Blog Result7 Blogs Found
By Don J. Fessenden
Our primary mission will be to create a dialog as well as share your views and opinions with state and federal educational leaders. The story goes … a boy was walking on a beach and saw thousands of starfish … you know how it ends. We believe real change will take time and effort but it's worth the effort! This is a call to arms ... we need your help! All you need to do is contribute to our BLOG discussions and share your ideas, together we can ignite meaningful educational reform. TeachersMeet will champion the ideas of inclusion, accountability, and personal responsibility as we move to close the achievement gap. It’s time educator’s lead educational reform, not just follow it.
Our big idea ... to provide a professional platform where educators can:
* Networking (professional)
* Find a mentor
* Become a mentor
* Connect with other members in member created groups
* Post and discuss trending topics
* Upload functional resume to be viewed by our HR and Administrative members for possible employment
* Share opinions (BLOG)
* Provide an educators perspective to issues facing the educational system
* Reform education in the United States through unity (become the largest educator platform ensuring our voice is heard)
We will utilize our BLOG and monthly newsletter to share and introduce hot educational topics. Share educational resources that have been found by our staff or have been provided by our members. Lastly, we will be reaching out to district human resource directors to post "Hot Jobs" on our JOBS page.
In our BLOG, we will spend time looking at current educational reform and provide commentary as well as alternative solutions. We will also rely on our membership’s comments to give validity to our positions or to provide their own perspectives.
Upcoming BLOG topics:
* Researched based ... instant creditability!
* Why is the achievement gap continuing to grow?
* Should teacher performance evaluations be tied to student performance and achievement?
* Individual Educational Plans (IEP)...for all students
* SAT's for everyone!
* Motivation is key to student engagement
* Parents the ultimate role models
* Is lesson prep, really worth the time
* Why linking teacher performance to student achievement won’t close the achievement gap
* And much more...
Thanks for taking the time to visit, and please be sure to share your opinions!
By Don J. Fessenden
Life was not always easy growing up in a single parent home, with a mother who worked as a waitress and spent more time at the dinner than at home. She did her best to support and raise her two boys. Don never knew his father. He also called one of the state run boy’s home his home for over a year. While living on the wrong side of the tracks, trouble seemed to find him and if not for sports he probably would have found more trouble.
A love of sports and competition was the most the only reason he attend high school. Looking back it’s a miracle that he finished school. He believed that high school was a waste of time and a rite of passage a person went through before doing something that you aspired to do. Immediately following high school Don enlisted in the United States Air Force with stints in Pararescue, Aerospace Medicine, Public Health, and concluding his military career at the College of Professional Military Education. During his first assignment as a medical technician he was selected as a clinical instructor, this position set into motion his love of teaching.
After more than fifteen years spent in various medical supervisory positions Don joined the staff at the College of Professional Military Education at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, where he taught leadership and communication to mid-level United States Air Force managers. In his role as the Communication Department Chair, he oversaw the largest curriculum re-writing in the school’s history. After retiring in the summer of 2005 from the United States Air Force, he joined the staff at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in Scotch Plains, NJ.
Today, Don lives in Fairfield, Connecticut and works for the Norwalk Public Schools as a high school Aerospace Science teacher. An entrepreneur at heart and frustrated public school teacher he was motivated to do something, so he founded TeachersMeet.com. A platform designed to bring educators together to close the achievement gap through mentorship and advocacy.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Albert Einstein
“Make each and every day your Masterpiece.” John Wooden
By Don J. Fessenden
As an educator and professional student, I have spent many hours listening to professors and presenters make statements about education reform and teaching strategies followed by the words, research based. What does research based really mean?
During the early years, I remember being told to always cite for creditability. What has happened to citing? It seems to have been replaced with the words “Research Based.” While those utilizing these two words may believe it’s the same as citing, it’s not! How can a presenter gain creditability by saying “Research Based” the answer is they can’t gain creditability with just two words.
