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Old 10-04-2013, 11:31 AM   #461
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followed three U.S. exchange students into classrooms in Finland, South Korea, and Poland, some of the top education systems in the world.
South Korea one of the top education systems in the world? How on earth did they come up with that?

I had a casual meeting with the Principal of a new international school near where I've been living for the past year. The school has only been open this year. I was supposed to go and visit the school this week but didn't so really must make an effort next week.

I think the Principal likes me.
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Old 10-04-2013, 01:59 PM   #462
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South Korea one of the top education systems in the world? How on earth did they come up with that?

I had a casual meeting with the Principal of a new international school near where I've been living for the past year. The school has only been open this year. I was supposed to go and visit the school this week but didn't so really must make an effort next week.

I think the Principal likes me.
Best Education In The World: Finland, South Korea Top Country Rankings, U.S. Rated Average

The United States places 17th in the developed world for education, according to a global report by education firm Pearson.

Finland and South Korea, not surprisingly, top the list of 40 developed countries with the best education systems. Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore follow. The rankings are calculated based on various measures, including international test scores, graduation rates between 2006 and 2010, and the prevalence of higher education seekers. (See the list of top 20 countries in the slideshow below)

Pearson's chief education adviser Sir Michael Barber tells BBC that the high ranking countries tend to offer teachers higher status in society and have a "culture" of education.

The study notes that while funding is an important factor in strong education systems, cultures supportive of learning is even more critical -- as evidenced by the highly ranked Asian countries, where education is highly valued and parents have grand expectation. While Finland and South Korea differ greatly in methods of teaching and learning, they hold the top spots because of a shared social belief in the importance of education and its "underlying moral purpose."

The study aims to help policymakers and school leaders identify key factors that lead to successful educational outcomes. The research draws on literacy data as well as figures in government spending on education, school entrance age, teacher salaries and degree of school choice. Researchers also measured socioeconomic outcomes like national unemployment rates, GDP, life expectancy and prison population.

The report also notes the importance of high-quality teachers and improving strong educator recruitment. The rankings show, however, that there is no clear correlation between higher pay and better performance. The bottom line findings:

There are no magic bullets: The small number of correlations found in the study shows the poverty of simplistic solutions. Throwing money at education by itself rarely produces results, and individual changes to education systems, however sensible, rarely do much on their own. Education requires long-term, coherent and focussed system-wide attention to achieve improvement.


Respect teachers: Good teachers are essential to high-quality education. Finding and retaining them is not necessarily a question of high pay. Instead, teachers need to be treated as the valuable professionals they are, not as technicians in a huge, educational machine.

Culture can be changed: The cultural assumptions and values surrounding an education system do more to support or undermine it than the system can do on its own. Using the positive elements of this culture and, where necessary, seeking to change the negative ones, are important to promoting successful outcomes.

Parents are neither impediments to nor saviours of education: Parents want their children to have a good education; pressure from them for change should not be seen as a sign of hostility but as an indication of something possibly amiss in provision. On the other hand, parental input and choice do not constitute a panacea. Education systems should strive to keep parents informed and work with them.

Educate for the future, not just the present: Many of today's job titles, and the skills needed to fill them, simply did not exist 20 years ago. Education systems need to consider what skills today's students will need in future and teach accordingly.

To be sure, South Korea's top spot doesn't come without a price. Stories of families divided in the name of education are all too common, to the extent that the phenomenon has bequeathes those families with a title of their own -- kirogi kajok, or goose families, because they must migrate to reunite.

But America's average ranking doesn't come as a surprise. A report recently published by Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance found that students in Latvia, Chile and Brazil are making gains in academics three times faster than American students, while those in Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia and Lithuania are improving at twice the rate. Researchers estimate that gains made by students in those 11 countries equate to about two years of learning.

What gains U.S. students posted in recent years are "hardly remarkable by world standards," according to the report. Although the U.S. is not one of the nine countries that lost academic ground for the 14-year period between 1995 and 2009, more countries were improving at a rate significantly faster than that of the U.S. Researchers looked at data for 49 countries.

The study's findings echo years of rankings that show foreign students outpacing their American peers academically. Students in Shanghai who recently took international exams for the first time outscored every other school system in the world. In the same test, American students ranked 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading.

