Friday, January 07, 2011

Right Twice A Day

A stopped analog clock is right twice a day, and the CTA is right just as infrequently. Still, when they're right I don't mind acknowledging that, and sometimes in their mouthpiece rag they publish articles that merit praise. The most recent (January 2011) issue, which I've blasted in a few previous posts, contains a series of articles on teachers who are doing great and wonderful things, and this series merits my praise. I'd like to highlight two of the teachers. I may eventually link to the actual pages at CTA's web site, but since I'm having difficulty getting their pages to load (perhaps the RotLC deities are trying to prevent my blasphemy!) I'll just link to the digital version of the hardcopy magazine and tell you what pages to turn to. :-)

One teacher is "Dr. Raja" (see p. 11 of the magazine), who teaches at a local, uh, "not a high-end community" high school:

"His solution to students (sic) failing to understand math included developing a system called CREATE that uses repetition to teach concepts, staying active in class, immediate rewards for success, and employing tough love when students are slacking.

"Dr. Raja believes that learning has to happen in class. He doesn't follow textbooks, assign homework or spend lots of time lecturing to his students. Without homework, he finds students are more willing to pay attention in class. If they have trouble, he will tutor them at lunch or after school...Mostly, Dr. Raja gives them what students of this generation crave--immediate rewards."

There's more detail, but it's nice to read about a teacher who's reaching students.

Another story that really struck a nerve with me was about Kimber Wilkinson, a special ed teacher (see p. 14 of the magazine) who helps her students find and get employment:

"Wilkinson drives Garcia to other stores where she's already applied, to remind employers she's still interested. Sometimes Wilkinson accompanies her inside the business establishment, and other times she waits in the car and lets Garcia go solo. She helped Garcia put a resume together, assisted with online job applications, and conducted 'mock interviews' so Garcia is ready to answer tough questions. Wilkinson also talked with Garcia about grooming, hygiene, and how to exude an air of confidence...

"The students Wilkinson works with have disabilities including autism, Asperger's syndrome, mental retardation and emotional disturbance. Even in a good economy, it would be difficult for some of them to find employment. But despite these barriers, Wilkinson estimates she has found jobs for 60 students ages 16-22 over the past few years...

"Mostly, says Wilkinson, she is teaching her students the art of 'self-advocacy'...."

Hats off to these two teachers, true inspirations.

Update, 1/11/11: Here's the link for the article on Dr. Raja, and here's the link for the article on Kimber Wilkinson.

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