Morgan Ivich and Chelsea Hahn examine their experiences with traditional and holistic grading, share their opinions, and consider their future classrooms.
What are your experiences with and opinions on these two grading systems?
NJSEA ambassadors received a scholarship to attend the Teaching & Learning Symposium on October 23rd. Below are their reactions to the symposium and their selected professional development sessions.
At the Teaching & Learning Symposium, I attended the break out session for reaching English Language Learners in the classroom. This session caught my interest because I’m currently student teaching in a kindergarten classroom and have two students that are English Language Learners. One student’s native language is Arabic and the other’s is Hungarian. I’ve been working on adapting all my lessons to teach to their needs in hopes that they’re comprehending as much as possible. This session helped me by giving me examples of activities for all six levels of English comprehension and English proficiency that ELLs move through. The presenters were also very enthusiastic about having preservice educators in the room! – Danielle Curry, Montclair State University
During my session on mathematics instruction for fifth to eighth grade at the Teaching & Learning Symposium, we spent time going over rubrics. Some of what I learned dealt with the PARCC assessment and how PARCC assessments are scored and what rubrics they use. It helped to broaden my knowledge on methods for student involvement in math as well. – Courtney Earnest, Rider University
In the break out session I attended, I learned a great deal about using common core and praxis standards in a math classroom. It provided me with some possible lessons that I could incorporate into my own classroom when I teach middle school math – Jennifer Fagan, Rowan University
I attended the Engaging Instructional Strategies (PK-12) workshop at the NJEA Teaching & Learning Symposium. For me, a major takeaway was that on average students only remember about ten percent of the content they read and twenty percent that they hear; however, they can remember ninety-five percent when they teach content to someone else. This helps the students that are being taught as well because those students will retain at least half of the information if he or she discusses the content with others. These are very powerful statistics, and after learning this, I plan planning on incorporating more peer teaching and group work where applicable in my future field experiences. – Allison Plishka, Montclair State University
The Teaching & Learning Symposium exceeded my expectations! My session was very engaging and provided excellent strategies; in fact, I implemented some of the strategies, such as “hot seat,” into my practicum classroom this past week. My students have loved the new techniques I’m using from the session, and I was really happy to be able to use what I learned from the symposium into practice. – Samantha Selikoff, The College of New Jersey
The Teaching & Learning Symposium is a continuum of study of best practices. The concept of a continuum, which the morning panel spoke on, is a motto that I aim to follow throughout my career as an educator. As a preservice member that does not have a classroom to call my own, I do not know the challenges and struggles I will face with each incoming class; however, the information about teaching that I learn now will help me become stronger when the time comes. This is why I am so thankful that I was able to attend this symposium and learn from Michelle Thompson about engaging students in the workshop titled Activate, Cultivate, Motivate. She approached this workshop in a practical way by using experiences she had from her own classes. One saying that I constantly hear in the education profession is that teachers should not ask his or her students to do something he or she wouldn’t want to do, and this saying was validated during Thompson’s presentation. Do we want our students to sit through a boring lecture? I, personally, would answer no, and this is also how Thompson would answer. She shook up the room and engaged us through her varying individual and group activities. She split the time we spent in and out of our seats; for example, in our groupings we brainstormed and then acted out different scientific terms, such as neurons, synapses, and dendrites. Thompson always had my attention. I was definitely activated, cultivated, and motivated! – Jessica Quijano, The College of New Jersey
At the Teaching & Learning Symposium, I attended the session about English Language Learners because I felt that throughout my undergraduate career, I didn’t learn enough about how to help those students in my future classroom. The presenters were not only thrilled to have preservice members in the room but also, were excited we were bring proactive for our future students. They showed a short video called “Immersion” about the language barrier challenge English Language Learners face and how they are often overlooked and/or bullied. I really enjoyed the session because they gave us time to work with other people in the room and got us out of our seats and doing different activities that they would use with ELLs. Also, our session was unique because we had a woman in our room that was an ELL student herself and is teaching ELLs now. She brought a lot of great insight into the room and promoted thought provoking conversation throughout. Overall, I was beyond pleased with the session and was engaged from start to finish. Before this session, I knew very little about what to do for ELL students as the general teacher, and while I still wouldn’t consider myself an expert, I do feel more confident. They provided us a link to their presentation and a ton of resources, and I’m sure it will come in handy when I begin teaching! – Chelsea Hahn, The College of New Jersey
On October 16, NJSEA members from across the state attended a lecture that discussed the history of the labor movement and how NJEA formed and transformed throughout the years.
