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Teacher evaluations

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VietVet View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 28 2011 at 9:58pm
Ms. Andrew states....

"My own personal opinion is that yelling and screaming at, barking orders at, and/or hitting children, is not the best way to discipline children"

Hitting....certainly no place for that. No doubt. No need for it either when people can be motivated verbally.

I would like to point out, since you are probably not familiar with the military boot camp environment, that yelling, screaming and barking orders is an effective way to motivate people and it is proven with every platoon (Army and Marines), flight (Air Force) and whatever the Navy calls their group of basic training people. It has been done with success on a repetitive basis for decades and has motivated the most extreme cases of unmotivated/undisciplined/unorganized people who have entered the programs.

The military can take 40 people, some farmers, momma's boys, tough guys, some inner city street people, people from all walks of life and all levels of wealth, and can have them all marching, eating, dressing, talking, following orders, accepting rules, sleeping at the same time, waking up at the same time, and at the end of the program, be it 6 weeks or 13 weeks, have them all interacting like a well tuned machine. The only difference here is the age level in our discussion. From my experiences in the military, a downsized dose of a boot camp environment (like the military academies) would help immensely with your discipline, behavioral issues and would incorporate the job the parents should be doing while learning in the classroom. If you saw what the drill instructors had to work with in the beginning and then saw the finished product at the end of basic, I believe you might be impressed Ms. Andrew. There are other ways beside the "kinder/gentler" approach that you seem to support. IMO, the kinder/gentler way is part of the reason we have discipline issues and people laughing at the system now. We have already been on the path you are suggesting and there is no proof that it is effective. It has actually created more discipline issues hasn't it? Time for a change, isn't it?
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silver bells View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote silver bells Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 28 2011 at 10:46pm

I appreciate both Ms. Andrew’s and Mr. Fiora’s responses to concerns and questions that residents have. I respectfully disagree with Ms. Andrew’s statement that Garfield Alternative was not successful in educating those sent there or in improving the classroom environment at the high school. Since I know a handful of teachers who taught there for years, I rely on their assessment since they were in the “belly of the beast.” Many troubled students remained in school at Garfield because of the structured environment and the close relationships established with a caring faculty. Many learned something to some degree, and felt they had a safe place to come to every day. Everything is relative. These same kids would most likely have dropped out or been expelled at the high school.

As for their removal not “improving the classroom environment,” I will repeat what I have said before. It wasn’t their presence or absence that affected behavior in the classroom environment as much as a lack of consistent and appropriate disciplinary and academic standards throughout the district. When Garfield teachers returned to the high school after Garfield was shut down, they commented that the same behaviors that had brought students to Garfield were common in the main building.

It’s ironic (or maybe not so much) that Steve Price made it a point to shut down Garfield and then proceeded to put in place policies that made it almost impossible to expel or even suspend students. He trained the principals on how to keep the serious miscreants inside the corral, which was on the backs of teachers who wanted to teach and students who came to learn, all in the name of “cultural sensitivity and equity.” Do I need to spell out the results for the classroom environment?

By the way, let’s be clear that the district is NOT 100% low income urban kids, not by any stretch. Some of our kids come from middle and upper income families. We also have low income but stable families that support their children’s education. The fact that over 70% of the school district’s students are economically disadvantaged doesn’t automatically mean they can’t learn, don’t want to learn or that they come to make trouble.

And what role have administrators played in keeping our district in the basement? We had a superintendent (Price) who destroyed morale and appropriate expectations and standards during his tenure. At the high school, they had a principal who epitomized the definition of “bully,” further demoralizing and destroying any chance for achievement. These administrators ruled for years. And others like them were in place, and some still are. Now think about trying to create objective teacher evaluations under these conditions.

It took one board member, John Sauter, to step out courageously in 2009 and seek input from the district staff when he, as a relatively new member, lost all faith in Price. He clearly saw Price’s manipulative and intimidating tactics and called it for what it was. He got plenty of input. There followed the whooshing sound of the house of cards falling at the district office. Unfortunately, too many of Price’s lieutenants remained in the district to continue to poison efforts to forge ahead.

Slowly we are emerging from this dark period. We have a superintendent who is smart, articulate, and who is quick to show his appreciation for our efforts and to use two little words, “thank you,” often. His efforts to turn the ship around have been consistent and sincere.

At the high school, they have a new principal who is a veteran in the district but who has never been a part of the ugly machinations of the previous administration. Unlike the relentless negativity of the past eight years, Mrs. Cotter is positive and upbeat almost to a fault, and she has worked with the most difficult students in her role as administrator of the Success Academy, so she is neither naïve nor clueless. She has been on the battle lines right along, and sometimes at the punishing end of administrative behavior. These changes inspire hope for better things to come.

Since this thread started with comments about teacher evaluations, let me finish by quoting relevant comments made by Ms. Andrew’s in another thread about our students’ performance: “the absolute truth is that the single most predictive factor of how kids will perform on standardized tests is their socio-economic background. Generally (of course there are exceptions), if they live in a middle or upper class household, they will tend to score better than if they live in a poor household.”  

