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Posts: 13
Reply with quote  #16 

“It is certainly true that part of the problem in American education is that we have taken good people—teachers and principals—and put them in a bad system that was never intended to help all students learn. It is equally certain, however, that those same teachers and principals must play a critical role in changing that system.” ---page 249

I agree with this quote because it is the teachers and the principals who are on the front line of this "war" that determines how well we equip our students with the life-long learning skills they need to survive successfully in our world.  I disagree, however, that the system is bad and was never intended to help all students learn.  I believe that , even though the original system of American schools was designed for a few elite students, the system was, and still is, one of educating and helping all students to learn.  The number of students has increased, the needs of students have increased, but the system is still trying to help all of them.  The system is not bad, just outdated and in need of revamping.

BONUS:  After reading this book, I am motivated to be more involved and instrumental with our department PLC, of which I am the chairperson, during the upcoming school year.  Now that I have a clearer understanding of the mechanics of PLC's, I am prepared to use the strategies provided for the benefit of our Foreign Language teachers, but most importantly, for our students!


Posts: 61
Reply with quote  #17 

Certainly, teachers and principals must play a critical role in changes, but we must make the public and public officials aware that educators are willing to do the hard work of making the changes.  I saw the following article on Internet a few weeks ago which showed that the public is aware of the advances in student learning and the restraints created by government:


“The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, and represents good news for our nation’s schools. This bipartisan measure reauthorizes the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s national education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students.

The new law builds on key areas of progress in recent years, made possible by the efforts of educators, communities, parents, and students across the country.

For example, today, high school graduation rates are at all-time highs. Dropout rates are at historic lows. And more students are going to college than ever before. These achievements provide a firm foundation for further work to expand educational opportunity and improve student outcomes under ESSA.

The previous version of the law, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, was enacted in 2002. NCLB represented a significant step forward for our nation’s children in many respects, particularly as it shined a light on where students were making progress and where they needed additional support, regardless of race, income, zip code, disability, home language, or background. The law was scheduled for revision in 2007, and, over time, NCLB’s prescriptive requirements became increasingly unworkable for schools and educators. Recognizing this fact, in 2010, the Obama administration joined a call from educators and families to create a better law that focused on the clear goal of fully preparing all students for success in college and careers.”


Prior to reading that article, I read an article in the Edmonton Journal on June 27, while on vacation, entitled “Teachers want Alberta out of ‘gamed’ testing.”  The article addressed concerns over the global standardized exams.  Teachers in Alberta want to stop participating in the international exams that rank countries since they don’t benefit students.  They are stepping up to make positive changes.

Educators are starting to speak out against outside interference so that they can determine the best way for each individual student to learn.  Collaboration is probably the best tool we have now to help our students and show our support.  I am always positive and encouraging other instructors to work together.  I need to take it up a notch and promote positive change to my superiors.


Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #18 
I do believe to some extent that principals and teachers can change the system, but in some ways, their hands are tied. They are having to meet higher demands with less resources. Educators are afraid to do anything wrong in fear of retaliation from the state, school, parents, and/or students. I believe that if more educators voted for the right people running for offices, the ones that value public education, a change can be implemented. With the correct people in offices, they can enforce laws in favor of our students and educators' needs. Principals and teachers would be less stressed and better capable of delivering a great education. Our system is broken and equality for all districts, for all students, should be delivered.

However, most go into the field of education knowing this. With the right mindset, a positive attitude, a heart that is truly in it to assist students in becoming lifelong learners, then change may prevail.

I have made positive changes in my district by 1)voting in local, state, and national elections; 2)serving on school committees; 3)discussing problems with administrators and offering suggestions and then having my ideas carried out on my campus and in my district; 4)being a positive mentor for new teachers; 5)implementing fun into my classroom and making education desirable; 6)being a voice and sharing what's going on with the legislation that can positively or negatively hurt public education with community members and co-workers

Posts: 94
Reply with quote  #19 

I agree that teachers and principals play a critical role in changing the system.  It doesn’t make sense to wait until things are as they should be to meet the educational needs of students.  We have to start from where we are at and make positive changes within the system (for better or worse) that’s already in place.  I see this taking place at the school I tutor at.  For example:  The principal, assistant principal, a team of teachers at each grade level along with math and/or ELA specialists gather and go as a group to observe other teachers in action to see what they are doing that works.  It is scheduled ahead of time and the teachers being observed are aware of it.  These observations help teachers to learn new teaching strategies from each other. 

