Transparency in Teaching (stuff)
By Transparency in Teaching
Transparency in Teaching (stuff)Oct 02, 2023
046 Ed News This Week: To Out or Not To Out: Coming to a School Near You & Move over Covid, The Chronic Absenteeism Epidemic
This week, Anne shares updates and opinions on the ongoing battle of whether to tell or not to tell on Trans kids. Is this trust-busting practice worth fighting about? And she sheds light on the growing academically deadly pandemic affecting our schools, Chronic Absenteeism.
To get all the resources and research used to create this episode, head over to TransparencyinTeaching.com. There, you'll find all of our informative episodes and blog posts to give you the information you need to improve your teaching experience or at least find a place where people get what you're going through.
Find us on Instagram at @Transparency_in_Teaching or get in touch with Anne by visiting @L2tchr at Linkin and X.
A huge, warm, grateful teacher hug to all of our faithful listeners and a giant welcome to all of you new listeners who may have stumbled upon us through luck or recommendation. We are glad you are here. Pass along the welcoming atmosphere by sharing this episode with others. The more, the WAY more merrier!
045 EdNews This Week: Chess Goes to Class, Grad Requirements Revamp & Teaching Credential Sans Degree
In this episode of EdNews This Week, Anne announces that she and co-host Jen will be featured guests on another podcast called Behind the Mic, out September 1st on the Education Podcast Network. This week's three news stories from the education world share how New Hampshire teachers are getting paid to teach chess, with the state providing funding for training and equipment, how Rhode Island's realignment of graduation requirements created with input from the community ensures all students will graduate ready for careers or college, and a third story about how Kentucky's alternative path to a teaching credential doesn't require a bachelor's degree.
All the links to the resources used to create this episode can be found on our website, TransparencyinTeaching.com.
Please leave us your comments about this episode and what educational news you have to share.
044 The Teacher Workload: Teachers Get Less for More
The Teacher Workload: Teachers Get Less for More
In this episode, Anne, Jen, and their special guest Maria delve into the multifaceted nature of the teacher workload, shedding light on the fact that the profession entails much more than simply standing in front of a classroom and delivering the curriculum.
We discuss the term "teachering." Anne found this term in a blog post on teachbetter.com’s site. The curriculum coordinator for 21st Century Teaching and Learning, Alexy Valencic’s discussed the term “teachering” in his post.
[00:06:08] Teacher workload Teaching vs Teachering.
[00:10:57] Duties and responsibilities.
[00:25:57] Compensation for extracurricular activities.
[00:29:27] Teacher overtime and FLSA labor laws.
[00:32:48] Teachers' workload and overtime pay.
[00:36:43] Teachers and overtime restrictions.
[00:46:14] Saying no and setting boundaries.
According to Valencic's definitions, the teaching workload involves identifying what needs to be learned and guiding the learning process until achieving the desired goal. This encompasses state standards, curriculum instruction, teacher-student relationships, assessment, and progress monitoring. On the other hand, the teaching workload also includes “teachering,” made up of all the additional tasks and responsibilities that teachers are asked or expected to undertake, often without any extra compensation.
“Teachering" tasks can range from the many meetings teachers are expected to attend to everyday things like bus and dance duties. Expectations can also include giving up lunch and after-school time for detentions, clubs, professional development, IEP meetings, and parent phone calls. Overall, the episode sheds light on the additional responsibilities and tasks teachers must shoulder beyond their classroom teaching duties.
Did you know that teachers cannot receive overtime payments? We didn’t until we learned about the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If the word “teacher” is attached to your job description, you are not entitled to overtime, no matter how little money you may make.
New teachers are in the dark about the extent of the teacher workload. While new teachers may anticipate some meetings, the sheer number of meetings they must attend may surprise them. Teacher education programs fail to prepare teachers for the wide range of responsibilities they will encounter throughout their careers.
To address these challenges, we suggest that teachers engage in discussions to identify and evaluate the value of their extra tasks. By collectively determining which duties are essential and which are unnecessary, teachers can advocate for changes and potentially alleviate or reduce the burden of the teacher's workload on specific responsibilities.
Additionally, we emphasize the importance of supporting new teachers and ensuring they can handle these additional duties. Experienced teachers must demonstrate to new teachers that it is acceptable to decline certain tasks, ultimately promoting a healthier work-life balance for educators.
This episode underscores the reality that teachers must often go beyond their primary teaching role and assume additional responsibilities. We emphasize the need for awareness, support, and advocacy to address the challenges associated with these extra tasks and to ensure fair compensation for teachers’ efforts.
Summertime is the perfect time to start coordinating efforts to reform the expectations on a teacher’s time. Now is the time to get the conversation about all the unnecessary “teachering” at your school. Do this before the beginning of a new school year overwhelms your attention and you find out you’ve been signed up for more than you’ve bargained for!
Thanks for listening!
For a list of all the resources used to make this episode, visit https://transparencyinteaching.com/
How do you handle the workload at your school? Should teachers be entitled to overtime? Leave us your comments and suggestions.
043 Ed News This Week: New Discipline Rules; Congress hears about mental health, A ChatGPT for Students
Welcome to another edition of Ed News This Week. This week I’ll share why LAUnifed School District teachers (and a lot of us other teachers) are not happy about mandated discipline changes, What Congress has heard about mental health issues in school (will they finally listen?), and How ChatGPT has a sister AI being born that is supposed to be better for students.
This week's question: How does your school or district handle discipline? Is it working? Add your comments below.
For links to the sources used to put this episode together and to find other great content on other important education issues, please visit https://transparencyinteaching.com/
Please let us know what you think about this episode and any ideas you have for future shows. We'd love it if you could share our podcast with others who you think might enjoy it. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen! 🙏🏽❤️
042 Summer Planning to Make Fall a Breeze
Ah, summer vacation! The time when teachers can finally break free from the clutches of students, exams, and endless lesson planning. It's a time to kick back, relax, and forget about school... Or is it?
Many teachers count the days until the last bell before summer vacation sounds. At my school, our science teacher begins writing the countdown on the teacher’s lounge whiteboard the day we return from winter break.
The end of the school year is incredibly stressful, and anticipation of summer freedom doesn’t make it any easier to get through. This is the time of year when you begin to panic because you realize you don’t have enough time left to get through all your required curriculum. This is partly because state testing and other end-of-year assessments all encroach on the limited days left and because there are the obligatory awards assemblies and the student “fun” days. There’s also finding time to wrap up your classroom for the summer, collect textbooks and computers and hand out registration packets for next year. Next year…. Ugh! The last thing any teacher wants to think about right now.
So when that final bell sounds, ending the school year, lock your classroom door, turn in the end-of-year paperwork, and take some time away from all of it.
Well, enough time to catch your breath and refocus.
Because if you are a weirdo like me, you love using summer to jump-start planning for the next school year!
WAIT! Before you roll your eyes and skip to the next podcast, hear me out. This episode actually discusses how to make your summer MORE relaxing and the beginning of the next school year much less stressful. So go get one of those fancy drinks with an umbrella and hit play to find out the secret way Anne and Jen totally forget about school. Sorry, controversial substances are not included!
Wanna read it instead? Visit TransparencyinTeaching.com "Maximizing Summer Vacation: How Planning Sets Teachers Up for Success"
041 Ed News this Week: Mastery learning Ok'd Across US, The Carnegie Unit to Retire, US Ed Funding Summarized
In this episode of "Transparency in Teaching," host Anne discusses three news stories related to education—the first shares how mastery learning has now been approved in all 50 states in the US. The second story explores why the Carnegie unit, which has defined learning for the past 100 years, is now considered obsolete. And lastly, Anne breaks down how the US spends money on education.
Please share any education news stories and links that you'd like to hear covered in the comments section.
To view the resources mentioned and used to put together this episode, visit TransparencyinTeaching.com
040 Mastery Learning: What are teachers Really Grading?
One of the main issues with the current grading system is grade inflation. Students are often given high grades for simply completing assignments, regardless of the quality of their work. This leads to a false sense of achievement and can be detrimental to their learning in the long run. It's a system that rewards "seat time" over the actual demonstration of knowledge.
Another problem with the current grading system is subjectivity. Teachers can have different standards for what constitutes an A or a B grade. This can lead to unfairness and inconsistent grading, which can be especially problematic for students competing for college admissions or scholarships.
An evaluation system based on Mastery learning could be a better alternative to the current grading system. This system would focus on student mastery of the material rather than just completing assignments. Teachers would work with students to help them achieve true mastery of the material, and grades would be based on demonstrated proficiency rather than subjective factors.
It is obvious that the current grading system needs reform. Grade inflation, subjectivity, and lack of standardization are all issues that must be addressed. A mastery learning system could be a better alternative to the current grading system, as it would focus on student mastery of the material rather than just completing assignments. By rethinking grading, we can better support student learning and help students achieve their full potential.