In the same thread her words echo what I have said in this forum in an earlier blog: “education is not passive. It is not the teachers’ job to pour knowledge into an empty vessel. Learning is interactive, and requires active participation from the students. Many (not all) students in our district do not put forth the required effort.” Simply, the student’s willingness to learn is the decisive factor.

However, students CAN rise above their environment and be responsible, willing learners when they are in a school culture of high expectations. That hasn’t happened yet in MCSD.

Finally, Ms. Andrew says that “The teachers union, the school board and the administration have been working together on a committee addressing discipline and safety and school climate/culture.  The committee explored many different approaches and agreed to adopt the Safe and Civil Schools/Positive Behavioral Supports approach, which each building will be implementing starting this fall.

I am happy to hear this—this committee has been “addressing discipline and safety and school climate/culture” issues for over four years (!), and this is the first result to come out of it. All I can say is that if the district again ignores the need for high expectations and standards and, as Ms. Andrew asserts, “clear, firm rules and boundaries, with clear and firm consequences if they do not follow the rules” and falls back on a touchy feely approach, we’re dead in the water. Again.

 

 

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Mike_Presta View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mike_Presta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 29 2011 at 3:53am

Hear, hear, Silverbells!!!  Your words ring true…we can only hope that they actually are prologue to the improvement that is possible.

However, most likely Middletonians are fed up with the broken promises of the past, and will likely wait for results before sending any more of their hard-earned money towards another levy based solely on promises or hope of improvement.

“Mulligan said he ... doesn’t believe they necessarily make the return on investment necessary to keep funding them.” …The Middletown Journal, January 30, 2012
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Marcia Andrew View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marcia Andrew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 29 2011 at 9:46am
Silver Bells, were you a fly on the wall in our board/director retreat this week?  Creating a culture of high expectations and academic rigor was one of the main topics.  As I appreciate your thoughtful comments on this thread, do you have any specific suggestions of what should be done to instill those high expectations?
 
You were right to call me out for over-generalizing about Garfield.  I meant that as a whole, the school was not successful.  I did not mean to imply that it didn't work for anyone, or that there were not many students who were turned around by their time at Garfield.
 
You criticize past (mostly) administrators for the environment surrounding discipline and low expectations (both as to behavior and as to academics).  I would agree that the approach of the prior administration has been proven to be a failure. Would you admit that teachers (at least some of them) bear some of the responsibility for both poor discipline and low expectations?  Because, to borrow your phrasing, we are "dead in the water" if ALL teachers do not get on board.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote acclaro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 29 2011 at 12:22pm
After reading the responses and thorough details provided by Mr. Fiora and Ms. Andrew is such, as well as the correlation between the school performance 9or lack thereof) and the city counicl and city leadership's actions, I would like for them both to consider making  run on city council in 2011. By doing so, they would also be able to impact both city performance and accompanying performance in school results. The coorelation between positive impact of the city and gains in school testing are an absolute direct coorelation.
 
I have no idea of whether either have the time to fill both a position on council and the BOE, but they would be a welcome addition for many reasons. I trust they might consider the impact they would have in doing so.
 
Furthermore, the drop out rate in Middletown is simply unacceptable. You cannot have an 82% PASS rate, but the surrounding schools are hitting 99%. The system is not competitive. When you can't compete, you have no increase in student population. When you have 20% of stdent body dropping out, the system isn't academically challenging. Until this is fixed, there is no hope for a future. Whether the system is gaining pts in performamce measure matters not, when the indicators are only 45% of what is required, and when the surrounding communities have increased its output and remains far superior to Middletown.
 
Hence, let is hope these two BOE members will also consider running for council, as there is a direct coorelation between the city and council....and the failures of the school district.     
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Marcia Andrew View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marcia Andrew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 29 2011 at 1:55pm
Acclaro, I appreciate your expression of confidence. I always thought that one person could not hold 2 elected positions at the same time, but I may be wrong.
 
I heartily agree that the school system cannot solve all of its problems on its own, due to the connections between schools and the community from which they draw their students.  My effort at trying to improve the community has been through active involvement in the United Way.  The United Way's focus is the three benchmarks for a good life and strong communities--education, income and health. The United Way coordinates, funds and monitors many charitable programs that will help students arrive in kindergarden ready to learn, instead of already behind, and to succeed in school during their school years. Of particular relevance to the struggles of the school system are the Success by Six initiative aimed at giving children the opportunity for quality pre-school, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, that provides any child a free book once a month from birth through age 5.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bocephus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 29 2011 at 2:43pm
Originally posted by Marcia Andrew Marcia Andrew wrote:

Silver Bells, were you a fly on the wall in our board/director retreat this week?  Creating a culture of high expectations and academic rigor was one of the main topics.  As I appreciate your thoughtful comments on this thread, do you have any specific suggestions of what should be done to instill those high expectations?
 
