Focus- A New Concept Saving Education?


It has been almost 3 years since I personally left my classroom. In that time, I have learned that the disconnect between the educational classroom and the real world is much bigger than I ever thought possible. The influential experts in the real-world, most who have little to no experience in the classroom itself, are truly on their own agenda and have lost complete focus. Between the political government and the educational agenda influencers, there exists a public relations nightmare for each and every one of our classrooms and each and every one of our students. The propaganda of failing schools and the decline of the American Educational System has spread like the plague from sea to shining sea. Our focus has been diverted to testing and data that is irrelevant and skewed rather than solving and providing the proper solutions for the needs of our teachers and students.  Below are just a few thoughts I have had in the past 3 years:

1. International Comparisons- China has ranked #1 for the last two PISA reports, so shouldn’t we then copy what they do to be successful? Well, if you understood that China selects a targeted group who are then taught simply to be successful test takers of the PISA- then you would understand how idiotic that would be. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pay attention to PISA testing, but to use it to say we are failing because we are not #1 is ludicrous. We never were #1, and as a matter of fact, we have fluctuated around the same number every year on average: Math=30th, Reading=19th, Science=23rd. It is a measuring stick for us to use, but what we should be doing is learning from other successful nations and look to incorporate ideas that help to make them successful into our system. Hmmm, simply allowing COLLABORATION of different but successful educational systems?

2. Common Core- If you knew that students in New Jersey were given an advantage for post secondary acceptance that would lead to better job opportunities over the students from say Alabama, what would you say? What if you lived in Alabama and learned that your adopted State Standards simply weren’t as rigorous as those in NJ? This inequality exists today. The Common Core State Standards have been blurred by negative propaganda that clouds what the initial goal was to be: National Standards for every student across the board to level the playing field. It also brought a better system of less standards for deeper mastery, or in learning terms, spending more time in areas of need to allow true knowledge, thinking, and understanding rather than memorization. Hmmm, provide students the opportunity to not just learn, but truly understand concepts with multiple ways of thinking- while leveling the playing field for all students in the US?

3. Technology- Today’s students are “Digital Natives” who must learn on technology in order to be successful for future jobs that will be created, right? If this statement is true, then how is it the my generation is able to be successful in a technology infused world when we did not learn on technology? The main objective for any teacher is to best support their students to be self thinkers who are motivated to be successful and think outside the box. From the textbook to the TV, there have been many examples of innovations that were going to provide a better education to our students, yet many fail to realize that these are simply tools to support education, not the answer to. Technology, whether tablets, laptops, or data analytics, should also be looked at in the same fashion. They will support learning in the classroom for both the teacher and the student. However, it has more potential and possibilities in supporting our teachers and students. One that can supply individualized learning with adaptive software that can meet each student with work that will challenge and support exactly where and when the student needs. It is not the use of technology in the classroom that can provide a better education, but rather the data from the use that can be collected and analyzed on a student and teacher that can help. Hmmm, use technology to collect data, analyze, and report correlations to standards and learning per individual student and teacher to provide both with relevant information and path to improve from?

4. Focus- International Comparisons, Common Core, and Technology seems to be the focus of everyone to improve the American Education System, and were the first three concerns here. If our focus to improve our system are on these “outside factors”, then we will never be successful through any lens. The media and politicians have allowed the focus to be drawn to data that truly has no bearing on student success or failure.  The focus should be on the students. This truly is a simple concept of which the research has backed up consistently. Students who come from stable homes with good socio-economic environments are more likely to be successful in school. Students attending properly funded schools who feel supported by teachers, staff, administration, parents, and surrounding community are more likely to be successful in school. Students who are properly cared for with three nutritious meals a day, proper grooming, appropriate physical activities, and a safe home to sleep in are more likely to be successful in school. Students who feel safe in their school environment, especially in their classroom are more likely to be successful in school. Hmmm, focusing on supplying supportive environments at home and a safe environment where students feel supported in schools can help student achievement?

Education has always been about the Student. Education needs to focus on what counts and what truly matters. If we lose focus on the student, it is they who become lost! While the PISA scores are important to track for comparison, focusing on raising the scores will not result in positive gains. While the implementation of Common Core State Standards can provide better guidelines and a better baseline for comparisons, focusing on standards will not raise scores either. While technology has the potential to change the classroom as we know it with exciting and engaging possibilities, it is worthless without a student who is inspired and supported to use it.  Should we focus on developing the best educational environments, both inside and outside the brick walls, focus on providing the supportive environments at home, and focus on supporting the student mind to think freely and engage in learning- We will deliver students who are successful in life! Hmmm, focusing on students so that they can be successful in life……….Is this a new concept?

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The Educational Gap No One Wants You To Know About!


