Archive for the ‘Educational Foundations’ Category

Religion and Prayer in Schools

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

“The role of religion and prayer in schools has always been controversial, and teachers are advised to neither encourage nor discourage religious observances.  As a teacher, what religious celebrations or practices might you encounter in your classroom?  How would you respond to these issues while maintaining your neutrality?”

This topic is such a controversial one, and something that I have thought about a lot. It is even a topic that I have attended a conference on since I think it is something that every teacher needs to explore for themselves. Once again with this topic I find myself in an interesting position for two reasons 1) I taught in a country where religion is more or less illegal and 2) I am religious and have very strong beliefs(and since this is my blog I think it is ok that I share that).

We live in a period of time where there is a clash of so many different religious practices. Not only do we live in a period of time, but geographically with Washington, DC, not far away there is a very strong chance that our classrooms will be extremely diverse. As a social studies teacher, part of my job is to create citizens of the United States. I want my students to be aware of current issues, including issues of religion. Now by making them aware, I will not be shoving my beliefs down their throats but I want them to know what beliefs are out there and that it is important for them to find purpose in life.

While I was in China, at times we found ourselves walking a fine line between what was ok to share in our classrooms and what was not ok for us to share with our students. The policy that we most often held to was that as long as we were not asking our students to believe what we believe that it was ok to share about various religious practices, etc. Something that made it a little easier to share about certain religious things in China was the fact that many Chinese see religion as a Cultural custom that Americans all participate in.

An example of how I introduced Christmas in China and how I would also introduce it in my class in America, was not only telling “The Christmas Story,” but sharing about the origins of Santa Claus, etc. In an American Classroom I would also discuss the other holidays that take place around that period since so many students observe other holidays. I want my students to know that they can feel free to express themselves in my classroom and I think that part of that will be having open and honest communication about different beliefs and ideas(including religion). As a social studies teacher, I want to prepare my students to be able to express, defend(civilly), and discuss their’s and others’ beliefs and the reasons behind them.

 

Budget Blog

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

To Whom it May Concern:

Due to economic conditions the following budget cuts will be made in our district during the coming year. As the superintendent I felt it necessary to keep the same number of staff but I have made cuts in various areas. I have decided to keep all of our staff due to the fact that with the high student to teacher ratio decreasing teachers would place more of a burden on the remaining teachers. The only direct budget cut that teachers will experience is a slight cut in the budget for professional development, but there will still be tuition reimbursement for teachers so there is opportunity for more professional development through graduate courses.

The first area that will see budget cuts is the library. With the influx of technology I feel that it is not necessary to subscribe to many periodicals and journals. Students can research through the internet and with our technology budget staying the same this cut will be adequately covered. There will also be a cut in the number of books that we buy yearly since many of them can be found at the public library and with ebooks eliminating paper there is not as much of a push to have actual books in the library.

Building maintenance and custodial staff are crucial for the upkeep and cleanliness of our schools, so there will not be any cuts in that area. If we do not keep our schools in good shape it will require more money in the future to repair them.

The next area that will see budget cuts is learning resources. The adoption of new textbooks every year will no longer be a top priority, but a partial replacement of textbooks will be allowed. Textbook companies change their editions far too often and not much changes in many of our textbooks. Now I do not think that our students should be using textbooks that are 15 or 20 years old but a few years old is ok. Sadly the budget for field trips must be cut as well. Once again with the technology initiative, students are able to experience many hands-on experiences right in their classroom.

Finally, the area that will see the most cuts as well as the elimination of two services is Student Services. The programs to cut completely are the Activity Bus as well as the Parent Resource Center. The activity bus only offered limited drop off points and we did not think that it would be beneficial to keep it running. The Parent Resource Center is a great idea in theory but I feel through teacher maintained websites and PowerSchool that parents should be able to access the same information. There will also be cuts to after school programs and summer school. I feel that since we are keeping so many staff that instruction just be maximized upon during the school year.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. It has been hard to make these decisions and I hope that you can be understanding of them.

Sincerely,

Ms. Carlson


Points

20% cut

Protect instructional staff
Avoid layoffs of core content teachers*

10

10
Avoid layoffs of special subject teachers**

10

10
Avoid cuts to health benefits

6

6
Protect Staff
Teacher instructional aides

5

5
Full-time office staff

5

5
Part-time employees

3

3
Limit reductions to the library
Staff

3

3
Books

5

2
Periodicals/Journals

4

2
Protect Building Services
Custodial staff

3

3
Building repair and maintenance

4

4
Protect Learning Resources
Academic technology

5

5
Textbook adoption

5

2
Teacher Instructional Budget***

5

5
Field trips

5

2
Protect Faculty Services
Employee tuition reimbursement

4

4
Staff development for teachers

5

3
Protect Student Services
Athletic/recreation programs

5

5
Student activity bus

2

0
Parent Resource Center

2

0
Positive behavior support

2

2
Preschool special education

3

2
Summer school

4

2
After-school programs

5

3

TOTAL

110

88

 

Would I accept a position on a year round school?

