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Rethinking Education in the Wake of the Election

Rethinking Education in the Wake of the Election

I grew up in a low-income, abusive household in Chicago. My teachers encouraged me to find my way out through college, and I reacted by taking school seriously — almost too seriously.

Once I got to college, I worked my butt off to land a job in investment banking, satisfying a need for prestige and security. I spent the next few years building complex financial models to help one mega-corporation swallow another, and made enough money to wipe out my college debt. I was also exhausted to the core and unfulfilled by my work. So I quit, opting instead to help young people from circumstances similar to mine. I applied to Teach for America, and was soon teaching math at an alternative high school in New York City.

There, I was focused on improving the achievement of black and Hispanic students, a cause Teach for America is devoted to. I’m thankful for that focus. Its teachers, and so many others, do the kind of life-saving work that helped me get to college years ago.

The results of the election, though, have me thinking about how complicated our American ecosystem really is — and whether our focus within improving education has been a bit short-sighted.

Throughout his campaign for president, Donald Trump spoke against inclusion and acceptance, the very things that make America great. He promised to erect a wall, deport immigrants, and force Muslims to register in a national database. He has a long history of insulting women. He was endorsed by David Duke and took his time disavowing Duke’s support.

It’s also true that voters identified by exit polls as “white without a college degree” helped Donald Trump win the election and become the next president of the United States. A whopping 67 percent of them voted for Trump.

I think we can understand this in two ways. One is that it’s unrealistic to expect rural white Americans to weather the status quo as they suffer the effects of globalization. The other is institutionalized and systemic racism.

Education is one way to address both. And so, if America continues to fail to provide everyone with an equitable education — one that puts them on the pathway to economic prosperity — we all lose. People of color like me are likely to lose the most.

 

 

That doesn’t make the choices ahead of us any less complicated. Allocating resources for one group often results in unintended consequences for others. I also know that we can’t let up in our efforts to help students of color, who need us to continue to push for college and career initiatives aimed at bridging gaps created by generations of racist policies.

But we should simultaneously redouble our efforts to improve educational opportunity for rural, disenfranchised whites. When I attended Teach for America’s 25th anniversary summit in Washington D.C. last year, I attended a session called, “What is the Role of White Leaders on the Path to Educational Equity?” This certainly needs to be talked about. It’s also important to recognize that when we talk about being white in education, we tend to assume it’s a position of power. That privilege is real, but so are the limited opportunities for higher education and a sustaining career for plenty of white Americans.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

Our job now is to make sure that every American child has access to the best one.

Originally published at Chalkbeat.

Great Educators Teach the Whole Child

Great Educators Teach the Whole Child

“Mister, why do we have to do this? I’d honestly rather work on math right now. Or anything else.”

This was advisory class (also known as “guidance”). I was a certified high school math teacher, but like so many of my peers, I also taught advisory. In advisory, teachers met with students to develop their social skills and help them explore college and career options. The class sounds practical, particularly because I taught in New York City alternative high schools serving at-risk students.

Oddly enough, New York City’s academic policy mentions advisory only once, in a footnote:

“There are no standards in ‘guidance’ or ‘advisory’; such courses may only bear credit if they are taught by appropriate subject certified teachers…”

This might explain why advisory was so often treated as an afterthought in New York City public schools. We weren’t provided thoughtful or engaging curriculum and yet, every student took advisory twice a week to accumulate elective credits and meet graduation requirements. I rarely felt underprepared teaching math, but unfortunately it was advisory that helped me perfect the art of improvising.

Being in an alternative high school, my students were academically behind and at risk of getting sucked into the school-to-prison pipeline. It was vital they graduated high school, but a diploma doesn’t guarantee students the social emotional learning (SEL) skills needed to be informed citizens and productive members of society. SEL, across schools in this country, is often put on the backburner and siloed off in classes like advisory or guidance.

