Archive for June, 2011

Winning Students’ Hearts, While Getting Inside Their Heads

June 19, 2011

Students work hard to please a teacher they care about!

Students work hard to please a teacher they care about.  The teachers students do care about are those who have taken the time to establish a personal relationship (in the classroom) with each of their students.  This is the crucial factor which was left out of R. Barker Bausell’s research into how the most effective teachers conduct their classrooms.

Dr. R. Barker Bausell, Educational Researcher and Author

Bausell’s conclusions are summarized in his May, 2011 article in the New York Times, “A New Measure for Classroom Quality.”  In his article, Bausell explains clearly why student test scores do not provide a consistent means of separating good teachers from bad.

The best approach, Bausell explains, is to measure the amount of time a teacher spends delivering relevant instruction, that is, how much teaching actually gets done in a day.  The studies show that some teachers were able to deliver as much as 14 weeks more of actual instruction during a single year than ineffective teachers.  These efficient teachers were also those who produced the best gains on standardized tests.

Bausell recommends that school reforms, therefore, should focus on: “Lengthening the school day (which would probably require more team teaching), week and year; adopting a near-zero-tolerance policy for disruptive behavior, which classroom cameras would help police; increasing efforts to reduce tardiness and absenteeism; and providing as much supplementary and remedial tutoring (the most effective instructional model known) as possible.”

Additionally, instead of waiting until the end of the year to evaluate test scores, Bausell suggests that administrators “could simply videotape a few minutes of instruction a day, then evaluate the results to see how much time teachers spent on their assigned material and the extent to which they were able to engage students.  Indeed, the very process of recording classroom instruction would probably push some underperforming teachers to become more efficient.”

As a teacher of two decades, I do agree with Bausell’s conclusions, with one crucial difference.  More teaching time would certainly improve student results, but only somewhat.  What really maximizes student achievement is when students strive hardest to please their teacher.  When a teacher both loves their subject, and takes the time to (appropriately) know students personally, making the curriculum relevant to their lives now, the students will double their efforts (especially when compared with the type of teacher who keeps a wall up between themselves and the students).

Classroom Management through Relationships

For more information on how to develop positive relationships with students, see Improving Students’ Relationships with Teachers, by the American Psychological Association, or “Classroom Management Strategies for Difficult Students–Promoting Change Through Relationships”, by Mary Ellen Beaty-O’Ferrall, Alan Green, & Fred Hanna in the Middle School Journal.

–Lynne Diligent

Are Gweneth Paltrow’s Herculean Requirements for a Children’s Tutor Reasonable?

June 10, 2011

Gweneth Paltrow in London

According to American Resident’s blog, here are Gweneth Paltrow’s Herculean requirements for a tutor for her two children, aged 6 and 8:

“The ideal candidate will have received a classical education, including Latin and Greek, and be familiar with such elements as the history of thought from a philosophical perspective. He or she should also be musically fluent and play at least one instrument well. In addition, language skills are essential and the Tutor should have fluent French and at least one other of Spanish, Italian, Mandarin or Japanese. The Tutor will also need to be fit and healthy, enjoy many sports and pastimes both indoors and out, including painting, art, or art history and drama, as well as sports such as chess, tennis, fencing or a martial art.” ….. when the tutor collects the boy from school, they might stop by an art gallery on the way home!

I think I’m a fantastic tutor, going WAY above the call of duty for all of my students.  However, just READING the above made me tired!  It reminded me of being in a school where the teacher is expected to be everything to everybody, and thus able to do NOTHING as well as he or she should.  Such a tutor would be worth £100,000 a year, in my opinion, to have mastered all of these areas, as well as have the energy to keep up with all of these requirements.  I don’t they would last longer than six months in the position, even then.

It would make a lot more sense to have one tutor who is fluent in several languages, art, and perhaps some classics who could pick up the children daily and spend a specified number of hours with the children.  There should be a second tutor who would be able to do sports, games, and perhaps some history/philosophy and music.

How does she think one person would be able to master all of these areas, and yet be prepared to be a tutor in only one private home?  Such a tutor would be more accomplished than the presidents of many nations or multinational coroporations.

What do others think?

–Lynne Diligent


Teacher Arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport

June 10, 2011

John F. Kennedy Airport

A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator.  At a morning press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He did not identify the  man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

Al-Gebra is a problem for us’, the Attorney General said. ”  They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute  values.’  They use secret code names like ‘X’ and ‘Y’ and refer to themselves as ‘unknowns’, but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.  As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, ‘There are 3 sides to every triangle’.

 When asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes.”  White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President – It is believed that another Nobel Prize will follow.

–Author unknown