A 2009 study found that U.S. students ranked 25th among 34 countries in math and science, behind nations like China, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Finland. Figures like these have groups like StudentsFirst, headed by former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, concerned and calling for reforms to "our education system [that] can't compete with the rest of the world."

Just 6 percent of U.S. students performed at the advanced level on an international exam administered in 56 countries in 2006. That proportion is lower than those achieved by students in 30 other countries. American students' low performance and slow progress in math could also threaten the country's economic growth, experts have said.


---------------
Center on International Education Benchmarking:
Learn about the world’s best performing education systems and what sets them apart.

------------
Globe and Mail:
Seven characteristics of great education systems

As children return to the classroom, this is a good time to consider what makes a great school system.

In her recent book The Smartest Kids in the World, the American journalist Amanda Ripley delves into the highly reputed education systems in countries such as Finland, South Korea and Poland, and surveys the latest literature on why kids learn or don’t.

The book contains many fascinating revelations and a number of prescriptions that can be boiled down to seven key lessons for educators, parents and students.

Mathematics is vital. Math is even more important than we knew. Math skills correlate highly with future income, and with academic success, research shows. Most academic superpowers forbid elementary and high school students from using calculators. They also tend to offer a far more challenging curriculum than schools in North America. The best education systems in the world focus tightly on key concepts, teach them in depth at an early age, and ensure that students master the basics from which to build.

Teachers should be highly prized. It should be difficult to become a teacher, and the job should be socially prestigious. In Finland, admission to an education program is as demanding as medical school; graduates must earn a master’s degree and conduct original research to obtain it. Students, parents and bureaucrats respect teachers, because they know how hard it is to become one.

Classroom technology is a waste of money. There’s no indication that fancy pedagogical doodads such as electronic whiteboards and tablets have a tangible effect on student performance. Rather, the systems that spend their money on teachers and curriculum development tend to do better.

School should be about school. Rigour is key, and the standards must be high. The best systems take learning extremely seriously, an attitude that is reflected in the broader society. In Finland, there are few extracurricular activities; if children play sports, they do it on their own time. In Poland, students wear their best suits and dresses to their annual exams. In Korea, police issue tickets to drivers who honk outside test centres and kids spend their evenings in private study facilities. Top countries also make it clear to students that learning can sometimes be hard, and includes drudgery.

Extra help is widely available. There’s a recognition that students often need specialized assistance. Roughly half of all Finnish students receive some level of remedial or special education by the time they turn 17, whether it’s extra attention from teachers or a specialized curriculum aimed at improving language, reading or math skills or overcoming learning difficulties, which are treated as temporary. The extra help is almost always provided in-school, and generally takes up only a portion of the day.

Critical thinking is emphasized. That means essay questions rather than multiple-choice exams, explanations rather than straight answers, and students working collaboratively on problem solving.

No system is perfect. There are union squabbles, dissatisfied parents, policy shortcomings and rampant inefficiencies in even the highest-performing education systems.

Canadian parents should be reassured that Canada’s education system is actually quite good by international standards, and performs at a much higher level than that of the U.S.

But there’s always room for improvement.
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:31 PM   #463
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I heard Amanda Ripley talk about the book on NPR, and she said no one would recommend how South Korea does it, including South Korea, but they have had results. So she looked at them.
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Old 10-14-2013, 05:56 PM   #464
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Just doing a check in ...... We've finished a few weeks of crazy scheduling which included seven days off BUT also included one day weekends! I just don't get rested enough with only one day off. I'm looking forward to a regular two day weekend at the end of this week. Also, many students here are sick - the 'flu or colds. I feel my nose is a bit drippy today!

BUT, Halloween is coming up and is definitely celebrated in my little community and at school ..... something to look forward to!

Hope everyone is having a great start to your week!

