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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Plastic gold medals and the data that really matters

Their is the data that matters, and the data that really matters in a child's life.
The data that matters to policy makers and politicians are a child's test scores. The prize, a label of either below proficiency, at proficiency, or even above proficiency, and Golly another billion counted for testing companies.
The data that really matters is finishing your first chapter book.
Dr. Turner bows down to your great brain,
Your brain is so much stronger than Dr. T's
I salute your brilliant brain power,
Recognize your greatness,
And I publicly bestow this gold medal upon you on this your day of glory.
He could care less about your proficiency levels, but he'll never forget his first chapter book and that 10 cent plastic gold medal forever.
Children are more than test scores,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to know what I was listening to on my walk this morning? It Sly and the Family Stone "Everybody is a star" > <

Friday, October 2, 2015

Empathy it's my teaching superpower

In this new millennium, policy makers, the wealthy and the powerful are radically altering the goal of public education from preparing citizens to preparing obedient workers. They are driving out the arts, music, recess, and reading and writing for pleasure. They have ruthlessly reduced teaching and learning to meaningless data points. They use money and a fear of the future to push standards without empathy, and their hammer used to enforce those standards is high-stakes testing. If they can't scare you then they'll buy you off.

Their high-stakes testing policies are some of the most inhumane polices ever written in the history of public education. What else, but inhumane should we call the reduction of America's children to either below proficiency, at proficiency, or above proficiency? Empathy brings humanity into the classroom not standards.  Leo Buscaglia said “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” The potential to turn a life around for teachers in our public schools to me is being able to feel empathy for the students we teach. Empathy is understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself or to see yourself in their shoes. It means teaching with compassion for every student in your class.
What is not driving high-stakes testing and the Common Core? EMPATHY!

                                         That is me second from the left some 55 years ago

Recess, milk, cookies, art, play, music, story time, and empathy ruled my kindergarten experience. In between we learned our ABCs, our colors, and to count. We were reminded to say please, excuse me, no thank you, yes Sir, no Sir, yes Mam and no Mam. We learned to share, be kind to one another, and to apologize when we did wrong. No one ever gave me a standardized test. No one ever labeled any of us with proficiency levels. At 60, and 4 university degrees later I still believe those things matter more than twenty-first century high stakes testing and the Common Core.

See the child, not the score,
Be the teacher not the enforcer,
See the wonders of God's own creation,

Walk in the shoes of others,
Be the kind touch,
Be the smile in the life of another, 
Be the kind word,
Be the listening ear,
Be the honest compliment,
Always, always, always be the smallest act of caring.

Become the teacher you always dream of becoming.
Wear your empathy like your armor, and let no power on earth steal it from you.
Trust me Empathy matters!

For as Natalie Merchant said you are the wonder of God's Own Creation....So as that gentle rain fell on my walk through the woods today I listened to "Natalie's "Wonder" > <

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Libraries matter more than test scores

I remember falling in love with Miguel de Cervantes's "Don Quixote's Man of La Mancha" when I was 11. I found it at the local library sitting a top a pile of books on a tiger oak table near a window over looking the park. It was around 700 pages, far more pages than I thought myself able to read, but Cervantes whispered my name, calling me to adventure. I opened the book randomly to these lines   “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”
It was the winter without heat. The library was always warm, and the librarians were always kind and welcoming, and 700 pages would take a long time to read. So began my adventure as a Knight Errant in the warmest of places our local library. Like Don Quixote I would grow into a defender of truth, honor, and the innocent.

I had more hair back then, but I was always the fighter, always the dreamer, and always A Man Of La Mancha
Libraries matter more than test scores,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Walking in the rain over the Avon Moutain listening to the sound track from Man Of La Mancha...I found myself feeling so very blessed in so many many ways. Come enter into the imagination of a Knight-Errant > <