Religious diversity in schools


“Have a Blessed Day” is in my email signature, and many times, I use it at the end of a text. But, to talk about religion or God in a high school classroom, that is deemed unacceptable. Honestly, though, I am not even sure if it is still true in my district, there have been so many changes with diversity acceptance over the past three years. Still, for as long as I can remember, the two things we do not talk about with high school students are religion and politics; and I have only taught high school. Fortunately, I teach elective classes, and these subjects do not come up often. However, recently, while doing a stock market project with my seniors, politics were discussed briefly and their effects on market fluctuations. Though religion, if students wanted to discuss theirs or had questions about other religious types, how would I address it to ensure my inclusive practices continued to make every student feel comfortable and safe?

This has me thinking, if my classroom is considered a ‘Safe Place’ for students, then why wouldn’t I be acceptable to hearing about their religion or affiliation. Ironically, Theohari’s and Scanlan (2015) cite that “20% of the people” in the United States do not claim a religious affiliation (p. 143). However, most of this percentage do say they believe in God. Hence, the belief is that “young people are less religious,” and even if their parents are affiliated, they do not always follow suit (Theoharis and Scanlan, 2015, p. 143). Yet, my classroom continues to prosper as a ‘Safe Place’ for my all students to visit before school, during lunch, especially when the stresses of other classes occur, with a teacher pass, they can come to my classroom. Since I care so much about my student’s welfare, the whole child, if this were a concern of theirs, I would be open-minded to their viewpoints. To be genuinely inclusive, I believe this includes accepting all student’s traditions and beliefs equally, as they are a “deeply personal matter” (Theoharis and Scanlan, 2015, p. 144).

Reference

Theoharis, G. & Scanlan, M. (Eds.). (2015). Leadership for Increasingly Diverse Schools. New York, NY: Routledge.

Teaching tolerance can undoubtedly be a struggle


This is such a wonderful comment, “the respect for and tolerance of others’ differences is important for diversity,” especially tolerance. I teach in a high school, and teaching tolerance is something I harp on a lot lately with my students and particularly with my freshman. Though I come at it from a different perspective, so it aligns well with my curriculum. Hence, I implement cooperative learning activities that help students deal with diversity in the workplace, tolerant of people’s differences, and their community works with them, not against (Theoharis and Scanlan, 2015). More often, I see how the students at my high school are very sheltered. Many of my students never even venture West, past I-95, as if they would fall off into an abyss. Over the years, I have learned a lot about how my age group thinks and acts; I get a year old, but they stay the same age. Teaching tolerance can undoubtedly be a struggle, but I know it will help them navigate this ever-adapting world.

Reference

Theoharis, G. & Scanlan, M. (Eds.). (2015). Leadership for Increasingly Diverse Schools. New York, NY: Routledge.

Eliminating Marginalization


As educators, it is critical that we “eliminate marginalization” of any group of students and acknowledge the importance of where students originate from, what home language they speak, their family traditions, and prior knowledge to meet the students on a level playing field (Theoharis and Scanlan, 2015, p. 1). Hence, affording students an opportunity for socially just schooling in a “human-centered social institution” (Turhan, 2020, p. 1357).

Moreover, one positive way to accomplish socially just schooling is to personalize your classroom. Whereby, teachers get to know their students first by asking probing questions, which creates conversation. Conversations with students and other key stakeholders allow “voices of allies,” to be heard (Turhan, 2020, p. 1358). According to Theoharis and Scanlan (2015), “teachers have the most direct influence on student learning,” which through personalization can aid with building positive teacher-student relationships (p. 3). Still, when teachers “eliminate marginalization and promote educational opportunities,” students will react positively, especially when they have a good relationship with their teachers (Theoharis and Scanlan, 2015, p. 3). Hence, the end goal of increasing student achievement will be realized when students see real opportunities demonstrated by all stakeholders, under a common banner of equality for all (Theoharis and Scanlan, 2015).