Deb
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Old 11-11-2013, 05:03 PM   #465
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a questions for our wonderful educators New York state has adopted the common core curriculum. Many may elementary school children are struggling with it especially in the math. homework every night and it is hard, my daughter is doing well very well but she always excelled but even she is frustrated and worried about her friends who are having a hard time. We also just got the test scores for the start of the year and she was very high in math and also in the english language arts but rated as meets standards this child who in the 4th grade reads at a 10th grade level and is currently on the second book of the hunger games. many parents are up in arms about this new common core kids not wanting or having stress over homework and kids hating school so what are your thoughts


Hi Bard, I've been teaching in NYC for over 16 yrs and believe I have seen it all! lol To me, this is just another 'new' thing. I will survive! I don't mean to sound jaded, but this has been the cycle of education since the 1950s. I am a good teacher; I know, my students know, and my administrators know I'm a good teacher. So, I just bear with every new fad that comes along. In a nutshell, here's the dish in NYC
http://www.uft.org/news/comedy-error...table-material

On another note, has anyone seen The American Teacher? AMERICAN TEACHER: Official Trailer - YouTube It is on Netflix and Hulu. I thought it was amazing. I wonder what other educators think.
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Old 12-16-2013, 08:06 AM   #466
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The countdown begins ... I started my new job the beginning of December at a new international school. I'm working on schemes of work ... well, sort of.

On the other hand, teaching art, music and pe on top of the core subjects should be a scream. I can't even draw half decent stick figures! From 6th January I shall be tormenting poor unsuspecting 5-6 year olds for the year.
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Old 12-16-2013, 11:54 AM   #467
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On another note, has anyone seen The American Teacher? AMERICAN TEACHER: Official Trailer - YouTube It is on Netflix and Hulu. I thought it was amazing. I wonder what other educators think.
I'm not an educator, o222Good, but I liked reading your post this morning. By coincidence, I happened to learn about a documentary that was playing at an independent house of films, just last week, called: At Berkeley (Frederick Wiseman). Here's an excerpt from a recent article about Wiseman's documentary on particular aspects about Berkeley:
"Frederick Wiseman’s new documentary, “At Berkeley,” isn’t the movie for anyone who still has nightmares (as I do) about college classes missed and exams unprepared for. The movie centers on the University of California at Berkeley during an ongoing state of economic siege resulting from a decrease in state-government funding. The film, like most of Wiseman’s films, is about the life of an institution: the rules, principles, and ideas that constitute an institution, and their connection to the lives of people who realize it, manage it, and depend on it. “At Berkeley” is also an uninhibited love poem to the idea of the university—or, rather, to a particular side of university life. Wiseman’s portraiture is analytical, but his analyses are oriented and organized by a governing principle: in this case, the way that universities foster dissent and protest and, in the process, defang that dissent and protest," ~ Richard Brody, The Paradox of a Great University, in The New Yorker - November 15th, 2013 (Link to article).
Thanks for sharing about The American Teacher (will share about your film with my small circle of friends, here at home).
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:32 PM   #468
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End of semester grades turn me into him every year --
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Old 12-19-2013, 08:36 AM   #469
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In less than 24 hours I will be off for 12 glorious days of no tattle-tales, no tear drying, no nose wiping, no solving disagreements with words rather than fists. It will be a blessed silence.

I will also not experience the lit up face of a child who is able to tell me they have a new puppy, or baby sister, or pair of go-go boots, in words that I can understand. I will not receive my daily hugs from children who frequently tell me 'Miss Deb, I love you my teacher English and I no love my teacher Chinese. Chinese time not very many funs.' (you get the drift!) I will not give out any stickers or stars. I will not make any 'happy phone calls' to the parents of students who earn 10 stickers.

I will have 12 days of personal reflection; time to re-energize; time to take care of me.

I will miss the voices of tattle-tales, the drying of tears, the wiping of noses, the solving of disagreements.

I my profession.

Happy Holidays to each of you - here's hoping you're able to have some 'me' time and able to re-energize during your break!

Deb

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Old 12-20-2013, 06:56 AM   #470
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:48 AM   #471
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Default They're bbbaaaacccckkkkkkkkk!

And, they're already raising my blood pressure! lolol While I had 10 days off, the students only had three days off - they were with their Chinese teachers during my usual class times. They were extremely excited to see me, however, the enthusiasm of 30 six and seven year olds can be overwhelming at times. lolol

As is typical, buildings here are unheated so we generally wear layers of clothing in the classroom. I was starting to warm up and took off my sweater and then my scarf.

I discovered that I put my t-shirt on backwards!

Not the most auspicious start to the new year! lolol

Hope everyone's first day of the year goes well!


