Silence is Acceptance: Teachers Are NOT the Problem

Idiots in Austin and Washington

Idiots in Austin and Washington

I’ve been a classroom teacher for sixteen years.  I didn’t even know if I would like this gig when I started out.  I came from a background in newspaper and TV.  But I wanted something with more stability and weirdly enough a better paycheck – that was back when beginning teachers made $26,000 a year in Texas.  They make a bit more now.

But lately teachers have become the enemy.  Our “fat paychecks” and “grand retirement” packages are just too much for taxpayers to handle.  God forbid teachers make a living wage and be able to raise a family.  It is not enough that we already sacrifice time, money and effort above what we are contracted to do.  We are one of the lowest paid professions that requires both a 4-year college degree and continuing education after being hired.  So many teachers pay for supplies out of their own pockets that the US Federal government recognizes this fact with a $200 tax deduction.

Most teachers get to school an hour before the first bell and stay 2-3 hours after the last bell, making for 9-10 hour working days at school.  This doesn’t take into account additional time at night and on weekends grading papers and planning lessons or calling parents.

Of course we don’t “work summers” and lay around the pool all day for three months.  Not likely.  School ends here after the first week of June, and teachers return to school the second week of August.  This gives you eight weeks off.  But teachers often are called in for curriculum meetings, staff development, teaming meetings and a hundred other things.  Many teachers also go in several days before they are “on the clock” to start getting their rooms ready for the first day of school, since many schools no longer give teachers time to do this anymore.  Nearly all of these “extra duties” are non-contracted and unpaid.

Next year in many classrooms, there will be 30-35-40 students packed into a room designed for 25.  The desks will be wall to wall and right on top of each other.  The computers will not be upgraded any time soon, and should one stop working, you will have to do without.  This is how we prepare our students for the 21st century?

If you have too many English language learners, or special needs kids – forget about asking for a co-teacher or even an aide.  They too will be gone.

Some districts are considering replacing their librarians with secretaries or getting rid of the library totally.  Same with nurses:  replacing RN’s with cheaper LVN’s or having several campuses share a nurse.

High schools in the Houston area will lose their Deputies soon.  Too expensive says the county.  Schools will have to hire their own officers or lower cost “security guards.”

Don’t even start on textbooks, some haven’t been replaced by the state in a decade.  I’ve heard that some districts have started double checking the mileage line to make sure that every student who is outside the legal limit walks to school or is brought by a parent, not a bus.  I wonder how much longer until they tell us we can’t have air conditioning until it is above a certain temperature.  The double paned windows in my classroom don’t even open.  There are other classrooms that have no windows.

If you are lucky after 30-40 years of this, you can get a pension, and live off of 60 percent of your former salary.

Many complain that teachers don’t do a good job compared to the “golden age” of the ’50s-60s.  Back when ruler toting teachers apparently were 10 feet tall and shot fire from their eyes.  Those teachers didn’t have the level of expectations we do today.  If a student didn’t cut it, they failed them and sent them off to work in a factory or in the fields.  Today, we are expected to make sure every student gets a 21st century education.  But we still use some methods that haven’t changed in 100 years.  Why – because we are told to do so.

The same politicians who are using teachers as a tackling dummy, are the ones who like to mandate everything from the number of school days to the allowable calories in the cafeterias.  There is more paperwork and regulation in schools than in nearly any other business.  Yet, along with the regulations, there never comes an increase in funding for compliance.  We must do more with less.

Less is not always more – many times less is simply less.  And as educators, we need to stop pretending we can keep doing more with less.  We can’t!  We are part of the problem.  We keep taking it.  We need to stop agreeing that we can do more.  We can’t.

If you live in Texas, or even other states – this is probably true there too.  Join the Protect the Classroom movement, call – write – or email your state legislator and senator.   This is going to hit EVERY school – yes the ones in your neighborhood too!

