Archive for October, 2011

It Takes A Village

We may seem lost in space but…

There are few who would disagree with this statement: Parent involvement in their children’s education is crucial to a successful educational program. A reform plan to improve education must incorporate the issue of parent involvement. This issue involves a number of aspects. Many reformers look at only a single aspect of this issue, that of the school/home relationship. A modern reform plan must also consider the impact of the home/business relationship. Other aspects that need to be considered are school/government, parent/government, school/community, parent/community and business/community.

It takes a village (referring to Hillary Clinton’s best-selling 1996 book) is the basis of this aspect of educational reform. The school is not in isolation. It exists in a community. The nucleus of this community is the school composed of the students, teachers, school staff and parents. Like a living cell, the nucleus is surrounded by many functioning parts. The local community, the business world and the government interact with this new clear community of the school. It takes the village to provide an education for its children.

Continuing with the analogy of a living cell, the school community is the nucleus. Within this nucleus (the students) reside the future of society. It is the purpose of the school community to pass the traditions of culture and society to the future (students). The knowledge, wisdom, and morals of what we expect for a better future is modeled within this school community. The role of the school community is to continue civilization.

The school community exists in a larger setting. All aspects of this “village” must be involved in the maintenance of a sound educational program. Parents are the first line of involvement in the child’s education. There are few who would argue with that statement. However the parent needs the support of the rest of the “village.” Today’s family structure is most commonly composed of a single working parent or two working parents. Many of these parents work outside the community. Parents are concerned about losing time from work for fear of reduced wages and/or loss of employment. Many parents feel trapped. They would like to become more involved but are unable.

Business must step up and become involved in school reform. Encouraging parents to participate in school activities can be accomplished by providing paid “loss of time” for workers who attend school functions such as parent/teacher interviews, schools/parent meetings and child/parent school presentations. Business productivity due to loss of employee work time might well be offset by the improved morale of employees.. The business world is very quick to criticize schools and educational systems. They criticize the preparedness of prospective employees and, in some cases; they use this as an excuse to transfer operations to foreign countries. Providing time for employees to attend school functions will only benefit the business in the long run. Business is part of the “village.”

...but we are together...

Local politicians and the government need to be supportive of the school community and the business involvement in the schools. A great deal of rhetoric about school reform has been the subject of political discussions. The rhetoric of politicians usually evaporates at the end of the campaign. Schools require funding to support reform. This funding is needed to provide for change in the infrastructure of schools and improvement of school programs. This funding comes from the citizens that elected politicians. These citizens are convinced by the politicians who are eager to damn schools and teachers for producing poorly prepared pupils. These politicians point to the failure of schools, the ineptness of teachers, the failure of students, the loss of moral strength… When these politicians become elected they pass legislation that sounds fundamental to what the “village” believes. No Child Left behind is a prime example. No one argues with the basic premise. It’s an excellent concept. However, its expectations are beyond reason. The demands put on school systems around the country increased costs at the local level but no additional funding materialized. In fact educational funding was cut. The “village” needs the support and encouragement of political leaders and government officials to participate in school reform in several ways. First, they can endeavor to provide the necessary funding to provide for excellent schools. Second, they can remove education as a political plank in a political platform. Third, they can begin to speak positively about the quality of education that can be provided. Fourth, government can be instrumental in influencing the business world with involvement in the educational reform. Fifth, government can improve education by improving the licensing requirements and continued education of teachers and administrators.

 

... even as we developed we are still..

The “village” needs the local community. It is vital to the success of any school reform program. Pupils need to feel safe walking to and from school. The people of the community need to be watchful that the children can safely pass in front of their homes. Local businesses need to be prepared to offer jobs to members of the community. Community businesses need to be supportive of school events. Sponsorship of various school programs through financial or visual support would be on means of assisting a school. The continuing problem of gangs and the effect they have on the children that attend school is an issue that needs to be addressed. This is not just a crime against children in school. It is an attack on the community at large. It is a corrosion that will destroy the community and with it the education of the children within that community. Community organizations need to offer support to the local schools. Pride in family and community will be reflected in the schools

It takes a village to educate its children. The villageis made up of many people. It is composed of you and me and the person next door. It relies on the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. It relies on the policeman and firemen and the mailman. School Reform is an issue that concerns all of us.

... watching out for our children!!

 

October 26, 2011 at 9:36 pm Leave a comment

Teacher Preparation

One aspect of school reform needs to be a reform of teacher preparation programs. A solid teacher preparation program should include the following aspects:

  • General Coursework
  • Education coursework
  • Internship
  • Student teaching
  • Supervised probationary teaching.

In order to create good teachers it is necessary to develop these teachers over period of time. It requires the support of the educational community both within the school and on the University level.

General Coursework:

A successful teacher must be a successful learner. Good teachers are good learners.General Coursework is offered as part of a liberal arts core program. It includes such courses as Composition Writing, History, Sociology, Science, Math, etc. These general studies offer the student, future teacher, an opportunity to develop learning habits that their experience as a learner can be used to help their students.

Educational Coursework:

There are certain courses of study that are useful for students to learn the theoretical aspects of learning and teaching. These courses would include courses that any grade level teacher would be able to use. History and Philosophy of Education, Classroom Principles, Classroom Management, etc. All teachers plan, execute and evaluate a lesson. Part of the coursework needs to be a study of state standards and how to use them in a classroom.

Internship:

What a student is accepted into the college of education, in the internship should become a regular part of the students program. This internship should involve a few hours a day working in a classroom with an experienced teacher. It should involve interaction with students, teachers, staff and extracurricular events. It is important that this be a limited involvement. Hour or two a day should suffice. Internship should be given college credit at should involve various aspects of the school. Internship dealing with students. Internship dealing with learning how to plan. Internship learning classroom management skills. Internship learning to deal with disciplinary problems. Internship dealing with identification of learning disabilities. Internship dealing with extracurricular events.

During this internship phase, students can begin the focus on age levels that they are interested in teaching. These age levels are as follows:

  • Preschool
  • Primary level
  • Intermediate level
  • Upper grade level
  • Early High school level
  • Late high school level

Students join this in turn phase should also have an opportunity to be involved in other levels of education. It is important for the prospective teacher to he have a view of levels below and above their area of interest.

Student Teaching:

Student teaching should be the bridge between college life as an intern and future life as a classroom teacher. During the internship student has that an opportunity to observe and become involved with many of the classroom activities but without the responsibility or consequences that that involvement may have. Student teaching provides a short period of time for the prospective teacher to take command of the classroom and be responsible for all aspects. Cheering this period of time the student teacher “replaces” an experienced teacher. This experience teacher offers regular observation and feedback, advice and assistance where needed. This student teaching time should be at least one entire semester (half of a school year).

Supervise Probationary Teaching:

All schools need to participate in a program to prepare future teachers with the skills and experience teachers have developed over the years. Mentors should work with “rookie” teachers until they feel that this teacher can stand on their own. Unlike student teaching, the teacher is a pay teacher, on staff, and fully responsible for to the students and parents. Probationary certification should be provided for two-year. During this probationary time, the teacher needs all the support the teaching staff and school administration. At the end of this two year, formal observations should lead to a teaching license.

There are basically two major changes in this proposal. First, internships need to be intensified while educational coursework needs to be decreased. Many university teacher preparation programs require students to make classroom observations. Instead of observations it would be of a benefit to get the student involved on a hands-on basis. Putting prospective teachers into the classroom and letting them get involved will prepare students for the expectations of the teacher. Breaking the internship into intensified modules will be able to assist the student in preparing for teaching.

October 14, 2011 at 2:28 am Leave a comment


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