PART ONE:

 1.     Based upon our discussions thus far, what is the role of the teacher in American society? Do you agree? Provide evidence from readings to support your position. 

  After reading so many things about teachers and schooling in American Society, basically it can be said that public schools and teachers are at the same position in all around the world. Although both of them are important milestones of a Society, they don’t receive much value. Even I come from a different country; I can literally say that we have the same issues there.

 First of all, I want to talk about the facts that chapter #2 mentioned about teachers in American Public Schools. The majority of the teachers complete professional development activities about any other three sources: district, college or professional association. Even though they complete them along with some instructional testing, they still need more training about two areas: integrating technology into classroom and teaching students from diverse backgrounds. This is because of lack of materials or sources at schools and diverse population at Society. This is also the one of the major problems that teachers face with during their teaching. Moreover, there are so many things that cause negative impact on teaching; such as low salary and high working hours.

 As I mentioned before, teachers don’t receive much value here. Even they work so hard to make positive changes in Society, develop future generations and create better citizens; Society doesn’t offer much positive things to them. On the other hand, teachers have great role in here. There are so many things that we discussed in class in terms of portrait of a teacher. As a future teacher, I agree with all of them.

 2.     What do you think are the biggest challenges to effective teaching? What is your evidence? What strategies can you develop to address these challenges?

 I think that challenges start from the beginning of the becoming teacher journey. According to the reading in the RAVITCH, state standards and tests to have a teacher certificate create different situations. It is said that teachers deal with different standards each time because of different requirements of the states. I believe that this is quite effective reason why they leave their job in two years. Even though they take more college classes and have master degrees than before, it is hard to pass the required exam.

 Second, I believe that lack of material and sources is one of the challenges that teachers face with. There are lots of schools that don’t have computer access of technological materials for students. In today’s world, technology plays a great role in effective teaching and teachers should use it to integrate students into classrooms. Because of changes in tools such as smart board, projectors, computers etc. teachers need to take basic computing class to be able to manage class activities properly. However, without additional opportunities it becomes more challenging for teachers.

 Third, as it mentioned on the chapter 16th there are lots of challenges that teachers has been dealing with for years. Among them, I think the most important one is the low salary. To earn less money than any other professions causes some negative effects on this field. We all know that teachers raise and create great generations for future. They try so hard to follow new strategies, use technology, and create a better environment for their students. However, it is totally sad that they have to do a second job to survive.

 As future teachers, we can clearly develop ourselves to not to face with the same issues during our teaching. According to the NEA survey, teachers have more master degrees then before. I think this is a very good example of the major strategies that teachers might use. If a teacher has master degree and take instructional, practical and theoretical courses, I believe that he will walk the half of the way so fast. These kinds of characteristics will facilitate this journey. For instance; he will probably be able to pass state certification test and after being teacher he will use what he has learnt from college effectively. He also will have the knowledge about how to use technology in class. All that said, we can change negative effects and the most challenging things in our lives by working so hard and believing in ourselves.

 3.     What role does formal schooling (e.g., institutionally-supported formal education–can be public or private) play in American society? 

Formal schooling provides free education to all of the students. No matter where they come from, what language they speak or what religion they believe, formal education promotes same opportunities to them. This is the first place that people learn literally how to be a best citizen, how to study with diverse population, how to think and explain their thoughts. Formal schooling, even it is private or public, has great expectations and goals for the next generations. Students basically start their formal lives by the chance of getting access to free education. This facilitates the conditions to see the world, understand and think about it.

 Formal schooling is the best place to learn how to integrate with the other people around us. There, we shape our personalities and behaviors by the communication with peers and the things that we learn from teachers. Moreover, we learn how to share, communicate, collaborate, participate in activities and think critically. Especially in 21st century, schools play a stronger role in creating a generation that think more critically than other generations. I think this is very important about how to develop our nations in a better way.

 4.     The standards and accountability movement is part of a larger school reform movement to change how schools function. Based upon our course readings, what are the most pressing issues facing teachers, schools, and reformers? In what ways might their interests align or collide?

 According to the chapter #2 of the Death and Life of the Great American School System that I have recently read, some states made a systemic reform in 1990 in which public officials and educators established a curriculum, set standards for proficiency and chose matching textbooks. They tried to reorganize the entire curriculum goals. However, it was difficult to align them. The greatest obstacle was to require numerous stakeholders.

