Teachers...Your thoughts

ArmyOfNone

Well-Known Member
http://www.nj.com/news/times/index.ssf?/base/news-3/119778296448520.xml&coll=5&thispage=1

I was listening to 101.5 on the way home today (not sure why) but this was the topic of debate. The East Windsor superintendant is proposing some new rules concerning homework.

Highlights include: that homework will not be graded, and it discourages homework on weekends and holidays. It sets daily time limits, essentially 10 minutes per grade level, thus calling for up to 30 minutes in grades one to three, rising to 120 minutes by high school.

I agree that HW may need to be limited for the lower grade levels. Some parents were on the radio talking about their 5th grader having 3 hours of HW. However im sure this is very much subjective as everyone does not work at the same speed.

Homework needs to be graded however. There needs to be another way to assess that the students are grasping the material other than tests.

The weekends and holidays issue im a bit on the fence about. The radio guys were saying that school is the kids job. 40 hours a week or whatever it is. We get the weekends off. Why shouldnt they? Or maybe they should limit the amount of work they get for a weekend/holiday.

Anyh00t, I was thinking of all yall teachers on the board who might have come pocket change to throw into a discussion.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
This is a good article Fred, thanks for linking.

While some kids work at different rates, that 10 minutes per level can get exponentially out of control as the kids get older, especially in a college prep level, where you have high-level kids that don't feel like taking honors as well as general students that desperately want to get into college. So the first kid's hour is like 2+ for the other kid. How do you accommodate that?

What I found particularly impossible was the reading assignments. Even at 36 years old I find it damn near impossible to get through 50 pages of A Tale of Two Cities, yet this was the kind of assignment we would have in school. For many kids, 50 pages of a book like that is 3+ hours of reading a day. This is why many people, myself included, never bothered to read what we were supposed to.

I'm also interested in what our resident teachers have to say about this. Though one thing I will say that I've always believed is that you need to educate your kids at home, first and foremost. IMO, you just can't sit in front of the TV and watch American Idol and expect you kid to hole up in his/her room and plow out 2-3 hours of homework.
 
N

Neen

Guest
IMO, you just can't sit in front of the TV and watch American Idol and expect you kid to hole up in his/her room and plow out 2-3 hours of homework.
That's a really good point. I dislike seeing my 8 year old niece have hours of homework a night, and no time to just be a kid. You know, PLAY!
 
J

joanqs

Guest
please remember that a superintendant of schools or principal basically plays the role of politician. They are the face that the public is presented with and try to balance the wants of the parents, the teachers and state. If the amount of homework is being adjusted or limited by a district it is most likely the result of parental complaints, not teacher complaints.
The biggest problem I am faced with is always the parents. It seems that the priorities of the majority have shifted from education to sports, dance, chorus, music, etc...

On another note, I am someone the is fervidly against home-schooling, mostly because i believe that the public school system serves as the "pot" in which to melt "diversity." There is no other institution in this country that is a requirement for all citizens under the age of 16. I guess I don't like any form of supremist mentality.

ok i am done.
 

xc62701

Well-Known Member
What Joan said is completely true. There is a lot more emphasis being placed on extracurricular activities rather than school work. Sadly it seems that a lot of the budgets are going towards new uniforms and equipment for some teams than is on the need for new texts and classroom supplies. The community is most definitely guiding the way the superintendant is swaying.

My personal philosophy is to give the students enough work so that they can grasp and practice the concept. I know there are different ability levels and most of the work I assign with the average student in mind. I aim to give students about a half hour or less of homework per assignment. If students are taking 2-3 hours to complete my assignments they don't understand the concept and either need to be paying better attention in class or should be coming for extra help. Most days I usually let the students start their homework in class as well.

