TTT #287 Losing fear with Steve Hargadon, Anne Simonen, Maribeth Whitehouse, Delia Downing, Chad Sansing, MaryBeth Hertz 3.7.12

Post-Show description: 

On this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers Paul Allison and Monika Hardy host a convteachers287textpicersation framed by +Steve Hargadon's search for a new narrative to support educational change. We are joined by teachers who are actively protesting the disrespect and indignity they have recently been subjected to in New York City and in British Columbia.

One of our guests, +Maribeth Whitehouse was recently quoted in an article by Michael Winerip in The New York Times:

It’s not just the low scorers who are offended. Maribeth Whitehouse, a special education teacher in the Bronx, wrote me in an e-mail: “I am a 99th percentiler. A number of us are in touch with each other, united by nothing more than our profession and professional disdain for this nonsense.” She is circulating a letter of protest for others on the 99th percentile to sign.

Maribeth Whitehouse joins us on this episode of +Teachers Teaching Teachers as we work toward defining a narrative of respect and dignity for teachers and students alike. And here's a link to her letter.

Steve Hargdadon's perspectives were recently detailed in a thought-provoking post on his blog that ends:

Those of us who really care about teaching and learning as ways of helping to liberate the passion and independence of learners are going to have to both recognize--and figure out how to avoid--the hidden compliance agendas of the big money being doled out. And also how to make sure we're building the kind of appreciative support networks that will help the Rudy's [a teacher in the Bronx] of the world.

In addition teacher +Delia Downing and a student (Delia’s daughter) +Anne Simonen join us on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers. They were fresh from a protest against their government's educational policies. They provide details about their fight for dignity and respect in British Columbia.

And that's not all. We are also joined by the powerful, teacher-activists Chad Sansing and MaryBeth Hertz.

This is an important conversation, and we invite you to join us by commenting below. We'd love to hear your stories of letting go of the fear and of finding spaces of dignity and respect both for you and your colleagues and for your students.

