New Teachers As Vital Members Of The Teaching Workforce

The demand for new teachers has been climbing steadily since the 1990s and is expected to continue in the foreseeable future given the increases in teacher retirement and student enrollment, lower pupil/teacher ratios, and rising teacher attrition rates. New teachers enter the profession with varying degrees of preparation, ranging from extensive coursework and classroom experience to no preparation at all. They often need special attention and support to reach their full potential as educators, but this support is sorely lacking in many schools-which may explain why large numbers of new teachers leave the profession after just a few years of teaching.

The standards movement has put teacher quality at the center of educational reform. Conceived broadly, teacher quality consists of three elements: teacher knowledge, teacher qualifications, and teacher practice. In turn, these elements are affected by individual school factors and by working conditions such as class size, professional support, and school leadership. They are also affected by systemic variables such as state and local policies on teacher preparation, certification, and salaries.

Teachers operate in complex, multidimensional environments, so the direct impact of teaching on student outcomes can be difficult to isolate. However, by linking student achievement to individual teachers, researchers have been able to confirm that some teachers have a lasting, positive impact on student performance, while others have a negligible or negative impact on the performance of students with similar profiles. A simple definition of teacher quality has emerged from this research, namely, the ability to increase student learning during a school year, regardless of a student’s initial academic standing. But this definition, which points to academic growth as an indicator of effectiveness, does not explain why and how some teachers are more effective than others. The research that has been done on teacher credentials, while informative, does not address the actual quality of classroom instruction-a dynamic much more difficult to measure due, in part, to the lack of consensus on what type of instruction is most effective. Definitions of effective teacher practice, therefore, must also factor in variations in curriculum and instruction, along with the relationship between curriculum and instruction and the variables that affect that relationship.

Based on five principles that describe the qualities and attributes of effective teachers, the standards have been broadly adopted by the education community as a measure of teacher excellence:

– Best teachers base their instruction on knowledge of child development.

– They are committed to students and their learning.

– They know the subjects they are teaching and how to teach those subjects to diverse learners.

– They are able to effectively organize the classroom environment to engage students in the learning process and to sustain their learning so that instructional goals are met.

– Accomplished teachers are active members of learning communities; they systematically examine and improve their practice and learn from their experiences, and they are aware of the policies and resources that can benefit their students.

Teacher perceptions and attitudes are, nonetheless, quite important since a teacher’s sense of efficacy plays a large role in the decision to remain in the profession. Some teachers-typically those entering the profession through an alternative pathway- do not receive any kind of classroom exposure prior to their first teaching assignment. They felt this lack of preparation placed them and their students at a distinct disadvantage. One commented on how it was “unfair to students to subject them to teachers who have had no student teaching or internships before teaching a class.” Another reason for why teachers do not feel well prepared is a mismatch between the instructional pedagogy they were exposed to in their education programs and that practiced in the schools to which they are assigned. One teacher commented that the range of instructional strategies she learned in her education program would have helped her reach her students. However, because the district office had different instructional mandates, she had to use strategies that ran contrary to those she had learned during her pre-service education. “Out-of-license” teachers also felt unprepared. A high school teacher assigned to teach a math class dug out old college texts to try to refresh her math skills since she had received no math preparation during pre-service training. Several teachers assigned to special education classes said they had no prior special education instructional experience or background.

Teachers who described themselves as being least prepared were those with no educational preparation, other than a bachelor’s degree, and no educational training or support. Older teachers entering the profession as a career change felt they were able to draw upon prior work experiences to help them in their current teaching roles; most admitted, however, that nothing really sufficiently prepared them for the unique challenges of being a new teacher. The level of student ability also influenced the teachers’ sense of preparation. Teachers felt more prepared to teach students who were advanced or at grade level than students who were English language learners, below grade level in literacy or math, or had other special needs. Some teachers, despite their inexperience, were asked to teach a wide span of grades, as well as special education classes. These teachers felt they needed a great deal of support.

Quality teaching includes not only mastery of subject matter and how to teach it, but a belief in the potential of all children to learn, an abiding ethic of care, and the creativity to inspire children who would otherwise be lost.

What Are the 13 Categories of Disability For Special Education Eligibility?