As far as limiting work for weekends and holidays that's absurd. The learning process goes on without regard to holidays. There are certain classes expecially, AP courses for one, that are on a strict timeline and need to have certain materials covered regardless of what days off are to be had and every minute is precious. To limit the length of assignments blindly doesn't make sense. All of the homework presented should be for the benefit of the students and not just busy work anyway. The work is to promote knowledge and practice the skills to master the subject. I think some of the parents just don't want to hear their sons or daughters whining about homework. I usually give homework on the weekends like I would any other night.

It seems that a lot of the current generation is lacking a lot of respect and discipline and it's starting at home, and carrying over into school. We are still trying to instill that sense of discipline and mastery and fight the laziness and are getting referred to as too rough or too time consuming. Especially for an area like math, constant reflection is necessary to hone the skills needed, and to proceed onto the next topic.

I do agree that homework should be graded. Tests should not be the basis of the grade but will still be the majority of the grade. That's why I give other opportunities and creative tests to offset the fear of standardized tests.
 

Shaggz

A strong 7
On another note, I am someone the is fervidly against home-schooling, mostly because i believe that the public school system serves as the "pot" in which to melt "diversity." There is no other institution in this country that is a requirement for all citizens under the age of 16. I guess I don't like any form of supremist mentality.

ok i am done.
i am not sure how home schooling equates to supremist mentality?

diversity is certainly not a compelling argument to send children into a failing school system. neither is letting the gov't dictate curriculum via the "No Child Left Behind Act".
 
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Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
First of all Ryan I have to bust out my red marker for your use of the word "expecially". :D

Thanks for the feedback teachers. Interesting that you guys see extracurricular activities being promoted as much as academics, especially given that many high school teams are now being forced to fund their own sports and buy their own uniforms. I imagine state budget cuts are causing the pinch in any number of ways. You have a state university that's cutting classes, laying off professors, while expanding the football stadium.

I would also imagine that colleges don't help, since there seems to be a huge emphasis on this "well rounded" phenomenon when applying for a college. Also, not to be ignored is the economic reality that many kids have 2 parents that have to work, and doing something after school is a better alternative than hanging out with the people who have nothing better to do after school. If nothing else that perspective has to be considered.

I'd still like to hear the perspective that can defend assigning 50 pages of A Tale of Two Cities in one weeknight.

Steve, I can see the perspective that people would see home schooling as elitist. Basically you're saying that you can do better than society and people who have been educated to teach your children. I can't imagine home schooling simply because I couldn't imagine taking into consideration all the aspects of teaching as well as the interaction the kids get with the teachers. Additionally, I think you as a parent offer either support or an alternate perspective on what the kids learn in school. I also think socially you would be depriving your children of what is probably crucial social development.
 

Mike679

Active Member
Just curious...

home school is social suicide

I looked at your profile and saw that you're high-school aged and was curious if that is truly the perception of home-schooled kids among your age group.

Not for anything, but none of my kids are home-schooled, nor do we plan to go that route. Not trying to be combative here or anything. Like I said, just curious...
 

Shaggz

A strong 7
i guess i should clarify my thoughts on home schooling. we are considering home schooling our children up until 4th grade. we would consider a montessorri or waldorf school but there are none within a reasonable driving distance from where we live.

we feel that academics are pushed WAY too early in a children's educational experience. I see my nieces and nephews in K-2 with hours of homework, and a lot of it being "rote"-type exercises.

studies show that developmentally, children are not ready to put pencil to paper for handwriting until around age 5. the preschool that my son is going to is teaching handwriting, as early 3 years old. this is because handwriting is considered a kindergarten readiness skill. this creates bad habits, which propagate into greater problems down the road, which then need to be remediated through teachers and therapy service later on in the child's educational career. this is just one example, and problems like this are not limited to our particular preschool or our school district.

as far as socialization goes, there are many that would argue that a child is not ready to begin formal education until they are 6 or 7. the most important aspect for a child is the sense of security and well being that can only be nurtured in relationships at home. that does not mean that they should be cloistered, it's that formal education is not necessary so early

the children in the US school system do test higher then children in other countries up until grade 4. after that, performance starts to plunge to the bottom of the barrel in academics compared to other countries.