For a list of all the resources used in this episode, visit TransparencyinTeaching.com
039 Ed News This Week: Book Banning District Gets Hand Slap, Taxpayers Fund Private School, & Struggling Third Graders to Be Held Back
It's Anne here with a mini-episode of Transparency and Teaching Podcast, the News Edition. We used to start our episodes with education news, but you know, uh, we got so long-winded as we talked about the main topics that we decided to cut that out. Well, lucky for you, I'm retired, so I have all kinds of time to update you on what's happening in the education world.
The News Edition will share news about the current policies and politics that affect our teaching world. So this little in-between bonus episode will show up in your feed now and then to ensure you're up to date on the latest ED news.
This episode features three news stories that I feel may set the tone for schools and districts nationwide. As we know, one district's policies and often the politics that give birth to them can act as a bellwether that encourages other education establishments to adopt them—knowing what is happening and why is vital for being prepared for what might soon be coming to a district near you.
Here's a preview of the stories in this episode:
1). The Office of Civil Rights determines penalties for Forsyth County book bans. After a recent review of the situation by the US Department of Ed, Forsyth County Schools has entered into an agreement with the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the O C R, about how to rectify the creation of what was deemed a hostile environment in schools, due to the removal of certain books from school libraries. The district was accused of removing books from school libraries that dealt with LGBTQ plus and BIPOC topics.
The district, however, claimed to be reviewing books for sexually explicit materials they deemed inappropriate for certain age groups. Some students and families complained that this was creating a hostile environment for some students and that the district had made no effort to discuss the impact of book removals with students.
2). Our second story is about Nebraska, which has just approved taxpayer-funded school choice through the Opportunity Scholarships Act. The Opportunity Scholarships Act bill approved last month gives a generous $25 million in tax credits to people who donate to a scholarship-granting organization.
These organizations will fund and then distribute the scholarships to parochial and private schools allowing low-income families to afford to attend private schools. This could eventually be raised to a hundred million dollars. Depending on the demand for the credits. Taxpayers can donate half of their state tax liability, up to $100,000, to private school scholarships.
Senators on both sides of the aisle have opinions on the possible outcomes of this new tax break on schools.
3). Finally, Tennessee is to implement a retention policy for non-proficient third-grade readers. I recently did a podcast on Tennessee retaining third graders who are not reading on grade level, and I mentioned I'd update you on whether or not the bill was passed.
Well, the bill passed on April 20th and was sent to the governor's desk for signing. It is not scheduled to take effect until the next school year, 2023-24. That allows this year's third graders to move along without meeting the grade level mark. Fair warning, this year's second graders and their parents, you best be doing a bunch of reading over the summer because next year, you'll not move on if you are not at grade level!
I hope you find this news update enlightening and valuable. Please let us know how you liked the episode by leaving us a comment or voice message. Your feedback helps us improve our show by presenting the information you want.
For a list of the resources used to produce this episode, visit our website at www.TransparencyinTeaching.com
038 Retaining Third Graders Who Can't Read: Right or Wrong?
A recent article in “The 74” caught my attention this week. It discussed how Tennessee and Michigan are currently debating removing the statute requiring third graders who are reading below grade level to be retained. With state testing starting, people are worried about holding back the potentially large number of these students who may not pass the test. You see, aside from the average number of students that struggle with reading at this grade level, this year's batch of third graders were in kindergarten when the pandemic hit. People worry that the two years of virtual learning and closed schools have potentially created a glut of below-level readers.
What would be the consequences of holding back so many students? For one, it is expensive. You will need more teachers and classrooms to manage the overflow. Could an exception be made for this group? The article states, “Parents, advocates, and educators say it’s unfair to base the decision on one assessment, especially for students who were in kindergarten when the pandemic hit. But state officials and Republican legislators argue it’s wrong to promote students who aren’t ready.” Gotta say I’m siding with the state officials on this one.
For a written version of today's episode, Click here.
For links to all the resources used in today's episode, go to https://transparencyinteaching.com/ and see "Third Grade Reading: The Key to Academic Everything
037 Why Student Teaching Needs a Revamp: Exploring the Challenges and Solutions for Effective Teacher Training
I don't think you'll find too many current student teachers who disagree that student teaching needs a revamp. Most teacher candidates spend at least 14 weeks student teaching consisting of 8 hours a day, teaching, lesson planning, and grading; Most teacher candidates attend staff meetings and parent conferences, too.
Wait that sounds like what a regular teacher does. Well, that’s the point, to give candidates an idea of what they are getting into. It allows them to hone their lesson-delivery skills and learn classroom management techniques.
At the same time, student teachers are also paying tuition to a university to access the practice teaching required for a credential. This means that beyond the daily teaching requirement, they also have weekly university supervisor meetings and fieldwork hours to track, plus four time-consuming progress checks to fill out every three weeks. Most also attend a university seminar class in the evenings. And here in California, the ominous California Teaching Performance Assessment, better known as CalTPA, also weighs heavily on their shoulders. Without passing this exam, there is no credential awarded. I know this first hand, as I’m a university supervisor who ensures the teacher candidates turn in all this frivolous paperwork.
I’m sure most states have some sort of similar credentialing requirements. This is way beyond what a regular classroom teacher must endure. All of this is without pay. This puts a huge financial burden on candidates, especially those with established families who may pursue teaching as a second career. They have no time to hold down a job to help pay for school, let alone support themselves or their families. If schools want to attract the best to the profession, student teaching needs a revamp.
In today’s episode, we talk with Ben, a first-year teacher. Ben talks about his teacher preparation program and his student teaching experience (which was fabulous because his cooperating teacher was the one and only Jen!). Ben shares what was difficult and how his pre-teaching experiences benefitted or hindered his time during student teaching. Of course, Jen and Anne have to give their two cents worth as usual, and it’s a valuable two cents at that!
For more insight into teaching, check out our website at TransparencyinTeaching.com
Should student teachers be compensated for their work? Add your opinion in the comment section, or answer our poll question.
Again, thanks for taking the time to listen.
If you can read this, thank a teacher!... as they say…
036 Is it Time to Stop Saying the Pledge of Allegiance?
Welcome to Season 3 of Transparency in Teaching. Anne, here! Thought it might be nice to start off with a little true story that spurred the topic of this episode:
Is it time to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance? I asked myself this question after visiting a high school class I was observing. When the "Please stand for the Pledge" announcement was given over the loudspeaker, I stood up and placed my hand over my heart. To my surprise, I was the only one standing. Not one student, not even the student teacher whom I was observing, stood. Their heads remained diligently bent over their cell phones.
I said the words I had repeated every school day for 36 years, alone and out loud, to the silent class. When the Pledge finished, I sat down. The teacher approached where I was seated and whispered, " I think you just freaked everyone out."
"No one says the pledge?" I inquired incredulously.
"No, never," she replied matter-of-factly.
When did this start? In my middle school classroom, all students stood when the familiar words came over the speaker; in recent years, most students stood silently, while a few would mumble the words if I prodded. But in all my years, I had never seen a class where no one stood at all.
As we start our third year in this podcasting adventure, we decided to add in some shorter episodes. They've let me loose alone on the mic to spout off my rants and reasons for creating change in our educational system.
In this episode, I grab a solo mic and talk about the history of the flag salute and reasons why it may be time to think of a different way to show our support for our country.
Let us know if you liked what you hear. What other topics would you like to hear me discuss? Share your ideas in the comments, or leave us a voice comment. Maybe we will share them in our next episode!
For links to the resources used for this and all our episodes, check out our website TransparencyinTeaching.com. While you're there, spend a little time reading our new blog posts that discuss other educational issues that are bugging us or that need attention, (or that Anne just wants to blab about. )
As always, thank you for taking the time to listen. And if possible, we'd really appreciate it if you'd share the link to our show with other interested humans.
035 Who's Indoctrinating Whom?
According to Merriam-Webster, the word indoctrinate originated in the 17th century. It meant "to teach," as it comes from docēre, the Latin word for teaching. But by the 19th century, the meaning shifted to signify teaching someone to uncritically accept a particular group's ideas, beliefs, and opinions. The key word is "uncritically." This is supposedly why public schools and their teachers are now called indoctrinators. They are accused of pushing a liberal agenda about race, gender, equality, and history but refusing to let students express opinions that may contradict what is being taught. People who have differing opinions about those topics accuse schools of indoctrination. For example, parent groups have demanded books whose subject matter they don't approve of be removed from libraries and have had schools closed over history lessons they found offensive. And for the most part, schools have complied with parents' demands. This then begs the question, "Who's indoctrinating whom?" If schools bend to the wishes of a few parents, can those parents be accused of trying to indoctrinate others by removing information they disagree with?
Aren't schools, by their very nature, indoctrination machines? That is how public schools were designed to be from their conception. (One could also say the same for private religious schools, too, right?) Horace Mann, the man behind the idea of public education, was a lawyer and member of the House of Representatives in 1827. He felt very strongly that a successful nation needs a population educated in basic literacy and a common set of public ideals. Well, someone has to decide what basic literacy entails and what public ideals need to be taught. Today, as long as people feel comfortable with the decisions about what the common set of public ideals are (curriculum), there is no "indoctrination." But as soon as somebody takes issue with a topic or point of view that is contrary to their own, cries of "indoctrination" begin to fly at school board meetings or at political rallies where a candidate can grab votes by jumping on the "indoctrination wagon."