Let’s return to the good old days when presenters would cite during a presentation, while this will require real research, not just using the words “Research Based” as a crutch for inadequate lesson or presentation preparation. Your audience deserves more…more professionalism and research when preparing for your presentation, only then will you gain creditability.
As you move forward in your professional careers as educators, please resist the urge to use “Research Based,” your audience would rather here where you got your information as well as who is behind that research. Remember, there is no such thing as “Instant Creditability.”
In this BLOG, we promise to do thorough research and cite our research, because we want to be thought of as a creditable BLOG and our visitors deserves nothing less. As always, if you agree or disagree with our perspective let us know by joining the conversation and leave us your comments.
*Next up…Why does the achievement gap continue to grow?
By Don J. Fessenden
Why does the achievement gap continue to grow? The answer to this question is simple, unfortunately the solution is anything but simple. It continues to grow because those in educational leadership positions at the state and federal levels fail to identify the real problems. Why? Because to identify the real problems in closing the achievement gap, they would need to make statements that are far from politically correct.
Let me say, this is a problem that needs to be addressed at all levels, however today, we will take a closer look at our high schools.
At the high school level, the problem of closing the achievement gap is one of motivation and accountability. We have students who are not motivated to learn and stakeholders who don’t, or won’t hold these students accountable for their actions.
Throughout my twenty years in education, I have witnessed dedicated teachers and administrators do everything they possibly could to get students on the right track. Only to have other stakeholders step in to deflect accountability for poor academic performance from the student to the teacher. This is not only unacceptable but it’s extremely counterproductive.
Let’s look closer at stakeholder responsibility…in closing the achievement gap.
Politicians…need to stop treating education as a business, it’s not! While it may make sense for a retailer like Walmart to look at same store sales annually to determine their success. In education each year the cohort changes, so to try and compare one cohort to another, would be like comparing one Walmart store to a totally different store. Of course Walmart would never do this because it doesn’t make sense, so why are politicians trying to do it in education.
Educational Leadership…need to stop focusing on teacher effectiveness as the problem in education. While we understand it’s the only stakeholder under their control, they’re effectiveness is not the primary reason for the growing achievement gap. Until, leaders look at the tough factors and move away from the easy ones they will never solve the achievement gap problem.
Teachers…need to continue to find new ways of motivating their students as well as hold those students not meeting expectations accountable. They need to also do a better job of making lessons more relevant to their student’s interests. Another area needing attention is differentiation of lessons and student expectations. We must also do a better job in communicating with parents.
Parents…need to support teachers and collaborate with educators to develop their children. In the sixties if a student wasn’t performing parents held their children accountable. Today, most parents hold teachers and schools responsible for all failures.
Students…need to understand that the key to their future lays in their hands and in the end they will only have themselves to blame for their successes or failures. It takes intrinsic motivation to succeed in life and a lack of this motivation is likely to guarantee a lifetime of struggle.
Community/Society…needs to hold those in blue collar careers with the same esteem given to college graduates. If this was done, those students aspiring to join the trades would not feel like failures. Only when society changes its definition of success will we be able to move toward closing the achievement gap.
Leave a comment, tell us what you think.
Next up…Motivation is the key to closing the achievement gap!
By Don J. Fessenden
Why do educational leaders place so much value on standardized tests? The answers is because it’s the easiest! If students take the same standardized test we can review scores and utilize the data to determine a state or countries educational programs effectiveness. We are a country motivated by test scores. The problem with focusing on test scores devalues all the other forms of assessments we could utilize to best determine the effectiveness of the United States educational system.
As teachers, we’re ask to differentiate our instruction and expectations on a daily basis because not all students are the same. If our leadership differentiated the tools they used to evaluate educational effectiveness, they would be able to appreciate the success of the United States educational system.
However, maybe they would prefer selling the idea of a failing system versus a system that is doing great things, because everyone knows a failing system will ensures continued monetary support. Why else would leaders compare our test scores to countries that would never be in our country reference group? For years the gold standard in education has been Finland.