Reference

Theoharis, G. & Scanlan, M. (Eds.). (2015). Leadership for Increasingly Diverse Schools. New York, NY: Routledge.

Gender Equity in schools


More recently, I have noticed my classes have a lot more female students in them; I honestly find this very unusual. I had always thought that I related better to my male students, as I have raised three sons (now all in college). However, after viewing the YouTube video, “Gender Equity,” Aflatoun International (2016), I can see how I am unknowingly sending out positive vibes to both genders. Hence, I currently teach an academy program called the Academy of Finance. It is a three-year business management program and has a co-curricular leadership club attached to it; the club officers are 100% female, not so ironic anymore. With over 200 students in the academy, I work hard to build strong relationships with all the students. Yet, at times, I have been told I am too honest, have too many classroom rules, I text too many reminders, and assign too much work for an elective class. In my mind, I am doing an exceptional job, but probably just staying a few steps ahead of the mob. According to Gregory and Fergus (2017), teachers should “focus on strengthening relationships, encouraging collaborative problem-solving, and giving voice to both” genders to ensure students feel welcomed and accepted in your classrooms (p. 123). I agree, building positive relationships with students, being fair to both genders, consistent and walking the talk are essential skills of being a highly effective teacher. For example, Wasserman (2016) endorses, just “talking with students,” on their level, this will ensure you are meeting your student’s half-way. Every day, I engage with my students in a friendly manner, I sit with them, help them individually, crack a joke, or make fun of myself. Whatever I can do to ensure they are engaged, feel safe, and productive.

References

Aflatoun International (2016). Gender Equity.

Gregory, A. & Fergus, E. (2017). Social and Emotional Learning and Equity in School Discipline. Future of Children, 27, 117-136.

Wasserman, T. (2016). Ways to make educational institutions more efficient with analytics. IBM Hub.

https://www.ibmbigdatahub.com/blog/8-ways-make-educational-institutions-more-efficient-analytics

How Poverty Affects Classrooms


Students are not coming to school ready to learn, a critical concern as depicted in the America Federation of Teachers YouTube video (2016), “How Poverty Affects Classrooms.” Sonya Romero, a Foster Parent (and Kindergarten Teacher) highlighted in the video, states, “so many families are in crisis,” we as educators need to be a central place for students to obtain resources and fulfill basic needs. Often, students are coming to school ill-equipped to meet the demands of the day. Even beyond having the proper supplies for the day, a more significant concern is if they eat a proper breakfast, had a safe place to sleep, a roof over their head, and clean clothes. Sarah Bitner, a teacher at Manzano Mesa Elementary, states, “When a more prepared student comes into my classroom, they learn a lot easier than when they come hungry.” Hence, poverty can affect any child at any age, when circumstances change. Eisner (2015) confirms that poverty is a “persistent concern in the United States,” as it affects so many Americans (p. 1194). Thus, as seen from this video, the gap between those affected by poverty and those seeking to implement change in their communities is beginning to lessen. We should all heed this warning and seek to make similar changes in our communities today.

References

America Federation of Teachers (2016). How Poverty Affects Classrooms.

Eisner, M. (2015). The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty. Harvard University Press, 13, 1194-1196.

REMIND ME … AGAIN


Did you know the average teenager sends about 60 texts per day (Pew Research Center)? Teenagers state that “texting is their favorite way of communicating,” so why not communicate in a way they feel most comfortable. Thus, I like to recommend you sign up for a FREE online platform called www.remind.com. Remind.com is a texting platform that allows you to set-up classes with 150 students max in each. You then can send a group text to your selected classes – updates, reminders, assignments, in short, texting burst, 40 characters. Just recently, they also added attachments and web links to the group texting – Changed my whole world … again. It’s the best thing, “Since sliced Bread,” and I could not function without it. Last school year, I won an online award for the teacher who sent the most text out in Florida. Yes, it can be addicting, but it is beneficial to the students to get quick reminders and especially now, as we are all virtual teachers.