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, (CASEL), social emotional learning is “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” CASEL defines these in terms of specific competencies that can be assessed and mastered: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

I can say with confidence my students didn’t learn anything in advisory in my first two years teaching it. I had no idea what I was doing and I was never paired with a veteran teacher. In my third year, I decided to write my own advisory curriculum, grounded in debate and civil discourse. I wanted my students to learn how to reason effectively: I loved hanging out with them during lunch and I was getting `irritated hearing them argue with faulty logic. That year, my students would learn how to listen actively, communicate clearly, and control outbursts. They chose to debate over issues resonating with them the most: police reform, stop and frisk, housing segregation, and gentrification. Near the end of the semester, we held a formal debate. It was fantastic, causing me to have a “this is why I teach” moment and restoring my confidence in my curriculum and the class.

 

 

When it came time for my advisory students to defend their logic in Algebra, the skills just did not transfer.

“This isn’t advisory Mister, this is MATH AND I’M TRYING TO TELL YOU MY ANSWER!”

It took a couple more years of this disconnect for me to finally figure it out:teaching social skills in isolation is absolutely ridiculous.

In “the real world” as teachers say, challenges are complex. You’re never justsolving a math problem. You’re communicating, collaborating, managing yourself, the list goes on. Life is interdisciplinary, and while our education system has finally started to acknowledge this (e.g. STEAM, the CCLS ELAstandards, etc.), we’re still compartmentalizing what makes us human: social emotional learning. The head and the heart are connected, and our schools, curriculum, and education technology should reflect this.

At Kiddom, my classroom experience with at-risk youth has proved invaluable in helping us build a platform that connects content, curriculum, and analytics. Being standards-based, we support CASEL’s SEL competencies and we encourage our teachers to track them in tandem with academic standards. Our content integrations help teachers personalize learning and provide students with the ability to self-advocate and manage their own learning, two key SEL competencies.

Here’s how it might work for an English teacher: imagine you’ve assigned students a persuasive essay and provided them with a rubric communicating academic expectations. With Kiddom, you can append SEL competencies directly into the same rubric, and track those skills in one place. If you want your students to manage themselves (e.g. complete and submit the assignment on time), you can add a self-management rubric row. Thoughtfully mixing SEL with academics ensures SEL isn’t being taught in isolation. If you want a framework for this or just more examples, download the free guide we co-authored on integrating SEL into K-12 academic curriculum.

Kiddom is just one education technology company. Teachers need more education technology companies thoughtfully creating and providing SEL content and services. And they need schools to provide the professional development they need to learn how to effectively weave SEL into curriculum. As technology gets smarter and continues to empower us, the future does not depend on all students learning how to code or take AP calculus. Rather, the future will lie in learning how to solve complex problems with empathy and sound decision-making because social emotional learning transcends the classroom.

 

 

Resources for Teachers and Administrators

This resource list is excerpted from Kiddom’s guide, Social Emotional Learning 101: Integrating Academics with SEL.

This article originally posted on EdSurge.

Push High-Achieving Students with Standards-Based Grading

Push High-Achieving Students with Standards-Based Grading

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Abbas Manjee is Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom. Before Kiddom, Abbas taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City. 

study launched in 1972 tracking five thousand “intellectually talented” children has entered its 45th year (here’s a short synopsis). Among its various findings, the study finds high-achieving students are often at a disadvantage in school communities that shift more resources to its low-achieving student population. For those of us who have taught at schools serving low-socioeconomic communities, this isn’t breaking news: we’ve been talking about this with colleagues and school leaders for long time now.

Teaching math in New York City alternative high schools, I admit committing more time to struggling students. I know I’m not alone and I also know this hurt higher achieving students in the long run. In some ways, we’re all guilty of leaving high-achieving students to their own devices. Or, rewarding their intelligence by forcing them to tutor their peers. Or worse, letting them do “whatever they want” with the time remaining in class.

And while this is happening, we helicopter over the students who might not pass the upcoming assessment, the class in general, and/or the looming state exam. We dedicate more time to creating remediation resources than enrichment material. And all of this actively irks us, because we don’t want to have to choose between supporting low-achieving students and pushing high-achieving students, but our “factory-based” model of education makes it almost unsustainable to do both.

The silver lining here for teachers and learners is more and more schools are adopting a more competency-based approach to education, commonly known as standards-based grading (SBG). SBG describes student progress in relation to standards (national, state, school-specific, and/or class-specific).