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Old 01-14-2014, 11:04 PM   #472
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In two more sleeps I'm off school until February 17th! Happy Chinese New Year! This week, I only have students on Friday ....... a day that will be spent celebrating the end of the term! Yup, a party in the morning and a party in the afternoon ...... two groups of 30 or so Grade 1 students colouring, eating, cleaning up, and watching a movie.

Right now, I'm prepping for the first month back after the break. Ahhhhh, the reward of wrangling two groups of 30 kids for five months - a week of clean-up and prep followed by a month off!

And, now, to indulge in my favourite non-teaching activity:


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Old 04-13-2014, 12:03 AM   #473
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It's break, and I need it. I have been running so hard that I don't know how to stop. Seven weeks after we come back from break, it will be summer vacation. But it will be a long, hard seven weeks. I have quite a few IEPs left to do. And it's time to make sure all the seniors have everything done in order to graduate (very stressful). And there's paperwork, reams and reams of paperwork, due at the end of the year. My mother was an elementary school teacher, a Reading Specialist, and she tells me what they had to go through at the end of the year in the pre-computer days. I guess I should be grateful. But there is one spreadsheet I haven't kept up, and thinking about doing that . . . well, it makes me nauseated. And then there are the grades.

All hell has broken loose on the HR side at work. My Assistant Principal was fired (unfairly). The Director of Special Education was also fired (she deserved it). That happened a while ago, but they told her she could stay till June. I guess they changed their minds because they walked her and her personal belongings out the door last Tuesday. There's only one person at the manager level over there (normally there are two). There are not enough Program Specialists (the third level down and the folks we deal with the most). One gave them two days notice and moved to another state. Another went out on medical leave, and I think they were down one to start with. So no one picks up the phone or answers emails. I had one Program Specialist come over for an IEP (in and of itself a miracle), but she was a nervous wreck. She was so out of it that she didn't seem to understand what was going on. Stress, I am sure.

In my instructional unit (a weird conglomeration of alt ed sites), most of the teachers are unhappy with our Principal (in part for firing the Assistant Principal, but also for other -- good -- reasons.) We had a secret meeting with the union president to try to figure out what can be done. I am ordinarily a rabble-rouser, but I had nothing to do with organizing this although I attended and cheered them on.

Admin and Special Ed moved a much-liked colleague -- who was a big part of my daily life at work -- to another site and gave me her caseload, which made me both sad and overworked. She still stops by and visits (bless her).

The students seem to be having more problems right now too. Just coincidence, I guess. Except for the four who are stressed about graduating, the causes are completely different.

On the home front, the maintenance required light went on in my car. I took it in, and it will be a five hundred dollar repair. And I can't drive it far till my Thursday appt to get it fixed. So my mini-trip to visit a friend is off. Spending money on the car instead of fun sucks.

Oh, and I am on a diet because my arthritis is worse, and restricting some foods really does help.

AND I am working on a short paper for an online course. Normally, I might actually enjoy that, but not right now. Right now, I just feel *grrrrrrr*

There's actually more. Lots more. God, I do not love the couple of months before the end of the school year.
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Old 04-20-2014, 02:47 AM   #474
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Well, I think I'm almost ready to say quite loudly "AAARRRGGGHHHH"! lolol I'm an early years specialist but I'm in a second language Grade 1 class this year. I've never taught children to read. I've never taught phonemic awareness. I've never taught so many kids to stop picking their nose. Yup, I am seeing the humour in some of my everyday activities but at the end of the day I feel so unsure about 'how I'm doing' as I know 'how and what I'm teaching' is the correct method.

I work with an awesome team - 5 educators for 270 first graders in groups of 30. Its a 'big' undertaking and at times very overwhelming. I guess I'll 'know' if I'm successful when the students are finally tested near the end of June. Until then, I'm going to enjoy every little hug I receive. And not worry about it.

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Old 05-16-2014, 05:20 PM   #475
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Old 05-16-2014, 05:34 PM   #476
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Old 05-16-2014, 05:43 PM   #477
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I need at least two weeks of this before I even think of doing anything else --

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Old 05-17-2014, 12:07 AM   #478
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I am at the beginning of the end of the school year. I still have a couple more weeks of teaching and then review, review, review. I am at school here until July 4th and then head off to Canada on the 5th.

