Monday, December 30, 2013

Summer School for Teachers Report from an Undisclosed Urban Location

Dropped from a drone, found on a Rockaway beach. I won't say which city but it is not NYC.
I had the privilege of attending ten days of training in a Summer Institute. The primary advantage of attending the institute is I lost the last two weeks of my treasured summer vacation.

My district has adopted Responsive Classroom, which I have nicknamed snapping and clapping. When the teacher is pleased with a student response, a ten finger whoo may be given. Please practice now with me. Hold out your arms in the air, wiggle your fingers and shout, “Whoo.” 

Another highlight of Responsive Classroom is clarifying procedures. Find a partner. Script the rules you will give to your students for walking in a line. Share the rules with your partner, get feedback and revise the rules. Then switch partners. Yes, you have to write down exactly what you plan to say to your students.

My favorite part of Responsive Classroom is the opportunity to line up pretending to be students and march around the school. I was honored to play the teacher role. The secret to maintaining an orderly line is to stand toward the middle of the line.

Did I learn anything academic? I participated in two sessions of training on Core Knowledge the new language arts literacy program in the district and one session of Math in Focus training. All I can tell you is both programs are scripted. The teacher stands in front of the classroom and reads from the teacher manual. In kindergarten sounds are to be taught not letters. For example, this is the mmm sound and this is the symbol for the mmm sound. The name of the letter is not mentioned. Somewhere along the line after teaching 270 sounds, letters are introduced. Math in Focus involved solving very difficult third and fifth grade word problems.

All of my questions were answered with, either “I will get back to you,” or “Send me an e-mail.” I have a binder full of notes I cannot decipher and handouts I do not plan to read. Should you require any more information about Summer Institute, please ask someone else. I have no clue.

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