14 Replies Latest reply on Nov 30, 2010 6:51 PM by glen_w

    Waiting for Superman?

      I was at the McGraw Hill Education summit last week- and got a chance to hear Geoffrey Canada speak about his work with failing schools/ kids in harlem (new york city). He is the central figure in the new movie "Waiting for Superman". And his talk was inspiring. He is clearly a visionary leader- but his message may be distorted in the context of the movie.

       

      Here is a blog from Michael Levine (Sesame Street) on the topic http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-levine/stop-waiting-a-new-day-fo_b_748683.html

       

      Have you seen the movie? What do you think?

      Paige

        • Re: Waiting for Superman?
          glen_w

          Paige,

           

          I appreciate how Michael mentions "teacher bashing" must stop. There has been a huge outcry on Twitter about Oprah's Teacher Bashing when she did a story on the movie. I must mention I've not seen "Waiting for Superman" either. As others have stated so well it is interesting how many of the "teacher bashing" or "school bashing" events do not include teachers in the discussion. With reflection, I consider it was a great privilege to be an educator on the Republican National Convention's panel discussing 21st Century Learning.

           

          What will it take to help the "bashers" to understand a need for deeper learning instead of memorization? My experience with standardized testing is that it generally relies deeply on testing memorization. I've wondered why such "mandated testing" seems mostly designed to demonstrate school failures. I guess this goes back to the idea that "teacher bashing" must stop.

           

          How can we help involve teachers in discussions about how to change education?

          • Re: Waiting for Superman?
            vkajones

            I enjoyed reading this article. I could relate to many points made in the article, especially the Sesame Street point and the digital tools. Too bad, so many schools do not allow digital devices in the classroom. “Did You Know was my favorite presentation. I thought it would open the eyes of many, but it didn’t. In college, I wrote a paper on “How Sesame Street taught me how to read.”  I wish I could find that paper now. 

             

            I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've seen bits and pieces of it from different shows like CNN, Nightline and Oprah. I usually flip the channel when the bashing of educators begins.

             

            As the article pointed out, there are many things that need to be fixed, enhanced, changed, and modified before we can even get to a certain level of educating students. Many things have been posted about what can be done to help the student in the early grades. But how do we help those students that are three and four years behind on their reading level and there are no funds for special projects, products or digital tools? Students are not passing the math tests because they can't read the test questions, even through they may know how to work the math problems. How do teachers "teach" when so much emphasis is put on testing?  You can never understand the mental effects of testing until a kid throws up on you because they are afraid that they will not pass a standardized test.  Many districts are not assessing teacher salaries and employment based on student test scores.

             

            Until you have taught and been in the classroom, you will never “Get it.”  There are so many misconceptions about teaching.  People actually still think that teachers get an hour lunch break where they sit in the teacher’s lounge and sip coffee, relax and chat with other teachers. I often have to reply when someone makes the comment of my lunch break by stating… “You mean the 5 minutes we get to throw food down our throats, after waiting for our students to get their lunch, or after you check email and respond to as many as you can, go to the restroom and then have to pick up students so another class can use their same table….that lunch break?”

             

            For every great idea on how we “fix” things, there will be 100 ideas against that idea.  It will take different ideas and solutions to address the different needs of all the different types of students we teach. Therefore, one type of educator or institution will not be the solution.  Just like “balanced literacy” it is a combination of a variety of different elements.

             

            • Re: Waiting for Superman?
              Bowerman@cox.net

              In an online synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes, it states, "Every morning, in big cities, suburbs and small towns across America, parents send their children off to school with the highest of hopes." I'm not sure that is true. When I was in school, the message from my parents was that school was my future - study, work hard, and doing my best was going to assure my future in life. I'm not sure that message is still the same and if parents still have the highest of hopes. It's important to take a critical look at our schools - at all of them - and to create ways to meet more of the needs of our students. It doesn't mean radical change for every school but it does take an openness and willingness to look at what is truly happening. It also means to take a critical look at how we access success and failure in our schools as well. I know my highest hope for my own children is not about passing a state test - it's about becoming a well rounded  individual who can think critically. That's what we should be measuring!

                • Re: Waiting for Superman?

                  Margaret, I couldn't agree more.  My only disagreement with you is that I do believe that many of the school districts around the country are tied to the old methods of instruction, like "stand and deliver".  I was lucky enough to work in a district in Indiana, that ate, slept and breathed PBL.  Our students were always at the top of any standardized test that was thrown their way.  Why, because they knew how to think critically, and that makes all the difference.  Glen mentioned in another post that he had the opportunity to tell the newsman about PBL.  Great!

                   

                  Do you have any thoughts or suggestions as to what we, as educators, must do to change the system?  There has to be a way.