Intention of Evaluation


I am positive we would all agree we probably over-test our students. However, the reality is, we have a thirst for data and evaluation, and it is an ever-growing desire. In the article named “History of Testing in the United States,” the author states, “Large-scale standardized tests have enjoyed more than a century of popularity and growth …. Over time, they have also become controversial …” (Nettles, 2019). Just this past week, we were instructed at my high school to develop and implement a department plan to collect data on our students through an alternative method (not what the district provides through standardized testing and EOC exams).  In the journal article “High-Stakes Testing Hasn’t Brought Education Gains,” the author states, “over-tested climate for the sake of producing data that confirms what everyone already knows: Their schools lack the needed supports” (Dianis et al., 2015). This indeed emphasizes the concern that we know what we are doing, but we are ill-equip to make the necessary changes.

Ironically, most departments at my high school were quite frazzled by this data collection request. Fortunately, last year, I had required all my Business Education and Practical Arts teachers to utilize an online program called Socrative. This program provides student statistics on varying aspects of tests and quizzes that a teacher creates. Online resources like this one, are one of many that are available to educators at every level.

Still, we know testing is necessary, at times complicated, and challenging to implement. How do we find time actually to teach? Well, of course, we do. But what if we could change how we as educators evaluate our students. After reviewing the video, “Evaluation” the author emphasizes, “The act of giving feedback following the analysis of a process, accomplishment or combination thereof” is the fundamental meaning of evaluation (Lalande, 2014). We agree we need it, and we know there could potentially be another way to evaluate and engage with our students. Furthermore, the author of this video goes on the reiterate all the typical ways students are tested and retested, but he also mentions if we were able to test students with open-access technology, we could develop new pathways of evaluation and student feedback. Finally, the author mentions how technology would “Force” educators to figure-out innovate ways to test students (Lalande, 2014). These new ways have not been invented yet, but it is exciting to think it is a possibility.

References

Dianis, J. B., Jackson, J. J., & Noguera, P. (2015). High-Stakes Testing Hasn’t Brought Education Gains. Phi

Delta Kappan Vol. 97 p. 35-37

Lalande, Marc-André (2014). Evaluation.

Retrieved from

Nettles, Michael T. (2019). History of Testing in the United States. The ANNALS of the American Academy of

Political and Social Science, Vol. 683, Iss. 1, pp. 38-55. 

What Great Leaders Actually DO


The role of a leader in a school can come in many forms. One would think school administrators would arrive with years of diverse and dynamic leadership experiences and skills. But this is not likely the case. After 22 years of teaching at two different urban high schools, I have seen how leadership styles can change drastically over the years. Many times, school site administrators are just simply trying their best to implement what their districts vision commands or how the school site can best align itself with the district’s agenda.

Specifically, enlisting input from teachers would certainly demonstrate buy-in among staff members, however, to what extent would staff have real input. The envision of a school is always created by the principal and their administrative team and it is the staff that implements that vision. As mentioned in the article “Leadership vision as a moral duty,” the authors state, it is “The duty of leaders is to serve their organizations, its stakeholders, and a society that badly needs great leaders who have vision, commitment to excellence, and a clear moral compass – despite the risks of not being appreciated (Ndalamba, Caldwell and, Anderson 2018, p. 316). Principals desire their staff to buy-in to their vision for the school year. This is not to say, we as teachers will not implement the principal’s vision. We just would like to share our thoughts, voices, and desires so that we are part of the process.

Furthermore, as heard in the video, “What Great Leaders Actually DO” the announcer eloquently states, “I think the most important leadership lesson in the world is that people support what they create” (Burchard, 2014). Enlisting input is certainly a sound management style. Most of the time stakeholders just want to be heard. As mentioned in the article “Substitutes for leadership: alternative perspectives,” the authors state, it is “when employees are encouraged to seek new ways of doing work, they feel that they are valued, engage with the firm and develop an emotional bond with the organization (Hussain, et al. 2015). After many years of teaching and being a leader at my school for the past five years, when you feel valued – you perform at a higher level, and your students rise to your level.