Today many teachers cringe at topics that might be controversial and try to avoid or gloss over them to keep from potentially "stepping in it." However, tough topics are at the heart of critical thinking. Being able to analyze multiple sides of an issue and form opinions is part of what schools should be helping students to do. These are skills that help students learn how to problem solve. Students need to learn how to have cogent discussions on current relevant issues with people who may have opposing views. They must practice the art of compromise so that all sides have a seat at the table. However, if students feel they are being shut down or feel they cannot share their points of view, then there IS a problem, but the issue is with the instructor, not the entire system.
In today's episode, we discuss whether or not indoctrination really is an issue in today's classrooms, how to tell if there's a problem, and what can be done. You'll get to hear why Jen was accused of "indoctrination" 🙄 You can decide if she "stepped in it!." Listen in and see if you think she deserved that title.
Is Jen an indoctrinator? Have you been accused of indoctrination? Have you witnessed it? Who's indoctrinating whom? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
If you liked today's show, please share it with others and rate and review us on your favorite listening platform. That's our favorite way to show your appreciation for what we do here. Thanks for listening!❤️
034 Is Your Child's School Successful? How do you know?
What comes to mind when someone says, "Oh, that's a really good school?" Is it students all sitting in their seats, diligently taking notes? Is it passing along students who can read and do math on grade level? Or is it graduating students who can immediately join the workforce, or go to college, or interact with others with empathy and respect? Common sense would say a combination of all of those things signals a successful product of K-12 education. But is that what schools are actually producing?
For those of us who gauge success as producing graduating students who are at least proficient in reading and math scores, there's not a lot of success here. The National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), a congressionally mandated test, has been testing 4th, 8th, and 12th-grade students since 1969. The test routinely covers reading and math but has also tested history, science, and geography. It breaks down proficiency levels as advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic. (To see what skills each level encompasses, click here for reading and here for math. I'm not sure I'd test proficient in math! 😳) The last year the NAEP tested the 12th grade was 2019, before Covid.
The news reports talk about how test scores have fallen after Covid, but what they don't emphasize is the dismal levels they were at before Covid. The 2019 test found only 37% of 12th-grade students nationwide were either advanced or proficient in reading. For comparison, in 2015, 12th-graders were at this very same percentage. Nothing has changed. And what about the rest of the students? Why are we not talking about the other 63% who are not proficient? Look at it this way, would you buy a car from a company where only 37 % of its vehicles were considered reliable? If public education were a company, it would be out of business.
Math scores are even more devastating. In 2019, only 24% of high-school seniors tested proficient or advanced! Covid had nothing to do with those dismal scores!
So, OK, but should we use these scores as a snapshot of current trends? Perhaps with a grain of salt? For example, The NAEP does not test all 4th, 8th, and 12th graders. The test includes Special Education and Second Language students in the sample without accommodations. Across the nation, 1,640 high schools tested 25,200 senior students. The total number of high school seniors enrolled that year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, was 3,432,000. I'm not sure this .7% of high school seniors that took the test gives an accurate picture of the majority of seniors. The NAEP exam cautions users of this data from making assumptions based only on the numbers provided. They suggest, "The results are most useful when they are considered in combination with other knowledge about the student population and the educational system, such as trends in instruction, changes in the school-age population, and societal demands and expectations."
In this episode, we try to determine what kind of students our education system should produce. Listen and see if you agree with our assessment!
Rebroadcast of Episode 028 Is it Time to Stop Promoting Social Promotion? with BETTER audio
When initially released, the audio volume was sooooo low that listeners had to turn the sound way up even to hear it and then got their ears blasted when the interlude music played. I'm sure that was annoying enough to cause people to stop listening, which is a shame because there is a lot of great information in this episode! So I decided to figure out how to correct the audio so that one can listen at a reasonable volume minus the frustration. I'm happy to announce that I was successful! I hope you will give this episode another go because the topic is definitely one that needs attention, especially since the reports coming from the latest NAEP tests are so dismal.
According to an article in the New York Times, "This year, for the first time since the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests began tracking student achievement in the 1970s, 9-year-olds lost ground in math, and scores in reading fell by the largest margin in more than 30 years. " This begs the question, What do we do now? Promote these kids to the next grade, or do we retain them to catch up?
I don't think there's any one good answer. We just need to figure out what protocols will give students the most bang for the taxpayer's buck. Why do we look at 9-year-olds' scores so closely? Well, they are third graders. That is the year when education makes a massive shift, from learning to read to reading to learn. If students are not at grade level by the end of the third grade, they tend to struggle to catch up, if they catch up at all.
Listen and see where you stand on this issue. Then leave us a comment or answer the poll questions to give your opinion. We'd also love feedback on how were are doing and what you'd like to hear us discuss. This show is nothing without our listeners!!
Thanks again for taking the time to listen. We are appreciative of every set of ears that lends itself here. If I could ask a giant favor, can you please forward this episode (or any of our fantastic episodes) to at least one friend you feel might benefit? That is the best way to get our podcast out to a bigger audience.
To read the show notes that originally accompanied this podcast, go back to your feed or visit TransparencyinTeaching.com.
033 Is It Time to Stop Promoting Social Promotion?
Hey, it’s Anne here to introduce today’s episode all about social promotion, you know, that practice where schools promote students to the next grade based on age instead of mastery. The idea is that keeping kids with their peer group is better for their self-esteem, not to mention promoting students with behavior problems provides some relief to the teacher, knowing that the student who made class crazy won’t be back in their class next year.
The alternative has been retention. The idea is that repeating a grade will let struggling students improve skills that weren’t at grade level. Research, however, doesn’t back this idea up. Instead, retention increased the dropout rate and lowered students’ self-esteem. And though initially, it did boost student performance, the gains didn’t continue over the long haul.
So what’s a teacher to do? In this episode, we discuss what Ed Code and district policies say about retention and promotion. We explore what research is saying and what’s happening in our classes. Then, of course, we explain our suggestions for how to fix this mess.
Oh, and a new voice joins us in this episode. Welcome, Yvonne, who shares her elementary school teacher perspective. Now we have voices from grades K through 12. Unfortunately, Yvonne’s audio isn’t as clear as it should be, and some of her insightful comments may be difficult to hear. AND Sharyn was mobile on headphones and left us when her phone died. However, she did get in her usual insightful comments in the beginning.
Again, as always, thank you, dear listeners, for tuning in and sharing our podcast with friends, family, teachers, and others interested in knowing what is really happening in our classrooms. Please rate and review us on your favorite platform, as it really does help listeners find us. Leave us a voice comment, and we just might use it on our next show!
032 Teachers MIA? The Where, the Why, and What to Do to Solve the Teacher Shortage.
Don't be surprised if you find someone named "TBA" teaching your child's class. There will apparently be A LOT of TBAs in charge of classes this fall. School districts across the country report record numbers of unfilled positions at the start of this school year.
My state, California, reports a shortage of 50,000 teachers going into the 2022-23 school year. It's not just teachers either. Madison, Wisconsin, says 199 teacher vacancies along with 124 non-teaching positions. This means districts are also short paraprofessionals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and custodians. What gives?
Desperate districts are trying all kinds of things to lure teachers back. Some are giving raises or retention pay. Others are trying four-day weeks or have resigned to hiring uncredentialed people to fill in the gaps. The reasons for the shortage are not surprising. The Pandemic and remote teaching exacerbated teacher burnout, which was already affected by low pay, lack of respect, and workload.
In today's episode, we discuss in depth the extent of the current shortage and its causes. Then we give some pretty damn good ideas for bringing teachers happily back to the classroom and keeping them there. Someone needs to send this episode to the Department of Ed.
Also, here are the links to the Key and Peele Teacher Draft video that Sharyn mentions. If you haven't seen it, you should 😂. It's funny as heck but also kind of sad when you really think about it.🙄 And Jen's reference to the Schweddy Balls video can be found here. Oh, and the actor whose name we couldn't think of was Alec Baldwin. I was right! It was the guy who played Trump!
Listen to the podcast to find out how these two videos fit in. Again, as always, Thank you for your support. Please leave a comment and rate and review the podcast so that others can find us. Also, I'd like to ask you to share this episode with one friend who you think would enjoy it. That would be such a nice thing to do for us!
For those of you heading back to class, may your rosters be smaller, your duties few, and your paychecks bigger. Hands in. Three, two, one...Teachers ROCK! Now go get 'em!
