Surviving "No Excuses" Teaching: The Emily Kennedy Talmage Experience

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      –In order to boost test scores, science, social studies, and Spanish were removed from the schedule of the low-performing group. Instead, we were required to teach an additional reading and math block during this time.

      –Scholars [the word that has replaced children] in the low-performing group were required to attend after-school-tutoring sessions for more test prep. So, after going to school from 7:30 to 4:30, they needed to stay an extra hour for more test prep – in addition to completing the hour of homework that we are required to give each night. (8 year olds!!) Needless to say, I had many kids falling asleep in class and having frequent stomach aches. Our school director – a TFA grad – thought that if we brought more of the “j-factor” to our classroom (joy factor) that they would be more motivated. To him and other Doug Lemov zealots, this means doing cheers like “Pick of your pencil and YOU WILL BE REWARDED!” in between long independent work sessions. . . .

      –Small-group guided reading (when we were once able to choose books that the kids would really enjoy) was replaced with small-group test-preparation sessions, where teachers were given scripted lessons and packets that mimic the reading comprehension portion of the New York State test.

      –All lessons from February break onward were based on specific skills that our “data analyst” determined for us by looking at results from the mock exams.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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