Montana Politics

Education Week: Open Thread to Discuss Schools

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The last time we had an education week at the site was during the last legislative session, and it seems appropriate to revisit the issue now, given funding concerns in the state, and Rob Natelson’s call for $29,000 investments per student. 🙂

I’d like to leave this thread at the top of the page this week for discussion about the state of education in America and Montana. What are schools doing well? What ideas need to be retired? What should a successful school look like? What should a high school graduate know?

I have a relatively simple philosophy about education: dialogue and diligent effort. Perhaps we can accomplish at least one of those here.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

46 Comments

  • Steve T. calls for more classroom time for potential teachers over in the comments on Rob’s post. I’ve wondered about that myself — whether pairing an education student for 3 years with a single teacher for a single class may be a good way of teaching someone that this job really is not about thinking through cutting edge content, but of interfacing with students. The more I think about it, the more being a teacher has in common with being a really good manager in a high-turnover industry. You get a new crop every year, do your best to make an impact and teach, give individual attention where needed, and say, “See ya later.” Seeing that in action while getting classroom time to hash out the idea behind that could be very useful, I’d wager.

  • I definitely agree. I would suggest both adding more classroom time in an internship approach while in college and more evaluative time with a mentor teacher during the first few years of teaching.

    I took an unusual path to education: completed an English degree, went to law school for two days, had a crisis of identity, and went back to get an education degree. While I have never regretted the decision to become a teacher, I did regret the experience of learning to become one. Other than student teaching, it felt a lot like wasted time, because I wasn’t directly working with students, to find out what works, or if I was capable of teaching.

    Some of my best experiences came my first year of teaching, when I had great evaluators watching me teach. The gave immediate feedback about issues I never would have considered. We definitely need to move past the model of hiring a teacher and hoping that he/she will do a good job behind the closed door of the classroom.

  • “I did regret the experience of learning to become one.”

    I wanted to be a teacher too but those ed school courses…ugh. Something’s got to change.

  • Yeah, it’s definitely an intriguing article. I had a great discussion with some students about it over Christmas break.

    Both the idea that spotting talent in teaching is challenging and the idea that teachers should have long term evaluation and development make a lot of sense.

  • What the hell, kids learn REGARDLESS of what happens in the classroom! PERIOD! All this talk about education reform is so much bullshit. Teachers know how to teach. I’m old. I had great teachers. They didn’t have all the fancy computers and high tech bullshit, but we learned! And we learned well. (I went to Catholic schools too for primary grades. No high tech crap there, just the higher authority teach nuns and their rulers! Worked like a charm. If we continually fiddle with education, there won’t be anything left. All who endlessly whine about improving education are simply falling for the rightwing tactic of undermining education. I would wager that I have taught in more Montana schools than anyone posting here, and I have YET to see a bad one. Give it a rest, and allow teachers to teach.

    Every NEW teacher thinks that they are the ONE, the one with the special talents to reach kids. After a while, though, they finally realize that they’re just like all other teachers. Just good teachers.

  • Just do the research, Larry. There are excellent studies that show that the difference between a highly effective teacher and an ineffective teacher is worth more than a grade level of difference for a student. Just imagine the difference for a student in three highly effective classrooms in the elementary years.

    I can’t accept that ‘whining’ about education undermines it. Talking about how to improve it is, imagine this, a way to make it better.

    How do you imagine that every teacher is good? Do you attribute superhuman abilities to administrators who make hiring decisions? That schools of education are the infallible and unparalleled in their ability to prepare students?

    Get real.

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  • Hi!

    What do you now about Facebook Timeline ?
    The Facebook Timeline, so far an opt-in service, will in the coming weeks become mandatory for all Facebook users.

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    But don’t worry – before the Timeline goes live for everyone, you have the chance to clean it up. However, once it is switched on you only have seven days for the clean-up which might turn into an issue for the irregular Facebook user. But hey – God had seven days to create the world – surely seven days will be enough for you to clean up your petty little Timeline. And if you see the need to be proactive due to your elaborate and sometimes outraging Facebook activities in the past, you can activate the Timeline today by clicking on the ‘http://www.facebook.com/about/timeline – About Timeline’ page. But once you click on “Get Timeline” there is no way back!

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