031 Back to School Blues (and what to do about them)
Hey, it’s Anne. Welcome to another episode of Transparency in Teaching. As summer vacation is ending, I was wondering if you are beginning to get a nervous tick when you hear, “Back to School Sale?” Or do you find yourself tearing up when you walk by the school supplies aisle? Or do you awaken in the fetal position, gripping the crumpled notification of your preservice professional development days? If any of these situations apply to you, you might be a teacher. I'm retired, but I know Jen, Sharon, and a lot of you are gearing up to go back to the classroom and feeling some anxiety about what the new school year holds. I can't blame you after the way the last school year felt. I was there for that. Today's episode is all about that back-to-school blues. For me, the beginning of the school year was always exciting. New ideas, new lesson plans, new school supplies, and rearranging my classroom were all things that helped me gear up for the new school year. I looked forward to seeing everyone at in-service. But after last year, so many of us are skeptical. We are concerned about how classroom discipline will be handled. We’d like to know the new policies admin will lay on us. We also must contend with the daunting task of bridging COVID-caused educational deficiencies (on top of the weaknesses already there)—also, the decaying public opinion of education in general. However, every new school year does bring a classroom full of promise. The point is to remember why we are here in the first place, the kids! Teachers are change makers! We helped craft the leaders, the scientists, and the parents who will help shape our future. Students need good, caring, intelligent educators more than ever now. Sometimes we are the only bright spot in a child's day. Sometimes we're the only ones a child feels they can talk to. Teaching is so much more than imparting knowledge. What we provide in our classrooms teaches social skills, empathy, critical thinking, organization, responsibility, and citizenship. So, calm your ticks, dry your eyes, and get up. You have a vitally important job to do. The most vital of all occupations, if I say so myself. The future depends on you! No, seriously. So go get your room ready, um, right after you finish listening to our podcast or even better while stapling that new paper to your bulletin board.
030 5 Lessons Learned from the School Year From Hell
Thank goodness teachers can put the 2021-2022 school year behind them! If ever there was a school year that deserved a "middle finger" 🖕🏼🖕🏼that was one! Many teachers felt this year was beyond their job description and called it quits. I'm sure parents and students may have similar stories to tell about what they learned from the school year from Hell.
But as with any challenge survived, there are valuable takeaways. In this episode, we discuss 5 lessons learned from the school year from hell! To begin, above and beyond Covid, students arrived Infected with a year and a half of remote learning. Their symptoms included an addiction to their cell phones, and forgetting, not only how to dress for school, but how to behave like humans. Also having to teach social-emotional learning lessons (SEL) to students gave teachers their own SEL issues. As an added bonus, at the end of the episode, you'll find out how Sharyn discovered the importance of setting a timer.
So give this a listen and see if your experiences were on par with ours. I know you are on summer vacay, so you might want to grab a "beverage" if you think It might help numb any "triggering issues." In any case, you know Jen's laugh will make everything, OK. I keep a recording of it on my phone to play when I get stressed out, like when driving in traffic or paying bills.
029 You're Not the Boss of Me...or Are You? Parent Power's influence in the classroom.
Happy 2022! Let's hope this year makes up for the last two! It's always good to be hopeful. And on that note, I hope public education survives. Last year brought educators and their curriculum under the microscope in a way I don't remember ever seeing. Much of the uproar seems to come from the usual media rabble-rousers and pot-stirrers. Today's episode delves into our side of this twisted narrative. Listen and see where you land.
For years, some politicians have claimed to be "education candidates." Their platforms promise money and better school facilities. Once they count the ballots and fill their campaign coffers, good intentions go to the bottom of the "to-do list." Today, these "education-loving" candidates are promising a different kind of help to schools, and it's getting them elected. Now officials win by going after the evil wizards of indoctrination, TEACHERS, and their textbooks of evil spells! They rally their pitchfork and torch-carrying followers with cries of "No CRT!" and "Don't hurt my child's feelings!" Frenzied crowds storm school board rooms and drown out meetings with cries of "Foul!" and other four-lettered words. It might be akin to Frankenstein's Monster or The Purge if this were a movie.
This thing plays like Twilight Zone's "Monsters on Maple Street." The main characters hear rumors of something evil that has come to live in their neighborhood. They spread the news, and like the telephone game, it gets more prominent and distorted as it passes. Before you know it, everyone believes it's true. And when they finally beat down the door and blow up the house, they find they were wrong all along. However, the damage is done. The city is burning, and innocent people have been disposed of.
Today we talk about this scary movie; only the movie takes place in our schools. Some very vocal parents and politicians are claiming teachers are working to indoctrinate children, forcing them to bend to the will of CRT, and mind-meld with liberal ideologies. They want to ban particular curricula and regulate what teachers can and cannot say. It makes about as much sense as going to the dentist and telling my hygenist which tools to use and how to hold the mirror properly. Jen, Sharyn, and I share our in-the-trenches view of what is really going on, and I swear there are no monsters under your beds.
Teachers want parent involvement. They want politicians who genuinely care. We don't need people who are largely uninformed and get their misinformation from the Internet, Aunt Sally's Facebook page, and those with hidden agendas. Put down the pitchforks and get involved with your school. Get to know the teachers, join the committees, volunteer, go to the school and spend some REAL time in the classroom. There's power in seeing things for yourself. When you take an objective look, I'm pretty sure that you'll find the monster you think is hiding under your bed is just a big clump of dust bunnies you forgot to sweep up.
028 We Are Not Ok: Teachers Struggle to Cope, Too!
I'll be honest, in 35 years of teaching, this has been the hardest year so far. And that's not just because I'm old and kind of worn out. I think this whole Covid thing did way more damage to kids than just their academic abilities.
A year and a half of unsupervised living and no responsibility to live up to any standards has ruined so many kids' abilities to cope with structure and navigate in a socially productive manner. Distance learners turned off their cameras and microphones and did God knows what for an entire year and a half. They could leave when they wanted, eat when they wanted, go to the bathroom when they wanted, and speak in whatever swear-word-laden way they wanted to whomever they wanted whenever they wanted. They are more addicted to social media than ever. Their phones have become a new appendage. And there were no consequences for any of this.
As teachers weren't allowed to fail or hold students accountable for their schoolwork. 10 weeks into in-person learning, schools struggle with increased student fighting, depression, and other social-emotional-related issues. This has caused districts to implement mandatory social-emotional learning courses and interventions to help students re-learn how to navigate positive social interactions. Remember, our seventh graders were last in school at the end of 5th grade. They have lost a year and a half of the social Interactions and the learning that happens during those years.
This isn't just happening at my school. This is a nationwide issue. But it's not just the students who are casualties of this period. Teachers are struggling with their own social-emotional matters. This takes a toll on teachers' energy levels and ability to want to interact with kids. A daily barrage of students' bad language and berating is often directed toward teachers and other adults. Some students just up and walk out of classrooms, talk over lessons, refuse to work, and cry. Staff members risk injury when breaking up students' daily physical fights.
But it's not only these in-school issues. Teachers and staff also lost family members and loved ones to Covid. Teachers spent a frustrating amount of time alone trying to teach to blank screens (Try talking to yourself for 5 hours a day for 180 days and see how you feel). And let's not forget about those teachers who have their young kids at home who are dealing with their emotional wellness. Teachers have Covid related social-emotional issues, too. But I haven't seen much talk about how to support those who support our kids. Where's our emotional support? Where do we go when we need to take a break?
Our students have a wellness center where they can go to relax, color, and play with fidget spinners. Teachers need a wellness center, too. Many would just take a mental-wellness day off, but there are not enough substitute teachers to cover classes, and writing substitute lesson plans is more trouble than it is often worth. Not to mention the "fires" to put out when you return. There are all kinds of parent phone calls to make and detentions to mete out as a consequence of sub-induced student bad behavior. It's hardly a mental break when one worries about what they will return to.
In today's episode, Sharyn, Jen, and I give the lowdown on the new normal (Oh, please God, don't let this be normal). It's a lot of venting (and a lot of swearing, just saying) People must realize that it's not just the troubled students but the teachers who are trying their best to help their students recover and thrive again. More attention to the welfare of teachers must be given because otherwise, there will be more casualties in the classroom.
027 Why Teachers Quit 2.0: Find out why Carolyn quit the classroom.
The very first episode we produced remains one of our most popular. Why teachers quit should be something every would-be teacher should ponder before taking out loans to pay for college. You don't want to be one of the 44% of newbies who quit within the first five years, because then what will you do with all that useless college loan debt you accrued?
We contacted a teacher friend of ours who had recently fled the classroom to preserve her sanity. She gave up the wear and tear of teaching for a position helping teachers avoid the stress that caused her to leave in the first place. We've known Carolyn since her first days in the profession. Now as the middle school curriculum math specialist for her district she's able to share her experiences with new teachers and offer them the kind of support all new teachers should have.
So today we revisit the day-to-day issues teachers have to negotiate. Believe me, if it were just teaching we had to do, there wouldn't be the quitting issue But teachers deal with so much more than delivering the curriculum. There are discipline issues, extra duties before and after school, lesson planning and grading that follow you home, parent phone calls, meetings... Those are just the physical issues. Let's not forget the emotional toll of caring for kids who come from all kinds of homes and deal with all kinds of unknowns. The teacher may be the only positive connection in a student's life. This job has no quitting time.