In conclusion, one of my administrative mentors once said to me “Always do what’s best for the school, first.” It took a while for it to sink in, actually, almost a full year. As teachers we are so linearly focused on our classrooms, our subjects, our students and ourselves – we do not always have the big picture in mind. Consequently, there is a huge weight on principals today, their leadership decisions affect the livelihoods of their staff, safety of their stakeholders, the learning outcomes of their students and have an impact on their school community; hence, what’s best for the school is the mandate – despite the risks of not being appreciated (Ndalamba, Caldwell and, Anderson 2018, p. 316).

References

Burchard, Brendon (2014). What Great Leaders Actually DO.

Retrieved from

Hussain, G., Wan Ismail, W., Rashid, M., & Nisar, F., (2016). Substitutes for leadership:

alternative perspectives. Management Research Review, Vol. 39, Iss. 5, 546-568.

Ndalamba, K. K., Caldwell, C., & Anderson, V. (2018) Leadership vision as a moral duty.

Journal of Management Development Vol. 37 Iss. 3, 309-319.

Bank of America Student Leaders


Bank of America Student Leaders

Bank of America is looking for the next generation of community leaders. If you are a junior or senior in high school and are working to make a difference in your school or community, they want to support you.

As a Student Leader, you will participate in an eight-week paid internship at a local nonprofit organization where you will learn first-hand about the needs of your community and the critical role nonprofits play. In addition, you will learn valuable civic, social and business leadership skills. Each Student Leader will attend the Student Leaders Summit held in Washington, D.C. where you will learn how government, business and the nonprofit sector work together to address critical community needs.

To become a Student Leader, you must:
• Currently be a junior or senior in high school
• Be able to participate in an 8-week paid internship at a local nonprofit organization and work 35 hours a week
• Be legally authorized to work in the US without sponsorship through the end of September 2018
• Be able to participate in a week-long Student Leaders Summit in Washington, DC (July 8 – July 13, 2018) (All expenses paid. This week will be part of your 8-week experience.)
• Be a student in good standing at your school
• Obtain a letter of recommendation from a teacher, guidance counselor, or school administrator.

The application deadline is February 2, 2018. To apply, please visit www.bankofamerica.com/studentleaders. Good Luck!!

Job Pick: Coral Springs, FIRST DATA – 18 yrs old


FIRST DATA

 (954) 851-0505

https://www.firstdata.com/en_us/about-first-data/careers-home.html

  • Provide quality service and professional support in a variety of areas of inbound calls including, but not limited to: financial statements, credit card processing or related inquiries
  • Investigate and problem solve possible fraudulent behavior
  • Assist with and support the launch of new products or services
  • Thoroughly and efficiently gather customer information, access and fulfill customer needs, educate the customer where applicable to prevent the need for future contacts and document interactions through contact tracking
  • Use automated information systems to analyze the customer’s situation
  • Maintain a balance between company policy and customer benefit in decision making. Handles issues in the best interest of both customer and company
  • Continuously evaluate and identify opportunities to drive process improvements that positively impact the customer’s experience
  • Are afforded multiple cross-training opportunities to ensure we stay fluent with the ever changing needs of the business

Scope of Job

The successful candidate will be responsible for answering incoming customer calls, utilizing company policies to solve customer issues and directing calls to managerial team when necessary. Our Call Center Representatives are the first point of contact, so we are interested in individuals with a commitment to customer satisfaction and an ability to make quick and accurate decisions. First Data offers many services and products. In this position, The Customer Representative is responsible for resolving inquiries regarding our clients’ credit card accounts. Therefore, the ideal candidate will have a customer service background at a call center and will be able to multi-task when talking to our clients to navigate various screens and type. Candidates interested must be flexible to work 1st, 2nd, 3rd shifts including weekends. This position is full time with a competitive benefits package.