Its been a long year. I generally work with 4 and 5 year old children. This year I took the leap to Grade 1 in a second language setting. I had never taught a child to read before and that weighed heavily on my mind until the last few months. Fortunately, I work with an awesome team and all the ducks were in the proverbial row regarding how to teach reading here. I have had success with each of my 61 (yes, sixty-one) students at very degrees of ability. I'm now looking forward to next year! lolol

Anyhow, I hope those of you who are winding up the school year are doing well; your time of R&R is just around the proverbial corner!

Deb
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:03 AM   #479
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One more day and still there's paperwork. They say that many teachers leave the field because of the paperwork. I can understand it. I have two huge closing files to put together tomorrow. About four hours of the kind of work that causes me to throw pens across the room. Seriously. And THEN I can close up the room and leave.

My paperwork looks messy, but it's all done. And it's for real. A first-year teacher told me today that she had not graded her students' math homework all year. She only teaches one math class, thank god. She just marks the work done and enters it in the online gradebook. I can imagine alternating, grading every other assignment and marking the alternate one done. But to grade nothing? All year. She discovered at the end of the year that one student had simply copied the problems without doing them -- all year. But this teacher had all her grades entered in the computer on time, etc. Everything looked good. I do empathize with her. She's first year and is in grad school at night. I have seen her work with kids. She's fine. But damn.

Another teacher, a very experienced teacher, hadn't done a single IEP all year until about a month ago. She hadn't even done one from the 12/13 school year. So I helped her. She also screwed up some stuff and nearly caused a kid not to be able to walk at graduation. She didn't double check. Man, I quadruple check where graduation is concerned. I drive those poor clericals crazy. I actually caught her error -- accidentally. And she was so oppressed and passive when I called her up that I redid the paperwork for her and called everyone and his uncle and got the kid's diploma printed and so on. He wasn't in the program, and his gown was laughably too short (a leftover one not used last year). But, his parents saw him walk.

The thing is that her area is always neat as a pin. Perfect. She LOOKS like she's got it all under control. But the curriculum she uses is the crap that has been in the files for YEARS. She doesn't create anything new herself. And then she does stuff like this. There are other examples. She forgot to enter a kids' grades for an entire semester -- like two years ago. The kid kept complaining that he should have more credits. So finally I looked at his transcript, saw a missing semester, and asked her if he had attended that semester. She fixed it then. But she made the error -- I don't blame her for that -- and then didn't pay attention to the kid. (I look at my students' transcripts all the time. I have to to keep them in the right classes -- not give them too many credits in one subject and too few in another. It gives me chills to think she is not looking at transcripts very often.) ANYWAY, these are just the things that somehow came to my attention, so how much more must there be?

I like both of these teachers fine as people and think they are good with kids. But seriously? I mean, seriously? What honks me off is that my paperwork is raggedy ass and gets the raised eyebrow from the coordinator, but it's graded for god's sake. And it's all there. And my IEPs are done, and my graduates walk. Seriously, if I hadn't seen that kid's name on a list that implied his enrollment was ongoing and then asked about it, he would have had a sad shock. The teacher hadn't even looked at that list. Oh well.

I sound more self-righteous than I feel. But I don't know who the people we are supposed to aspire to be are. Are they the folks who are still at school at 11pm every night? I can't do that. There aren't too many of those folks either. Is everyone else who looks good like these other two teachers, faking it in one way or another? I wonder.

Because, in fact, it's too much. No one can do this much stuff and make it look good unless they are super-teacher. I am not. I guess I'd rather be raggedy ass and legit. I do not know how the other ones live with themselves.
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Old 06-06-2014, 06:50 AM   #480
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Martina,

I appauld you for doing it the right way (even though all this paperwork can drive us more than bonkers). In the case of the child copied the answers to all the math problems, this is not going to serve him in the long run because he will go onto another level of math unprepared.

But you are a professional. I know many teachers on the college level who wait to grade (sometimes even assign papers that should have been assigned all semester) at the last minute. It amazes me how they think this is teaching. It takes a lot of work to adjust curriculum (I don't do IEP's but I know how much a pain in the ass they are but they are legal documents and sometimes the accommodations on them help the child get what the need (very sometimes if they are actually provided) to be successful.

Have a great summer and enjoy yourself
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