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Thread: Skills tests for new teachers

  1. #1 Skills tests for new teachers 
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    I'm currently thinking about leaving academia and retraining as a teacher (slightly lower salary, but more job security, less politics, more free time and less stress) and as part of this I have to pass a "skills test" to be allowed to start training. I did them this morning and was amazed at how low the bar was, bearing in mind most of the people taking these tests will be university graduates. The pass mark is 63% (!) for both literacy and numeracy and the tests are remarkeably easy!

    Have a go yourself:

    assessment_engine
    assessment_engine

    and see how you find them...

    PS I should say for the numeracy test you are not allowed to use a calculator in the first part and in the second part can only use the calculator built into the test web page, you can, however, use a pen and paper to work things out. For the literacy test you are allowed a pen and paper but nothing else.


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  3. #2  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Best of luck. Hope you don't run across any students like me.


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  4. #3  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    I hope I do! You seem bright and willing to learn, sounds like a good student to me...
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  5. #4  
    not ADM!N grmpysmrf's Avatar
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    slightly lower salary,
    Yes


    but more job security,
    Not if big business and the politicians have any say over it

    less politics,
    Don't kid yourself!


    more free time and less stress
    If by more you mean "less"
    then yes!
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  6. #5  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    I'm sure mr demon has done his research, and with his youth and active humor, I'm sure he will be a splendid teacher. Now he'll have to deal with cranks AND pretentious teens.
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  7. #6  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    I have done the research and if the new job gives me any time when I am not thinking about work issues or how insecure my position is the stress levels will be dramatically lower.

    I grew up with younger sisters (between 2 and 11 years younger than I am) -- I've seen every teen tantrum imaginable
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  8. #7  
    not ADM!N grmpysmrf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    I have done the research and if the new job gives me any time when I am not thinking about work issues or how insecure my position is the stress levels will be dramatically lower.

    I grew up with younger sisters (between 2 and 11 years younger than I am) -- I've seen every teen tantrum imaginable
    You have sarcasm down to an art form. at least here in the states that is a HUGE no no. no matter how old the kids are.
    If you have no patience for some of the moronic posts on the board here, how will you address it when you have a class of 30 something moronic talkers? Not everybody gets honor kids.

    Don't take me the wrong way. I'm not trying to persuade you not to. I just don't want you to buy one thing and then end up with something different. Just make sure you know what you're getting into.

    If you can get the higher level students. I think you could make an excellent teacher. But when you're teaching low level life science, just from the little bit I know of you here by your posts, I can't imagine that keeping you interested or engaged.
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  9. #8  
    Forum Masters Degree mat5592's Avatar
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    Are you going to try teaching at the university level or would you also consider the high school level (not sure what you all call it there, but right before university)? It would be lower pay, and the students would suck more, but I would imagine it wouldn't be too hard to get the job with your credentials if you have trouble getting a university job.
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  10. #9  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Believe it or not I'm quite patient with youngsters (you'll see my posts often take a different tone if and when I find out it is a kid who is posting genuine questions), it's adults who should know better I have no patience with. I have looked into it, this is not a spur of the moment decision, you raise some valid points but I think I know what I'm letting myself in for. I've already had some experience teaching in schools (they ask you to do this before you apply to show you what you are "buying") and I really enjoyed it and did well at it. I've also had my interview where my "personal and pedagogic subject knowlege", "my ability to communicate effectively with children" and my "personal and potential atrributes for teaching" were all rated excellent. They also commented that they saw "evidence of a strong aptitude for working with young people." and offered me a place on the spot. So I appreciate your concerns but think I have it covered.

