It's true what is said about the mean culture that is seeping into everything, starting with the school administration. There used to be people with more down-to-earth values who always seemed to remember that this was supposed to be about students and teachers. Now they are often just mean. They have no awareness that there are people who actually do things in a better way in lots of other places. They have big heads, big pretensions, and no class. They don't care how they make people feel. They are heavy-handed and dumb about what they're doing to boot, actually shooting themselves in the foot (but too arrogant to care or notice).
Next time you hear someone (likely someone you're friendly with) mocking/trashing a kid or a teacher or a neighbor who is "different," please think twice before you laugh along with them. A lot of very Mean ones will be carrying banners in the big local Walk. You know exactly who they are and the mean-spirited things they say and do when the camera isn't on them (or even when it is!). Unless you really don't care what lessons you are imparting to your children, then please don't join in when the nasty banter begins.
Pretty reasoned comments from the last two posters.
You've got to realize, though, that in the globalization of American higher education, has raised the stakes for American kids. The American public school student, being fed a steady stream of PC cant in place of an education, is behind the 8-ball when competing with the products of dog-eat-dog international competition. A parent's natural inclination to do their best for their child has devolved accordingly to whatever means necessary, with the emphasis on "mean". As the system sinks into mediocrity, the competition for scarce resources, like favors from administrators, fuels the daffy deference of the parent and the entitled attitude of the staff. This causes friction, and enmity.
Thanks, Real Facts. And many do in fact agree with your list of execrable ones, mean as it may sound. What those pompossities have done to harm the culture is actually quite significant. They tut-tut over things, all the while being total hypocrites.
Whew! What a relief! The most recent issue of the Melrose Weekly reports, that with a few exceptions, all is well with Melrose Schools and solid progress is being made! Very curious that this article was not attributable to any specific author. Stupid me: I was relying on facts based information on the State's Department of Education website. How foolish of me to rely on this factual data to come to the conclusion that the schools are in decline.[:-?]
Agree with previous poster, the Weekly News should be ashamed of itself publishing Brigid's (RD's) version of the "news"! If it isn't going to "report" on anything, it should stick to fluff pieces that will please the Birth to Five folks.
Just the facts. Those aren't good enough here apparently.
There are a lot of Stepford parents here in the land of the Marshmallow who probably prefer to believe the fairytales. In that case, they really don't have a right to complain when their child (because that is what they will be relegated to being long after they should have turned into young adults) returns home from college after the first week because he or she can't cut it (four of MHS' stellar grads came back in the first week this year!).
This article (below) appeared online today in WickedLocal. Many questions stem from it.
Over the past few years we all heard about all the "co-teachers" who were hired that were supposedly taking the place of many paras and who were going to get Melrose up to snuff (since it had been declining very obviously across the board). The taxpayers were asked to pay a lot extra in several budgets (last year's was over $2 million more than the previous!) to cover these teachers who were there to help other teachers. How many of these additional teaching staff does the district still employ?
If Taymore is doing such expert hiring, why are so many levels of help (Academic Interventionists, Academic Facilitators, Data Analysts, Instructional Coaches, plus Professional Development) required even to teach all the new teachers straight out of their certification and licensure programs?? It seems logical than when an entirely new curriculum (Common Core) comes into play, that it would require a lot of help to get an entire teaching staff up to speed. But that happened three years ago. Hiring all of these new staff members to "help teachers" begs a lot of questions, especially when many of us parents have seen first-hand that the quality of teachers our children are having to spend entire school years under are so poor, or for that matter when we read the paperwork (online or printed) that administration and teachers alike are producing that isn't even in basic acceptable English (even from the English Department!).
