What’s Good for Bill Gates Turns Out To Be Bad For Public Schools →

David Morris on Gates and teacher evaluations:

Using hundreds of millions of dollars in philanthropic largesse Bill Gates persuaded state and federal policymakers that what was good for Microsoft would be good for public schools (to be sure, he was pushing against an open door). To be eligible for large grants from President Obama’s Race to the Top program, for example, states had to adopt Gates’ Darwinian approach to improving public education.

Adopting the Microsoft model means public schools grading teachers, rewarding the best and being “candid”, that is, firing those who are deemed ineffective. “If you do that,” Gates promised Oprah Winfrey, “then we go from being basically at the bottom of the rich countries [in education performance] to being back at the top.”

Race to the Top is a contest. It’s a competition, but we’re not all on the same team. In order to win, someone else has to lose. Why would you help someone else win?

Some states grade on a curve. Others do not. But all embrace the principle that continuing employment for teachers will depend on improvement in student test scores, and teachers who are graded “ineffective” two or three years in a row face termination.

Grading on the bell curve? No school would actually do that, right? No matter what, people are going to lose. Half will always be below the line no matter their skill.

And now, just as public school systems have widely adopted the Microsoft model in order to win the Race to the Top, it turns out that Microsoft now realizes that this model has pushed Microsoft itself into a Race to the Bottom.

In a widely circulated 2012 article in Vanity Fair, award-winning reporter Fair Kurt Eichenwald concluded that stacked ranking “effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate.” “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

Really? Stacking people against each other causes competition? You don’t say.

This month Microsoft abandoned the hated system.

Sue Altman at EduShyster vividly sums up the frustration of a nation of educators at this new development. “So let me get this straight. The big business method of evaluation that now rules our schools is no longer the big business method of evaluation? And collaboration and teamwork, which have been abandoned by our schools in favor of the big business method of evaluation, is in?”

Big business can turn on a dime when the CEO orders it to do so. But changing policies embraced and internalized by dozens of states and thousands of public school districts will take far, far longer. Which means the legacy of Bill Gates will continue to handicap millions of students and hundreds of thousands of teachers even as the company Gates founded along with many other businesses, have thrown his pernicious performance model in the dustbin of history.

Sigh. Once again we have another failed attempt to help fix our educational system. It’s only made things worse. And once again I feel helpless to do anything at all about it.

You can read the whole article here → What’s Good for Bill Gates Turns Out To Be Bad For Public Schools | On the Commons

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If Teachers Billed Like Lawyers

If Teachers Billed Like Lawyers.jpg

This excellent comment was left on my recent post, How to Be a Teacher for More Than 5 Years Without Killing Yourself Or Others.

What an intriguing thought. I can hardly imagine it.

EDIT: I just did some quick math. If you had 20 students and made $5 per student per hour, and you worked 180 days, then you would make $108, 000 a year. Not too shabby.

 

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4 for Friday [November 29, 2013]

(4 for Friday posts contain four things that caught my attention this week and I feel are worthy of yours.)

  • 33 Signs You’re A New Teacher
    This was a good laugh. I guarantee you’ll find something relatable.

  • ReadKit for Mac
    ReadKit is a read later and RSS app for Mac. I’ve been using it for a few months, and I really dig it. It works with Feedly, Feed Wrangler, Instapaper, Pocket, Pinboard, and more. PLUS it’s only $2 this week on Black Friday sale. Get it!

  • The Bible App for Kids from YouVersion
    This is a free app for iOS and Android from the team at Lifechurch.tv. It looks very cool. From the site:

    The Bible App for Kids will introduce:

    Kid-friendly navigation Touch-activated animations Engaging content that introduces kids to the big story of the Bible Experiences designed to encourage kids to return again and again

  • ‘It Feels Like Education Malpractice’ - The Atlantic
    Interesting interview with Laurel Sturt. She decided to quit her job in fashion design and become a teacher. She enrolled in two-year Teaching Fellows program and was assigned to teach at an elementary school in a high-poverty neighborhood near the South Bronx.

 

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16 Things I Wish College Would Have Taught Me About Teach

16 Things I Wish College Would Have Taught Me About Teach

Most of my college prep for teaching was student centered. It revolved around how the brain learns, child development, and best teaching practices. That's good.

But there is another side to teaching beyond the students. It's a darker underbelly that often gets left out of bestselling books and Hollywood movies.

Here are 16 things I wish my education professors would've taught me in college:

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How Comic Books Kinda Saved My Life

How Comic Books Kinda Saved My Life

I remember being eight and getting my first real comic book. It was an issue of Batman. The villain’s name was Cutter. He would chop up women after he murdered them and throw away their bodies in dumpsters. I loved Batman, but that particular book freaked me out.  

I was scared to death to take the trash out at night for the next two years. As a grown-up, I'm not scared to take out the trash anymore, but the impact of comic books on my life remains.

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4 for Friday [November 22, 201

(4 for Friday posts contain four things that caught my attention this week and I feel are worthy of yours.)

 

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The Personification of Sunshine

The Personification of Sunshine

It was an energetic Monday morning in my classroom. The kids were whirling with talk of weekend exploits and who brought what for snack.

It was also the day after my birthday, so I was feeling pretty good. Birthdays can be full of stress and expectations. The day after is always better. We finished our morning journal writing. and got ready for our class meeting. We always called them our round table.

I’m a believer in classroom rituals and traditions. I always had a tradition with round table and birthdays. If it’s your birthday, then you get an entire round table dedicated to you.

Each person says something meaningful or encouraging about the birthday boy or girl. Then we all sing “Happy Birthday” as I strum along on my guitar. Super fun, right?

Only I never expected to be the one to receive a birthday round table.

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Why Self Pity is Ruining Your Life →

Donald Miller:

Over time I’ve realized my friend suffers from a victim mentality. I noticed it because I used to have it myself. But in the last few years I’ve realized a victim mentality costs me success, relationships and inner peace. A victim mentality means we consistently look for reasons life isn’t working out the way we want.

You know how the things we can't stand in other people are usually the things we dislike the most about ourselves? Yeah, this is one of those for me.

It's much harder to have an internal locus of control than an external one. My default line of thinking is usually defeatist. I have to stop myself and realize I am in control of a few things—namely myself.

Miller again:

Why do people play the victim? Because playing the victim means they don’t have to try, it means they don’t have to take responsibility, and often it means people will feel sorry for them and give them attention.

I wonder how many times I’ve reinforced the victim mentality in my own children and students. How many times have I made excuses for them to preserve their self-esteem, or to ease the pain of failure or disappointment. I need to remember it's doing more harm than good.

On golfing with Olympic Skater Scott Hamilton:

What Scott does, as a knee-jerk reaction, is to make a quick list of why the bad thing that happened could actually be good. Missing a shot means he learns something about his swing. Missing a shot is humbling, so he isn’t tempted to get arrogant. Missing a shot means he gets to teach the people around him how to keep a disciplined mind. In seeing the world this way, Scott continues to get better and better. It’s the mentality of a champion.

Teaching responsibility is challenging. I've long said the true right of passage to adulthood is to begin taking responsibility for yourself and actions. Mentality of a champion indeed.

Be sure to read Miller's whole post → Why Self Pity is Ruining Your Life

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