Reading aloud to children at an early age is essential for their language development. According to the Michigan Department of Education, “the earlier in a child’s educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects”. Michigan legislators should consider policies that hold educators and parents accountable in order to improve reading proficiency and overall performance across the board.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Teacher Appreciation

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.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An Open Letter to My Students

What are your goals and dreams for your life? I am here to inspire you to learn from everything you do, explore your curiosities, support you with your struggles, and celebrate your successes.

I care about you, your learning, your life, and I want you to find happiness within yourself in order for you to be capable of helping others. I have made some mistakes pursuing my life goals and dreams.  

It is okay to make mistakes and learn from them. Failure is a fundamental part of life. We not only learn from our own mistakes, but we also learn from the failures of others. There are "potholes" everywhere.

I encourage you to keep being awesome, passionate, and motivated in order to develop your confidence. Stay focused on the right things in school. Think in the affirmative rather than the negative.

My message is meant to help redirect you to a better path and make it over the "potholes". I want your life to have purpose and direction with the strength to keep going in the face of adversity.

My message is meant to recharge your battery. You will need a fully charged battery to make it in this world on your own. Get your sleep. Your going to need some energy.

We need to finish this school year strong together. The end of the school year is always the most difficult because of "summer fever". Stay organized and focused. I appreciate your hard work.

I am someone in your life who is in your corner at the time you are considering giving up on school. No one is designed to be a failure. I believe in you. Focus on your goals and dreams for motivation.

My message is just what you need to hear at this point in your life. Everyone can be unmotivated at times in their life. It's natural. Sometimes, we just need a hand to get out of a slump. I can be your hand.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Teachers can best learn from other teachers

Teachers need to keep up with the forward progress of education, the developments in research, and the latest classroom approaches in order to improve student achievement. 

Since educators need to learn in a social context, classroom teaching must be more than a private practice. Educators need opportunities to develop professionally in a supportive environment. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) provide an excellent opportunity for teachers to learn from each other in order to meet the diverse needs and learning styles of students. When teachers are exposed to different teaching styles or strategies by watching other teachers teach, it is possible that their teaching style can evolve. 

However, it is not possible to learn from others if no one is willing to share, collaborate, or communicate. Teachers can learn something about their own classrooms by sharing their daily activities with colleagues and by reflecting on the teaching practice at conferences, workshops, and meetings. Blogs and social media allow teachers to tell the story of their classroom in such a way that it triggers reflection, inspires others, and advances teaching. The school culture needs to support the sharing and learning among teachers that mirrors the classroom climate.   

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The importance of blended learning to modern education

Blended learning is merely something that the elite and innovative educators do in order to meet the diverse needs of students. The numerous online resources available can create a classroom that extends beyond normal school hours. This provides students with more flexible opportunities for peer interaction, learning the content, and developing technology skills. Blending the online and in-person environments is really the best of both worlds because students receive the benefit of face-to-face interaction with more opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. 

Blended learning in the classroom consists of a combination of online learning using simulations, videos, and forums in addition to small group differentiated instruction facilitated by the teacher. These instructional methods are appealing to digital natives. Blended learning can support instruction in all grades and subject areas to "increase educational productivity by accelerating the rate of learning" (U.S. Department of Education). This can play a key role in preparing students for our digital world.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The role of standardized testing

Teachers need tests to determine if students have learned what was expected of them and if it is the right time to move on to the next objective. 

The data gathered from tests identifies areas of difficulty, which can help teachers adjust instruction for subsequent cohorts of students. Tests show teachers which students are achieving and the instructional strategies that are effective. Results from standardized tests can help inform educational policy, school improvement, or instructional practice and develop an action plan.

There are socioeconomic issues such as the inequalities in school funding between wealthy and impoverished areas, which can have an impact on student achievement and test results. 

Standardized tests are just one of the many markers of progress, and alternative assessments such as observations, performance tasks, or portfolios should also be used by teachers. Results from alternative assessments can be more effective in communicating outcomes. 

Standardized tests can be used to observe changes in student test scores over a year in order to inform the public of an improvement or decline in student achievement.  The standardized tests can also be used as a tool to compare certain schools within the same district because they are similar in socioeconomics. 

However, one thing our state’s elected leaders can’t continue to do is place such an emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing.  Instead, we must focus our energy on empowering all students to care and understand the importance of obtaining a quality education. 

The goal of using data produced by standardized tests is to extract a correlation between the knowledge of the student and the effectiveness of the teacher. 

However, there is not a reliable learning assessment resource available to measure the different impact of each. 

Besides the effectiveness of the teacher, the knowledge of the student is also affected by social factors such as student apathy, peer relations, poverty, and parent involvement. 

Standardized tests should not be on the cutting edge of education because it promotes teaching to the test, which can be counterproductive and dehumanizing. A possible violation of human rights.   

However, tests cannot be the only assessment used to help with the evaluating, rating, and ranking of schools, teachers, and school systems. 


Published in the Oakland Press Open Opinion Forum on April 12, 2014 and April 20, 2014.

Published in the Macomb Daily Open Opinion Forum on April 20, 2014. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Teachers Can Contend with Setbacks in Education

Teachers can best respond to the challenges, demands, and setbacks in education by taking on leadership responsibilities within their department, school, or district. However, it is also important to ignore some of the setbacks and just move on with what your doing in order to avoid frustration. Putting up walls to block out all the negativity can help teachers maintain their focus on educating students. Teachers can be proactive in the face of educational adversity by developing resiliency through maintaining a well-balanced life with positive attitudes and social relationships.

'Speed Bumps' in education can provide a helpful feedback loop to inform the teaching practice in areas such as reform initiatives, strategic planning, and professional development. Teachers respond the same way to setbacks inside of the classroom as they do with stumbling blocks at a larger scale. They want to make sense of the setbacks in order to improve student achievement. Teachers can deal with difficulties in education and endure the challenges they face without allowing disruptions to student learning.