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

09:19 Paul Allison: Some things I've been thinking about recently... and will probably come up in tonight's TTT:
09:19 Paul Allison:
09:19 Paul Allison:
09:19 Paul Allison:
09:19 Paul Allison:
09:20 Paul Allison: The people we'll be talking to tonight:
09:20 Paul Allison:
09:22 Paul Allison:
09:22 Paul Allison: Getting ready!
09:32 guest-3429: Hi
09:53 guest-2601: Hello. Running a bit late here.
09:55 guest-3435: Good evening, all :)
09:55 guest-3437: Hi!
09:56 guest-2601: Can't hear anything on the LiveStream Paul
09:57 guest-3435: Steve, sorry not to connect at DML; would have loved to talk; my apologies!
09:57 guest-3436: Jealous of you all who were able to make it to DML!
09:59 guest-3435: In case folks haven't heard, congrats to NWP on winning $11.3 million from a fed SEED grant!
09:59 guest-3436: WOW!
09:59 guest-3430: that is wonderful, Chad.
10:00 guest-3435: Really. Very heartening; fed still on the hook for the rest of the 2011 cut -
10:00 guest-3435: IMHO.
10:00 guest-2601: I like the sound of that narrative
10:01 guest-2601: Yea SEED grant! Yea NWP!
10:02 guest-3430: I don't get the sense that the country is ready to have one conversation about education... I see that as an issue to address.
10:04 guest-3435: I agree, Diana; it's also difficult for us to have several conversations at once. One paradox of public education.
10:04 guest-3437: Diana--then, for me, the question is do we need a "civil-rights" like movement?
10:04 guest-3437: Or do we live as the "secondary narrative"
10:04 guest-2601: The news out of Utah today. No sex education taught in schools. I can't help but get the sense that there's a mistrust of teachers. Here's the story:
10:05 guest-3437: These are very "vertical" measures/
10:05 guest-3440: That value add approach sounds a whole lot like speculation in the stock market. SO of course we should do it. Plus, secrets are even better!
10:05 guest-2601: Telling quote: ""To replace the parent in the school setting, among people who we have no idea what their morals are, we have no ideas what their values are, yet we turn our children over to them to instruct them in the most sensitive sexual activities in their lives, I think is wrongheaded," Republican state Sen. Stuart Reid said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune."
10:05 guest-3437: Which are by definition not very good at showing the real story.
10:05 guest-3430: The problem with making it like civil rights is that there isn't a national narrative about education... that we really have much a history of...
10:05 guest-2601: Sorry for the digression, but it seems to be part of one of the narratives of school
10:06 guest-3439: Hello all - just here to listen/observe!
10:06 guest-3437: Like Civil Rights, it would have to be a case of having a compelling story to make a hard change.
10:06 guest-3435: Steve, Diana, Chris - all of this is mixing in my head with DML and the story of the teachers and students in schools and communities without robust community-learning spaces outside schools.
10:06 guest-2601: Say more Chad
10:07 guest-3435: There's emerging attention to a long-running narrative of punishment and prison for students.
10:07 guest-3437: Seth Godin's Stop Stealing Dreams is a pretty intellectual narrative--might convert the choir, but I think we'd need something more broad-based.
10:07 guest-3435: Chris, I wonder about a future in which learning happens city- or community-wide an d about the role of schools in such a place. What if some teachers stay with some students in schools to deliver hospice until we no longer "need
10:07 guest-3435: "
10:07 guest-3442: The whole standards movement and testing frenzy has brought in this level of competition with education, that undermines the ability to get behind a narrative.
10:08 guest-3435: ..."need" schools. What happens to those teachers and students then?
10:08 guest-3435: I can imagine great things and really depressing things.
10:08 guest-3442: Communities are poised in competition with each other, rather than looking for all to rise up, that seems to be something to overcome with the narrative idea
10:08 guest-3437: NY: No huge surprise. That's the way we treat students, so why wouldn't we treat teachers that way?
10:09 guest-3442: @chad just making more of a have's and have not's kind of education world, yes?
10:10 guest-2601: Nice work Mary Beth
10:10 guest-3437: Clapping.
10:11 guest-2601: 10% is pretty significant though.
10:11 guest-3442: @marybeth why do you think they are not signing?
10:11 guest-3440: Exactly what job, anywhere, evaluates anyone based on a single test or evaluation? I mean how many times can you take the Bar or whatever?
10:12 guest-3435: Yes, Diana, but also a kind of Rip Van Winkle scenario in which people who have made it possible to leave schools behind gracefully are left without a place. Probably somewhat inevitable, but I wonder how successful learning communities will treat teachers. I'm not a fan of schools for the sake of schools, but I don't find the DML rhetoric about schools any more comforting than pop media mistrust of educators.
10:12 guest-3437: This feels very much like the opportunity for a parallel narrative with how we think about student achievement. How do the rest of you feel?
10:12 guest-2601: Any time we do a faculty survey, even for something like a Christmas party, we only get about 10% response
10:12 guest-3437: Measures of achievement that are shallow, often inaccurate, and harmful.
10:13 guest-3437: My daughter stresses big time about every grade she gets, for classes that are all about memorization and not real learning.
10:13 guest-2601: The topic of assessing in the new media landscape seems to be popping up in all the forums I participate in.
10:14 guest-3442: @steve yup. breaking kids of the grade chase is tough.
