BCTF Conference on Accountability: parent workshop details, II

The parent workshop was an interactive event that drew upon the expert knowledge of participants to explore the theme “what do parents want” and then to identify mechanisms to assess how these expectations are being met.
In each workshop the participants were broken into discussion groups of 3-5 people. Each group member was asked to write down two statements that describe what parents want from public education for their children. These statements were shared amongst the group. From these initial statements a series of common expectations were recorded on flip chart paper. The next step was a brainstorming session to identify the most effective methods, techniques, and/or processes for assessing whether or not the identified parental expectations have been met in the context of public education.

Two key themes were identified by all participants: education should focus on the whole child, and; dialogue and communications are central to the parent/school partnership.

The morning session was comprised of fairly equal numbers of parent representatives, teacher representatives, and trustees. The afternoon session was about 60% parents with three trustees and a couple student teachers. Both workshops identified fairly similar expectations and methods to assess whether these expectations are being met with the afternoon session tending to emphasize the importance of communication and partnerships with parents.

Blogging on teaching

How do teachers work through the issues of teaching, conflicts with conflicting demands, meeting the expectations of parents, administrators, other teachers, and of themselves? With the rise of blogging some teachers have moved their personal reflections online. As noted on Education Policy Blog there are a profusion of ‘secret blogs’ in which teachers reflect on their teaching practices and other matters. I should add that these are just some blogs that were clipped from the Education Policy Blog and that they represent a small sample of what is out there. The first two, in particular, reflect the anguish and difficulty of teaching in America’s No Child Left Behind/under-resourced high stakes testing environment.

“Super Secret” Teacher Blogs
From a former colleague, Krista Simons, whom we all HATED to lose, now at New Mexico State:

Greetings from New Mexico! I’ve been thinking about an idea that needs researching, and might be of interest to you. I’ve kept up with your blog ever since leaving Purdue since I find the ideas you post rather interesting, and it helps me feel connected to my former institution.

Anyway, one of my students mentioned to me not too long ago that she kept a “super-secret blog” during her first (and only) year of teaching. She sounded so embittered that I couldn’t resist doing a little investigation, and I turned up with her blog here: http://sagacious-teacher.blogspot.com/. You can almost see the desperation and helplessness she feels as she navigates her year that involves teaching with few resources, unexpected politics with administration, difficult kids, etc. (incidentally, she taught in a rural town that is one town over from the one where I grew up; the similarities are uncanny). In her blog, she references another similar blog: http://hategrade.blogspot.com/2006/05/respite.html.Anyway, it strikes me that through these “Super Secret” blogs, we are gaining a window in the successes, failures, strategies, theories, and coping mechanisms of teachers (drinking, smoking, and cursing included). I would love to scour the web for more of these teacher blogs – it’s rich data!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit in my “Research Scheme.” But it might fit in yours (or perhaps one of your students…?). If nothing else, it might make for some rich classroom discussion!

Hope you are well. It’s seventy degrees here, and I now live in a swing state, so I have little to complain about. 😉

These blogs are the contemporary equivalent of teachers’ journals from the 19th century, journals that have been the basis for some wonderful social history. I agree that someone needs to look at it, perhaps in an interdisciplinary way with an historian together with others.
# posted by Sherman Dorn : 10:18 AM

Some teacher blogs I follow:
Miss B. is a special ed teacher in California
Your Mama’s Mad Tedious: Diary of a Bronx special ed teacher
Amy Loves Books is the blog of an English teacher in Atlanta
# posted by Penny L. Richards : 3:06 PM

one that I like is:
The Trenches Blogspot
he’s in his second year of teaching now, and I knew him when we was an undergrad at UCHICAGO.
# posted by SR : 10:32 PM