We also give our two cents about what can be done to avoid the problems in the first place. Unfortunately, credentialing programs don't really do the best job of preparing virgin teachers for the classroom. You can listen to our other podcast on that topic here.
If you're thinking of becoming a teacher, this episode is required listening. Teaching is the toughest job you'll ever love. I know that's pretty cliche, but it's true. It's really THE most important job on the planet
026 When Did Public Schools become Public Enemy #1?
Critical Race Theory (CRT) has become the latest way to demonize public schools. I admit when I first heard CRT I thought it was some medical test for the heart. Now it has become the fear-raising focus of concern among many people inside and outside of education.
To better understand what CRT is I spent a lot of hours looking at where it came from in the first place. The research makes me believe that most people don’t really understand what CRT is or its purpose.
An article from The JournalistsResource.org tries to help journalists learn how to better cover this controversy. The author quotes Dorinda Carter Andrews, chairperson for the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University She explains that
“Critical race theory is not an ideology or a political orientation that assumes white people are bad; it assumes white supremacy is bad in all of its forms. It’s a practice or approach that provides language and a lens for examining racism at institutional and structural levels, Underlying this is the premise that racism is endemic to American society and that white supremacist ideas and practices should be dismantled.”
Janel George. who teaches CRT as part of a graduate course called Racial Justice in K-12 Education Policy at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, says CRT is a theory devised by legal scholars in the 1970s. CRT initially was taught in law schools but eventually was adopted in other fields such as education and sociology.” She believes, and so do I after doing the research, "there is some mischaracterizing going on here.” George says, “Because critical race theory has the word ‘race’ in it, perhaps [people] are intentionally equating critical race theory with anything having to do with race or the teaching [about] racism.”
Some parents fear that CRT is increasing not decreasing the idea of racial inequity. David Ryst notes in an article in the Daily Bulletin that, "'These concepts are not unifying students, they are reinforcing negative division. They are not giving teachers proper training. A lot of teachers who are vocal with their liberal ideas are pushing those ideas on students. It’s a good theory to examine maybe at a college level,' he said. 'But, what they’re teaching here leads to guilt, shame and victimhood. And everything is viewed as oppressor versus the oppressed. I’m all for inclusion, but this is not it.'”
Now the fear for teachers is states are beginning to regulate what can and cannot be said about race, racism and slavery. But finding elementary, middle, and high schools that actually teach CRT has been near impossible. So where does that leave teachers now? What is actually happening in the classroom? How can discussions that are bound to come up be dealt with? What history is allowed to be taught and what history must be skipped? Is there really a problem or is this just politics to gin up the 2022 elections?
Listen to our take on this controversial topic.
025 (Rebroadcast) Tricks for Cost-Free Travel (or almost free) – With Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie
My husfriend and I just got back from a trip to Hawaii. It was his birthday gift to me. Nice huh! We had to jump through a few hoops to get there. Our vaccination cards made it possible to avoid a 10-day hotel quarantine. (Get vaccinated, already!!🙄). It was a quick 7-day trip. Too short, but it’s always too short when I visit the islands. On the plane ride home, the flight attendants, take advantage of people’s recent trip to paradise. They encourage passengers to sign up for the airline’s credit card. They tempt you with an ungodly amount of miles, enough for 2 roundtrips back to the islands. I took an application and started thinking of all the ways I could acquire miles. This brings me to this episode.
Today’s bonus episode, features teacher, travel-guru Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie. You may have heard her on a previous podcast published almost a year ago when people were still dreaming of the day when travel would again be possible. I thought now that people are finally stepping out of their homes and starting to travel, that this episode replay may be especially helpful and deserves another listen. Jackie is famous for knowing how to travel almost cost-free and she shares her tips and tricks with us in today’s show.
For more information about Jackie, her travel tips and to see her phenomenal photography of all the amazing places she has visited go to The GlobeTrotting Teacher.com
Has your district taken up arms for or against CRT? If so, how will your teaching be different? How will you approach those conversations that you know will inevitably come up in class? Let us know! Write or leave us a voice comment here or go to TransparencyInTeaching.com and leave one there. While you're at it, we'd love it if you'd rate and review us on your favorite listening app. Your support means we can continue to bring these important discussions to you.
Stock media song used in introduction provided by: Twoword_recordings/ Pond5
024 What Makes an Effective Teacher Effective?
What makes an effective teacher effective? That's a pretty subjective question, isn't it? I'm beginning to believe that so much of what people think makes education good is subjective. Like, who decides what kids need to know for state tests and how to decipher those scores? Or who decides what is important and should be taught in schools. Not to mention, who comes up with the best way to prepare college students to become teachers? It's all someone's opinion. Somehow the "Powers the Be" (and whoever decides who they are) have to agree on what it means to be educated and who is best qualified to educate. So what does make a teacher effective?
In today's podcast, we delve into how districts decide who stays and who goes? We examine the various qualities an "effective" teacher should have and who sets those standards. We also discuss the board certification process! Ummm, did you know there was a board certification procedure for teachers? (pssst, I didn't until recently). Why aren't districts and universities doing more to help teachers along that path? But wait! Is certification even the ultimate sign of effectiveness?
Sharyn, Jen, and I get into what we think makes teachers effective. Surprise! Basically, it is a big mix of many factors that cannot truly be quantified in some objective way. There are too many variables. Too many moving parts contribute to a teacher's ability to make a difference in their students' lives. So what's a parent, an administrator, or district to do to be sure their students have the best teachers possible? Listen, and see if you agree with our take on what makes an effective teacher effective!
Visit TransparencyinTeaching.com to get all the resources used in today's episode
023 New Teachers, This One's for You!
This school year is FINALLY ending (thank god for small favors) and we are packing up our minimally used classrooms. For many teachers, this will be their last time having to do this. Covid caused many to throw in the eraser this year and turned in keys. They will look forward to new challenges this coming fall that don't entail lesson plans and students. But for others, who are holding newly minted diplomas and teaching credentials, this summer offers time to plan for a new classroom and get ready for the beginning of an exciting, rigorous, and rewarding profession.
With that in mind, today’s episode will be especially interesting and informative. We depart a bit from our usual back and forth banter to welcome a guest, Victoria Lucido! Vickie has recently retired after 33 years as a middle school History and Drama teacher. Her teaching ability has been recognized by “Who’s Who of American Teachers” seven times, and she was awarded “Monterey Teacher of the Year” in 1999 by Monterey Rotary. Now, she has a new book out called, Classroom Confidential: How I survived 33 years in a public school classroom, and you can too! This book gives new teachers access to 33 years of experience in just 160 pages!
Today Victoria joins Jen and Anne to share her best advice for beginners. Even us old pros can pick up a new insight or two. So grab a notepad and pencil and get ready for the advice you wish you would have learned in all those fancy college credential classes, but didn’t! Stay tuned!
For more about Victoria:
You can find her book on Amazon
Her website, VictoriaLucidoBooks.com where you can find out about appearances and her many accomplishments.
YouTube interview here and
Read an article from the Monterey Herald
022 What does a Teaching Credential Really Prove?
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in the 2017-18 school year there were 3.3 million full and part-time traditional public school teachers. That is the most recent count available. That's a lot of college tuition and credentialing fees. So does all the investment in a piece of paper that supposedly certifies a person is a competent teacher really mean anything? What does a teaching credential really prove?
Every state requires public school teachers to jump through the hoops to earn a credential. This usually means earning a bachelor's degree, performing a few months of practice teaching, and passing a test or two. In my humble, 34 years of experience, opinion, the way colleges prepare teachers for life in a real classroom lacks enough real experience. Course work and student teaching hardly mimic what it is really like to be in charge of one's own group of pre-formed student minds.
I remember my first year of teaching. I cried a lot. Like every day. My then-husband would pat me on the back and say, "You'll be Ok. We need the money," as he guided me out the door. I was the first one on campus and the last one to leave. I brought home a box of work and papers to grade every night. More than the sheer weight of the responsibility of imbuing knowledge into middle school minds was the struggle with classroom discipline. That, more than anything else, was the biggest headache of my early career. I don't remember anything in my credential courses that prepared me for that!
Earning a credential does not a good teacher make! Jen, Sharyn, and I talk about what it takes to get a credential. We discuss what it means, and more importantly, what it doesn't mean. Of course, as always, we give our suggestions as to how to fix the credential process.
If you're considering a teaching career, this is a definite "must listen." And if you've already gone through the gauntlet, I'm sure you'll be doing a lot of head nodding in agreement. If we can only pass on these brilliant suggestions to those credential gatekeepers, we might lower the number of new teachers who turn in their classroom keys when they figure out what it really means to be a teacher.
