Thursday, June 19, 2008

DC Teaching License Frustration -- Part 2

It's a week later on this topic and I still have no information about my status as far as teaching next school year. I believe I will have completed all the requirements for my license by August. But I don't know whether I'm on a termination list, or whether DCPS will wait for me to get my license in August. This week I talked with someone at AU who emailed someone in the licensure office. So far no response. I have to keep working on my portfolio; I don't have time to figure this out. But I am worried. I'm afraid my portfolio will reflect my worry.
In my AU course this session, I used Mozilla Firefox and I love it! Now the Washington Post is also getting into it. See

Being able to switch easily from one tab to another is very cool : )

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not to Be So Negative about Students

I don't want to give a negative impression of what I think about high school students. I believe that every student wants to succeed -- that is, to succeed in my class, in school, and in life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Non-Repeater Class Policy in DCPS

A number of new policies will be implemented in the DC school system starting in the 2008-2009 school year. For example, it seems there will be a non-repeater class policy. That is, if a student fails a class, the student will have to take the class again in summer school in order to move to the next grade in the fall. Juniors and seniors who fail a required class would have to take the class again during an after school or evening program. This represents a big change from what has been going on, at least at my high school. For example, this past school year, quite a few students who failed algebra II in the fall took the course again in the spring. With the new policy, if a student fails algebra II in the fall, she or he will have the opportunity to take it again in an evening program in the spring or in summer school.

I think the idea is to try to keep same-grade and same-age students in the classes. To the extent that repeater students are less motivated than new students, I am in favor of the new policy. In my classes, what is crucial is to foster and encourage an environment of enthusiasm (or at least interest) in learning and participation, and a belief in achievement and success. I think the new policy is good because it might help to motivate students to come to class and get the work done because they won't have the option of taking the same class over and over again during regular school hours. Another plus may be that by removing the repeaters from the scheduling equation, the school will be better able to create schedules in advance and figure out staffing and texts and other needs. This might help to reduce the general atmosphere of disorganization in the administration of the school.

On the down side, the policy may penalize students who cannot or will not be able to attend evening or summer school. Probably the policy will serve to motivate some students to drop out of school. Maybe the counselors will try to make exceptions for special ed students or others who have special cases. For now the biggest down side, as I see it, is that we don't know for sure what is the new policy or how it will be implemented. Usually new policies seem to show up in the middle of the school year or at least several weeks into the new school year. Even if that is the case, I hope the new policy will be communicated to all the affected parties -- especially the students -- and I hope it will help reduce the dysfunctionality of the school.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

How do we measure teaching success?

Now that I've wrapped up my third year of teaching, I'm once again thinking about my success as a teacher and my students' success in my classes. How should we measure success? Passing the class? Learning something, learning enough? Using what we've learned? Attending class? With my own children, my main criterion for success in their education is that it continues to keep them enthusiastic about learning. I've seen that in some of my students but I haven't measured it (yet). Since I like numbers and I'm a math teacher, I'm going to take a look at some of the numbers I have.

Altogether for the three classes I taught this past semester, there were 64 students by the end of the year. The passing rate was about 69%. About 17% of the students earned an A or B. Another measure is the pre and post test results. This is kind of tricky because not all the students took both tests. Of those who did, about 55% increased their score (on the post test) by 10 points or more, and 38% increased by 20 points or more.

I'm not feeling very successful. I need to work on inspiring my students more -- or inspiring more of my students : ) Some students were motivated and seemed to enjoy the class. But there are no numbers for that (yet).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

DCPS Teaching License Frustration

I'm a DC Teaching Fellow wrapping up my 3rd year of teaching in DCPS. I never got a provisional teaching license because I did not complete my Praxis exams prior to starting teaching. I think I'm on the school system's "termination list" because I'm not a highly qualified teacher. I have successfully completed my Praxis exams. Will I be able to continue teaching at my school next year? DCPS says it's not their domain -- I have to talk to OSSE (Office of the State Superintendent of Education). OSSE says AU (my university) has to handle my application for a teaching license. AU says I have to complete my portfolio first, by July 3. But I'm worried I might be terminated before that. AU says my provisional license (which I don't have) is good until September. I'm planning to go in person to OSSE on Monday (using some of my portfolio production time). Hopefully I will get some useful information about my situation. I would like to complete my portfolio and submit it before July 3 so I can get the license later this summer.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

creating a link in your blog is as simple as this