    As for keeping me engaged, I'll be teaching kids up to 19 years old (both chemistry and physics) but I'm also trying to get into teaching at a local community college which will also involve some of the undergrad chemistry stuff. I will miss the research, but not the bullshit that goes with it...
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  11. #10  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mat5592 View Post
    Are you going to try teaching at the university level or would you also consider the high school level (not sure what you all call it there, but right before university)? It would be lower pay, and the students would suck more, but I would imagine it wouldn't be too hard to get the job with your credentials if you have trouble getting a university job.
    You don't need any teaching qualification to teach at university level (I've already done that quite a lot), teaching in "high schools" though requires you to have "QTS" (qualified teacher status) which is the course I'll be doing. The initial training would qualify me to teach pre-university but I hope, once I qualify to spend some time teaching at community college type places that would cover some of the undergrad stuff. I've basically been told there is a massive shortage of qualified chemistry and physics specialists in the teaching profession here in the UK and once I qualify I'll be in a strong position to find a career plan that covers both.
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  12. #11  
    not ADM!N grmpysmrf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon;
    Believe it or not I'm quite patient with youngsters (you'll see my posts often take a different tone if and when I find out it is a kid who is posting genuine questions), it's adults who should know better I have no patience with.
    I haven't been here long enough to see this, but I doubt you would have reason to lie. so that's great.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon
    I have looked into it, this is not a spur of the moment decision, you raise some valid points but I think I know what I'm letting myself in for. I've already had some experience teaching in schools (they ask you to do this before you apply to show you what you are "buying") and I really enjoyed it and did well at it. I've also had my interview where my "personal and pedagogic subject knowlege", "my ability to communicate effectively with children" and my "personal and potential atrributes for teaching" were all rated excellent. They also commented that they saw "evidence of a strong aptitude for working with young people." and offered me a place on the spot. So I appreciate your concerns but think I have it covered.
    That's excellent. Offered you a job on the spot? Did you accept?
    congratulations... silly of me to think you would just jump into anything haphazardly.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon
    I will miss the research, but not the bullshit that goes with it...
    I know about this through my sister. She got her master's degree in microbiology from some prestigious school in Sweden and now works for a lab, but all of her salary is tied to grants and funding which, apparently, is constantly stressful.
    Good luck to you, sir.
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  13. #12  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grmpysmrf View Post
    That's excellent. Offered you a job on the spot? Did you accept?
    I did (conditionally) there are a few more hoops I have to jump through before it is confirmed but hopefully will start in September all being well.


    congratulations... silly of me to think you would just jump into anything haphazardly.
    Yeah, I don't really do haphazardly

    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon
    I will miss the research, but not the bullshit that goes with it...
    I know about this through my sister. She got her master's degree in microbiology from some prestigious school in Sweden and now works for a lab, but all of her salary is tied to grants and funding which, apparently, is constantly stressful.
    Yep, that's my major problem with it, plus my next promotion if I got it would put me in a job in which all the bits I enjoy were scaled down and all the bits I don't would be scaled up, that's the main reason I started thinking about it...

    Good luck to you, sir.
    Cheers!
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  14. #13  
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    I just thought. One advantage you have that many teachers would like - you have "in demand" subject knowledge. As I understand it, teachers who are highly qualified in science get quite a lot less of the idiotic demands and close scrutiny that others find stressful in the English education system.

    I'd say go for it.
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  15. #14  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Thanks, that was the impression I got as well, the government are trying really hard at the minute to recruit science specialists into teaching (maybe I'm just noticing them more but since I started thinking about it I rarely pass a day without seeing an ad along the lines of "Why not become a teacher?").
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  16. #15  
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    Though your remark about low standards brought back memories. I had a student come to me for tutoring once.

    She was doing an early childhood degree, which meant that apart from learning how to manage infants and toddlers and preschoolers, she would also be qualified to teach in junior primary. And for this, the magnificent intellectual feat to be demonstrated was to pass, that's all, a gr 4 standard in maths.

    She certainly couldn't meet that standard when I tested her. She only came for a few sessions and she wasn't much better when she stopped coming. (I did not tell her that she was up to standard. I think she just felt better about it.)
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  17. #16  
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    Numeracy and literacy skills for teachers? What is the point of this bureaucracy?
    Last edited by Trivium; February 1st, 2014 at 08:52 AM.
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  18. #17  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Yeah, if you're already a graduate I think it should be taken as read that you can add up and string a sentence together, but I had to take a day* off work, go to the test centre and waste my time jumping through a hoop...

    *Actually it only turned out to be the morning as I said I was willing to do the tests back to back and completed them in half the allowed time.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    Yeah, if you're already a graduate I think it should be taken as read that you can add up and string a sentence together, but I had to take a day* off work, go to the test centre and waste my time jumping through a hoop...