021 Minimum Day #4 : Back in the Classroom
Here's how the school year progressed. It started as "We won't likely be returning to campus this year." Then it changed to "I doubt it will happen." Which changed to, "Maybe it will happen." Then to, "It's happening," and finally... "It happened!" Last week we were back in our classroom with students!
Well kind of... Families had the choice of returning to campus or continuing with the distance learning protocol we had been following since school started. We weren't sure how many would show up on Tuesday (Mondays are still virtual for all students). Turns out, not many! The biggest class I had was 11 students, which considering each cohort has only 15, seemed large. It was all downhill from there. My other classes had 6, or 3, and in one class, one lonely student was forced to spend two and a half hours alone in a classroom as if it were after-school detention. (I sincerely hope he didn't feel that way😳) Can you say "Awkward?"
Other teachers had even fewer, like zero. No students showed up. So while it was amazing to see the students' faces (well half of their faces as they were all wearing masks) it was difficult to divide my attention adequately between those in person and those who were still on the computer. I found myself forgetting about those distance learners. I mean, when you have live people who you see react to your stupid teacher jokes versus those who are still hiding in the virtual void, silent behind their anime icons, who would you pay attention to?
All I can say is it was exhausting. But hey, one week down and 9 to go! In this quickie episode, Jen, Sharyn, and I (Anne 🙄) discuss how our first week back in the classroom went. The good, the bad, and the ugly of it. How many kids showed up, how lesson planning went, and what we think would have worked better.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to listen. Your patronage is greatly appreciated. I mean.... really, really, really appreciated. Please rate and review us! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️! It helps others to find our podcast. Maybe you can pass the link along to your friends, and they can pass it along to their friends, and so on and so on (anyone else remember that shampoo commercial? 😜)
020. Tackling Teacher Tenure
In 2005 then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to make changes to California's teacher tenure, increasing the time to achieve tenure from 2 to 5 years. He also proposed that teacher pay be based on merit, not length of tenure, and that continued employment be tied instead to performance, not, as he put it, “just showing up.”
He called the system, “an educational disaster”
“Our education system,” he said, “is in desperate need of reform with the current tenure system locking problem teachers into our schools, and making it nearly impossible for principals to make employment decisions based on the needs of students,”
Proponents have their reasons for supporting tenure. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, MEd, President of the National Education Association (NEA) explains, “These policies don’t prevent bad teachers from being fired; they prevent good teachers from being fired for bad reasons.”
The topic of teacher tenure remains a contentious one, and In this episode we delve into its history, why it’s so hard to fire a bad teacher, and what are the benefits and problems associated with tenure. Of course, it’s not all seriousness. Not when Jen and Sharyn have opinions. So grab a seat at the table in the virtual teacher’s lounge and see if you agree with us about what to do about teacher tenure.
019 Going Back to School (for real this time)
We are rapidly approaching the end of our 3rd quarter and it looks like a pretty done deal that after spring break, we will be going back to school for real this time! So what does that really mean? We've been polling our students and so far it seems like most will be opting to stay right where they are, at home on Google Meet. So does that mean I'll have a class of three little people sitting at their desks staring at me through their plexiglass barriers and mumbling answers through their masks? No idea.🤷🏽♀️
We start the episode with a review of current education news. Well, actually not so current. In this episode, we report that Miguel Cardona was on his way to Senate confirmation after making it through committee, but actually, Cardona is now officially the new Secretary of Education. (Consider this an episode update 😜) We discuss the new updated CDC recommendations, and Jen shares her disappointment that it looks like the Biden administration won't be doing any major student loan forgiveness. Sorry, Jen...
Sharyn, Jen, and I take apart what returning to school may look like, the pros and cons, and what we think would be the best options. How much learning time will be lost trying to get our returning students situated while still occupying our distance kids? As it stands right now, we are going to be doing both groups simultaneously. Will there be state testing? It looks like the answer is probably. Will teachers be vaccinated? Answer, our district's teachers were!
Although it will be great to see our students' faces, well the part that isn't covered with masks, the learning environment still won't be what kids really crave. They want the ability to socialize again. To eat with friends. To hang out in hallways and gossip. To play basketball and soccer at lunch. They want the ability to make connections with their teachers and be seen and heard. In-person learning cannot be what they want, not yet. In any case, going back to school for real this time is still really full of many unknowns.
Thanks for listening! Don't forget to visit our website TransparencyinTeaching.com and leave us a comment. (Please, so I don't have to beg anymore? Listen to the beginning of the show!) We'd love to hear how your school Is planning to get kids back in class. You'll also be able to get the links to all the resources we used for this episode. As always, please rate and review us on any of your listening platforms. The more stars the better! 🙏🏽 👍🏼. Stay safe and take care of each other (Well at least the people in your "Covid bubble")
018 Difficult Discussions Don't Have to be Hard
I and my colleagues even struggled with whether or not to allow students to watch the Inauguration during class. After all, this is something extraordinary that happens every four years and is an example of our country's Constitution at work. However, the fear of the possible parent backlash about why we were allowing their children to watch a celebration of a "stolen" election seemed very real. I mean, with the number of people who supported Trump there were bound to be parents who might feel that way. Trump himself accused the public education system of indoctrinating students, saying "the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools." Some Facebook parent pages are also posting similar sentiments. So, as teachers, should we wade into these waters and chance getting bitten by angry sharks? Personally, I think we must.
One of the most important parts of education is learning the art of discussion. As educators, we have an obligation to help students learn how to have productive disagreements with those who do not hold our same views. There are several vital skills that help pave the way to good discussions. For example, learning to listen and respond without accusation, can help disagreeing parties stay open to each other's ideas. Students need to learn to do research that helps them find information, data, and facts that are trustworthy and relevant. Acquiring good questioning techniques will lead to deep discussions. Also important is that students learn one doesn't have to agree with an opposing point of view to understand it. And it is this understanding which makes compromise possible and solutions to problems attainable.
In today's episode, we talk about how difficult discussions don't have to be hard. We offer tips and suggestions on how to get students talking without letting teacher biases sneak in. Jen shares how the 7th-grade curriculum stirs up issues every year. Sharyn shares how she fosters productive conversations. And Anne reveals ways to help make students more comfortable with sharing.
We hope you'll find encouragement to engage in difficult topics of discussion in this episode.
As always, thank you so much for listening and taking the time to rate and review our efforts. For more great discussions head over to TransparenyinTeaching.com and leave us a comment. Help start our own productive, positive, enlightening discussions by clicking the link here to leave us a voice comment that we can use on a future episode. We look forward to all the enlightening discussions that follow!
017 Forget Covid -- There's a Teacher Depression Pandemic Killing Us
So it's Winter Break and we've had a little time to collect ourselves and get refreshed for round two of Online Learning.
I don't know about other teachers but, Sharyn, Jen, and I are feeling a little burned around the edges. Actually, I think a lot of teachers are feeling like toast.
Covid is raging on. Here in California, it doesn't look like the end is anywhere in sight, vaccine, or no vaccine. But, forget Covid. A viral teacher depression pandemic is killing us. Ok, maybe not literally. But it is killing our spirit, our enthusiasm, and our drive. Many teachers are feeling like they are dying -- inside. This is not what we signed up for.
It's not only teachers who are worn out. Parents, who were so full of praise and admiration for what we were trying to do back in the spring and summer, have lost their patience, too. They are fed up with Johnny being home. They are tired of monitoring their child's work and online behaviors. They've realized that teachers were lying when report cards said, "Pleasure to have in class." They are hungry for someone to blame. So that early praise and admiration for educators' work has morphed into "When are you going to stop your damn messing around online and get back to some real teaching?!" I'm not making this up. A parent really did say this to one of our colleagues.
In today's episode, we reveal Biden's choice to replace Ms. DeVos, and what this candidate for Secretary of Education has to offer. Hopefully, bringing some light to the end of that dark tunnel.
Later, we discuss how we are feeling and what can be done to help get us through the depression, frustration, or whatever "-tion" you want to label it. Sharyn harps on "having balance," (listen for her guinea pigs agreeing in the background). Anne discusses how her home situation makes her feel obligated to do more, and Jen explains how "'therapy" walks help her cope.
Feeling like you need a place to commiserate and have a "Me Too" moment? Then this is the episode for you!
Leave us a voice comment about what is really bugging you right now. Let it out! It's good for you! We promise to validate your feelings! We may even use your comment in an upcoming episode.
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen! We appreciate you more than you can know!
Check out all our episodes at TransparencyinTeaching.com. There, you can also find links to all the resources we used in this episode.
Rate and review us on your favorite listening platform. It helps others find our podcast and makes us happy, too (If that matters to you😜)
016 Bye Bye Betsy - Who Will Be Biden's Pick for Secretary of Education?
So the election is over (or is at least supposed to be over...) and Biden has a lot of work to do to help put the country back together. Of course, being teachers, we're rather focused on Mrs. DeVos's replacement. In this episode, we discuss a few of the possible people who are on the radar to replace her. Sharyn shares a little history lesson on the Department of Education and Biden's education platform.