Technology Gap2

For all of my years teaching, there were always worries about the educational gap that exists between race and wealth. While the general public recognizes and admits the existence of the educational gap between the wealthy and the poor, most of the focus in education has been to decrease the gap between races over the last 40-50 years. Recently, however, while the gap between races continues to decline, the gap between the wealthy and the poor has grown at an alarming rate! If this trend continues, we will continue to see disparaging gap grow between the wealthy and the poor, not only in education, but in the loss of the middle class. In an article published by The New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise discusses research studies at both Stanford and Michigan that show the gap of standardized reading scores, and college completion nearly doubling between the wealthy and the poor. Even scarier is that the data collected was prior to 2008 which means these numbers do not account for the recent recession and its effects. The question remains about why the gap concerning wealth continues to rise while the gap concerning the races continues to fall? I believe there is one easy answer……..Technology. While “Middle-Class America” begins to boast about the technology that is now becoming a part of everyday life for its school kids, it is “Upper-Class America” that has quietly had access to fully functional technology for the past 20 years in their classrooms. Let us also not forget that “Lower-Class America” continues to simply dream of getting working technology into its classrooms. While many people will not think this a big deal- an education is an education, whether from a book or a computer- consider the fact that the job market has been flooded with technology and will continue to.

Technology Gap

I love the headline mantra that “Our Educational System is not preparing our students for the jobs of the future…”, yet in the same breath these same individuals know “we don’t even know what those jobs will be or look like in 20 years.” One thing we do know is that computers will be a part of the future and future jobs. If we all agree on this one point, then why is it only upper-class students who are provided with a technology rich environment? Why are we missing the boat that this inequality possesses the potential to create a devastating gap that can bring an end to the Middle Class? Even though it has been 60 years since the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruling to desegregate Public Schools, the African-American population continues to overcome the educational gap between races today. The ramifications of the Technology Gap and its effects on the educational gap between classes will be staggering. The gap between the Have and the Have Nots will become a combination of both wealth and education. This is a deadly combination that could eliminate the Middle Class, which already shows signs of expiration with the growing gap in wealth. The path to recovery must be taken quickly, or there will be an unattainable mountain climb in the near future. In 60 years, we have not overcome the educational gap with students getting equal textbook materials, how long will it take to overcome a Technology Gap that continues to grow? Please Like, Share, or Comment below!

End of the Year Thought: Students are more than Data


When others speak about how important testing and data is for evaluations of student and teacher performance, understand that they have no idea what they are talking about. There are too many factors in life that affect student performance and so many  times of intervention for teachers to possibly calculate how inspirational they are. Just think about what this child covers in his song: Bullying, death of father, single mom, attire, homelessness, loneliness, social standing, fear, distractions, and most importantly, desire to learn!

Teaching and Learning is not about a test, we must take care of our students and their learning environment!

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For Every Parent Who has a Child


Bullying is no longer in the mass media and has taken a back seat to other issues plaguing the United States, like Teacher Evaluations and Standardized Testing. Kids of all ages are now left to fend for themselves. As America changes its focus to what ever the mass media chooses, more young kids will have to wake up to a another day of being a victim. Sadly, it is our American Society that continues to fail our children. The opportunity was there to help. The push from celebrities and politicians, the coverage from mass media, and even an emotional movie to show the damage that is being done. So what happened?

America happened. After hearing about bullying for over a year, America’s lack of focus to support its children, its future, kicked in. We became immune to the stories, and emotionless to the suffering these kids go through. We are a society that talks big about helping, volunteering, and sacrificing for those who need help, but behind closed doors we truly are a society that refuses to help those in need! We are the greatest country at immediately stepping up to the plate and contributing to a recognized need with help, but it only takes time for us Americans to simply lose focus, and simply forget those in need.

the-bully-busters

Here in NJ, Superstorm Sandy caused devastation throughout the state, and there was a great outpouring of support. By the one year anniversary, funds had dried up, and people here have been begging for support and help to get back on their feet. Today, just a year and a half later, the victims of Superstorm Sandy are nothing but a memory to most unless you live in an area still under the effects of the damage, or know someone affected. What about the folks and areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina? If you tour the areas, you will find the same devastation. Sadly, it is the American way. As devastating events happen around the world, America is a leader in providing help, however, we are also the leader in leaving places to fend for themselves soon there after.

Even worse, as the same type of disasters repeatedly happen, we become immune to the devastation. Remember Columbine back in 1999? How many school shootings have there been in the US since then? According to Wikipedia, since 2010, there have been over 80 shootings. How many did you hear about? Still think we are not immune? In 2014 alone, US school shootings are over 30 so far! These are our children who are being killed and who are even doing the killing.

Bullying is an issue that touches everyone. Please talk to your kids every chance you get about the issue and how to solve it. I am not talking about your kid being the bully, nor am I talking about your kid being the victim. I am talking to everyone who has kids! The best way to defeat Bullying is to inspire the BYSTANDERS to speak up! EVERY kid has witnessed Bullying, however, very few have spoken up to help end it. One of the greatest attributes about growing up in America is our immediate leadership in helping those in need. All it takes is ONE PERSON to speak up and the rest will follow. Recently a boy near Pittsburgh has been brought up on criminal charges because he recorded his bullies planning their next attack?! Unfortunately we, as adults, continue to fail our kids, so it will be up to the children themselves to be the ones who change society. They have the will and the power, we just need to empower them to take the leadership role!

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“To This Day”= Powerful


To This Day by Shane Koyzcan

By far one of the most powerful pieces made on Bullying. It has slowly faded out of the main stream media, but it is something everyone needs to see.

More importantly, Everyone needs to TRULY LISTEN!

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