    *Actually it only turned out to be the morning as I said I was willing to do the tests back to back and completed them in half the allowed time.
    Ridiculous. The fact they have introduced numeracy and literary skills for graduates makes me think something is very, very wrong with the educational system...
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  20. #19  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Maybe my OP wasn't clear, these tests are not specifically for graduates but must be passed by everyone who wants to train to be a teacher (graduate or not). My point was that the tests are so ridiculously easy that a graduate should walk through them and that as most of the people taking the tests would be graduates (I think it is quite rare for people without a degree to enter teaching nowadays) they are a bit of a waste of time. (I can understand the need to check that people who are applying that do not have a degree or evidence of qualifications are up to standard though).
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  21. #20  
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    This "entry" test doesn't' seem to be much different than the paragraph one has to write before entering most colleges...it really has no connection to requirements to graduate. Also not sure what such test provide that an SAT or other standard test couldn't.
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  22. #21  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grmpysmrf View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon;
    Believe it or not I'm quite patient with youngsters (you'll see my posts often take a different tone if and when I find out it is a kid who is posting genuine questions), it's adults who should know better I have no patience with.
    I haven't been here long enough to see this, but I doubt you would have reason to lie. so that's great.
    There's a good example here:

    Some stupidly basic questions about heat/temperature :/

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  23. #22  
    ...matter and pixie dust wegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grmpysmrf View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    I have done the research and if the new job gives me any time when I am not thinking about work issues or how insecure my position is the stress levels will be dramatically lower.

    I grew up with younger sisters (between 2 and 11 years younger than I am) -- I've seen every teen tantrum imaginable
    You have sarcasm down to an art form. at least here in the states that is a HUGE no no. no matter how old the kids are.
    If you have no patience for some of the moronic posts on the board here, how will you address it when you have a class of 30 something moronic talkers? Not everybody gets honor kids.

    Don't take me the wrong way. I'm not trying to persuade you not to. I just don't want you to buy one thing and then end up with something different. Just make sure you know what you're getting into.

    If you can get the higher level students. I think you could make an excellent teacher. But when you're teaching low level life science, just from the little bit I know of you here by your posts, I can't imagine that keeping you interested or engaged.
    This is an interesting comment...I have the utmost respect for you PhDemon…you are quite brilliant, from what I've gleaned from your posts--and I’m thinking you’d make your students’ time in class, very worthwhile and interesting. But, I wonder about your patience threshold. Unless you are teaching the best of the honor students, you will get those who don’t respect authority, nor education. So, something to think about, at least from the perspective of…stress levels. You might just be exchanging one type of stress (within your current position) for another.

    Relating to your OP…It alarms me that the tests are that ‘easy,’ but not surprising. At least in the US, it would seem the states are falling grimly behind the rest of the world in terms of educational prowess. It’s deeply troubling. Not sure what the solution is, to be honest.


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  24. #23  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Yeah, I know I'll have to work on being more patient but teaching me how to deal with kids patiently and maintaining classroom discipline will part of the training. I know I'm not going to be perfect straight out of the gate but I think it is something I will be able to master reasonably quickly, bear in mind that on here it is a hobby so not being very patient and calling a crank a crank and being sarcastic is very different to how I would be if my salary depended on teaching the crank why they were a crank (here as one of my old tutors used to say "I'm not paid to listen to this drivel"., if I'm teaching I would be

    PS Thanks for the first line, careful you'll make me big-headed
    Last edited by PhDemon; February 2nd, 2014 at 09:08 AM.
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  25. #24  
    ...matter and pixie dust wegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    Yeah, I know I'll have to work on being more patient but teaching me how to deal with kids patiently and maintaining classroom discipline will part of the training. I know I'm not going to be perfect straight out of the gate but I think it is something I will be able to master reasonably quickly, bear in mind that on here it is a hobby so not being very patient and calling a crank a crank and being sarcastic is very different to how I would be if my salary depended on teaching the crank why they were a crank (here as one of my old tutors used to say "I'm not payed to listen to this drivel"., if I'm teaching I would be