I was lucky enough to teach at schools that adopted SBG, and as a result my math students were able to demonstrate mastery on a set of standards and move on to more challenging material. SBG forced me to isolate and grade only the skill being measured, providing my students a better understanding of what more they needed to learn in order to master the skill. While designing and planning SBG-focused curriculum took more time, my scope and sequence was skill-focused and could be individualized with flexible calendars and I could leverage content from a variety of free, standards-aligned resources. Most importantly, the SBG practice forced me to design curriculum more thoughtfully. I wrote lessons, made remediation and enrichment resources, and designed assessments for upcoming standards well in advance, and made them all readily available for my students digitally (on my class website) and physically (in the back of my classroom).

So yes, while I was guilty of providing students that were most in need of support with more face-time, my standards-based classroom enabled more students to accelerate through content and master skills at their own pace. They sat through less of the traditional “whole class” mini-lesson because they were ahead, and so they obtained their one-on-one time with me a little differently. Instead of asking questions in the middle of a mini-lesson, they asked before and after class, or they came to my classroom during lunch to get direct support from with me. Some of my students actively communicated with me via email. The point is: my higher achieving students made the SBG practice work within the confines of a traditional school day because they could ahead on their own terms.

As the 2016–2017 school year gets underway, I challenge educators around the world to wrestle with adopting the standards-based grading mindset for themselves. While you might not agree with the Common Core (or your own state’s standards), don’t let it prevent you from writing and tracking your own standards or competencies, tied to your own curriculum. For 21st century students, life is about using real-time data to inform decision-making. They’re privileged to be alive in a time when this is possible, and it’d be a disservice to them if we refused to adjust our pedagogy to meet their needs. The smartphone games they’re playing tell them exactly what achievements or medals they’ve obtained (and the achievements that remain). Facebook tells them how long they’ve been connected with their friends, down to the number of “likes” they’ve given each other over time. The SBG practice can help 21st century students visualize and navigate their learning journey through your class.

So if you’re interested in learning more about the standards-based grading practice and mindset, here’s a free resource co-authored by teachers familiar with the practice to help you learn more. On the last few pages, you’ll find links to more SBG-related resources. And finally, new instructional practices are best implemented with a professional learning community. Make time to chat with colleagues about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and what you’re grappling with. If you can’t seem to find time in your day to chat, that’s okay: use technology. Join the conversation online by tweeting at Kiddom with #SBG. We look forward to hearing what you have to say and building more resources to support your quest to fine-tune your pedagogy.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

Wrapping up the 2015–2016 School Year

Wrapping up the 2015–2016 School Year

Dear Educators,

On the last day of my first year teaching high school, I remember frantically packing up my classroom. I couldn’t wait to get out and kiss summer on the lips. Alex, a student overly enthusiastic about organization, was helping me pack. After we finished, Alex looked perplexed. He said, “I bet teachers get so bored over the summer. I mean, I’ve got my video games. But you? You don’t even have papers to grade. Will you just sleep all summer and wait for our return?” I laughed, but he was onto something: I needed sleep.

For many of you, the 2015–2016 school year is about to come to a close (if it hasn’t already). On behalf of the Kiddom team, thank you for your commitment and service to students. We’re inspired by your passion and strength. And we’re incredibly humbled you trusted us in your classroom.

 

 

As you can probably tell, the Kiddom team is obsessed with making it easier for you to search for and assign content you deem appropriate for students. Over the course of this academic year, we announcedcontent integrations with four partners: CK-12, Khan Academy, iXL, and CommonLit. Rest assured, there are more partnerships on the way.

This year, tens of thousands of educators like you adopted Kiddom across elementary, middle, and high schools. From August 2015, Kiddom’s “teacher-base” grew by 7% every week. That’s an incredible growth rate, and since we’re not spending much on advertising, I can only assume you’re talking about us with colleagues. We encourage this type of behavior, so please, carry on.

Since you’re talking about us, we’ve assigned ourselves homework this summer: figure out a way for you to collaborate with colleagues on Kiddom. We recognize when teachers are afforded the time and space to work together, teaching and learning is more impactful. So as we wrestle with this project in the coming weeks, we wish you a fun and restful summer.