A country who utilizes the two-track system of education like the Great Britain. While both countries usually rank higher than the United States students in educational testing, they also eliminate those students who have been identified as vocational bound. Wow! If the United States didn’t test all students and omit those students who had no interest in college, just think of what are scores would look like.
Let’s look at Finland and Great Britain’s two-track system of education. The two-track system of vocational track or academic track is one that we LOVE. These countries get it…not everyone wants to go to college. During every convocation we hear how we should be preparing all students for college. Why? Is college acceptance the goal of secondary education, or is it too prepare our students for a changing world in need of both blue collar and white collar workers. Instead of devaluing the trades and a vocational education we should value both as tracks to a successful future.
The arguments against a two track system are weak at best and we continue to chase countries who have this type of system only make us look elitist. The fact is that not all graduating high school seniors go to college. Of those that go to college, not all graduate but they all incur the costs and student loans acquired during the experience. We strongly believe that if high school students and their parents were given the opportunity to select from the vocational track or college track high school would become much more relevant. This relevance would be seen in an increase of the student’s motivation.
Our big reform idea is to recommend that all high school students have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) focused on their identified track. Today the only students with IEP’s are those students with disabilities. We understand that placing all students on IEP’s will be costly and time consuming, we believe the return on investment will far exceeds the cost. The greatest challenge for the majority of teachers not teaching advanced placement classes is a lack of student motivation. This translates into low student engagement and performance.
If we allowed students to create their own education plan with educator guidance, the students will be taking courses relevant to their plan increasing their level of motivation exponentially. It doesn’t take a college degree to be successful or understand that if a student is interested in the course material that they will be more motivated to learn that material.
Now, we just need to be willing to stand up for change and speak out! We need to become leaders in education and stop chasing test scores, we need to reform education and start respecting the United States vocational educational system. We need to stop defining success by the degrees on your wall and recognize that a person’s contribution to society is what should define their success.
What do you think? Leave a comment and your perspective.
Should teacher performance evaluations be tied to student performance and achievement?
By Don J. Fessenden
What does 21st Century education look like in America? Our leaders provide reform ideas designed to help schools and districts close the student achievement gap. However, very little is being done to motivate the average student, they’re currently achieving at an acceptable level. What is an acceptable level? Well as long as a student is meeting goal, we rarely do anything to specifically support their educational growth and achievement.
This group makes up the largest population within our schools. Do we ignore them because average is good enough, or is it because of money? It’s always MONEY! What does addressing the needs of the forgotten student demographic have to do with Individual Education Plans (IEP)? As we all know, an IEP is associated with our students with disabilities.
This is a small but growing demographic closely followed from the time their cognitive or behavioral assessments identify them as in need of an IEP. If a student excels academically most districts have some type of a gifted and talented program. In every industry outside of education the most attention is always placed on the largest groups but not in education, as a nation we’re guilty of ignoring the average student.
The idea of an IEP for all students, is one that we as a nation need to take a look at seriously explore regardless of the costs associated with it, if we want ALL student have an opportunity to reach their full potential. Let’s take a closer look at three ways to adopt an IEP for all students.
First we could begin by utilizing current state assessments and intervals to place students in one of three different groups; IEP (D), IEP, IEP (G).
The students are our current students holding current IEP identifiers. We recommend a complete overhaul of the current system, focusing on the benefits to all students placed in general education settings based on state law. While approximately 90% of our current students with IEP should be included in general education classes following the state law for inclusion. The lowest functioning 10% should be given a much more life skills focused curriculum with two hours a day for inclusion in physical education and art.
These students would all still have a case manager responsible for their IEP. So there would be very little change with regards to this group.
IEP & IEP (D)
These two groups would be made up of all the current general education students and would be where the most radical changes to our current education system would occur. We would adopt the two-tier educational system that has shown to be so effective in Finland and Great Britain.
Once our local, state, and federal leaders admit that success is defined by the individual and not by a college degree, we will be able to move onto really doing some extraordinary work by providing all students the opportunity to seek a career in whatever field they select. The truth is that not all students aspire to go to college and that’s OK! As a society, we need to embrace the notion that you can be a success by working in blue or white collar professions.
