Location: Halstead, Kansas, United States

This is my seventh year at Halstead which is also where I live with my wife and my soon to be two year old daughter.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I Do Requests

Becky left me a comment last week that I thought was worth posting for all to read.

Did you read the Newsweek a while back about the top 100 high schools? I was wondering your thoughts on the best and why (like should the best schools have been the ones with more rigorous AP programs or the ones with more creative styles of teaching?)
Personally, I think schools should focus more on ways to get their students excited about learning! I mean, I guess that sounds vague, but I know that there are certain teachers that can make even a supposedly dull subject exciting to learn about! And also maybe some better ways to teach better study habits. I cannot BELIEVE the terrible study habits at Bethel! There are so many students that turn work in late, slack off on projects, and somehow slip by with it! My sister said that her freshmen colloquy class had some emphasis on critical thinking and study habits that really seemed to help students grow. I like this approach better than having students plow through AP classes (even if they aren't ready for them) to get them more prepared for college (this is how some of the high schools in Newsweek tought their programs). You could integrate both of my ideas, but I just think intense studying just to do well on AP tests leaves some possible exciting elements of learning behind. What do you think! I like how you have evaluated the way that you teach and are working towards new ideas! That's great!

I did see that Newsweek and I looked to see if which Kansas schools made the list. Halstead missed the cut even though I believe it is an excellent school and I wish my daughter could be educated by the teachers we have right now (especially those fine Social Studies teachers). As far as what do I think the best schools entail????

High Schools are in a tough position. Becky’s concern about AP tests and testing in general might be valid but it is what the colleges and universities are asking for. They offer scholarships based on ACT tests and college credit based on high scores on the AP tests. It would be a disservice to students not to prepare them for these challenges. It is also important to mention the fact that local, state and national governments are pushing high stakes testing. There seems to be a feeling that if a lot of money is being invested in education some measurable results are expected (I don’t disagree with this idea). I should mention the key criteria in the Newsweek article was the amount of AP classes offered and taken. But all of this still means schools have to push success on assessments and this means an academically rigorous environment.

Becky makes a great point about getting students excited about learning. The key is that you can not give up the rigor for excitement. Every teacher wants their students excited about learning and passionate about the material because when students are, the job is much more enjoyable, fulfilling and the learning is much better. The thing that you have to remember is that the excitement for learning can not always be stressed over the material. I know my students typically enjoy learning social history (prohibition, women’s suffrage, 60s counterculture) over economic history (Tariffs, NAFTA, Mercantilism) but I need to teach both because the state assesses on both.

This leads me to the key point. The great teachers are the ones who integrate both of these parts with balance and they a bit rare even though I can name many. The sad thing to me is that there are many great teachers out there in private sector jobs that are afraid to teach or perceive the pay as too low. Also, every year high schools graduate many students who could be wonderful teachers (Becky, Casey, Clemens, Tara, Brittany, Trenton, Alisha and many others this means you!) yet many of them will never consider the profession. Anyway, theses are my thoughts and thank you for the compliment.

FOR DISCUSSION: What do you think makes for a good school?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid to teach because whenever I speak everything comes out in a jumble!

10:32 PM  
Blogger Casey Jack said...

Hey now - I think about teaching!

It's just that I'm also thinking about practically every other profession under the sun.

But teaching's in there too!

7:19 AM  
Blogger brittany said...

I most certainly do TOO consider teaching. Its on my list of things to do before the age of 50.

7:04 PM  

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