Inappropriate display

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Is it appropriate for a teacher to display a “Black Lives Matter” poster on their wall or wear a t-shirt with the same message? Is it appropriate for a teacher to leave a Bible or other religious text sitting on their desk? Is it appropriate for a teacher to promote one political party over another? Is it appropriate for any of these things to be done while with students and on school time?

I was doing a training the other day with a school district and one of the teachers participating in the Zoom meeting had a poster on the back wall, in plain view of the camera, that essentially was advocating for a political viewpoint. Obviously this teacher was demonstrating they were an “activist” of sorts and wanted whomever was seeing them on camera to see that they felt a certain way about certain issues currently on the forefront of conversations for society as a whole.

I found the poster to be inappropriate for a teacher to be displaying – especially if this was a background that would be seen by students. I didn’t find it inappropriate because I disagreed with the subject matter. I found it in appropriate because I see it as a violation of professional standards.

Now, before I continue, I want to reiterate that I am all for free speech and allowing people to express their views. If you have spent time on this blog over the years you would know this. I don’t have many instances where expression of one’s views should be limited because I believe that the expression of one’s self is that important.

However, having been a high school teacher and an American Government teacher and knowing enough about freedoms within the school and limitations of those freedoms, there would seem to be a double standards – again.

Professional standards say that, as people who have a position of power over students, our personal views should be kept to ourselves. In the past this has generally been applied to things like politics and religion. The reasoning behind this is that students are moldable and if given undue influence, they might take on the beliefs or thoughts of their teacher. Makes sense, and as a teacher I tried to keep the students guessing when it came to these two topics – not my job to instill these things in students, that’s their parents’ job and eventually they should develop these views and opinions on their own with their own reasoning.

However, over the last 20 years, it has been more acceptable for teachers to express their political views but not their religious views. When I was teaching I heard my own colleagues express their political views in the classroom with students. I have had my daughter relate to me that one of her teachers was actually passing out bumper stickers for one particular presidential candidate. Conversely, I have seen and heard of school employees and teachers being punished for expressing their religious views or even practicing their religion while on school grounds.

Is it another double standard? Is it another practice of “it’s ok for me, but not for you” when it comes to politics and religion?

Look, it should be all of one, or all of the other. Either keep all politics and religion out of the classroom or allow all politics and religion in the classroom.

But, what do you think? Is there a fine line between what is appropriate and what isn’t? Is one more acceptable than the other?

Communication

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As a former teacher, and someone who still works in education, let me say this plainly to all the parents out there of school aged children:

IF YOUR CHILD’S (CHILDREN’S) DISTRICT, SCHOOL, OR TEACHER IS TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU, STOP TREATING IT LIKE IT IS SPAM OR A NUISANCE.

Listen, they are doing the best they can in the worst of circumstances. They don’t wanna be doing school this way. No one does. So, stop complaining and get on board!

Also, any time someone from the district or school is trying to communicate with you about your student(s), pay attention! They aren’t out there to waste your time”just because.” They are trying to make sure the most important person(s) in your life gets the best education possible.

Pay attention.

Engage.

Participate.

Take responsibility for what you can do on your end.

Hold your student accountable – for everything! That means grades, participation, attendance, homework, communication, learning, exploring, etc.

Most of all, hold yourself accountable too! When you participate in your student’s education, your students will be better off in the long run.

Want your student, your child, to have a better life than you had?

Stop making excuses for everything and make sure they get an education.

Buried

Not dead yet. Yet. Not six feet under. Not yet.

Just buried “at” work, though I am not AT work.

Make sense?

Now that schools have finally decided “in person” instruction isn’t going to take place again this year and distance learning is now kicked off, “full-steam ahead, engines be damned,” there are lots of things that teachers are trying to do to make online learning work for them. As they adjust the way they do things, they are looking for ways to make it easier on the kids, and themselves, as change can be hard…especially when it is forced on you without any time to prep for it.

So, I have been getting ready for a plethora of presentations to the teachers in an effort to help them live in this new reality. Our software has tools available to help the teachers, but for a lot of them they are either afraid to try it or just don’t know what to do once they do try it. As such, training via remote applications is what we do almost on a daily basis so we are out here prepping and presenting, since we are the “experts” on a sort of remote learning.

Anyway, I almost forgot to complain about something today. Is this a complaint? Not really. Or maybe it is. I’ll let you know.

I am working on my next presentation that came about at the beginning of the week as a casual conversation, then a casual presentation, to a full-fledged and full-blown training of over 150 teachers over the next two school days (Friday & Monday). There’s a good possibility that more sessions will be added. The training will be recorded, of course, so there will also be video production after all is said and done so that an “on-demand” training video can be used in the near future.