    PS Thanks for the first line, careful you'll make me big-headed
    haha no problem, i give credit where it is due. I think if you truly want a career change, you will find a way to make it all balance out. I think it might be different knowing they are kids as opposed to dealing with er...um....adult 'cranks' on the net. Well, I wish you great success should u pursue this with all your might.
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  26. #25  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Thanks, I'm quite looking forward to it
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  27. #26  
    not ADM!N grmpysmrf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    Yeah, I know I'll have to work on being more patient but teaching me how to deal with kids patiently and maintaining classroom discipline will part of the training.
    Oh, no no no no!! Unless the cultural dynamics of students are very different from that of the students in the states, you can't teach someone classroom management. So, if you're expecting to learn some magic script that everyone is supposed to follow, you're going to have a hell of a time. You have to get your control by being firm and fair and certainly never fake. Don't threaten things you can't guarantee will happen or you have no intention of following through on and find a way to handle problem students in the classroom. Cause once you start sending them to the dean you have just relinquished all control that you may have had. These are just some of the basics

    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon
    I know I'm not going to be perfect straight out of the gate
    Just keep this in mind. This little mantra will you help you when you feel like your failing.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon
    but I think it is something I will be able to master reasonably quickly
    Some teachers go their whole career without coming close to classroom control. Don't be one of those.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon
    bear in mind that on here it is a hobby so not being very patient and calling a crank a crank and being sarcastic is very different to how I would be if my salary depended on teaching the crank why they were a crank (here as one of my old tutors used to say "I'm not payed to listen to this drivel"., if I'm teaching I would be
    Excellent way to look at it.
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  28. #27  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    True, I'm not expecting to be given a few rules and then suddenly be a great teacher, I meant I will be advised and mentored by experienced teachers who can advise me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong and will hopefully find a way that works for me. The students I've taught at universities would testify that I'm firm but fair and I'm not a fake in anything I do, I've also had to lay the law down occasionally to students who were taking this piss and not putting the work in (without involving my superiors which would have really f*cked them over), hopefully that will give me a starting point to work from...
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  29. #28  
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    True, I'm not expecting to be given a few rules and then suddenly be a great teacher, I meant I will be advised and mentored by experienced teachers who can advise me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong and will hopefully find a way that works for me. The students I've taught at universities would testify that I'm firm but fair and I'm not a fake in anything I do, I've also had to lay the law down occasionally to students who were taking this piss and not putting the work in (without involving my superiors which would have really f*cked them over), hopefully that will give me a starting point to work from...
    Working with colleagues is a decent starting point, but it really is sink or swim. You'll quickly find that some things that your colleagues do you wouldn't dare try and somethings that work for you your colleagues will try to talk you out of (for whatever reasons, I still don't know) It comes down to what works for you, and the crappy part about it is you won't know what's going to work until your in the class and assessing the situation. You have to be able to adapt and think on your feet (I know for you this probably won't be a problem) because no class will be like the next, and what works in one class may fall wholly short in another. Much of the time those "classroom management" trainings are so far removed from reality that it's just disgusting. They are usually taught by administrators who haven't been in the classroom in 20 years or by psychologists who have never been in a classroom.

    You have to keep in mind students not doing their work is probably going to be the least of your problems. The students at university are way different than public school. People that choose to continue their education and have to pay for it take it a little more seriously than some kid that is being forced to go and doesn't care in the slightest.

    Again, not trying to talk you out of it, cause it is definitely rewarding, just want you to know what you're buying.
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  30. #29  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Thanks for the heads up, I'll bear your advice in mind when I start...
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  31. #30  
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    Thanks for the heads up, I'll bear your advice in mind when I start...
    I'm excited for ya'
    I think you're gonna have a good time.
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  32. #31  
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    "Much of the time those "classroom management" trainings are so far removed from reality that it's just disgusting. They are usually taught by administrators who haven't been in the classroom in 20 years or by psychologists who have never been in a classroom."

    Sounds like a sorry program and I hope a rather uncommon one. I've spent nearly 300 hours in classrooms during my training and haven't gotten to the formal student teaching yet; nor does it include many weeks of volunteer time we're encouraged to take. Classroom management was conducted by a current special education teacher with more than 30 years of experience and involved more than a two weeks in real classrooms, a good deal of it interacting with children. Every other education class requires contact with children as well.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; February 2nd, 2014 at 08:31 AM.
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  33. #32  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by grmpysmrf
    "Much of the time those "classroom management" trainings are so far removed from reality that it's just disgusting. They are usually taught by administrators who haven't been in the classroom in 20 years or by psychologists who have never been in a classroom."