Biden has pledged to choose a public education teacher to fill the Secretary of Education position. We discuss a few names of potential candidates. The top contenders are Randi Weingarten, a former high school history teacher and now president of one of the biggest labor unions, the AFL-CIO, and Lily Eskelsen Garcia (Who we have affectionately nicknamed L.E.G.). L.E.G, who actually started as the school lunch lady before becoming an elementary school teacher, is currently president of the National Education Association (NEA). Both are pro union, anti-voucher, and are big fans of public education. This is a big swing in the opposite direction as DeVos, a fan of vouchers, pushed to redirect federal monies to help fund charter and private schools.
Of course a lot can change between now and January 20th, so we'll have to wait and see who ultimately gets the privilege of working to improve the education situation in the United States. There's a great deal of work to be done on so many education fronts. From helping to rebuild unsafe school buildings to working to avoid a teacher shortage, the Secretary of Education will surely have a long, uphill road to walk. Let's hope that whomever fills Mrs. DeVos's shoes is not wearing some red-soled Louboutin heels but rather a good pair of sturdy work boots. Anything that will help to get a L.E.G. up, or a Weingarten or a Jahana Hayes or Denise Juneau or ...
015 The Value of Teacher Evaluations
The end of our first quarter of distance learning has just come to a close. If you’re a teacher you know that means it’s student desperation time. The students who never looked at their grades the entire quarter, decide to the night after everything is due. Then it’s the “Huh? How come you gave me a D (or F)?” reaction. (emphasis on the YOU GAVE like it’s my fault the work was never turned in) This is then followed by the “here’s my 20 late assignments. Please grade them now” email. Then come the parent emails explaining how Johnny is crying and if there is any possible way to bring his grade up please let me know.”
Since Jen, Sharyn, and I are real teachers with real (virtual) classes with real (virtual) students, and this podcast is our side hustle, it took a backseat to the job that pays our bills.
So we’d like to extend our appreciation that you are still here and listening.
Today Heather, the principal, and Anne (#2), our teacher’s Union representative, are joining us to discuss the topic of teacher evaluations. You know, that lovely time when an administrator sits in the back of your classroom taking copious notes while watching you attempt to be completely natural while teaching. We discuss: What admins are really looking for, the purpose of these evaluations, rights teachers have if they receive a bad evaluation, and of course, our suggestions for how to make evaluations more effective.
Speaking of evaluations… We’d LOVE it if you’d evaluate us. Please rate and review our podcast on your favorite platform so more people can find us. And share this podcast with other education-minded people (which means everyone, because everyone should care about education!) By the way….anyone else find it interesting that education was hardly mentioned in the run-up to this election? I remember when claiming to be the “education candidate” was a thing. Just sayin’ Hope you enjoy today’s show and thanks again for listening!
Please visit www.TransparencyinTeaching.com for more episodes!
014 Minimum Day #3 with Angel
Our guest co-host, fellow co-worker and single parent, Angel, joins us today to share her unique (or not so unique, depending on your family dynamic) situation of juggling two elementary school aged children during distance learning, while also wearing the seventh grade science teacher hat. She discusses how she often must excuse herself from teaching her junior high students, to help her daughters as they stand just off camera, staring at her, while quietly mouthing the word " Mom...Mom...." and how she must deal her first grader's melt down when things go south during an online session. Angel gets real about how today's current demands can bring feelings of inadequacy in both her roles as teacher and mother.
The girls go off on blank assignments students turned in for credit and how students seem to think this level of work should count. They discuss the value of boredom and Angel and Jen share a game they played with their students that increased engagement and helped develop a better class dynamic. Anne also shares a lesson that reminded her why she loves teaching.
Finally, Anne gets on her pulpit to remind us that teaching is the most important profession of all. The sharing of knowledge, the passing down of wisdom, admitting our errors and helping others learn from our mistakes, is the basis for improving and developing a working society of intelligent, empathetic humans who have the common goal of making sure all people have the opportunity to succeed. So, go proudly forth into yet another Google Meet and get after it.
For more fun and adventures, go to WWW.TRANSPARENCYINTEACHING.COM
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013 Minimum Day #2
I think distance learning is finally getting to us. We're tired. We're punchy, We talk about alcohol more than usual.
Today we get into how parents and students are coping with the situation from the teacher's point of view. We talk about how we are dealing with lesson planning and the myriad of emails and virtual meetings.
The situation could be dire, but thankfully we still have a sense of humor. Ever been in that situation where you start laughing so hard that you almost end up crying? Yeah? Well, that's where Jen took us with her imaginary field trip suggestion. (I think maybe she's closer to losing it than she lets on. )
All I can say is during times like this it's a necessity to have a sense of humor if one wishes to hang on to some semblance of sanity. Thank goodness we have co-workers who double as best friends and support systems. May we all have people to lean on who are dedicated, determined, and slightly demented to help get us through these strange times.
Check out all our demented tales and thoughts on what is happening in classrooms today at www.TransparencyinTeaching.com.
Subscribe and support teachers, especially in these unusual times. Your support helps keep, Jen, out of rehab....😜
012 Back to School Interlude -- Minimum Day Episode #1
We are feeling swamped with back to school Covid Style. Planning lessons for 2 1/2 hour synchronous classes and 150 minutes of weekly asynchronous work is time consuming. So until we find our rhythm we are bringing you mini lunchroom conversations about topics that are on our minds now and updates on how teaching virtually is virtually killing us.
Today we discussed what our first week back in front of our computer monitors was like. We talk about what is good, getting to interact with our students, and what is bugging us , taking attendance and not being together. We talk about how the tech we are supposed to be using is not working properly, (Blocksi is a program we use to monitor student screens ) or how that tech is a pain in the backside. (C'mon Google Meets? What's up with no integrated breakout rooms???) We hope you enjoy our mini version. Don't worry, Sharyn still has time to drop a bunch of F-bombs!
011 Classrooms, and Covid, and Kids, Oh My! with special guest Travel Expert Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie
There's no more waiting for it to arrive. It's here! School has started and teachers are in a frenzy to get on board the Distance Learning Train! In today’s episode, we try to stay optimistic as we talk about what we are thinking about as we get ready to start our own school year next week! What’s the latest with Covid? What are other teachers saying about returning to school? And what do parents wish we would consider when developing our protocols?
Stay tuned as we finish this episode with an awesome interview with Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie, from The GlobeTrotting Teacher.com, whom we talked about in episode 10. (Go back and listen to Episode 10 if you missed it) She joins us to share her money-saving travel tips and tricks. For all the links to things discussed in this episode and to get the links Jackie shares for travel and her classes on how to master the credit card points system, be sure to visit our website www.TransparencyinTeaching.com.
This brings us to the end of Season 1! Thanks for getting on and going for a ride with us. As REAL classroom teachers, we are submerged in the preparations for this school year and drowning in new materials and technology to make this year a good one for our kids. As we prepare for Season 2, we'll be popping in with updates and conversations about all kinds of things that we're experiencing and making sure to keep you informed as to how this experiment in education is going. This is truly a rare opportunity to try something different, to attempt to really change the way our classrooms work, which really hasn't changed much in the last 100 or so years. I hope we all embrace the challenge and venture out of our comfort zones. So all I can say is "CANNONBALL!"
010 Travel Ideas for Teachers (One can dream, can't they?)
Today we get into ways teachers can save money on travel (once travel is a "thing" again!) Never too soon to start planning! We discuss ideas for social distancing conscious travel and how to make your "safer at home" quarantine seem more vacation-like. You'll also get an update on the HEALS Act education funding, which is still being debated. (I want to know who the person is who stays up all night thinking of these "catchy" acronyms!) And Anne and Jen share their own news that's awesome but could mean a lot more work...😳
To get all the links to today's show visit www.TransparencyinTeaching.com. While you're there, leave us a comment about the show. How have you been spending your summer? How do you stretch your travel dollar? Yeah, I know. Our travel budgets are going a lot farther these days because we're not going far at all. Soon, my friends, soon...
Happy Back to School or back to your computer that's substituting for your classroom.
Hang in there. Be safe. Stay sane!
009 Restorative Practices in the Classroom with Middle School Principal Heather!
(My sound engineering still sucks, as you'll hear in the beginning. I need a tutor! Any volunteers? See how transparent I am!)
In today's episode, we start with some news about the current bill in the State which is geared toward protecting school districts from Covid related lawsuits, also the reversal of the student visa deportation issue. Special guest Heather, a middle school teacher from Orange County shares how she brought restorative practices to her school and why they work.
008 Going Back to School Safely? Truth or Dare?
We are a bit concerned about what August might entail as pediatricians and the president push to reopen schools, but at whose expense? We start the episode with a discussion of what the California state budget holds for education, plus a little history of how education is funded in our state. Then we get into the debate that surrounds what school might look like in the midst of the current rise in Covid cases. There are so many factors to consider that it seems impossible to be truly prepared. Plus the fact that we will only have 3 weeks to create our lesson plans based on what our district decides to do. So pull up a chair, plug in your headphones and get in on the conversation. Be sure to check out our website at www.TransparencyinTeaching.com. Leave your opinion on how schools should reopen. You can also use this link, to leave a voice message. Let us here the calm in your voice (or the rage of disbelief!)