Whew! I will need a drink after prepping today and definitely after Monday’s training.

 

 

DOH!

apple magic keyboard with numeric pad on table near wireless mouse

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There are those clients who just don’t know what’s up and then there are those clients who are lucky to survive a day when left to their own devices…

You, of course, have heard of the typical IT calls where someone has to “check to see if it is plugged in” and to “turn it off and turn it back on” and “did you turn your computer monitor on?” You are smarter than that, right? I am sure you have never had to need that sort of tech support, right? You’re all beyond that now, right?

So, yesterday I took a call about the software we support not working. It was in my area of expertise and so I figured it was something the user was doing (or not doing) and that is why it wasn’t working the way they expected.

In this case, a teacher wasn’t able to get the software to record the grades being entered for a graded assignment. I called the client and shadowed them in my virtual meeting room. Below is the conversation:

Me: “What seems to be the problem? Can you show me what is happening?”

Client: “I know you can’t see this but I am pushing the numbers for 2 0 and nothing is happening.”

Me: “Are you using the numbers on the keyboard above the letters or does your keyboard have a 10-key pad?”

Client: “I am using the numbers on the side.”

Me: “Can you push the NUMLK key on your keyboard and try it again?”

Client: “Oh, huh, weird. I have never had to do that before.”

Me: “silence….as I roll my eyes and bite my tongue”

Me: “So everything is working like it should now? Glad I could help.”

Add that to the list of “I’ve seen it all” items.

Why is it that people have a hard time troubleshooting issues themselves? Is it that we can’t, won’t, or don’t because we always expect it to be someone else’s problem?

Chalk this one up as another head shaker…

Sit down and shut up

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One thing I know for sure, teaching a class or training people never goes quite as planned. There are always things you can’t account for, even when you have experience and account for things you know will happen – because they always do.

I was a high school teacher for 15 years. One thing I got used to was that students, no matter how engaging the lesson was, never were really invested in what they were learning. I mean who are we kidding, right? Students don’t see how what they are doing now prepares them for something down the road, in the future. They are too focused on today to understand that. So interest in class was always a challenge, no matter the subject.

Now that I am no longer in the classroom, I am teaching at a different level, so to speak. I am teaching adults (teachers and school district employees) about how to use the software they use every day. Now, we are talking about people with different life experiences than students. People who know that what they are being taught will be useful to them immediately, or at the very least in the very near future. YET, they are, in some cases, a worse audience than high school students!

Teachers are a notoriously bad audience. I know because I was one of those bad audience members. But I see it all the time from adults. They sit and have side conversations, text, look at email, grade papers, etc. I even had one teacher watching the World Cup on his computer while at a training class. Yeah, real professional, buddy.

Listen, I get that teachers have a millions of things on their mind and a billion other things to do. I can totally relate! BUT, if you won’t let your students (or at least have the expectation that your students will not) act this way, why do you think it is acceptable to act that way when you’re in class? You’re an adult, for pete’s sake. Have a little more self-control than your 4th graders for crying out loud.

So, SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!

Red for Ed

abc books chalk chalkboard

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Yeah, I am going there.

It’s about time people listen up and if it takes a strike, then so be it. What I am tired of is that people don’t listen until it takes a strike, then people pay attention.

One reason I am not a teacher any longer is because of the lack of pay, lack of respect, lack of resources, lack of support, lack of (you name it). The thing is, I worked in a school that was pretty good. We had, for the most part, community support and better than average funding. But, it still got to be too much. I was burned out. I didn’t realize it until I found freedom in another aspect of education, but I realized it.

There are a lot of teachers out there, some with more experience than me and lots with less, that have terrible working conditions and barely make from month to month. But, the one thing they do over and over is give there very best for the kids in their classrooms and it is sad that it goes unappreciated and disrespected.

Those kids, people say, are the future. At least that is what they say. However, those same people then tear down teachers, the work they do, and their efforts to do the most with the least amount of resources possible. Teachers aren’t just saints, they are freaking super heroes and it is ridiculous that it has to get to this.

How about we invest in the MOST important resource we have, our kids. That doesn’t mean more testing. That means more funding for buildings, teachers, curriculum, teacher benefits, continuing education, etc etc etc. If you want quality teachers in the classroom, you have to act like it. Silicon Valley (or at least it used to, but tech companies in general) attract the best talent because they invest in it and pay them well. How does that not translate into our kids as our most valuable asset? It just doesn’t make sense.

It just doesn’t.

I stand with the teachers in California ( #LAUSD ) that are striking. They deserve better. The students they teach deserve better. We all deserve a better future and depriving schools and teachers of that doesn’t make things better, rather just the opposite.

Stand with teachers and wear Red for Ed ( #RedForEd ).

abc books chalk chalkboard