Some of the earliest events in the labor movement go back to 1804, in which cordwainers, or shoemakers, went on strike for higher wages in Philadelphia but were convicted of criminal conspiracy. By 1842, Commonwealth vs. Hunt ruled unions legal in Massachusetts. Soon after unions began to take shape, NJEA was founded on December 28, 1853, in Trenton.
The beginning of NJEA was predominately a union for male administrators, rather than for teachers. By 1875, they aided in passing the Thorough and Efficient Law, which issued mandatory public education to everyone at no cost. NJEA continued to make great strides in education and in the union world by electing Elizabeth Allen at the age of twenty-eight as Vice President of NJEA. In her lifetime, Allen set up and improve much of the policy we have today, such as the pension fund, tenure (opposed by much administration), and other topics surrounding public education. By 1913, Elizabeth Allen became president of NJEA. Finally, by 1979, NJEA was inclusive of all teachers, administrators, and ESPs.
Unions have fought hard to gain rights for workers, such as collective bargaining, salary increases, and even as simple as the right to unionize, but along the way, unions and the workers in those unions have been met with a fair amount of hardships and obstacles. Right-to-Work laws undermine a worker’s right to join a union. There have been divisions among the young and the old. Teachers have been jailed for rallies and strikes across the state. Promises of pension payments have fallen the wayside – the first failed payment by Christie Whitman in 1994. And with the coming election, unions are likely holding their breath.
Despite hardships faced in unions everywhere, the history of NJEA is rich, and the organization has aided in conducting a large amount of positive change for those in the education profession across the state. Having this particular retreat, which was open to preservice and Early Career members, taught those in attendance how a group of united people that share common interests and goals can accomplish great feats.
It was surprising to see how much NJEA was involved in the labor movement, and I know I found it especially interesting to see how the Normal School, later to become The College of New Jersey, was formed from the lobbying from NJEA. I know this experience empowered me to work towards accomplishing the goals I have set for NJSEA. Many of my fellow ambassadors and chairs felt the same way about how unions are unbelievably impactful. Below are their comments about the Labor Movement Retreat:
Before this retreat, I knew very little about the labor movement, and I knew even less about how it related to NJEA. Being able to hear about how NJEA was founded as an organization for primarily administration and morphed into an organization that actually served teachers and later ESPs was really interesting. It was impressive and inspiring to see how women took a lead in shaping this organization when they were often not in powerful leadership roles during this time in America. – Chelsea Hahn, The College of New Jersey
Learning about how NJEA’s history intertwines with the progression of the labor movement makes me even more proud to be part of a union that works hard to protect members and grants equal opportunities for all. I’m grateful that NJEA expanded to include a preservice branch so future educators can get involved with the interworking and benefits of the union early on. – Deanna Kollar, Rowan University
Learning about the history of the labor movement brought to light the struggles organizations like ours went through to become successful. It is times like these, when our profession is continuously threatened, that we should remember the true strength and reason behind our union. Knowing the triumphs of our predecessors and the triumphs of organizations and unions similar to ours, allows us to persevere through hard times. We may not be fighting for the same exact thing, but we are all fighting for fairness, truth, honesty, integrity, and dedicated work. I feel as though I owe it not only to myself but also, to my students, colleagues, and the profession as a whole to fight because throughout the years, so many have fought to get the opportunities and the voice that I am able to have now. It would be dishonorable for me to not continue their legacy. – Jessica Quijano, The College of New Jersey
Learning about the labor movement was insightful. NJEA members are fortunate to have such great leaders throughout the years that have helped to shape the union into what it is today. It is important for us to study and share the history and be grateful to those past strong leaders that got us here so we continue to rise strong. – Danielle Curry, Montclair State University
As a participant in the Labor and Union Movement Retreat, I especially enjoyed learning about women’s involvement within unions. From this experience, I gained greater insight to the bravery and commitment these leaders put forth in order to guarantee equal wages and rights for women within the workplace. Elizabeth Allen, NJEA’s first female vice president and, eventually, president, was a fearless leader that created many of the rights teachers have today. – Lian Refol, Montclair State University
Written by Mariah Belber, The College of New Jersey
What is a fact about the labor movement that surprised you? Why are you grateful for unions?
