By Marva Cooley. 4th Grade Math. Published at Wednesday, November 11th, 2020 - 13:33:38 PM.
Sometimes I really hate my ego. Ive studied spiritual teachings enough to know that what drives us to control is the ego: that over-analytic, judging and critical left brain which is always on guard, eager to squash our enthusiasm, and which doesnt give spontaneity and creativity much of a chance to blossom. Sometimes I really hate my left brain, too. Even though we need it for survival, it can sabotage our most earnest efforts to be open, spontaneous, flexible and honest. The ego is very wary of honesty. It sees it as a weakness, and would rather we respond in safer, pre-programmed sorts of ways. Honesty is risky business for the ego, because we might look foolish, stupid or weak, so the ego avoids situations that could create discomfort. The ego is what causes us to reduce, to shrink, ask for less, and to settle. It reasons: at least if I settle Im not out of my comfort zone. If the ego had its way it would tuck us into bed and keep us there forever, everyday nearly the same, nothing allowed in that would rock our boats. Sterile, yet safe. Though youve probably realized by now that playing it too safe is a recipe for failure.
Many teachers plan their year based on the textbooks order and agenda for the school year. This isnt bad, but often it fails to take into consideration the actual skills needed for the next year, and only addresses the lessons to be covered. The lessons to be covered are critical, but from the perspective of the skills necessary to move forward. Instead of planning the year forward, if teachers would plan for backwards education, skills would be steadily increased and students would be more prepared for the upcoming year along the way. The concept is simple. As a teacher, determine what skills, or what knowledge needs to be mastered by your students before they complete your grade levels learning. In other words, if you teach 4th grade, what skills would the 5th grade teachers in your school hope and pray that your students have learned when they walk in the door for 5th grade. Talk to the teachers in the grades above you. Find out what they think are the greatest challenges at their grade level, and how skill or knowledge deficits have affected their instructional year.
Since the recession of 2008, there has been a new global war taking form. If you were to query the billions that live on our planet what is the #1 thing they all want from their government leaders, the answer would be an economy that provided good jobs. Everyone in the world wants a good job. Today, the war for jobs around the globe has trumped all other leadership activities. If countries fail at creating jobs, their societies fall apart. Countries, and cities will experience suffering, chaos, and eventual revolution. This is the new world that leaders confront. This can be seen as much at city level as it is at the country level. Look at post-recession Detroit, MI; or Cleveland, OH.
The "rules" and "guidelines" for schools are complex and dictated to them by the prevailing winds of politics, either state, federal or both. How they approach instruction depends on many factors, the most telling being that they have been identified as a "school in crisis". Remediation Remediation has been used consistently in the past but generally is not approved for schools in crisis. The purpose was to work with students at their reading/math level until they mastered the skills allowing them to achieve at the level and pace of their peers. This approach may be appropriate for the child who is slightly behind his class, either because he had a long-term absence or other factors interfered with his learning at the time the skills were taught. The problem with remediation has always been that teachers taught the students the skills for which they assumed the students were now ready. They have not addressed the missing skills (possibly skills that should have been in place years before that teacher ever met the child) that caused the reading/math skills to be low in the first place.
Heres what I observe. They effortlessly pass the "leadership" opportunities to each other and build on each others ideas in ways that we seem to forget as we grow up and become leaders or members of teams. They actually listen as they add new thoughts. Do they occasionally go off topic and on to personal tangents? Of course. But they get back on track and give helpful ideas to each other. Theres innocence, curiosity, simplicity, honesty and a pure desire to help each other. It is a powerful reminder of how complicated we tend to make things as we grow up, both in our personal lives and as leaders. Does everything really need to be as hard and complex as we make it?
Students may have ideas about their future vocation. They may want to be an astronaut or super-star in sports. As they become a bit more realistic, the choices they have will depend heavily on their education. In considering future employment, its common to overlook the importance of math competency. Almost every good job requires adequate math skills. Some demand advanced math competence. These include any branch of medicine, most managerial positions, engineers, lab technicians, pilots, construction workers, graphic designers, surveyors, accountants, bookkeepers, teachers, many retail jobs, most government jobs, and the list goes on and on. Parents and young students may not realize the importance of early mastery of math fundamentals. Mathematics is a subject that builds on prior knowledge. Once you fall behind, math becomes drudgery and requires more time to complete homework assignments. It is wrong to assume that since electronic calculators can do math computations quickly, memorization of basic facts doesnt really matter anymore. Without basic fact fluency, frustration levels will only increase.
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