Stay cool,
– Abbas Manjee
Chief Academic Officer

P.S. If you’re interested in setting Kiddom up for next year, sign up for a learning webinar this summer and/or check out this practical guide to standards-based grading.

Tear Down That (Data) Wall

Tear Down That (Data) Wall

I don’t consider myself a veteran teacher, but in the six years I taught math in New York City, I never made a data wall. If you haven’t read 3rd grade teacher Launa Hall’s brilliant post about why data walls don’t work, you should. In fact, even if you have, go ahead and re-read it. Don’t worry, my blog post isn’t going anywhere.

In my first three years, I got away without a data wall because I was a founding teacher under a founding principal at a public high school for at-risk youth (a mouthful, I know). As I learned later, this meant school-based administrators would leave me alone as long as I maintained a stereotypically “engaging” classroom environment and produced “significant gains” by getting students to pass a standardized math test. I did that.

 

“Killer boots, man!”

 

Lucky for me, I employed a high energy teaching style, which meant I was always “on.” I could keep my students engaged, even when the content itself wasn’t engaging (sad, really). Regrettably, I was a dream come true for any principal operating in today’s test-mired public schools. I even felt special, but I know better now. I was a pawn. If I hadn’t produced results, I would’ve just as easily been asked to script daily lesson plans and put up a data wall to “hold my students accountable” and to “create a sense of urgency.”

After my first three years, I taught another three at a charter-alternative high school, serving a similar student population. It took two years before a group of us were all formally asked to put up data walls, under the guise that other teachers had been asked to put up data walls (as a “classroom management” technique), and we should follow suit because it’s only fair. We held our ground, but in the spirit of “straight talk” we asked point-blank: what evidence was there to prove data walls worked? And how were we as a school community defining “worked?” Was the mental and physical investment in data walls worth it? (And I wish I had also asked: it’s 2014, why are we still printing reports and wasting paper instead of emailing students?)

To give my former school leaders credit, they were transparent with us as we politely engaged in the discourse. No, there wasn’t much evidence to justify data walls (beyond maybe a mention in Teach Like a Champion). The truth was, our school (like other charter schools) needed data walls up in order to continue to exist without scrutiny. Data walls were considered “learning artifacts” and these appeased charter school authorizers, superintendents, school networks, and/or potential donors. These people determined whether our school would be renewed for another 3–5 years, or whether we could afford to buy Chromebooks for students.

“But, how will visitors know what’s being learned or what has been learned in your classroom?”

This is what is happening across the country: teachers are being asked to publicly shame students to appease a larger authority, for “the greater good.” Data walls aren’t about “authentic” teaching and learning or whatever the latest buzzword or buzz phrase is. Data walls are about dotting the i and crossing the t.

 

Buy low, sell high.

 

In the end, I refused to play the game. I guess if student progress isn’t updated in real-time and displayed for all to see like stocks, then no one must be learning anything. Unfortunately, school leaders know this just as well as teachers. The problem is: it appears the governing body responsible for making decisions about schools is working off an outdated checklist. And I think it’s time we looked into this checklist and the policies in place that support it. It’s 2016: children have immediate access to real-time information. The only place they don’t have it in are public schools. Do we believe an archaic wall displaying obsolete information truly motivates students to try harder? Students deserve better.

To superintendents, network administrators, charter school authorizers, and the U.S. Department of Education at-large, if you seek classrooms that develop the whole student, if you seek student populations being taught to love learning, if you seek authentic results, visit the schools, the school leaders, and the teachers that disregard your misguided, toxic “data-for-the-sake-of-data” policies and mandates. School leaders, stand with your teachers. And teachers, tear down your data walls.

By: Abbas Manjee, Chief Academic Officer @ Kiddom

Full disclosure: I work at Kiddom, a standards-based platform offering teachers integrated curriculum and real-time analytics. We do not support the use of data walls in schools or classrooms. We encourage school leaders and teachers to utilize Kiddom’s analytics to make informed and sound instructional decisions with regards to their students’ learning pathways. Student achievement data should remain private between teachers and their students, not to be used to publicly shame, humiliate, degrade, isolate, and/or otherize. If you’re using Kiddom to maintain a data wall, we’ve got some work to do. Sign up for a one-on-one demo, and let’s talk about using Kiddom’s powers for good.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

Bridging Academics and Social Emotional Learning

Bridging Academics and Social Emotional Learning

Close your eyes and imagine you’re back in middle school. You’re hard at work cranking out a five paragraph essay. It’s a tough assignment: take a stand on school uniforms. You have to back your position up with evidence. This is your third and final draft, which means you’re either writing it in pen or typing it up. You’re a bit late turning it in, but when you finally think your paper is good enough, you hand it over. Your teacher smiles and says, “Thanks for turning this in! Of course, I’m going to take five points off because it’s a day late.”