Steps 1 – 6 (paraphrased from page 230 of In Praise of American Educators): 

PLC team members are

1.  Working collaboratively.

2.  Team members work interdependently to achieve common goals.

3.  Using a guaranteed curriculum, unit by unit, so all students have access to the same knowledge and skills.

4.  Common formative assessments to frequently gather evidence of student learning.

5.  Systems of intervention are in place to ensure struggling students are getting what they need to learn.

6.  Evidence of student learning.

Steps 1 – 6 are also taking place at the school I tutor at. However, some of steps 1 – 6 are not 100% in place.

I agree that the system isn’t perfect and I also agree that teachers, specialists, educational aids, and principals all play an important role in working within the system to meet the educational needs of the students.


Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #20 
There is no doubt that the education system is deeply flawed. It is crucial that principals and teachers work together hand in hand. There has to be mutual respect, love, and caring not only for one another but for the students as well. You have to be dedicated to this career. We function as a team. If one person feels overwhelmed of left behind, staff members willingly step up and help out. Every month we have a staff luncheon to enhance our relationships. This helps to promote positive changes. I support my staff and students by collaborating, continuing my education, volunteering, going to games, and helping in any needed capacity.

Posts: 148
Reply with quote  #21 

I agree that teachers are the key to a point in changing the system.  The problem for me is administration to a point.  When I began teaching the administrators seem to give the teachers more lead way on how to deliver the material to their students and how to structure their class as a whole.  Now I feel as if the change is going in the wrong direction by scripting and trying to carbon copy classrooms in how they are set up and ran.  The higher ups need to allow and trust teachers to teach as we trust and allow parents to parent.  Teachers usually change their classroom based on their students’ needs.


Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #22 


BONUS: describe how you’ve been able to make a positive change on your campus/district/etc.- My contribution to my school is mostly just doing my job.  When my principal says a meeting will start at 1, rest assured it started at 1.  Being mindful of other peoples time so I don't waste it.  This year I am going to be team leaders.  This book is helping me set a tone for my meetings in how I want us to work together this year.  There are things we have to do, but if I can be mindful of their commitments, as well as my own, we should have a great year.  I would love to say I will bring snacks to every meeting, but then we would be needing more time to walk the track.  

I agree that teachers and principals do play a critical part in the environment of our schools.  I am reminded of a school that I worked a for only a year.  A parent came up to me and told me, "I didn't know if my daughter was going to be attending this school until I met the teacher.  You are new to this school and I decided to keep her here because of you."  I was taken aback.  I couldn't believe that I was walking into a community that had contempt for a school.  But after a year working at the school I understood.  There was no "let's discuss"; but "this is how it will be" attitude.  I couldn't wait to leave that campus.  Over the rest of my career I have experienced great collaboration between team members and with my principal.  At my current school I am pleased to say that a lot of was is discussed in this book is happening.  Over the past semester we have been discussing what in our school really bothers us the most.  We pretty much unanimously agreed that the cafeteria was a huge issue.  It took meetings, presentations, and practice before coming to an agreement of what would and would not happen in our cafeteria during lunch time.  We had already started practicing with our kids so when they return in August they, hopefully, will remember what the exceptions are for the lunchroom.  It wasn't a dictate that came from our administration, but a collaborative effort to make our lunchroom more enjoyable.  Yes we do spend a lot of time discussing stuff, but in the long run we all get a voice and we feel valued by our administration.  When we look at our campus improvement plan, yes it is boring, BUT we are empowered to make changes, recommendations, and comments of what is and is not working.  When our community see us working together at special after school events and see that we are there because we want to be, not because we have to be, it creates in them a secure feeling of knowing that their child is in an environment that is practicing the habits we are teaching in the classroom.  Which is so different from a parent who is hostile because of the way the school has been towards his daughter in the previous years.  


Posts: 63
Reply with quote  #23 

Do teachers and principals have the power to make or break a school? This is a question I went back on forth on based on what I’ve seen at the schools I’ve substituted at.  I believe that teachers have the power to make small, gradual changes. However, there needs to be trust and collaboration with other teachers and the rest of the administration.  


