Archive | November 2014

Failure: the 8th grade NYS Common Core Math Test

Granted, and...

As I have often written here, the Common Core Standards are just common sense – but that the devil is in the details of implementation. And in light of the unfortunate excessive secrecy surrounding the test items and their months-later analysis, educators are in the unfortunate and absurd position of having to guess what the opaque results mean for instruction. It might be amusing if there weren’t personal high stakes of teacher accountability attached to the results.

So, using the sample of released items in the NY tests, I spent some time this weekend looking over the 8th grade math results and items to see what was to be learned – and I came away appalled at what I found.

Readers will recall that the whole point of the Standards is that they be embedded in complex problems that require both content and practice standards. But what were the hardest questions on the…

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Honoring a student’s personality quirks and all

Since I began my teaching career I have had on several occasions and at a parent’s request the rather disconcerting experience to visit with said parent about a student’s perceived lack of social skills or quirkiness. I am often incredulous at the varying expectations as to what is or is not acceptable in regard to what really amounts to a student’s innate personality traits.

I am not saying as teachers we can’t help our students develop good manners or even help them improve those ever-important social skills. After all, success at anything is as much about interpersonal relationships and getting along with others as it about one’s ability to do a good job. Regardless, oftentimes, what I hear are adults complaining about exhibited personality traits of the student, which translate, in my opinion, to nothing short of an inherent dislike of the person the adult should love more than anything in the world.

As a result, this teacher has made the decision to advocate on behalf of the child and his or her quirkiness by gently reminding adults the importance of honoring a student’s personality.

What a boring place it would be if we were all gregarious and outgoing or if we were all subdued and contemplative. What the world will always need is a good mix of both and everything in between.

As a teacher, I believe now more than ever in the importance of honoring our students’ personalities by helping each become the best he or she was meant to be quirks and all!