 The reform was about the schools with poor and low performing students. It included almost all students. District schools tried to use this system and make an achievement. However, only district 2 was able to manage to adapt Balanced Literacy which is well defined structure and methodology plan. It also focuses on reading strategies. According to this plan, children were supposed to teach one another. All teachers should have learnt new vocabulary, new ways of teaching, and new ways of interacting with one another.

 Among schools, only District 2 –New York made a great achievement, became a national symbol of success that year and caught a great attention of corporate reformers by focusing on literacy. On the other hand, there were other conclusions and critics about this reform. First of all, teachers who took part in it found it a waste of precious time in the school day. Moreover, after surveying teachers about the time they spent in professional development and comparing achievement goals of their students, authors of the book concluded that engagement in professional development with such reform didn’t provide a significant influence on student achievement in either literacy or mathematics.

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Standards and Accountability

Chapter #3

According to the text, today’s teachers have more master’s degree than in the past. Because of the requierements of the schools, teachers take more college classes and more education courses than before. I think that most courses requiere different standards from teachers and this forces them to develop their skills and add more experience into their career.However, I really don’t understand why every state requieres different tests and they are quiete different from each other. When I read that a prospective teacher could pass comfortably in one test and fail the same test in another, I found it so weird. I come from a country that provides same standards to teachers in each city. If someone once passes the certification test and becomes a teacher, wherever he goes he can work without taking another test for that. I know that here in U.S the state system provides different governance. However, this confuses me about why there is not one typical standard for being a teacher.

I think this makes becoming teacher more complicated and difficult for those who move from one state to another. This also does’t provide the same opportunities to the people.

I had been working as a teacher in my country before I came here. When I graduated from college and got the teaching certification, I had chance to work wherever I went within the country. However, since I am here in U.S,I really don’t know what kind of standards and requierements I am going to face with until I am graduated. To be honest, I still don’t know what are the differences and similarities among tests.

Inquiry Project

I would like to do my inquiry project about bullying in schools. The reason why I have chosen this topic is that I am seeing lots of news and information on internet and television these days. Yesterday when I was driving home, I heard a website about bullying on radio and I wanted to get more information about that. I know that this is a common issue in the world that we should take under control to maintain a safe environment for our children.  There are lots of students who avoid going to school for being bullied or trying to kill themselves to get rid of this problem as soon as possible. As adults, one of our main responsibilities is to provide all of the students a fair, democratic and comfortable place of learning.  I am wondering whether we will be able to control these kinds of incidents that occur in and outside of classrooms, even in social networking sites while creating new techniques and strategies to prevent them.  I hope we can find a better way and children learn how to respect other people around them.

Autoethnography

            When I look back to my school life, I see that I have so many positive and negative memories that probably affected my decisions. Among them, the first memory that I could say is the one from Elementary school. I studied in a Public School which was the best and the biggest in my neighborhood. As other public schools, our classes were so crowded that three students would share one desk. We would hardly put our textbooks and write comfortably. The reason of this crowded was that parents generally preferred that school for their kids. As a result of the crowdedness, school had really discipline issues with at and out of school gangs. Almost every day we would see a fight among boys or student-teacher arguments. There were so many factors that turned school to a social place for students rather than a learning place. Teachers were so depressive and unwilling to teach new topics. They would just want us to read chapters of the book and memorize them for exams. Lessons were so boring and ordinary that students would play cards in front of the teacher. No one was complaining about this situation because the only thing that they wanted was to pass exams and to graduate no matter how the lesson went.

            During that time, I would always observe my teachers and especially admin to see how they would manage the classroom and take problematic situations under control. If they were more professional or willing to develop our school, it would have been more different for us. If they had provided a better learning environment, a safe place and a beneficial classroom for us, we would have enhanced our personality and social skills better while learning courses we needed. My school life was not the reason for me to choose this profession but the important effect which shaped my behaviors when I became a teacher. 

             I am the oldest one of 2 sisters. My father is a math professor and has been working for 15 years as a principal of a private college in Istanbul. I come from a family in which almost 1 in 4 works in teaching field. Education is very important and the only one tool for my family. My parents have always been so supportive and helpful during my education life with my sister. However, this is not the reason why I have chosen teaching field. When I look back to my memories from Elementary school, I completely remember the time my teacher gave me the math question to show my father. My father was known the best math teacher in Istanbul during that time. Our home had always been full of students who came for private tutoring after school. My father was so enthusiastic to teach every single student even if he couldn’t spend much time for his family and himself. One day, my teacher gave me a paper full of math questions and asked me to give my father if he could solve them for him. The more he could, the more my teacher kept sending him questions. The reason why my teacher was sending questions was that he wanted to learn different methods from him. Each time my teacher asked me to give a paper to him, I was so proud of my father. In that time I didn’t know that this memory would help me to find my way and to determine how a teacher should be. Years later, I understand that even a small memory has a huge affect on our decisions and our lives.