Cool Links #107: Strep Throat Final Day

My son had strep throat and the Dr. wouldn’t let him go back to school until tomorrow.  So today is my day for parent duty – so no school.  The yearbook is finally done, except the supplement and I can finally get a post out.  It has been more than a month since my last post.  Wow, that’s bad.  I do have a lot of links though.

1 – Thanks to the Principal’s Page for this photo “What we see, what the kids see.”  Funny.

2 – British photographer Horace Winters gives us a visual record of what the world of Charles Dickens was like.  Courtesy of the blog Spitalfields Life, these photos could be used in history class, British Lit. or journalism.  They are a great record of what most of us can only imagine from reading Nicolas Nicklesby or any other Dickens classic.

East End Nippers

East End Nippers

3 – As a teacher of both journalism and history, I’ve always been fascinated by the stories from the US Civil War and WWI of the Christmas truces.  Many times, these tales tell of swapping common, but well liked items from one side, for what seems like better items from the other side – southern tobacco for northern coffee, etc.  But also of singing common hymns like Silent Night, and then on Dec. 26, a return to the shooting.  Thanks to Iconic Photos for the picture.

Christmas Truce

Christmas Truce

4 – Make Use Of has a Simple Guide to How The Internet Works in PDF format.  Great for teaching students the basics of the internet.

5 – Here’s a great way to do first time assignments for MMJs doing a one-man-band assignment, thanks Bob Kaplitz blog.

6 – I think I’ve featured this before – Cueprompter – it is a free online teleprompter that works pretty good.

7 – I’m excited about the upcoming film – The Bang Bang Club about a group of photographers, including Pulitzer winner Kevin Carter.  Thanks PetaPixel blog.

8 – Now this is punny.

Punny

Punny

9 – Silber Studios have some super color photos from Frank Hurley, the photographer who accompanied Ernest Shackleton to Antarctica, but failed to reach the South Pole.  The site discusses the difficulty in taking photos on the journey, never mind color ones.

Early Color Photos from Antarctica

Early Color Photos from Antarctica

10 – Here’s another iconic photo from the blog of the same name – The End of the Thousand Year Reich, taken by the incredible Margaret Bourke-White.  She saw and took photos of so many incredible things during her career and this suicide photo was just one more to add to the list.  Read the whole post for the rich details about the photo and the end of WWII and the many suicides of Nazi party faithful.

End of the German Reich

End of the German Reich

11 – No Cool Links would be complete without a post from the DPs, Digital Photography School.  Every photojournalist needs to be able to shoot a decent portrait.  Here are 10 Techniques for better portraits.

12 – Photographer Sean Armenta is a photoshop wizard and his tutorials on the Pen Tool and Healing Brush are great.  Here’s his new one on the Clone Stamp Tool.  Thanks PetaPixel and F/Stoppers.

13 – Pro Photographer Mike Olivella has a great YouTube channel where he shows off his techniques for shooting NCAA sports.  Here’s his tips on Football.

14 – I guess this is the photography post – here’s a video on Vimeo about what it is like to be a photographer in the Obama White House.

15 – Here’s a little gem – a video about making a book using hot lead presses.

16 – What would happen if you used your camera for the first time?  Funny video.

17 – The Lenslinger really says it all in this “open letter.” You can’t just be a writer or reporter or a photographer any more.  You really must be able to do it all and do it well.  You can’t be lazy and you better be good at what you do – or you will be gone.

18 – Want a graphical timeline of computers from 1939 to 2010?

I’ve got tons more links, but I want to try to get back to a once a week schedule and publish again this coming weekend.  Hope to see you then.

 

Cool Links #106: The One Where We Can See It From Here

In education right now, it is not the end of the world.  But we can see it from here.  In Texas, they are talking about cuts to everything, even football if you can believe it.  That’s how you know it’s the end of the world.  If it is education, then they are looking to cut it back – cost wise, yet “provide the same high level of quality.”  As P.T. Barnum once said (or didn’t) “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  OK, enough soap boxing – let’s move on to the links.

Education Cuts

Education Cuts

1 – Thanks to PetaPixel for this video about an animal photography close encounter.