Why? And more importantly, from where?

Situations like these bothered me as a student because I was a geek and petty about points. In the scenario above, I could’ve presented an argument for school uniforms in a powerful, convincing paper. Yet, the value of my writingwas devalued when I turned this paper in late. “X points off for [insert behavior here]” is very random and unjustified. If a world-famous chef is opens her restaurant two weeks late, does that mean her restaurant earns one less Michelin star than it could’ve? No. The world outside of the classroom doesn’t work like that.

I’m guessing a long time ago, a teacher wanted students to learn that meeting deadlines was important. They may have assumed students cared about their grades and may have thought, well why not tie the two together? Today, we have the luxury to take a step back, reflect on this process, and adjust accordingly if there’s a better way. And there is: if we want students to demonstrate “good” behaviors, we can grade those behaviors, without erroneously devaluing their academic skills. This has to do with social emotional learning.

Ideologically, American educators are slowly but surely adopting a standards-based grading (SBG) mindset. This is a big win for students, because SBG requires teachers to isolate and track specific skills. The logical next step is to integrate social emotional learning (SEL) standards into the academic curriculum. Yes, this might push some educators outside of their comfort zones, but if we’re going to teach our students to be lifelong learners, we must also be lifelong learners. And in the end, blending academics in with SEL is what’s best for students: educators will accurately be able to inform their students areas of strength and development, both academically and personally, with actual data to back it up.

What might this look like?

 

 

Let’s say I’m an English teacher and I’ve assigned my students a persuasive essay. I’ve provided my students with a rubric, which communicates my academic expectations. I may then incorporate some social emotional learning competencies into the samerubric. For example, if I want students to manage themselves (i.e. complete the assignment, submit it on time, etc.), I might add a self-management row to the rubric, communicating my expectations for the task at hand. Now I can express academic strengths and weaknesses, as well as character strengths and weaknesses.

Meg, I took X points off from self-management because you turned this paper in two days late. Content wise, this was powerful. You made a convincing argument, well done.

If I’m a Social Studies teacher grading a class debate (e.g. Communism vs. Capitalism), I might include a social awareness standard in the debate’s rubric to communicate what it means to model “appropriate behavior” for this specific task.

Jack, your arguments were supported with facts and examples. Clearly, you were well-prepared. I took off some points in social awareness due to your inappropriate outburst near the end. See me after class if you’d like to discuss.

Social Emotional Learning at Kiddom

At Kiddom, we’ve incorporated CASEL’s social emotional learning competencies into our standards database and we’re making a big deal about it. We want to ensure our teachers and schools have the tools they need to develop the whole child, and not just on academics.

To learn more about how we’re tying academics and social emotional learning, click here.

 

 

By: Abbas Manjee
Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom

Introducing Content Integrations

Introducing Content Integrations

I taught mathematics in New York City alternative high schools. Every year, I prepared “at-risk” students with a history of chronic absenteeism for a standardized math test. If my students didn’t pass this exam, it prevented them from graduating.

I didn’t believe in standardized testing then, nor do I now. However, our education system is designed to work against students, particularly those at-risk. The reality was: I could complain all I wanted about policy, but If my students didn’t pass, they didn’t graduate. And if they didn’t graduate, they were statistically cursed to end up poor, homeless, in prison, or worse.

The challenge of teachers is twofold: lessons must cover standardized content and engage students with relevant connections. When I taught, I made lessons and resources downloadable and supplemented this by linking web-based, standards-aligned content. This practice showed signs of success in engaging even students with attendance issues as they accessed the content from their phones. I didn’t realize I was biting off more than I could chew: I’d just signed up myself up to plan, deliver, grade, and evaluate work assigned online as well as in the classroom. Of course, none of the tools I was using synced with each other, and certainly not with my gradebook. The burden was on me to aggregate achievement data to figure out what to do next for each of my students. This was unsustainable.

