Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Brain is Full

You know how sometimes your stomach is just as "full" as it can be? That's how my brain has been feeling lately. It is just plain OVERLOADED ... too much going on, too much reading for preparing for class, too many Internet searches for just the right worksheet for school, too much thinking, if that's even possible and this, from someone who LOVES to think, study, read and learn.

So, a couple of random things (are we surprised I would be random?? ~ nope). This is Constitution Week and I hope you are all aware of it and doing things with your family to remember what a treasure this country is to us and at what a cost to the founders we enjoy it today. If you live locally and read this before Saturday evening, there is a very cool Constitution Fair that starts at 6 PM at Highland High School ~ fun for the whole family:

Anyway, I'm disturbed by all the stress I see my little 7 year old students having over their school work. I want them to love learning and they are just plain stressing over the littlest thing. I gave an unannounced spelling pre-test on a list I passed out on Monday and I had 3 meltdowns... despite the fact that I said it wasn't for a grade, that it wasn't going home and that it was only for ME to see how they were doing so I would know which words we needed to go over. Good grief. I can't say much because that would be inappropriate to mention if any school parent tracks down what I ever have to say on the web, so I'll just say I could not believe how upset a few of them got.

The other thing that has been going on is that Mandy (in Nevada) is about to do battle with some school officials over what they have done to the math program in Clark County because the district was scoring poorly in math. So, "they" wrote a new, very ridiculous, math program with problems that resemble the ones found on the annual test. Well, if the problems she read to me over the phone are indicative of what is found on the test, NO WONDER they are scoring poorly, because they are the most confusing math questions you would ever imagine. When a mom (Mandy) who aced College Algebra is unable to help her son with his 3rd grade math, something is wrong. This "teaching to the test" nonsense is ruining the real education of our future generations. OK, I better not go there or I'll be up all night.

So, where does any of this lead? Probably not to a good night's sleep, which I could really use about now. But perhaps to a delightful new "hero" I found just two days ago when looking for something in reference to my classroom. I happened across his material and read and read it. I picked up his book at the library today (although I haven't had two minutes to even look at it yet) but you will LOVE the title: Discipline without Stress, Punishments or Rewards by Dr. Marvin Marshall. (The subtitle is "How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning"). It teaches how internal motivation is far more powerful and effective in changing behavior than punishments or rewards. I can't wait to read it and implement it. But even more than that, I loved what he had to say about testing and grades. What do you think?

Here's the website about the book: ~ check out the sample chapters, especially Collaboration for Quality Learning ~ WOW, does that ever make sense ~ instead of this we are creating "competetion" and that promotes cheating and kids asking questions like: "Is it going to be on the test?" ~ they no longer want to learn for the sake of learning, but only care about what they are going to be tested on (sounds like some districts we know of, hmmm). It's really fascinating. Also, I think you'd really love going to HIS website and watching a minute and a half video of one of his presentations ~ ~ I can't stop thinking of his perspective and how much sense it makes in nearly all aspects of life.

Well, I need to get to bed. But this is the stuff that has been rattling around in my brain lately. See how it does in yours!! Take care!



Jen said...

I can appreciate what you're talking about schools and teaching to the test, etc. I've mulled over this for years. I can't wait to check out that book you recommended. It looks fantastic.

Good luck to Mandy!! You go, girl!

The Darrach Family said...

Good to read you're post! The book sounds great, and what an awesome teacher you are.
Hang in there,

Anonymous said...

That looks like a good one Mom! Could I borrow it when you're done? Hope I haven't ruined Taylor already:)lol

Alishia said...

I'm so glad Mandy is going to do something about the mess the schools are in now. I wish more moms were like her. The book sounds good, teaching and mothering are so similar!! You'll be a great teacher, you are already a great mom. Hang in there!