do i think that my wife and i can lay a better educational foundation for our children by homeschooling them for the first 4 years? you bet. it will be a sacrifice and a little bit scary for us, but in the long run i think it will be worth it, even if at worst case scenario they get filtered into the PS system after that.

btw - this is not a snipe at the teachers, it is a lack of confidence in the educational system. if you really want to see a major turnaround in the system, get rid of NCLB, abolish tenure, and implement a voucher system where the tax dollar follows the student around. once the schools are competing for the funds, you will see everyone stepping up their games to provide the best educational experience for the student.
 

warcricket

Like a Jerk
I looked at your profile and saw that you're high-school aged and was curious if that is truly the perception of home-schooled kids among your age group.

Not for anything, but none of my kids are home-schooled, nor do we plan to go that route. Not trying to be combative here or anything. Like I said, just curious...

well the only home schooled kids i know are my parent's friends twins and they are pretty awkward to talk to, play bingo weekly, and don't get out much.

my main point is that there is a lot more to school than just learning, as it is primarily my main source of friends and social life. If it weren't for school i probably wouldn't be involved in sports and other charector molding activities.
As far as I'm concerned one of the most important lessons learned in school is how to interact with other people.
 
J

joanqs

Guest
1st-there is a plethora of academic rating data. The US does not plummit amongst other countries after the fourth grade, in fact we rank average with the top four industrialized countries- we just don't excel past them. You should also consider that the countries whose averaes are high go to school more days a year and for longer periods of time not to mention that academics is infused in their culture. It is cool for kids to go to the coffee houses with books and notebooks on a Friday night to learn together etc..

I am in agreement with ousting NCLB -it is mostly nonsense legislation drafted by politicians not educators. But as far as taking tenure away..that is a ridiculous statement which parents always seem to want. First, if I had to, I couldn't support myself on my salary solely. Pretty sad for someone who is required to continue their education annually and pay for the bulk of it. And don't ever think our jobs end when the students leave for the day. It doesn't I calculated my work time with my salary one year and even though I am required to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree, certification to teach, and highly qualified status for each subject my hourly rate is lower than a NYC garbage man. Teachers teach because they love it.

And to continue with the tenure issue- besides the obvious student interaction and educational successes in the classroom what keeps me going is knowing that I do not have to have a cut-throat super competitive attitude towards my teaching. It is nice to know that I am secure and my district is dedicated to me. This way my focus is always on the students and their learning, not whether or not I am one upping Bob or Jane. To end, tenure doesn't protect "bad" teachers from losing their jobs, bad teachers are let go despite this mirage of tenure. In other words administrators have ways around it.

Shaggz, the decision to home school is a hard one and I feel for you and your wife. I am sure, from what I have read, that you will make the choice based on honest evaluations and not fear.
 

xc62701

Well-Known Member
First of all Ryan I have to bust out my red marker for your use of the word "expecially". :D

Thanks for the feedback teachers. Interesting that you guys see extracurricular activities being promoted as much as academics, especially given that many high school teams are now being forced to fund their own sports and buy their own uniforms. I imagine state budget cuts are causing the pinch in any number of ways. You have a state university that's cutting classes, laying off professors, while expanding the football stadium.

I would also imagine that colleges don't help, since there seems to be a huge emphasis on this "well rounded" phenomenon when applying for a college. Also, not to be ignored is the economic reality that many kids have 2 parents that have to work, and doing something after school is a better alternative than hanging out with the people who have nothing better to do after school. If nothing else that perspective has to be considered.

I'd still like to hear the perspective that can defend assigning 50 pages of A Tale of Two Cities in one weeknight.

