Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Fear Of Success

What does success look, sound, feel, taste and smell like? 

Success is being the very best you can be. Success is attaining a goal. Success is earning a lot of money. Hmmm... Successful people are willing to do that which unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Which begs the question, what exactly is the 'that which'? Let's move on...

I contend the fear of success undermines our pursuit of success. This fear is rampant, almost disease-like. There is a clear reluctance to embrace the very action(s) which would lead to success. We desire the spoils of success, but in a designed act of pseudo-humility we justify behaviors which we already know will not lead to success. 

There's a saying, The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. How then might we collate fear and work into a clear path to success? I propose the following definition. 

Success is the application of work to a circumstance until all fear is gone. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Common Core"...The New Swear Word

Please stop. The anger and energy being committed to arguing about curriculum is moot. Stop, please.

The problem with education in North America is not the curriculum. It's simpler than that and can be fixed quite easily.

Students eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, drink water throughout the day, get eight to nine hours of sleep each night, exercise for 45 minutes at least three times a week, and complete all work on time. Do your best work. If you need help, ask. 

Teachers provide a clear and interesting path to learning, ensure your students and their parents know what is expected, and give frequent quality feedback. Do your best work. If you need help, ask. 

Parents realize schools are responsible for only part of your child's education. You are responsible for the rest. Do your best work. If you need help, ask. 

Administrators visit classrooms frequently, learn all of the students' names, and protect your students and faculty. Do your best work. If you need help, ask. 

Politicians support the people involved in schools, support the people involved at schools, and support the people involved with schools. Do your best work. If you need help, ask. 

Society communicate the true value of education through your proactive and productive actions. Do your best work. If you need help, ask...and please stop swearing.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Innumeracy, Evolution, and Common Core

In a high school Geometry class we were solving problems involving angles measures. A student raised their hand and I took a moment to look at their work. The work in the notebook was correct and the next step was to add two whole numbers. I said, "Go ahead and add the two 15's together." Pause. Silence. The notebook was open, pencil in hand, and calculator nearby, yet the silence continued. I said, "What's 15 + 15?" Pause. Silence. "20" the student said. I said, "No, it's more than 20." Pause. Long silence. Eventually, the student said, "25". After another pause and silence routine, the student said "30". This is one of many similar student and teacher conversations I have been a part of for some time now. Trust me, I am trying to fix it. I address content relevance, enforce student accountability, and use cyclic review.

Innumeracy has gripped American high school children to the point of muting their ability to hold even a basic mathematical conversation. Many students arrive at high schools innumerate, unable to talk and use numbers in a manner consistent with the pre-requisite standards and skills. Even worse, are the statements used to support their inability to do math. These statements have become almost boastful. "I have never been good at Math." "I don't like fractions." "Math is my weakest subject." Interestingly, I never hear a student "bragging" about not being able to read. 

All of us must pull together on this issue...I can read and I can math* must be equal. No pun intended!

Note: The omission of "do" is intentional.

A Teacher's Insight

We never fully know the future of those we teach. We must model a strong work ethic, expect their best work, and prepare them to confront life.

For Those Who Are Retiring...

To our friends who are retiring from education...

As your career in education comes to a close, we who remain salute you.

We understand your masterpieces, the students whom you have taught, may not be found on display as those of van Gogh, Picasso, or Monet, nor may society value them the same...van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet is currently valued somewhere north of $130 million.

But know this...your masterpieces are out in the world creating their own masterpieces. Your impact on their lives lingers. Your legacy is living, active, and dynamic. Savor these thoughts, enjoy the journey ahead, and thank you for the time invested in the lives of your students. Strong work!