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Friday, June 9, 2017

A Happy Teacher is a Good Teacher by Betsy Combier

Danna Thomas, a kindergarten teacher at Windsor Hills Elementary School in Baltimore, and the founder
of Happy Teacher Revolution, smiles and snaps her fingers while a fellow teacher shares a good moment from earlier in
 the day. 

—Erin Irwin/Education Week

by Betsy Combier

Parents know and their children know when their teacher is happy with them, the school, and everything in the environment. The teacher's tone of voice, body language and actions in the classroom express their feelings as well as mood. I don't know many - if any at all - who can hide these characteristics of being human. I imagine an excellent actor could do it, but not everyday for a school year. That's why I am perplexed at the number of rules, regulations and laws that principals in New York City are laying on their staff in order to control , militarize - and yes, even criminalize - teachers. Who benefits from this? No one.

Yet we hear all the time about teachers quitting because of harassment, discrimination, assaults, verbal abuse and other misconduct by the principal, for any and all reasons, some valid, many others not valid.

Why has this been the pattern and practice of the New York City Department of Education? First, because they never put children first. Never. Principals are now responsible for the budget, and good results. So what comes first is the group or individuals who are the flavor of the month, to get fired, charged, or removed from the budget; then, the curriculum has to be the one favored by the vendor with the most money or by the donor who could give the most money. Whether the program or curriculum works does not matter. After all, the NYC DOE employees believe, they are spending public funds, not their own, so who cares?

By the way, this emphasis on results pushes principals to lie cheat and steal to keep their jobs or to stop any rebuke from superiors. Changing grades is systematic. This altering of records is more or less expected. Of course again, no consideration of the effect of these records altering actions are ever felt by principals. They keep their jobs.

Second, the New York City Department of Education is putting into action the national bias against unions and teachers which is fueled by very rich people who can spend money on national major and social media to spread the word of how bad public school education really is, and how bad teachers are who have tenure. The word "tenure" is a bad word to the "I've-never-been-in-public-school-but-I-hate-tenure" people, who push into the public consciousness the picture of a tenured teacher sleeping in the classroom, hitting a small child, or knitting during a math class. Their claim is that "once you have tenure, you stop working because you have your job for life. No one can fire you, thus all teachers are lazy, sit around and do nothing, or hurt children physically and emotionally. These tenured employees should all be fired and tenure must end."

Tenure remains public policy in New York State for now. But teachers are being thrown into termination hearings known as 3020-a Arbitration every day. in these hearings, teachers are accused of lying, cheating, stealing, or being incompetent, harassing, verbally abusive and/or criminally insane. The charges are made up for the most part to remove expensive senior teachers making more than $100,000 or thereabout, or are too old, ill, or simply whistleblowers. Many - not all - lose their jobs.

Campbell Brown is an excellent recent example of someone who wants tenure to end. So far, she has not been successful in her many lawsuits.

Let's stop and think for a minute and visualize a different scenario, where teachers are respected, where creativity and innovations in learning are celebrated, and where children and their unique differences are placed first in importance in education policy and practice.

I believe that anyone who knows a senior teacher knows how rich the experience and knowledge of this person is, and how useful their senior status is. I believe in tenure because we need to treasure the abilities of senior teachers to handle all difficult situations and to be there for their students. 98% of the teachers I have met, worked with and know are such people. Frankly, I dont see the NYC Department of Education seeing my point anytime soon. It is not in their financial interest.

There is a better way to educate. Put the client first!!!! The parents and the children are the focus, not settling your budget in the black and changing records of the innocent to improve a school's public image.

Let's give this a try.

