Current Connection 3

In the Current Connection for this week we had three chapters which were “My Dirty Little Secret: I Dont Grade Students Papers. Helping Students find their passion helps them learn how to write well” By Linda Christensen, “Taking Teacher Quality Seriously: A collaborative approach to teacher evaluation” By Stam Karp, and “Beyond Test Scores Introducing the MCIEA School Quantity Measures” By James Noonan. 

In the first chapter that we covered it was about a high school English Teacher that does not grade her students’ work, because she wants her students’ work to be meaningful and important to them. She says that to her the grades that she gives out to her students feel like “wages” for the “labor” that they do. She goes on to say how that students rely on the grades to see how well they did on that assignment and from there determines how good they feel about the work that they did. One of the points that the teacher brought up was that a student’s writing should never be done. And they should always be improving and wanting to do better. And the teacher went on to explain how when it comes to report cards students do get a grade based on the amount of points that they get on the assignments that they turn in. There were two students in her class, Nicole and Mira. Nicole expressed how in middle school she would feel dumb when she saw that Mira always got A’s on her paper but she did not. And then Mira expressed how instead of just getting an A, she also wanted feedback on her writing so that she can improve in the future. One of the things that the teacher felt like that needs to be included in grading is Social Justice, and there has to be no exceptions for that. 

The second chapter that we covered was “Taking Teacher Quality Seriously” A Collaborative approach to teacher evaluation” By Stan Karp. In the chapter it talked about how there is common ground for teachers, administrators, and parents for the need for better support and evaluation before new teachers get tenure or before they leave the profession which nearly 50% of new teachers do within the first 5 years. The second point that was brought up was fair and timely procedures for resolving tenure hearings and when they are initiated. The third point there to be a credible intervention process to remediate or if necessary remove ineffective teachers. Another thing that this chapter brings up is how the class sizes are growing and the budget is shrinking. And with that happening the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools’ Department of Professional Growth Systems (PGS) was put into place. Which was based on a clear, common vision of high-quality teaching practice, includes PAR (peer assistance and review) for new and underperforming teachers. PGS was also based on including the test scores as one of the many indicators of student progress and teachers’ performance without rigidly weighted formulas, and they take the board’s qualitative approach to promoting system-wide teacher quality and continuous personal growth.   

      Some of the things that I disagree with the PGS is that it relies on the students’ test scores when it comes to showing the students’ progress along with the teachers’ performance. Which I don’t think can fully capture what the teacher spends their time with their students. The results that the PGS is trying to get through test scores isn’t what the students have been working through the years and including what they are trying to accomplish with their students. 

Another thing that the chapter mentioned was the Professional Teaching Standards. There are six of them which include: Teachers are committed to students and their learning, Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students, Teachers are responsible for establishing and managing student learning in a positive learning environment, Teachers are continually assess student progress, analyze the results, and adapt instruction to improve student achievement, Teachers are committed to continuous improvement and professional development, and Teachers exhibit a high degree of professionalism. I think that each of the sic Professional Teaching Standards are important and that you cannot have one without the other. And I think that it is very important that teachers follow these standards to ensure that their student is getting the best possible education that they can get.   

The current connection for this chapter came from “Returning to School: Supporting the Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Health of Students and Staff” from the Ohio Department of Education. The article talks about due to  COVID-19 this section was added to the Ohio Department of Education, so that everyone is aware of what is going on in the students’ life. This section was made to highlight the changes in daily routine, lack of predictability,increased fear of their safety and their loved ones’ safety, extended periods of isolation, loss of loved ones, limited access to food and safe shelter, and ongoing safety concerns. In this section it talks about six different topics. 

The first one is Build and Sustaining Relationships, which includes having a sense of community, alway bringing positivity into the classroom, and mask comfort, which is allowing your students to personalize their mask, so that there is a willingness for them to wear it. The second topic was Adult Self-Care During COVID-19 and Beyond which listed different resources that teachers could use for themselves when they start to become overwhelmed and need to take some time for themselves. Which for some reason I wasn’t expecting this to be on the list, but it is important that it is. Because I feel like teachers can become wrapped up in making sure that their students are safe and doing well that they do not do that for themselves as well. The third topic was Building Resiliency through Social and Emotional Learning which talked about how teachers need to allow their students to talk about their feelings and how important it is to show gratitude in the classroom during this tough time, and lastly they need to reflect on past experiences. The fourth section was Supporting Behaviors which outlines what some of the teachers should do in their classrooms to help students understand what the teacher in expecting from them in the classroom the first thing is to set clear expectations for your students, recognized good behavior in the classroom, and to have lesson plans that explain the safety requirements connected to the pandemic. The fifth section was Trauma-Sensitive Practices which includes being mindful of the classroom atmosphere, to have a self-care space, and to allow your students to have breaks. The last topic is Grief and in this section it talks about the importance of allowing students time and space to express grief, have students write letters to lost loved ones, and to have schools partner with mental health agencies that can provide individual or group grief counseling, so that students are getting the proper help that they may need.  
The last chapter that we covered was “Beyond Test Scores Introducing the MCIEA School Quality Measures” By James Noonan. This chapter Dr. Jack Schneider, from the College of the Holy Cross, put together a team that helped districts and cities in Somerville produce a more holistic picture of school quality.  There were six school districts that were involved: Attleboro, Boston, Lowell, Revere, Somerville and Winchester. The MCIEA (Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment is also working to reach a similar goal. They have put into plan the “School Quality Measures” Project. Both Programs mentioned taking in data to improve schools not just based on test score criteria. The five main things that the MCIEA wanted to achieve was: Teacher  and Teaching Environment: Teacher Qualifications, Effective Classroom Practices, etc., School Culture: Safe, Caring and Academically Oriented, Resources: Facilities, Personal, Curriculum, Equipment, etc, Indicators of Academic Learning: Measure of Core content versus Individual Ideas and Identities,Citizenship and Wellbeing: Measures the development of traits relevant to students leading rewarding lives in the future. And the overall goal was not to rank schools, but to find the source of the problem so that there can be a better program for each of the schools involved.

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