    Sounds like a sorry program and I hope a rather uncommon one. I've spent nearly 300 hours in classrooms during my training and haven't gotten to the formal student teaching yet; nor does it include many weeks of volunteer time we're encouraged to take. Classroom management was conducted by a current special education teacher with more than 30 years of experience and involved more than a two weeks in real classrooms, a good deal of it interacting with children. Every other education class requires contact with children as well.
    That's program after program after program... I'd think teachers would welcome anyone with a fresh (read "current") perspective on behavior on today's youth. I have yet to see a program that didn't push "the magic script." "ok, a student will say/do this and then you say/do this..." Kids don't follow scripts and there is no way they can script out every single situation that is bound to happen in the classroom. So, it's useless. The reality is is that most districts just dump their money on one snake oil salesman after another because the money is marked for such programs and if they don't use it they lose it. Sad, really.
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    "I'd think teachers would welcome anyone with a fresh (read "current") perspective on behavior on today's youth"

    There's one big problem with your statement. You are assuming kids have changed significantly. There's little credible evidence to support that notion at all. All that changes is they sometime do similar things using a new technology...(e.g., social aggression by phone rumors now replaced by the same on facebook etc.) And most of the changes that we do know about are for the better, improved social and worldly awareness for example. The other change is secular trends towards younger puberty and its effects on sexually charged behaviors in and out of school.

    There is however, improved evidence-based means on how to handle those unchanged behaviors and teach those unchanged children. Unfortunately much of the science behind what works and doesn't work goes completely against what parents think "might" work, such as dumping huge sums into connectivity and fancy wall sized touch screens when in reality if you want to improve education, study after study after study shows the teacher counts for more than all other considerations. We should take a lesson from other nations where students consistently top international achievements such as Finland...where teacher candidates extremely well vetted, well trained, and have LESS contact with children once they get to the classroom so they have time to prepare proper lesson plans and bring in local citizens to enrich that learning. Most effective US teachers are spending 80+ hour weeks because they are teaching too many students too many students per day and being asked to do the preparation at home or into the wee hours. It's rather amazing US public education is as effective as it is, given the circumstances, with scores, despite the media's idiotic reporting, still achieving 90%+ in international achievement test (even though that might be 20th on a list--OW NOs the US got an A-!!!!).
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    not ADM!N grmpysmrf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    "I'd think teachers would welcome anyone with a fresh (read "current") perspective on behavior on today's youth"

    There's one big problem with your statement. You are assuming kids have changed significantly. There's little credible evidence to support that notion at all. All that changes is they sometime do similar things using a new technology...(e.g., social aggression by phone rumors now replaced by the same on facebook etc.) And most of the changes that we do know about are for the better, improved social and worldly awareness for example. The other change is secular trends towards younger puberty and its effects on sexually charged behaviors in and out of school.

    Not sure where you're getting your info, but I've been out of high school 20 years this year, and I can tell you the kids in my classes are not how I remember the behavior being. For managing behavior the stuff that flew 20 years doesn't even make it onto the run way, let alone take flight... Maybe you're right the behavior is the same but the tool bag for dealing with the behavior has gotten considerably smaller


    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    There is however, improved evidence-based means on how to handle those unchanged behaviors and teach those unchanged children. Unfortunately much of the science behind what works and doesn't work goes completely against what parents think "might" work, such as dumping huge sums into connectivity and fancy wall sized touch screens when in reality if you want to improve education, study after study after study shows the teacher counts for more than all other considerations. We should take a lesson from other nations where students consistently top international achievements such as Finland...where teacher candidates extremely well vetted, well trained, and have LESS contact with children once they get to the classroom so they have time to prepare proper lesson plans and bring in local citizens to enrich that learning. Most effective US teachers are spending 80+ hour weeks because they are teaching too many students too many students per day and being asked to do the preparation at home or into the wee hours. It's rather amazing US public education is as effective as it is, given the circumstances, with scores, despite the media's idiotic reporting, still achieving 90%+ in international achievement test (even though that might be 20th on a list--OW NOs the US got an A-!!!!).
    You've got to take societal norms into that account too. USA culture and the rest of the world are waaaay different. I would imagine the intentional non learner numbers are far lower in other countries that value education ad aren't looking to get rich by trying to sue somebody.
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