Stuart's Spectacular Students

This is dedicated to my amazing students. The goal is for each and every one of them to feel unstoppable by the time they walk out of the classroom door for the final time in May. This chronicles their journey; their own Chronicles of Self-Actualization.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

BEE Willing to Change

The determination not to let anyone bee thrown away, including yourself and your greatest dreams, ALWAYS produces successful results.

Either the dream IS achieved, or important learning opportunities showing the way to the achievement of the dream are revealed.

(Bella coming down singing, "I'm a business bug, a business bug, a business bug.")

So far, five students have all "A's" in class. Once they achieve "mastery" in the approved curriculum, I am allowed to begin teaching them "my way" (which is for deeper meaning of the curriculum and in a way that uses their strengths and desires to overcome their weaknesses and boredom).

Marc Mero, former pro-wrestler who visited the school last year, came again this week and again fired up the students. I held Bella and barely held onto my tears.

Marc was part of the reason why last year there were four Level One students in class at the beginning of the year (the lowest possible at which you can test) and NONE at the end.

Tapping into the unending energy of a dream and applying individualized instruction to its attainment works where traditional teaching fails. This is because traditional teaching often fails to go bee-yond mastery of surface knowledge and bee-yond external motivation (doing it for grades, for recess, for mom and dad, etc).

So with five students now free to really begin learning, the problem is that if the traditional method hasn't worked in the past for the other 17, will continuing to force it upon them miraculously work? Not likely.

At this point I can give myself the very valid excuse of, "I'm doing my job by covering it in class. They'll have to get tutoring if they want to do better".

But if I want to do the job of helping them bee-come real dream achievers, no excuse, no matter how good, is acceptable. You either have excuses or results, an any excuse is still an excuse.

(Sofia lining her class up for phys ed)

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I tell the students it's like an insect caught inside a room and banging its head against the window, again and again, hoping this is the time it escapes and finds its freedom. (this scene is at the end of the clip)

We are much smarter than bugs, yet we don't always act like it. We'll keep banging our heads (or faces), eventually tiring out and giving up by sitting on the windowsill and watching life pass us by, while slowly, slowly dying.

So when you find yourself in this situation know that there is something to bee learned ....something needs to change in your approach. Often this change is within you, which is what you want. You want to have control. When you put the blame on someone or something else, you give your power for change away.

There is a great need for change in our schools, because education right now is banging the heads of its principals, teachers and students against the wall, hoping that maybe if we cover more, test more, force more....then we will achieve higher student scores and the problem will bee solved.

We have raised our scores, but only at the surface level, and the problem hasn't been solved. Why?

Read this from the book, "Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain":

“Regretfully, most schools do not engage students in the reflection, inquiry, and critical thinking needed to help them cope with and take charge of the influences of technology and the media.....

'Teaching is more than knowing a subject matter and presenting it in clear language; ...teaching involves knowing how students think, their preconceptions and misconceptions.... It involves learning what motivates students and what genuinely gets their attention....' (Merlin Wittrock, psychologist at UCLA)

The result of continuous input without realistic engagement in interactive experiences may well be a generation that has access to a great deal of superficial information but has no deeper sense of how that information connects to ecological issues, a global economy, the quality of life, or even the joy of learning.....

****Some of this lack of deeper understanding may be reflected in the fact that most 11th graders have extremely unrealistic career goals when measured against standards established in the profession of their choice. ALTHOUGH U.S. CHILDREN RANKED LAST IN MATHEMATICS AMONG 14 NATIONS TESTED IN 1988, they ranked highest in their own assessment of how good they were in mathematics. Sixty-eight percent thought their knowledge was 'excellent', compared with 22 percent of the Korean students who had, in fact, performed best." (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement 1988, cited by Finn 1989).

I agree that all teachers should bee held accountable for teaching what they're supposed to.

But teaching all children the same thing at the same time and forcing the same homework upon them is as ineffective as a doctor treating all his patients the same way at the same time and sending them all home with the same remedies for their different ailments.

(I took the class outside to practice prime factorization by looking at it and doing it in a new way.)

The difference is that a doctor treats his patients one at a time and a teacher treats everybody all at once, hence the adoption of an efficient, yet ineffective, traditional teaching method.

But we're not even sending our "successful" students out into the world as "healthy" adults. Something MUST change, and change now. The solution isn't to DO more (testing and "teaching")'s to "BEE" more (higher level thinking and empowering students and teachers)

(My son, who is proofreading this, wanted me to change the "BE more" to "BEE more". I like it.....OK, now he wants me to go back and change all the "be's" to "bee's" about giving a kid a little power.....Actually, give a kid a little power, and he becomes just a little man......give him A LOT of power, show him how to use it, and he becomes A LOT of a MAN! he's sticking his chest out - LOL :-)

I've achieved success in the past by breaking the rules of traditional teaching. Now even more rules have been imposed on all of us by well-intentioned policy makers who have never met us or our students, and treating us all the same.

Many teachers are more gifted than I am so the answer isn't to make everyone teach my way, but in a way that allows their students to bee-come more.

How do I help make this happen? I'm not quite sure, but I do know I've been working on it since 1:30 Saturday morning.

And I do know I WILL figure it out. The WHY is important enough to me to figure out the HOW.

Is your WHY big enough for you to figure out HOW you will go from bee-ing on the windowsill of life, just looking out and wishing for your freedom...... to actually achieving it?

Or are you hoping someday someone just comes by and opens the window for you?

Bee Brave....Find a Way!


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