                    The main reason of my choice to be a teacher has always been my lovely English teacher at Elementary School. She was so friendly and educated person in her field that I would love to listen and study more to show my abilities in English to her. In Public Schools in my country, second language education is very poor and not affective. Because of not having new materials and opportunities, she had to use other strategies to engage us in classroom and to develop our skills in learning other languages. I was so interested in learning English that she would try more to keep my anxiety at the same level.

            One day, she was teaching the difference between British and American English. She brought a list of words from each of them and told us a story. In classroom we were separated into two groups to present two different accents in a story.  The way she was teaching those words were so affective and easily-remembered that I never forgot them. The reason why I am telling this story is that I have always appreciated my teacher for her effort and support to help us learn something and develop our abilities in that poor school circumstances. I still meet her whenever I need her experiences or thoughts. I believe that she is the best example of successful teachers that I want to be in the future.

           When I entered the University, everyone around me was asking me why I chose Spanish to study major. They all thought that it was not a good major to study on. I explained so many times even to my parents that I was interested in languages and wanted to work in that field. As our language is different than other languages, we always have to learn a second language. However, when it comes to job selection, no one wants his child to study on a language. It is a common thought that study music, language and social science won’t help you to earn good money to survive. At that time, I was getting so angry when someone asked me why. According to the general belief, I would never have a wealthy future if I continued that way. What was I going to be when I graduated from college with Spanish major? Was I able to work at least in a company with low salary or going to be a housewife with college diploma? I knew that these questions were going back and front in my parents’ mind. Feeling lonely on that way made me stronger. I had so many expectations and hope that could increase my success in college. No matter what people thought, I was prepared to the things I was going to face with.

               After graduation from college, I started to work as a Spanish teacher in a private school. That time questions were different. They would ask me again if I earned enough money to maintain my life or not. I truly know that it is hard to change people’s thoughts. Being a teacher meant to be a less intelligent person who struggles to work in a better job. Even if teachers are so valued in my culture, people don’t prefer their children to become a teacher. I worked hard to show them that I could be a teacher while earning good money. After school, I did private tutoring, worked in weekend courses, and participated in seminars to learn something more. I determined to be a good teacher and keep working in this field no matter what people thought. It was a tough and long way for me but I think I managed.

What are teachers “worth” ?

After watching three great videos, once again I understood that being teachers and its value in all around the world were one of the common problems in every society. It is truly tragicomic that we all want to raise and create a great generation for the future even our profession has no value among other jobs. In TAPST it is said that teaching is not much valued like law and medicine then it was in 1953.  However, no matter how this perspective is shaped for some reasons, we should believe in the importance of education and do our job as it is necessitated.

Now I am going to tell you something about these videos.

The first video I watched is the trailer of “American Teacher” which I liked very much. The teachers in that documentary seem overwhelmed and exhausted by lot of work hours. On the other hand, they are all excited and enthusiastic to teach whatever they know and to raise their students well. Among information given in that documentary, teachers are hardworking and well educated, however, almost 46% of them quit during the first 5 years. Almost half of them have second job because of low salaries.  According to the NEA survey in TAPST, teachers have an extra responsibility to do their job effectively, which means additional 10 hours at home on instructional activities.  In the trailer, images and people’s speeches are so amazing that  a viewer can feel the teachers’ passion from the bottom of the heart.

Second video “Save Our School Rally” is about Matt Demon’s speech about Public School teachers. The reason of his speech is to show how well educated, empowered and successful Public School teachers are. As a Public School student and a son of a teacher, he is not just focusing on the importance of Public Schools but also on attitudes of his teachers towards students; such as seeing students as individualized puzzles and focusing on the activities to develop who they are inside. Matt Damon basically tries to encourage and praise teachers to show them that their students don’t undervalue them. On the other hand, in today’s society no matter how well educated, well graded and knowledgeable about technology the teachers are, they may still struggle in their lives and schools.

