Tag Archives: education

Anita, Math Teaching, and the System

I had coffee today with Anita, one of the year 10 teachers in our longitudinal study. She was in my School & Society course (foundations course) in initial teacher education and I have observed and interviewed her each year since. She is a very strong teacher in every way, but has just moved to a new school and is facing some challenges. She said about 40% of her grade 4/5 class have very low SES backgrounds and the government is reducing special education support, ostensibly to promote inclusion but actually to save money. One thing she talked about relates to how difficult it is to teach math skills and concepts without concerted system direction and teacher training (as noted in my previous posting about the PISA results). She said it will probably take most of the year to teach her class how to do a 3-part math lesson (direct instruction/group work/whole-class discussion), whereas if the whole school was doing it and all the teachers had been trained in it she could have used this approach immediately. We also talked about how the principal needs to provide leadership in getting all the teachers pulling together around such pedagogy, but principals aren’t being trained in this role or receiving a consistent message that it’s a major part of their job. Anita, then, has to fine-tune and prioritize her teaching activities largely on her own (there are effectively 2 PD days a year), hoping to survive and thrive as a teacher and be there for her students. Clive

Feedback on blog about PISA results

Our blog post on the PISA scores generated a lot of feedback. Here are some of the comments we have received:

  • We can add the lack of time for collaborative planning in schools and the lack of professional development opportunities that are job-embedded are factors that must be considered.
  • Is it just my idea or is PISA  becoming a ruler for our educational systems? Even telling the way we need to teach? PISA results make even Finnish feel nervous because they dropped some points 🙂
  • I have not read anything by anyone else that remotely comes close to what Clive has said. I will share this with my teacher candidates.
  • The gap between the rich and poor in my country is great. This affects education in all ways.
  • When people use words like “failure”, “crisis’, and “floundering” they are being silly.
  • Clive’s piece has motivated me to write an op-ed for our newspaper.
  • The news about PISA scores have been a new in Peru too… beyond our low position in the ranking compared with the other countries, one salient topic is the huge inequality gaps.

Chris Hayes on Education

As the PISA results are released there is the usual flurry of commentary and criticism of teachers. Chris Hayes’ show, All In (on MSNBC) had an excellent panel discussion on education. Although most journalists do not seem to “get” education, the panel was excellent because all members are deeply connected to schooling. They understand the importance of teacher morale, impact of poverty on children, the effect of inequity in school funding, and limitations of test scores. Here is the link for the segment:

http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/are-american-schools-really-failing-79675459718

Clare