This past summer, I lived the dream that every young girl has – living in a castle. I studied abroad and lived in a castle located on a vineyard in the small town of Leibnitz, Austria, for a two week summer program hosted by the University of Graz, which is located about twenty minutes south of Austria’s second largest city.
The title of the course was Transformation, Transgressions, and Trust, and these were also the topics discussed in the two-week course for highly motivated students. Conversations revolved around world issues and how we can transgress, transform, and develop trust in and between Europe and the Americas. Students gathered from all over the world for this academic boot camp, and many of the students spoke about past study abroad experiences and travels. As a preservice educator, I did not have the chance to study abroad between my rigorous teacher education program and summers dedicated to working at the summer camp at my local childcare center, so this study abroad opportunity was one I greatly looked forward to as it would allow me to explore a new country and learn from and with peers of different backgrounds and lived experiences.
This summer school brought students together from various levels and fields of study. While talking about careers, I found a lot of people were also in the education field, and I met teachers that were back in school getting their masters, graduate students that had spent a year teaching English as a second language in foreign countries, and bachelor students that were working towards their teacher’s certificate. One of the most worthwhile parts of the trip was speaking with other preservice educators about their teacher preparation programs and public school systems in other countries.
A twenty-one year old Romanian female student, Diana, discussed students’ lack of interest in education, which leads to violence in her public education system. An example included students physically assaulting his or her teacher. Diana had anxieties about the possibility of experiencing some of these violent situations when she finished her teacher preparation program the following year and obtained a classroom of her own. She explained that the program was predominately about theory and gave her fewer opportunities to practice in a classroom, which only added to her anxiety. In rural areas of Romania where Diana taught, resources were scarce and many families were living in poverty, but Diana was dedicated to helping these students in the public school system rather than teaching in a more affluent community. Diana’s passion is pushing her through college, even though the number of teachers leaving the field is rising due to low pay.
As we all expressed similar concerns and ambitions, it was a small reminder that teaching is truly a profession of the heart.
Maisa, a student and proud advocate for public schools in Brazil, told a similar story about her country. She was living in Sao Paulo, Brazil, teaching students about diverse populations and different struggles happening in their home country. One inspiring story she told was about bringing her students to cities in ruin from disasters and lack of resources so they could see the issues firsthand.
A student from Germany, Chris, told me about his experience teaching in a foreign country. He lived in China and taught Beginner’s English to young children ranging from ages six through eight. Chris spoke about how he felt uneasy teaching the way he was instructed because to teach English he was told to only speak in English and focus on memorization. In China, they value the English language, but Chris didn’t want to discourage the usage of Chinese in the classroom. He wanted to play age appropriate games and incorporate interaction into his classroom, not solely drilling memorization.