007 To be Sick or Not to be Sick? The Sub's the Question!
In Episode 007 you'll hear:
- Discussion about what we think this next school year will be like
- Two new education laws that were passed having to do with prohibiting cell phones in schools and incorporating suicide prevention classes for K-6 students
- What are different states' requirements or lack thereof for becoming a substitute teacher
- The advantages and disadvantages of subbing
- Suggestions on how to make subbing better
and Jen's sex education 🍆🍑and barforama 🤮 substitute teaching stories. Fun times!
For resources used in this episode and more stories about other teacher's substitute teaching experiences go to our website. www.TransparencyinTeaching.com. and subscribe!
006 Racisim in the Classroom? Let's Get the Conversation Started
On today’s episode Sharyn and Anne Zoom with co-workers Jimese and Diedre, who bring their perspectives as black educators to the conversation about what we all need to be thinking about and doing differently in our classrooms to ensure equity for our students. As the dialog about race and racism in our country once again comes to the forefront, we felt it was important to have an honest discussion about what teachers need to be aware of when dealing with the diversity within our own classes.
We talk about the importance of having those difficult but frank conversations about bias, out in the open, instead of behind closed doors, and about holding each other accountable when things are done or said. We also discussed the idea of standards to hold students to when dealing with language and culture and how to take advantage of those teachable moments as conduits towards change.
In light of the movement for massive change within our country that is now pushing forward, we delved into the topic of civic responsibility and to how to get the right people into our classrooms and into government office so that major change can more readily be accomplished.
Diedre and Jimese are a joy to talk with, and in this frank no nonsense conversation, Sharyn and I learned a lot. We hope you will find today’s dialog just as enlightening, and come away with some ideas on how to bring more equity to your classrooms and campuses.
Please share your own ideas and thoughts on this topic with us by leaving comments on our website, www.transparencyinteaching.com
Thanks to the listeners that have shared their relevant links:
Links to resources used in this episode:15 ClassroomTeachers Talking about Race Resources for Discussing Racism, Policing, and Protest
A list of young adult fiction.
Instagram accounts referenced.
Instagram live:Teacher Talk Live (6/3/20)
005 Those Who Can't Do, Teach. Yeah? You Try it!
Jen, Sharyn and I start the show by discussing the latest education news which in this case is what the proposed 10% budget cut might mean for schools (for me, it might mean retirement!) These could be the single biggest cuts to education in the history of California! Write your state representatives people and let them know we need to leave our schools out of this! I’ve included a letter template you can use.I feel a fight coming on.
Teaching is a tough profession. I’m thinking now that many parents have been attempting to keep their own offspring on track, they may have a more valid picture of what we do every day, but times 30!
Teaching from home has its own set of issues but today we focus on all the little and not so little things teachers deal with in the classroom, which those who haven’t spent much time in a classroom may not realize. Little things like, having time to go to the bathroom, or deciding to go to work sick because it’s easier than calling for a sub. Or perhaps it’s that duty free lunch we’re guaranteed, that sometimes isn’t so duty free (can you say, rainy day?)
This all started with a conversation about that lovely adage, “Those that can’t do, teach.” (stick a knife in my heart, ouch!) We hope this episode helps to show what we do, do and change that little phrase to something more like, “ Those that can’t teach, do something less important.” Ok, there are other jobs that are very important, but ummmm, I think they needed a teacher to get them to that job, right?
Don’t forget to comment and like us in Apple iTunes or your other listening platforms. It helps more people find our show and listen to our calming dulcet vocal tones. If, after hearing today’s conversation, you have something to add to our list of things teachers do but no one thinks about, add it to the comments on our website. We’d also love it if you added your suggestions of topics you think are important for people to know about teaching.Thanks for listening!
Please do write your legislators and ask them to consider cutting funds from other places besides education.
Click on the link below to be taken to the Education Votes webpage. There you can fill out a form to have a letter sent to your federal congressperson asking for them to take action on the Federal Education Funding.
Here are links to the resources used in this week's episode:
0004. Should We Put a Fork in State Testing?
This week’s episode starts off with personal updates about what we’ve been doing with our Covid time. Then, in a new segment, we discuss some Education news. We hope to bring to light information about laws and regulations that are currently being discussed federally and at the state level. Today we talk about the 355 million dollars that California received from the Federal government to help with the education issues due to the current pandemic
Then, In our main topic Jen, Sharyn and I get into a discussion about State Testing, every teacher’s favorite time of year, (or maybe for some of you that shouldn’t be read with a sarcastic tone?) When doing research for this topic, I started with researching who even writes the questions for this test? Of course, it occured to me that the questions are based on the Common Core. So then I had to find the backstory to how the Common Core even came about, in the first place. What I discovered was surprising to me and maybe to you as well. It explains a lot about why so many people were against the Common Core to begin with. I will be posting the links in the show notes on our website to all the resources we used to help put together today’s episode.
So I hope you enjoy today’s dialog.
We would love it if you would visit our website www.TransparencyinTeaching.com and rate us on Itunes or any of the other platforms you use to listen. Hit that subscribe button and download our episodes for later listening and ask all your friends to listen too.. Also, please leave us comments about today’s episodes and your opinions on State Testing or any other topics you’d like to hear discussed or questions you have about what it’s like to be a teacher. We look forward to extending the conversation with you!
And, now here’s the show
#003 Teaching in the Time of Corona (Special Lengthy Stuck-In-Your-House Edition )
Hey, Anne here. Thanks for hitting the “Listen Now” button. I know there are sooooo many other things you could be doing with all your free time now. Glad you chose to spend some of it with us. In this episode Jen, Sharyn and I discuss how we’re keeping sane at home. Then we get into the good, the bad, and the crazy of Emergency Remote Teaching. Finally, I interview two “Teacher Mommies” who are navigating how to manage homeschooling their own small children while trying to teach everyone else’s.
We recorded this from our own homes (you know, practicing responsible social distancing), using a combo of Zoom (who wishes they had stock in that company now?) and the Anchor App which lets us call in and use our cell phones as mics. The audio isn’t always perfect and I had to do a lot of editing when the Internet quit or slowed or whatever it does when a bizillion people are all on at the same time. So be gentle in your criticisms.
In any case, I hope you find this entertaining, and informative or well, maybe you just need some background noise to fill the void your real friends would if you were out to lunch with them at the local restaurants that are all closed up. Whatever your motivation for listening is, we’ll take it!
Don’t forget to download and rate us on Apple ITunes or all the other listening platforms you are using. This helps other people find us (as well as potential sponsors, c’mom Sponsors!), and help me, build back my currently devastated retirement accounts so I can retire next year, and not live under a freeway.
Visit our Website http://transparencyinteaching.com/
#002 Grade this!😝
In this episode we start with a little about the history, the how and the why, of grading. (Did you know that grades were originally A, B, C, D and E?? Where did F come in?). Then we get into grading practices used today and how they affect our students. We debate methods like percentage based, standards based, and narrative grading and how they might be implemented in real classrooms (How logical is narrative grading when many of us have 150+ students??).
We talk about:
- the subjectivity of grading,
- implicit bias,
- the varied ways teachers choose to grade
- grading’s effect on student motivation
- the lack of any training in how to grade
- what we wish parents knew about grading.
Ultimately, we come to the conclusion that there is no conclusion about grading.
What’s your take on this topic? Leave us a comment and add to the discussion.
Please rate us on Apple iTunes and elsewhere! It helps others to discover this podcast and learn about these important topics. (and, frankly, we just want to feel popular)
Link to the story sent to us from our listener, Maria:
References used in this episode:
- Do no zero policies help or hurt students?
- Effective grading policies
- Test failures
- Are Letter Grades Failing Our Students?
- What Traditional Classroom Grading Gets Wrong
- Why it’s Crucial and Really Hard to Talk about More Equitable Grading
- Call to Action for Equitable Grading
- An A Is Not An A Is Not An A: A History Of Grading
- Grading Systems - SCHOOL, HIGHER EDUCATION - Students, Grades, Teachers, and Learning
- Teaching More by Grading Less (or Differently)
#001 Why Teachers Quit
Anne, Jen and Sharyn discuss why they became teachers and why they think so many teachers leave the profession. They give their suggestions as to what needs to change and what new teachers should consider when applying for a job.
Transparency in Teaching is Here, (finally)
Anne, Jen and Sharyn share a little about what to expect in their off the wall new podcast that takes you into the "teacher's lounge" and lets you listen in to real conversations from real in the trenches teachers as they discuss the real stuff that happens in today's classrooms. Their "no holds barred" talk and frank uncensored opinions will have you laughing. while getting you to think about what your friendly, neighborhood teacher is really dealing with in the classroom.