                   

                  Neil

                    • Re: Waiting for Superman?
                      glen_w

                      Neil,

                       

                      The story is scheduled to air on tonight's news. I'm hoping PBL made the cut from their 20 minute interview. I, however, will be surprised if the story airs. There is a much bigger and sadder story today. My school lost a student in a pedestrian / automobile accident. I can't think of anyone who did not like the young lady. I will miss her bubbly personality. She was so fun to have in the classroom. I'm thinking the class size story might be bumped (somehow it does not seem as important.)

                        • Re: Waiting for Superman?

                          OH NO- so sorry to hear that Glenn- what a tragedy! Condolences

                            • Re: Waiting for Superman?
                              glen_w

                              Thanks Paige,

                               

                              Unfortunately, the news just reported an underage driver was responsible. That means we have two families in grief. I hope we see some smiles at school tomorrow.

                               

                              I was very disappointed at the news report following my interview. They cut everything I said about 21st Century Skills and preparing students to be work and college ready. They also cut out all Project Based Learning. It became apparent from the news story - it was about how much our Legislature needs to spend to prepare for the coming 5 years. Hope my principal is OK with how the story as he asked me to do it.

                               

                              They rewrote the transcript as a news story. The video is embedded on that page.

                      • Re: Waiting for Superman?

                        I thought many of you might also be interested in this article on Charter Schools- I agree with their position on the lottery images in the movie- I thought it was a pretty brutal way to matriculate kids into any educational system.

                         

                        http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools/

                          • Re: Waiting for Superman?
                            diana_M

                            Have you seen the movie?  You should see it.  It is this type of movie that leads us into discussions and helps us face important issues.  Public school need radical reform.  More charter and private schools are opening and parents are leaving public schools.  Right now we are faced with buget deficits which will impact the way we teach and our classrooms directly.

                              • Re: Waiting for Superman?
                                glen_w

                                Diana,

                                 

                                I recently learned it is possible to access the state testing data for all schools (public and charter) in my state.  I was very surprised when I looked closer at the data. Charter schools perform below the state average on almost every test I checked. I expected STEM focused charter schools to perform above the state average. I found their scores were either barely at the state average or were below it. In some cases the scores of these schools are over 10 percent lower than the state average.

                                 

                                I discussed this situation with my principal and he decided the next "Stakeholder's Report" we submit will compare our school's scores with Charter Schools as well as the State average. My school has been at or near the bottom of the district in testing scores. There are many factors - none of which we can control. Our school, however made some major changes this past year and had gains of over 15% on our Math tests. Language Arts scores only went up about 8%. Language Arts scores were already in the high 80% range. Perhaps most significant in these gains were our subgroups. Our ELL group had gains approaching 20% in Math! (I wish I had the exact numbers - but cannot access the data from home.)

                                 

                                Is it appropriate for teachers and schools to "toot their own horns?" What is the most appropriate way to get this information out to the community?

                            • Re: Waiting for Superman?

                              Unfortunately, I haven't seen the movie but I was told that it was very insightful.  There was 1 day when the movie came out that it was free for teachers.  I know it is no longer free but, does anyone know if the movie is still in circulation. I have a fond interest because I was told the movie was based in Washington D.C., my hometown.

                                • Re: Waiting for Superman?

                                  It is still here in Portland- but my bet is that it will be out on netflix soon- so you might want to save yourself some money and rent it and watch with your friends from school.

                                   

                                  Glenn- you are correct about Charter schools. I sat next to a Charter School association consultant at a national event and he told me that charter school data trend similar to urban school data. There is nothing "magic" about being a charter school- creating a great learning environment takes lots of great teachers, terrific leaders and a strong community. Those components were clearly present in the charters highlighted in the movie.

                                   

                                  Here is an interesting blog post about one of the founders of a charter shown in the movie:

                                  http://societyforscience.typepad.com/ssp/2010/11/applying-scientific-hypotheses-to-create-college-prep-cultures-in-urban-schools.html

                                  Paige

                                    • Re: Waiting for Superman?

                                      Thanks Paige, that I will do.  I will wait for it to come on dvd.

                                      • Re: Waiting for Superman?
                                        glen_w

                                        Paige,

                                         

                                        Thanks for reminding us that the "magic" of any school is based on creating partnerships. Teachers, parents, stakeholders, and students all need to realize the need to continue learning. Recently a very experienced teacher at my school commented about not wanting to learn a new software tool available to our staff. Another teacher asked why not learn it. The first teacher responded she knew how to teach - she then paused and said "I expect my students to become life-long learners ... perhaps I should rethink this." 

                                         

                                        I think my desire to continue learning is why I love Intel Teach so much. In this community and through trainings, I and other teachers are able to find ways to continue our learning in areas we might not have considered before. I'm grateful to have stretched my technology skills thanks to Intel Teach.