Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Plethora of Options

     I received a lovely letter and resume from a young man tonight who would like for me to help him find an internship in tech.  I am delighted to help him but suddenly I realize how vast the field is.  His request would be similar to asking to learn about the new industrialization 160 years ago.  I could simply place him in any tech company and hope he learns what he would like to learn.  Instead I wrote back and asked him what he would like to learn. I am interested to see how he responds.

    He may ask me to help him narrow it down.  So now I am thinking about how to classify the jobs in tech that I know about. 

    There has been an explosion of types of jobs available.  In the early 80s every job known could be listed in a single thick book.  Now I am not sure you could contain them in an encyclopedia set.  In fact, I bet you couldn't.  How do you help narrow something like that down?

      I suppose you could start with categories.  I think I will give him a set of a few categories and hope if I point him in the right general direction he can find work that suits him.  There are so many choices to consider, even as a novice.  He could consider work building webpages or collecting data from web.  He could go to a company which focuses on a programming language like Ruby, PHP, C++ or my favorite- Python.  He could study one of the operating systems like Windows, Unix, or Linux.  He could learn about hardware and computer repair or networking, Information security or even robotics.  It's so hard to narrow down. With this list I haven't even scratched the surface.  I didn't even mention local opportunities in the game industry or animation.  I just hope he knows what he would like to study otherwise it may take a while to narrow it down.

Fortunately for this young man I have a map and a compass.  We will figure it out.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Questions about Special Ed and No Child Left Behind

       Last night, I went out to have supper with a couple of friends who work in Special Ed.  While there, of course, they started talking shop.  Special Ed is not my forte so I just listened and I learned something I did not know.  No child left behind initiated inclusion in Tennessee.  However, Tennessee does not implement inclusion the way other states do .  Here, in Tennessee, a decision was made to replace most of the self contained classrooms with inclusion models.  

     The problem with inclusion is that it excludes some of the students in Special Ed.  For example, one of the students attends a music class where the other students are playing instruments. Due to the pace of the class this child cannot keep up.  If his assistant tries to help him it disrupts the entire class.  This child is unable to transition quickly.  To stand up and sing and then sit down and do an activity is very difficult.  Or consider the child who is learning how to feed themselves.  Should that child be in the cafeteria with all of the other students in his grade who can watch him struggle.  How about a newly verbal autistic child who is placed in a gen, ed. classroom where they are expected not to talk. This child needs to be encouraged to talk or he could lose his small but significant gains. It seems we have taken a one size fits all approach to something that should be custom tailored for the needs of the child.

      We are all wondering what the original intent of NCLB is for Special Ed students.  Did the legislators who drafted this consider the wide variety of needs which must be addressed? Is Tennessee approaching this correctly?  What are other states doing?  Although I realize inclusion is cheaper, it sounds like there are student falling through the cracks who need greater support.  Are we producing citizens who can join the workforce when they are sitting in a gen.ed. class coloring pictures?

      The issue is not with the teachers.  There needs to be more tools available for them to provide the support the children need.  The issue is not with the students.  Many of them have their own gifts and they need to be honed.  They also need the opportunity to socialize with their peers.  The fault, once again,  is with a policy which is disconnected from the realities of the classroom.  These misinformed policies are putting so much extra strain on good teachers.  When I hear people discuss the need to retain good teachers, it's easy to see that one of the first things that needs to happen is our policies need to line up with the reality of actual schools.

        We would love to hear how your district is addressing Special Ed with inclusion, especially related to students with co-morbid conditions such as blind students with auditory processing issues or situations where inclusion has the potential to humiliate the exceptional ed student.

Co-written with current education professional

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Change of Venues

    As of this week I am no longer teaching in a Public School.  I have been tapped by the Nashville Technology Council to head up their K-12 initiatives.  I spent the weekend at Phreaknic19 in Murfreesboro learning Python, Info Sec and Basic Networking.  I am looking forward to sharing what I have learned with teachers, volunteers and students across the Southeast.

    I am still an educator/trainer but my venue has changed.  This blog was originally written to give an in classroom perspective from the war on our public schools.  I no longer have the vantage point to do that well.  So if you are currently teaching in Public Schools and would like to share a story from your classroom I would be glad to share it on my blog.  When I do not have a story to publish by a teacher I will blog about some type of tech education.

I will be back in touch next Sunday.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Restorative Justice is not the only Important Tool

      Although I like the concept of restorative justice I have learned it cannot be the only tool in the toolbox of professionals working with poverty populations.  I realize someone will say you need great relationships with the students.  I don't disagree.  Relationships are vital. But these two things alone are not always enough.

        I saw someone teaching on wisdom literature.  I bring it up because she mentioned there are 3 types of foolish people.  There are people who just don't know any better.  These are the people restorative justice reaches easily.  One you teach them the right thing to do they make changes and all is right with the world.

       Then you have the other end of the spectrum.  There are a few people that no matter how well you teach the correct behavior they will not make changes.  Sometimes even discipline will not turn them around.  Thankfully these young people are not the majority.  The majority of people are somewhere in between these two extremes.

      The vast majority of people follow the expectations because they do not want the consequences.  They see someone who will not choose right punished and they decide they don't want that.  Children are not the same as adults. Students do not have the life experiences of adults and they may need more immediate consequences.  That is why I now understand that ISS may be an important part of a successful inner city school program.  I think all school systems wishing to create success for these schools will bring in something in addition to restorative justice to help provide some noticeable consequence for young people who cannpt be reached by restorative justice alone.