Does your child struggle with academics, and you are concerned that they may have a disability? Have you been told by special education personnel that your child does not fit any of the 13 eligibility classifications to receive special education services? This article will discuss the 13 classifications of disability, that are covered in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and make a child eligible for special education services. Whether a certain child is eligible is up to the parent and the IEP team, but having a disability in one of the 13 categories is required in order to be found eligible.

The categories are:

1. Autism: A developmental disability that can affect the verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, and can have a negative affect on the child’s education. The prevalence of autism is 1 in 150 as determined by the CDC or Center for Disease Control.

2. Other Health Impaired (OHI): The child exhibits limited strength, alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems, including but not limited to asthma, ADD/ADHD, cancer, diabetes, which negatively affects the child’s education.

3. Mental Retardation: Defined as significantly below average general functioning, with deficits in adaptive behavior, which negatively affects the child’s education.

4. Emotional Disturbance (ED): Exhibits one of the following conditions over an extended period of time and these conditions negatively effect a child’s education. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors. For a child to be ED they are not supposed to have any other type of disability negative affecting their education.

5. Deafness: Residual hearing is severely impaired in processing the spoken word, negatively affecting the child’s education.

6. Hearing Impairment: Exhibits a hearing loss that is permanent or fluctuating, which even with amplification negatively affects the child’s education.

7. Visual Impairment: Impairment is such that educational potential cannot be fulfilled without special services and materials.

8. Deaf-Blindness: Child has both hearing and visual disabilities.

9. Specific Learning Disability (LD): Exhibits a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological process (such as visual, motor, language etc) which negatively affects a child’s education.

10. Multiple Disabilities: The child exhibits two or more severe disabilities, one of which is mental retardation.

11. Orthopedic Impairment: Displays severe impairments that are the result of congenital anomaly, developmental, or other causes (such as CP) which negatively affects the child’s education.

12. Speech or Language Impairment: Exhibits a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a receptive and/or expressive language disorder, that negatively affects the child’s education.

13. Traumatic Brain Injury: The child has an injury to their brain resulting in total or partial functional disability.

By knowing what categories are covered under IDEA you will be able to understand if your child has a disability that makes them eligible for special education services. You are the only advocate that your child has-do not let them down!

What Are Conference Proceedings?

The simple definition of conference proceedings goes something like this: A collection of academic papers presented at a professional association meeting or conference. However, many of the words, like meeting and conference, which make up that definition are interchangeable with other terms…and often are. If you’re not an academic or an engineer, you will benefit from the following expanded explanation.

For starters the term conference can also be exchanged with the following terms:

  • Meeting
  • Symposium
  • Exposition
  • Colloquium
  • Workshop
  • Exhibition
  • Confabulation (yes, confabulation — I didn’t imagine it)

The term proceedings can also be exchanged with the following terms:

  • Papers
  • Manuscripts
  • Abstracts (a brief paper — a paragraph up to 1 page)
  • Extended Abstracts (2-5 pages)
  • Presentations

And the term association can be exchanged with any organization, like: society, agency, research foundation, council, institute, corporation, etc.

While conferences can be focused on any academic subject, from Humanities and Social Studies to Natural and Applied sciences, they are often focused on a specific discipline. For example, one conference hosted by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society will include 30 – 40 papers all focused tightly on, well…veterinary acupuncture. This focus provides a depth of coverage unlike any other scientific publication. In fact, one of the truly unique qualities of conference proceedings lies in the fact that they are made up of research papers from many individuals, which makes their character distinctly different from scientific books, textbooks or journals.

One conference proceedings title can include as few as 5-10 papers or as many as 2,000 papers. Some conferences are held each year, or every two years, three years, etc. Most proceedings publications are referred to as “monographs” (stand-alone), and others are part of a series. For example, the Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings Series may have a symposium titled “Three-Dimensional Nano- and Microphotonics”, which is volume #1014 in the series.

They are relatively cost-effective sources for academic research since they are less expensive than their higher priced relatives, journals — and typically have more content than journals, albeit a little less prestigious. Conference proceedings often include new research breakthroughs, innovations, methodologies and best practices, particularly in the fields of science, engineering and technology. They provide a platform for researchers to identify potential collaborators, and can influence work in related disciplines. It is at these important national and international conferences that research findings are reported and debated for the first time – long before their formal publication in journals and textbooks.