There is nothing about this that inspires confidence. Whether it's the Director of Curriculum who gets up there and drones on and on in incomprehensible bad English during an insufferable powerpoint that doesn't begin to acknowledge the glaring issues, or the science chair talking down to everyone at open houses in verbiage that demonstrates zero knowledge about science or teaching science, or the foreign language chair who can't put a simple sentence together (but now has her "doctorate" so taxpayers have to up her pay again), or the math chair who has so obviously failed (how many more restructurings of the sequence does she think she can impose?), it is no wonder that students are not getting the benefit of quality education since those directing traffic do not understand even the first thing about teaching. Why should anyone believe that adding more of these "facilitators" or "coaches" to do the bidding of such inadequate administrators going to fix things?
The district has had the excellent fortune to have great educators like Dr. Peterson, Dr. Kepple, Dr. Rose Giner. All three of those are gone and all three of those were committed to education in Melrose, and all three left because of administrative failures, not because they necessarily wanted to leave. There are many other examples as well (Freddie Hurwitz, who articulately outlined the administratively hostile and untenable atmosphere in the paper, and numerous others). Dr. Giner was, simply put, a brilliant and profoundly caring math chair. She very quietly and firmly told the public (during a televised meeting) that she was leaving (to resume being a professor) because the conditions under the former superintendent and principals was untenable, that an administration that allowed the kinds of educational atrocities such as the two most notorious 7th grade math "teachers" (the long-tenured elephants in the room), was not a district that cared about its students or about addressing its problems honestly. Over and over again, parents have had ample evidence about these things.
Melrose had a superb Math Department Chair and lost her due to its apparent fascination in hiring and keeping a fleet of bad administrators (and continuously praising them, that is until they are unceremoniously dumped or leave, and then it's back to the same unctuous praising AND funding anything the new administrative "team" deems "necessary" all over again). When will everyone stop making excuses for this shipwreck and direct the "converstion" (a favorite word of Taymore's) towards the real issues????
July 16. 2015 2:24PM
Override could bring new instructional coach to schools
By Aaron Leibowitz
On Nov. 3, the city of Melrose will vote on whether to enact a property tax override. Should it pass, the override would fund a handful of public positions, including two new police officers and more than 10 school staff.
In the weeks and months leading up to a vote, the Free Press will run a series of articles exploring the positions outlined in Mayor Rob Dolan’s override proposal.
The $2.25 million collected from an override would be required to subsidize the positions Dolan is requesting in fiscal 2016. After that, taxes from the override would go into the city’s general fund.
This week, we take a look at the position of Elementary Instructional Coach.
What is an instructional coach?
The world of education is changing rapidly, and it’s hard for anyone — administrators, teachers and students — to keep up. When Common Core standards shift and curricula evolve, someone needs to teach the teachers how to adjust.
That, in large part, is the role of an instructional coach.
“Basically, my position is to coach teachers in best practice and support the district initiatives in the best way we can,” said Paula Jones, who was hired in 2013.
Jones is one of two instructional coaches serving grades K-5 at the Melrose Public Schools. Along with Cynthia Santosuosso, Jones provides support for teachers across the district’s five elementary schools.
The coaches’ duties are wide-ranging, but the goal is always the same: help teachers do their jobs better.
“All of our coaching is need-based,” Jones said. “Based on what teachers need, I block my schedule.”
Often, those needs are related to the teaching of new curricula. Last year, the district implemented a new math program, and Jones and Santosuosso spent the summer learning the program’s nuances. By August, they were ready to train new teachers. By September, they could guide rookie and veteran teachers alike in the classroom.
One method the coaches use is a five-day model. On the first day, the coach observes a teacher during a lesson. On days two and three, the coach models while the teacher watches. On day four, the teacher and coach teach together. On the fifth and final day, the teacher takes back the reigns.
“I’m always amazed by whatever we do and give teachers, they just take it and make it 100 percent better,” said Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Margaret Adams, who oversees the coaches.
Jones and Santosuosso also offer after-school professional development. Last year, that came in the form of two-hour academies in math, science and literacy, with coaches offering tips for teachers to implement the next day.
Three times per school year, the coaches hold “data meetings” with each teacher, reviewing their students’ performance on math and reading assessments and determining whether the needs of each child are being met.