2 – PetaPixel was full of great stuff this last week or so, I love this shot.  Cameras that are well used.  Thank goodness our cameras are usually not in this bad of shape.

Dirty Cameras

Dirty Cameras

3 – And finally from PP again, an interesting mashup of computing power and photography – the “average” face of a woman in 40 countries.  Not sure how they did this, but it is interesting.

4 – Former Guardian editor Tim Radford has 25 commandments for journalist.  They are superb – my favortite:  10. So here is a rule. A story will only ever say one big thing. AND 20. English is better than Latin. You don’t exterminate, you kill. You don’t salivate, you drool. You don’t conflagrate, you burn.

5 – As a photojournalist, you can’t not know about the Afghan girl with the amazing green eyes.  This is a short (52 min.) video about the search to find her again after the liberation of her country.

6 – The 10,000 Words Blog has a collection of new Valentines cards for journalists.  Fun.

5 W's and H

5 W's and H

7 – Gizmodo is a tech blog, so it is interesting when they have an article about photography and sports photography at that – how to shoot football.  Good stuff.

8 – In  a related post, Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay quarterback owes photographer Scott Kelby a monopod.

9 – And again – football, Silber Studios; how to set your camera up for action.

10 –  I discovered a great blog called Everything is Remix.  There are two great videos on the site, Part 1 and Part 2 about the Remix Culture and why it is a good thing.

11 – I have to agree in principle with The Innovative Educator, except that it is a Race To the Bottom.

12 – All media professionals need a web site and that means buying a domain name and getting web hosting.

Well, that’s all for today.  Have a great week.

YLYB #113-114: Sickness and In Health

Sometimes you wonder if you are married to the yearbook.  It is an all-consuming project.  But last week I was the one consumed.  This is why I didn’t post at all last week.  I was brought low by an infected tooth.

This thing knocked me out for a week.  I could barely get out of bed and my face swelled up like a parade float balloon.

Monday was my first day back, then yesterday I had to miss again for the dentist.  Today was group photo day – delayed for so many reasons I’m not sure I could list them all if I wanted to.

Let’s just say that I have run through all my backup and reserve lesson plans.  I’m on empty and still have to visit the dentist again next week.  But through it all I am trying not to panic.  Tomorrow I promise to talk about paying for your book.  Hot topic I’m sure.

Cool Links #105: The One About A Long List

I haven’t done a links post in so long I think people have aged since then.  Sorry, but all you yearbook teachers out there understand – this is the crazy season.  Lots of deadlines from now until we finish.  The walking dead are yearbook teachers without enough coffee – real zombies.   So here are some links…

1 – This one is super cool, data – journalism – education – interactive all rolled into one.  The interactive map of ROI on education.  Just check it out, my school district was actually lime green.

2 – The terrific Bob Kaplitz blog has a graphic with the four levels of story-telling.  Very useful, I’m going to share it with my broadcast journalism kids.  Maybe we can move past level 2.

3 – Here’s a sad graphic.  Educators one of the five worst paid jobs with a degree.

4  - The Daily Grind has a response from the trenches to President Obama’s remarks in the SOTU about education.  Worth reading.

5  - This is funny, and yet true in its own way.  Follows the baffle ‘em with BS theory.

6 – Some of us are old enough to remember black screens with green letters and punch cards.  Our smart phones and iPads are nearly proof that we live in the future.  Ars Technica has a lengthy, but good article about the evolution of computer screens.

7 – Thanks to PetaPixel – this is really cool.  They found someone who still shoots old fashioned Ambrosetypes (similar to Daguerrotypes).

8 – This could be my student’s motto:  From Overheard in the Newsroom.

9 – OK, I’ve never heard of useit.com before, but I’ve heard of nearly all the ideas in this article before.  They just packaged it all together in one spot.  They restate what I’ve heard of people who read on the web and what is known about scanning.  This is why journalists must get back to basics on the inverted pyramid and headline writing.

10 – This is great!

