No Governator Autograph

“As of September 1, 2008, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing no longer prints or provides a paper copy as an official document.
The online official record of your document will be viewable to you and your potential employer directly through the Commission’s website in approximately 48 hours.”

So says my e-mail from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The last time I renewed my credential, I paid my money and received a nice certificate, signed by the current California governor.

I’m all for reducing paper and storing documents online, but is it wrong to want a certificate with my name on it signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger?

New Teachers Lack Skills Needed Today

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
(can’t get the link to work, sorry)

Study: New teachers lack skills needed today

Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, December 14, 2009
Fewer college graduates are becoming teachers in California, and those who do often lack the increasingly demanding skills needed when they get to the classroom, according to the newest research out of the Center on the Future of Teaching and Learning.About 52,000 people were enrolled in teacher education programs in 2007, down by a third from 77,000 in 2001, according to the Status of the Teaching Profession 2009 report released today. Those who do become teachers are well versed in their subject matter, but often lack other critical skills to succeed, the researchers said.

“The job of the high school teacher has changed,” said Margaret Gaston, president and executive director of the Santa Cruz-based Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. “They’re having to deliver instruction in a new way.”

Yet teaching programs and teacher training haven’t kept pace with those new demands on teachers, according to SRI International researchers who conducted the study.

To reduce the dropout rate and increase the number of students heading to college or the workforce, state reforms have pushed high schools to increase academic requirements, personalize and individualize the high school experience, and connect learning to the real world, according to the researchers.

For some high schools, that has meant adding career and technical academies or converting to small-school models with project-based learning – instruction requiring teachers to do more than stand in front of a class to explain the Industrial Revolution or Newton’s laws of motion.

Almost 90 percent of the 247 public school principals surveyed for the study think most of their teachers know the content they need to teach – something that has greatly improved in the past several years, according to the study. But only half of those principals believe the teachers have the ability to incorporate real-world examples in those lessons – a number that drops to a third of principals in high-poverty schools.

In short, it’s not enough for these teachers to simply know their stuff.

The report calls on the state to better align teacher education programs and support with the reality of a high school classroom in the 21st century. It also urges the state to invest in recruiting, retaining and training teachers to meet future workforce needs.

“In many high schools, teachers are expected to know and be able to communicate the real-world and career applications of their subject matter, either through direct industry experience or through some understanding of the industry area being emphasized,” according to the report.

In other words: “It’s about being able to reach the students,” said Patricia Gray, former principal at San Francisco’s Balboa High School and now the district’s executive director of the Leadership and Equity Initiative.

The saying used to be: “Those who can’t do, teach,” Gray added. “It’s not that way anymore.”

For the full report, go to

E-mail Jill Tucker at

This article appeared on page C – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Teachers in High School know their subject matter but can’t teach it to students in a in which they can relate.
Apparently, this is new? Good teachers have always been the ones who can motivate students to learn and then teach in a way students can understand. Teaching isn’t just knowing your subject, it’s getting the students to learn.
A skill. A talent. A passion. In my opinion.

To Speak the Truth or Be Positive?

I’ve had quite a few teachers lately tell me about horrible working conditions in their classrooms; problems with students, other teachers, parents and principals. One teacher summed up her week with the words: “I cried everyday when I got home.”

When I approached these teachers about submitting their stories to my blog, reminding them they could be anonymous, each of them replied the same way. “I don’t want to discourage new teachers.
They could tell the story in their own words, but each teacher felt she needed to be positive and only share the good things about teaching.

If teachers never talk about what is wrong in their classrooms, how are things ever going to change? Aren’t the new teachers going to become discouraged a few years into their teaching careers? Then do they hide the truth or do they just quit?

I believe teachers need to share with each other; to find solutions, to know what is happening at other schools, to band together when a wrong needs to be righted and finally, to let the public know what is happening in schools. If people really knew what teachers went through every day and every year, I believe someone would start a conversation about it in a place where change is possible.

Your thoughts?