Monday, April 1st, 2013

If offered a position in a year round school would I accept?

If I was offered a position at year round school I do think that I would accept it for a variety of reasons. I think that there is a lot of value in educating students year round and I do not think that learning can only happen from August(or September) until May or June. I understand why people argue for long summer vacations and rest periods, but I also agree with the idea that teachers and students burn out easily. In the following paragraphs I am going to outline my three main reasons why I would accept a position at year round school.

Too much of a good thing…can be a bad thing

Growing up and even now as an adult school breaks have always been a little long for me. And as a future educator I really do not think that summer vacation needs to be two or even three months long. I think that a month long break(at the longest) is all that students and teachers need to recharge before heading back into the classroom. The classroom provides important stimulation for students and a routine of learning is important for them to absorb important concepts. I know that I am not the only student who becomes board with relaxing, learning presents challenges that drive students to want to learn and become active in their learning experience.

Why must we waste so much time on review?

I agree with the argument that review time would need to be significantly less if students were in school year round. Many concepts are taught in multiple grades any way since knowledge builds on itself. But natural review would be built into the curriculum if students were in school year round. I think that students would also feel less like they were trying to cram for exams since they would always be going over material. I also think that teachers would feel like they had more time to get through the material that they need to get through before SOLs or other tests.

Other nations do it, why don’t we?

In countries around the world, students attend year round schools so why don’t we as Americans require it of our students? I believe a huge part of this is because we live in an individualistic culture, and people think that they are entitled to certain privileges. If all schools in America decided to switch to year round schools I think there would be a significant amount of controversy. But I think if there was a slow shift that there would be a major value in it. I would like to think that my future students would be more capable of competing against foreign students if they were in school year round.

Conclusion

I do not think I would struggle very much with the switch to a year round school for my teaching career. With frequent breaks throughout the year, I would more often feel refreshed and less burned out. Students would not be as removed from the curriculum and they would be more competitive when it came to the international level. Not only that but I think year round schooling would take some of the laziness out of our classrooms.

 

EDCI 506 Module 2 Blog

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Why is public education essential to democracy?

It was unheard of prior to the founding of America. The idea of a free public education for every student. It was a radical, crazy idea, much like the idea of forming a new nation. But in building a nation, our forefathers started realizing that forming schools were a necessity. As some have stated is in school that children “become aware of something larger than themselves.” According to Thomas Jefferson the survival of democracy depended on education. People needed to be taught how to read, write, and comprehend so that they could make informed decisions and therefore change the course of the young nation.

In 1778, Thomas Jefferson pushed for three years of public schooling for children to teach them the democratic basics. He wanted the United States to become a meritocracy where it did not matter what social class you were from, you could be the poorest farmer’s son and one day be president.

People argued that for what purpose would farmers or blacksmiths go to school. It was these people that America was founded for, for not just the most successful or wealthy, but for the common man. For the common man to be successful he needed to be educated and that is why Thomas Jefferson made such a push for it. To Thomas Jefferson, and later to Horace Mann it did not matter the family you had been born into, it mattered what you were capable of and how you would learn. Thomas Jefferson’s feelings about public education and democracy were in sync with the American ideals of democracy and a people that were created equal.

With public education America was able to teach a certain set of ideas to students giving them a foundation for being able to survive as responsible American citizens.

EDCI 506 Module 1 Blog

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

In reviewing the various standards and certifications for teachers it has become apparent to me that it seems like there is an unlimited amount of resources for teacher professional development. I do not want my education to end when I walk across the stage to receive my Master’s degree. As a teacher, education must be ongoing; it must be a lifelong goal and aspiration. Learning must be something that as educators we instill a desire for in our students, but it needs to be something we desire for ourselves. To be a good teacher, we must first be a good student. Pursuing a variety of professional development courses will aid us in becoming better educators.

My first goal beyond getting a job would be to become eligible for the National board. I think that this would affirm me as a good teacher, but I also think that being a part of the National Board would provide networking and further educational opportunities. I do not want to just be an average teacher, and I think that becoming a member of the National Board would help me in accomplishing that goal.

I also would like to attend a variety of different workshops as are outlined on the National Social Studies website. One that is of great interest to me is the one offered through the Library of Congress on using Primary Sources. I actually had a friend who took this course last summer and had incredible reviews about the content and the methods by which the course were taught. This course would help me in using different documents and sources to make social studies more accessible for my students.

Finally something that I would like to accomplish during my first five to ten years of teaching is to start pursuing my Ed.D. or Ph.D. in Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. This would further help me become an excellent teacher in the area of Social Studies as well as key part of any social studies department. I do not want to settle for just being mediocre in the classroom, I want to be challenged as well as challenge my students. With the INTASC standards in mind I want to make sure I am not just doing the bare minimum but making sure that I am creating the best environment possible for my students to learn in.