Photoshop CS4 Cream

Photoshop CS4 Cream

11 – Thanks to Bellringers for a series of professional development sessions we’d all really love to see.

12 – We have to stop forcing boys (and some girls) into the box of the “good student.”  I learned so much from my own son and two former students from my broadcast journalism class.  All of these students are the get up and go kind of people.  They can’t stand to be sitting down – unless they are playing a video game, musical instrument, etc.  They have to be active.  We can’t keep forcing passive learning on them.

13 – I still think this kind of photo-retouching is wrong.  People used to smoke – everyone knows that.  I don’t think Churchill will make a kid want to take up the cigar.

14 – My students do this all the time…

Stop Printing

Stop Printing

15 – These kids from Quebec have no idea what a record player is for, or an 8-track.  How long until iPods are obsolete?

16 – Maybe if more journalists acted like this, there’d be more readers/viewers/visitors – see Overheard in the Newsroom.

I think I may post again tomorrow.  Getting sleepy – still got lots of links in the hopper.

 

YLYB #106-7: Weekend Warrior

Why is it that everything in life happens on the same weekend.  This last weekend, my son had a Webelos Pack campout.  They have to have a parent along, or they can’t camp.  It was the coldest day of the last year or more – 27 degrees, very cold for Houston.  We also had grades due on Monday and of course we are smack in the middle of yearbook pages.  Why does it always work that way?

Cool Links #104: The One During The “Universal Holiday” Break

I heard this on Disney Channel the other day – Happy Universal Holiday.  We have now officially crossed over into the world of Big Corporate and 1984.  It is amazingly sad how newspeak is taking over our language.  When I read the book 1984, in 1984 I never thought it would come to pass.  But now I live in that world.  So, let’s use the interwebs to find something to take our mind off of it all and be better j-teachers after the break.  Here come the links -

1 –  There doesn’t seem to be a way to add xtranormal movies to my wordpress blog, but I can link to them. Here’s a funny one about a young comm. grad who wants to be a big TV news star.

2 – The Principal’s Page has a funny about schools taking the blame for what happens at home.

3 – As journalists and educators, we should be very interested in “What is the best question in the world?”

4 – This is how e-textbooks are created.

5 – If you are a blogger, and you should be, then you should back it up!  FreeTech4Teachers will show you how.  Just backed up mine.

6 – Seen a number of Year in Photos around the web for 2010 – Denver Post, Boston Globe,

7 – My school district recently set up a moodle server and I use it nearly every day.  I love it.  Here’s a chart with the pros/cons of moodle.

8 – If you teach broadcast journalism, then you must watch and subscribe to Austin’s Josh Hinkle who has posted some great videos about what life is like as a solo-mojo on the go in Austin, TX at KXAN.  Thanks Josh.

9 – This post from WDL has a useful Photoshop keyboard shortcut desktop pattern and a color wheel sheet (printable).

10 – WDL has been hitting it with useful posts lately.  Here’s on on apostrophe and quote marks – you are not doing it right.

11 – New Term – PHObar:  Photoshopped Beyond All Recognition.

PHObar

PHObar

12 – Google has a new YouTube channel called Teach My Parents Tech.  It really should be Teach Tech to Anyone, but anyway – it is useful for teaching simple tech tips to people.  Here’s an example

13 – Since I live in Houston, I’ve been following the story of Lamar High School’s library closely and the early stories about it were dead wrong – no books burned, only 20 year old books trashed, 11,000 books kept, nearly 90 laptops for use in the library, not 20, etc.  The Innovative Educator has valuable post on the subject.

14 – As a photo/video-grapher you will have to deal with wet weather if you shoot outdoor sports.  Clifford Oto has a picture perfect post about his dealings with rain this football season.

And The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down

And The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down

15 – Rick Sammon is the online guru of photo.  This post is simply about one thing – GET CLOSE!

Get Closer

Get Closer

16 – Why do all “curriculum planners” act like this?  It seems like everyone has met at least one curriculum planner who has zero knowledge of actual teaching.

Have a great “universal holiday” break.

