A Phillie Teacher

I was a starry-eyed teacher from New Jersey. Now I work for Philadelphia Public Schools.

Archive for July, 2010

Arizona’s Solution to Spanish in the Classroom

Posted by aphillieteacher on July 20, 2010

Hey, it’s from The Onion! it’s satire :)

Arizona High Schools To Now Teach Spanish Entirely In English

Posted in Philadelphia Schools | 3 Comments »

Creativity Sinkhole in the US

Posted by aphillieteacher on July 19, 2010

Newsweek published an article describing a researcher’s study which pointed to creativity as an indicator of future success. According to researcher E. Paul Torrance,

The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.

He listed entrepreneurs, university presidents, inventors, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers as those who scored highly in early creativity testing.

Yet he notes with alarm that the United States is suddenly lacking creativity in its children. This could be a real problem for our country in terms of future economy and leadership. What’s the problem?

It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.

(my emphasis on the last part)

A few questions:

  • How can educators nurture creativity if we’re told to focus on “test taking skills?”
  • What creativity is encouraged on one-size-fits-all state-designed, multiple choice tests?
  • How can parents pay for enrichment classes that 1. may or may not exist in their community  2. may be too expensive to afford?

I think the answer is obvious. By directing so much attention an resources on testing and scores, the United States is actually hurting our children and our country by omitting the important element of creativity and higher order thinking. we need to do more to encourage the creativity present in all children.

Nevertheless, districts are cutting art and music programs. Classroom instruction is reduced to the lowest common denominator so that everyone “gets it.”  That’s fine, but what happens to the bright and/or creative kids who already “got it”? I don’t know about your school, but in New Jersey and Pennsylvania public schools the Gifted and Talented Programs are a thing of the past.

It’s a fascinating article. The authors cite creativity movements in other countries and the abysmal showing of US children. It also offers a solution: project-based learning that encourages creativity while helping students master information.

Unless our administrators and policy makers pay attention to warnings such as these, they will have only themselves to blame.

Read the whole article here:The Creativity Crises

Posted in Philadelphia Schools | 4 Comments »

Room 1075

Posted by aphillieteacher on July 15, 2010

It was a somewhat large conference room. Forced transfer teachers from all over the district had been summoned with only three days’ notice: if you want to have any voice in where you teach next year, now’s the time. If you don’t show up, you have only yourself to blame. The school I had been at in June did not have a place for me, so I was one of many teachers looking for a new place.

Since choice would be a new part of my experience in Philly Public Schools, I decided to take the plunge. I canceled my reservations at a lovely B&B, and ramped up for my big day:

  1. Download vacancy list
  2. Research schools
  3. Map commuting routes
  4. Call friends for insight and advice
  5. Sweat, worry, prepare
  6. Make list according to preferences
  7. Show up

I hate to tell you how many people did not do some (or any) of the above. Many of them didn’t show up at all and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart: as name after name was called according to district seniority, all of my choices eliminated one by one. If everyone showed up I would not have been as lucky as I was.

Finally it was my turn. I was second to last and all that was left was a disciplinary high school and a few middle schools. This was an easy choice. If you read my earlier blog posts you will know that my middle school experiences were a pure taste of hell.

I’ll take the disciplinary school, I told the panel of district officials.

The ladies rocked back in their seats in surprise. Are you sure??? they asked.

Flashback to last fall, to the fights, the stealing, classroom ruckus, my loss of time, money and sleep as well as the sweat and tears that I poured into trying to make a go of it with some of the worst behaved humans I have ever met.

Absolutely, I said grimly.

But wait! a last minute ray of hope!  Somehow we had overlooked a sabbatical opening in a high school. And  now it was mine!! I will be teaching somewhere in North Philly next year.

Question and Answers:

Do I care that I’ll be at that school only one year? no, because in the PSD, teachers are moved around willy-nilly. There is no security and darned little loyalty.

How do I feel? I am damned happy to have a job. This is a very rough economy. Wherever I go, I’ll do my best. Plus when I’m blogging I won’t have to change the name of my school. I can stick with the same name: it’ll still be New-to-Me High School.

Posted in Philadelphia Schools | 3 Comments »