10:14 guest-3437: Since I'm not getting a response to this line of thinking, and am not a teacher, does that mean you don't agree on the parallel with students?
10:14 guest-2601: Not sure I'm getting your complete drift Steve
10:15 guest-3437: I think the statistic release in NY is very much like the grading system in schools.
10:15 guest-3442: @steve I don't get a sense that much of the population thinks deeply about education or learning.
10:15 guest-3440: WHat is even more ironic about the situation in Canada is that they routinely score higher in all of the NAEP type tests then the US even. SO of course they should follow us/US in policy.
10:15 guest-3437: Is that not a parallel problem?
10:15 guest-3437: Raising my hand.
10:15 guest-3434: A myriad of reasons for not signing: 1) people don't check there DOE email; 2) people don't respond to emails from strangers they just delete them. 3) they're scared 4) they benefit from the data so why disparage it
10:16 guest-2601: Yes please talk about that in the hangout STeve
10:16 guest-3442: @steve absolutely. I literally sit and think about how one would try to get traction with these ideas.
10:16 guest-3437: Do the NY teachers see the parallel?
10:16 guest-3435: Steve, yes, assessment is broken and dangerous as it is, and seemed to be under a weird remix at DML. Nishant's Ignite talk summed it up for me; don't make a sacred remix in the same genre.
10:17 guest-3437: I see the seeds here for a narrative around the shallowness of the measures we are using, seeing students and teachers as "defective" or "inadequate."
10:17 guest-3437: But I don't hear this group headed toward that joint narrative...
10:18 guest-3437: A good business would never blame quality on the front-line workers.
10:18 guest-3437: They would recognize a training/culture problem.
10:19 guest-3442: @steve so here's the rub for me... education is being sold and privatized at a very alarming rate. that story gets no traction nationally, so it continues to be sold off. This business model drives learning to a dangerously standardized stifling place... but to get the story to have traction... you need people to better understand teaching and learning.
10:19 guest-3437: So, my (hard) question for this group is, do teachers see the parallel here.
10:19 guest-3437: ?
10:20 guest-3442: @steve the parallel as a civil rights issue?
10:20 guest-3437: That's not doing report cards as a protest, instead of a moral stance against report cards.
10:20 guest-3435: I do, Steve. Does the profession? Maybe rhetorically, but not practically or universally.
10:20 guest-3437: I'm not hearing it even from this group... am I misreading it?
10:21 guest-3435: VAM and striking seem to me to be labor issues, which occupy a lot of process cycles.
10:22 guest-3435: We do narratives and standards-reporting; no more grades.
10:22 guest-3442: I don't think that the NYC teachers are most upset that the scores exist ... its that they are being used publicly to shame.
10:23 guest-3435: I continue to be struck by the frequency and density of calls on the Coöp for dignified, relevant education for all in all places.
10:24 guest-3440: I am not sure that people don't see it, but I think many feel a little powerless to fight it. At least, it is very difficult to organize. Then of course, when organization happens, say via a union, a demonization process starts to get more traction than the original story .
10:24 guest-3435: I have to say, Godin completely non-plussed me. See comments here:
10:24 guest-3437: We did a session on Godin's book tonight on
10:25 guest-3437: Some agreement, some disagreement, but glad to be having the conversation.
10:25 guest-3430: I don't think most teachers would say that the tests are completely useless, but they are not the full measure of the teacher or the student.
10:26 guest-3430: I don't think that people (in general) disagree with accountability.
10:26 guest-3430: I just don't think they understand the complexity of what assessing that thing entails.
10:26 guest-3440: One issue is that a lot of this narrative is nuanced and complicated and doesn't really make for as strong of soundbites as the attacks.
10:26 guest-3437: We also have comparable research showing a lack of correlation between life success and SAT scores.
10:27 guest-3435: How 'bout this: we don't need assessment that isn't tacit and necessary to the task at hand if the task at hand is excellent to both us and students.
10:27 guest-3436: I think that there is a varied understanding of what 'accountability' means
10:27 guest-3430: @mb right.
10:28 guest-3436: Christie prides himself on being a bully....
10:28 guest-3435: Why not assess by iteration: go 'til it works or is proven not to? What "works" means should be contextual and negotiated with students project-by-project through community, mentor texts, and mentoring.
10:28 guest-3437: So how do you feel about students refusing to take the same kind of bullying tests in school?
10:28 guest-3430: @chad ... sure, but how do you get the community at large to buy into that
10:29 guest-3440: @Steve - that would be a fascinating development, now wouldn't it?
10:29 guest-3436: I am torn on opting out of the Test. If kids in schools that depend heavily on Fed $ opt out, it only hurts the students themselves IMHO
10:29 guest-3437: Finland only has one national assessment test, given at the end of secondary school.
10:29 guest-3437: All the other assessment is embedded and local.
10:29 guest-3435: Work with students in that way for an entire career, work with likeminded people, and count on your kids to carry home the message and worth of their work to their parents and their children.
10:29 guest-3437: MBH--that feels like the rub... are they not the same thing?
10:30 guest-3436: @chad looking forward to checking out your co-op piece
10:30 guest-3430: imo, Finland is a bad place to compare to the US for a host of reasons. I think there are some meaningful comparisons... but not all make sense for the US
