This is my Managing Up assignment for EDL610, introducing my colleague, Amy Miles!
Digital Poster Prezi
Having a hard time embedding my prezi here for now so here is the link.
Weebly freezes every time I try to paste the embed code...I'll try again tomorrow.
1. Is failure a real and regular experience for kids at your school?
Unfortunately yes. Our staff is dedicated to helping every student achieve and we set high expectations, however we know that the reality is that many students slip through the cracks which is frustrating.
2. If so, what impact do you believe that is creating? If not, what structures have been put into place to accomplish alternatives?
This is a tricky one to answer, because I believe our intentions are good but the system we have to work within is flawed. Our school attitude towards not accepting failure and finding alternatives is appreciated by most of our students. Many of them don’t regularly go to school, so when a teacher in juvenile hall encourages them and supports them, it is generally a positive outcome. The problem is that we have little control over the system of placement that changes at any moment for our students. This is a source of frustration for all of us, as we see a kid start to settle and really open up, only to be placed at a different site for reasons out of our control, and then the process of building trust with new teachers has to begin again. As a nod to EDL680, our new data systems have helped us a lot with the transient nature of our kids in the past few years that we’ve switched to the PROMIS attendance and student data system. It’s much easier for us to communicate about students, share information from site to site, and bridges that gap somewhat.
3. What conditions exist that make it too late to learn and reach competency in your school? Can you give an example?
The institutionalized mentality can be seen in students as young as 14 or 15, to the point where they have accepted that they will probably continue to go to jail. They may have a family history of gang involvement or incarceration that makes it hard to break out of the cycle. They may have been expelled, or told their home district won't allow them back. Many have lost confidence and motivation to be successful at academics.
Many of them also enter with far below grade level skills, due to the fact that they don’t go to school regularly or don’t have support at home to get help when school gets challenging. I have had 16 year old students that struggle to do multiplication without a table chart, and are reading at a 4th grade level...yet they are scheduled in to English 11 and Algebra because of age. Credit for seat time over mastery is battle we face everyday.
4. What would you do, if anything, to introduce/enhance “never too late to learn” structures in your school if you were the school leader?
I have seen the power of guest speakers and volunteers that have lived our students’ reality and went on to be successful adults, and I would love to increase those opportunities as well as extend that to internships or ROP programs within the halls. Not only does it build confidence, but also teaches them important skills. I would also try to understand more about the probation side of things and work closely to try and limit movement between units and sites, or look into an online/blended mode of learning that might complement that movement as more teachers in our district go 1-1 anyways.
5. What can you do in your present position to create “never too late to learn” structures into your current practice and those of your peers? Are those things in your sphere of influence?
As I’ve mentioned before, student’s often ask if they can do an “independent study” style system and take work to their rooms for classes they need to catch up on, as well as coming to class and taking grade level courses they are scheduled in. I do my best to provide this option, but some students simply aren’t successful working all alone, or don’t have the basic skills to really complete the readings and assignments needed. I would love to have a tutor work with very low level students, and I have a TA for a few hours, twice per week, that I could utilize for that. I could also possibly speak to probation about running tutoring during our lunch hour. I recently heard a fellow teacher talk about how she used to do that very thing but probation told her she couldn’t do it anymore. We have a new director, however, and so she was hoping to approach the idea again, as she never got a good reason to why she had to stop in the first place.
6. Commit to 5 things you are willing to do this semester that will make your school better and increase learning opportunities:
1. What role does school play in building students’ agency and identity?
I think school has a large role in building students’ agency and identity. Every single person that has been through the school system has memories about it and moments that defined their lives and identity, however small. Positive and negative experiences in school are carried with us. Schools are where we grow independently from our parents, and have to make choices and deal with consequences.
2. How aware are you and your colleagues of the impact our choice of words have on developing students’ agency and identity? Can you give examples?
My colleagues and I are hyper-aware of the words we use with students, but after reviewing the readings and the screencast I am not sure if it is in the right effort. We focus a lot on code switching, modeling academic speech, not perpetuating any language affiliated with gangs or negative lifestyle choices that got them there. I don’t think we are doing enough to praise them for their good choices. A lot of our words are meant to keep order, but not necessarily build up the students.
3 & 4. What would you do, if anything, to make using choice words a more conscious and accountable school wide practice if you were the school leader?