Posts: 67
Reply with quote  #24 

I agree that teachers and principals play a critical role in changing the educational system.   No change will happen, regardless of where it originates, unless teachers are on board and implementing it.   They’re the ones in the classroom.  They’re the ones helping students learn all day.  Teacher involvement is essential to any systemic change.  Principals are also important, as they can either smother and wipe out attempts at change or they can encourage and cultivate it.   If leadership isn’t supportive, teacher-led change can only make so much progress.   The ideal situation would be both groups working together.  Then actual progress can be made.  

I’m not teaching right now, but if I was, I could encourage my team that I plan with to change into a true PLC.  Even if the whole school isn’t on board, one team could show the others the potential.  Once another teacher or principal could see the progress the students were making, it could encourage them to look more at the concept of a PLC.  


Posts: 98
Reply with quote  #25 
I think the American education system has issues. Teachers should do what they can when it comes to doing the right thing in educating kids. They may not be able to change the system, but they still need to do what they can. Since teachers and principals are the ones in contact with the kids on a day-to-day basis, they have a critical role in shaping education.

Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #26 

Agree! There is strength in numbers. Teachers and principals need to work together in changing the system. If a principal is unopened to hearing new ideas and implementing effective PLC’s or adjusting the master schedule to fit the needs of the students, then who is that helping? If a teacher is unwilling to modify to a changing educational climate, then how are they helping their students? Sometimes it’s the innovative teacher(s) that helps the principal see different ways to support the staff or assist students. The system may be flawed, but with enough evidence from principals and teachers, the system could change for the better. After all, seeing is believing and there’s nothing like cold hard evidence.

As it’s about to be my first year teaching, I don’t have much to contribute to the bonus. I can say that I am a sponge and have signed up for so much professional development over the summer that I am well over my Flex or Non-Contract Hours. I want to learn and bring new ideas into my classroom and/or school.  



Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #27 

“It is certainly true that part of the problem in American education is that we have taken good people—teachers and principals—and put them in a bad system that was never intended to help all students learn. It is equally certain, however, that those same teachers and principals must play a critical role in changing that system.” ---page 249

Do you agree or disagree? Please explain.

BONUS: describe how you’ve been able to make a positive change on your campus/district/etc.

My Response:
I agree with the statement on page 249.  People who make education their career will go through the highs and lows in their passion and frustration of the education system in America.  As educators, we come fresh out of college wide eyed and filled with idealistic theories because we will be that "super hero" to all of the students we will come across.  Its not till we hit the road blocks and red tape of funding,meeting campus and district expectations which fall short of state and national expectations...cultural differences and all of the intervention labels out there in the Sea of education do we realize that we fall short or feel like a failure only because the government legislature does not budget adequately for each child it serves in our country.  It is our government that decides on how it wants to spend their money.  People go to school to educate and prepare the next generation within any given profession and yet teaching is the career that experiences the highest turn over (and yes to appeal to the sentimental...a profession with the highest reward of seeing your students excel because you were inspiring or an influence in their lives.) Honestly we so want to believe this and eat this as if it was our favorite meal.  I am not a cynic because I too have my sappy moments and have put up a fight, but I do wonder  why do teachers leave the profession?  Its simple, they feel cheated. At least the young ones, the seasoned and older teachers become disillusioned and frustrated and since they can't change it...due to feeling overwhelmed they leave the career. Others chose to arm themselves to be a part of the solution by standing up and lobbying for their student's needs. Education level does not matter...its the passion and heart that moves mountains. Yes, I do eat this meal, but here is my reasoning for this... having knowledge or personal educational degree at what ever the drive that moves the community.  The only reason a leader is fantastic is because he or she has leaders that believe.

So if we look inward or stand in front of a mirror, we have to ask ourselves, which one am I?  What am I willing to do or how am I going to be a part of the change?  We already know that the education system in the United States is flawed, backed up by corporate America, and implemented by governmental legislation ( This is where young teachers start heading for the EXIT door and I am talking about the ones who don't want to put in the time in the classroom but they want to be principals or Superintendents by the end of the year because all they want and see is " If I have that degree" "If I just teach 1 to 3 years" "If I ... and its not about really making a change.)  