10:30 guest-3436: @steve not sure what you mean
10:30 guest-3437: MBH: I don't think you can take a moral stance for teachers but a pragmatic stance for students.
10:30 guest-3440: The more I learn about how things are done in Finland the more I see the US doing the exact opposite and thinking it will be somehow more successful.
10:31 guest-3437: Clapping
10:31 guest-3436: @diana I agree re: Finland.
10:31 guest-3435: Thanks, MBH.
10:31 guest-3435: Team city-as-learning and team-hospice?
10:31 guest-3440: FInland might not be the best example for the US, but there is no reason why we can't learn from what they do well.
10:32 guest-3437: There's a lot to learn from Finland--but for me, the key take away was a consensus narrative that allowed for change.
10:32 guest-3437: And a compassionate narrative.
10:33 guest-3440: THe takeaway for me about FInland is the premium being placed on equity
10:33 guest-3440: And equity does not necessarily mean the same
10:33 guest-3437: We don't do "equity" as a US narrative, but we do believe in the inherent worth of every individual.
10:34 guest-3430: Finland - national education / US - state based... this is a big difference in crafting a single narrative
10:34 guest-3435: I think the only way to recapture public imagination for the good of public schools is to make the labor narrative one of working conditions for kids. Teachers as witness to how the system damages kids, which means betraying the structures we teachers have tacitly supported.
10:34 guest-3437: Seth's point of not abandoning kids in bad situations is valuable, but doesn't allow for those parents who care.
10:34 guest-3435: What happens to teachers isn't of as much concern as what happens to kids.
10:35 guest-3437: Chad: that would require teachers being willing to see the damage...
10:35 guest-3435: Steve, may I recommend _Wounded by School_ by Kirsten Olson; wish every teacher would read it.
10:35 guest-3436: @Steve I think there needs to be choice. If you're not happy, go ahead, take your kid out of school!
10:36 guest-3430: @steve for some, equity = wealth redistribution
10:36 guest-3437: Learning
10:37 guest-3440: @Mary Beth Hertz - That choice already exists. You just need $. That is the Americ an way
10:37 guest-3437: @Diana: Seth was a little condescending to homeschoolers.
10:37 guest-3437: I would guess most teachers feel the same way.
10:40 guest-3437: My kids have gone to good schools, but in reality they haven't been treated as respectfully as I would want them to.
10:40 guest-3435: I'm with you there, Steve.
10:40 guest-3434: How were your children disrespected, Steve?
10:41 guest-3437: Maribeth: in lots of ways, worthy of another conversation. Some galling, others more subtle.
10:41 guest-3437: Like, grades without explanation, without helping to learn afterwards.
10:42 guest-2601: I've been doing more listening lately in the chat, but one thing that I'm going to do is to ask my students how they feel about my grades, and their feelings on their assessment at our school in general
10:42 guest-2601: Should make for an interesting conversation
10:42 guest-3437: Granted, busy teachers under lots of pressure, but not about the learning and all about the memorizing and assessment.
10:43 guest-3437: I would say that I think they are part of the same larger story.
10:43 guest-3435: Are there other kinds of schools, MB? ;)
10:44 guest-3437: Love Roland Barth. He talks a lot about this.
10:44 guest-3435: So...when the teacher's creativity runs out or isn't valued, why not crowd-source to the kids? Why not find the kids' curriculum, as messy as it could be?
10:45 guest-3437: I think the end result here is a radical shift in thinking about learning, and this may be as hard for teachers to see/get/understand as anyone.
10:45 guest-3435: Is kids' learning professional? Why be "professional" when the profession's norms are not?
10:45 guest-3437: NY seemed to me to be an opportunity to see the common story.
10:46 guest-3436: @chad I hope so!
10:46 guest-3436: @chad---that there are other schools!
10:46 guest-3435: @MBH, I gotcha.
10:47 guest-3435: I worry that school's deep connection to adult work and the judgment thereof will continue to keep them from being nimble enough to win back our country's dreams.
10:47 guest-3436: Many people say that teacher working conditions are student learning conditions
10:48 guest-3435: ...and my battery is dying; it's been a great listening experience! Thank you!
10:48 guest-3435: @MBH, that's not true. I could teach in a shiny lab and teach poorly.
10:48 guest-3435: Or a shabby room and teach well.
10:49 guest-3435: Or in a fishpond about cattle.
10:49 guest-3436: @chad depends on your definition of 'conditions'---they can be emotional, too :)
10:49 guest-3435: Yeah, but then you get into where those emotional conditions come from - internal or external loci of control? We'll continue later; computer about to go!
10:50 guest-3436: @chad OK Have a great night!
10:51 guest-3436: It's pretty common understanding that evaluations need to be made transparent, so I'm sorry your daughter had that experience, Steve :(
10:52 guest-3437: MBH: it's not just that one experience. It represents the somewhat regular practice in most schools.
10:53 guest-3437: MBH: I've got MUCH worse stories! :)
10:53 guest-3436: I guess what I think is a common understanding isn't so.....I do live in a bubble sometimes :)
10:53 guest-3437: As I would guess most parents do when they are told their child is "defective."
10:53 guest-3437: Thanks for letting me be bold!
10:56 guest-3437: Clapping
10:56 guest-3436: Love your kitty, Maribeth!
10:56 guest-3437: Thanks, Jeff and Dave!
10:57 guest-3434: I saw your pup too!
10:57 guest-3437: :)
10:57 guest-3437: Bye, all!
10:57 guest-3437: Next time I'm going to do the pillow thing!
10:57 guest-3436: The pillow thing rules :)