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Elegant elephants

Field paper proposal

sarahfj's picture

I am placed with a teacher I believe to be quite remarkable in the way she relates and engages with students. However, despite the many positive attributes to her teaching style, there are also aspects that are outdated. She has been teaching for thirty years and has not recieved adequate support to improve her teaching strategies even though she has actively sought out workshops and other ways to improve herself as a teacher. I would like to focus on what it means for teachers to be penalized for faulty classroom practices and not encouraged to change or revise their ways. Districts need to provide support to teachers regardless of whether it is their first year or their 30th year in the classroom and I would like to explore ways to make this possible.

Field Paper Proposal

Lchase's picture

For my field paper the question I will be addressing is how much teaching towards the test hinders the student’s ability to critically think. I also wanted to include how much these policies hinder the school in general but I am not sure how to do so. While at Oakley* Elementary School I have continuously experienced structured lesson plans that do not leave room for change. I have been going to my placement weekly and sometimes biweekly (Tuesday’s and Friday’s) and have experienced the same structure every time. This structure revolves around direct teaching and how to prepare for their tests (although this is interpreted and not directly stated). The students work out of their writing workbooks ranging from worksheets about basic grammar to worksheets about readings.

Ravitch and Kopp

sarahfj's picture

I do not think TFA is an effective model. I don't form this opinion solely from this week's readings, but from experience with people in the program who have been subjected to poor support structures and even removed from their schools within the first few months. The reading only reinforces my feelings on the subject. However, I also think its important to not be so quick to criticize the program as Ravitch does in her article. Like Kopp says, there are many TFA alums still in education who are effective members of the field.

Funds of Knowledge

schools10's picture

In reading Crawford-Garrett's book, I was struck by the distancing that was going on between the TFA corps members and the students and families in the surrounding community. Some of the corps members seemed unable to empathize with these families and see ways in which they supported and loved their children that may have differed from how the corps members themselves were raised. One corps member, Wendy, was disturbed by the children's lack of access to "classic" children's literature and the lack of what she conceived of as literacy in their homes. But, as Crawford-Garrett writes, "Wendy was viewing literacy primarily as a set of skills or activities that we acquire rather than something that we put to use in our interactions with others.

Vignette: PSSAs and Accountability

sarahfj's picture

On my first day, Mrs. A explained to me that they had a new format of answer reading questions for the PSSAs, which were in six weeks, that had only been given to the teachers last week. Mrs. A was upset about this fact and seemed frustrated. She explained that the school scores had been dropping for a while now and she worried that if they dropped more the school might become a charter and she would be out of a job. This would be particularly difficult for her because she has been teaching so long any might have a hard time getting hired anywhere else because she’s too expensive.

Devaluing teachers and Teach for America

schools10's picture

I really appreciated your points about how teachers and teachers' unions are portrayed by the media. Teaching is increasingly being treated as an unskilled profession, and teachers' agency and creativity are being taken away. As teachers are being portrayed as unskilled workers and are being blamed for the failures of their students on standardized tests, teachers' unions are blamed for making it difficult to fire "bad" teachers.

School as a Family

sarahfj's picture

In McKilip et. al.'s "Rules of Engagement: Building a College-Going Culture in an Urban School." I was impressed by the school's sense of an almost familial culture. As one 12th grader said of her advistory board, "You sit down and you have a conversation, like you're having a conversation at the dinner table." (p. 538). This attitude seems not only be a part of the students' existence at the school, but also the teachers'.

"Why Don't We Have Real Data on Charter Schools?"

sarahfj's picture

I found this article fascinating. Though it did not wholly address the subject the title implies, the lack of data on charter schools, it did bring up several interesting points. Some I agreed with in full while others made me feel sceptical. I thought it was beneficial that the article pointed out that charter schools were first created as "laborator(ies) for innovations that would be applied to public schools." However, the article goes on to show that rather than collaborating with public schools they are competeing with public schools.