Hopefully, the next time someone mentions conference proceedings you won’t have a blank stare on your face.

How to Handle Scope Questions on the PMP Exam

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam will feature a good number of scope-related questions, which means that test-takers must understand the topic well. To keep it simple, know that scope also means the work to be executed on the project. Once the customer is clear regarding the final product, service, or result, the project team will define the work and how it will get done.

Start with the Customer

The customer often speaks from the standpoint of what they want the deliverable to do. For example, “We’re want the building to include state-of-the-art technology that allows our workers to stay connected at all times.” The project team must ensure what is meant by “state-of-the-art” and “stay connected.”The customer has an idea or vision regarding the output, but the details are often left to the subject matter experts (SMEs). Of course, it’s important to have a good idea regarding the budget so that the recommendations are viable.

Know the Order of the Scope Management Processes

One can expect many tricky questions on the PMP exam related to scope, but knowing the processes in order for this knowledge area can make your job easier when selecting the BEST answer. For example, one must know that requirements are collected before the scope is defined. In the “real world,” the requirements may be gathered as the project is moving forward, and sometimes the project team assumes they know what the customer wants and will skip the process of collect requirements.

Here are the processes in Scope Management, and I will share a short definition to make them easier to understand:

  • Plan Scope Management (5.1): The process that creates the scope management plan, and explains how both project and product scope are defined, validated, and controlled.
  • Collect Requirements (5.1): The process of determining the stakeholder needs.
  • Define Scope (5.3): The process of developing a detailed description of the work to be performed.
  • Create WBS (5.4): The process of decomposing the project work into manageable pieces.
  • Validate Scope (5.5): The process of confirming the work completed has met the requirements as stated in the project scope statement.
  • Control Scope (5.6): The process of taking corrective action when there is a variance with scope, such as when the customer requests additional work beyond what was agreed (i.e., scope creep).

I recommend that you go through all 47 processes, and create your own short definition. By doing so, you will have more control when taking the exam. The questions are written to test your overall knowledge, which means that memorization will have little value.

Convergence and Divergence in Bilingual Education

According to accommodation theory, there are two main strategies: convergence and divergence. Convergence occurs when the speaker adjusts his or her normal speech to make it more similar to the interlocutor’s speech or when the speaker converges toward a prestigious norm that he or she believes is favored by the interlocutor. In short, the speaker accepts the interlocutor’s values and seeks to demonstrate that acceptance by his or her own linguistic behavior.

Conversely, divergence occurs when speakers seek to alter their speech in order to make themselves linguistically different. Both convergence and divergence can take place in an upward or downward fashion. Upward convergence occurs when speakers adjust their speech to exhibit the norms of high-status individuals in their society. Downward convergence involves adjustments in the direction of the speech norms from a higher class to a lower class.

For instance, a person with a PhD in physics will speak differently when explaining quantum mechanics to a high school dropout than when discussing physics with colleagues; that is, the physicist will use language in a manner designed to simplify complex concepts for his or her less educated interlocutor. Generally, upward convergence is the more common type because it is based on the universal desire for approval from those we respect and emulate.

Upward divergence occurs when speakers emphasize the standard features of their speech, whereas downward divergence occurs when speakers emphasize the nonstandard features of their speech. An example of upward divergence would be two people from different classes arguing, with the individual from a higher-socioeconomic background emphasizing the standard features of his or her speech to distinguish himself or herself from the lower-class interlocutor. In the same example, the person of lower-socioeconomic status who emphasizes his or her less standard form of speech would be exhibiting downward divergence.

The causes of convergence and divergence can be complicated. One of the most well-known studies regarding accommodation theory was initiated by Giles and his colleagues. It concerned conversations between unequally ranked nurses and how convergence and divergence operated on the basis of their ability to use the English language. The results showed that when speaking to lower-ranked nurses, those with a higher status used a less standard English; likewise, when the lower-status nurses spoke to their higher-ranked colleagues, they spoke a more standard English.

Moreover, people are more likely to convert their speech rates in a manner emphasizing the stereotype of their interlocutors’ speech rates and their way of using language. In addition, speakers tend to switch from convergence to divergence as they reevaluate the person they speak to during the conversation.