 

 

The third video is about the news report on Matt Demon’s Speech and Save Our School Rally in front of the White House. Millions of people deeply support and appreciate to bring this profession into good levels. However, we basically see that teachers are unfortunately exhausted and unappreciated in today’s society. According to NEA survey, there are a significant growth and development on professionalization and use of technology in classrooms. In TAPST, It is indicated that even in low income areas public schools have access to computers in classrooms. It is now more possible to engage students into classes. Technological opportunities may decrease the amount of work of the teachers. Moreover, students can be more productive by using electronic devices for their projects and assignments. Besides, teachers are more willing to study and make a difference in their classes. However, their MA degree doesn’t make any difference in their salaries and success. There is no evidence showing that MA teachers are more successful than lower degreed teachers.

As a daughter of a teacher, I feel the same as Matt Damon feels. Teachers are great values of a Nation. We should work hard and develop ourselves to be able to change society’s prejudice. As Ataturk (hero of the Turks) said: “Teachers are the one and only people who save nations”. That’s why teachers are worth a lot.
 

 

What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?

I recently read an article on New York Times Magazine. This was about 2 educators, Dominic Randolph and David Levin who are trying to put the conception of character into action in their schools. They discuss whether the character is directly related to the students’ success or not.  They even discuss how to provide lessons in character to his students, who were almost all black or Latino and from low-income families. They made a research to see if it is correlated in KIPP schools in New York City. After watching the progress of those KIPP alumni, they saw that the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP. They were the one who had extremely strong characters and moral values. They would have matured personality and intelligence. By this, these two educators agree on that there must be another factor in what makes children succeed. On the other hand, Angela Duckworth, an assistant professor at Penn, took place in this team and created a test to measure character traits: such as grit, self- control, IQ, etc. then they asked students to rate themselves based on 12 questions. At the end of the process it indicated that the grit ratings are related to GPA scores of the students not the college-board scores. After working with Levin and Randolph during almost two years to turn the list of seven strengths that identified by them into a two-page evaluation; students, parents and teachers were asked to complete the questionnaire.

            These were some steps that allowed them to confirm if they could put the conception of character into their schools. However, it is quite effective and helpful for understanding and creating a modern school environment.

 

Check this out: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?pagewanted=all

Songs for teachers and about school life… Starting from ‘60s

Music is the heart of our soul. It answers to many of our questions, our problems and even our thoughts. It doesn’t matter what kind of music we listen, we always find something in it for ourselves. At this point, as a future teacher, I wanted to search some songs about teachers and school to see the connection between music and education in the social media. As a result, among the songs I have found, I listed 3 of them which had different topics from each other: School love, Female teacher love, Male teacher love…

First one is from the ‘60s…The Beach Boys – Be True to Your School

Lyrics:

When some loud braggart tries to put me down
And says his school is great
I tell him right away
“Now what’s the matter buddy
Ain’t you heard of my school
It’s number one in the state”

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

I got a letterman’s sweater
With a letter in front
I got for football and track
I’m proud to wear it now
When I cruise around
The other parts of the town
I got a decal in back

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

On Friday we’ll be jacked up on the football game
And I’ll be ready to fight
We’re gonna smash ’em now
My girl will be working on her pom-poms now
And she’ll be yelling tonight

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

Rah rah rah Be true to your school
Rah rah rah Be true to your school
Rah rah rah Be true to your school
Rah rah rah Be true to your school

The second one is from ’70s… The POLICE –Don’t Stand So Close to Me

Lyrics:

Young teacher, the subject
Of schoolgirl fantasy
She wants him so badly
Knows what she wants to be
Inside her there’s longing
This girl’s an open page
Book marking – she’s so close now
This girl is half his age

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

Her friends are so jealous
You know how bad girls get
Sometimes it’s not so easy
To be the teacher’s pet
Temptation, frustration
So bad it makes him cry
Wet bus stop, she’s waiting
His car is warm and dry

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

Loose talk in the classroom
To hurt they try and try
Strong words in the staffroom
The accusations fly
It’s no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Nabakov

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

And finally, Rufus Waithwright sings: The Art Teacher

Lyrics:

There I was in uniform
Looking at the art teacher
I was just a girl then;
Never have I loved since then

He was not that much older than I was
He had taken our class to the Metropolitan Museum
He asked us what our favorite work of art was,
But never could I tell it was him
Oh, I wish I could tell him —
Oh, I wish I could have told him

I looked at the Rubens and Rembrandts
I liked the John Singer Sargents
He told me he liked Turner
Never have I turned since then
No, never have I turned to any other man

All this having been said,
I married an executive company head
All this having been done, a Turner – I own one
Here I am in this uniformish, pant-suit sort of thing,
Thinking of the art teacher
I was just a girl then;
Never have I loved since then
No, never have I loved any other man

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