Betsy Combier

Social-Emotional Learning: It Starts With Teachers
How Teachers' Stress Affects Students: A Research Roundup
Harnessing Student Emotions in Service of a Cause
Can Yoga Help Prevent Teacher Burnout?
How Teacher-Prep Programs Can Embrace Social-Emotional Learning
The Life Lesson a Teacher Learned in Rehab (Opinion)
Happiness Before Homework: Focusing on Feelings in the Classroom (Opinion)
'Is Social-Emotional Learning Really Going to Work for Students of Color?' (Opinion)

How Teachers' Stress Affects Students: A Research Roundup
By Sarah D. Sparks, EDUCATION WEEK, June 7, 2017

New research is helping to clarify how teachers become chronically stressed, and how it can affect their students’ well-being and achievement.

“Relationships really matter for learning; there’s a lot of evidence around that,” said Robert Whitaker, a professor of public health and pediatrics at Temple University.

In one 2016 study, University of British Columbia researchers tracked the levels of stress hormones of more than 400 elementary students in different classes. They found teachers who reported higher levels of burnout had students with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol each morning, suggesting classroom tensions could be “contagious.”

For example, in one forthcoming study previewed at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting in San Antonio in April, researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands interviewed a small pool of 143 beginning teachers over the course of a year. Those who showed higher levels of stress at the beginning of the year displayed fewer effective teaching strategies over the rest of the school year, including clear instruction, effective classroom management, and creation of a safe and stimulating classroom climate for their students, than did the teachers with lower initial stress levels.

Meanwhile, the University of Virginia is conducting one of the first long-term experimental studies of how classroom-management techniques affect teachers’ stress and effectiveness in instruction. Researchers from the university’s YouthNex research center and the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning randomly assigned nearly 200 early-career teachers in 100 schools in three districts to normal district training or training in the Good Behavior Game, a research-backed social-emotional-learning program in which teachers reward students’ positive group behaviors. Teachers who used the game also had one-on-one video coaching every two to three weeks for a year, to help them identify their own stress levels and ways they can improve their interactions with students.

In the first study from the project, which is forthcoming, Jason Downer, the director of the Center for Advanced Study, found that nonparticipating teachers who started the school year feeling very stressed and “emotionally drained” had significantly worse classroom management and a spike in student disruptions by the spring. Stressed teachers who participated in the Good Behavior Game stayed stressed during the year, but it didn’t affect their classes as much, Downer found. “With the intervention, you weren’t seeing dramatic improvements over the year, but you had the status quo. With stressed teachers [who did not participate) you see a dive” in classroom behavior. There was no effect for teachers who didn’t start the year stressed.

“We need to consider the context for interventions, when teachers are stressed coming in and are teaching a chaotic classroom,” Downer said in a discussion at another research conference earlier this year.

How Teachers See Stress
So what makes a classroom normal for one teacher and stressful to another? University of Texas at Austin researchers, led by psychology professor Chris McCarthy, found that the answer depends on whether teachers feel they have the cognitive and other resources to meet their students’ needs.

The researchers used federal Schools and Staffing Survey data to create profiles of the “demands” on teachers, based on: their and their students’ background characteristics; whether their classes had high proportions of English-learners, students with disabilities, or students in poverty; and whether their racial group made up a minority of those in the school. They then compared those demands to teachers’ reported resources and whether the teachers felt they had autonomy in their classrooms. Teachers whose demands were greater than their perceived resources were only half as likely to say they would choose to become teachers again as were teachers who saw their demands and resources as balanced. Teachers who reported more resources than demands (a smaller group), were more than twice as likely as teachers with “balanced demands and resources” to say they would become teachers again and would return to their district next year.

“This is purely about perceived demand and resources; two teachers in the same school and teaching the same kids could feel they have more or less resources,” said Richard Lambert, who co-wrote the study. But, he added, individual schools often had very different concentrations of the most high-need students in different classrooms. “That’s something that administrators absolutely have control over. If I’m a 4th grade teacher, and there are three others down the hall, we all know five minutes [into the school year] that Ms. Jones got dealt a much harder hand this year. The perception of whether you feel treated fairly by your principal is enormous” in its relation to teacher stress, he said in a discussion of the study at AERA.

Coverage of social and emotional learning is supported in part by a grant from the NoVo Foundation, at Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.

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