Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Missed Class...went to Ohio...usually a bad idea...not this time

I had the pleasure of attending the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Convening Thursday and Friday of last week with five of my WW colleagues.  Alas that we missed class……sounded like a good one (as always)!

The event was very good, to be honest, much better than I expected. 

There were several great talks by WW Fellows who are now in the field, as well as Dr. Sonia Nieto.  We also had the opportunity to attend two elective seminars and participate in a panel forum for the Michigan WW Fellows.

As a side note, the event was in Columbus, Ohio.  I have a close friend there so we hung out Thursday night.  He took me to a place called “Jennie’s” which has some of the best rated ice cream in the whole U.S……needless to say it was fantastic!  I had some cherry/white chocolate/pistachio……unbelievable……

I also uttered a few choice words as we drove by the Horseshoe.  And sang a certain SONG…the greatest fight song in the world!! Only six weeks left!!

My highlight for seminar was the first elective I took, Classroom Management In Urban Settings.

If there was one thing I took away from the class, it would be an admonition to myself and my colleagues to make sure we are working with local non-profits and volunteers to help our students out.

The class was lead by the founder of a non-profit called Voices Against Violence (click link for details).  His group works with local school districts to help students with emotional needs, and to help get drugs and weapons out of schools.

What is his number one obstacle?  Not the kids……not the administrations……not the parents……it’s TEACHERS.

Teachers who think they know it all.  Teachers who think they have everything under control.

Looking in the mirror…and looking to my colleagues…we need to make sure we are doing everything we can for our students, whatever it takes.  Obviously we need to make sure that groups are legitimate and are using research based proven methodology, but let’s make sure our kids go before our pride.

Probably easier said than done.  Especially on this side of the classroom.  But at least my awareness was raised.

Does anyone know of any similar groups here in Michigan?

I intend to do some research on my end.

As well, even though the V.O.V. group is based in Pittsburg, they are available for consultation. 

Check out the link.  Save the link. Here it is again: http://www.vavpgh.org/


  1. Hmm.the trip sounds interesting as well as being fruitful. I agree with the presentation on the teachers. All too many times I have seen teachers with my children thinking they know more than we, as parents, do. After all they spend an hour a day with them for 180 days...but yet, when you try to give them some insight to your child it falls on deaf ears in some cases. I think it is admirable that this resonated with you. I have met some teachers, my kids work with, that have been fantastic. They want the feedback and support from the parents and I have always found my children relate, and do the best, in those classes. Not to mention they end up being their favorite teachers!

  2. I'm really intrigued by your take-away message to get involved with local nonprofits. As a volunteer for 826 Michigan, I was in classrooms on a weekly basis at the middle- and high-school levels. We provided something of a tutor role, giving students that one-to-one time that we've seen from this summer can make such a difference.

    I am equally intrigued by the idea that teachers are the ones putting up resistance to school-nonprofit relationships. I wonder: Is that specific to the type of nonprofit? For example, might a teacher not want to bring in a "non-academic" program (for various reasons, including perhaps that they think they know better), but, like the teachers who signed up for 826 volunteers, embrace student support in the classroom for academic work?

    Or might it come down to another reason: teachers who are concerned about loss of control in the classroom? I could see some teachers being anxious even about allowing volunteers like me, for fear that we wouldn't do things the way the teacher wanted them done, and that that might end up causing the teacher more time and effort with students in the bigger picture.

    I suppose that speaks to another issue: time. Teachers are so pressed. Can they even think about how to incorporate one more thing (even if that thing would end up having benefit to kids, academically or otherwise)? There must be a weighing of how much effort the teacher will have to put into the relationship with the volunteers/program, and whether the benefits outweigh that effort.

    So I think it's great that you are thinking about how to bring in community resources. I'd like to do this, too.

    How can we, as new teachers, take on this one more thing?

  3. "How can we, as new teachers, take on this one more thing?"

    Well...I don't have a good answer. First I would say that if we ever think in terms of "one more thing" we will be severely disappointed....it's never just one more thing.

    Maybe rephrased...."How can we keep taking on all these things?"

    When I was in the corporate world, the answer was, "Add it to the pile...what ever is on fire gets taken care of first, what the boss wants is second, and everything else third."

    Unfortunately I am not sure we can apply that here because we are dealing with human lives....not cars.

    I say all that to say "I don't know." We need a management system....of technology, of teaching techniques, of new ideas, of research, of....lots of stuff. No answer yet...

  4. I am very intrigued by your report from the conference, especially the volunteers' description of teachers. I hope you'll revisit this when you're embedded in a school this fall so you can see whether or not (or to what extent) it feels accurate to you. Clearly, part of the national debate on education is this issue of how the public views teachers (awesome and well-educated? or over-paid, self-centered, and/or lazy?). What is fact? What is fiction? You're about to find out!

  5. What a fascinating session; hate I missed it! Your comments about the Voices Against Violence organization makes me ask myself how often I consider my moral responsibility to my students to provide addition resources for the problems and situations that extend beyond my control. What other organizations were mentioned in the session? Have you been able to find any others that might be useful with urban or rural schools in our area? and the Voices Against Violence, what sort of services do they offer long distance? Anything making use of Skype?

  6. Skype! Excellent idea! I had not thought of this. After meeting with this group, I know I will run into situations where they can help. This will be an excellent technology tool to use if I need their help.

    I have not yet researched similar groups in the Detroit area but I intend to do so.