We need to not just provide differentiation of instruction in our classrooms, we need to champion this same idea on a larger scale and create IEP for all students. This change and its effects would not be seen quickly but would require an adequate amount of time to work through the process. I have been cognizant of the educational system for more than forty years and seen president after president make educational reform a priority. Unfortunately for us none are ever in office long enough to ensure their visions are realized. So while we need political leaders support the responsibility of making meaningful educational change is in the hands of the educators.
Now let’s look at our general IEP & IEP (G) plan…
* All students would be required to complete state mandated courses through eighth grade. (No change from the current system)
* All 9th graders and their family’s decision makers select either the academic or vocational track.
* Those in this track will focus on core subjects based on student interests
* Change in mandatory requirement for 4 years of any specific subject (Policy change required)
* STEM focused courses (Gifted students)
* Liberal Arts focused courses (Policy change required)
* Track is designed to prepare students for college
* Those in this track will focus on 2 years of general studies during a student’s 9th & 10th grade years, with the final 2 years of high school focusing on vocational studies/internships (Policy change required)
* First two years will focus on Language Arts and Math
* Last two years would focus on vocational studies & corporate internships
* Students in this track would be exempt from taking state standardized tests
These are overviews of the two-track education plan we would like to see adopted by the U.S. Department of Education, we know that it will be an uphill battle but one worthy of our effort.
This two-track system would go a long way in closing the student achievement gap because it would give stakeholders options and allow students to follow their interests. We need to allow for differentiation in curriculum and courses based on student interests. When students take courses of interest, they will have intrinsic motivation toward their studies.
The idea of IEP for all students should be embraced as the ultimate in differentiated instructions and supported by those in educational leadership positions throughout the United States. However, the challenges of such an idea are enormous. The best possible outcome from this post would be to introduce this idea to as many educators as possible and let them share the idea with their colleagues.
While educators have tried to move away from placing students in tracks, the proposed two-track academic and vocational tracks may place students in a track system, it would be a system allowing students to focus on interest driven curriculum verses the current one size fits all model we currently utilize in U.S. public education.
Leave a comment and tell us what you think?
Next up… SAT's for everyone!
By Don J. Fessenden
How could such a great idea go so wrong? The inefficiency seen in most study halls has caused teachers to search for answers. In searching for solutions to the challenges of study hall, we need to first question the reason why there are so many study halls. The simple answer is money and a lack of course offerings. While most students assigned to study halls see it as a break in their school day, others see it as a chance to ketchup on school-work and yet others see it as a place to just hang-out.
However, the perspective of most teachers is that study halls are just an additional duty with little instructional benefit or return on investment! We teach because we love sharing our knowledge of the subjects we love with our students but when leading a study hall we try to do the best job we can at managing students who usually don’t know us as teachers or even worse don't feel accountable to us their teachers. How do teachers ensure students utilize study hall time more wisely? The short answer is we don’t…the long answer is that schools need to offer more courses and reduce the number of study halls or create one mass group study hall. This could be done in the school’s cafeteria. Unfortunately, this solution is not easy and comes with its own problems because you would not be able to schedule study halls before, during, or after lunch. The lack of feasible solutions to changing study halls, brings us to one conclusion...study halls should be history.
Of course schools may never be able to totally eliminate study halls from their schedules they should be used as a last resort and whenever possible offered during the first or last time-block. Also, they should be held in the school’s cafeteria and managed by paraprofessionals. It does not require a teaching certification to manage a study hall. With this new found time teachers would be able to do more peer observations, collaborate with colleagues or even provide tutoring to students needing extra subject-matter help. All of these suggestions would provide the schools stakeholders with a real return on investment.
As always, whether you agree or disagree with our post, please leave a comment. Have an idea for a future BLOG post, let us know and maybe we will use it!
Next up…Terror in our schools and the pressure to evaluate each and every threat.