Can you come with me please?
We walk down the hallway and step into my office.
I close the door.
Have a seat please....
In June 2014 I officially left my job as a fourth grade teacher, and the classroom, to become an administrator. Since joining the dark side, I continuously ask myself what I could have and should have done differently for my students.
While some of my previous work – such as this post on grading – has focused on how my teaching could have been enhanced, my biggest regret really has nothing to do with actual instruction.
If just once in a month, or even once in a school year, we choose to make a sarcastic comment or cutting remark to a student or staff member, we may as well have carved it in stone. They may pretend to have forgotten that moment, but they will never forget....
During the 22-inch dropping blizzard of 2016, I was cooking, cleaning, tending to my babies, and even spruce up my 'man cave' in the garage. In the midst of cleaning, I found wallpaper. I could not help but to think of all of the horror stories my mother use to share with me about the horrors of wallpaper. She was adamant about doing all of the home decorating, but anytime wallpaper came into play, I ran for the hills. Wallpaper covers up a lot. It can look pretty to the hanger, ugly to the spectator, and even come off as crummy for some who live in the house. Eventually, it does start to peel. What normally happens when it beings to peel? We ignore it. We ignore it until it becomes problematic. Then we try to quick fix it. The same can go for a school.
When I started in a new District a few years ago, I was given very specific marching orders by the Board that the past was in the past and we don't look at the past. I saluted. When I spoke to staff, it was the same story on how much they did not care for their leader; most wanted to move onward and forget the past. It was like placing wallpaper up on an old wall. I made a new website, pumped folks up with positivity, and went full throttle. I even made a new website. Wallpaper on the old wall.
Looking back now, I see a new website, new positivity, and a showing of being "united". Looks great, but truth be told, it's more wallpaper on the old wall. I hope the wallpaper stays, and the new handyman has the ability to patch up holes in the wallpaper when it becomes present. Something very beneficial for the new handyman - the new handyman and the former handymen (plural) talk. A lot. In the meantime, enjoy the new wallpaper. It's very pretty to look at; after a couple weeks, the handyman will start seeing what it was covering up. And then the handyman, with the help of former handymen, will get to work. Stay safe out there.
In the past couple of weeks, the dorkiest subsegments of the twitterverse, the blogosphere, and various other social interwebs have erupted with news of singular they. In December the Washington Post made their own headlines by adding singular they to their style guide. Then last week, the folks at the American Dialect Society went a step further, naming singular they their word of the year. The selection was reported by the Washington Post, The New York Times, TIME, NPR, Slate, The Economist, and of course the Kilgore News Herald.
If you’re saying to yourself, Wait, I coulda sworn the word of the year was , you're not totally crazy. It seems that a number of organizations have recognized that word of the year announcements have the potential to go viral, resulting in a profusion of words of the year. But it's the ADS WOTY that goes back furthest and carries the most clout, and their selection was singular they.
The SNOOTs Protest!
Now it might not surprise you that certain subsubsegments or the dorkiest subsegments of the Internet are none too happy with this decision; singular they has peeved language SNOOTs for pretty much ever in sentences like, I don’t know who is responsible, but they will face the consequences.Prescriptively, if you needed a generic third person singular pronoun, he was your andro-normative go-to, as in When each guest arrives, he should sign in. Everyone’s favorite prescriptivists, Strunk and White, put it thusly: “The use of he as pronoun for nouns embracing both genders is a simple, practical convention rooted in the beginnings of the English language.” Other common options were he or she and s/he but these have a certain clunkiness that kept them from catching on. Those among us who wanted to put in a good faith effort would try to mix in a generic she from time to time....
Public school teachers face a daunting task teaching in the classroom with the pressures from No Child Left Behind and Common Core requirements demanding a lot of their teaching time be taken up with required-by-law curriculum. Teachers must prepare their students for mandatory tests they must pass along with the job of trying to give the students common knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and eventually in the workplace. And because of these contradictory requirements being placed on their classroom and preparatory time, teachers find themselves looking for time-saving shortcuts. One shortcut many teachers are turning to for grading essay papers is a tool being used by many of their peers at the college level – plagiarism software.
With budgets becoming tighter for public and private schools, the pressure is increased for a product to deliver more than is advertised. Plagiarism checker like unplag receives mixed reviews from education professionals because of this added expectation of over-delivery.
The root cause for the criticism stems from teachers expecting a “one size fits all” type of solution for their various classroom issues. Some teachers are expecting the software to detect and correct improper grammar. Others are expecting the software to grade the essay and evaluate if the student has properly covered the assigned topic. Still other teachers want the software to check for spelling. The problem is the software only is designed to detect plagiarism – if the student copied another person’s work without proper citing.
College professors also have similar complaints about plagiarism checkers. Many universities are utilizing the software to combat the surge of cheating taking place in academia and to preserve their school’s reputation. They make the software available to their various teachers since many of the school’s classrooms are too large – a hundred or more students in each class – making it virtually impossible for the professor to grade each student’s work. Once again, the teachers are expecting the software to properly check each paper for grammar, spelling, etc. – requirements the program was not developed to catch.z
Another dilemma many instructors find themselves in is where to focus the small amount of time they do have when grading a student’s academic work – “do I focus on checking for plagiarism or do I spend the time teaching proper research and writing skills?”...