I am feeling particularly proud of my school because we are getting involved in the movement against high stakes testing. As one of the top 25 schools identified in NY state as high-achieving, we are protesting the use of high stakes standardizes tests and discussing the ways in which teachers have been negatively impacted by the tests. We are giving teachers a voice in this education reform maelstrom.
Check out the event and more information here: http://www.teacherstalktesting.com/
It's summer time. I finally have time to relax, work at a leisurely pace, and prepare for next year's students. During this time off, people have asked me, what do you do during the summer?
Well, many things. At present, I am working with the mayor's office helping run one of their international, educational programs called Global Partners, Jr. I teach in the summer program at a local library. I am taking sign language classes to teach my students in the upcoming year how to sign. I tutor a young student in my neighborhood. I develop websites. I attend education workshops like Responsive Classroom that educate me on how to create a more respectful classroom where the social curriculum is just as important as the academic curriculum. I attend specialty workshops like Orton Gillingham that train me in multi-sensory teaching of students with disabilities and dyslexia. I am catching up on reading the Heroes of Olympus series and have been enjoying time with family and friends.
I have mixed feelings about summer vacation. On the one hand, I enjoy time off and planning my own activities. I find lots of great opportunities for professional development during the summer. There are many grants and summer opportunities I can apply for that help me deepen my skills and knowledge of the subject I teach. I also, like any person, enjoy the freedom to choose what I want to do on my own time, whether that is continuing working or spending quality time with friends and family whom I haven't seen during the busy school year. Summertime is a time to rejuvenate and reflect for me, professionally and personally.
On the other hand, summertime for students can represent an opportunity to really explore other activities and develop skills in other areas or it can just be mindless video game playing time that goes unchecked. Unless students come from a proactive family that helps them make the most of their time either in play or in structured activities with reading time carved out, it's hard for a student not to be a victim of the summer slide, where a child's literacy skills slip because of inconsistent practice. For families that do not/can not have a plan for their child, summertime represents a slide. Luckily, there are opportunities out there that encourage students to be involved in structured activities like the summer program for which I am working.
Summer time, for me, has its pros and cons. I wouldn't be opposed to spreading it out more evenly across the school year so that there isn't such a large lapse for students. Concentrating it in smaller chunks may actually be more healthy so that students and teachers alike get time to refresh and catch up on sleep.
Here is an astute letter to the New York State Commissioner on how the New York State tests are so deeply flawed. I have attached it here for your own independent circulation.
Here is an excellent analysis of the recent release of the value-added assessments in NYC. Liz Phillips, the principal at PS 321, lays out how these scores are inaccurate and lays out the deleterious effects the scores have on high performing schools like hers.
The article, published by the NYC Public School Parents blog:
A principal at a high performing school explains why she is "absolutely sick" about the public release of the TDRs
The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and do not reflect those of institutions, organizations, or employers associated with me, past or present.