Tag: What — pray tell — are people daring to say?


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Ignoring the canaries in the coal mine


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Although one can appreciate Mike Petrilli’s argument that school systems should focus more on developing strong systems of academic instruction over finding talented aspiring collegians to teach (I’ll explain more…

Should she be ignored by her teacher?

Or should she?

Or should he? (Photos courtesy of Adobe Systems)

Should he be ignored by his teacher?

Although one can appreciate Mike Petrilli’s argument that school systems should focus more on developing strong systems of academic instruction over finding talented aspiring collegians to teach (I’ll explain more of this tomorrow, with the help of The American Spectator), the reality is that the quality of instructor matters as much as the quality of instruction.

As pointed out so often by teaching guru Martin Haberman, it is important for a teacher to care about the children in his care as it is for that teacher to have strong instructional skills and subject-matter competency. All the instructional systems won’t matter if the teacher doesn’t know his subject and doesn’t care as much about the children lagging behind — either because the student’s learning style doesn’t

match the teacher’s instructional style or because of poor academic instruction before he reached that particular classroom — as for those landing on the student honor roll.

Exemplifying this reality is the poor advice given to teachers by Huston over at Gently Hew Stone, who tells teachers to not bother thinking about improving the performance of the laggards in their classroom. From where he sits, Huston thinks that “we can’t afford to dwell on those who choose to fail.”

And this teacher is absolutely wrong.

The teacher should especially care about the laggards — most notably the ones that are dramatically failing class — because they are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine: They alert teachers to the other students that are lagging behind, but aren’t given much attention because they aren’t misbehaving or they are barely skating by with Cs and Ds. Given the reality that a quarter of America’s students are failing to graduate from school — and that a large portion of those who do graduate will need remedial math and science once they reach college — the need to pay attention to every early warning indicator is crucial to keeping kids in school and on path to graduation.

The failure isn’t always the fault of the instruction given by the particular teacher (although, along with weak curriculum, is often part of the problem). The kids may need different kinds of instructional methods — and instructors — in order to get back on track. Or may need to be held back and given new settings in order to improve their performance. The kids may be struggling with Dyslexia or another learning disability and therefore, needs a new academic setting. Or the kids may come in from atrocious schools and are struggling in better-performing settings. And if the problem lies with the teacher’s instruction, then he — along with the principal — can take the steps needed to improve his methods or core subject knowledge.

What is needed — and the improvement for which Huston and Petrilli or should advocate — is expanding the amount of individual student data available to teachers. This can help them — and administrators — tailor instruction and lessons for each student. As I have discovered as part of another project on which I am working, school data systems often don’t extend beyond the central offices of school districts; even when schools are connected to the systems, access to information is limited to the clerical personnel and administrators charged with data processing work. As a result, teachers at the elementary level know little about their students save for the information they gather during the time the student is with them and the gossip shared with them in the faculty lounge. States should follow the path of Florida, which is now attempting to allow each teacher to access individual student data as part of the expansion of its school data system.

Collaboration at the middle- and secondary-school level is also key. A student’s academic problems are often not limited to one subject or teacher. Schools are attempting to do more of this, but it will take time to become a wide-spread — and well-done — practice.

Either way, a teacher should pay attention to those falling behind. Because it is a sign of deeper problems among the student body that aren’t always manifested in flunking out.

(Photos courtesy of Adobe Systems)

Comments Off on Ignoring the canaries in the coal mine

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search