You were right to call me out for over-generalizing about Garfield.  I meant that as a whole, the school was not successful.  I did not mean to imply that it didn't work for anyone, or that there were not many students who were turned around by their time at Garfield.
 
You criticize past (mostly) administrators for the environment surrounding discipline and low expectations (both as to behavior and as to academics).  I would agree that the approach of the prior administration has been proven to be a failure. Would you admit that teachers (at least some of them) bear some of the responsibility for both poor discipline and low expectations?  Because, to borrow your phrasing, we are "dead in the water" if ALL teachers do not get on board.  
 
How about a date in court for parents whos kids don't show up for school,preform poorly or act out or are disrespectful to others while in school? A relative of mine had a kid in the 9th grade that missed 58 days of school in one year mostly because he just decided he didn't want to go,how did middletown schools handle that? They offered up the garfield option he really liked that school he could show up when he wanted and got his butte kissed so he wouldn't drop out and he got to listen and play music all day.
 
In short until you find a way to get the useless parents involved our school system will never improve.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marcia Andrew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 29 2011 at 5:49pm
Bocephus, we do take kids and parents to court for chronic truancy, which is defined by law as 30 days or more absent in one school year. Less than that is not against the law so we can't go to court over it.  It is also not against the law to perform poorly or be disrespectful in school.  The school board can't write the laws, that's the geniuses up in Columbus.
 
I can't speak to your relatives' situation, other than to say it was obviously many years ago if the kid was sent to Garfield.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ground swat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 29 2011 at 9:45pm

Middletown schools begin when?  Proof is in the puddin.  Sorry, talk is cheap and back slapping ,hoping the words come true is without a doubt old news. Lets have zero phone calls to the police this year, could we try for that.  The bulk of Middletown taxpayers are doing their job, by working hard and having money removed from their pay checks every month to SUPPORT the cities school system.  Stop talking about the past and what was handed down.  Turn it around, Lead,Follow or get out of the way.  Enough with the talk.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bocephus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 30 2011 at 7:53am
Originally posted by Marcia Andrew Marcia Andrew wrote:

Bocephus, we do take kids and parents to court for chronic truancy, which is defined by law as 30 days or more absent in one school year. Less than that is not against the law so we can't go to court over it.  It is also not against the law to perform poorly or be disrespectful in school.  The school board can't write the laws, that's the geniuses up in Columbus.
 
I can't speak to your relatives' situation, other than to say it was obviously many years ago if the kid was sent to Garfield.
 
Im just saying that until parents get involved there won't be meaningful change no matter how many levies we pass sorry.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote silver bells Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 30 2011 at 5:13pm

Ms. Andrew, it is a given that we have teachers who, even under superior conditions, would still be poor disciplinarians or have low expectations (often they go hand in hand). However, rather than addressing this through mentoring or, failing success at that, encouraging these teachers to move on, our past leadership has ENABLED these types and demoralized others, causing some to give up, both with discipline and expectations. It’s hard to know who fits into which peg until we have leadership that demonstrates utter commitment to raising expectations. Then no one can blame the leadership, can they?

I wasn’t a fly on the wall, but I did get a tingle up my leg when you said a main topic at your retreat was high expectations and academic rigor. Ms. Andrew, there is so much excellent information out there about how to create such a culture that I could flood this response with links and not even begin to scratch the surface. The good news is that they all share a commonality, because you’re talking about human nature, after all. You can easily google “how achieve high expectations education” or words to that effect and get great results. Here are a few that start the ball rolling. I hope you will find them useful.

http://www.greaterexpectations.org/briefing_papers/ImproveStudentLearning.html

Note the critical difference between standards and expectations in this article:

http://www.teachersmind.com/Standards.html

And this video reminds us to START EARLY, because it becomes harder every year after:

http://www.edutopia.org/high-expectations-elementary-assessment-video

Also, any teacher’s high expectations of students will be sabotaged in a system that enables and conditions its students to be low or non-performers, as has been the case in the MCSD. You will NEVER convince 100% of those in your district to raise their expectations for all, but you CAN get the majority to buy in (and 70% puts you in the winner’s corner) through philosophy, training, support and commitment. It then becomes uncomfortable for those not willing to come on board to continue in that district, especially when administrators visit and mentor them individually rather than dodging that responsibility by yelling at the faculty as a whole for the actions of those few.

Unfortunately, despite past rhetoric and touchy feely popcorn projects, MCSD administration (district and individual buildings) has NOT been supporting or insisting on teachers having high expectations. Rather, dumbing down to create a sham education and false passing have been the order of the day in the 2000s. Proof?  Compare our students’ school grades with their standardized testing scores, state and especially national.

If you have been a teacher in the MCSD with high expectations (academics, behavior, dress) for your students, you would most likely be heavily discouraged or punished and told to “overlook” consistent violations (always at a cost to you and your other students) and to remember the “backgrounds many of them come from.” If any teachers are reading this post and have had a different experience, I would love to hear about it!

 

 

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