Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Teachers looking for free technology to use in your classroom. Check out this grant for teachers by Samsung.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interesting Blog on Teachers- Thanks to our Friend Stu Bloom

On Praising and Bashing Teachers

Larry Cuban has a post about praising teachers while, at the same time, bashing them.
I know from teaching for nearly 15 years and research that there is much variety among teachers in effectiveness as there is among lawyers, doctors, dentists, accountants, and CEOs. I know that figuring out fair and equitable ways of determining success among these professionals goes far beyond looking at numbers. I also know that the anti-union hostility is anchored in error and ideology.

One only has to contrast right-to-work states with those allowing collective bargaining to determine whether the absence of contracts has improved schools and made them more solvent financially, or, better yet, raised teacher salaries and demonstrated more trust in teachers. They have not.

One only has to look at the dominant metrics that command attention from reform-minded policymakers and business-driven coalitions. Standardized test scores come into play constantly in plans to evaluate and pay teachers. No measures of the student-teacher relationship or what students learn exist beyond the narrow band of knowledge and skills captured by multiple-choice test items. Nothing else counts.

One only has to look at zero tolerance policies on discipline and drugs where automatic penalties strip away principal and teacher judgment when students break school rules.
People writing comments discussed the difficulty of evaluating teachers. It was a thoughtful exchange and I left a comment of my own...(edited a bit since I've had time to read it more carefully):

The evaluation of teachers is difficult. As we all seem to agree, numbers don't tell the whole story. Teachers have to be counselors, nurses, and parents during their work day. Reaching students takes more than just "telling students" what they need to learn. The process of evaluation is dependent on more than just what happens in the classroom. A competent evaluator is a necessity. Principals have to be trained to give helpful feedback. A poor teacher is often ignored by an equally poor administrator.

Teachers have an incredible work load. Most teachers don't have the luxury of telling their secretary, "Please hold all calls and don't let anyone bother me. I have to get this paperwork done." The paperwork is usually done during short "preparation periods" (guaranteed by union contracts) or at home. It's not just a question of looking at student work and grading it has to be analyzed and the analysis needs to be incorporated into the next day's lesson plans.

Students and their parents also need to be accountable. "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" is a truism when it comes to trying to educate our children. Sometimes the parents and students have no choice or options...children who come to school hungry or traumatized will not think about subject matter so much as survival.

One important aspect of teaching that I find missing in most discussions, however, is the human factor. Teachers are human...and have different styles of teaching and different ways of relating to students. A teacher who is a life-saver for one child, may not be able to reach another. My own children had good and bad teachers, too, but some of those teachers were the same person. Even a SUPER teacher might be mediocre for some students. To think otherwise is to deny the reality of the classroom. I have watched a lot of teachers teach...the last 15 years of my career was as a pull out teacher for students who were having difficulty in the classroom. I've seen excellent teachers, yet even the best teachers failed with some students. True, it's a teacher's responsibility to do everything she can to help a child succeed, but it's impossible to do that 100% of the time. The greatest teacher in the world may not be able to overcome the challenges of poverty, parental indifference or antagonism, ADHD, childhood depression and a host of other things which prevent a child from learning.

It's not possible everywhere, but to the extent it is, parents should have a hand in choosing their child's teacher. Current year's teachers should also have input into whose class a child will be in the following year.

Finally, over the course of my career I have worked in four schools with probably 150 different teachers. I would agree that about 10% are either bad or mediocre. I can count the bad ones (at least in my opinion) on one hand...and even the mediocre ones often had students who soared under their care. On the other hand, one thing I am unable to do is name a teacher or principal I worked with who didn't care about his or her students.


Friday, March 18, 2011

FWEA Constitution and Bylaws Ammendments

FWEA MEMBERS: Please note per the FWEA Bylaws in order for a change in the Bylaws the FWEA membership must be notified at least two weeks prior to voting. Below are the motions and changes approved by your FWEA Executive Board last Monday, 3/14/11 at the FWEA Executive Board meeting.

Motions to amend FWEA Constitution and By Laws

Article 2, Dues, Section 3, 6th line, page 15 -- after office insert the words (, or an email to the FWEAPresident,) Motion by Matt Mertes, second by Marlena Mulligan. Approved unanimously by FWEA Executive Board

Rationale: When members want to drop their membership they contact the FWEA President via letter and email. The wording "or an email to the FWEA President" was added to cover emails sent to the president.

Article 4, Duties of Officers, Section 7, Treasurer, page 21, F -- Rewrite the sentence: Shall submit
financial records for an audit or review annually, and Motion by John Eastes, second by Pat Pruitt Approved unanimously by FWEA Executive Board

Rationale: To help tighten the belt on the FWEA budget the By Law was amended to allow for "an audit or an review annually". An annual review is much cheaper than an annual audit.

Ballots will be sent out to vote on these changes in the next 4 weeks.

Al Jacquay II
President -Fort Wayne Education Association (FWEA)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Indiana School Employees Rally

Members of Indiana State Teachers Association rallied at the state capitol to protest proposed anti-union, anti-public worker initiatives being promoted by Governor Mitch Daniels - especially the Governor's attempt to strip most public employees of the right to bargain collectively -- Saturday, March 5

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 5, FWEA and Indiana Teachers Rally in Indy.

On Saturday, March 5, 2011, Indiana teachers rallied in Indianapolis to protest anti-union legislation. FWEA was there. Photos and video below.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thanks to all FWCS teachers who attended the state rally

A big thanks to the charter bus and car loads of FWEA teachers who braved the cold, wind, and rain to stand in solidarity for the March 5, 2011 ISTA Rally at the Statehouse. Over 3,000 teachers, parents, PTA leaders, and concerned citizens gathered to rally support for teachers and collective bargaining in Indiana. Everyone heard from ISTA President Nate Schnellenberger, ISTA Executive Director Brenda Pike, a Superintendent from a local school district, and NEA Treasurer Becky Pringle. The key is to not give up, hang in there, be brave, be strong. We are all in this togther and together will shall survive. Thanks for all you do.