The Very Spring and Root

An engineer's adventures in education (and other musings).

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quote from “The Sparrow”

Aside  Comment

I’m presently reading Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, and came across this passage that I really liked:

He was always working or laughing or studying, and his intensity and humor made him seem ageless. She knew something of his life, having worked with him, and recognized him as one of her own kind: an eternal beginner, starting over and over in a new place in new circumstances, with new languages, new people, a new commission. They had this in common: the continual rushed confrontation with change, the feeling of being hothoused, forced to bloom early, the exhausting exhilaration of doing the unreasonable not just adequately but well and with grace.

It felt apropos.

Wendy Kopp: The Trouble With Humiliating Teachers –

Aside  Comment

Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach for America and Teach for All, recently wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that I thought was actually very cogent and balanced: Wendy Kopp: The Trouble With Humiliating Teachers – I note that she (seems to) make the important distinction between data-driven methods to inform instruction versus standardized testing to make high-stakes career decisions for teachers.

[polite applause].


Aside  Comment

Teaching Underground just posted some Friday Inspiration for the teachers who follow that blog. An excerpt:

Every day I influence the minds of a generation of youth.  Probably more than 100 kids a year care more about what I say than the President.  Decisions that I make every day will impact the quality of life for over 100 kids more directly than legislative decisions.  One hundred children-citizens of my county will learn from me whether they can name the members of our school board or not.  Lot’s of people can claim that they are “in it for the children” but I’m in it so deep that my contribution can be measured.

Aside  Comment

Been ridiculously busy preparing for the move. I suppose deciding to go off on idealistic adventures does that. Latest news… I rocked the MTEL Communications and Literacy test. Now that I know I can communicate and literate, just that pesky Physics one a week from today…

Aside  Comment

Excerpt from the introduction to The Trouble With Black Boys … and other reflections on Race, Equity, and the future of Public Education, by Pedro A. Noguera. Just started reading it this morning in the carpool.

“I do not make light of the difficulty in addressing the needs of troubled students. Children who come from homes without adequate supervision, guidance, and support post a tremendous challenge to the educators charged with serving their academic needs. I also do not take the positions that schools should be expected to solve these problems by themselves. Charged with the task of educating disadvantaged and neglected children, many educators find themselves overwhelmed by their needs, many of which have little to do with academic learning, but are much more related to their health, unmet social needs, and emotional well-being. In cities, towns, trailer parks, and housing projects across the United States, there are growing numbers of children in such circumstances (Children’s Defense Fund, 2006). If our society is to find ways to reduce the numbers who end up permanently unemployed, incarcerated, or prematurely dead, we must do more to address their needs, especially while they are young.”

Later on in the same introductory essay:

“Despite all of the ways in which educational reforms may have taken the soul out of education — overemphasizing testing and underemphasizing learning, treating teachers like technicians rather than creative professionals, humiliating schools that serve poor children instead of providing them with the support and resources they need — the fact remains that through education, we have the potential and power to open minds, tap the imagination, cultivate skills, and inspire the innate ability in all human beings to dream and create. This is what makes education such a special endeavor, and this is why public schools remain our most valuable resource.”

Statement from the 2011-12 ED Teaching Ambassador Fellows

Aside  Comment

A great article in EdWeek just popped up on my Twitter feed: Teachers Want to Lead Their Profession’s Transformation.

Educators want to take on this work. As highly skilled specialists, we are not afraid of owning our profession. We are not afraid of being held accountable for results when we are given the responsibility and flexibility to craft our profession. We are confident that the president understands what it will take to transform teaching to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and we are eager to join with our colleagues across the country in moving the profession forward.

Includes some response and commentary from the 2011-12 U.S. Department of Education teaching ambassador fellows with regards to the education segments in President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

BTR Up for National Award

Aside  Comment

Just linked from Twitter to an article in Harvard Gazette mentioning Boston Teacher Residency as a finalist for the Innovation in American Government award.

“The importance of the Innovations in American Government Award has never been greater,” said Anthony Williams, acting chair of the National Selection Committee. “Government is facing unprecedented challenges, and I think all of us are sanguine to know that there are leaders and programs out there — including these government finalists — that are working to serve and engage our people better.”

Check out the full article for some background and how BTR fits into the metric.