While that may sound like a high-pressure scenario, the coaches do not carry any evaluative weight. They make that abundantly clear in their interactions with teachers.
“One of the first things I say to them is that I’m here as your coach and your friend and your colleague,” Jones said.
If a teacher does not want help — which is sometimes the case with long-time veterans — then the coaches keep their distance.
“They don’t force themselves into classrooms,” Adams said. “They’re a colleague, they’re not evaluators. They’re on even footing.”
Jones and Santosuosso both have backgrounds in the classroom. Jones taught first and second grade outside the district for 10 years, and Santosuosso taught at Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose for nine years. They are both certified to be school administrators.
While there is no specific training for the coaching role, Jones and Santosuosso have worked tirelessly over the past two years to hone the craft. They read outside materials, attend conferences and adjust on the fly.
This summer, Jones and Santosuosso are adapting to a realigned social studies curriculum and preparing to tackle a new set of science standards coming out this fall.
“With this new curriculum coming up, I am prepping nonstop this summer,” Santosuosso said. “You need to know it inside and out, especially with the modeling of lessons. You need to be solid on that.”
Above all, a great instructional coach knows how to form trusting relationships with teachers and bring out the best in them — just like a great coach in sports.
“Anytime I can help a teacher tweak by either feedback from me or modeling for them, and then see them do it on their own, to know they feel supported is rewarding,” Jones said. “Teaching in general can be a very thankless job. Having someone come in and be encouraging and positive can be really uplifting.”
A third coach
With about 13 classrooms per grade across the district’s five elementary schools, Jones and Santosuosso are spread thin. They must be jacks of all trades, and they need to have energy to hop from one school to the next each day.
During the 2013-14 school year, Jones and Santosuosso both had offices at Hoover Elementary School. This past year, Jones was based out of Winthrop Elementary School and Santosuosso was at Roosevelt Elementary School.
Some school districts employ coaches who focus specifically on one subject, Adams explained, but with only two coaches, Melrose needs Jones and Santosuosso to cover all content areas.
That could change somewhat if the override passes. Dolan’s override proposal budgets $70,000 for a third full-time instructional coach, and the idea, according to Superintendent of Schools Cyndy Taymore, would be for that coach to focus heavily on social studies and science as new curricula take effect.
“The challenge, I think, is finding folks able to do it,” Adams said. “Sometimes, it’s hard for elementary teachers to leave their classrooms.”
Adams noted that schools around Boston have employed instructional coaches for at least 15 years. Now, more than ever, teachers need that support to keep up.
“Having folks like them go into the classroom really does lead to improvement,” Adams said. “There’s years of documentation from the field that the most effective way to improve instruction is to provide teachers as many avenues as possible for embedded classroom development.”
Sara Desmond, a Melrose resident who serves as an instructional coach at the Prospect Hill Academy charter school in Somerville, said the support she offers can be as emotional as it is instructional.
“I think it’s so important to let teachers know that I’m here for anything, whatever you need,” Desmond said. “If, on any given day, that’s a place that they can break down and say, ‘I delivered this lesson and it was terrible, how do I do this better?’, I’m happy to be that.”
While Adams would love to see Melrose employ coaches at the middle and high school levels, the greatest need exists in grades K-5. In middle and high school, department heads fulfill a coach-like role. There are no department heads in the younger grades, where teachers are responsible for teaching multiple subjects.
In finding a third coach, Adams and Taymore plan to target someone — perhaps within the district — who is ready to take a break from traditional teaching and take on a new role.
“They loved to learn, they were curious about teaching and learning, they loved kids, they were masters in their classroom,” Adams said of her decision to hire Jones and Santosuosso. “You want someone who wants to learn as much as possible, about anything and everything there is to learn about kids in classrooms.”
Here is my advice concerning all these proposed coaches, facilitators, advisors and interventionists - let's hire just two coaches: one for Ms. Tyamore to teach her how to be a superintendent and to learn to listen to the teachers and parents; one coach for the school committee to teach them HOW to LISTEN to public concerns and to be transparent in their dealings with themslevs and the public. NO OVERRIDE WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR THIS! The immediate result would be greatly improved as a results of these hires!