YLYB #83: Clean Up, Do Your Part

I got a lot of stuff cleaned up today around the classroom and in my office.  It sometimes seems like cleaning, organizing and installing is all we ever do.  But I had several students putting in time after school today, so I wanted to get something done while they were there.

I also called B&H Video and our publisher’s tech. department.  I did get a lot of stuff done and things organized/cleaned.

Cool Links #103: The One About the Storm Before The Calm

The days until break are getting short and the work is getting long.  I can only hope we can get 40 pages in before next Monday.  We’ll see.  Maybe chilling out today with some cool links will help…

1 – I do believe that we learn more from failure than from success, but it doesn’t mean that I want to see only failure in my classroom or in my own life.  But these tips can help you appreciate letting others fail on their own terms sometimes.

Pull Quote Fail

Pull Quote Fail

2 – Hand-in-hand with letting students fail to learn (different from flat out failure) is listening to them when they don’t understand or feel overworked.

3 – I am not a fan of the former Vice President Al Gore, but I do think that there might be some value in this project he has started with the likes of the Mythbusters and the founder of FIRST Robotics.  A discussion of how to make school relevant to students.  I think it is one of the two foundational R’s of school – Relationships and Relevancy.  Those must come before Rigor or you are setting students up for failure.

There are three more parts to this video, but part 1 is fairly boring – parts 2, 3 & 4 are good.

4 – This graphic is an interesting look into the evolution of the basic typefaces.  If you are a type geek like me, then you will like it.

Evolution of Typography
Via: VPS

5 – The Newsosaur has a useful post for teaching journalists about the past and about objectivity.  He says it never existed and we shouldn’t try anymore, but instead publicize out bias.  I like it.  I once saw a video of Walter Cronkite sitting in the back seat of a fighter-bomber in Vietnam.  He was trilled by the speed, aerobatics and even the bombing run.  He was supposed to be an objective observer, not a jingoistic voyeur.  Even he admitted it years later.

6 – Students often feel bored in school – some of this goes back to Relevance.  Some of it goes to the rote methodology of memorizing facts, working problems and writing pages of text only to be read by the teacher. Real projects that have real world application bring both rigor and relevance.  But our current Race To The Bottom has so much mandated boredom, I’m surprised any kid survives.

7 – A Russian software firm claims to have broken Canon’s software to verify photos.  I like their photo fakes.

USSR Man on the Moon

USSR Man on the Moon

8 – The dPs had a most in-depth post on the Rule of Phi, this is a modification of the old rule of thirds.  The rule of thirds works well on a more squarish rectangle, but when you are shooting video for widescreen, the Rule of Phi is better.

9 – True in high school or college.

In High School Too...

In High School Too...

10 – Tamron Lenses has another in their series of videos for better shooting – sports.

11 – Photofocus has also been running a series – Photography for Newbies – great post on White Balance.

12 – The edublogs are up for voting and I would like to recommend a few for your consideration – please stop by and vote for:

Best Individual Blog – The Principal’s Page

Best Student Blog – Moo

Best Resource Sharing Blog – Free Technology for Teachers

Best Teacher Blog – The Scholastic Scribe

Best Administrators Blog – The Principal’s Page – The Blog

Best Use of Video – Khan Academy

13 – Need a printable monthly or weekly calendar. ReprintMe has it.

14 – Want your students to see what words they use too much?  Just copy their text and paste it into wordcounter.com and it will tell them.

15 – Right here in my own city of Houston, one local high school ditched all their books from the library.  I don’t know if what they did was cost effective or even effective.  It might be brave or foolhardy – only time will tell.

Have a great week, let’s all get to the break in good health and good spirits!

YLYB #77: And Then There Was Lunch

The teachers at my school were surprised today with a barbecue hot dog lunch.  The dogs were freshly cooked on a real grill by one of the assistant principals and served with trimmings and condiments.  It was nice to get that surprise and I sent an email to my AP and principal to show my appreciation.  I know that they are used to me griping, so a happy email must have been a pleasant change.

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