Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Brain is Full

by Stephanie Abney

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.

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 my daughter 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 (whoever "they" are in this case) 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 (my daughter) 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 an 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: www.disciplinewithoutstress.com ~ 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 ~ http://www.marvinmarshall.com/ ~ I can't stop thinking of his perspective and how much sense it makes in nearly all aspects of life.

~ Enjoy!!! I've got to get to bed. I'm outta' here (I am sorry that it's been too crazy to visit this blog with any regularity or to make very many comments... hopefully, I'll get a routine down soon that will help to calm my life).


Love and Blessings to all,
Stephanie

3 comments:

  1. I was very fortunate to teach classes that involved essay type tests. I would come in and tell the students to take out their pencils and put away their books and give them a test from say NASA. They loved it. And I had fun with it. Just something to change the pace. It was a different time though.

    Testing is never easy. Even in math. Good luck.

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  2. I hate the teaching to the test mentality we have in schools today. It limits the teachers and the kids. I'd love to see kids want to learn just for the sake of learning.

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  3. Thanks for the link, Stephanie! I had a conversation tonight with my children about what it means to truly be a student and how learning how to ask questions is a higher level of thinking.

    good luck finding your routine...You have a great challenge before you! I'm told that once you get through the first year of teaching that it gets much easier that way. You are awesome!

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