That is a fantastic idea Myron!
I think you left out an Ethics Coach for Kristen Thorpe, Super Cyndi Taymore, City Solicitor R Van Campen and R Dolan. Have I left out any of the thugs?
Nope.....you got all the major ones covered! But let's face it, the city doesn't have enough money to support an Ethics Coach long enough to cure them of this affliction!
Well if you want to include Alderman on your list, how about Pete Mortimer who maliciously uses his position as moderator to gavel down members of the public and other alderman who start asking legitimate questions about anything that may reflect poorly on the current administration. One only needs to view his embarrassing attack against Bob Boiselle at 2:21:45 into the June 18th BOA meeting on MMTV when Mr. Boiselle was merely questioning Cyndi taymore on the $480,000 recently allocated for school books and where and how it was spent. Mortimer immediately stepped in to protect Taymore by claiming Mr. Boiselle was allegedly "being argumentative towards Ms. Taymore", to the quisical looks of the other alderman who were wondering exactly what planet Mr. Mortimer lives on where Mr. Boiselle's appropriate and civil questioning about taxpayer resources could possibly be considered argumentative. Mortimer did the same thing to a member of the public in an earlier BOA meeting when that person attempted to discuss an issue that was on the BOA agenda that evening. Other alderman had to step in and explain to Mr. Mortimar that this citizen was within his rights to discuss the topic at hand without his inappropriate attempts to prevent this taxpayer from speaking. Will the Board of Alderman ever take steps to censure Mr. Mortimer for his unprofessional actions and abuse of his position to shut down public discourse on important City issues?
Dear Concern, aka MAH
I thought when we got rid of the two 7th grade math teacher things were going to improve. The reality is that the math teaches that they have hired are worst.
Why don’t just die. You don’t live here anymore.
Ps. Ms.Giner never mentions the two math teacher. Maybe the problem is you and the administration.
Only in your obsessive dreams would Mrs. H be involved in this, so that you could continue to post your filth. Get some help.
What would you know about Dr. Giner anyway unless you were in fact the great 7th-grade math teacher, Mr. M, himself? Have some pop tarts and get lost!
I'm about to head into Sophomore year of college and let me tell you, my third grade MCAS scores did not mean a thing when it came down to it all. Honestly, all of my MCAS scores meant nothing in the long run. It's a test to gauge the progress of teachers not the students, so please stop putting so much pressure on these students to get higher scores and please let these teachers have fun teaching again.
We don't give teachers any chance to succeed because we are so worried about them producing low test scores. Let's give the teachers some room to do what they have studied and worked hard for.
Students at the elementary age shouldn't be spending hours practicing for an exam. They should be playing, moving their bodies and exercising their minds. They should be learning how to play and work together and they should be excited about learning and discovering new things. Not having anxiety over filling in the right bubble.
Instead of arguing over test scores how about we plan field trips, e-camps and spirit days?
Because those are the days I remember and learned most from when I was in elementary school.
Teaching to any test is not good education. Glad that you liked e-camp and spirit days and remember them well. Glad that you are going into your 2nd year of college and that you are getting some value out of your education. Unfortunately that doesn't mean that looking at what isn't working in Melrose is a wrong thing (and sadly that does include looking at test results, though no intelligent and well-educated person would postulate that Melrose's fixation on teaching to the tests is good). Thanks for providing a student outlook and good luck to you!
It is not surprising to me to see that the 7th grade math had the greatest percentage in the district that needed improvement. Forget the need for coteachers! The blame may lie in the textbook. Two years ago the text used had hardly any reteaching component. I voiced my concern and distate for it on many levels. What the kids need is to be "killed and drilled"...algebraic reasoning is not acquired through osmosis. Hopefully the teachers have moved away from it entirely or at least heavily supplemented.
How do so many parents in the district come to the conclusion that there is effective management by this administration overall currently?