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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Better communication would improve our schools

How many times do we as teachers walk into the faculty lounge to get a cup of coffee or go into the faculty office to make copies or check our mailbox without talking or saying anything to the next person? It seems that we are so involved in our own little worlds that we do not have time to say, "How are you?" and "How are your students doing?" or the most important one, "How can we make our jobs better by working together?" Communication seems to be lacking in all forms within our own professional environment. We as professionals should know that communication is the most powerful asset of all. As educators we should try a little harder to collaborate with our colleagues. We should be discussing how the disciplines relate to each other, how to improve our teaching techniques and to maintain and/or improve the standards we hold our students accountable.
It would be really interesting if all the departments could hold meetings interdepartmentally instead of by subject area. We could possibly incorporate greater ideas from everybody's input rather than just one subject area.
We can also take this on a wider scale by inviting teachers from other schools to share their ideas with us. Now that we are using online computers and other methods in technology we can build better communication with one another. Inviting teachers from other disciplines and from other schools such as high schools and middle schools and possibly professionals working in the field of technology, we can explore methods that will help us improve student learning. Introducing new methods and ideas on how to teach topics in our field can possibly strengthen better communication amongst our colleagues. We should remember the saying, "If you want to increase student retention, you do not lower the standards of the curriculum, you increase the quality of education." Quality comes from good communication as well as good teaching techniques.
Laptops, iPads, e-mail, etc., are just technological tools of communication and not good methods of collaboration with colleagues. I remember before the No Child Left Behind law was enacted tracking worked in the school. The college, business and the general track worked for all the students. Students taking the general track, for example, studying a trade had to take general math courses which consisted of the basic skills without the aid of a calculator. Today students need a calculator to do the problems and they still can not get the correct solutions with the calculator. Pushing a button does not mean you are going to a right answer. Students have to be taught the basic skills and how they're applied in a real situation. To assume back then that everybody was going to college was a bad assumption ($65 billion later). It just does not work! We have to bring back the tracking in the high schools now that the colleges have eliminated the remedial classes. We have to try to bring back the trades into the high school or the students are not going to have any job for the future.
Since we are always talking about the problems in education and assuming it is someone else's problem we as professionals should take the first step in creating better communication for a better learning environment.
Ron Blevins
East Haven


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