Today’s teachers are constrained by archaic workflows and tools that are ineffective or redundant. It’s unfortunate how many of these tools are mandated. Teachers are inefficiently spending their precious time working around these constraints, expediting their own burnout.

At Kiddom, we believe if teachers could access tools that amplified their reach and expanded access to quality content, they could level the playing field for their students. Teachers might finally get the time they need to plan and design authentic learning experiences. These are the experiences that get students to passionately raise their respective voices in class and connect to the learning material.

Today, I’m proud to announce Kiddom’s content integrations.

 

 

Today, teachers on Kiddom can access a comprehensive bank of standards-aligned, third-party content from resources like Khan Academy, CK-12, and more to assign directly to students. When students complete the assigned work, Kiddom automatically pulls the achievement data into your gradebook. Teachers can now use a growing pool of open-educational resources to engage and evaluate students, without setup costs or time spent copying back grades from different platforms. Kiddom overlays this data with beautiful, actionable reports.

The days of dealing with ugly spreadsheets painted red, yellow, and green are over. Search, assign, and evaluate with ease. Forget reinventing the wheel. Use that time to design an engaging activity, debate, or project.

Onward,
– Abbas Manjee
Chief Academic Officer @ Kiddom

Another One Bites the Dust

Another One Bites the Dust

Tom Porton, a high school English teacher in the Bronx with over 40 years of experience quit teaching. Yeah, so what? If you haven’t already read this NYT piece about Porton, you should.

Twenty-five years ago AIDS was a serious issue in low socio-economic areas nationwide, and the Bronx was no different. Porton thought the most effective preventative measure was an education, and so he teamed up with Montefiore Medical Center to educate his students. Since then, he’s distributed an AIDS educational flier to his students annually. His efforts have earned him national recognition, including a spot in the National Teachers Hall of Fame.

In additon to staging plays and dramas, Porton also teaches a civic leadership class that meets before school. His students hone their leadership skills and connect to their local community (which includes feeding the homeless). It’s no surprise his students praise him as a life-changer and continue to nominate him for awards.

Brendan Lyons, Porton’s principal, recently asked Porton to stop distributing his H.I.V./AIDS educational fliers because he considered them “inappropriate.” In fact, Lyons asked Porton chase down fliers any he’d already distributed to students. Porton’s principal also took away his civic leadership class because it wasn’t Common Core-aligned — you know, the class that met before normal school hours…

Tom Porton submitted his resignation papers last week.

Mr. Strauss, a teacher who changed my life (I wrote about him here), forwarded me the NYT article about Porton. The article, coupled with who sent it to me, made me incredibly sad — it’s Mr. Strauss’s final year where he teaches as well. The guy doesn’t want to stop teaching, I know he doesn’t.

I wonder just how many great teachers we’re going to lose (and have already lost) in the coming years because of our obsession with being “data-driven,” “standards-aligned,” and “college-ready” [insert other buzz words here, I know I’ve missed a bunch].

 

Another one bites the dust.

 

Our education system has created the circumstances necessary for great teachers to go extinct. Porton was the classic, inspirational teacher. The heart and soul of his school. I didn’t know him, but I bet his passion was contagious. The kind of teacher Hollywood would love to turn into a movie.

What will today’s students say about the new teachers we’re training to be test-preppers first, nurturers second? Imagine students of today speaking about their current teachers twenty years from now. What would they say? Here’s my guess:

“Ms. So-and-So was life-changing. I passed that [state exam name here] with flying colors because of her. Or was it the [state exam name here]? Who cares.”

“Mr. So-and-So was incredibly passionate. The way he told me never to leave anything blank on [state exam name here]: WOW. You just don’t get that kind of personal attention anymore.”

“Mx. So-and-So was so organized and methodical. I distinctly remember where they posted their daily objectives, essential questions, and data wall. Oh and that soothing countdown to [state exam name here] on the chalkboard — beautiful.”

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