Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Places to go

...and away we go

(updated Thurs. Nov. 8, 8am)

You're not alone. George Schmidt tells us all about the Chicago experience on merit pay and all the other stuff we are seeing here in New York on the ICE blog. Also check out Lisa North's "Drawing a Line in the Sand: Stop making concessions on Vital Education Issues" running right below George's piece.

James Eterno's fabulous analysis of the winners and losers on 55/25 is being rerun at the ICE website.

Eduwonkette with the stats, ma'am, just the stats on school report cards. It is beyond me how her brain doesn't explode. I know plenty of standard deviants.

Leonie Haimson with a marvelous post on the NYC Public School Parent blog "How School Grading is a Fiasco. Plus some other good stuff.
Under Assault posts a Q&A on the UFT's Q&A on merit pay and comes up with a lot more Q than A. Also with other posts worth checking out.

Old buddy NYC Educator also writes about progress reports and points to the fact that charter schools remain ungraded and today with a follow-up on the love-fest between Green Dot charters and the UFT:

Steve Barr and Randi Weingarten: perfect together.

(photoshopped by DB)

DA Sorrows

Just back from UFT Delegate Assembly and from hanging out in a new bar for the first time for us on Washington St. and Rector. (We'll go back.) We look up and there's Randi on NY 1. We had just heard her talk endlessly at the meeting and here she was again. We couldn't hear the TV but knew what she as saying. She moved the agenda around again today so she got to do her president report and then a motion on the progress reports which was supposed to come after the Question and New Motion period but she had that moved up. When it came to questions the first one was from Unity's Exec Bd member Greg Lundahl, with what looked like a planted question so Randi could extend her pres report without looking so. More of the Q's were Unity/union employees. Randi has taken whatever Shanker/Feldman did in terms of meeting manipulation to new heights. Don't ever say she's not an innovator.

Good PD on Election Day at Aviation HS
Finally, I wanted to mention the great PD I attended at Aviation HS. It was run by robotics coach Mike Koumoulos. Mike is also handling running the FIRST Queens qualifier on Dec. 15.
Teachers from around the city attended to get some training on preparing their teams for the upcoming FIRST LEGO League tournament season. (You can follow events on my Norms Robotics blog.)

Mike did a wonderful job and had everyone relaxed and laughing in addition to providing lots of yummy pastries and teachers were totally involved and sharing info with each other.

The principal, Ms. Taylor came up for a visit and was very gracious and thanked everyone for coming and even offered to reimburse Mike for the pastries (but he got the money from a grant.) One of the very impressive young teachers attending who works at a parochial school will be looking for a job for next fall and I asked Ms. Taylor if she needed a math teacher and she practically hired her on the spot. But she has a contract. Maybe next fall Mike will be getting a co-robotics teacher in the school. Sometimes PD is very fruitful.

Ms. Taylor said the school got an A on the progress report. If I thought they meant anything I would think Aviation would be one school that deserves it. One of my neighbors is looking for a vocational type setting for his kid for next year and I highly recommend he take a look at the school. If only it was not such a big trip from Rockaway but I know Mike and others I know there would take good care of him.

A bunch of teachers from Aviation (I'm told more than 30% of the staff of Aviation are grads) have volunteered to be judges and they were getting some basic training to prepare them. Mike graduated from the school about 10 years ago, so he was training some of his former teachers. His younger brother Greg, an engineer at Con Ed, also graduated from Aviation and Mike recruited him (by threatening not to invite him Thanksgiving) to be the chief judge. (I'm assisting.) So Greg was also training his former teachers. I got a great kick out of Mike & Greg, both in their 20's doing PD for experienced teachers (and having them lap it up.)

Good PD often comes when teachers teach other teachers relevant stuff. Pretty simple eh!

I was hanging with one of the Aviation teachers, who was clearly impressed with the comprehensive thought behind FIRST robotics programs that explore what I would call "cooperative competition." I was excited to be participating and learned a lot from the dialogue we had with each other. I urged coaches to have patience and let the kids fail and get a little frustrated and use that frustration to discover new insights. We're just grazing FIRST concepts here and many schools don't always get the whole point. But enough do to have an impact. There are over 8000 teams world wide involved this year.

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