You can’t put students first if the teachers are pushing them out of the way to get to the front of the line.

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One of the recent images that perpetually floats around Twitter is the “You can’t put students first if you put teachers last.”  I have to say that on the surface this seems like a logical statement; it seems as if there is little wrong with this statement. However, something about it began bother me like a Ceti Eel larva going for my ear.  Now, I will be the first to say that teachers are important, without teachers the students wouldn’t have a chance of learning as much as they do on a daily basis.  However, for too long now we have put the teachers first.

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Seriously… What does this mean?

This means that I have sat in meetings where teachers have complained about not wanting to do more work (regardless that the outcome would mean helping a child learn).  I have witnessed administrators afraid to make a change that they know will benefit the students because they fear a negative reaction from the faculty.  I’ve read the articles and positions where teachers state that they are underpaid, undervalued, overworked, etc.  But this is nothing new.  I’ve yet to meet a US teacher who went into the profession thinking they’d make millions of dollars and become a superstar that the whole nation wants to meet. Its time we put on our reality caps.  Teachers are vital, but for too long teachers have been fighting to put teachers first. We have all paid the price.

I mean no disrespect to my colleagues, but when we start talking about making changes and the majority of the responses we receive are “its too much work”, “I don’t have enough time”, “I’ve been teaching this for 20 years and I’m not going to change”, “This is just another version of XYZ that we did in the 80s, 90s, etc.” I’m sorry but I must honestly ask… why are you in this profession if those are your responses?

I will readily admit that I will always put students first.  I’m sorry teachers, but you’ve had your turn at the front of the line and now its time to step aside and let the students take their turn.  Teachers, for the most part, have large unions, organizations, etc. that protect their interests… what do students have?

I will put the students first, and I’m sorry to say it but… teachers, you may even come in 2nd or 3rd.  I will always support you.  I will always do everything I can to make your job easier, however it will never be at the cost of helping a child learn. I recall one meeting where a teacher responded to a new initiative stating, “Its just one more thing we have to do”.  I responded with, “I don’t care if you have to do 1,000 more things, if it helps one child learn you’re going to do it.”  The truth is, you have a choice to work in the environment that puts students first or teachers first and if it is my school, it will always be the students.

It is time we realize that our job is one of sacrifice, of service, and that we stop complaining about it.

Remember, you can’t put students first if the teachers are pushing them out of the way to get to the front of the line.

I’m interested in your thoughts on this topic.  I know I’m in the minority here as I’ve seen tons of these images on the Internet and not one comment to challenge it, but I’d like to know that I’m not necessarily alone in this. Dig deep my friends and I think you’ll see that we have had our time at the front of the line… lets actually give that place to those who don’t have a choice in attending school for 8 hours a day.  For a change, lets give the utmost priority to the students and stop fighting change that is designed to help them only because it makes us uncomfortable.

Please click here to leave a comment or on the comment bubble at the top of this post.

Death to # eduawesome!

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Photo Credit: Tex Texin via Compfight

“It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Well, it has finally happened. I’ve become a bit of a curmudgeon.  I feel a bit like V for Vendetta when I realize that what I wish I could change, I cannot without going against a widely popular societal system. Today, I speak of all the useless #edu hashtags that are out there.  Every time I embark on a twitter journey I am bombarded with #eduawesome, #edudream, #eduwin, #edufortunecookie, #edunonsense… you get the picture. I was left trying to decide what it was about these hashtags that bothered me so much. It wasn’t until tonight that I figured it out.

We are teachers! Shouldn’t we be more #educreative in the way we talk about ourselves and our profession?  What is wrong with something simply being #awesome as opposed to #eduawesome? I know that adding #edu before a word brings people that are interested in education together and helps us to find like-minded topics. Maybe its that #edu conjurs up the .edu domain naming convention and I think of only universities. Or that #edu before words just sound #eduweird to me. How did #edu win out over simply using #ed? After all in the world of 140 characters one less is like a gold nugget!

I know this is just a pet peeve, so please, don’t take this personally #edufam. We are all allowed those ridiculous pet peeves that even we barely understand. My question for each of you is: can you help suggest alternative hashtags that steer clear of the #edu prefix?  That would truly be #eduamazing!  Until then, I’m still quite upset that a search on Google for “death to eduawesome” only turns up eduawesome results.  Google, thou hast forsaken me!  I bite my thumb at you!

So, help me find an #edusolution people. Post some of your favorite non-edu hashtags by clicking on the comment bubble at the beginning of this post or by clicking here to leave your comment.

Let us show the world that #educators can be much more than #eduuncreative!

P.S. my #edufam and Sam in particular are probably shaking their heads right now.  yes… I did just #edupost this 😉

P.P.S. a new google search for Death to Eduawesome now turns up this blog post and this blog! The tide is shifting. Google I take back my thumb biting.

 

To Code or Not to Code: That is the If-Then-Else

Credit: Fox

Credit: Fox

 This is the key to a new order. This code disk means freedom. – Tron

There has been a lot of interest and talk lately in teaching children to code in school.  One only needs to look at the recent push from Computer Science Education Week and the “Hour of Code” to realize that the topic of coding is something that has garnered much interest in the education and business world. I’d like to examine the phenomenon in more detail.  First, I’d like to provide a little of my history to help you better understand where I’m coming from in this quandary.

