Friday, April 9, 2010

reinvent the library

As we move into the 30th month of this “economic downturn” I am preparing for the next list of budget cuts to come from our Superintendent. I read through journals, blogs, and chats and my fear is not just justified my fear is pervasive.
Librarians are being cut, libraries closed or just left to try and function moneyless. Every time I read about another loss I start the grieving process again. I refuse to believe it could happen to me, then I get angry that it could happen to anyone, I always wonder if we could “do a deal “offer more, then I just get sad and move on. The good news is I can personally confirm that Kubler-Ross was absolutely right about the process. The bad news is that it feels more like a continuous cycle rather than a process.
The problem that continues to plague me is that when I am not feeling sad and defensive about my potential job loss, I feel, that like many parts of our educational system, elementary libraries are in desperate need of a total paradigm change. I cannot help but believe that our desperate need to change is related to our continued presents on the chopping block.
It is time to reinvent the library.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I read the other day that President Obama wants to revamp the NCLB. I am hopeful at that thought and have a couple thoughts on the topic.
First it must be said right up front that No Child Left behind is not a bad thing. The idea that we need to hold all students to a standard is well founded and necessary.
I would propose only one major change to the whole idea. Rather than No Child Left Behind what if we focus on making it our mission to have No Child Without Growth (NCWG). The idea is more centered on our efforts to help children from where they are.
We still need benchmarks, and tests to measure our approach to those standards. NCWG would be more individually based. My job as a teacher is to help every child grow academically. If a kid walks into my room unable to read my job is not to increase his score on standardized questions regarding reading comprehension of nonfiction text. My mission is to make him a better reader, to increase his skill set, to make him a better learner, to help him grow.
This idea also adds pressure on the other end of the spectrum. No Child Left Behind, as, the title suggests, focuses on those behind. NCWG would require that we challenge those “gifted” students. It has been my experience that those students go largely unchallenged until high school.
Special Education also benefits from this individualized type of plan. IEP’s (individualized education plan) is the life blood our SpEd programs. The idea of changing educational reform law without increasing the workload of Special education professional causes an audible cheer throughout the world of the over worked, and over looked.
A program that measured student growth over time; rather than one that offers comparison to an arbitrary standard also creates a conversation point for the discussion of merit pay.
I admit this is a general “big picture” sketch of my idea. I am also reminded that NCLB, as a general idea, sounded good too… but hey they are not paying me for these brilliant ideas.