Rochester NY: January 31, 2016. Norene is survived by loving family and friends.
can’t afford too much stricuny yet, but then again, I’m not known for playing anything safe. I think Sean captured a huge part of the problem in his note.@Sean,I have no idea where you find the time, but your words resonate here.I remember Dr. Kaufman, a botanist at Michigan, whose passion for science and plants changed my world. (He gave me his account number so I could use the SEM–a few weeks later, he wondered who had been spending so much time burning up his account. He wasn’t angry, more amused–a natural teacher.)Part of the problem with teaching in public high school is that classroom management is at least as important as content. Few kids want to be there after being exposed to 8 or 9 years of formal education.Though I’ve been fortunate–I am blessed with wonderfully supportive administrators–I realize my observations are more focused on my management than my pedagogical skills. (Twice I’ve been jokingly told that it’s science, and beyond the evaluator’s scope–both times it was a low level 9th grade class. I can’t imagine a similar conversation about a language arts class.)I’m fortunate in that I’m older, bigger, and grumpier than most new teachers with a soft spot for my wackadoodles, so management is rarely an issue when I’m observed.Another problem is that expectations are too low for teachers. This is no secret, of course, but it’s not easily fixed. I happen to love teaching, and I’m in a position where I can bail out if I wanted to. Many of my colleagues are happy, too–I work with a good group, including two retired chemists and a retired human physiologist. A few others, however, are not happy. If you don’t like teaching, it must be a miserable experience. There is no place to hide.Our state exams also involve teachers, with similar results. Officially I am not allowed to even peek at the state test when it is given, though I am expected to proctor it.I do get to see the rejected questions, and a few of them are preposterous. Still, it’s the reject pile, so maybe our exams are scintillating examples of brilliance, I have no way of knowing.So I guess my next question is this. How can a presumably competent teacher influence the curriculum at the state level short of falling into the trap of committees? Seems to me any teacher worth his salt would not get too terribly involved in a process that requires a substantial portion of time outside the classroom. (The meetings for designing the state tests occur during instructional time.)Finally, I agree that there is a misconception about the higher ed folks. A good researcher is going to be excited about his work, and it’s natural to want to share this joy. I’ve had some TA’s that sucked during the formal parts of class discussion but who rocked outside of class. I suspect that professors with any experience quickly learn what works and what doesn’t in a classroom–takes a bit of smarts and self-awareness to get there. Maybe I’m just romanticizing, maybe I just got lucky, or maybe I just don’t remember the knuckleheads.I am rambling–I should know better than to respond while celebrating the New Year. I suspect this may be edited heavily before long.Cheers!
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