(And I haven’t even talked about the few teachers who are threatened. One commented, “I’m afraid they could fire me if I said what really happens here.”)

Emma’s (Goldie) New Backyard

Here’s a photo of sister Daisy showing Emma around the backyard. There was a growl or two from Emma when she first met Daisy, but they get along now.

News Flash : Emma loves Wheat Thins! Everytime B. opens the box of Wheat Thins, Emma rushes into the kitchen. She’s still a little scared and won’t come up to B., but she stands a few feet away and longingly looks at the Wheat Thins box. She’ll eat one if B. leaves it on the floor for her or if she throws it to her.

Emma is bonding with my nieces. She lets my younger niece come up to her and pet her. The adults need to sit and wait for Emma to come to them. At night, Emma finds a bed to jump on and sleep. Wonder if my younger niece hides dog biscuits in her bed?

Goldie The Rescued Dog Update

I’m happy to report that after 6 days in her new home, Emma (Goldie) sleeps on the bed with my nieces, she licks B.’s hand, and yesterday she rolled on her back and loved the attention she got when B. rubbed her belly.

Here’s Emma on Day two.

Check out my friend Sara’s blog: Sara In Vermont. Every Friday, she’ll post a dog that needs rescuing.

Saving Goldie The Dog

I have a story to share that’s not about teaching. It’s about dogs. Actually one dog in particular – Goldie.

Back in July, I was on Facebook reading the status updates. Mary, my friend from Lake Tahoe, Ca. posted a photo of Goldie, a dog up for adoption at the Rhea County Animal Shelter in Tennessee.
Goldie’s face in the photo captured my heart. I went to the site, Save a Dog and posted Goldie’s information to my Facebook page. The shelter had to euthanize dogs because they had too many. Goldie’s time was limited. She had a family that loved her, but they lost their house and had nowhere to live. They sadly left Goldie at the shelter.

Two months later, Mary again posted Goldie’s photo on her Facebook page with the caption,

“Goldie’s still here! Hurry, someone get her before it’s too late!”

I reposted Goldie to my Facebook page. This time, my sister in Southern California and my friend Paige in Lake Tahoe, both saw it.

My sister, B., and her family decided they had to have Goldie. Through phone calls and e-mails, dog lovers from California to Tennessee plotted how to get Goldie to California. My flight attendant friend, Paige, contacted B. through Facebook. (They’d never met before) and offered help in getting Goldie to California. She provided valuable information and offered to fly to Tennessee, get Goldie on a plane and fly to Orange County with her! (Paige is now on the dog-sitting list.)

The Rhea County Animal Shelter’s volunteers and veterinarian, Ashley, worked with B. and got Goldie ready. They picked up a traveling crate, made sure she had food and water for her flight, had her travel papers ready and drove three hours to the Atlanta Airport to put Goldie on a Delta flight to Orange County, CA.

The day Goldie flew to California, I was so excited I couldn’t think of anything else. I called Mary, my mom, and my sister. I texted my nieces at school. (I’m so sorry teachers!) I tracked her flight online. My sister, my brother-in-law, my two nieces and my parents met Goldie at the airport.

A scared Goldie hid under the table when she arrived at her new home, but she slowly let my nieces (ages 12 and 14) pet her. They sat very still on the sofa and quietly waited for Goldie to come to them.

Goldie has a new home and was saved from euthanasia!

Thank you Facebook, Save A Dog, my animal-loving friends, the Rhea County Animal Shelter, Delta Airlines and my sister!

Goldie’s new name is Emma. Here she is hiding under the table that first night.

Small, But Powerful

Emma, a small 4-year-old in my K/1 combo class, did one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I was working with a small group when I looked over at Emma’s group and saw all five kids sitting perfectly still in their desks with everything cleaned up – and I mean EVERYTHING clean: every white board was spotless, every marker was capped, every eraser was perfectly lined up. I asked what was going on and the BIG first grader said, “Emma was tired and finished and she told us to clean up”… and THEY DID. She is FOUR!!!