Steve, I can see the perspective that people would see home schooling as elitist. Basically you're saying that you can do better than society and people who have been educated to teach your children. I can't imagine home schooling simply because I couldn't imagine taking into consideration all the aspects of teaching as well as the interaction the kids get with the teachers. Additionally, I think you as a parent offer either support or an alternate perspective on what the kids learn in school. I also think socially you would be depriving your children of what is probably crucial social development.


I teach math not english...sheesh. My numbers were all correct ;)
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
I teach math not english...sheesh. My numbers were all correct ;)

LOL, very good. Then I guess you'd be happy to hear I got a 790 on the math section of my SAT in high school? I also got a 460 on my English. I demand a recount!!!
 

ArmyOfNone

Well-Known Member
Very good stuff here. Except i really have nothing to contribute...i have no kids and i dont teach. But keep going!
 

anrothar

entirely thrilled
steve, there is a montessori school on berkshire valley rd. take glen/ridge rd to the light, make a right, and it's about 1/4 of a mile down the road on the left. big white 'house' with wraparound porch. Alpine Montessori School.



i almost never did homework.... :getsome:
 

ChrisG

Unapologetic Lifer for Rock and Roll
http://www.nj.com/news/times/index.ssf?/base/news-3/119778296448520.xml&coll=5&thispage=1

I was listening to 101.5 on the way home today (not sure why) but this was the topic of debate. The East Windsor superintendant is proposing some new rules concerning homework.

Highlights include: that homework will not be graded, and it discourages homework on weekends and holidays. It sets daily time limits, essentially 10 minutes per grade level, thus calling for up to 30 minutes in grades one to three, rising to 120 minutes by high school.
I didn't look at the article, but my take on homework is that I assign what is necessary to move us through the material in reasonable fashion. As a teacher of literature, there's little sense in having my students read more than we can respond to meaningfully over any given period of time. When we read a novel, they are given a full reading schedule for the entire book, and I strive to make the assignments realistic for them and me. The same holds true for writing assignments- it's just a matter of serving the material and the students' needs in thoughtful fashion.

Of course students need to be evaluated in some fashion when they do work, so "not grading" homework is not doing them a bit of good.

Homework on weekends/vacations is sometimes necessary to move things along, that's all there is to it.

One thing I can tell you is that I never, ever think about homework assignments in terms of specific blocks of time. Everyone reads and thinks at different paces. What's more, I will often assign comparatively short readings in my Honors class which demand multiple readings, if the student hopes to really get what's going on.

This proposal sounds to me like PR-driven baloney.
 
S

Shar0se

Guest
So education is my thing......having taught in the public school system (actually in Piscataway, the referenced superintendent in the article was a superintendent there), gotten my MA in Educational Administration and Supervision, currently getting my doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia Univ, teaching future teachers as an adjunct and having worked at the state level with the NJEA .... I read this thread and have more comments that I can even begin to share from the perspectives mentioned above- all of which do not include being a parent, which is a whole other perspective in and of itself.

There are positives and negatives to every issue, even NCLB.....the point of NCLB is to equalize education- which is inherently a good thing, however the big questions are- who do we hold accountable? how do we hold them accountable? is standardized testing a fair and equitable way to assess students? if not, how else could it be done?

Vouchers- another great idea in theory, but in reality the logistics of this are difficult. In NYC thousands of students qualified to change districts, however busing is an issue so bus drivers are taking their usual routes and then going back and picking up the NCLBers and taking them to school- late. In NH a failing school may be surrounded by 20 miles of land, another school being an hour away. Is it more important to fund the voucher system or fix the failing school?

International ranking- this is a challenging comparison- the U.S. uses a liberal arts approach, whereas in other countries they may only focus on core subjects. Cultural differences on the importance of education plays a role. Also, many of the statistics on testing are skewed- in other words-some comparisons use one country's college level testing verses our high school testing. Not sure if there is a valid and reliable set of data on this subject, I'd be interested to read some if there is.

I could go on and on but I'm tired, time for bed!......

Here is a good question for debate:
Dodgeball or no dodgeball?
 
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