Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A More Useful Take (Possibly)

I offer this post as a contrast to my previous one, which was basically a rant. Having 12 or so hours to soak up what I experienced, I am in a much better state of mind to offer something constructive after my first Twitter chat last night, #ILEdChat. By the way, I would have to look at the chat archive to be sure, but I believe I was the only teacher in the discussion, and I believe I might have been the only participant south of Springfield, although I could be wrong. But I'm sure I was the only substitute teacher -- and the only student -- in the discussion.

My guess is few if anyone else that participated in the chat would read this post; and certainly they wouldn't want to read my post from last night. I was not a happy camper, and I still have a bad taste in my mouth. The reason is because I genuinely tuned in to that chat in order to learn something. I did learn something; but not what I thought I was going to learn.

The 5 Essentials survey -- at least the one the teachers fill out -- asks multiple questions about, in a nutshell, collaboration. How well do teachers work with other teachers; with principals, with parents, and with students. I thought that is what the chat would be about. But it wasn't. The chat was all about the survey itself; and how "highfalutin" Illinois educators apparently do not like how the survey is set up and what potentially could be done with the data.

Here is what I would like to say to the educators that took part in the chat: I realize by the time I see the survey for the first time you have probably seen it, dissected it, and talked about it with really "important" people for some time. But by refusing to "come down to my level," you are pushing me and the rest of Illinois' teachers, parents and students aside. Most of you spent the entire hour talking to each other about scientific mishmosh: how will the data be extrapolated, how will the state's "report card" be affected, how will the variables be analyzed. I can see a segment of Illinois educators being interested in that, but it's a small segment; and everyone else that was invited to the chat was left to marvel at the collective "intelligentsia." As a newbie, and a part-time teacher "somewhere downstate," -- and a concerned parent by the way -- I felt like I was out of place, out of sight and out of mind. Only a couple of the educators in the chat even recognized my opinions. Most of you just kept talking about that same "stuff," in your "dee-luxe apartment in the sky." I know you're all caring educators, so what happened? Because the days of you relating to us "common folk" are apparently over. Or, I was invited to the wrong chat.

Notice how many quotation marks I used in the last two paragraphs. I'm not quoting you educators, obviously, I'm telling you how I perceived you. You can blow me off as ignorant if you want, but in a survey that concentrates on collaboration as a means of reaching our collective state education goals, I would suggest that maybe you should pay attention to us little folks down here at the grass roots level. You might learn something.

I would hate to discover that one of the reasons we have to go through exercises like this survey is because talking heads at the upper levels of state education have their heads so far up their own butts they can't see what is happening in the schools. From what I discovered last night, I'm beginning to wonder.


  1. I participated in the chat and I am sorry that this was your first experience in a tweetchat. From my admin perspective, the concerns about the validity of the instrument and how the data is collected is a big concern. Also, the concern about the report card is that it will go on the school report cards and the entire "worth" of the school is diminished to a color code.

    Having said that, I hope that you will continue to participate in chats. We learn a lot more from people with opinions different than ours than a bunch of "yes"-ers. Your posts have made me think about the chat. Perhaps that topic was not defined clearly enough and thus your expectations were not met. There will be a poll for the next topic. Please provide input and continue to participate. See if you can get more teachers (and I will do the same) because that chat was admin heavy and it is an education chat, not specifically admin.

    I look forward to continuing our conversations and learning from one another.

  2. I thank you for your comments and appreciate them greatly. One of the few positives I could take out of that chat was making connections with yourself and Kathy Melton; the two people that seemed like they cared that I was there. My subsequent reading of the chat archive, and some advice from my professor, have made me look at the chat differently as well. I would only add that I understand the importance of the validity of the data, etc., however it seemed like that was the only subject covered. I have no doubt the next chat will be better, and I will be on hand to check it out. Again, thanks for your input, we will certainly stay in touch.