Greetings, Programs!

It was 1982 (too bad it wasn’t 1984 or this would be an even bigger nerd post) and I had just witnessed  a cinematic work of genius called “Tron.”  I was immediately immersed into the world of computer programs, programming language, and imagery that inspired a lifelong love of computers and programming.  I was only six years old (a first grade student) but I was ready to learn more.  A lifetime of chronic asthma had already ensured that any sports were well out of the question for me.  My father loved computers and I remember having a Commodore 64 hooked up to our television.

Over the next 10 + years I didn’t really go for any of the typical things that young boys are supposed to go for, instead I logged onto BBS systems, had handles, worked as a sysop, squelched users, went to GWBASIC classes with my dad, taught myself HTML and designed my own web pages, Learned Joomla, WordPress, and PHP, became a Technology Coordinator and teacher, lets just say that I’m a huge proponent and user of technology and that most of what I’ve learned has been self taught. You would think that I’d be a huge proponent of this Coding movement… but I have a confession… I’m on the fence.

There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

Okay, so just about everyone I know is talking about the merits of learning coding. Bill Gates, Code Academy, veteran teachers, hipster teachers (cringe), parents etc. But I have to wonder is Coding as they have attempted to introduce it worth its salt?

Here is the major problem I have with this initiative.  We have a bunch of students, we participate in Computer Science Education Week, and we have our students participate in the hour of code.  Okay, this is great, right? Kids have been shown the backdoor to the underpinnings of the internet, computer programs, iPad apps, etc.   They now have exposure to the “real world” in which they live. But where is the continuation of this initiative in the classroom?  I’m sure Hamlet would identify this as the rub. For all of you teachers that have participated in the Hour of Code, how many of you have continued to teach coding? Has it found its way into your daily conversations, lessons, or other learning opportunities?  I’m willing to bet that for most it has not.

If you are one who has managed to continue, I highly applaud you and I want to hear from you! Please share with the rest of the educational community how you have done this.  What I have observed from school to school is that there was a lot of hype about it and now it is woefully forgotten.  If this is the case, then it was a waste of an hour. It took time away from instructional minutes to help these students master the skills they will need in the future.  I’m not so blind as to say coding isn’t a necessary skill, I just think an hour of introduction is a waste and that we should dedicate more time to coding.

When I was a technology coordinator the term had very loose definitions.  Some were nothing more than glorified babysitters that taught typing.  I actually developed a curriculum of and about technology.  I taught coding as a yearlong course.  We used Scratch to develop our own programs.  My 8th grade students created their own webpages using only a text editor (no dreamweaver here).  I believed in the fact that they could learn but also understood that they needed to consistently hone this skill.  An hour is not enough time to help these students do much other than develop an awareness of coding. If this is the mission, fine. Mission accomplished. But I’d rather spend that hour helping a student that is reading below grade level work toward better fluency.

I’d like an honest response from the community.  How many of you that took part in the Hour of Code and are still teaching coding? Lets hold up the mirror and say, was this worth it, and if so, why?

I great article by Sean Blanda is on 99u.com and can be found here:You Don’t need to learn to code + other truths about the future of careers.  My take away is that “The smartest workers will be able to leverage technology to their advantage and be able to recognize the big-picture ways to utilize it.” But what does that mean? Well, let me try to put this into perspective.  I have no idea what takes place to really make most of my automobile operational. However, I know how to use it.  Should I learn how to be a mechanic? No. I only need to know how to effectively utilize the technology to get what I need from it.  I need to leverage this knowledge to the best of my ability.  I know a little about autos, but not enough to fix them. Should I take an hour of auto repair and expect to be better off?  Maybe, but I’d much rather have a year of instruction that is interwoven throughout my ELA, Math, Science, SS, etc. How much better off would I be if I had actually spent this amount of time on the topic.

I know I’m usually the one to push for change.  After all, this is Revogogy right? But I think that the change that we have witnessed is too little to amount to much good. I don’t want an hour of code; I want a year of code or more. Lets step up and make this a reality. Lets make it work within our Common Core curriculum. Why start small? Lets dream big and make a real difference.

End of Line

So that’s it. Its my rant, my angry shaking fist to the universe.  Let us do more than just an hour of something.  Lets stop falling for these novelty movements. I’m sure I’ll get some hate mail on this. There will be pushback. But honestly, lets do more. Even if you don’t agree with my statements I think you would agree that we should do more than we currently are doing.

After all, if you apply actual coding to the picture above of the Home Sweet Home, you’ll notice its an infinite loop. Its not accurate. If it were in basic it is missing some key components.  “print” should be in the code lines. I’m a major nerd but if you’ve only had an hour of learning would you catch that? Or is the gist that it means home sweet home (non-infinite loop) enough for the average person to know?

Please share your thoughts on this topic. I’d love to hear the pros and cons (just be civil okay?) I admire intellectual discourse to a heated tear down.  Also, I’m beginning at times to feel that I’m talking to myself on this blog. I value comments and others can learn from your insight. So, please leave a comment. I welcome your thoughts and the I/O it will create on this blog.