I taught full time for fifteen years and am now subbing so that I can finish my novel. I don't have all the answers. None of us do. In fact, even if something works great for me, there is no guarantee it will work for you.
I hope that we will give each other suggestions. I went to all the trainings I could get my principal to approve when I taught full-time. I talked to a lot of teachers. AND I just kept trying things until I found something that worked FOR ME. We can not go against our own nature. Kids can sense that and will test us.
So, don't give up. Keep on trying new things and always know that there is a place to go where you can be anonymous and speak freely.
Best of Luck to all of you. Our children deserve the best that we can offer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Funds for Literacy

City schools to use stimulus funds for literacy program
By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

City school officials are planning to use economic stimulus money to advance a key component of their high-school improvement campaign -- making sure students arrive in ninth grade ready for ninth-grade work.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools will receive an estimated $43 million in stimulus money over the next two school years, and Superintendent Mark Roosevelt said he'll seek the school board's approval to use much of the money for programs to boost middle-grade literacy.

Mr. Roosevelt said he will present the plan to the board April 14.

He said it likely would have two components, "interventions" during the regular school day and a summer program blending academics and extracurricular activities. The goal is to target students scoring basic or below basic on the reading portion of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.

Last year, 45.8 percent of the district's sixth-graders scored proficient or advanced in reading, and 55 percent of seventh-graders and 66.6 percent of eighth-graders did so. The state target was 63 percent proficient or advanced in each grade.

In sixth and seventh grades last year, the district's math scores were better than its reading scores.

Mr. Roosevelt said schools could design individual interventions for struggling students during the school year. He said the district would try to lure students to summer programs by blending class work with activities ranging from chess to sports to theater.

"I think, in the summer, kids are entitled to some fun," Mr. Roosevelt said. Some extracurricular activities may be directly related to literacy, he said, while others may send the general message that "hard work overcomes obstacles."

The plan drew support from Keith Kondrich, executive director of Beginning with Books Center for Early Literacy in East Liberty, who said an investment in "literacy at any level is money well spent."

Focusing on children as old as 8, Beginning with Books provides guest readers for two city schools and coordinates "Raising Readers" clubs for parents, among other initiatives. Mr. Kondrich said he was not aware of community programs that focused on middle-grade literacy.

Mr. Roosevelt said he might ask nonprofit groups for proposals to run summer activities.

Because of the planning involved, the summer component may not start until 2010. When stimulus money expires, Mr. Roosevelt said, the district might apply for a federal grant to continue the program.

The district has a 35 percent dropout rate, and officials fear some students quit high school because they start ninth grade behind and never catch up. Enhanced student counseling and the district's move to schools configured for grades 6 through 12 are two of a handful of district initiatives designed to help bridge the gap between the middle-grade and high-school years.

Joe Smydo can be reached at or 412-263-1548.

Coach Sherrie says: When are these districts, states, etc. (i.e. the people who set the policy) going to learn that the way to move our students to higher literacy levels is to allow them to choose what they read. With computers and on-line porgrams, students should be able to take a test on any book they choose to read.

Shortage of Teachers Projected

Report Envisions Shortage of Teachers as Retirements Escalate

Over the next four years, more than a third of the nation’s 3.2 million teachers could retire, depriving classrooms of experienced instructors and straining taxpayer-financed retirement systems, according to a new report.

When a Million Teachers Retire The problem is aggravated by high attrition among rookie teachers, with one of every three new teachers leaving the profession within five years, a loss of talent that costs school districts millions in recruiting and training expenses, says the report, by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, a nonprofit research advocacy group.

“The traditional teaching career is collapsing at both ends,” the report says. “Beginners are being driven away” by low pay and frustrating working conditions, and “accomplished veterans who still have much to contribute are being separated from their schools by obsolete retirement systems” that encourage teachers to move from paycheck to pension when they are still in their mid-50s, the report says.

To ease the exodus, the report says, policy makers should restructure schools and modify state retirement policies so that thousands of the best veteran teachers can stay on in the classroom to mentor inexperienced teachers. Reorganizing schools around what the report calls learning teams, a model already in place in some schools in Boston, could ease the strain on pension systems, raise student achievement and help young teachers survive their first, often traumatic years in the classroom, it says.

“In the ’60s we recruited many baby-boom women and men, and the deal we made was, ‘You’ll have a rewarding career and at the end, pension and health benefits,’ ” said Tom Carroll, the commission’s president. “They signed up in large numbers and stayed, and now 53 percent of our teaching work force is getting ready to collect. If all those boomers walk into retirement, our teacher pension systems will be under severe strain, with the same problems as the auto industry.”

This is not the first report to predict widespread teacher shortages unless policy makers took quick action. In 1999, an Education Department study warned that the impending retirement of millions of teachers could lead to chaos, a dire outcome that never materialized.

One economist who spoke out skeptically then was Michael Podgursky, who studies teacher retirement at the University of Missouri. The latest report, too, may overstate the case somewhat, Dr. Podgursky said in an interview. “There’s a bit of hyperbole” in the assertion that the teaching career is “collapsing at both ends,” he said.

The recession may help ease potential teacher shortages because the profession’s relative job security and generous health benefits will probably attract more new college graduates and career-changers than when plenty of good jobs were available.

“Still, the authors make a credible case that the number or teachers who retire will rise in coming years,” Dr. Podgursky said, “and it makes a good deal of sense to develop phased retirement systems that permit retired or semiretired teachers to mentor new teachers.”

Coach Sherrie says: Hang in there new teachers. If you have lost you position, you may get called back sooner than you think.
At least this article recognizes that veteran teachers have a lot to offer. A lot of districts seem to be saying "It's time to go!" when teachers have finally perfected their craft.