I don't want to turn this into a "TED TALK" ( lol) but I can tell you that I have been on that end where I have questioned my effectiveness in or out of the classroom.  If we let inadequate people who use their power to make us feel small they would have won the battle because it means one less voice who will advocate for others who do not have a voice.  I have a mentor...who has told me..."Keep doing what you are doing---stand up, duck...teaching is like boxing.  Watch the right hooks and keep swinging till you knock'em out." Culturally as a hispanic young woman.  I was brought up to respect my elders and don't ask questions because it leads to trouble.  My mentor and friend...( even though she is of another teaching organization and district...she respects what I do for ATPE and understands that we are on the same side as teachers.) has been an inspiration because she has taught me to observe, ask questions and if it leads to "ruffling feathers" then offer solutions.  I have become a strong advocate for my Social Studies Department at school, I help my fellow co-workers and am willing to go out to the community to speak with our parents promoting our school and reaching out to them.  

We as educators have to be loud and proud in a civic manner.  I love what I do despite the highs and lows of education, but its our children's future and our present.

Ms. D. Palomo

" Share your heritage with a passion."

Posts: 70
Reply with quote  #28 

“It is certainly true that part of the problem in American education is that we have taken good people—teachers and principals—and put them in a bad system that was never intended to help all students learn. It is equally certain, however, that those same teachers and principals must play a critical role in changing that system.” ---page 249

Do you agree or disagree? Please explain.

BONUS: describe how you’ve been able to make a positive change on your campus/district/etc.

I'll take a more positive approach and state that I don't think education is "a bad system that was never intended to help all students learn."  Is the education system perfect?  No, I don't think that it is.  But teachers, principals and parents are all working very hard to meet the needs of students.  Sometimes, I feel that teaching can be overwhelming.  Look at the required skills, state standards, etc. that teachers are required to teach (and make sure that students learn!), mix it in with a classroom full of diverse learners with different strengths and skills, and it seems just about impossible to be successful!  But teachers keep working and trying their best, and students are learning and succeeding.  

Teachers and principles need to speak up and let districts know what they need to help students.  Teachers need to be life-long learners and be constantly figuring out what works with students and how they can become better teachers.  It would be nice if teachers had more time for planning and reflection, to really take stock of what works and what doesn't, but it's hard because teachers have so many responsibilities and day to day tasks.  I think that parents and students really do know that teachers are some of the most hard-working and caring people in our society.  But it's just too easy to blame teachers for the failings of society and communities.  Schools are not bubbles and will always have a multitude of problems and issues, but teachers and principals keep working and trying to improve the schools and lives of the students.

It's too easy for legislatures and districts to see schools as numbers on a page and not realize the impact that schools have on their communities and residents.  Here in Chicago, there's a small special needs preschool class at a neighborhood school.  The district had plans to cut it, until our neighborhood staged an intervention with the school board.  Even though it was a small class of about 20 students, which on paper looks very minor and insignificant, the class was such a positive part of many people's lives, that many people came out to protest the closing of the class.  It will be open for another year, but I fear that we'll have to make an issue of this every year.  However, it was great to hear how important this class was to local families and what a big impact it makes.  That, I think, is why we are teachers.  To make a positive impact in our communities.  

I've enjoyed this book circle.  It's definitely given me a lot to think about regarding teachers and schools in our country, and I enjoyed reading everyone's responses.  I look forward to reading the next book, Mindsets in the Classroom with this group.  Thanks, everyone!


Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #29 
Education is a constantly changing profession.  Teachers have to stay on top of the changes and trends to do what is best for each student.  I see a lot of changes going on in my district right now.  I do believe that the changes are for the best and will benefit the students.  Personally, I have not had the chance to make much of an impact on my campus.  This will be my first full year of teaching.  But, I have met many amazing educators that have impacted our campus and our community, and I hope to learn from them.
Chellie Nelson

Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #30 
I definitely agree that teachers and administrators are the ones that are going to have to initiate a change in our districts. We, teachers and administrators, are the ones that are having daily contact with students and parents. If we focus more on the student and their needs and work cooperatively, this will have a ripple effect, I believe.

Happy students who feel valued and safe make our jobs as teachers easier. Happier, less stressed out teachers make the job of administrators easier because there are fewer "fires to put out". Fewer overworked, stressed out administrators make the jobs of the upper district administration easier because they can focus more on the day to day running of our districts and less on the fires that are burning on individual campuses.

Jean :-)
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