Common talking points I found were curriculum standards, teacher salary, preparation programs, low poverty areas, and lack of resources. Speaking with educators from other countries made me realize that although we have cultural differences, many of the issues in education remain the same across the board. However, one factor keeps all of us going – passion. I could hear the happiness in Chris’s voice when he told anecdotes about his students running during their recess time. I could hear determination as Diana told me about her plans to help Romanian students in need. I could see the devotion and excitement in Maisa as she spoke about her many projects with students. Teachers all around the world are shaping the minds of children, our future, every single day through a variety of avenues that are all driven by passion and fortitude. It was inspiring to come together with just a few educators and engage in conversation about how we can help children in our classrooms and people in our societies. As we all expressed similar concerns and ambitions, it was a small reminder that teaching is truly a profession of the heart.
By Danielle Curry, Montclair State University
Two NJSEA members, Mariah Belber (TCNJ, Social Media Chair for NJSEA) and Marlene Cooper (Rutgers University, NJSEA Ambassador), have accepted national leadership positions in the NEA. Belber has accepted a position for the NEA Student Program Advisory Committee of Student Members. In this position, she will act as liaison to the North East Region of the student program. Belber will also help connect preservice members at local, state, and national levels. Cooper has accepted the position on the NEA Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Committee. Cooper will take part in working with members across the country to discuss and review LGBTQ+ issues that affect educators and students. Both Belber and Cooper would like to thank NJEA staff and members for the support and encouragement, including the following: Marguerite Schroder, Conswalo Gilbert, Thomas Hardy, Victoria Lepore, Wendell Steinhauer, Marie Blistan, Sean Spiller, and the NJSEA Executive Committee and leadership team. They are honored to take part in national leadership and excited to start their new roles.
As many preservice teachers are well aware -- student teaching is tough. It is an extremely trying time for preservice members to balance teaching practices, creating lessons and subsequent materials, getting to know the students, finding time to eat a full meal, maintaining some semblance of a social life, completing accompanying college coursework, and, most importantly, finding time to sleep that isn't when you're driving to or from your assigned practicum school. It is a balance that can seem almost impossible, but once preservice teachers get through this semester of student teaching, we feel like we can get through anything! However, things just got a bit more complicated thanks to the greedy hands of Pearson -- education's BFF.
As you can see from these slideshows in this post, there are so many reasons to be against edTPA, but let's just expand on a few now. Along with a college/university's normal student teaching workload, preservice teachers will be asked to do additional writings and assignments for edTPA, which means less time to plan lessons, have any sort of social life, eat, and sleep. There is also a video taping component. Preservice teachers are asked to use their cell phones to record a fifteen minute portion of his or her lesson. What if the school doesn't allow pictures or video taping? Well, edTPA suggests just going to a different school for one day to teach students you don't know and content that could have nothing to do with what you've currently been teaching. Are you wondering where that video goes and who owns it? If so, good question. We don't know the answer either and neither does Pearson. What we do know is that people scoring the assignments are strangers that don't know the preservice teacher or the students being taught. These strangers may not even be familiar with the content, grade level, or the demographic of the school. Adding to the numerous issues, this will cost students an extra three hundred dollars, and edTPA is not funded, which makes this fiscally discriminatory.
NJEA full-time members are backing us up on the absurdity of edTPA. In fact, NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan testified against edTPA. In her testimony, which can be found at the following link: http://bit.ly/2dhKT52, she states, "Between department regulations and your actions as members of the State Board, you have now regulated that our preservice students have more financial debt, have to devote more time and energy to pass another standardized test by Pearson, have to continue to successfully meet the requirements for each college, including student teaching, and then have to wait up to three years to get a regular certification while dealing with a tripled emphasis and weight of students' standardized test scores on their cooperating teacher's evaluation."
Want to learn more specifics on edTPA and why you should stand against it with us in solidarity? Visit these sites to educate yourself and help us educate others and advocate against this:
- Chelsea Hahn, The College of New Jersey
What are your thoughts on edTPA? What are the reasons you want to #STOPedTPA?
New Jersey Preservice Education Association (NJSEA)
As the preservice branch of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), we aspire to empower, excite, and inspire all future educators about their upcoming teaching careers in public education.
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